-- by Tom Napier

With this larger than usual Phactum, we mark both the end of its first year as the newsletter of PhACT and the second mailing to the Skeptical Inquirer readers in our area.

As a membership newsletter, the contents of every issue of Phactum, of necessity, reflect our members' interests. The articles and letters it presents show well that skeptics are not the monolithic band of humorless debunkers that they are sometimes taken to be. Even amongst those committed to discovering the truth, there are differences in knowledge, in experience, in premises, in attitudes and in concerns.

This is natural and proper. The aim of the skeptical movement is education, not censorship. If Phactum were to contain only material with which I, personally, could agree --- or with which the majority of the PhACT membership would agree --- it would not be serving its purpose. We skeptics are intelligent, educated people but we can all learn more. We welcome dissent, for it is a sign that our minds are open, that we can discuss the merits of a case, that we are not bound by prejudice or unquestioned dogma.

Skeptics are diverse. We have our scientists, our classicists and our philosophers; our theists, our agnostics and our atheists; our writers, our thinkers and our doers; those who understand the physical world and those who only know that it must make sense. If we have any common cause --- other than a fiery desire to find out what lies at the bottom of things --- it is our concern for the good of others. A desire, not so much to protect people from themselves --- for no one can do that --- but to protect people from those who would encourage, and prey upon, their erroneous beliefs.

"Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider."

-- Francis Bacon

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