|Originally published in:
The Journal of Parapsychology, Vol. 67,
No. 1, Spring 2003, pp. 185-186.
Marcello Truzzi: 1935 – 2003
Marcello Truzzi, associate
member of the Parapsychological Association, died of cancer on February
2, 2003. He was 67. Truzzi, known as a “balanced” skeptic,
advocated considering evidence regarding all points of view.
He encouraged discourse between skeptics and believers and, as a result,
had important impacts on the methods used by parapsychologists.
Truzzi was a sociology professor at Eastern
Michigan University, Ypsilanti, and had been on medical leave from teaching.
He served as a department head of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology,
and Criminology from 1974 to 1985. He was known among sociologists
as the author of various textbooks. His 1968 text
in Every Day Life was a best-seller. Other books included
The Classic Statements (1971), The Humanities as Sociology: An Introductory
Reader (1973), Sociology for Pleasure (1974), and Verstehen:
Subjective Understanding in the Social Sciences (1975).
Truzzi also authored an eclectic collection
of books for the general public: Caldron Cookery: An Authentic Guide
for Coven Connoisseurs (with illustrations by Victoria Chess; 1969),
Blue Sense: Psychic Detectives and Crime (with Arthur Lyons; 1992),
Encounters (with Jerome Clark; 1992), and The Complete Idiot's Guide
to Extraterrestrial Intelligence (with Michael Kurland; 1999).
Truzzi was born in 1935 in Copenhagen, Denmark,
where his parent were on tour, a part of a famous Russian Italian circus
family, Circus Truzzi. His family moved to the United States in 1940. As
a result, Truzzi was intrigued by magic, juggling, sideshows, carnivals,
and circuses. This interest led to publications pertaining to the sociology,
anthropology, and psychology of the occult as a part of folk culture.
During the early 1970s, Truzzi published a
privately circulating newsletter, the Zetetic. In 1976, he was the
cofounder, with Paul Kurtz of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation
of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). Later he left CSICOP, after he decided
that the organization advocated a biased stance toward paranormal claims.
He created the Center for Scientific Anomalous Research and, in 1978, he
began publishing the Zetetic Scholar, a journal designed to allow
full discussion of anomalous and unorthodox theories. This journal published
articles and discourse pertaining to parapsychology, psychic phenomena,
UFOs, astrology, and unorthodox zoology and anthropology.
Journal of Parapsychology
The Zetetic Scholar made important contributions to the field
of parapsychology. It provided an arena for dialogues between professional
parapsychologists and their critics. All manner of opinions were expressed,
and some discussions resulted in methodological improvements in parapsychological
research. Truzzi's efforts led some parapsychologists to take extra
precautions against fraud within their research designs. Truzzi urged
parapsychologists to consult magicians and helped various reseaschers to
increase their knowledge regarding sleight-of-hand and other performance
Truzzi was a remarkable man -- a clever, brilliant
individual with a good sense of humor and an intense curiosity. His general
position was that of a Zetetic, a person who does not advocate a particular
position but who evaluates evidence without prejudgement. He advocated
doing science the way it should be done: generating, evaluating, and discussing
evidence rather than shaping discourse to fit a particular theory.
Department of Social Sciences
Elizabeth City State University
Elizabeth City, NC 27909