All Our Yesterdays: A Remembrance of Pat Linse.

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Author: Michael Shermer
Date: Summer 2021
From: Skeptic (Altadena, CA)(Vol. 26, Issue 3)
Publisher: Skeptics Society & Skeptic Magazine
Document Type: In memoriam
Length: 2,331 words
Lexile Measure: 1480L

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Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! --Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5

TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW PAT Linse would be there at the Skeptics headquarters, an endless future with my business partner and friend of 30 years, until Saturday, July 24 when I learned of her passing to dusty death, her brief candle out. "What?" was my initial response, stuttered in utter disbelief. How can that be? She'd been there all our yesterdays and would be there all our tomorrows. Or so I thought.

Pat was the backbone of the Skeptics Society and SKEPTIC magazine. Because I was the public face of the organization--inasmuch as Pat was exceedingly shy, introverted, and disdained public recognition of her work (the quality of the work itself and its impact on people and society was her sole motivation)--many people either underestimated her contributions or were simply unaware of them. That is unfortunate, and one point of this tribute section of the magazine is to make clear how central a role her contribution was not only to the Skeptics Society and SKEPTIC magazine, but to the entire skeptical movement and its long and rich history. People know of the marquee names--Martin Gardner, James Randi, Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, and the many other giants of skepticism over the past century--but there were many lesser known but no less important people who brought about this movement, and Pat Linse was first among equals on those pedestals. To punctuate the point of skepticism's central role to a functioning rational society, here is how Stephen Jay Gould explained it in the Foreword to my first book, Why People Believe Weird Things:

Skepticism or debunking often receives the bad rap reserved for activities--like garbage disposal--that absolutely must be done for a safe and sane life, but seem either unglamorous or unworthy of overt celebration. Yet the activity has a noble tradition, from the Greek coinage of "skeptic" (a word meaning "thoughtful") to Carl Sagan's last book, The Demon-Haunted World. Skepticism's bad rap arises from the impression that, however necessary the activity, it can only be regarded as a negative removal of false claims. Not so. Proper debunking is done in the interest of an alternative model of explanation, not as a nihilistic exercise. The alternate model is rationality itself, tied to moral decency--the most powerful joint instrument for good that our planet has ever known.

Rationality and moral decency. I cannot conceive of a more noble description of Pat Linse, whose role in that force for good was central and, while understated, was as important as anyone's. Pat was so much more than the Art Director of SKEPTIC (her official title), as she also helped me select and edit articles, steered the movement of which we are a part in...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A681541786