European Skeptics Congress 2019
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program

Preprogram – Skeptics in the Pub in Brussels (Comité Para)
Aug
29
2:00 PM14:00

Preprogram – Skeptics in the Pub in Brussels (Comité Para)

  • Het Goudblommeke in Papier/ La Fleur en Papier Doré (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Comité Para is the French language Belgian skeptical society. They are the oldest general purpose skeptical society in the world, founded in 1949. They’re also among the youngest, after a dynamic young team took over the leadership. They organize a "Skeptics in the Pub” event on Thursday afternoon, in the center of Brussels, as a starter to the “main course” of the congress in Ghent.

It will be held at a very special traditional pub, at walking distance from Brussels Central station. It is poetically named (translated) “The Gold Paper Flower

Program:

  • Reason has left the building: How the emotional need for certainty and safety has handcuffed research and technology.
    David Zaruk, aka. the Risk-Monger. EU risk and science communications specialist, professor at Odisee University College.

Free contribution

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Travel to Ghent by train
Aug
29
5:00 PM17:00

Travel to Ghent by train

35-40 minutes takes the train ride from Brussels to Ghent. Not quite as long as the bus ride from Prague to Wroclaw two years ago, but still enough to get to know each other better.

Train ticket price:

  • Standard (one way): 9 €

  • Younger than 26 (one way): 6.60 €

  • 65 or older: 6.80 € (only exists as round trip ticket, but you cannot use the return - must be the same day)

Take tram 1 or 2 to the city center, or take a taxi to your hotel

For Hotel Ibis Gent Centrum Opera:

  • Take tram 1, direction Korenmarkt or Evergem (to the right, coming from the station)

  • Get off at “Gent Savaanstraat”

  • You´re standing in front of the hotel

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Fun welcome evening
Aug
29
to Aug 30

Fun welcome evening

An evening of magic and music, drinks and merrymaking, organized by Belgium’s famed mentalist Gili and his friends. Location is the suitably named music pub Charlatan. Free entrance and one free drink for every congress participant. Go easy on the beer - Belgium’s beers may look innocent but many pack a punch.

Free entrance for all congress participants. One free drink each.

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European skeptics – a 30 years retrospective
Aug
30
9:00 AM09:00

European skeptics – a 30 years retrospective

  • Academieraadzaal, Ghent University (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

The first European Skeptics Congress was organized 30 years ago. Time to reflect on what we, organized skeptics, achieved in the past 30 years.

Chair: Tim Trachet, journalist, founding member and general secretary of SKEPP, board member of ECSO.

Program:

  • "Science and decision : more science in decision, less ideology in science"
    Michel Naud, board member and former president of AFIS

  • "Descent into one's own illusion: The case of Gauquelin”
    Jan Willem Nienhuys, secretary of the Dutch “Stichting Skepsis” and editor of their magazine “Skepter”

  • Informationsnetzwerk Homöopathie
    Norbert Aust

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The never-ending struggle against quackery
Aug
30
2:00 PM14:00

The never-ending struggle against quackery

Quackery has always been one the top interests of skeptics. It exists in so many forms, most of it is obvious nonsense, it causes real harm, but so many people “believe” in it. Even countless medical doctors make money promoting quackery. Will it ever go away? The venerable Dutch society against quackery (Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij) has been at the forefront of this battle, ever since it was founded in 1880. But quackery is like the Hydra (of Herakles’ second labor): if you cut off one head, it sprouts two new ones.

Chair: Catherine de Jong - anesthesiologist, and addiction specialist. Secretary of ‘Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij’ (Dutch Society Against Quackery) and boardmember of ECSO.

Co-chair: Wietse Wiels - neurologist in training at the Brussels University Hospital (UZ Brussel). Working member and journal editor of SKEPP. 

Program:

  • 14.00 – 14.45 “The antivaccination activists, misinformation and the damage done”
    Ovidiu Covaciu, Administrator ‘Vaccinuri si Vaccinare’ group, producer at Skeptici in Romania, Boekarest

  • 14.45 – 15.30 “Vitamin B12 clinics: An example of a hype that results in clinics with quackery”
    Lukas Stalpers, professor, department of radiotherapy, University of Amsterdam

  • 15.00 – 15.30 Tea break

  • 15.30 – 16.15  “Lyme disease: An example of a real disease that is misused by quacks”
    Dirk Vogelaers, professor, department of general internal medicine, Ghent University Hospital, Belgium

  • 16.15 – 17.30 “The battle against SCAM. Are we winning?”
    Edzard Ernst, Emeritus Professor of Complementary Medicine at the Peninsula School of Medicine, University of Exeter, UK

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Selection of evening activities
Aug
30
to Aug 31

Selection of evening activities

A guided tour through the old city center, a visit to the belfry (traditional tower where the “borough charters” were preserved during the Middle Ages), a romantic boat ride on the canals, or just stroll through the old streets and along the canals. The historical city center offers everyone something exciting to do at night.

You can subscribe at the information desk for one of the following (exact times not yet fixed):

  1. Visit to the belfry - 3 sessions (of one hour each)

  2. Guided tour through the old city center - 2 groups

Free of charge for congress participants

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Anomalistic Psychology
Aug
31
9:00 AM09:00

Anomalistic Psychology

“The study of human behaviour and experience connected with what is often called the paranormal, with the assumption that there is nothing paranormal involved” says Wikipedia, and who am I to argue against it. A good understanding of which strange experiences can occur in the human mind, and what might cause them, is important before you try to propose a normal explanation for apparently paranormal events.

Chair: Geerdt Magiels

Program:

  • “When using magicians to study how paranormal beliefs come about”
    Christine Mohr, Professor in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland

  • Vanessa Charland-Verville - neuropsychologist, member of the Coma Science Group working at the Cyclotron Research Center and in the Neurology department of the CHU Sart Tilman University Hospital in Liege, Belgium.

  • “Many happy returns? The psychology of reincarnation claims”
    Chris French - Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths College, University of London, founder and head of their Anomalistic psychology Research Unit.

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Green skepticism
Aug
31
2:00 PM14:00

Green skepticism

  • Academieraadzaal, Ghent University (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Not skepticism about climate change, but ecomodernism, “an environmental philosophy which argues that humans can protect nature by using technology to decouple anthropogenic impacts from the natural world”, as Wikipedia defines it. How can state of the art nuclear energy help us to decarbonize our energy supply. And how can genetic engineering help us to improve the food quality, increase the yields, reduce pesticide and fertilizer use, create plants that can survive climate change, and why are so many in the uninformed population dead against it.

Chair: Amardeo Sarma, engineer, chair of GWUP, board member of ECSO.

Program:

  • “Energy and decarbonisation”
    Iida Ruishalme (Finland, Switzerland) - biologist specialised in biomedical research, blogs at Thoughtscapism, member of Finnish Ecomodernists, the German Ökomoderne and the European director of Mothers for Nuclear.

  • “How skepticism helped me become pro-nuclear”
    Mathijs Beckers (Netherlands) - author and video producer with a degree in Information Technology. Runs the Nuclear Humanist YouTube channel

  • "GMOs, modern agriculture, and the People"
    Kavin Senapathy (USA) - writer and journalist, author of the Woo Watch column at Skeptical Inquirer. She's also the co-host of Point of Inquiry.

  • “Is it still possible to rationally address modern agriculture? “
    André Fougeroux (France)

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Banquet at “Carlos Quinto”
Aug
31
7:00 PM19:00

Banquet at “Carlos Quinto”

Every congress needs a “culinary extravaganza”. We meet at “Carlos Quinto”, named after 16th century Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (Carlos I in Spain) who was born and raised in Ghent. Enjoy the food and drinks, and the company of the finest selection of skeptics in Europe.

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How con men operate
Sep
1
9:00 AM09:00

How con men operate

  • Academieraadzaal, Ghent University (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

We skeptics may believe that we are immune to cons. We know all the tricks, we can name all logical fallacies, we have read all the books and magazines. But conmen will still defraud us. How do they manage it?

Chair: Farah Focquaert (Ghent University)

Program:

  • “How con men operate in cyberspace”
    Sophie van der Zee (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

  • “Con men in the art world”
    Johan Braeckman (Ghent University) - Professor of Philosophy, Ghent University, Belgium

  • “Con men in prison”
    Ingeborg Jeandarme (University of Leuven)

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