Kendrick Frazier - The Skeptical Inquirer

January 23, 2009

Kendrick Frazier has been the editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine for over 30 years. He is a member of the National Association of Science Writers and the American Geophysical Union. In 2005, Frazier was made a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for "distinguished contributions to the public understanding of science through writing for and editing popular science magazines that emphasize science news and scientific reasoning and methods." He is the author of a number of books, including The Hundredth Monkey: And Other Paradigms of the Paranormal, Encounters With the Paranormal: Science, Knowledge, and Belief, and Paranormal Borderlands of Science.

In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Kendrick Frazier discusses his long association with CSI (formerly CSICOP) and with Skeptical Inquirer magazine and explores the meanings of skeptical inquiry, both as ordinary common sense and as being continuous with science. He contrasts the paranormal with science, and explains why the paranormal was the initial focus of CSICOP. He explores debates within the skeptical community, such as whether or not belief in the paranormal is diminishing, and to what extent the movement has been successful. He talks about the breadth of claims currently dealt with at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, including both popular paranormal claims and more controversial scientific and scholarly subjects. He talks about three recent issues of Skeptical Inquirer focused on "deniers" and explains how deniers are different than skeptics. He explains paranormal or pseudoscientific claims that he has changed his mind about over the years, such as extraordinary human perception, and the mind-body connection as it relates to healing. He talks about how the magazine has dealt with religion over the years. And he talks about the future of skepticism and the need for new ways of outreach, especially to younger skeptics.

Books Mentioned in This Episode:


Related Episodes

Joe Nickell - Humanistic Skepticism
July 18, 2008

Comments from the CFI Forums

If you would like to leave a comment about this episode of Point of Inquiry please visit the related thread on the CFI discussion forums

I remember the first time I came across SI. I think I was 15 and a friend, the first self-identified atheist I ever met handed me a copy. My jaw dropped. I had had no idea any such thing or such people existed, which is to say, other people like me. My world expanded in such a way as only happens a few times in one’s life.  At the time I was already an atheist of a few years but I had not yet left behind other deeply flawed constructs. SI lit the way forward for me and not just about specific claims but about skeptical and scientific rigor. The importance of intellectual integrity. The seeds of cognitive dysfunction in my own mind that I must struggle to overcome.

Thank you, Mr. Frazier.
thank you.

Posted on Feb 14, 2009 at 2:43pm by sate Comment #1

Skeptical Inquirer should be required reading in every high school, but don’y hold your breath.

I’m reminded of a friend who put ‘Pagan’ as his religion when joining the Army. The sargeant asked. “You don’t really believe in all those gods do you?”

“Nope”, he said, “But I give them lip service like all good pagans.”

On his dog tag in the religion slot it said ‘Pagan’.

This is a true story—I was there when it happened. I think he still has that tag after 40+ years…

Posted on Feb 27, 2009 at 7:52pm by omnibus09 Comment #2

Skeptical Inquirer should be required reading in every high school, but don’y hold your breath.

I’m reminded of a friend who put ‘Pagan’ as his religion when joining the Army. The sargeant asked. “You don’t really believe in all those gods do you?”

“Nope”, he said, “But I give them lip service like all good pagans.”

On his dog tag in the religion slot it said ‘Pagan’.

This is a true story—I was there when it happened. I think he still has that tag after 40+ years…

My dog tags read “no rel pref” which is as good as it gets for atheists.. I’m certainly not ‘pagan’. Dog tags are pretty irrelevant now though.. mine never leave whatever drawer I put that stuff in years ago. All my personnel records read “atheist”. I remember in ‘05 before deploying to Iraq I had to give some of those records to a mobility Master Sergeant I didn’t know for review. He glanced at the top sheet and slightly furrowed a brow as he said “... atheist huh” and I thought to myself, ahh great here we go. I knew some kind of typical military bigot derision was coming, but I was wrong. “good fer you.. so am I” he continued and that was that.

Posted on Mar 02, 2009 at 3:34pm by sate Comment #3

The guy was in fact an atheist, but just wanted to see if the military would put ‘Pagan’ on his dog tags. They did. His family was pretty religious, so he had a hard life sometimes.

Posted on Mar 02, 2009 at 7:02pm by omnibus09 Comment #4