Yesterday, someone (hopefully) unknown to me (hiding under the pseudonym ‘Queristfrei’) tweeted this rather bizarre comment [in German, my translation]:

This trivialisation of the unjust GDR state, in which people died for political reasons, shows how “lost” the people are who @amardeo, @Skepges, @EdzardErnst and the @Skepges respect and defend. That’s historical fabrication to the power of ten! #GWUP

Normally, I would have discarded the comment as just one of those many irrelevant idiocies posted by cranks that I am constantly exposed to on social media. However, the mention of the GWUP, the German skeptics organisation, links it to the current woke-motivated destruction of the GWUP and thus gives it special significance.

‘Woke’ and the various related terms are in fashion and polute discussions on far too many subjects. To be blunt, I don’t like ‘woke, WOKE, anti-woke, unwoke, wokerati’, etc. – so much so that, for the purpose of this post, I will invent an umbrella term that captures all of these words: ANTI-UNWOKERATI, AUWEI for short (yes, there might be a German root in this abbreviation. I know it is a silly acronym but, in my mind, the subject deserves nothing serious).

As already mentioned, I am anti-AUWEI which means I am as much anti-woke as anti-antiwoke. Or, to put it differently, I feel that the world would be a better place, if ‘woke’ had never become en vogue. Here I have listed (in no particular order) several reasons why I dislike AUWEI:

  • AUWEI means different things to different people and is thus a fertile basis for misunderstandings.
  • Every Tom, Dick and Harry uses the AUWEI terminology pretending to be an expert without expertise.
  • Much of what is said and written in the name of AUWEI is pure bullshit.
  • AUWEI has become an ideology.
  • Even worse, it is a straight jacket of the mind that makes us pre-judge a subject regardless of the evidence.
  • Worse still, it is abused by all the wrong politicians.
  • AUWEI serves many as a replacement for evidence.
  • Even worse, it often seems to be an alternative to critical thinking.
  • Most AUWEI-obsessed people seem to have lost their humor (or never had any).
  • AUWEI renders complex issues falsely simple.
  • AUWEI inhibits free thought.
  • AUWEI inhibits nuances and puts you in one camp or another – black or white.
  • AUWEI is unnecessarily devisive.
  • AUWEI invites intolerance and unproductive dispute.

Personally, I like to make up my own mind about things; to do this, I want to see the evidence. Once I have understood it, I go where the evidence leads me – not where AUWEI dictates me to go.

There are many AUWEI subjects that do not interest me and perhaps even more that I find outright silly. Personally, I don’t want AUWEI to tell me that I must have an opinion on them or quietly follow that of my AUWEI ‘peers’.

No, really; AUWEI is not for me.

18 Responses to AUWEI, the GWUP is falling apart!

  • Nothing new under the sun. 7 years ago the Paris Lodron Universität, Salzburg, Austria, made a “Genderwatch-Protokoll” für die Österreichische Hochschülerschaft Salzburg.*

    People ARE mad, and centers of madness the universities are, nobody can deny that. The “laisser faire” in all the pseudo-liberal countries was and is a lethal big mistake. Instead of keeping the weird people on track, they were allowed to commit more and more idiocies. One reason being in the USA, that the universities are private companies, which mainly live from tuition fees and donations, which turns out bad if the snotty brat students get a clap on their fingers. So, bowing under the load of the fear of losing money, the universities preferred to sack professors instead of punishing students for messing up, making riots, etc.

    One does NOT bow to idiots. Anyone who does not see the imperative behind this will be overrun. The “woke” (or whatever) nonsense is just one small part of a huge movement of idiots, running over everything they do not like. Science? Rejected. Honesty? Rejected. Righteousness? Rejected. I do not talk about “old values”, I talk about the bases of the societies in the countries all over the globe. The bases are eroded, societies are falling, they are in free air.

    What does this mean for, say, scientific societies? Very simple: DO NOT BOW TO IDIOTS. Because, if they do, they are doomed.

    I did not say a word about the GWUP, didn’t I?

    * Here is a satire on that affair in Salzburg:

    “(“Genderwatch-Protokoll” für die Österreichische Hochschülerschaft Salzburg, Januar 2017, korrigierte Fassung)”

  • In my ears, AUWEI sounds like an exclamation of agony and despair … which does not seem fitting with your broad definition of the term.

    Maybe we can start with the more appropriate ‘DUH’ or ‘DUR’ (as expressions of stupidity) and see if we can think of something that has these terms as an acronym?

  • You summarize very well why I am so annoyed with whole GWUP/woke/cancel culture debate.
    I hope that the new GWUP managing board will either be able to steer the organisation back towards core values, i.e. science-based rational thinking, educating the public about critical thinking/the fight against SCAM and para-science, or is soon replaced. I decided to wait until after the next general meeting to decide if I will to continue being a member of the GWUP or follow the current trend and leave it.

  • I stumbled across your post and checked out the “hellhole” aka “X”.
    Just to give your readers the opportunity to get the full picture, I feel obliged to point out that this “troll” you quote was responding to a post by a member of the scientific board of the German Skeptics, who compared the next general meeting of the GWUP to a meeting of the SED (Socialist Unity Party of Germany (GDR)). Which is a very strange statement to say the least.

    As someone who left the German Skeptics in 2014, although I am a true sceptic at heart and produce a fairly successful German Skeptics podcast, I am very irritated by the developments in the German sceptic scene.

    A lot of people seem to have lost their way.

    It’s very sad to see.

    • care to tell us why you left in 2014?

      • A member of the 2014 board wrote me a text-message because he wanted me to stop writing on the member’s mailing list.

        “Alexander, I think it’s best, if you stop writing E-Mails now”

        At the time, I felt that this was a fundamental attack on my freedom of opinion – from the board no less -, that I personally only saw the consequence of resigning.

        To give more context:
        On the mailing list, inhumane comments were made about the suicide of Claus Fritsche, who was certainly not a positive person, but in my eyes the right to human dignity also applies to him. Especially after his suicide.
        At the time, I asked the Board to put a stop to this hate speech on the mailing list and instead received the above-mentioned text message in private.

        This board member still holds the same position on the new board today – which has prevented me from rejoining to this day.

        • I looked into some of the comments on other forums about Fritzsche’s death and can imagine what you mean.
          And imo, that does indeed tie in with the current issue that this blog entry is about:
          A lot of what is being denigrated as “woke” these days is, to me at least, people trying to maintain a certain degree of kindness, of being humane towards each other. Based purely on “where the evidence leads”*, there may be no need for self-restraint in commenting on the suicide of someone as fraught as Fritzsche appears to have been. Just as there may be no need for gender-inclusive speech, avoiding racist terminology et sim. But should “the evidence” really be our only yardstick in how we treat our fellow human beings?
          *@Edzard: By quoting you here, I do not mean to imply that is your approach in this – I’ve read enough of your texts (including on Fritzsche) to be sure otherwise.

          • here is what I wrote about Fritzsche at the time:

            I think compassion [which is evidence-based], empathy [also evidence-based] are very far from ‘woke’ as it is understood by most today.

          • Yes, that entry is part of what I meant by ‚I‘m sure that’s not your approach.‘
            Re: empathy/compassion: I‘m glad (though not surprised) we agree on that.
            The question then, to me, is: Why does the discussion about „woke/AUWEI“ issues so often appear to ignore that empathy & compassion are a primary driver of many of them?

          • you want my cynical answer: because woke-wafflers are not bright enough or have compassion/empathy etc. merely as a meaningless ideology for scoring points and not for applying.

  • „or have compassion/empathy etc. merely as a meaningless ideology for scoring points”
    There are people like that, so I can’t blame you for a certain degree of cynicism. However, I see a lot of bad-faith interpretation on the “anti-woke” side as well: people who will read any attempts at expressing empathy/kindness (let alone asking others for it) as holier-than-thou, self-aggrandizing and/or dishonest. I wish the sceptic community (and our society at large) were able to find a constructive middle-ground between these two extremes.

  • It seems that one major point of disagreement between the new board and the „anti-woke“ fraction of the GWUP is the question, if issues like gender-conform language, cultural appropriation, rights for trans-people etc. are indeed issues that the GWUP should focus on or not.
    If I understood correctly, then then new board (Hümmler, etc.) does not think so, but the “anti-woke” fraction (Mukerji, Sebastiani, etc.) would like to include these topics.
    In my opinion, these topics are very important, but to a large part societal/political/cultural questions, not scientific and therefore, a diverse group like the GWUP will never agree on a unanimous position with regards to these issues. I therefore would be happy if the GWUP would not deal with these issues, but rather focus on issues like education about science & rational thinking in general, climate change, exposing health-realted scams & esoteric , etc. which are more important imo anyways.
    May I ask you, Prof. Ernst: do you think that these hotly debated “woke” topics that I mentioned above are topics that the GWUP should deal with/focus on?

    • This what I wrote in my post:
      “There are many AUWEI subjects that do not interest me and perhaps even more that I find outright silly.”
      I want to be allowed to find a subject irrelevant or silly; it’s my personal choiice. I find medical topics interesting, others don’t.
      I cannot see a problem.
      The problem arises, once we put subjects under an umbrella like woke.
      In my view, the GWUP should have a focus on core science subjects but not disallow other topics.
      Stop behaving like we are in kindergarden and be realistic!

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