Comitato Italiano per il Controllo delle Affermazioni sul paranormale
CICAP (Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the
was born on January of 1989 thanks to the work of the scientific
Piero Angela and many outstanding italian scientists, including
Prize winners. For the occasion, Lorenzo Montali spent two months
Buffalo at CSICOP headquarters to understand the working of the
and its magazine and Massimo Polidoro lived for a year in Florida
James Randi, the famous magician/investigator, to learn the art
Since its birth, the committee has conducted many investigations
paranormal claims: poltergeists, crop circles, healers, psychic
ESP and PK, dowsing, astrology... all went under close scrutiny
members of CICAP and received attention from the national media.
members of the Committee: Sergio Della Sala (neurologist, Aberdeen
University), Luigi Garlaschelli (chemist, University of Pavia)
Ramaccini (independent researcher) received worldwide attention
research on the St. Januarius blood miracle was published by Nature
Since 1991, CICAP holds an annual National Conference that attracts
hundreds of people and gets considerable publicity for the skeptics
by the media.
In 1992, CICAP hosted the IV Euroskeptics Convention in St. Vincent
"What experimental evidence for paranormal claims?"?
Among the speakers
invited: James Alcock, Henri Broch, Daniel "Chip" Denman,
Ray Hyman, Paul
Kurtz, Jan W. Nienhuys, Basava Premanand, James Randi, Amardeo
various researchers from Italy, including Cecilia Gatto-Trocchi
(antrophologist and author of a best-seller on magic belief),
Vice-president Aldaberto Piazzoli (nuclear physicist, Univerisity
and Tullio Regge (physicist and member of the Europarliament).
In 1993, the theme for the National Convention was "Contacts
with the other
side?". Luigi Garlaschelli presented his investigation on
apports of the italian medium Roberto Setti; needless to say that
reactions from the pro-paranormalists were very harsh. Massimo
as the "medium", presented a séance for the journalists
manifestations of all kinds, including the levitation of the medium.
On April 1st 1994, CICAP created the "Bufala d'oro"
(Golden Blunder) prize
for paranormal claims (a sort of Uri and Pigasus prize): it caused
rumor, especially thanks to the reactions of the winners: the
BBC too was
interested in it and interviewed Steno Ferluga (astrophysicist,
of Trieste) CICAP's president.
Big paranormal events have caught the attention of the media during
the weeping Madonna of Civitavecchia, the clamor over the tricks
of a TV
hypnotist, the milk-drinking statues and the Alien autopsy.
However, for the first time in the last few years, skeptics have
large amount of space to present their point of view. For example,
member Luigi Garlaschelli, chemist at the University of Pavia,
very well known as an expert in miracles (see: "Miracles,
the Italian Way",
by James Randi in Scientific American, feb. 1996) and has appeared
countless tv shows and interviewed daily to explain how claimed
may have natural explanations.
Steno Ferluga, president of Cicap and astronomist at the University
Trieste, has become very well known to the public after his steady
participation to a popular tv show dedicated to the paranormal:
This particular weekly tv show (which had previously been awarded
Golden Blunder) has had as guests, for more than a year, many
Cicap, beside from Ferluga. Even if the space given to us was
than that given to the proponents of paranormal claims, we believe
participation in it has contributed a lot to the diffusion of
and goals among the public.
New skeptical books dealing with the paranormal are being published,
this is something quite new: in 1978 Piero Angela published is
successful Viaggio nel Mondo del Paranormale (Journey in the World
Paranormal) and then nothing else has been done until now. Since
60 skeptical books have been published in Italy thanks to CICAP's
CICAP members have also devoted a lot of time to the investigation
psychics who willingly accepted to be tested by us at Pavia's
Cases like: the lady who could (not) see inside boxes, the man
(not) change the taste of wine, the medium with the moving table
psychic who thought she could impress psychic images on film proved
not only interesting and instructive but also entertaining.
As an example of how much the media can be interested in our point
you should know that, on January 2 1996, we sent out a press release
dealing with the wrong predictions of psychics for 1995. The news
an unexpected and welcome success: every single newspaper in Italy
about it (the second biggest one, La Repubblica, even put it on
as almost all of the tv news and various talk shows did too.
For its 10th Anniversary Convetion, held in October 1999, the
even stronger: almost a 1000 skeptics convened to Padua for three
(including James Randi from the US, and various scientists and
personalities, like Piero Angela and Umberto Eco). The media talked
it for a couple of weeks: the Raiuno news team presented each
broadcast from the site.
In 1997 CICAP launched a fund raising campaign among our supporters
a real headquarter for CICAP's offices. The campaign was successful
2000 CICAP was able to buy a two-floor office in Padua. The offices
house CICAP's headquarter, Scienza & Paranormale editing offices,
archive, a library and a warehouse.
It is only thanks to the generous work of many dedicated people
results are possible. And this, we think, is a direct consequence
fact that being skeptical is not only a healthy and socially useful
attitude, but can also be a lot of fun.
To know more about CICAP's development: http://www.csicop.org/genx/polidoro/