Vale Martin Gardner 1914-2010

The Associated Press has reported that the godfather of the modern skeptical movement, Martin Gardner, has passed away. Gardner exerted a profound influence upon numerous academics via his 'Mathematical Games' column in Scientific American, was a skilled and knowledgable contributor to the (performance) magic community, and with his 1952 book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science is seen by many as the man who kick-started skeptical activism in the modern age. His long-time friend James Randi has written a short blog about his passing:

Martin Gardner has died. I have dreaded to type those words, and Martin would not have wanted to know that I’m so devastated at what I knew – day to day – had to happen very soon. I’m glad to report that his passing was painless and quick. That man was one of my giants, a very long-time friend of some 50 years or so. He was a delight, a very bright spot in my firmament, one to whom I could always turn to with a question or an idea, with any strange notion I could invent, and with any complaint or comment I could come up with.

...He was such a good man, a productive and useful member of our society, and I can anticipate the international reaction to his passing. His books – so many of them – remain to remind us of his contributions to us all. His last one was dedicated to me, and I am just so proud of that fact, so very proud…

It will take a while, but Martin would want me to get on with my life, so I will.

It’s tough…

Phil Plait has also written about Gardner's passing, and Scientific American has reposted their 2005 profile of him as a tribute. For a video profile of the man, see the following 1996 documentary hosted by David Suzuki:

About the only people that might not be as glowing in their summation of Gardner's life are those involved in off-beat science and the paranormal - subject areas against which Gardner wrote numerous polemics, befitting his role as a founder of CSICOP (now CSI). My own investigation of Gardner's 'skepticism' has revealed a man who was certainly not immune to writing biased, erroneous, and misleading tracts - coincidentally, I was only weeks away from publishing a critique of his 'debunking' of the mediumship of Leonora Piper (which I'll withhold for a while as a mark of respect). But all of us certainly have our moments of error; and on balance, one must say that Gardner inspired and helped a large number of people, and the growth of knowledge, in a good way over his long life.

Martin Gardner was 95 years old.

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robotwisdom's picture
Member since:
23 May 2010
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4 years 30 weeks

MG was so narrowminded he bashed one of the most brilliant (and psychedelic) works of 20th C mathematics: "Laws of Form" by G Spencer Brown.

anonymist's picture
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21 March 2009
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20 weeks 6 days

George P. Hansen's "CSICOP and the Skeptics: An Overview" has a lot of interesting information about Gardner. (His The Trickster and the Paranormal features a 15-page section dedicated to Gardner. Hansen may actually have been one of his biggest fans.)

anonymist's picture
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21 March 2009
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Hansen has now posted a valedictory to Gardner on his blog, and he has released the entire profile of Gardner from The Trickster and the Paranormal as a free PDF.

Vitor Moura's picture
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24 June 2010
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4 years 25 weeks

Hi, Greg
when will you publish your critique of Gardner's 'debunking' of the mediumship of Leonora Piper?

Greg's picture
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19 min 48 sec
Vitor Moura wrote:

Hi, Greg
when will you publish your critique of Gardner's 'debunking' of the mediumship of Leonora Piper?

Hi Vitor,

I'll probably polish it up in the next few weeks for inclusion in the next volume of Darklore. It will be available as a free article here though also.

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things
@DailyGrail

cnnek's picture
Member since:
28 June 2006
Last activity:
1 year 28 weeks

Greg,

In my life Martin Gardner's Columns have been a bright spot. I fell a great loss also.

What do you think?

cnnek

{You Can Teach People How To Think Critically Or What To Think; But, You Can't Do Both! It Is Better To Teach People How To Think Critically!!!}