By Edvard A. Hemmingsen
The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) and the San Diego Association for Rational Inquiry (SDARI) are loosely affiliated organizations, with no formal ties. We share many goals but we also differ, particularly in focus and priorities. CSICOP is a national organization with many international branches and affiliations. Their emphasis is to challenge and debunk claims of paranormal and supernatural phenomena, and to expose frauds arising from such claims.
SDARI is a local organization and will remain so. Our concerns and interests are broader than those of CSICOP and encompass many of the views held by such organizations as the James Randi Educational Foundation, the National Center for Science Education, the Council for Secular Humanism and the Skeptics Society. Indeed, many of SDARI's members maintain memberships in more than one of these organizations in order to encourage and support rational thinking in a diversity of human affairs. The commonality to the interests in these areas is rationality; what are the facts in our life, what is the evidence to support each fact, what makes sense?
With the exception of the humanists, none of the organizations listed here have chapters or affiliates in the San Diego area. Thus, a voice for reason and rationality was sorely needed when SDARI was organized nearly four years ago. One of our goals was to be a forum to which the news media and others could turn for rational information on paranormal and supernatural claims, health quackery and the like.
Another goal was to offer information to the citizens by presenting public lectures on issues of concern, and thereby show how facts and critical thinking are far more preferable than spurious beliefs.
We have had some impact, particularly with the news media. Reporters have sought information from us and we have challenged, by letters and phone calls, newspaper articles and TV reporting. Many of our public lectures have been excellent and timely, and have been reasonably well attended.
But we need to have a greater impact. This can only happen with a larger membership and more participation by the members. If you have not yet become a member or renewed your membership, do so now; we need you! In November we will have our yearly elections for officers. Please volunteer to be candidates. And attend our meetings to show support for our cause.
This newsletter, Rational Inquiry, has benefitted from several very good articles contributed by just a few of the members. We need more contributions. Give us your ideas in the form of articles, letters or short notes. They will reach beyond our local readership. Because Rational Inquiry is part of the CSICOP newsletter exchange, copies of each issue are distributed among other similarly oriented newsletters in the United States and abroad. Several of our articles have been picked up and published by other newsletters. Thus, your opinions reach many corners of the World, especially because they also are published on our website. However, if your ambitions or concerns are more local or modest, a letter with your views expressed will do just fine. But do contribute, and again, support our cause.
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