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David Alexander (1943-2010).

Our goal will be to inform, educate, entertain, and occasionally irritate you. ... If you're not controversial, you're not saying anything. We plan on saying a lot.

--David Alexander, upon taking over the editorship of the Humanist in 1990.

Magician, private investigator, publisher, editor, and writer David Alexander was born in Long Beach, California, in 1943. He became fascinated with magic as a child and was an original member of the Long Beach Mystics, a club for young magicians. He left college in the mid 1960s and traveled to San Francisco, where he became the Hotel Claremont's first resident magician. He toured through Mexico and Central America as "the Pickpocket Magician" and also performed at U.S. military bases around the world.

After years on the road Alexander became a private investigator in the 1970s. He met his wife, Penny, in 1975 and they married two years later.

In 1983 Alexander started his own publishing company called Centerline Press, which specialized in psycho-physical education and humanist literature. He also became a member of the board of the Southern California Skeptics, where he served as assistant executive director and associate editor of the newsletter for several years. Other groups he was associated with included the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Claims for the Paranormal (CSICOP) and the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion (CSER), for which he served as the investigator-at-large. He was a major contributor to James Randi's book, The Faith Healers, and was instrumental in exposing the phony televangelist Peter Popoff. He also gave many lectures and interviews on radio and television during this time.

Alexander became the editor of the Humanist in September 1990 and remained in the position until December 1991. Among the highlights of his tenure, he obtained an exclusive interview with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and published other well-known figures such as Dan Rather and Noam Chomsky. He gave the Humanist a tagline--A Magazine of Critical Inquiry and Social Comment (later changed to "Concern")-and he instituted the "Humanist Profile" publishing the first two of Albert Einstein and Faye Wattleton. Editorially, Alexander was known for his controversial approach and for adding a touch of social activism to the magazine.

Alexander was an outspoken advocate for humanist views and a critic of religious superstition. In one of his Humanist editor's notes he wrote: "I have said before that it is my opinion that the central message of humanism is critical thinking over magical thinking--not just reason over religion, mind you, but rational thought over magical thinking of all types:' He also believed it was the duty of every humanist to teach children to think critically: "To survive and grow, they must have the necessary skills to navigate through the jungle of political, religious, and advertising hype and hysteria that constantly surrounds us and shows no signs of abating"

In 2007 David and Penny Alexander moved to Aurora, Illinois, where David accepted a position as Deputy Director of the Sci-Tech Hands-On Museum, a children's science center overseen by his longtime friend, Dr. Shawn Carlson, a MacArthur fellow, and former Humanist and Scientific American columnist.

David Alexander died, presumably of cardiac arrest possibly brought on by shock, on December 14, 2010, while investigating a burst pipe in the attic of a rental property where the wiring was reported to be frayed. He was just a week shy of his sixty-seventh birthday.

HUMANISM is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity of each human being, it supports liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary responsibility. Free of theism and other supernatural beliefs, humanism thus derives the goals of life from human need and interest rather than from theological or ideological abstractions, and asserts that humanity must take responsibility for its own destiny.
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Title Annotation:Humanist Profile
Publication:The Humanist
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2011
Words:635
Previous Article:Worth noting.
Next Article:Editor's note.
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