Martin Gardner's Articles on Skepticism

Martin devoted a great deal of his energy to writing about fringe science, skepticism and rationality, and much of what he wrote ended up in a dozen books.

From a publishing perspective, it started with "The Hermit Scientist", that Martin wrote for The Antioch Review (Vol 10, 447–457, Dec 1950). There, he'd optimistically but mistakenly concluded, "The current flurry of discussion about Velikovsky and Hubbard will soon subside, and their books will begin to gather dust on library shelves."

This was in due course expanded as Martin's first book under his own name, In the Name of Science (Putnam, 1952), subtitled, "An Entertaining Survey of the High Priests and Cultists of Science, Past and Present," better known as its later incarbation Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (Dover, 1957).

Martin wrote for New York Review of Books frequently, going back to 1966. His contributions there include numerous pieces (and letters to the editor) concerning dubious religious preachers, pseudoscience and skepticism.

Order and Surprise (Prometheus, 1983) collected essays and reviews written over a four decade period. A few of its chapters are about fringe science.

title   title

In 1983, Martin started writing a regular Skeptical Inquirer column called "Notes of a Psi-Watcher." In due course, the column was renamed "Notes of a Fringe-Watcher," and he contributed material to it until 2002.

The first nineteen columns—suitably updated—resurfaced in the book The New Age: Notes of a Fringe-Watcher (Prometheus, 1988, 273 pages), alongside like-minded essays and book reviews that had appeared in the New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and Discover.

To mark the centennial of Martin's birth, in Oct 2014, some of his classic columns and book reviews were made freely available by Skeptical Inquirer:

"Swedenborg and Dr. Oz" (Skeptical Inquirer, Notes of a Fringe-Watcher, Vol 34.5, Sep/Oct 2010)

"Oprah Winfrey: Bright (but Gullible) Billionaire" (Skeptical Inquirer, Vol 34.2, Mar/Apr 2010)

"Bill Maher: Crank and Comic" (Skeptical Inquirer, Notes of a Fringe-Watcher, Vol 33.6, Nov/Dec 2009)

"Bobby Fischer: Genius and Idiot" (Skeptical Inquirer, Notes of a Fringe-Watcher, Vol 33.5, Sep/Oct 2009)

"A Special Afterword" (Skeptical Inquirer, special report, Vol 32.5, Sep/Oct 2008)

"Arthur C. Clarke Remembered" (Skeptical Inquirer, featurette, Vol 32.4, Jul/Aug 2008)

"Ann Coulter Takes on Darwin" (Skeptical Inquirer, book review, Vol 32.3, May/Jun 2008)

"The Strange Case of Frank Jennings Tipler" (Skeptical Inquirer, Vol 32.2, Mar/Apr 2008)

"‘Dr.’ Bearden’s Vacuum Energy" (Skeptical Inquirer, Notes of a Fringe-Watcher, Vol 31.1, Jan/Feb 2007)

"Multiverses and Blackberries" (Skeptical Inquirer, Notes of a Fringe-Watcher, Vol 25.5, Sep/Oct 2001)

"Distant Healing and Elisabeth Targ" (Skeptical Inquirer, Notes of a Fringe-Watcher, Vol 25.2, Mar/Apr 2001)

"The Second Coming of Jesus" (Skeptical Inquirer, Notes of a Fringe-Watcher, Vol 24.1, Jan/Feb 2000)

"The Star of Bethlehem" (Skeptical Inquirer, Notes of a Fringe-Watcher, Vol 23.6, Nov/Dec 1999)

"What’s Going On At Temple University?" (Skeptical Inquirer, Notes of a Fringe-Watcher, Vol 22.5, Sep/Oct 1998)

"Doug Henning and the Giggling Guru" (Skeptical Inquirer, Notes of a Fringe-Watcher, Vol 19.3, May/Jun 1995)

"Facilitated Communication: A Cruel Farce" (Skeptical Inquirer, Notes of a Fringe-Watcher, Vol ?, Jan/Feb 2001)

"Lessons of a Landmark PK Hoax" (Skeptical Inquirer, Summer 1983)

"The False Memory Syndrome" (Skeptical Inquirer, Vol 17, Summer 1993)

"Water With Memory? The Dilution Affair" (Skeptical Inquirer, Vol 13, Winter 1989)

"The Great Stone Face and Other Nonmysteries" (Skeptical Inquirer, Notes of a Psi-Watcher, Vol 10, Fall 1985)

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention "Oprah Winfrey: Bright (but Gullible) Billionaire", one of Martin's very last publications, for Skeptical Inquirer (34.2, Mar/Apr 2010).

He was, first and last, a debunker.

Home / Books / Articles / Legacy / Top 10 Contributions