Update July 1: The “secret project” I allude to in this post has been revealed. Read about it here.
Those of you who use Twitter, Facebook or FriendFeed (and are connected to me) know that I post a “this day in history” style item called Skeptic History every morning. I started researching those somewhat on a lark and then later realized it would be an interesting educational project to post them daily, which I started in February 2009. About a year after that I approached Derek and Swoopy of the Skepticality podcast about doing an audio version of it, which I’ve been doing as a segment since Skepticality #123 last March. This year, Skeptic History is going to take off in a new direction as well. Unfortunately I can’t talk about the exact details yet, but I hope it will be very exciting and reach folks who don’t use social media or listen to podcasts. This new venue has got me thinking about the content. I do the research for it in my spare time, mostly using the Internet of course. As a result, I can’t always dig as deeply as I can for some dates to put in the calendar. And so I’ve accumulated a wish list of dates I was unable to locate in my searches. This is where I could use your help… There are thousands of books written on topics of relevance to skepticism, and I only have ready access to a small percentage of them. Thus you, dear skeptical reader, may have on your shelf reference material that could fill in gaps in my research. So take a look at the items I have listed below, and if you think you might be able to find one of them, give it a shot. You can post the result in the comments below, or contact me online via one of the aforementioned services or via email. Going forward, I’m going to maintain this entry as my “slush pile” of needed info, and mark items that have been found
- Date Janet Horne (the last witch in Scotland) was executed in June 1727.
- Effective date of England’s Witchcraft Act of 1735 (9 Geo. 2 c. 5)
- The date of Louis Debaraz’s execution as the last witch in France in 1745.
- Date of onset of the “Smallpox War” in Marblehead, Mass in early 1774.
- Was the last execution for witchcraft in Germany on April 11, 1775? What are the details?
- New York court ruling on Evangeline Adams in which judge ruled astrology scientific. (She was arrested May 1914)
- Date Arthur Conan Doyle ran his ad that said “J.B. Rhine is a monumental ass” in Boston (probably 1927). Got access to Boston Herald archives? “Conan Doyle Backs Crandons” March 5, 1927 p.212 might have this info.
Date(s) of MUFON’s first International UFO Symposium in the summer of 1970.
- Date of 1974 U.S. Senate hearings on psychic surgery.
- The dates of the Scole Experiments in England in the 1990s
- The date Mattias Rath sued Ben Goldacre in 2007 (dropped in September 2008).
- The date the UK Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme went into effect in 1979.
I’ve been unable to find the birthdays of a number of prominent skeptics and “believers”, including those listed below. The hyperlinks usually take you to that person’s Wikipedia biography, often a good starting place for further research.
- Hoaxer Alan Abel (1930)
- JREF MDC benefactor Rick Adams
- Lynn V. Andrews, mystic and shaman
Political science professor Michael Barkun
- Stephen Barrett (Quackwatch)
Alex Boese (Museum of Hoaxes) New Yorker writer Paul Brodeur who wrote panicky articles about power lines & microwaves
- Remote viewing proponent Courtney Brown
- Titus Bull (1871-1946) believed spirits caused diseases
- Arthur R. Butz (born 1933), holocaust denier at Northwestern U.
- Robert Todd Carroll (Skeptic’s Dictionary)
- Peter Chappell founder of the UK Society of Homeopaths
Cryptozoology expert Loren Coleman Indian rationalist Narendra Dabholkar (1945 – 2013)
- “Goat starer” Ed Dames
- Investigative reporter Brian Deer
- Australian anti-vaccine activist Meryl Dorey
Indian rationalist Sanal Edamaruku Skeptologist Mark Edward Velikovsky skeptic C. Leroy Ellenberger
- “Rods” proponent Jose Escamilla
Archaeologist Kenneth Feder
- British medium Leslie Flint (1911-1994)
Skeptical Inquirer editor Kendrick Frazier Peter J. Freyd coined “false memory syndrome” Author John G. Fuller (“Ghost of Flight 401”, “The Interrupted Journey”)
- French psychical researcher Gustave Geley
Ben Goldacre (Bad Science) 9-11 truther David Ray Griffin (b 1939)
- British medium Agnes Guppy
- Polish medium Jan Guzik (1875-1928)
- Sven Ove Hansson
- Cult expert Steven Hassan
- Spirit photographer William Hope
- Icelandic medium Indriði Indriðason
- Physicist Steven E. Jones of Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Justice
- Polish medium Franek Kluski
- Therapeutic Touch inventor Dolores Krieger (born 1921)
- Arthur Krigsman (Wakefield acolyte)
- Cult expert Michael Langone
Mary Lefkowitz (“Not Out of Africa”)
- Frederick A. (Fred) Leuchter, Jr. (born 1943) holocaust denier
- Skeptic Magazine’s Pat Linse
Skeptic Jim Lippard
- British astrologer Edward Lyndoe (born 1901)
- Canadian mystic Dorothy Maclean (Findhorn)
- Parapsychologist Michaeleen C. Maher
David F. Marks of New Zealand Skeptics Robert S. Mendelsohn (anti-vaccine & anti-fluoridation doctor)
- Barbara & David Mikkelson of Snopes.com
L. Ron Hubbard biographer Russell Miller
- George Soulié de Morant (1878-1955) who introduced acupuncture to the West.
- Spirit photographer William H. Mumler
- Chinese skeptic Sima Nan
- British astrologer R.H. Naylor
- Gary Michael Null (born in 1945) alternative medicine proponent
- Leonard Orr (invented rebirthing)
- Polish psychic Stefan Ossowiecki
- Hubert E. Pearce (high-scoring subject of J.B. Rhine’s psi experiments)
- Oskar Pfungst of “Clever Hans”
- Italian skeptic Massimo Polidoro
William Poundstone (“Big Secrets”)
- Uber-quack Matthias Rath
EVP researcher Konstantins Raudive
- Germ theory denier & quack Carey Reams (1904-1987)
- “Mythbusters” creator & producer Peter Rees
- Vampire & ghost researcher Martin V. Riccardo
- Dr. Paul Nogier (1908-1996) inventor of ear acupuncture & ear reflexology
- Robert J. Schadewald (NCSE)
- Austrian medium Willi Schneider
American ghost investigator Maurice Schwalm (1928-2001)
- Parapsychologist Gary Schwartz
- McGill University’s alt-med skeptic Dr. Joe Schwarcz
Optical illusion expert Al Seckel
- Rose Shapiro (“Suckers”)
- Walter Siegmeister (aka Raymond W. Bernard) (alternative health, Hollow Earth)
- Bradley R. Smith, holocaust denier who founded CODOH
Postmodernism hoaxter Alan Sokal UFO skeptic Robert Sheaffer
- Zoologist & cryptozoologist Karl Shuker
- Journalist Andrew A. Skolnick (b. 1931)
- William Garner Sutherland (cranial osteopathy)
Robert H. Thouless (parapsychologist)
- Italian astronomer Placidus de Titis
- John E. Upledger (craniosacral therapy)
Brazillian skeptic Drauzio Varella Paranormal author Richard Winer (“The Devil’s Triangle”)
- Psychologist Richard Wiseman
- Jane Rebecca Yorke (1872-1944) the last person convicted under the Witchcraft Act of 1735.
- Afterlife believer & attorney Victor Zammit
Admittedly doing research starting with a date and nothing else is not an ideal situation, but with Google anything is possible. To that end, here are the remaining dates in the calendar on which I’ve only been able to find one event. For the aforementioned secret new project, it would be nice to have additional events for these days. The hyperlinks on the dates below show you the current item I have for these days, as posted on Twitter.
15th (Kent Hovind)
3rd (Billy Meier), 21st (Structure of DNA)
7th (D.D. Palmer), 8th (Max Gerson died)& 30th (Peter Ellis)
14th (Erich von Däniken), 20th (Aubrey de Grey), 29th (David Icke)
2nd (Loch Ness “monster” coined), 14th (First Smallpox inoculation), 30th (MUFON)
June 14: “Under God” in Pledge of Allegiance, 23rd (Ray Hyman), 26th (Smallpox violence)
6th (Pasteur rabies), 11th (In God We Trust), 12th (Michael Ventris), 21st (Scopes convicted)
16th (Harmonic Convergence)
6th (Marcello Truzzi)
8th (Chicago fire: a comet?), 25th (U.S. DSHEA law)
4th (TIME covers alt-med), 6th (Cesare Lombroso)
3rd (Benny Hinn), 7th (Pearl Harbor), 13th (Paul Brodeur microwaves), 29th (Brian Dunning), 31st (Noel Jan Tyl)
Update Nov. 16, 2013: Down to two dates with only one event, July 21 and October 25.