Does it sometimes feel as if you have fallen down a rabbit hole? Reporters and TV announcers often foist dubious and irrational claims on us with scarcely a disclaimer. One hears of therapies and herbal remedies that can cure practically everything. Claims of New Age practitioners who peddle magnets that heal or crystals that will give us long life are parroted with a straight face. Far too often claims of psychics and astrologers who predict the future, explain the unknown, and communicate with the dead are passed on without a lick of proof. Laws are passed based on myth not science.
Even worse than news reports are the actions of the folks who are supposed to look out for our interests. A few years ago one San Diego County school board took a leap backwards nearly to the dark ages when it tried to eliminate teaching evolution in public schools. Later Kansas accomplished what San Marcos tried to do. It decided that science did not need be taught in public schools if it conflicted with belief. A later school board finally reversed this idiotic decision. still, few politicians, including the last two presidential candidates, were willing to address the issue.
Can we sort out what is real and what is pure fantasy?
We try. We are the San Diego Association for Rational Inquiry (SDARI), loosely affiliated with the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), a group founded by some of our country's top scientists, philosophers, and other critical thinkers. Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Paul Kurtz, Elie Shneour were early members.
SDARI IS committed to shining the clear light of reason on credulous ideas, and on insisting that those who bring us the news try to give us a balanced presentation.
Our members represent a cross section of San Diegans from all walks of life. If we have anything in common it is that we are committed to rational thinking and the scientific method of learning the truth. We urge even those without scientific training to use reason and common sense in examining the claims.
SDARI was organized in 1996 and has been active ever since. We do not hesitate to question or criticize members of the media when they give an uncritical report of therapeutic touch, faith healing, precognition, or other paranormal activity.
But, that's not all. We have public lectures featuring, scientists, historians, journalists, politicians, economists, physicians, and plain laymen. Each presents his or her view of credulous thinking and what she thinks can be done about it. The lectures are held on the fourth Sunday of the month at 7 p.m.
All this is passed on to our members and the public at large by our newsletter and on our web site.
We hope to get those who are most vulnerable to credulous thinking involved. We have a discounted membership for youngster. We have joined forces with the Greater San Diego Science & Engineering Fair. SDARI has been making awards to students who best investigate and critically examine paranormal, supernatural, or other scientifically unsubstantiated claims.
We feel critical thinking has a place in our community. Won't you join us in encouraging it?
In summary, SDARI has been organized in order to encourage rational and scientific thinking by:
Serving as an informational resource about paranormal and other extraordinary claims.
Exploring paranormal and pseudoscientific claims responsibly and from a scientific point of view.
Advocating and demonstrating the use of scientific inquiry in any activity that presents itself as an alternative to science.
Rationally examining paranormal and fringe-science claims; disseminating factual information about such claims; and encouraging scientific and critical thinking.
SDARI is a nonprofit educational organization, and is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.