To be elected into a group that includes (or has included) such luminaries as Isaac Asimov, Francis Crick, Jill Tarter, Eugenie Scott, Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ann Druyan, and Carl Sagan is no small accomplishment, and six new scientists, scholars, and communicators have been elected to do just that. Six new fellows have been elected to the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, a program of the Center for Inquiry.
CSI fellows are elected for their distinguished service to science and skepticism, serving as advisors to CSI and its magazine, Skeptical Inquirer, and are invited to share their expertise and advice on the program’s issues and projects. Fellows are nominated and elected by CSI’s twelve-member Executive Council, and elections take place every several years.
This latest class of Fellows, elected at the end of 2017, are ready to be announced, and they include a mentalist, an expert on mass delusions, a “guerilla skeptic,” a GMO scientist, the editor of a UK skeptics’ magazine, and one of the world’s most respected climate scientists:
- Banachek (aka Steve Shaw), a professional magician and mentalist who has collaborated with James Randi, Criss Angel, and Penn and Teller, has performed on over 225 TV episodes and over 300 radio programs. He directed the James Randi Educational Foundation’s Million Dollar Challenge, has been the International Magicians Society Mentalist of the year and twice been APCA College Entertainer of the year.
- Robert Bartholomew, introduced to Cause & Effect readers in December, is a sociologist and investigative journalist, currently teaching history at Botany College in Auckland, New Zealand. He has earned the respect of the skeptic community through his sociological studies on mass hysteria, moral panics, social delusions, folklore, and the paranormal. He is the author of many books, including American Hauntings: True Stories Behind Hollywood’s Scariest Movies (2015, with CSI’s Joe Nickell), Mass Hysteria in Schools: A Worldwide History Since 1566 (2014), The Martians Have Landed: A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes (2012, with CSI’s Benjamin Radford), and the forthcoming American Intolerance: Our Dark History of Demonizing Immigrants (2018), among many others.
- Kevin Folta is professor and chairman of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida, is a leading voice for the evidence-based risks and benefits of genetic engineering in crops and medicine, and a defender against misinformation in food, farming, and other areas of science. He led the project to sequence the strawberry genome; trains scientists, students, farmers, and others in science communication; and hosts the evidence-based podcast Talking Biotech.
- Susan Gerbic is founder and leader of the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW) project (as well as the most comprehensive interviewer of CSICon speakers). The GSoW project has made a major contribution to the skeptic movement by ensuring that skepticism-related Wikipedia articles on topics, claims, and individual scientists/skeptics are accurate, thorough, and well cited. She has recruited and trained a large international group of Wikipedia editors knowledgeable about scientific skepticism and skeptical topics. She is also cofounder of Monterey County Skeptics and a frequent contributor to Skeptical Inquirer.
- Deborah Hyde is a folklorist, cultural anthropologist, and editor in chief of the UK-based magazine The Skeptic. She writes and lectures extensively about superstition, cryptozoology, religion, and belief in the paranormal with special regard to the folklore, psychology, and sociology behind these phenomena. She introduced the Ockham Awards to reward successful skeptical activism and recently added the “Rusty Razor” award for the worst bit of pseudoscience of the year (won by Goop, of course). These awards have become a standard part of the QED annual conference in Manchester, U.K., and attract a great deal of media attention.
- Michael E. Mann is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and director of the Earth Systems Sciences Center at the Pennsylvania State University. He is likely best known for introducing the visual conceptualization of the progress of climate change with the famous “hockey stick” chart, for which he has become a prime target of science deniers. He is the author of more than 200 peer-reviewed and edited publications, as well as author of three books: The Madhouse Effect (2016, with cartoonist Tom Toles), The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars (2012), and Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming (2008). He has been a contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments of climate science. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Congratulations and welcome to our new fellows! The full list of CSI fellows can be found on the inside cover of each issue of Skeptical Inquirer and on the CSI website.