Tag Archives: Ghent

TheESP – Ep. #186 – European Skeptics Congress 2019, part 1

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This week it was Congress time! András and Pontus (unfortunately, no Jelena) spent a wonderful weekend in Ghent, Belgium, at the European Skeptics Congress 2019, where they had a blast!
At the ESC 2019 there were talks by prominent skeptics and plenty of opportunities to catch up with old friends and make new ones.
The result for the podcast is several interviews recorded on-site, with more to come later on. If you were there and met with us, we thank you for doing so! If not, there will be more opportunities in the future.
Until then, here are this week’s interviews, with even more to come on later episodes.

Interviews in this episode: Edzard Ernst, Christine Mohr, Ovidiu Covaciu

Intro; Greetings; Interviews; Farewell; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:50 Greetings

00:13:55 Interview: Prof. Edzard Ernst, emeritus Professor at the University of Exeter

Title of ESC presentation: The battle against SCAM. Are we winning?

Abstract: What do governments and health organisations like WHO do against quackery?
Given the common use of quackery in virtually all countries, one would expect that governments and international organisations like the WHO would have developed effective strategies to limit its prevalence and minimise the harm quackery unquestionably does. Sadly, very few such initiatives seem to exist. Those organisations that actively fight quackery tend not to be run by governments but rely on private, altruistic initiatives. The WHO even has been responsible for several actions that arguably are not fighting but promoting quackery. This lecture will review several recent examples. It is concluded that governments and the WHO have, in the past, turned a blind eye to quackery. In the interest of public health, this situation has to change.

His new book: https://edzardernst.com/2019/08/my-new-book-alternative-medicine-a-critical-assessment-of-150-modalities/

00:22:49 Interview: Christine Mohr, professor in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland .

Title of ESC presentation: When using magicians to study how paranormal beliefs come about

Abstract: Humans belief, in many things. Popular are supernatural beliefs, hotly debated by believers and skeptics alike. Psychologists reported on various variables that correlate with such beliefs (e.g., appreciation of chance, more open to experiences). Yet, these latter studies are correlational unable to convey whether existing beliefs predict the appreciation of chance  (e.g., becoming more associative), or whether being more associative predicts the formation or reinforcement of paranormal beliefs. Over the last years, we performed several series in which we investigated the causality of belief change / reinforcement. In these studies, a magician performed a central event (e.g., a medium talking to a dead person, pseudo-scientific mind reading). Therefore, we could compare psychological variables we assessed before and after the event (tackling causality). Also, we could assess which pre-existing variables (e.g., paranormal beliefs, associative processing) predicted paranormal interpretations. Performing all studies in the classroom, we observed an overall high willingness to accept what the persons had just seen. In one study, around 65% considered that they had witnessed a genuine psychic event. Higher paranormal beliefs and affective reactions predicted a higher endorsement of a psychic explanation. Seeing how easily people are convinced by what they see, we are now starting to “debunking” participants in order to test which pre-performance information we have to provide to render participants more critical as to what is presented to their eyes. We assume that once the magician spells the beans, the belief in what one sees should be gone.

Link: https://applicationspub.unil.ch/interpub/noauth/php/Un/UnPers.php?PerNum=1116121

00:34:51 Interview: Ovidiu Covaciu, Activist against anti-vaxxers, Romania

Title of ESC presentation: The antivaccination activists, misinformation and the damage done

Abstract: Europe is facing a resurgence of preventable disease as anti-vaccine movements from across the continent are growing This talk will focus on the tactics the AV movement uses to gain influence, followers and political power. It will also discuss how to approach, counteract and fight against the AV movement, how to recruit experts by your side, turn the tide and save lives.

Link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/vaccinuri/

00:55:15 Farewell

00:59:39 Outro

01:00:54 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #164 – Annika @ SkepKon, ESC, HPV, climate change & Jehova’s witnesses in schools


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This week we welcome Annika Merkelbach from Germany back to the show to talk about the upcoming skeptical convention SkepKon, GSoW and her series of interviews on Skeptical Inquirer’s website.
We also talk about the European Skeptics Congress to be held in Ghent the end of August, plus lots of news items and topics to mention include:
The Cancer Act 1939 of the UK, the latest wrongdoings of the Vatican, an Italian politician who’s been opposing mandatory vaccination being hospitalised with chicken pox, the death of HPV vaccine campaigner Laura Brennan and how her campaign must have saved a lot of lives, plagiarism made illegal in Montenegro after a long and interesting battle with the problem, an email by a listener bringing hope in the fight against bogus claims asking for support on Indiegogo, students in Oxford petitioning for climate change to be made a core part of the national curriculum in the UK, Holm Gero Hümmler’s new book on conspiracy theories and Jehova’s witnesses being under attack by authorities in both Sweden and the US for child indoctrination and sexual abuse.

Intro; Greetings; Interview; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:51 Greetings

Programme out for Eruopean Skeptics Congress in Ghent 29 Aug – 1 Sept

00:05:30 Interview with Annika Merkelbach

We catch up with Annika Merkelbach regarding the upcoming SkepKon conference (take part in our raffel to win a ticket!) and her work with Guerilla Skepticism on Wikipedia and writing for the Skeptical Inquirer.

00:20:20 This Week in Skepticism

The UK Cancer Act of 1939

00:27:24 Pontus Pokes the Pope

The Vatican is still no place for women; Cardinal who covered up abuse not allowed to resign; A US Catholic diocese sued on consumer protection grounds

00:33:18 Skeptical News

ITALY: Politician Who Fought Against Mandatory Chickenpox Vaccine Contracts Chickenpox

IRELAND: HPV vaccine campaigner’s legacy will be to save thousands of live

MONTENEGRO: Plagiarism made illegal in the country along with other forms of misconduct

INTERNATIONAL: E-mail from the listener (re episode 158) Indiegogo does (at least nominally) have policies in place that can be used to appeal questionable projects

UK: Climate change petition: Oxford students campaign for better teaching on subject

GERMANY: Holm Gero Hümmler’s new book on conspiracy myths

01:00:34 Really Wrong

Jehova’s Witnesses child indoctrination in schools (+ plus US child molestation)

01:07:27 Quote and Goodbye
“An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t.”
/ Anatole France, French poet, journalist, and successful novelist /

01:09:29 Outro

01:10:44 Out-takes