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A Modern Sceptic in The Guardian

This is a guest post by Mira

There are four new science columnists at The Guardian, one of whom is anomalistic psychology academic Professor Chris French. In this Channel 4 documentary about conspiracy theories he conducts a small-scale study of conspiracy beliefs and then pursues reasonable discussion about the findings with David Icke on a windswept beach.

I’m sure even this will be surpassed. His first column is about the resurgence of modern scepticism:

“Once the sceptical community reached a critical mass, events could be organised in the confident knowledge that enough people would turn up to ensure their success. If such events appeal to you, you might want to sign up to the APRU’s Psychology of the Paranormal email list. It’s free and we’ll keep you informed of events of interest, including our own Invited Speaker Series, with forthcoming talks by Nick Pope, Bernard Carr, and Simon Singh, and some interesting events organised by the London Centre for Inquiry, including one-day events dealing with God in the Lab and Science and Religion.

Whatever factors may have combined in sociologically interesting ways to produce the rise of modern scepticism, it is to be welcomed. It is not just about giving previously isolated geeks a sense of community, it is about promoting critical thinking as widely as possible throughout society. We live in an age where companies advertise products on the basis of fake science, alternative therapists sell pseudoscientific and unproven treatments to uninformed consumers and, arguably, human greed and irrationality has brought the world to the brink of environmental and financial disaster. Not only that, but alienated religious fanatics yearn for nothing more than the death of as many non-believers as possible in their quest for personal martyrdom. Have we ever needed critical thinking more?”

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