I like to highlight items from the history of skepticism, so newer skeptics can learn how we've arrived where we are today. To this end, I post a daily fact from skeptic history on social media.
Here are a few notable skeptical anniversaries for the month of October 2013:
25th Anniversary: On October 1, 1988 The U.S. Vaccine Injury Compensation Program began operation. It was created after a series of lawsuits caused some pharmaceutical companies to withdraw their vaccine products from the market. This resulted in vaccine shortages that endangered the public health.
20th Anniversary: October 1, 1993: A lengthy legal battle between the Church of Scientology and the U.S. government ends when the church is finally granted tax-exempt status by the IRS.
25th Anniversary: On October 13, 1988 Archbishop of Turin, Anastasio Ballestrero announced in a press conference that the Shroud of Turin had been dated to medieval times using Carbon-14 dating. It was thereby proven by science to be a medieval fake.
105th Anniversary: On October 19, 1908 The Anti-Vaccine League of America began its first conference in Philadelphia. It was one of several anti-vaccine organizations that existed in the late-19th and early-20th century. Several notable smallpox epidemics during this period had resulted in calls for mandatory or compulsory vaccination, and corresponding resistance.
125th Anniversary: In a letter published October 21, 1888 in the New York World, Margaret Fox confessed that she and her sisters faked the sounds heard during their Spiritualist seances, partially by cracking their knuckles. Thus it was revealed that entire religious movement was essentially started by a childhood prank.
75th Anniversary: On October 30, 1938 The radio broadcast of H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds" by Orson Welles was thought by some listeners to be a real news event. This happened again in subsequent years when similar broadcasts were done in other cities, most notably in Quito, Ecuador in 1949 when an angry mob set fire to the radio station involved.
This list of October anniversaries first appeared in a different form on page 66 of the September/October 2013 issue of Skeptical Inquirer.
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Tim Farley is a JREF Research Fellow. He is the creator of the website What's the Harm , blogs at Skeptical Software Tools and contributes to the Skepticality podcast and the Virtual Skeptics webcast. You can follow him on Twitter here.