One of my projects is to research the history of skepticism, and relay what I find for the benefit of newer skeptics. The hope is that they can learn from the past to know 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 skeptic-relevant anniversaries for November 2013:
50th Anniversary: On November 1, 1963 LIFE magazine ran a feature titled "Crackdown on Quackery" which exposed several fraudulent quacks. It also spawned the lawsuit Dietemann v. Time Inc. which resulted in limits on the use of subterfuge in undercover journalism.
50th Anniversary: On November 2, 1963 the American Medical Association created a Committee on Quackery, beginning a decades-long battle with chiropractic that ended in a lengthy lawsuit (Wilk v. AMA) which the AMA lost in 1987.
10th Anniversary: On November 15, 2003 a gala grand opening was held for the Steve Allen Theater at CFI-West in Los Angeles. Jayne Meadows, Paul Kurtz and DJ Grothe were among those in attendance.
45th Anniversary: On November 15, 1968 the Condon Report on the UFO phenomenon was released to the U.S. Air Force which paid for its preparation. It was released to the public the following January. The entire Condon Report is available online courtesy of the National Capital Area Skeptics.
35th Anniversary: On November 18, 1978 Jim Jones led his People's Temple cult in a mass murder-suicide that claimed 918 lives, one of the largest such tragedies in human history.
40th Anniversary: On November 30, 1973 Carl Sagan first appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He would appear 26 times in the next 13 years. James Randi will be speaking at the annual Carl Sagan Day celebration on Saturday, November 9.
60th Anniversary: On November 21, 1953 the London Times published a detailed article which definitively exposed Piltdown Man as an "elaborate hoax".
50th Anniversary: On November 22, 1963 President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Conspiracy theories about this event continue to this day. In recognition of the 50th anniversary, the Australian Skeptics National Convention this year has chosen conspiracy theories as its theme.
This list of October anniversaries first appeared in a different form on page 66 of the November/December 2013 issue of Skeptical Inquirer.
You can get a daily dose of the history of skepticism with JREF’s free Today in Skeptic History app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. You can also subscribe for a daily fact on Twitter or Facebook.
Tim Farley is a JREF Research Fellow.