Originally published in The Linking Ring [ Monthly magazine of the International Brotherhood of Magicians ], Vol. 83, No. 3, March, 2003, pp. 126-127.  Reproduced with permission.

"...any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mandkind..."  John Donne


   Marcello Truzzi, 67, of Great Lake, Michigan, died February 2, 2003.  He held I.B.M. number 21783 and was a member of the Order of Merlin and of the Psychic Entertainers Association.  Dr. Truzzi was Professor of Sociology at Eastern Michigan University.  He was also an Associate Member of the Parapsychological Association, and the founder and director of the Center for Scientific Anomalies Research.

   He was born September 6, 1935 in Copenhagen, Norway, where the Circus Trizzu, his family’s circus was playing.  He was the son of celebrated Russian juggler Massimilano Truzzi.  His family moved to the United States in 1940 when his father was hired by Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus to juggle in the center ring.  Marcello learned to juggle, worked as a clown, sold tickets, and learned magic.  He majored in sociology at Florida State University and studied law at the University of Florida before switching to sociology and earning a master’s degree.  He received his doctorate from Cornell University where he discovered the university’s large collection of books on witchcraft.

   He taught at Cornell, the University of Southern Florida, and the University of Michigan before becoming chairman of the sociology department at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.  An early paper was on “The Decline of the American Circus.”

   Always passionately curious, his research interests included parapsychology, flying saucers, and witchcraft.  He was co-founder with Paul Kurtz of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (PSICOP) in 1976, whose members included Martin Gardner, Ray Hyman, and James Randi.  He resigned from PSICOP in 1978 due to disagreements with their prejudging and outgright rejection of reported paranormal claims, contending that such reports deserved full investigation.  He doubted, but did not deny.  He coined the term, “Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence,” although he later concluded it was meaningless and question-begging.

   In 1978, he began publishing the Zetetic Scholar and created the Center for Scientific Anomalies Research which he directed.  In an interview with The New York Times, he said: “I don’t doubt that 99 percent of occultism is empirically false, but the approach to it has to be based on an examination of the evidence by people qualified to do that, not on outright condemnation.”  His approach to skepticism focused on non-belief rather than disbelief, with an emphasis on inquiry and investigation before judgement.  He coined the word “pseudoskeptics” for those who prejudge claims, even outrageous ones.

   A man whose intellect, humanity, and sense of humor radiated from him like an aura, he was also an exceptional wordsmith.  His summaries of the latest in the scientific anomalies scene were eagerly awaited by those attending Tony Andruzzi’s Invocationals, as well as at the Psychic Entertainers Association’s The Meeting of the Minds convention.  His openness and flair for showmanship brought invitations to meetings of psychics and to appear on television talk shows.  He befriended many self-proclaimed psychics, including Uri Geller, but doubted Geller could bend spoons with his mind.

   Dr. Truzzi edited books on a variety of topics (sociology, criminal life, anthropology, sexism, revolution, police law) and coauthored several including: Cauldron Cookery: An Authentic Guide for Coven Connoisseurs (with Victoria Chess, 1969), The Blue Sense: Psychic Detectives and Crime (with Arthur Lyons, 1992), UFO Encounters (with Jerome Clark, 1992), and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Extraterrestrial Intelligence (with Michael Kurland, 1999).

   He is survived by his wife, Patricia; and his sons, Kristopher of Ann Arbor, and Gianni of Seattle; and a granddaughter.  He will be greatly missed.

Phil Willmarth is editor of The Linking Ring.