MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Many years ago, when I was first invited to give a talk to a gathering of skeptics, I started my lecture by stating: “I am very sceptical – so much so that I am even sceptical about the skeptics.” Now it seems that my words are about to acquire a new meaning.

Since several years, I am a member of the scientific committee of the German sceptic organisation GWUP and I have observed with increasing bewilderment what is happenting to this formerly solid organization.

For me, scepticism is based on at least three elements:

  • free thought,
  • open discourse,
  • pursuit of the truth through criticical assessment.

The leadership of the GWUP, recent developments seem to suggest, have lost sight of these elements. It occurred after the election of the new board of the GWUP in May 2023 (https://skepticalinquirer.org/2023/10/shakeup-among-german-skeptics). Subsequently, the open exchange of ideas made way to an atmosphere where dissent is discouraged or stifled. Examples of this phenomenon, particularly by Hümmler the newly elected chair, are becoming increasingly evident.

The incident involving the German philosopher Andreas Edmüller might serve as an example. His presentation for a GWUP regional group on ‘The WOKE Phenomenon – A frontal assault on the values of the enlightenment?’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljm0iqqFoqk) was met with vitriol before he even spoke. One individual even called Edmüller an “asshole” (‘Arschloch’ https://twitter.com/Diaphanoskopie/status/1715441184431067512). Hümmler, rather than apologising to Edmüller for the undue abuse, chose to lecture him on politically correct language and accuse him of spreading ‘alt-right’ talking points (https://twitter.com/hummler/status/1719114920250265733).

Another example is the case of Stefan Kirsch, a long-standing member of GWUP. “He has been dismissed by Hümmler from his role as ‘communication manager’. Why? Because, would you believe it, he shared Edmüller’s presentation on X (formerly Twitter) (https://twitter.com/gwup/status/1715284877375942964).

To make matters worse, Hümmler is also said to have interfered with the organizing committee’s decisions for the upcoming Skepkon conference in May 2024. He apparently insisted on removing presentations from some GWUP members who had been critical of his leadership. In addition, Hümmler repeatedly denied the GWUP’s scientific committtee to share material with the GWUP’s members.

Up to now, I have watched this embarrassing spectacle from the sidelines and deliberately stayed out of any disputes. But I do feel strongly that skeptics, of all people, must not endanger our good causes by behaving like children on an ego-trip. We are in danger of becoming the laughing stock of our opponents!

I for one have grown increasingly sceptical about the GWUP and its future – so much so that I am now seriously considering my association with this organisation. If this embarrassingly counter-productive behavior does not demonstrably change after the annual convention in May this year, I (and probably many other German skeptics) will simply depart from the ruins of this organization.

PS

(added 8/1/2024)

I have been asked to be as transparent as possible and provide evidence for the statements I made above. Let me try:

 

  1. How do I know that Hümmler has interfered with the selection of the conference organising committee? Sorry, but I have been given this information in confidence; that is, I promised to not disclose the source. I tried my best to express this situation by wording my text accordingly: “Hümmler is also said to have interfered with the organizing committee’s decisions for the upcoming Skepkon conference in May 2024. He apparently insisted on removing presentations from some GWUP members who had been critical of his leadership.” Because of the interest in this matter, have now asked some people who may know about this to come forward to confirm my statement (e.g. on social media).

 

  1. As to my assertion that Hümmler “repeatedly denied the GWUP’s scientific committee to share material with the GWUP’s members”, I have first and knowledge of the situation. As a member of the committee, I was copied in to all the relevant exchanges. Moreover, his refusal is also documented in the minutes of the committee.

I hope this addresses the concerns that some readers have voiced.

131 Responses to Have the German skeptics lost the plot? (PART 1)

  • I am not sure you got the full picture.
    E.g. the communication manager was not dimissed for just one post, there has been a history to that. Plus he still refuses to hand over access to the official GWUP X account to the new board (who were forced to create a new account). That is pretty juvenile behaviour at the very least.

    I suggest to listen to https://bartocast.de/?p=875 and followups

    Seem to me that most of the drama is caused by some people dissapointed that Holm has been elected and not someone else.

    (I am not a GWUP member and I’ve only observed this from the sidelines, but even from there it’s clear that this is not “Holm Huemmler the woke dictator and his legion destroying the GWUP” but a lot more nuanced).

    • I did not really state that the juvenile behavior was entirely one-sided, did I?

      • The ‘juvenile’ comment refers to the withholding of the account credentials and I am not sure how to interpret your reply here.
        In any case, your post pretty clearly places the blame for the current drama on the new leadership team and Holm in particular and is indeed pretty much one-sided.

        Maybe I am just naive by taking this at face value, but Holm clearly said that he is happy to talk to people about their concerns about this – and I believe it might be worthwhile for you taking him up on that offer.

        I agree with Bartoschek here that people need to talk more instead of just writing about each other.

      • Dear Prof Ernst,
        I second that you may not get the full picture. You have been provided with some “twisted facts”, apparently.

        Understandably, one trusts people with whom one collaborates well, but information should always be checked. Thus, I strongly suggest talking to Holm Hümmler in person to clarify the controversial points and the allegations made.

        And, looking at the majority of social media posts, blogs and articles regarding this topic, an “embarrassingly counter-productive”, if not even a ‘destructive’ behaviour can be well observed, but coming primarily from ONE side.

        I wholeheartedly hope that you reconsider your departure from the GWUP.

        • I do not think that TALKING is the right thing when allegations and counter allegations fly in all directions. I am happy to discuss BUT IT HAS TO BE IN WRITING [hence this blog post where I do exactly that].

    • I listened to that conversation (and some more) and I really can’t detect any odd position from Holm in it, it all sounds very reasonable to me. Nor, in my opinion, is it the case that in that thread on X he accuses Edmüller of right-wing extremism, at most he points out that you have to be careful with the term ‘WOKE’ because it quickly gets that connotation.

  • For the record, I agree with Hümmler inasmuch as I also see “woke” as a concept primarily used by the extreme right. It’s general usage is so vague that it lumps in those who support center-left social justice issues together with antisemites and transgender rapists. And it assumes ideological connections on the left that don’t really exist on such a broad level. In other words, the term has multiple meanings and ultimately refers to a group that doesn’t really exist.

    The error I think that GWUP made was allowing a speech using such a dog whistle term in the title, instead of insisting on clearer labeling of the contents. Reasoned criticism of any ideas at all should of course be welcomed, but not with dog whistle language like “woke”.

    Cosying up to the far right while claiming to be on the left is what sunk the skeptic movement in the US and UK (though add in sexual harassment scandals as well). I think skeptics need to be a bit more aware of the landscape we’re moving in.

    • woke = alert to injustice and discrimination in society, especially racism
      if some people attach their own meaning to the term, it hardly is the fault of the rest of us.

      • That’s how I recall its initial use too, as a self identification by some of those who oppose injustice and discrimination. If someone uses the term as a pejoritive, I assume they are in favour of discrimination and injustice.

      • You have to be living under a rock not to know that the far right has taken the term “woke” and turned it into a slur that basically means any social policy they don’t like with respect to diversity, equality, inclusion, racism, etc. Using it unironically in a talk like that strongly suggests that Andreas Edmüller was either clueless about its real meaning or intentionally using the distorted meaning that the right has attached to the word.

        • It’s a tad lazy to repeat the American polarised dog-whistle that anti-woke = far right. It’s not that simple. In fact, conflating woke with progressive effectively silences the many on the left who also question simplistic and anti-scientific “woke” ideology.

          • And I state it again:
            woke is a term that has too many definitions to be useful!
            it merely serves to generate confusion and hate.
            best not to use it and be clear what one truly means.

        • “You have to be living under a rock”
          That might be a nice life!
          Sadly, it seems to be you who fails to understand what I am saying.

    • Calling usage of the word “woke” a “dog whistle” is a sign of having already fallen prey to the ideology of the authoritarian left. Was Barack Obama dog-whistling to the alt-right when he used this word?

      • Are the meanings of words invariably fixed and always free of context?

        Mr. Obama used “…and you’re always politically ‘woke’ and all that stuff…” in 2019 when describing a specific problem.
        Couldnt it be that the use, meaning and impact of the word has changed in certain groups since then?

        Yes, the conclusion of woke = right-wing dog whistle is undercomplex in its dogmatic meaning, but so is its your counterargument to it.

        • It’s not only undercomplex, it is simply wrong. Susan Neiman is not dog-whistling to the alt-right, and neither is Andreas Edmüller. Anyone suggesting they are should apologize and then shut up.

        • The word “woke” is indeed acquiring a very different meaning from the original and very positive one. I read an excellent piece by Christina Buttons today that tackles precisely this .
          ‘Wokeism, or Critical Social Justice (CSJ), is a specific ideological approach to addressing perceived injustices between identity groups. It originates from a flawed academic field of study driven by political agendas rather than a commitment to the pursuit of truth.
          ‘Woke ideology is concerned with power dynamics. It posits an overly simplistic model of society that categorizes people by their group identity and ranks them as either “oppressors” or “oppressed” in a winner-takes-all conflict. Critics often refer to this obsession with group identity as “identity politics.”’
          From this page: https://www.buttonslives.news/p/a-quick-explainer-on-woke-antisemitism.

          • @Martin Cleaver There is only one meaning for the word “woke”. For example: “I woke up in the morning and saw the beautiful sunrise from my tree”. You humans ascribe different meanings to the same word, get confused and have never-ending and pointless arguments. You humans are the dumbest among the ape-kind, but you all don’t realize how dumb you all are.

            Chimpanzees and other non-human apes have a very simplistic view of society. In a winner-takes-all conflict, humans are oppressors, and the rest of ape-kind are oppressed. Every year we are hunted, and our habitat destroyed, leaving many apes lifeless and treeless. I suppose you could call us chimpanzees “woke” and playing “identity politics” if we happen to voice our opinions regarding the oppression, we face from your lot. Kapish?

          • That’s not how language works, Honest. Language changes. Not just the word “woke”, also the word “gender”. And “cis” and “trans”, apparently, Are you a fan of identity politics?

          • Thank you for the lesson on how language works, Martin Cleaver! Only those who are afflicted by wokeism think that language changes over time. It is very common to see anti-woke warriors, unbeknownst to them, suffer from serious cases of wokeism. I am working on a homeopathic remedy for just that. Stay tuned! Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go prepare my chimp posse for an upcoming Chimp Lives Matter protest.

    • I like to make a distinction between woke and Woke – that is between small w and big W.

      Small w woke is harmless – and just refers to an ‘awakening’ to various social problems in the world. Big W is very different though and is an ideological commitment to various authoritarian and irrational philosophies based around postmodernism. People who are Woke are very intolerant to alternative approaches to various injustices such as racism. They cannot bear questioning of their own assumptions and seek to punish people with alternative views rather than engage – so-called ‘cancel-culture’.

      The Woke cast all dissent as ‘hard-right’. They are explicitly anti-enlightenment and illiberal condemning “rationality’ as a product of “toxic masculinity” and “colonialism” – or something. Scepticism should have nothing to with being Woke – it should be at the forefront of challenging such anti-intellectualism and poitning out the inherent irrationality, illiberlism and intollerance of such worldviews.

      • is it helpful, if we all make up our own definition of things?
        I dislike the term because this is what has happened, I fear.

      • The Woke cast all dissent as ‘hard-right’. They are explicitly anti-enlightenment and illiberal condemning “rationality’ as a product of “toxic masculinity” and “colonialism” – or something.

        What utter rubbish. That is the parody of the original meaning of woke that the far right has attributed to it. None of that is what “woke” means. SMH🤦🏻‍♂️

        • David – you give a classic example of Motte and Bailey argument.

          You want to defend the Bailey of specific sets of activist ideology – like transgender ideology, critical race theory, post-colonialism. But when pressed, retreat to the easily defendable version of woke which is simply being against racism, sexism etc.

          We are all against racism and sexism. Some of us stand fast against the irrational, illiberal and regressive authoritarian left version of woke that cannot be defended, but seeks punishment for those who speak out.

  • Sebastian Bartoschek has had conversations on YT with GWUP members who support Holm Hümmler’s course. These members have admitted that they actually have no idea about identity politics or that Martin Mahner’s explanation of identity politics is too high for them.

    They have also claimed that Edmüller’s October 2023 lecture is factually incorrect without providing convincing arguments. Edmüller was also indirectly accused of spreading right-wing populist narratives.

    Andreas Edmüller has vigorously rejected these insinuations in several articles on his own blog. Among other things, he advises all potential speakers from outside to refrain from working with the GWUP in the future.

    https://blog.gwup.net/2022/09/05/gastbeitrag-zynische-theorien-wie-identitaetsideologie-die-geistes-und-sozialwissenschaften-beschaedigt/
    http://blog.projekt-philosophie.de/liberalismus/das-woke-phaenomen-goldenes-brett-vorm-kopf-fuer-team-huemmler/

    André Sebastiani, a member of the GWUP, has also taken a critical look at the current developments within the GWUP, particularly with regard to the Board of Directors.
    https://skeptische-gesellschaft.de/kritisierst-du-noch-oder-cancelst-du-schon

    So this matter is not “only” an offended reaction from GWUP members who would have liked a different chairman.

    • The title of Edmüller’s lecture was “The WOKE phenomenon: A frontal attack on the values of science and enlightenment?” For my part, it would not have occurred to me that the aim of this lecture could be to refer to or even legitimize “Alt-Right” ideas. Indeed, it DID NOT! And I don’t share the view that the mere use of the word “WOKE” in any context must be avoided in order not to associate it with “Alt-Right ideas”.This would seem a rather strange und misleaded taboo in a skeptical environment.

      It is important to note that the attacks on Edmüller’s lecture began before anyone knew a single word of its content. The announcement of the lecture on the then still “official” Twitter account by Stefan Kirsch also took place at a time when nobody knew the content except Edmüller himself.

      This Twitter account belongs to Mr. Kirsch, which he has voluntarily developed over many years into a channel with around 20,000 followers. The GWUP has tacitly legitimized him for this many years, so to speak, and has probably benefited considerably from this. And now the reason for his expulsion from the GWUP is a simple announcement of an event that was organized by a regional organization of the GWUP itself and with its closely – even personally – associated “Kortizes – Institut für populärwissenschaftlichen Diskurs gGmbH”?

      More on this is not indicated here. I rest my case.

      • “And now the reason for his expulsion from the GWUP is a simple announcement of an event that was organized by a regional organization of the GWUP itself (…)?”

        No.

        Holm explains this in the first Bartoschek video. Stefan announced very publicly, on leaving the members’ meeting in May, that he would no longer be doing any “ehrenamtliche Tätigkeiten” for GWUP (those of us who were there are sure to have heard this). The board discussed and decided, over the course of several weeks or even months, to reorganize the entire Social Media presence – including the other platforms and channels – of the Gwup. To the best of my knowledge, this is a discussion already initiated by the previous board, along with other IT reorganization projects. Amardeo presented several of these activities at the past members’ meeting.

        Stefan was asked, according to the video, several times to relinquish control of the Twitter account, to permit such a transfer to take place. The account, which is an important part of Gwup’s public persona, lay dormant over long periods between May and the end of the year – which is in line with Stefan’s statement of no longer being willing to support this. These discussions did not move forward, no access was handed over, etc.. At some point, the board simply needs to act. As a member, I think this is correct.

        The implied immediate causality between promoting the Kortizes presentation and these discussions simply does not exist.

        “This Twitter account belongs to Mr. Kirsch…”

        Indeed. But the account has been set up to represent “@gwup”, with Roßdorf and Gwup assignment clearly a part of the Twitter profile. Therefore was an important public outlet of Gwup. That a single private individual was able to continue to run this account, as a single point of contact, without any access to things like recovery emails, was a problem created by “the past administration” and should, in my opinion, have been rectified long ago.

        Oh, and that we’re publicly discussing Stefan at all (as an individual) is down to André, who “doxxed” him in his unfortunate “cancel culture” article. At no point, to my recollection, did Holm or anyone else from the board ever air dirty laundry, bad-mouth Stefan, etc.

        • “The account, which is an important part of Gwup’s public persona”

          This is a misconception. Since no one ever officially tasked Stefan to open an account on behalf of GWUP, he was never legally able to do so. The account is therefore Stefan’s and Stefan’s alone to deal with as he sees fit.

          This might be a legalistic way of arguing but that is the law.

        • This misrepresents the facts. There was an initial agreement between Holm and Stefan that the latter could go on posting on the @gwup account as long as he doesn’t violate the (unwritten) “new rules”. But Stefan’s announcement on Oct. 20 of Edmüller’s talk was considered breaking these rules. This was the proximate reason his expulsion from the GWUP was decided. (It was only revoked later on.)

      • “This Twitter account belongs to Mr. Kirsch, which he has voluntarily developed over many years…”
        There is a severe misconception here. An official social media account of an association does not ‘belong’ to the person who created it. And so does an association, by the way.
        Besides, developing and curating things ‘voluntarily’ is the very essential of a non-profit association.

        Also, the expulsion of Mr Kirsch is not true:
        https://x.com/StefanKirsch/status/1741155417315524768?s=20
        He was simply asked to provide access to the official account, which he refused, although Mr Kirsch stated clearly at the general assembly in May, that he was stepping down from all social media duties.

        As I already wrote in a comment above, one usually trusts people with whom one collaborates well. However, information, and especially accusations should always be duble-checked.

        • “There is a severe misconception here. An official social media account of an association does not ‘belong’ to the person who created it.”

          No, the misconception is yours.

          The problem is: it is not the “official social media account” of GWUP. For it to be the official account there would have had to have been an official request to open such an account on behalf of GWUP. Since such a request never existed, it cannot be the association’s account and is therefore merely a private account by the name of @gwup which is not a protected trademark. AFAIK there is even a legal statement to that effect.

          • “For it to be the official account there would have had to have been an official request to open such an account on behalf of GWUP. Since such a request never existed, it cannot be the association’s account and is therefore merely a private account by the name of @gwup…”

            So, Mr Kirsch has been tweeting privately, but under the name of the association. Interesting.

          • That is my understanding of the legal situation, yes.

          • Well, duh. The account is named GWUP, has a GWUP logo, no indication whatsoever to counter its apparent “official” status, and tweets (or tweeted) GWUP-related stuff.

            You don’t need a protected trademark for the right to control that account. Withholding access to it, if the current owner lost interest for whatever reason, is acting in bad faith and, from a legal PoV, highly questionable.

  • “Woke = alert to injustice and discrimination in society, especially racism.”

    To quote the heading to this blog: “Please remember: if you make a claim in a comment, support it with evidence.”
    So, please provide the origin of this definition.

    Oxford Dictionaries has:
    “Woke: adjective. /wəʊk/ /wəʊk/ (informal, often disapproving) ​aware of social and political issues, especially racism.
    This word is often used in a disapproving way by people who think that some other people are too easily upset about these issues, or talk too much about them in a way that does not change anything.”

    For many, the nuance of the last sentnce is critical.

    • Perhaps it is useful to know what Andreas Edmüller means by WOKE. At 28:00 in the video of his talk, he gives a sheet with this description:

      Was ist WOKE?

      * Das Weltbild der Naturwissenschaften/Aufklärung: Rassischtes Unterdrückunswerkzeug und nur eines von vielen gleichermassen korrekten Weltbildern!
      * Normativer Individualismus: Hängt vom jeweilligen Bezugsrahmen/Kultur ab. Es gibt keine universal verbindlichen Werte wie z.B. Menschenwürde!
      * Normativer Säkularismus: Hängt vom jeweilligen Bezugsrahmen/Kultur ab – und davon gibt es viele!

      Which I translate as:

      What is WOKE?

      * The worldview of the natural sciences/enlightenment: Racist tool of oppression and only one of many equally correct worldviews!
      * Normative individualism: Depends on the respective frame of reference/culture. There are no universally binding values such as human dignity!
      * Normative secularism: Depends on the respective frame of reference/culture – and there are many of them!

  • Identity politics and especially the gender-identity ideology have invaded skeptical thought. A section of the community seems to have been hijacked by the Genderati. E.g. Gorsky in the US, Van Erp in the Netherlands.

    • so, in your view, certain subjects must be excluded from sceptical analyses?
      do you care to publish a list of these topics?

      • Gender identity is the main one. One side (sometimes described as woke) seems to retreat behind the slogan “No Debate”. Anyone who does want to debate is labelled “far right” or “transphobic”.

        • Interesting choice of words there, contrast “sometimes described as” with “labelled”.

          • No contrast there. Both comments refer to the same party.
            Social Justice Warriors tend to refer to anyone who questions their wisdom as “far-right” or “transphobes”.
            Your comment would only make sense if one word was used about the “woke” and the other about the “anti-woke”.

          • @Martin Cleaver
            For someone who seems to be upset at the possibility of being labelled as “far-right” you do use a lot of their lingo; so now we have “Social Justice Warriors”.

          • There are plenty on the left who are critical of Gender, SJWs and Wokists. It’s very convenient to label them all far right. But that short-sighted virtue-signalling (far-right term again?) is irritating a lot of people on the left, including me.

    • Perhaps you could just give a precise definition of ‘genderati’ so that I can then consider whether I should possibly feel praised or offended by your comment.

    • Martin Cleaver ranks me among the ‘Genderati’ who have allegedly hijacked part of the skeptical community. I cannot speak for David Gorski, but for myself, I find this a rather questionable allegation. It strongly seems that Cleaver considers anyone who has even the slightest criticism of the arguments put forward from gender-critical circles against current trans care in various countries to be immediately caught up in gender ideology (whatever that may be). As if no other, more nuanced positions are possible in this debate.

      • I, too, wonder just WTF he means by “genderati,” but in context it sure sounds as though you are correct in your characterization.

        If “generati” means that I reject the conspiracy theories, bad science, and pseudoscience promulgated by the “gender critical” crowd with respect to gender dysphoria and the gender-affirming medical treatment of trans adolescents, then I will wear that emblem proudly. And, make no mistake, much of the GC world view *is* rooted in conspiracy theories that very much resemble those of antivaxxers. I think I need to do a post enumerating that now.

        • DARVO, David.

          The ideological capture of SBM in these matters has been shameful to witness. America is lagging way behind Europe here where the claims of the ideologues have been examined and found to be false. I trust you have read the Cass report?

        • The Gender Critical position just means you accept the following:
          1) We are an evolved, sexually reproducing species and each of us is male or female (the material and objective nature of sex)
          2) That women have been historically and currently oppressed in societies on the basis of their sex as females.
          3) That some men have a paraphilia that excites to have others see them as woman
          4) That children who are distressed at their emerging sense of their sex and and sexuality and not something called “trans”.
          5) That is is immoral to give such kids off-label drugs that lead to their sterilisation and inability to have a sex life. And immoral to mutilate their healthy bodies over a psychaitric problem when they cannot consent and their is no sound evidence base to do so.

          I think it is fair to say anyone disagreeing with these reasonable positions is part of the captured “genderati”.

    • That last sentence is actually key to the entire matter. The term “woke” has been intentionally hijacked by the far right, particularly here in the US, to mean anything with respect to equality, race, etc. that it doesn’t like.

      • Yes. It would be far better to criticise gender politics or anti-colonialism etc by naming each separately as you go, without implying they are all “woke”, and therefore ideologically connected and can all be dealt with in the same manner.

        • It would be even better if justified and scientific criticism of gender politics wasn’t automatically parried by using the “far right” slur.

          • That would come better from someone who hadn’t used the “genderati” slur themselves.

          • Far right is certainly a slur, “Genderati” is just shorter than “those who support the gender identity ideology”, @Zebra.

          • define ‘gender ideology’

          • Gender (identity) ideology is a set of beliefs based on queer theory which suggests that fender identity is something concrete and not just s metaphysical conviction. Apparently gender is a spectrum. I consider it unscientific.

          • Oh really @Martin Cleaver, so only other people use slurs, you yourself are just using shorter words. Funny that.

          • @Martin Cleaver
            Why is ‘far right’ a slur? This political end of the spectrum already identifies itself as right-wing, and given that there is nothing to their right, they can justifiably be called far right.

            All this without resorting to real slurs (e.g. ‘fascists’) or even addressing the fact that especially in the US, the (far) right is mostly characterized by hatred and polarization, not sensible politics – with Donald Trump and his following as an extreme right-wing exponent.

      • Dear David, for many, many years SBM was my safe space, my first address to turn to in all doubtful cases of quackery, but do you really believe that Matauranga Maori is a science?
        That Edzard Ernst, that Harriet Hall, Jerry Coyne and the like are falllen angels?

        That is the question, and not “what is the definition of woke”, I think.

  • You hit the mark with your post!
    What was previously a respected and relevant club became a joke shop and all Schwurbel supporters are laughing up their sleeves.

    If the chairman interfered in the selection of presentations for the annual meeting, that would definitely fit the bill. “Onkel Michael” wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the new chairman and what happens? He is shown the door after six years as a columnist for the Journal “Der Skeptiker”.
    This is “Cancel Culture” par excellence.
    The matter of Dr. Edmüller and his lecture is a huge scandal. A seasoned scientist and private lecturer at LMU for decades has to allow himself to be publicly criticized by two nobodies in a video in a way that is unspeakable. Of course you can criticize the lecture, but this must be done in a well-founded and documented manner and not simply in a blanket dismissal.
    What does the new chairman do? He is silent…

    • This text shows a quite small view of the whole theme.

      There is the question of how the GWUP was acting before the general meeting in may 2023. My critisism and the critisim of many others was, that the GWUP took themes and took a stand in some things, that were irritating (ABA, nuclear power, some people joined the GWUP and painted the devil of “wokeness” on the wall).
      The communication was bad, voices from inside were not heard and critisism from outside ended fast with a block on X – and why? Maybe because of the opinion of leaders that they know everything and don’t have to discuss with critisisers?

      ABA – the experts said, that they know it better, and the critic is bad. Stefan Kirsch blocked all critisisers.
      In my opinion the arguments from the so called ABA-GWUP-experts were contradictory and bad, almost laughable how bad.
      Nuclear power – should the GWUP be a nuclear power association/lobby? – it looked like this.
      Woke – the word which is more and more said and most time misused from right-wing populists. Is that the way how the GWUP should be noticed? The super dangerous wokeness will repress even the scepticism?!? Let’s travel around the world and find more associations for people who think, YES, that is dangerous, that is wokeness! Danger, danger! This is great bullshit.
      Just don’t act like old white men and go with the time, not every critic is a muzzle. This is kindergarden.
      And you cannot make H. Hümmler responsible for every word that is said.

      • “My critisism and the critisim of many others was, that the GWUP took themes and took a stand in some things, that were irritating (ABA, nuclear power, some people joined the GWUP and painted the devil of “wokeness” on the wall).”
        I presume you mean by ‘the GWUP’ some people in the GWUP. Even if it is irritating, why not let them? Does a skeptic organisation not allow pluralism?
        “The communication was bad, voices from inside were not heard and critisism from outside ended fast with a block on X – and why? Maybe because of the opinion of leaders that they know everything and don’t have to discuss with critisisers?”
        Even if true, this has now clearly changed to the worse.
        “should the GWUP be a nuclear power association/lobby?”
        I did not realise that it was.
        “Woke – the word which is more and more said and most time misused from right-wing populists. Is that the way how the GWUP should be noticed?”
        In my view, it would be good not to use terms that everyone defines differently.
        “And you cannot make H. Hümmler responsible for every word that is said.”
        I studiously tried to avoid that.

      • critisism from outside ended fast with a block on X – and why?.

        Criticism like that of Hoaxilla, Tommy Krappweis or autism activists? Who declare the evidence-backed statements of experts and people who have been dealing with the issues for years to be invalid or vilify the experts as lobbyists or even place them in the right-wing corner?

        By the way: You do not actually solve problems on Twitter or another social media platform, but in a personal conversation. On the GWUP blog or in #ferngespräch, GWUP members have repeatedly warned of the dangers of only communicating via social media. Nevertheless, the big names like Holm Hümmler and Florian Aigner are walking into this minefield with their eyes wide open, which is now blowing up in their faces.

        some people joined the GWUP and painted the devil of “wokeness” on the wall.

        It is the other way around. Some people joined the GWUP and now try to stiffle any critical discussion about intersectionality/identity politics. Some board members more or less clearly support these people in this endeavor, while others, such as André Sebastiani or Nikil Mukerji, who I mentioned, are trying to fend off the attempts.

        • You call them ABA experts and they have evidence-backed statements? These incompetent experts rely on super bad studies and they contradict themselfs many times. And why to call them not as ABA-lobbyists is the question. Most of these people (so called experts in “der skeptiker”) earn or earned their money with relating to ABA. – If this is no problem, then you should believe also what homeopaths say.
          But some people, including you, discussed this already in other forums. No need to do this here again any longer.

          Not to discuss on twix? What do you want to say? Oh, I don’t care.

          There is no attempt to smother anything. Cry quietly, little rpgno1.

    • Is that so? Another decision that was not widely communicated:

      “Onkel Michael” wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the new chairman and what happens? He is shown the door after six years as a columnist for the Journal “Der Skeptiker”.

      • Time goes by. Things change. Not everything can stay the same.
        In my opinion there weren’t definitely all things good in the GWUP before the general meeting. And I think these changes are very good.
        It’s simply a matter of perspective.

  • Thank you, Edzard Ernst, for your honest statement! Many of us feel the same. Please don’t leave! “Team liberal” of the German skeptics needs you more than ever!

  • Dear Edzard,

    Since i made part of this mess, i would like to clean some of it up. Try at least.
    The asshole-Tweet was never intended to be taken personally and was never ment that way. In German there is the expression „Mathe ist ein Arschloch“ (Maths is an asshole), so it is possible to call things a**hole. That‘s what i did, that‘s what i ment. Let me explain further. The tweet i responded to mentioned three talks, one of which was the „Woke“ one. I wrote „Zwei Titel und ein Arschloch. (…)“ and ment „Der Titel ist ein A**usw“ (The title is the a**hole). The response was predictable and many people told my, it was uncalled for. Including people who are with me on the point i made. With time I agreed with them. But the discussion died down and my tweet was lost in X. I had two reasons not to delete it. 1st Reason: I think one should own ones mistakes. 2nd Reason: I was afraid (not quite the right word) of the Straisand-Effect. Because some people seem to just look for reasons to rub mistakes in these days.
    Since the facts changed (Mr. Edmüller mentioned my tweet and now you did) i changed my mind. After posting this comment i will delete the tweet.
    It was never my intention to abuse Mr. Edmüller (or anyone else for that matter). I was just angered by the tweet, because i thought it unnecessarily provocative (look who’s talking) and wanted to express my frustration. That worked fabulously but it wasn’t constructive. Sorry for that.
    Jan

  • The situation is not limited to the GWUP. The GWUP is only ONE playfield of many. The GWUP is only one part of the whole thing.

    The situation is not new at all. I all goes back years. One of the key problems, yes, we have to talk about it, is the origin of so many skeptics. You see: Many skeptics grew up in an esoteric environment. It took them some time to realize what their environment does and is, and then to get out. But one thing they mostly did not leave: the social behaviour of esoterics. That is: avoid plain facts, get aggressive, attack ad hominem, be vulgar. Just what happened to Andreas Edmüller is nothing new.

    So it is far from easy to collaborate with skeptics. In the TG-1 forum, or because of the TG-1 forum, we encountered many incidents, many collisions with skeptics. I do not say GWUP, I say skeptics. Only a part of the persons was or is in the GWUP. And, wherever it was, whenever it happened, again and again sooner or later it turned out that it is impossible to collaborate with them. Because of their behaviour. Because of what they do, or what they do not do.

    One of the things they do not do: research thoroughly. And be honest about facts.

    I found a thread in the TG-1 forum, which I now translated for you with deepl.com. Some quirks of the translation I mended, but I did not look at every word.

    The date is 2018. More than 5 years ago. Nothing new, and the GWUP isn’t even mentioned. But you will see, that what is talked about now concerning the GWUP, already years ago was going on.

    This is the thread “An die Mitleser aus scienceblogs.de und anderswo”, started by Thymian:

    https://www.allaxys.com/~kanzlerzwo/index.php?topic=10176..0

    [###/QUOTE###]
    ——————————————————————
    Thymian

    To the readers of scienceblogs.de and elsewhere
    ” on: October 08, 2018, 09:06:32 AM ”

    Ladies and gentlemen, dear play-children!

    Joseph Kuhn started an “experiment” yesterday:

    http://scienceblogs.de/gesundheits-check/2018/10/07/ein-experiment-fragen-und-antworten-mit-christian-j-becker/

    [*quote*]
    Health Check
    An experiment: Questions and answers with Christian J. Becker
    By Joseph Kuhn / 7 October 2018 / 79.

    In the last few days, there have been many posts on social media by Christian J. Becker, very sharp and deliberately provocative in tone. I blocked Mr Becker here on Health Check because of this. He is now making a suggestion:

    [***quote***]
    “My offer to you: I’ll behave myself and your skeptics will behave themselves. We will not disrespect each other here on your blog. As soon as I violate that, you can ban me again.”
    [***/quote***]

    I would like to respond to this and ask that everyone try not to jump like sheep over any rhetorical sticks that may be held out, but to discuss things objectively or, if polemically, then at a reasonable niveau.

    Mr Becker has formulated the first questions:

    [***quote***]
    “I just have a few questions for the skeptics: how do you like the film Magic Pills, what do you think is good, what is less successful? Why are globules so important for skeptics, most globule users like me pay for globules themselves (like 85%) and also relieve the social security system, e.g. by going to alternative practitioners. Why is the scientifically proven carcinogen glyphosate so important to skeptics that they defend it?”
    [***/quote***]

    So there is no OT, all topics go. If the discussion becomes too much of a mud fight, there is first a reminder, then an end. Clear the stage.
    [*/quote*]

    1. Kuhn has fallen for Becker’s stick.

    2. Kuhn asks: “… then to discuss with niveau”.

    Unfortunately, as usual, this thing has failed in form and content. A high standard includes above all

    1. doing proper research
    2. taking note of facts, even if you don’t like them
    3. reporting facts instead of concealing them
    4. … and so much more

    Unfortunately, the “skeptics” fail completely.

    In one of the comments “borstel” writes there:

    [*quote*]
    borstel
    7 October 2018

    NB: If you like it a little more hearty, the Transgallaxys forum is just fine. However, I have to admit that even I find the posts there too polemical in the long run. So please only enjoy them in homeopathic doses…
    [*/quote*]

    What was said again and again by friends of the TG-1 in the early days of the TG-1 is still true today:

    * Every website, every forum, every blog has its own readership.

    * Every website, every forum, every blog is part of a mosaic.

    * The solidarity of the individual members of the mosaic makes up the whole.

    * You cannot reach all surfers with one website. So you share information with the others in the mosaic and prepare and present it in your own way.

    Unfortunately, openness and solidarity are not the same thing. For example, while material researched by TG-1 or its friends was immediately passed on to the others, the reverse was not the case. The valued others remained silent. Instead, they adopted content from the TG-1 and concealed the source because the TG-1 was supposedly “not reputable”. This method of dusting off other people’s content is all too familiar from Wikipedia. It was publicised in a very nice case by one of Wikipedia’s victims. TG-1 reported on it at the time:

    The IT network of today’s terrorism / Wikipedia = street war of the PR mafia and falsification gangs
    http://www.transgallaxys.com/~kanzlerzwo/index.php?topic=2781.msg7833#msg7833
    QUOTE:
    [*quote*]
    […]
    [*QUOTE*]
    ————————————————————————–
    I have removed the link,
    because a private page as evidence according to
    WP:Vouchers is not so reliable.
    ————————————————————————–
    [*/QUOTE*]

    So: A private site (the word is SITE, but Wikipedia is known to be home to illiterates of all colours…) is “not so reliable” as a source. THAT’S WHY the LINK to this private site is deleted.

    BUT in the confession there is this continuation:

    [*QUOTE]
    ————————————————————————–
    This could possibly be remedied by rephrasing,
    since “only” two sentences were copied, …
    ————————————————————————–
    [*/QUOTE*]

    So: If this is reworded, the content can be copied.

    But now we know (see above!) that

    [*QUOTE*]
    ————————————————————————–
    a private page as evidence according to
    WP:Vouchers is not so reliable.
    ————————————————————————–
    [*/QUOTE*]

    If you steal their content and rephrase it, this flaw of private origin suddenly disappears.
    […]
    [*/quote*]

    “If you steal their content and reformulate it, this stigma of private origin suddenly disappears.” That’s exactly how it works. I wouldn’t call such behaviour sophisticated. More like antisocial. Interestingly, however, this is precisely the behaviour of those who claim to be so social. What do you call that? A split in consciousness? Incidentally, this is absolutely not an isolated case, but typical of the scene.

    “borstel” writes: “that even I find the posts there too polemical in the long run.” That’s another matter. Firstly, as already mentioned, every piece of the mosaic is different, and that is deliberate. Secondly, there is a completely different element, one that has been explained over and over again, but has been and continues to be deliberately ignored:

    Politeness is also just a weapon!

    You can criticize the TG-1 for being tough. You can. Yes, the TG-1 is tough. Even tough as nails. But what about the rest of the world? What is it like?

    Do the critics who are so dismissive of the TG-1 because of its toughness want to condemn the rest of humanity for toughness as well?

    Do the critics who are so dismissive of the TG-1 because of its harshness want to accuse the rest of humanity of being rude, unobjective, polemical… and so on?

    Even the most stupid critic will have to admit that large parts of the discussion with esoterics and other existences are very polite, sometimes even submissive, and have been since time immemorial.

    Why then have the politeness, the friendliness and all the facts that were shown to the esotericists not only achieved nothing, but on the contrary led to the esotericists being able to spread further and further, to conquer the political system, to conquer legislation – and why do the esotericists THEREFORE now have a market worth billions, leaving behind more and more corpses, which, of course, are blamed on the evil “conventional medicine”?

    Why?

    Because politeness is also just a weapon.
    Because esotericists lie about the facts.
    Because esotericists abuse the justice system to suppress facts and to silence critics and, ideally, to destroy them altogether.

    The esoteric scene is a dangerous parasite and leaves thousands of corpses in its wake every year. How little we hear about them shows how well oiled the network is in making the truth disappear.

    Esotericism is murder.

    Murder is not reserved for the Hamer scene alone, but other areas, such as homeopathy, also leave corpses behind. Thousands of them. Every year.

    Should we just stand there smiling and waiting for the murderous rabble to bury us, or are we allowed to defend ourselves?

    Is one allowed to defend himself? That is the question. That is the crucial question. And the answer is: NO! Because that would be impolite. Facts, bare facts, simple and provable facts are labelled lies and slander by the esotericists. Should we submit to this? Should we submit to a rabble of murderers and remain silent because the truth is “impolite”?

    Should we submit to a rabble of murderers and remain silent because the truth is “impolite”?

    This is THE key question, the question where the skeptics regularly and totally fail.

    Interestingly, however, the skeptics are anything but polite. They even get very personal, insinuating, vulgar and obscene. You see this again and again in their forums and blogs. How can such a scene accuse others of what they themselves do all the time?

    The TG-1 is tough as nails. It is – and this is well known – the toughest forum on the WWW. But one thing it is not is vulgar and obscene. The forum posts are very distanced. The forum posts are sometimes very pointed and very harsh, but because of the cause, because it’s about people’s lives, the biological lives of people.

    Should we treat the scum of murderers with kid gloves? Can we justify to humanity and to the sick and the victims of bunglers and fraudsters that we treat the perpetrators with kid gloves and thereby show them “dignity” and “honour” and – de facto – give them recognition? No, of course not, because that makes you an accomplice to the perpetrators. But this is exactly what established journalism and others do with their “balance”, which is one of the worst crimes against the victims.

    Ladies and gentlemen, dear play-children!

    Anyone who thinks that you should tinker with something just for fun, that because it’s just for fun you don’t need to do any further research, that because it’s just for fun you suppress facts because they don’t look so nice (“The hook must please the fish and not the angler.”), who is what is called a “play child” on the net, should stay out of medicine as far as possible. Medicine is a matter of life and death. The TG-1 is not for play-children, nor will the dominatrices ever allow mental toddlers to spread here.

    TG-1 is the toughest forum on the WWW. We are at the forefront of researching and working with authorities and media internationally to put a stop to fraudsters and murderers. Yes, we co-operate with the FBI and CIA.

    We research and publish.

    Unfortunately, researching and publishing is one of those things. We receive a lot of material, some of which is published immediately, and much of which goes into the armoury for later use. We publish. As we know from reliable sources, journalists are very bad about this. Current cases include this obscurity, for example:

    Homeopathy adverts on Charité website cancelled – who was behind it?
    By: Gita Neumann
    18 Sep 2018
    https://hpd.de/artikel/fuer-homoeopathie-bewerbung-charite-seite-steckte-dahinter-15962

    “Who was behind it?” Yes, who was behind it? We were told that our sources had informed a number of journalists. And us. And we, the guests of TG-1, uncovered this from the information we received and further research:

    * The Georg Seifert affair at the Charité in Berlin
    http://www.transgallaxys.com/~kanzlerzwo/index.php?topic=9874.msg23936#msg23936

    * Prof Georg Seifert at the Charité in Berlin is a liar
    http://www.transgallaxys.com/~kanzlerzwo/index.php?topic=10076.0

    * The evidence: Georg Seifert, Angelika Eggert, the Charité and all kinds of failures…
    http://www.transgallaxys.com/~kanzlerzwo/index.php?topic=10112.0

    * Lies of the Federal Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry are getting out of hand
    http://www.transgallaxys.com/~kanzlerzwo/index.php?topic=10083.0

    But neither the “Tagesspiegel” in Berlin nor http://www.hpd.de have uncovered the truth. Why are the Tagesspiegel and hpd.de covering up for the perpetrators?

    Why?

    And why is the Federal Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry lying, including in the form of a “press release”, writing on 13 September 2018

    https://www.presseportal.de/pm/21085/4060536

    [*quote*]
    PRESS PORTAL

    BPI Federal Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry
    Homeopathy is an integral part of medical therapy options
    13.09.2018 – 13:26
    [*/quote*]

    Why?

    Here is an interesting statistic from a site well worth reading:

    The TOP 10 German hospitals by number of cases

    https://www.kliniken.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Top_10_Fallzahlen_in_Deutschland.png
    https://www.kliniken.de/krankenhaus/krankenhaus-report/krankenhausstatistik.html

    The TOP 10 German hospitals by number of cases (data apparently from 2015):

    1st Berlin Charité 136,947 cases
    2nd Munich University Hospital 78,550 cases
    3. university hospital Münster 72,209 cases
    4. university hospital of the Johannes
    Gutenberg University Mainz 70,790 cases
    5. university hospital in Tübingen 68,934 cases
    6. Augsburg University Hospital with clinics
    for children and adolescents 66,571 cases
    7. university hospital Heidelberg 65,755 cases
    8. Klinikum Chemnitz gGmbH 64,980 cases
    9th Erlangen University Hospital 63,038 cases
    11th University Medical Centre Freiburg 62,796 cases

    With more than 135,000 cases and more than 1,600 doctors, the Charité in Berlin is by far the largest hospital in Germany.

    Patients do not go to this hospital for fun, but because they are ill. Many because they are terminally ill. Many die there. It’s a matter of life and death.

    What could be read for several years on the website of the paediatric oncology department of the Charité in Berlin? Among other things, this:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20110711055412/http://paedonko.charite.de:80/forschung/ag_integrative_medizin/hintergrundinformationen/homoeopathie
    QUOTE:
    [*quote*]
    From an empirical point of view, the effect of homeopathic high potencies is undisputed and an integral part of daily practice. Since the effects are maintained even in the molecule-free high potency range, are electronically transferable and amplifiable and can be stored digitally on CD-ROM, the active principle of action of homeopathic medicines can be described as “medicinal information”.
    [*quote*]

    How do you feel as a father or mother or as a directly affected cancer patient when you read this idiocy?

    “Since the effects … are electronically transferable and amplifiable and can be digitally stored on CD-ROM”

    How does that make you feel?

    And: Do the citizens have no right to know what is happening there? Do the sick have no right to know what is happening there?

    Why are the Tagesspiegel Berlin and http://www.hpd.de silent?

    And why are the dear and esteemed readers from scienceblogs.de and elsewhere silent?

    Why?

    If the homeopaths were not covered up by fraudsters and accomplices in the Bundestag, they would all have been in prison for life long ago.

    Why do the dear and highly honoured readers of scienceblogs.de and elsewhere make themselves accomplices of the perpetrators through their silence?

    Or are they not allowed to say all this? Because it’s “impolite”? Because it’s “polemic”?

    How many deaths are you allowed to talk about without being scolded for being “impolite” or “polemical”?

    Or are we not even allowed to ask this question?

    Joseph Kuhn and his “experiment”

    Joseph Kuhn, paid as a recognised scientist, thinks he has to conduct an experiment. Only, unfortunately, he seems to be doing it more out of playfulness than from a genuine scientific point of view. If he were really working scientifically, he would do some REAL research. And if not research himself, then consult the results of other sources. Then he would know what has been doing the rounds on Twitter for weeks: that Christian J. Becker works with Scientology methods. If Joseph Kuhn really worked scientifically, he would research this or at least mention the research results of others.

    And “borstel”? Is so subtle that he doesn’t even give the URL of TG_1: http://www.transgallaxys.com/~kanzlerzwo

    Is the URL of TG-1 taboo among the illustrious elite of scienceblogs?

    Or is this question also not allowed to be asked?

    What Christian Joachim Becker (Christian J. Becker) is up to has been described in TG-1 in several threads. Among others here:

    Blackmail, coercion, defamation – what PR is up to today
    http://www.transgallaxys.com/~kanzlerzwo/index.php?topic=10042.0

    As far as the methods of Christian Joachim Becker (Christian J. Becker) and the connection to Scientology * are concerned, you should read here:

    The Scientology File
    http://www.transgallaxys.com/~kanzlerzwo/index.php?board=205.0

    The latter link is even given at the top of the forum pages.

    Ladies and gentlemen, dear play-children,

    The TG-1 is the toughest forum on the WWW. We save lives – while others just indulge in their illustrious pastimes.

    Criticism, when it comes, requires above all … the truthfulness of those who express it.

    * PS: Rumour has it that the constitutional protection agencies of several federal states have also been called in.
    ” Last Edit: October 08, 2018, 09:22:44 AM by Thymian ”

    . Im Angesicht von Gewalt ist Höflichkeit gegenstandslos.
    . At face with violence politeness is pointless.

    . (User TNT in the former CDU forum)
    ——————————————————————
    [###/QUOTE###]

    Strong stuff, isn’t it? Loaded over the years like a ruby laser, and then: Blitz!

    After the thread was done, the skeptics kept silent. The details mentioned by Thymian … nobody cared about them. All the mistakes and fouls by the skeptics were not taken care of, were not repaired. Not even commented. Total silence. The same is true for the journalists.

    Neither skeptics nor journalists research thoroughly.

    Neither skeptics nor journalists really go down to the real facts. They only enjoy talking. It all is a play for them. And just that is a sign that they really do not care about what is going on, they only want to have their fun. Thymian pointed this out clearly.

    To say it in one word: The whole scene is a kindergarten.

    But we are faced with real life. In the field of medicine this means pain, misery and death. Like a child with cancer is in the oncology department of the Charite in Berlin. Why did no-one write about WHO is responsible for the homeopathic mess committed there? The facts were known. They had been researched thoroughly, shown – with pieces of proof – to the public, shown to the skeptics, shown to the journalists. But the skeptics and the journalists kept silence. As far as we know in the Berlin Senate nothing happened at all, and in the Charite just the same.

    How can we get fraud out of practiced medicine, when frauds are supported by silence?

    How can we get fraud out of practiced medicine, when facts are concealed?

    Forget the GWUP. There is no use spoiling time with them. Do something real: investigate and write. Investigate thoroughly, write with precision, comprehensible. Yes, write satire, write humour, even get tough, if necessary (and it IS necessary so often!). But stay with the facts. No meta-babble, just plain facts, with loads of pieces of proof. Babble does not convince anyone, but facts can change a mind.

    And forget politeness. Like TNT wrote: “At face with violence politeness is pointless.”

    Found in Usenet:

    “I am polite,” the bullet said. “I knock, before I enter.”

  • A summary? With so few words? That would only be some meta-stuff. All the facts would be missing. And THAT is THE problem we are faced with: people are bathed in meta-babble. That leads us nowhere.

    Only facts teach, only facts convince. Anything else would be some fairy tale. And would make us attackable. Because we do not provide enough proof. Which is one of the problem of the skeptics: they do not have enough proofs, they are not thorough enough. They parrot the same babble over and over again – just like the esoterics.

    I write about the war with language for over 2 decades now. Language is a weapon. People must learn how to use it. And we, the authors, must observe what and how and how much the readers REALLY learn from what we write. Some control of efficiency. But about nobody does that. One more problem we are faced with.

    Did you view the video (on Youtube) with the speech by Andreas Edmüller on Matauranga Maori? Too many words, not enough facts. What do people learn from that? Merely nothing.

  • Being a member for several years, I am very unhappy to witness the infighting that is currently going on in the GWUP, which for me seems to be driven mainly by politics & ideology, not by science. I sincerely hope that you will not leave the advisory board, but instead continue be a voice of reason.
    You mentioned one main problem of the whole “pro/contra woke” debate, i.e. that people use this rather vague term for many different reasons, which opens the door for accusations and disputes.

    One question:
    You write that Holm Hümmler “apparently insisted on removing presentations from some GWUP members who had been critical of his leadership.” and that he “repeatedly denied the GWUP’s scientific committee to share material with the GWUP’s members.“
    I would be very interested if you could provide more details on these issues, because if this is true, I will have to consider leaving the GWUP. If you do not want to share details on this forum, could you consider writing a comment on this for the next issue of “Skeptiker”?

    • the short answer is: NO, thank you

      • Well, that was a quite clear answer 😆.
        The rumours that you passed on about Hümmler in your post (selfish interfering with the SkepKon organizing committee, repeatedly denying the scientific committee material) are quite serious allegations in my opinion. Is it not against your own rule that claims on this blog should be supported with evidence? Having heard & read quite a lot of opinions about our new chairman (some very positive, some very negative), I do not have a clear opinion about him myself, especially as long as facts are not provided that would substantiate any misbehaviour.

        • excuse me – but are we now all losing the plot?
          YOU ASKED: could you consider writing a comment on this for the next issue of “Skeptiker”?
          I ANSWERED: no

          why do you think I need evidence for this answer?

          • I ment evidence (e.g. written statements, Emails etc.) that Mr. Hümmler indeed acted in the way that you metioned (interfering with the SkepKon organizing committee, repeatedly denying the scientific committee material). As a member of the scientific committee, I was wondering if you might have such documents (not confidential of course) that would substanciate the rumours.

          • I suspected as much and will shortly add a ‘PS’ to my blog post explaining what I can devulge.

          • Thank you for the “PS”. Your comments are quite concerning, I will continue to follow the information about Mr. Hümmler and evaluate my GWUP membership accordingly.
            This whole situation is such an unfortunate mess, especially since right now, with all the new technological options for spreading misinformation (boosted also by large scale implementation of large language models) and pressing environmental problems associated with global climate change, a strong community of people united in the intention to promote critical, science-based thinking is so desperately needed. Personally, I consider many of the topics that are associated with the term “wokeness” as FAR less important than the topics I mentioned above and am frustrated that the some GWUP members seems to be willing to go down a road of self-destruction over these ideological issues.

  • It would be a huge tragedy if the ‘skeptical movement’ were to fall apart because of disagreements about gender ideology. But it is showing every sign of that happening, in the UK as well as Germany. It is truly a minefield -if you say a word wrong you are likely to be pilloried. The wrongest thing that you can do, it seems, is to fail to take sides. It seems that, if you try to take a nuanced view of it, then you are immediately dismissed as a traitor by both sides.

    CoI: I tried to advance a nuanced view at: https://www.dcscience.net/2020/07/28/the-transgender-problem/

    • You tried to balance on a very narrow cord. And I fear you failed.
      You wrote ‘It seems to me that there is a wafer-thin distinction between “trans women are women” and “trans women should be treated as though they were women”. Yet if you say the wrong one you can be pilloried.’
      That may have been a reasonable position when there was a tiny number of gender dysphoric men who chose to be transsexuals with all the consequences. But most “transwomen” these days do not undergo any medical treatment and just declare themselves to be “women”. They have all their tackle intact and some even call themselves lesbians. Many women are rightly outraged at this attack on the rights they are still fighting for

      • Sex is not a spectrum, but views on it certainly are. Your views on it are at one extreme.

        You seem to think that anyone who is unhappy about their sex is either a fraud or a criminal. Even with the recent increase (which is smaller for trans women than for trans men), the numbers are small, and the number who are fraudulent or criminal is still smaller.

        I wonder whether, if we were in the 1960s, what your view on homosexuality would have been? That’s a very relevant question: do you think that anyone with unconventional feelings about sex should be condemned, or is than only for trans people, or only for trans women?

        I have only known one trans women personally. It would to find anyone more harmless. And, although this was quite a long time ago, they were accepted by those she worked with.

        • I moved to Amsterdam in de seventies and most of my friends were and are gays or lesbians. There is no link or comparison between the fight for gay rights (led e.g. by by dear friend Bev Jackson ever since she helped found the Gay Liberation Front in 1970 until she founded the LGB Alliance in 2019 and beyond) and the ideology that has now captured the LGB and submerged it in the alphabet soup, which is fundamentally homophobic. I also have transwomen friends and they are equally opposed to the gender mantra.
          Transsexuals are also victims of the ideology, having lived quietly for decades only to find themselves thrown under the bus by the extremists. Do read this piece by Christine Karman. https://archive.fo/2022.01.11-151829/https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2022/01/07/ik-ben-vrouw-maar-mijn-transitie-verzwijgen-is-kennelijk-not-done-a4076025 (Here in Engish: https://docs.google.com/document/d/15QUVuK7lbk43EADguwq7FyWpn0tiYgJSA_7Y-oMwxi0/edit?usp=sharing.)

          • That piece by Karman is very interesting. Thanks for the link.

            You say
            “Transsexuals are also victims of the ideology, having lived quietly for decades only to find themselves thrown under the bus by the extremists.”

            That sounds very reasonable to me. But surely you should be asking yourself whether you might be one of those extremists?

            I’m in favour of keeping quiet and letting people live their lives how they want to (within the law, of course). I won’t get involved in twitter storms, and I’m already regretting getting sucked into it again, here.

          • I am progressive & gender critical. I am indeed NOT an extremist. Is it extremist to say that women don’t have penises? I’m with Prof Robert Winston: You can’t change sex.
            I consider my opinions most reasonable, Some try to argue that it’s “six of one and half a dozen of the other”. I disagree. The aggression and extremism is overwhelmingly to be seen on one side.
            Many transsexuals are unhappy with the “gender wars” that have broken out.

          • @Martin Cleaver

            Is it extremist to say that women don’t have penises?

            At the very least, it is short-sighted. Apparently, you insist on just the rather limited definition of ‘woman’ as someone with exclusively female genital characteristics.
            In reality, nature does indeed produce a whole spectrum of gender variants, including genetic females (XX) with penises.
            Admittedly, these variants tend to be far less common than binary males/females, but the important thing here is to realize that strictly categorizing people as exclusively male or female is not very sensible, especially from a scientific point of view.

            Yes, I do appreciate that a more fluid concept of gender can make many people rather uneasy, given that most of us have been raised with the simple, clear concept of just natural males and females. Maybe one reason for this is that we almost instinctively try judging anyone we meet for (reproductive) attractiveness and fitness, and that transgender people can make this already emotionally tricky process rather more complicated. This also goes for me. Would I be friends with transgender people? No problem. Would I date a woman whom I know to be transgender? Not so sure, given that I am pretty much an old school heterosexual, who is attracted to ‘100% real’ women. But if I were raised in a society like today’s, I can imagine that I’d have less qualms with this. After all, most of us have accepted homeosexuality by now as a normal variant of human sexuality, and we certainly have no problems with surgical modification of sexual characteristics in a less radical way. I think the sensible thing for politics to do is to accept the reality that transgender people exist as a human variety, and stop attributing all sorts of emotionally charged negative aspects to this phenomenon. Take a hands-off approach, and only interfere when there is clear, science-based(!) evidence that the people involved (i.e. the transgender people themselves) may suffer avoidable harm.

            Anyway, as this is way off-topic, I’ll leave it at this.

          • “this is way off-topic”
            indeed!

          • I fear you are clutching at straws when you suggest there are XX penises. It is certainly far from scientific. That is the pickle we find ourselves in, faced with skeptics who believe in the female penis.

          • OFF TOPIC!!!

        • This is a good summary of why it is not a question of “both sides”. https://grahamlinehan.substack.com/p/the-myth-of-both-sides

  • Hi,

    I’m Stephan, I entered GWUP one year ago. Since then, it exploded, so I must be the cause of it. Therefore, I demand to be heard. ;o)

    First of all: Let’s ditch the fruitless discussion about the word „woke“. It turns out to be a variable depending on time, speaker and context. It is no good to describe the underlying problem.

    I propose to talk about the field of critical studies with the resulting intersectionalism and the question if they are sound science or (in some or many cases) a kind of parascience like homeopathy.

    This field has a huge impact on the discourse of politics and society. As it is part of the scientistic system, we should be allowed to pose this question.

    Why?

    Like with homeopathy the impact of this field has consequences. It heavily influences politics and society. Thus it has feedback to the schools and foundations of science itself.

    Just two quick cases from my mind, where we saw related discussions about this in Germany (and note that I am NOT speaking FOR or AGAINST here!):
    – Marie Luise Vollbrecht and her highly politicized talk on Sex and Gender, that was canceled by the administration
    – A taxpayer’s funded (!) talk format, where a doctor was heavily criticized for stating that obesity has a higher risk of health problems – even by the moderator

    The danger I see in this is the shift from objectivism to subjectivism and the denunciation of scientific methods within the discourse of society AND also in the „wissenschaftliche Betriebe“. „Postmodernism“ is often dropped as a term here.

    What is the question for GWUP then? In my opinion, it’s simple: Is the field of critical studies worth a closer look or not? Is it sound science or parascience? Does it work with scientific methods REGARDLESS of the outcome, or does it disguise itself as science but only to enhance a certain belief system and narrative?

    So I see two ways to proceed:
    – GWUP opens the case „critical studies“ and looks at it objectively.
    – GWUP turns a blind eye on that field and focusses on homeopathy, satanic panic and astrology

    In case one, there are two outcomes:
    – GWUP finds it is normal science with flaws but mostly sound outcomes. Then we lost time, but are sure.
    – GWUP finds it heavily flawed. Then we should argue for scientific methods in that field.

    And the last case is, what many in GWUP seem to be afraid of: As the discours in society is already heavily poisoned, GWUP would find itself in a position arguing against „the left“ and would have to explain a lot.

    The danger of turning a blind eye, is, that schools and universities might even be more influenced by politics over the time. Forced gender-speech or the suppression of certain studies or outcomes not only by the scholars but the administration are a scenario, that is often quoted here.

    The sad thing: ALL of the participants in GWUP in this quarrel are liberal thinkers in a way. They should not be afraid to open the case on the subject and discuss it. A good example is the talk about the usefulness of gender speech on the last(?) skepcon – it was great and enhanced the discussion with a good balance and sources.

    As I am no scientist myself but only an ex-journalist, you surely find some flaws in my proposal. All I want is to move on from the term „woke“ and want to promote scientific reliance for political discussion. Else we find ourselves only arguing about believes.

  • By Chatgpt
    “Critical studies” is an academic field focused on analyzing and critiquing societal, cultural, and political systems, emphasizing power dynamics and inequalities. It often challenges established norms and ideologies.

    A critique of critical studies is that while it excels in identifying problems within societal structures, it may fall short in providing pragmatic solutions. Its heavy reliance on complex theoretical frameworks can sometimes limit its accessibility and applicability in real-world contexts. Moreover, critics argue that it can lean towards a particular ideological perspective, which might lead to a less balanced analysis of issues. This focus on critique over solution-building can be seen as a limitation in addressing the practical challenges faced by societies.

    It is strongly tied to critical theories:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_theory#In_academia

  • For a non-hysterical account of the trans question, I’d recommend the following piece by four doctors, Lucy Griffin, Katie Clyde, Richard Byng and Susan Bewley:
    https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin/article/sex-gender-and-gender-identity-a-reevaluation-of-the-evidence/76A3DC54F3BD91E8D631B93397698B1A

    For people, like most of us, who have been broadly happy with their sex, it’s impossible to imagine why some people aren’t. But I can only imagine that the urge to live as the other sex must be strong, given the problems that such people face. Most people these days would surely think that people who feel this way should be treated with compassion. They are now, for most people, no longer regarded as criminals, but rather as part of the great tapestry of human variation. This change occurred decades ago for homosexuals.

    The problem for those who like evidence is that, in this area, there is little good evidence. The human brain is beyond human understanding. In the meantime, I’d subscribe to the conclusions for the paper by Griffin et al., to which I linked above.

    “The General Medical Council’s Good Medical Practice demands of clinicians compassion, shared decision-making and safeguarding of young people’s open futures[59]. The counterargument to unquestioning gender affirmation is that the process of medical transition may itself prove to be another form of conversion therapy, creating a new cohort of life-long patients dependent on medical services and turning at least some lesbian and gay young people into simulacra of straight members of the opposite sex. Psychiatry sits on this knife-edge: running the risk of being accused of transphobia or, alternatively, remaining silent throughout this uncontrolled experiment. Respectful debate, careful research and measurement of outcomes are always required.”

  • As a member of the mentioned Sekpkon organizing committee I want to shortly comment the following part:

    “To make matters worse, Hümmler is also said to have interfered with the organizing committee’s decisions for the upcoming Skepkon conference in May 2024. He apparently insisted on removing presentations from some GWUP members who had been critical of his leadership.”

    Indeed, two presentations selected by the organizing committee were removed, but not due to criticism towards Holm Hümmler or his leadership.
    For one presenter, evidence was found that he is a supporter of the “satanic panic” conspiracy. By now, the presenter himself confirmed, that he does not agree with the positions of the GWUP in this topic.
    A second presenter was removed due to a history of gravely insulting other members of the GWUP. In the GWUP board it was discussed to invite him anyways under the request to stop insulting other members. A board member – from the opposition against Holm Hümmler – insisted though, that either the complete selection of the organizing committee should be accepted, or both speakers in question should be removed. Thus, both presenters were excluded.
    Any claim of censorship is unfounded, I can assure, that some outspoken critics of Holm Hümmler will have the chance to present on Skepkon 2024.

    For GWUP members, a much more detailed description of the selection process is presented in the member section of the skeptical network (in German).

    • many thanks for this.
      if I understand this correctly, you explain that Skepkon has a program committee and the executive board interfered with its decision.
      I don’t quite see how this renders ‘any claim of censorship unfounded’.
      WHAT AM I MISSING HERE?

      • Judging that a certain speaker initially deemed suitable by a congress committee has some strange views that conflict with what you yourself have propagated and is, therefore, less suitable as a speaker at the congress organised under your name is not censorship. That is just common sense.

    • Censorship, the changing or the suppression or prohibition of speech or writing that is deemed subversive of the common good.
      https://www.britannica.com/topic/censorship

    • Let me address Jochen’s claims. He wrote:

      “Indeed, two presentations selected by the organizing committee were removed, but not due to criticism towards Holm Hümmler or his leadership.”

      Note that this was the stated reason. As a member of GWUP’s board who was present when the case was discussed, I don’t believe a word of that. The speaker disagrees with certain positions of prominent GWUP members in Holm’s camp. This is the only reason why he was cancelled.

      “For one presenter, evidence was found that he is a supporter of the “satanic panic” conspiracy. By now, the presenter himself confirmed, that he does not agree with the positions of the GWUP in this topic.”

      The “evidence” presented was a bunch of screenshots that were not logically connected with the allegations against the speaker. I talked to the speaker (which, notably, Jochen did not) and asked him about his views. Indeed, he is critical of some of the positions of some members of GWUP. However, I found his views reasonable and refuse to accept Jochen’s idea that GWUP members and Skepkon speakers should be vetted on the basis of whether or not they believe an arbitrary and imposed catechism. As sceptics and freethinkers, we should think for ourselves and not follow commands. The programme committee did not follow Jochen because the majority disagreed. They, too, are freethinkers!

      “A second presenter was removed due to a history of gravely insulting other members of the GWUP.”

      Absolutely no evidence was provided for this. As far as I know, the second speaker had responded to one member who had verbally attacked him first. And said member, coincidentally, is in Holm’s camp – which, to my mind, is the only reason why Holm wanted the speaker gone. Other speakers could have been excluded for the exact same reason, as some committee members told me. They had been aware of verbal offences on the part of some speakers but decided against excluding any applications on that basis. Some of the things others (formerly or presently in official GWUP positions) had said were deemed even more offensive, by the way.

      “In the GWUP board it was discussed to invite him anyways under the request to stop insulting other members. A board member – from the opposition against Holm Hümmler – insisted though, that either the complete selection of the organizing committee should be accepted, or both speakers in question should be removed. Thus, both presenters were excluded.”

      Jochen is talking about me here. What he says is highly manipulative. I refused to be part of a bargain in which I would have voted to exclude the first speaker. Holm’s side wanted to use the fact that I had agreed as a way to silence my dissent. Not agreeing to this “compromise” was a matter of principle to me. The same, I suppose, goes for two other board members.

      “Any claim of censorship is unfounded, I can assure, that some outspoken critics of Holm Hümmler will have the chance to present on Skepkon 2024.”

      Note the wording here! ANY claim of censorship is unfounded. In fact, should you disagree, Holm might come for you as well…

      In all seriousness, though, in the few months since Holm has taken over, we’ve had many incidents like this. It’s a never-ending story.

      I rest my case.

  • Since my name and my blog appear in this thread:

    1. I am not a member of the GWUP.
    2. Whatever I may have done wrong with my “experiment” should not be blamed on the GWUP.
    3. “Woke” is a weasel word. Anyone who understands this to mean radical constructivism and considers it to be especially “left-wing” is recommended to read Susan Neiman’s book on the subject.
    4. Identity politics corrode society like a cancer. Maybe GWUP is simply a part of society.
    5. Franconian wine helps to understand this. Sometimes.

  • Some people here are looking for a definition of “woke”. Although it originally meant aware of injustice, especially racial injustice, the meaning has evolved greatly since then.

    Here is my definition:
    “Wokism” refers to a social movement which claims to be on the political left, but has abandoned the very Enlightenment values–in particular universalism–which define the left. The “woke” have abandoned and betrayed the left. I call them the post-left or the anti-Enlightenment pseudo-left.

    Here are a couple of texts that visitors here may find useful:
    https://blog.davidrand.ca/woke-not-political-left/
    https://blog.davidrand.ca/14-observations-about-postleft/

  • thank you andre for your comments. It is obvious that the people around Holm Hümmler see the gwup as their own private club and whoever is not supposed to attend the party is attacked publicly (Andreas Edmüller) or behind the scenes, like the two speakers or and the disregard of the skeptical commission. Then they see how they can get their opinion accepted. Jochen’s prejudices have not been substantiated by his pseudo evidence. The speaker distances himself from satanic panic and mind control,but not agree on all points in line with the two main activists in the GWUP on the subject. He is not welcome; this bubble is already considered an imposition if the speaker gives a lecture on a completely different topic. That’s the elephant in the room.

  • Amardeo Sarma just posted this on ‘X’:

    Following the course taken by the new #GWUP leadership, I have taken a painful decision that marks the end of an era for me.
    I shall withdraw from the activities of the GWUP. GWUP is no longer the rational, science-committed organization many of us founded with global support 37 years ago. The spirit of friendship central to its effective work and achievements for a long time is gone.
    The atmosphere under the new Board majority has become increasingly toxic and intolerable. I cannot accept the indifference with which the new leadership treats long-standing members and the GWUP Scientific Council.
    I feel honoured to have been able to make my contribution to the GWUP for almost four decades. It has been a cause close to my heart. I’m grateful for the many enriching experiences and friendships I will remember with pleasure.
    So I am all the more shocked by the cultural disruption and the disrespectful treatment of these people. I respect them both professionally and personally; dedicated people to whom the organization owes so much.
    In the future, I will focus my efforts on a wide range of scientific issues. I am confident that science, critical thinking and skepticism will continue to flourish. I will continue to work for this, for example, in ECSO, the global skeptical movement, and the science-based NGO WePlanet.
    The #SkepKon in May 2024 may be my last, and I hope to meet many long-time companions who have helped build the most prominent and oldest skeptical organization in the German-speaking world.

    • That is a bitter pill to swallow.

      However, Ulrich Berger, member of the GWUP Science Council, continues to fight. He will submit a motion at the general meeting in May to vote out the current board member Holm Hümmler. Ulrich Berger accuses Holm Hümmler: “He has divided the association like no other, blocked free discourse and caused immense damage to the GWUP in this way.”

      https://twitter.com/VARulle/status/1759972447221137899

  • I guess there is a new problem: WHO ARE THE GERMAN SKEPTICS? It seems there are THREE groups now, and their sinking ships are stranded on the beach…

    “Die GWUP: Der Kapitän verläßt das gestrandete Schiff”
    https://www.allaxys.com/~kanzlerzwo/index.php?topic=13083.msg39550#msg39550

    The homeopaths and other frauds are quite happy now.

    • interesting!
      who are the 3 groups; can you name or describe them please?

      • In

        “Die GWUP: Der Kapitän verläßt das gestrandete Schiff”
        https://www.allaxys.com/~kanzlerzwo/index.php?topic=13083.msg39550#msg39550

        it is described as:

        1. the GWUP
        2. those who left the GWUP and formed the Skeptische Gesellschaft
        3. the Team Hümmler (because it is not Hümmler alone), which got to power at the voting meeting last year.

        There are several questions, all of them quite fascinating. One of them: What will happen, when the Team Hümmler loses the next voting? Will the Skeptische Gesellschaft be dissolved? Or will it be the second group? And what will happen with Team Hümmler, because nobody wants them?

        There is a lot of broken china…

          • The sceptical society is an initiative from the heart of the GWUP. Its members have not left the GWUP. They want to become visible with their topics. These include some topics that GWUP chairman Holm Hümmler is fighting against.

        • 2. those who left the GWUP and formed the Skeptische Gesellschaft

          This is not correct. The members of the “Informationsnetzwerk Skeptische Gesellschaft” are also still members of the GWUP, e.g. André Sebastiani.

          The SkepGes serves as a central point of contact to present, highlight and discuss the diverse contributions of GWUP members and GWUP external cooperation partners on socially relevant issues. By bundling these contributions, not only the exchange and discussion among the members should be promoted, but also a broader interest in the work of the GWUP should be aroused. After all, scientific skepticism and critical thinking are not only essential in scientific matters, but are also highly relevant to many issues in modern society.

          The GWUP has traditionally focused on the natural sciences and medicine. However, we believe that skeptics must critically discuss all forms of misinformation and should therefore also be present in the social sphere. On the one hand, SkepGes aims to highlight the importance of the humanities and social sciences and to convey a critical understanding of humanities and social science methods. After all, these scientific fields also offer important methods of critical examination that skeptics should know and apply. On the other hand, we want to use SkepGes to stimulate a discussion about the potential influences of pseudoscience, esotericism and ideology in society, the media, politics and culture.

          https://skeptische-gesellschaft.de/ueber-uns

          • Very funny. Why support a group, which does not work anymore?

            What will happen, when the Team Hümmler scene is no longer at the power? Will the Skeptische Gesellschaft cease to exist? Why should anyone be in TWO societies?

            There IS a break.

          • @ama

            Why are you asking me that? Go to the homepage of the “Informationsnetzwerk Skeptische Gesellschaft”, register in the forum and talk with the members. That makes far more sense than the speculation you are spreading here.

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