Skeptics co-founder Mark Plummer dies

It is with deep regret that we learn of the death on June 16 of Mark Plummer, co-founder and early power-house of Australian Skeptics.

Barry Williams, himself a member of Australian Skeptics for its entire lifespan and a former president and founding executive officer, comments on Mark’s role and impact on the Skeptical movement in Australia and elsewhere:

In 1979, Mark Plummer, a young lawyer from Melbourne, wrote a letter to the Skeptical Inquirer, asking if there were any other Australian subscribers and expressing interest in setting up a local group with similar aims to those of SI publisher, CSICOP. Dick Smith and Phillip Adams responded and in 1980 Australian Skeptics was born.

Mark’s frenetic activities as he struggled to find like-minded people around the country resulted in the formation of a committee in Melbourne and finding corresponding members in each state. In 1981 he produced the very first issue of The Skeptic, in the days when ‘cut and paste’ required real scissors and glue.

He never wavered in his commitment to getting Australian Skeptics’ voice heard, culminating in the Steve Terbot hoax in which US Skeptic and amateur magician, Bob Steiner, visited Australia, purporting to be a psychic, ‘Steve Terbot’. Considerable media interest in Terbot resulted and when the hoax was revealed, our name had become widely known.

Mark continued in his role until 1985, when he accepted a position with CSICOP in the USA and asked me to take on his position as president, to which request I was only too delighted to agree.

In his later years Mark, who was beset with bad health, lost contact with most Skeptics, though those of us who knew him from the early days would hear from him from time-to-time. As his health deteriorated further and he could no longer work in his profession, he could not settle and he travelled around the country, largely supported by Dick Smith.

Mark’s pioneering work with the Skeptics was recognised by his being declared a Life Member in the 1980s and with the presentation of an award of recognition and appreciation at TAM Oz in November 2010.

It is doubtful if Australian Skeptics could have reached its present status without Mark’s hard work and enthusiasm in the founding years and we all owe him a substantial debt. Personally I am much saddened to hear of his death.