The Skeptics Society, one of the major American groups challenging claims to paranormal and supernatural reality which it considers largely in the realm of pseudoscience, was founded in 1991 by Michael Shermer, Pat Linse, and Kim Ziel Shermer. Michael Shermer, formerly a professional cyclist, completed his Ph.D. in the history of science in 1991. A former member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), he felt that much more could be done in public education in this area by an organization that was located in the media nexus of Los Angeles and aggressively used radio and television as educational tools. He also wanted to launch a periodical that would allow for articles presenting more in-depth treatments of subjects and original research articles. Shortly after its founding, the society launched a quarterly newsstand magazine, Skeptic, which has a circulation of 40,000.
While focused upon claims of a psychic or occult nature, and the investigation of claims of supernatural miracles, the society has also involved itself in a variety of controversial issues of a scientific, psychological, historical, and religious nature, where no claim of paranormal or miraculous phenomena is present. Thus, while attacking such phenomena as claims to spirit contact or UFOs, the society has also attacked Holocaust denial as pseudo history and joined in the general denigration of minority religions (popularly called cults). Any issues that arise in public debate and include a crucial element of scientific (or social scientific) information in their resolution is considered an area of consideration.
The society currently pursues its expansive program through a monthly lecture series at the California Institute of Technology; an annual conference; a weekly radio show, "Science Talk," on the Southern California NPR affiliate, KPCC; and a national weekly television show on the Fox Family Channel. The society carries out its education through a book service that sells skeptical literature and cassette tapes. The Skeptics Society may be contacted at P.O. Box 338, Altadena, CA 91001. Its website can be found at http://www.skeptic.com/.
Shermer, Michael. Denying History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.
——. Why People Believe Weird Things. New York: W. H. Freeman and Co., 1997.