NEWS RELEASE For Immediate Release 12/31/96 For More Information, contact Barry Karr at (7

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NEWS RELEASE For Immediate Release 12/31/96 For More Information, contact Barry Karr at (716) 636-1425 AMHERST, N.Y. — The Council for Media Integrity (CMI) and the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), will be holding a press conference on Thursday, January 9, 1997, at the Los Angeles Airport Hilton and Towers Hotel, 5711 W. Century Blvd. in the San Lorenzo "B" room of the hotel from 11:00 am - 12:00 noon. Those taking part in the press conference include CMI Co-chairpersons Glenn Seaborg, Nobel Prize-winner and University Professor of Chemistry, University of California; and Steve Allen, author, TV personality, creator of The Tonight Show; along with CSICOP Senior Research Fellow Joe Nickell; Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education; Dr. Wallace Sampson, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Stanford University, and Board Chairman of the National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF). Also attending the event will be Bill Nye from the television series Bill Nye the Science Guy. An Emmy award winning joint production of PBS, Disney, and the National Science Foundation, the show is seen on PBS and through syndication. Targeted at young people, Bill Nye the Science Guy makes science fun, lively, and fascinating. Nye will be receiving the Council For Media Integrity "Candle in the Dark" Award for his outstanding contributions to the public's understanding of science and scientific principles. The Council also plans to present an award to Dan Aykroyd, host of the new television program, ‘The Psi Factor.’ Dubbed “The Snuffed Candle Award,” it is meant to recognize Aykroyd “for encouraging credulity, presenting pseudoscience as genuine, and contributing to the public’s lack of understanding of the methods of scientific inquiry.” The Council is sponsored by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), based in Amherst, New York and publisher of the Skeptical Inquirer magazine. The charter members of the Council include many distinguished figures from the world of science and academia: Stephen Jay Gould, zoologist, Harvard University; Gerald Holton, physicist, Harvard University; Sir John Maddox, editor emeritus, Nature magazine; Eugenie Scott, anthropologist, Berkeley; Gerard Piel, former president, American Association for the Advancement of Science and former publisher of Scientific American; Carl Sagan, professor of astronomy, Cornell University; Leon Lederman, Nobel Prize-winner; and John Rennie, editor-in-chief, Scientific American; among others. According to Paul Kurtz, chairman of CSICOP and coordinator of the new Council, “The media have now virtually replaced the schools, colleges, and universities as the main source of information for the general public. . . . the irresponsibility of some of the media in the area of science and the paranormal is a worldwide problem. But it especially applies to the United States, where the media have been distorting science, and in particular presenting pseudoscience as genuine science. Indeed, we are appalled by the number of ‘documentaries,’ which are really entertainment programs, presenting fringe science as real science. The major networks have been running two or three such specials almost every month. Recently there have been programs on prophecies, astrology, psychic powers, creationism, Noah’s Ark, angels, alien abductions, etc. This is in addition to the popular ‘Unsolved Mysteries,’ ‘X-Files,’ and ‘Sightings,’ as well as new programs such as ‘Paranormal Borderlands,’ and ‘Poltergeist,’ and ‘The Psi Factor.’” The Council is also critical of the many talk shows devoted to the paranormal, in which claims in favor of the paranormal are given a platform but skeptical dissent is rarely heard. A statement endorsed by members of the Council maintained that, “If the United States is to continue to provide leadership and compete in the global economy, then we need to raise the level of scientific literacy and understanding of the general public. “We are not, of course, asking that TV producers not run these shows or make a profit. We surely do not wish to censor the media. We only ask that they provide some balance and provide some appreciation of the scientific approach. The council will monitor such programs, and attempt to persuade producers, directors, writers, and the general public to leave room for the appreciation of scientific methods of inquiry. “We realize that the media are being attacked from all sides, but we think that a plea for raising the level of understanding of science should be heard. -- 30 --


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