A hat tip

Over at the Huffington Post Rodney Schmaltz has written a great piece called ‘Battling Psychics and Ghosts: The Need for Scientific Skepticism‘ in which he discusses how society are constantly ‘bombarded with pseudo-science’ in various forms. He points out that ‘people who buy into these pseudo-scientific claims are neither gullible nor lacking in intelligence. Instead, they have often not been taught the skills to critically evaluate information.’

Scientific Skepticism is important, he explains. Schmaltz then writes how many organisations and people work to help people gain critical thinking skills so that they can avoid being suckered in by those who promote nonsense. He also includes a link to a resource that he created Scott Lilienfeld.

In the article Carl Sagan, James Randi, Penn & Teller, Phil Plait, Richard Wiseman, Michael Shermer and Tim Minchin all get a name check for their work… but there is no mention of any skeptics who are women, and I think that’s a shame. Especially as there are women who work hard and make a huge difference to the public perception of pseudo-science, but also the public perception of being a skeptic. It isn’t just the Schmaltz piece, time and time again articles about skepticism are dominated by male skeptics.

So, while I sit here at my desk quickly eating a sandwich during my late lunch break I thought I’d share some of the women involved in paranormal/anomalistic fields in one way or another who make a difference that I think deserve a hat tip. I may not always agree with the methods of the people below, but their work totally deserves the credit.

Dr Caroline Watt is a a founder member of the Koestler Parapsychology Unit, is a published author, has taught and researched parapsychology at the University of Edinburgh for 25 years. She has published over 50 peer-reviewed academic papers, served as president of the Parapsychological Association, and has presented her research at conferences both within the UK and abroad and often appears in broadcast and print media

Kylie Sturgess is an award-Winning blogger, an established writer and author, and the independent podcast host of ‘The Token Skeptic Podcast‘ which currently rocks in at over 180 episodes. She has lectured on teaching critical thinking, feminism, new media and anomalistic beliefs worldwide, is a Philosophy and Religious Education teacher by trade and has won awards for her engagement and outreach activities.

Dr Karen Stollznow is a paranormal researcher, writer, author and podcaster. She is a columnist for Skeptic magazine,  a Research Fellow for the James Randi Educational Foundation, Contributing Editor for Skeptical Inquirer magazine, a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a member of their Executive Council.

Carrie Poppy co-hosts the ‘Oh No! Ross and Carrie’ podcast in which both hosts go undercover to investigate claims about spirituality, fringe science, religion, and the paranormal. She previously worked for the James Randi Educational Foundation and currently writes an investigative column for Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

Deborah Hyde is the editor of The Skeptic magazinethe UK’s only regular magazine to take a critical-thinking and evidence-based approach to pseudo-science and the paranormal. She is a blogger, and regularly speaks about vampires, folklore, werewolves and more, and can often be found in broadcast and print media talking sense about paranormal topics such as the Enfield Poltergeist. 

Sharon Hill is founder and editor of Doubtful News, a past contributor to the Huffington Post blog, a columnist for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), and has contributed reports and articles to Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptical Briefs. She is a public speaker and Studied amateur research and investigation groups (ARIGs) for her Masters thesis, which examined the “community of amateur paranormal investigators and how they used science.”

Dr Susan Blackmore received an MSc in environmental psychology in 1974 from the University of Surrey. In 1980, she earned a PhD in parapsychology from the same university and became skeptical following her studies of such subjects. Is a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (formerly CSICOP), is a consulting editor of the Skeptical Inquirer, and was awarded the CSICOP Distinguished Skeptic Award  in 1991. Visit her website here.

This list has been pulled from the top of my head during a lunch break, but even so it is clear to see that women make a huge contribution to the outreach and promotion of a rational approach to paranormal topics.

Published by

Hayley Stevens

Hayley is a ghost geek and started to blog in 2007. She uses scientific scepticism to investigate weird stuff and writes about it here while also speaking publicly about how to hunt ghosts as a skeptic.

7 thoughts on “A hat tip”

  1. Dr Caroline Watt was the reason I changed from ‘potential believer’ to my current belief that most of the things we find weird are produced in our own minds. Anyone wanting a good grounding in parapsychology/ psychology should check out the Koestler institute introductory courses. They will make you think!

  2. I can only state my opinion here but in my view Dr Caroline Watt is not a “skeptic”. She is very much a believer in psychic phenomena. She co-authored the book “An Introduction to Parapsychology” with another parapsychologist. There are countless errors in the book i.e. she has ignored the majority of skeptical writings on the subject. For example on subjects such as Ganzfeld, dream telepathy, ESP experiments or early spiritualist mediums she did not mention all the evidence for sensory leakage or deliberate fraud.

    In that book she has a section on the 19th century medium Daniel Dunglas Home but she doesn’t mention hardly any of the skeptical literature which debunked his mediumship or his experiments with William Crookes, she only mentions Frank Podmore, the criticisms from skeptics such as Edward Clodd, Joseph McCabe, Ronald Pearsall, Gordon Stein etc which have destroyed Home’s mediumship are not mentioned. She concludes Home had genuine psychic powers and his feats have no naturalistic explanation but we know this isn’t true, he utilized conjuring tricks and was caught a few times doing it. Because of all this I don’t believe she should be described as a skeptic.

    Watt also claims the Ganzfeld are evidence for psi – but search online (i.e. the Wikipedia article on the Ganzfeld experiment). They are not evidence for psi and have not been independently replicated. So basically Watt could be described as a skeptic that believes in the paranormal. Does that make sense? I don’t think it does.

  3. Ok fair play you wrote “women involved in paranormal/anomalistic fields”. But my issue with Dr Watt is that she might be skeptical of some paranormal phenomena (like the NDE) but she is still is a believer in magical pseudoscience (psi) and mediumship so her critical thinking skills have obviously failed her. You cannot be a true skeptic if you believe in paranormal superstition, it is contradiction.

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