Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Monday, October 26, 2009



There is an outfit called the Centre for Inquiry (CFI) who I blush to admit I had never heard of. They profess to follow the following guidelines:

(i) the application of science and/or reason to questions regarding religion and the supernatural (e.g. questions about the divine, parapsychological questions, etc.)

(ii) the application of science and/or reason to pressing contemporary ethical dilemmas and social/political problems (e.g. stem-cell research, global warming)

(iii) the question of what is, and is not, good science (e.g. is intelligent design, or cold fusion, or magnet therapy, good science?)

They are doing a one day thingy in a couple of weeks at the Conway Hall in London. The subject is sea monsters and the two speakers are our very own Drs Darren Naish and Charles Paxton, and I am sure that a splendid time will be guaranteed for all....


Anonymous said...

The application of science and/or reason to questions regarding religion and the supernatural? Bah! The religious impulse and the so-called "supernatural" exist, and are meant to exist, beyond the stifling, necessarily limited bounds of science and reason.

The application of science and/or reason to pressing contemporary ethical dilemmas and social/political problems? Social Darwinism with a smiley face, cleansed of Hitler's bad PR.

The question of what is, and is not, good science? Again, what is "good" tends to concur with the emotional preferences of the scientific elite. The quantum physical notions of a David Deutsch are the most fantastical nonsense, but he is not subjected to the attacks that are the lot of a Rupert Sheldrake. That's because Deutsch attempts to rid the world of the notion of the Transcendent, and this is just the job that Dawkins & Co. are engaged in.

I see the old faces are on the CFI advisory board: Dawkins, Blackmore, Wiseman, Wolpert, Greenfield etc. They call themselves "skeptics". This actually means that they are only "skeptical" about paradigms they wish to attack in terms of more personal motivations. They are not skeptical at all about the integrity of our political masters, for example. If you suggested that Lee Harvey Oswald didn't actually fire the shot that killed JFK, they'd put a tin-foil dunce cap on your head to peals of mocking laughter. "Free Enquiry"? Pull the other one.

Still, this doesn't mean that Monsters From The Deep will be necessarily a disappointment. But, as a surrealchemist, when I hear the words Science and Reason, I reach for my blunderbuss. Science and Reason are tools for free spirits, but I suspect the CFI wants to make free spirits the tools of the power elites, shorn of any appeals to a source of authority beyond the most base materialism. And invoking the idols of "Science" and "Reason" is the way They've been doing it for the last 150 years.

As a kind of alternative to this way of thinking, I suggest this initiative by Patrick Harpur:

Jed Rothwell said...

Cold fusion is excellent science and it is nothing like intelligent design. Cold fusion have been replicated in hundreds of major labs, and these replications were published in hundreds of papers in mainstream, peer-reviewed journals such as J. Electroanal. Chem. and Fusion Technology.

This month, the 15th International Conference on cold fusion was held in Rome, Italy. It was sponsored by ENEA (the Italian National Agency for New Technologies Energy and the Environment), the Italian Physical Society, the Italian Chemical Society, and the Italian National Research Council (CNR), so there is mainstream support for the research in some countries, especially Italy, China and Japan. Researchers reported excellent progress, especially at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

You can read about 1000 full text cold fusion papers here:


I Doubt It said...

CFI publishes Skeptical Inquirer. They are the home agency of the CSICOP/now Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

Skeptical Inquirer has Ben Radford as its managing editor. Ben, Blake Smith and Karen Stoltznow do a new podcast called Monster Talk. It's a podcast dedicated to cryptozoology while taking the skeptical attitude. So far, their interviews have been great. Check it out at monstertalk.org

norman said...

Looks like a coven of sceptics seriously lacking an open mind and out to prove it. Suffering from straight jacket science where all they should rely on is an anchor.
They should be sceptical about being sceptical. Maybe they need to think again and start applying reason and science to reason and science. Starting with explaining to me what they mean by it.

I am pleased cold fusionists are still at it and have made a point even if it doesnt turn out to meet our hopes-so my gas bill finally goes down.

I Doubt It. I you think the MONSTERTALKS are great I suggest you look or look again at the interview with Todd Disotell re mystery apes. More an audience Id say as the poddies genufluct to TD. Please examine what he says in the light of common sense and then wonder about the validity of the DNA results for sasquatch and the like obtained by at the NYU labs in view of the minimum attention the samples get and that to boot sceptical. This lab has never obtained a positive crytozoological result and pour scorn on those that have. In the world of the sceptic, the lab status, which is hugh and pivotal to the search for mystery animals, is enhanced every time it gets another negative result. Just look at what Todd himself tells you about his scepticism and attitudes. Do not be swayed by his adoring fans starting with Ben R.

I Doubt It said...

Sorry "annalee"/Norman. What you wrote makes no sense. I prefer evidence over the colloquial "common sense". As much as we would like the evidence to be there for Bigfoot, it is not up to standards. Skepticism is necessary for science. It weeds out the bad ideas.

norman said...

The CFI state they decline to apply science and reason to science and reason. I have an inkling of what they mean but not the sort of thing one needs to get entangled in when enjoying cryptozoology I wouldnt think.
Being sceptical is ok but it can get ridiculous and a symptom of a negative mindset. The trouble with so much scepticism and especially regarding Sasquatch is it is not scientific, just jahbooing and obstructive.
Why dont you listen to the MONSTERTALK.ORG re mystery ape and this shows what I mean. Personally I think it is apalling and I am surprised they havnt pulled it. But I would like others to look at it so they can see it not just a bee in my bonnet and so the present reality of at least some of the application of science to cryptozoology is out in the open. The problem with the NYU labs is that have become pivotal to research into Sasquatch.
Ideally the talk ought to be transcribed and put in the public arena for open discussion. This is the way to a reasonably balanced understanding not undiluted scepticsm. Meanwhile a wonder like Saquatch is probably on the brink.
NB I use an E mail add set up by my wife

I Doubt It said...

Again, Norman, I am confused as to what you are saying. (Granted, we don't have the word "jahbooing" in the US lexicon so something may be lost in translation.)

I have listened to all 5 posted Monstertalk podcast episodes. I thought Dr. Todd Disotell was a fine interview. He was allowed to give details and clarifications beyond what TV shows or crypto-proponents will suggest. That's a rarity. Dr. Todd said he does DNA services for potential cryptid samples because he's either doing science (by showing that DNA is from a known animal) or helping to discover a new animal. He's excited about that. Even cryptozoological fans of a skeptical bent would love to find a Bigfoot. The evidence suggests we will not find a new, previously unknown animal. Still waiting for good quality evidence. The podcast has a forum for public discussion. You can always post your criticisms and suggestions there.

In no place did "CFI state they decline to apply science and reason to science and reason."

Are you just "enjoying" cryptozoology or using it to understand the world as it really is? Those can be two completely different outlooks. Science is out to show how nature really is to the best that we can achieve. Feel free to enjoy lots of interesting ideas and mind experiments but one should not cross the line and say they are supported by a good foundation. (That's why I like the CFZ site - it never pretends to be what it is not.)

Scientific skepticism is necessary, as I stated before. If we went around buying into every idea, we'd be overloaded with nonsense that would not tell us much about reality. Modern skepticism is not about negativity at all. It's about critical thinking. However, it appears you have an established view of what you think it is and I doubt we will agree on terms to continue this conversation. If a discussion starts off with differing definitions and assumptions, we can't very well get anywhere.

norman said...

Aplogies, I mispelt YAH-BOO which means a YAH used as an expression of derision or contempt and a BOO! Together traditionally shouted by hostile crowds. Not used as means of reasoned criticism.
The CFI's commitment to not applying science and reason to science and reason is on the CFI site being the third item under FAQ. Bit of a distraction i'd say.
I have listened to the TD tape several times, he admits he is a sceptic about Sasquatch and clearly with his jeering and biased criticisms demonstrates he is an arch sceptic, but condems those who wish to prove its existence saying they loose all credibility. This is nonsense. Then he says science cannot prove anything only disprove, more nonsense.In addition He says all footcasts of sasquatch are fakes. In 15 years his lab has never got a positive cryptid result. As I said IMO his status increases everytime he gets a negative.
What you really need is a transcript of his talk so it can be dissected. This doesnt mean a one sided jeer at it, as TD has done but a fair and rational appraisel. I cannot see how you can admire the talk he gave if you have some grounding in the pros as well as the cons of Sasqatchery. Remember at one point he says he cannot take his folks off real science to analyse sasquatch samples and then he does the lowest end of the amount of work on them.
What I would like to see is the talk in the public arena and it challenged by someone who is not dazzled by TD's authority and status but prepared to consider if the emperor, though not unclothed, is only partly clothed.
The main reason why proof of sasquatch for science doesnt seem likely to happen is not because it shouldnt or couldnt, is because despite this it hasnt. It looks as if the scientific establishment will be second in that endeavour then accept the kudos.
The practice of science and its ideals are two different things though scientists often hide behind the latter and claim priviliged access to the truth much as did priests of old.
Scepticism can be usefull but also distructive and it is not an answer for science to say it will get there in the end.
You say it would be nonsense not to be sceptical and buy into every idea, equally into
no idea. That is not an argument against looking into a particular idea. One must look at each idea on its merits.
You also say it is not possible to have a discussion unless the parties have the same definitions and assumptions. Then you are not talking about a discussion but something else. Seems to me this I what happened with the mystery ape talk. A prophet and his disciples and a lack of critical thinking. Cannot see much progress being made re saquatch in that situation.

I Doubt It said...

You've created many straw men here and have a distorted view of science - which is not a thing or an institution, but a method. Anyone who says that science can prove something reveals a misunderstanding of the entire process.


norman said...

Your link to Berkely did not work but I managed to find the site. Seems quite reasonable. Except for exluding the so called paranormal.
Where are my straw men you refer to?
The problem is not the semantics of the meaning of science. But it surely is much more than a method and is many things, but is fundamentaly knowledge.

Scepticism is good but needs to be in balance. The problem is with the form of scepticism that is one sided and predjudiced worse than too much advocacy and its prejudice which can at least be constructive and fruitfull
Personally I prefer to be an advocate for Sasquatch not just because it is interesting but because the default position for it is negative and I think this is wrong for a lot of reasons. My opinion is that there is a very good case for it inside and outside of science for what should be the same reasons. It has been largely ridiculed by the scientific establishment. This I can see is changing to a more positive view.
My beef with the monstertalk re mystery apes, apart from the superior attitude shown is it is such a failure in its balance. There is clearly great predjudice against most proponents of sasquatch, which TD asserts must neutralise their input but his own severe scepticism doesnt apparently. No open mind here.
Science is good, but its application can be from abysmal to genius. I cannot see how the TD interview can be valued, except in parts, when a fair an open minded appraisal is carried out. If it appraised on the basis of a reputable scientist purporting to be talking scientifically and sasquatch doesnt exist and no further criteria asked for then it is 100% but that is not my view. The talk is self evidentally scoftic and leads to questions about the validity of the contribution of this lab to the search for saquatch. My guess is my views would probably be shared by some of the workers in the NYU lab. with no choice but to toe the line.
You say that science cannot prove anything. Who does then, should NASSA be imformed and thus save money in their search to prove if there is life on mars or not? I am assuming you are not taking the meaning of 'prove' to the extreme. I will agree I doubt you can prove infinity.
NB the comment facility on the Mystery ape is closed.