In Memoriam for 2013 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Farley   

 For the last four years I've compiled an "In Memoriam" presentation for The Amazing Meeting each July. I think it is importanthat the skeptical community remember the people we've lost and the work they've done to make the world a more rational place. (You can watch the presentation from the most recent TAM 2013 online here).

I started doing this because I thought it was a good idea that no one else had taken up. It is important to record our history, and many of these people toil in relative obscurity and thus do not receive prominent obituaries in the news, or sometimes even notice in the skeptic blogs.

 

I was reminded of that this year when I discovered two deaths that had occurred in the spring of 2011 - one a prominent skeptic, the other a pseudoscience promoter - that had gone largely unnoticed in our community for two years. The skeptic was C.E.M. Hansel, a British psychologist and critic of parapsychology who was among the early supporters of CSICOP. He wrote for Skeptical Inquirer and was until recently listed as a CSI Fellow, though he had died in March 2011. The pseudoscience promoter was Max Toth, a devotee of "pyramid power" in the 1970s.  Daniel Loxton remembered Toth in a blog post recently when he discovered the man had died in April 2011. That these obituaries have eluded my searches back in 2011 underscored how difficult it can be to record the history of skepticism.

Of course our annual meeting at TAM is not the only time to think about history.  The end of the year is a time to look back as well, and so below I've compiled an updated a list of obituaries for the calendar year 2013.  

 

This year we've lost both eminent skeptics such as Narendra Dabholkar and Robert Steiner as well as notorious paranormalists and charlatans such as Sylvia Browne and Harold Camping.  But the lists below include a number of less well-known persons who may have simply supported skepticism, or worked in the allied fields of secularism, humanism, atheism and so on.  The links on each name lead to more information about that person.

 

Please take a moment to remember these people and their contributions to the long history of scientific skepticism.

In Memoriam

Skeptics, scientists and friends of the JREF.

  • Iain Banks (2/16/1954 – 6/9/2013) Author & “evangelical atheist”

  • Peter Bügel (1945 – 8/17/2013) Board member of VtdK – the Dutch Association against Quackery

  • Roger D. Cleveland (7/23/1945 – 6/23/2013) Founding member of Alabama Freethought Association; Lake Hypatia

  • Dr. W. Gene Corley (12/19/1935 – 3/1/2013) Lead engineer in 9/11 collapse report; said Truthers used “junk science”

  • Narendra Dabholkar (11/1/1945 – 8/20/2013) Indian rationalist who was murdered for his beliefs

  • Roger Ebert (6/18/1942 – 4/4/2013) Film critic; skeptic

  • Pekka Elo (1949 – 12/14/2013) Educator, chair of Finnish Humanist Association; associate of Rationalist International

  • Susan M. Goldfrank (7/2/1943 – 9/17/2013) American Ethical Union board; Ethical Society of Northern Westchester

  • Margherita Hack (6/12/1922 – 6/29/2013) Italian astrophysicist; scientific advisor to CICAP

  • Leonard J. Kerpelman (1925 – 9/26/2013) Lawyer who led school prayer case Abington School District v. Schempp.

  • Hilary Koprowski (12/5/1916 – 4/11/2013) Developed first live-virus polio vaccine

  • Frank Lautenberg (1/23/1924 – 6/3/2013) US Senator who supported secularism

  • Alton Lemon (10/19/1928 – 5/4/2013) Plaintiff in Lemon v. Kurtzman, a key secularism court case

  • Jeffrey Paul Lucas (4/18/1956 – 10/22/2013) Advocate for atheists, humanists & freethinkers at Air Force Academy

  • Ali Maow Maalin (1954 – 7/22/2013) Last person to get smallpox; dedicated rest of his life to polio eradication

  • Jon Marriott (1961 – 3/24/2013) JREF Forum – “H3LL”

  • Mark P. Monack (5/20/1968 – 4/21/2013) JREF Forum – “Marksman”

  • Mike Morwood (10/27/1950 – 7/23/2013) Australian archaeologist best known for discovering Homo floresiensis

  • Mark Perakh (11/2/1924 – 5/7/2013) Mathematician, skeptic of creationism, author of “Unintelligent Design”

  • Peter Pockley (5/20/1935 – 8/11/2013) Australian science journalist & popularizer of science

  • Frederick Pohl (11/26/1919 – 9/2/2013) Science fiction writer and skeptic

  • Michael S. Smith (1974 – 4/2/2013) JREF Forum – “Joobie”

  • Joseph Steinberg (?? – 9/14/2013) Blogger, skeptic podcast listener, “Hume’s Bastard”

  • Robert A. Steiner (1934 – 1/4/2013) Magician; skeptic; created the “Steve Terbot” hoax

  • Alex Stoker (11/16/1973 – 7/25/2013) UK physician and skeptic who was @skepticmedick on Twitter

  • Michael Strieb (12/22/1970 – 10/8/2013) JREF Forum – “NobbyNobbs”

  • Laszlo Toth (1951 – 8/10/2013) Poet, editor & government worker who supported Hungarian Skeptics

  • Jaakko J. Wallenius (1/30/1958 – 6/11/2013) Prolific Finnish journalist & blogger on secularism, atheism, skepticism

  • Daniel Wegner (6/28/1948 – 7/5/2013) Psychologist who studied automatic writing

Passages

Others with some connection to skepticism.

  • Michael Baigent (2/27/1948 – 6/17/2013) New Zealand pseudohistorian; “The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail”

  • Jean-Jacques Barloy (1939 – 1/26/2013) French cryptozoologist and biographer of Bernard Heuvelmans

  • Sylvia Browne (10/19/1936 – 11/20/2013) American psychic medium

  • Harold Camping (7/19/1921 – 12/15/2013) Christian radio minister who predicted the end of the world

  • Bruce Cathie (1930 – 6/2/2013) New Zealand UFO author

  • Chow Yam-nam (6/19/1937 – 8/17/2013) Thai Chinese celebrity mystic who was known as “White Dragon King”

  • Paul Crouch (3/30/1934 – 11/30/2013) Televangelist; founder of Triinity Broadcasting

  • Ed Dufresne (6/1941 – 10/18/2013) California faith-healing minister who claimed he could heal cancer

  • George Fawcett (7/21/1929 – 1/20/2013) UFO researcher

  • Marjorie E. Fish (9/19/1932 – 4/8/2013) Mapped Betty Hill’s star map in 3D

  • Duane Gish (2/17/1921 – 3/5/2013) Creationist famous for debating; namesake of the “Gish Gallop”

  • William J. Guste, Jr. (5/26/1922 – 7/25/2013) Louisiana attorney general who defended creation science, leading to Edwards v. Aguillard

  • Johnny Lee Hayes (11/26/1965 – 4/13/2013) Texas Bigfoot researcher

  • José Luis de Jesús (4/22/1946 – 11/16/2013) “Growing in Grace” cult leader who predicted a “transformation” of his followers in June 2012

  • Joyce Marie Kearney (4/2/1943 – 9/20/2013) San Francisco Bigfoot researcher

  • Roy Mackal (8/1/1925 – 9/13/2013) University of Chicago biologist who also did cryptozoology research

  • Ivan Mackerle (3/1/1942 – 1/3/2013) Czech cryptozoologist who popularized Mongolian death worm

  • Jesse Marcel Jr. (1937 – 8/25/2013) Montana physician who claimed to have handled Roswell UFO debris, lectured on it

  • Phillip Marshall (8/2/1958 – 2/1/2013) 9/11 conspiracy theory author, “The Big Bamboozle”

  • Scott McClean (1963 – 1/30/2013) California Bigfoot researcher

  • Elaine Morgan (11/7/1920 – 7/12/2013) Proponent of the “aquatic ape theory”

  • William P. O’Neill (6/24/1954 – 3/31/2013) Canadian promoter of bogus cancer treatments via Canadian Cancer Research Group

  • Edward T. Oakes (5/18/1948 – 12/6/2013) Catholic theologian who was also a fierce critic of “intelligent design”

  • Augusto Odone (3/6/1933 – 10/24/2013) Italian economist, father of Lorenzo of “Lorenzo’s Oil” fame

  • David J. Pitkin (3/7/1939 – 2/13/2013) Ghost hunter

  • Reg Presley (6/12/1941 – 2/4/2013) Lead singer of The Troggs, UFO conspiracy advocate, “Wild Things They Don’t Tell You”

  • Lloyd Pye (9/7/1946 – 12/9/2013) Paranormal researcher who promoted the “Starchild skull”

  • Bobbie Short (10/26/1936 – 5/16/2013) Bigfoot researcher

  • Ingo Swann (9/14/1933 – 1/31/2013) Alleged remote viewer of the Stanford Research Institute

  • Warren Thompson (10/9/1941 – 3/20/2013) Member of “Bay Area Group” of Bigfoot researchers

  • Jim Tucker (12/31/1934 – 4/26/2013) Journalist who focused on Bilderberg Group

  • Solomon Wickey (2/27/1938 – 8/5/2013) Amish faith healer and herbalist who had brushes with the legal system

  • Colin Wilson (6/26/1931 – 12/5/2013) English writer of paranormal and occult books

  • Frederick Zugibe (5/28/1928 – 9/6/2013) New York medical examiner who developed theories on the Shroud of Turin

Thank you to Peter Bowditch, Sharon Hill, Jim Lippard, Daniel Loxton, Steve Novella and Robert Sheaffer for their help in compiling this list.

 

You can get a daily dose of the history of skepticism with JREF’s free Today in Skeptic History app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. You can also subscribe for a daily fact on Twitter or Facebook.

 


Tim Farley is a JREF Research Fellow, he blogs at skeptools.com