Program Areas

The Center for Inquiry's programs of public education focus on two broad areas.

Paranormal and Fringe Science Claims

Through its Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) , the Center for Inquiry evaluates claims of the paranormal (phenomena allegedly beyond the range of normal scientific explanations), such as psychic phenomena, ghosts, communication with the dead, and alleged extraterrestrial visitations. It also explores the fringes and borderlands of the sciences, attempting to separate promising research from irresponsible pseudosciences, such as "creation science" and astrology. The interdisciplinary research conducted by CSI has shown that such pseudosciences have not applied the methods of rigorous scientific inquiry and have often violated the standards of confirmation and corroboration. For example, astrology is considered a pseudoscience because its claims are not clearly formulated in testable form, its theories are often internally inconsistent, and its results have not been empirically corroborated. CSI research fellows are sought out by journalists and producers worldwide. CSI monitors and reports on the irresponsible promulgation of pseudoscience, hoaxes, and urban legends within the pages of its flagship publication, Skeptical Inquirer and associate newsletter, Skeptical Briefs, on the Internet, in the mass media, and through conferences, workshops and related events. CSI maintains an educational program and online resource for educators, parents and young people entitled Inquiring Minds, a collection of subject-specific web sites, as well as an online Skeptiseum, housing the collections of paranormal investigator, Joe Nickell.

Religion, Ethics, and Society

Matters of faith and values are not immune from the implications of the scientific outlook, and a conception of our selves and our place in the universe can never be intellectually viable while it resists integration with the best knowledge of the day. The Council for Secular Humanism (CSH) promotes naturalism and secular values to the public, and stimulates critical inquiry into the foundations and social effects of the world religions. The Council stands up for the dignity of those who dissent from today's reigning orthodoxies, and assists secular humanist community groups across North America. Different divisions focus on issues specific to the African-American and African experience, and to Islamic societies, with pioneering Koranic criticism and advocacy for separation of mosque and state. The Council's peer-reviewed journal of academic philosophy, Philo, specializes in the articulation and philosophical defense of naturalism in metaphysics, epistemology, and moral theory. The Council also keeps alive the history of nineteenth century American freethought through its Robert G. Ingersoll Memorial Committee, which operates a museum in Dresden, New York.