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