Skeptic History meets crowdsourcing

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 with strikeout.

Interesting Dates

  • 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.

Weak Days

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.

Update Nov. 16, 2013: Down to two dates with only one event, July 21 and October 25.

1 thought on “Skeptic History meets crowdsourcing

  1. Pingback: Skeptic History is now a JREF iPhone app « Skeptical Software Tools

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