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New Age Religion And The Sceptics

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Chapter Summary

New Agers tend to avoid using the term ‘religion’ to designate their beliefs and practices, and prefer labels such as ‘spirituality’. The nineteenth century was the formative age of modern scepticism. Many nineteenth century sceptics continued the battle against mesmerism and its successors. The tradition of sceptical writing continued throughout the twentieth century, first as a small trickle, and by the 1970s increasing to a veritable torrent of words. The debunking activity which projected the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) into the public limelight was its investigation of the Theosophical Society. Although the last decades of the nineteenth century were a hotbed of sceptical activity, most contemporary sceptical societies trace their histories back to the formative influence of a much later, defining moment: the establishment of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP).

Keywords: CSICOP; mesmerism; New Agers; scepticism; Society for Psychical Research (SPR)



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