Friday, September 6

Scary Science

I may have posted this before I don't remember but it worth noting it's not the government that enjoys censorship.

  The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) established the Council for Media Integrity (CMI) in 1996 along with the World Skeptics Congress in the hopes of stopping Televisions's quasi-documentaries about UFOs, abductions by aliens, psychic phenomena and  biblical creationism.
CSICOP based in Amherst, N.Y. publishes the Skeptical Inquirer magazine. The World Skeptics Congress includes esteemed scientists as Nobel laureate chemist Glenn Seaborg, anthropologist Eugene Scott, editors of Scientific American and New Scientist, among others.
Joe Nickell, a former magician and detective who is a staff member of  CSICOP  handles most of the investigative work for CMI. He'll also appears as what he calls the “token skeptic” on talk shows when the topic is scientifically suspicious.  
CSICOP should look to it’s own organization for suspicious science. In 1981 Fate magazine published an article “STARbaby”  by Daniel Rawlins cofounder of CSICOP and former council member. It chronicled the attempt by the Skeptical Inquirer to debunk the work done by Michel Gauquelin on a statistical study of astrology. Gauquelin’s study the “Mars effect” charted the number of sports champions born with mars rising and found it to be above chance. 
Editor Paul Kurtz, founder of CSICOP, tried to debunk the study. The magazine published results that disqualified Gauquelin’s findings, ignoring the dissenting view by Rawlins whose investigation concluded that Gauquelin’s analysis was correct then tried to suppress Rawlins data. It was a case of pseudoscience fighting what was perceived as pseudoscience.
This type of censorship in science is nothing new. In 1950 Doubleday published  "Worlds in Collision" by Immanuel Velikovsky despite efforts by members of the scientific community to suppress it. Scientists and scholars who supported the author’s theory-even if it was to support his right to be heard, were dismissed, ignored, or had their careers ruined. Favorable reviews were replaced by virulent attacks on "scientific irresponsibility". It was dismissed by Astronomer Harlow Shapely as 
"rubbish and nonsense". 
Born in Russia in 1895, Velikovsky studied medicine in Moscow and later, practiced psychoanalysis. In 1939 while gathering information for a book on Freud he stumbled upon the first threads of evidence that would later get him in trouble with the scientific community.
In the 63 years since Worlds in Collision was written, tests have proved many of his predictions:  the existence of the Van Allen belts, the hot surface temperature of Venus, the electromagnetic nature of solar flares and radio emissions from Jupiter. Egyptologists were impressed enough to assert if his findings are correct it would rewrite our ideas concerning  middle eastern chronology. 
Angered by the popular appeal of his ideas, (his book was serialized in Harper's, Colliers' and Readers Digest) several scientists collaborated in an effort to keep his manuscript from being published. When the book was published a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of  Science was called to discuss among other things "Books, Civilization and Science". What resulted from this discussion, as reported by Science magazine was a proposal  for a prepublication  "theory-censoring board". It's purpose was to prevent the "wrong kinds of scientific books" from being published. 
For centuries the Catholic Church censored science and free thinking. Books were burned, scientists and philosphers who dared to challenge the ideology of the church were banned from teaching, persecuted, even executed for such heretical ideas as the earth revolving around the sun and that other stars may be suns like our own with their own planetary systems. Now science has replaced the church as the ultimate authority as to what is acceptable reality. Those who make heretical claims today are not burned at the stake like Giodano Bruno, instead they are burned at the scientific stake until their reputations are incinerated.



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