European Council of Skeptical Organisations
|Legal status||Eingetragener Verein registered in Darmstadt|
|Purpose||Co-ordination between European organisations and individuals that promote scientific skepticism|
Founded on 25 September 1994, the ECSO aims to co-ordinate activities of European organisations and individuals that aim at critically investigating pseudoscientific statements and claims regarding observations of paranormal phenomena, and to make the results of its investigations known to the broad public. It means to continue the series of European skeptical congresses that preceded its foundation and supports a biennial congress and a symposium every other year.
The Charter of the European Council of Skeptical Organisations states that it strives
1) To protect the public from the promulgation of claims and therapies which have not been subjected to critical testing and thus might pose a danger to them.
2) To investigate by means of controlled tests and experiments such extraordinary claims which are on the fringe of or contradict current scientific knowledge. In particular this applies to phenomena commonly identified as "paranormal" or "pseudoscientific". However no claims, explanations or theories will be rejected in advance of objective evaluation.
3) To promote public policy based on good practice in science and medicine.
The Charter was signed by Amardeo Sarma (GWUP), Michael Howgate (UK Skeptics), Miguel Angel Sabadell (ARP), Paul Kurtz (CSICOP), Tim Trachet (SKEPP), Arlette Fougnies (Comité Para) and Cornelis de Jager (Stichting Skepsis).
Board of directors
Cornelis de Jager served as first president until 2001, when he was replaced by Amardeo Sarma (2001–2013), who in turn was succeeded by Gábor Hraskó (2013-2017). Since 2017 the president has been Claire Klingenberg. As of September 2019, the ECSO board is composed as follows:
- Claire Klingenberg (Sisyfos) – President
- Tim Trachet (SKEPP) – Vice-President
- Catherine de Jong (VtdK) – Vice-President
- Amardeo Sarma (GWUP) – Treasurer
- Paola De Gobbi (CICAP) – Member
- Pontus Böckman (VoF) – Member
- Michael Heap (ASKE) – Member
- András Gábor Pintér (SzT) – Member
- Jean-Paul Krivine (AFIS) – Member
The ECSO brings together the following skeptic groups:
|Local name||English name||Abbrev.||Founded||Region served||Notes|
|Alternativa Racional a las Pseudociencias – Sociedad para el Avance del Pensamiento Crítico||Rational Alternative to Pseudoscience – Society for the Advancement of Critical Thinking||ARP-SAPC||1986||Spain||Founding member.|
|Association for Skeptical Enquiry||Association for Skeptical Enquiry||ASKE||1997||United Kingdom|
|Association française pour l'information scientifique||French Association for Scientific Information||AFIS||1968||France||Member since 2001.|
|Comitato Italiano per il Controllo delle Affermazioni sulle Pseudoscienze||Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Pseudosciences||CICAP||1989||Italy|
|Comité belge pour l'Analyse Critique des parasciences||Belgian Committee for the Critical Analysis of Parasciences||Comité Para||1949||Belgium||Serves Wallonia and Brussels. Founding member.|
|Círculo Escéptico||Skeptical Circle||CE||2006||Spain|
|Föreningen Vetenskap och Folkbildning||Science and Popular Enlightenment / Swedish Skeptics Association||VoF||1982||Sweden|
|Gesellschaft zur wissenschaftlichen Untersuchung von Parawissenschaften||Society for the Scientific Investigation of Parasciences||GWUP||1987||D-A-CH||Based in Roßdorf, Germany. Founding member.|
|Irish Skeptics Society||Irish Skeptics Society||ISS||2002||Ireland|
|Klub Sceptyków Polskich||Polish Skeptics Club||KSP||2010||Poland||Member since 2017.|
|Observatoire Zététique||Zetetic Observatory||OZ||2003||France|||
|Skeptiker Schweiz – Verein für kritisches Denken||Swiss Skeptics – Association for Critical Thinking||Skeptiker||2012||Switzerland|||
|Stichting Skepsis||Skepsis Foundation||Skepsis||1987||Netherlands||Founding member.|
|Studiekring voor de Kritische Evaluatie van Pseudowetenschap en het Paranormale||Study Circle for the Critical Evaluation of Pseudoscience and the Paranormal||SKEPP||1990||Belgium||Serves Flanders and Brussels. Founding member.|
|Szkeptikus Társaság||Hungarian Skeptic Society||SzT||2006||Hungary|
|Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij||Association against Quackery||VtdK||1881||Netherlands||No formal membership yet.|
|Český klub skeptiků Sisyfos||Czech Skeptics Club Sisyfos||Sisyfos||1995||Czech Republic|
Furthermore, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI, formerly CSICOP), whose founder and long-time chairman Paul Kurtz was actively involved its formation (especially because the Skeptical Inquirer had many subscribers in Europe), and the Israel Skeptics Society are associate members of the ECSO.
European Skeptics Congress
European Skeptics Congresses (ESCs), in which skeptical organisations from many different European countries participate, have been held ever since 1989. The conferences are often held in the month of September, and may last from two up to four days. The ECSO was formed at the 6th ESC on 25 September 1994 in Ostend, Belgium. Since its foundation, the ECSO co-ordinates in the organisation of new ESCs that take place (on average) every other year, and is hosted by a different member organisation each time. Skeptical organisations that are non-ECSO members may also send their delegations. Past ESCs have been:
|1st European Skeptics Congress||5–7 May 1989||Bad Tölz||West Germany|
|2nd European Skeptics Congress||10–11 August 1990||Brussels||Belgium|
|3rd European Skeptics Congress||4–5 October 1991||Amsterdam||Netherlands|
|4th European Skeptics Congress||17–19 July 1992||Saint-Vincent||Italy|
|5th European Skeptics Congress||29–31 August 1993||Keele||United Kingdom||Theme: "Science for Life: Health, Medicine and Well-Being". Organised by the UK Skeptics.|
|6th European Skeptics Congress||23–25 September 1994||Ostend||Belgium||Theme: "Science, Pseudoscience and the Environment". ECSO formed.|
|7th European Skeptics Congress||4–7 May 1995||Roßdorf||Germany|
|8th European Skeptics Congress||4–7 September 1997||A Coruña||Spain|
|9th European Skeptics Congress||17–19 September 1999||Maastricht||Netherlands||Hosted by Stichting Skepsis|
|10th European Skeptics Congress||7–9 September 2001||Prague||Czech Republic||Theme: "Rise and Development of Paranormal Beliefs in Eastern Europe"|
|11th European Skeptics Congress||5–7 September 2003||London||United Kingdom|
|12th European Skeptics Congress||13–15 October 2005||Brussels||Belgium||Theme: "Pseudoscience, Alternative Medicine and the Media"|
|13th European Skeptics Congress||7–9 September 2007||Dublin||Ireland||Theme: "The Assault on Science: Constructing a Response" 100+ attendees.|
|14th European Skeptics Congress||17–19 September 2010||Budapest||Hungary|||
|15th European Skeptics Congress||22–25 August 2013||Stockholm||Sweden||Theme: "ESCape to Clarity!"|
|16th European Skeptics Congress||10–13 September 2015||London||United Kingdom||Organised by Association for Skeptical Enquiry and Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit|
|17th European Skeptics Congress||22-24 September 2017||Wrocław||Poland||"Where great minds meet" Organised by Klub Sceptyków Polskich and Český klub skeptiků Sisyfos|
|18th European Skeptics Congress||30 August - 1 September 2019||Ghent||Belgium||"The Joy of Skepticism" Organised by SKEPP and Comité Para|
Gábor Hraskó, who was then President of ECSO, stated in a 2015 interview that some goals of ECSO are to facilitate communication between the member groups; organise the regular conferences, and keep track of the active leaders for the various European groups. Sometimes a leader or a whole group will "disappear", and some groups are still active but with new leaders; it is important to "establish networks". At the 2015 conference held in London, Hraskó felt that he had learned a lot about organising from the UK skeptic groups. They operate differently than the continental Europeans, which tend to be one group that runs everything. The UK groups are all independent and more grassroots, but they end up working together on big conferences and projects. The 2017 conference "hopefully will be with the Polish and Czech skeptics". Hraskó stated that the Czech skeptics disappeared for some time, and he hopes that they have re-organised and they and the Polish skeptics will formalize the plans for the 2017 conference. This was achieved with the Polish Skeptics’ Club in cooperation with the Czech Skeptics’ Club Sisyfos organising the 17th biannual European Skeptics Congress 2017 in Wrocław, Poland. They were denied access to their initial venue on religious grounds, then they changed venue to the Faculty of Law, Administration and Economics at the University of Wrocław. The ECSO met at the end of the conference and new leadership was elected. Claire Klingenberg took over as president from Gábor Hraskó. In an interview with Eran Segev for the Skeptic Zone podcast, Klingenberg said that the conference “went great … quite productive and stimulating.” When Segev congratulated her on her new role as president of ECSO, he asked her what her top priority for ESCO was. Her answer was, “make ECSO important … it has to be more relevant, more influential … and seen as a partner not just with European skeptics, but with organizations all over the world.”
Catherine de Jong stated that having an organization overseeing the entire European skeptic groups is helpful to disseminate information when an alt med lecturer is planning a European tour. She gave the example of faith healer Peter Popoff being one who planned a tour of Europe. The UK skeptic Michael Marshall was able to contact the ECSO, who in turn were able to notify all the leaders of the other groups. They were able to share information and plan how to handle the events.
András Gabor Pinter reported from the 2019 conference in Belgium that they heard presentations about investigating psychics, the anti-vaccination movement, GMOs, and nuclear power. "Energy policies should be driven by science and as skeptics that’s what we advocate, after all."
During the 6th World Skeptics Congress (Berlin, 18–20 May 2012), co-sponsored by the ECSO, GWUP and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), the ECSO presented the "Outstanding Skeptics Award" to Wim Betz (SKEPP) and Luigi Garlaschelli (CICAP) "in recognition of [their] dedication and outstanding contributions in promoting science and investigating extraordinary claims". Simultaneously, the CSI presented Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst with the "In Praise of Reason Award" "in recognition of [their] distinguished contribution to the use of critical inquiry, scientific evidence, and reason in evaluating claims to knowledge".
- European Humanist Federation
- List of skeptical conferences
- List of skeptical organizations
- QED: Question, Explore, Discover
- The Amaz!ng Meeting (TAM!)
- "ECSO: Skeptics in Europe – About". ECSO website. Archived from the original on 25 September 2017. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
- "Earlier European skeptic events". HSS website. Archived from the original on 27 May 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
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- Mahner, Martin (February 2002). "10th European Skeptics Congress: Rise and Development of Paranormal Beliefs in Eastern Europe". Skeptical Inquirer. CSICOP. 26 (1). Archived from the original on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
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- ARP-SAPC website
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- The VtdK membership has not been formalised yet, but there is close cooperation with the ECSO, and its chairwoman Catherine de Jong already serves as ECSO board member.
- "European Skeptic Congress and ECSO Events". Lanyrd. Archived from the original on 23 July 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
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- European Skeptics Congress Archived 2014-05-18 at the Wayback Machine
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- "The Joy of Skepticism". 18th European Skeptics Congress 2019. Archived from the original on 23 February 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
- "Episode #001, feat. Gábor Hraskó". The European Skeptic Podcast. Archived from the original on 5 September 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
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