How I became a skeptic

Steve Simon


I’m a big fan of the skeptic movement. If you’re not familiar with this, it is a group of professional and amateur scientists who critically examine claims of fringe science areas like parapsychology, UFOs, and alternative medicine. So when a blog post on the James Randi Educational Foundation website called for people to share their stories of how people became skeptics, I wrote the following story.

It started with “Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science”

Being a math geek, I was a big fan of Martin Gardner, but I had no idea what I was in for when I read his book, “Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science.” I was spellbound. I couldn’t believe that people were so foolish as to believe some of these things. And then he tackled graphology, which was something I believed in.

Oh what a shock to my system. But his relatively mild critical comments made me realize that I had embraced something just as irrational as those N-Rays and a hollow earth. So now, anytime I see someone adopting a wildly irrational belief, I think “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

Fighting for a rational approach to science is a constant battle and struggle for me, but the skeptic community provides useful tools. I’ve become more savvy about scientific and medical claims over time through a variety of skeptical sources, but most notably the Skeptical Inquirer magazine, and the Skeptic’s Dictionary website.

You can find an earlier version of this page on my original website.