The 29th of February is an unusual date, and I will do something fittingly unusual today – something that I have never done before: I will with a heavy heart resign from an organisation of skeptics.

After I had observed the self-destructive debates within the GWUP for almost one year without saying a single word about it (hoping they would soon dissolve into thin air), I published a comment a few days ago. Soon after, I was aggressed, defamed, wrongly denounced as an anti-Semite, and blackmailed by leading members of that organisation.

Confronted with these events, it was inevitable that I would have doubts about my previous plan to remain a member until the upcoming general assembly in May. While I was contemplating, I received a Tweet on 27/2/2024 from someone under the pseudonym Endgegner der Kommentarspalten; it included this sentence:

Einer der verschwörungsideologischen Clowns, die seit gut einem Jahr Kulturkrieg in der GWUP mit rechtsextremen Talking Points spielen und Märchen von einem “woken Putsch” herbeiphantasieren?

My translation:

One of the conspiracy ideological clowns who have been playing culture war in the GWUP for a good year with right-wing extremist talking points and fantasising about a “woke coup”?

Next, I watched a long discussion on youtube between the new chair of the GWUP, my accuser (Bartoschek) and Sebastian Hirsch. There I learnt that the latter is, in fact, nobody else than Endgegner der Kommentarspalten. He was recently put in charge of Twitter account for GWUP by the chair.

At this point, I lost the hope that the GWUP might be saved. It seems to be in the hand of thugs who call not me personally but their opponents ‘ideological clowns who have been playing culture war’. They claim that they want to keep politics out of the GWUP, yet almost all they do is engaging in politics.

Since the former formidable chair, Amardeo Sarma, left and the rift started, the GWUP has done nothing wothwhile, as far as I can see. On the GWUP website, we are told that (my translation):

  • The GWUP aims at promoting science and scientific thinking.
  • The GWUP investigates parascientific theories according to the current state of scientific knowledge and reports publicly and comprehensibly on its findings.
  • The GWUP aims to disseminate scientific and critical thinking and scientific methods, explain them in a generally understandable way and clearly distinguish real science from parascience. The GWUP thus wants to contribute to reducing society’s susceptibility to parascientific ideas and promises.
  • The GWUP is an internationally orientated society. It is happy to work with like-minded individuals, organisations and institutions.

GWUP stands for ‘Gesellschaft zur wissenschaftlichen Untersuchung von Parawissenschaften’ (Society for the Scientific Investigation of Parasciences). The people currently in charge claim to be scientists but most of them are not (talking about science or publishing books for the lay reader about it does not, in my view, make you a scientist!). The leadership of the GWUP, it seems to me, is currently dominated by small-minded inward-looking guys with no international perspective who are in the middle of a mega-ego trip.

Instead of fighting parascience, they feel entitled to fight their colleagues. Instead of doing their job, they open the door to parascience. Instead of being scientists, they are using skepticism as an excuse for their machinations. Instead of running a scientific organisation, they turned it into a veritable kindergarden. In a nutshell: to the utmost delight of German parascientists, they have completely lost the plot.

I do not believe that the general assembly can turn things around. More likely, matters will get worse and it will come to a complete split. Personally, I cannot – not even until May – remain a member of an organisation where the man officially put in charge of the Twitter account feels entitled to collectively call his opponents ‘ideological clowns who have been playing culture war’. This remark in itself might not be all that significant but, for me, it is the ‘last straw’ and a symptom of a deep and irreversible rot.

So, I have come to the conclusion that I can do my work better without any further GWUP-hindrance. Therefore, I will now email my resignation as a member of the GWUP.

22 Responses to Why I resigned as a member of the GWUP, the German skeptics (Part 1)

  • Dear Edzard,

    I would implore you to reconsider your decision. Reason: Yesterday in the evening Hom Hümmler shared a mail on the member’s mailing list, that on the next general assembly he plans to hold new elections of the board in total. He has to get the approval of his colleagues at their next board meeting, of course.

    So after all it might be a good idea to postpone this decision until after the new elections.

    • thanks – I did reconsider and re-reconsider but my decision has been made and executed.
      Holm’s latest move is merely an attempt to get rid of his last opponents on the board, I think.

      • [Sigh] So be it. [another sigh]

        I decided to await the results of the general assembly – and maybe give them some extra time to see how this all works out.

        So it is up to me to say thank you for your commitment to stand up against SCAM and pseudomedicine, and for the ongoing support the INH and myself received from you during the past years. Hopefully we will meet again on some meeting or any of your lectures.

        Stay healthy, maintain your skeptic energy and the power to defend good science against the onslaught of ignorance that seems to grow for some time now.

        [final sigh]

  • As a member of the GWUP, I think your decision is understandable, but very unfortunate nonetheless, as I consider your resignation a big loss for the organisation.
    Since I left Twitter/X after the takeover from Musk, it does not matter for me who is in charge of the GWUP X-accout, as this platform is irrelevant for rational discussions or scientific exchange.
    Be it as it may, I will evalutate my membership until after the next general meeting, it may well be possible that I will leave the GWUP as well, certainly if the unfortunate trend that you described will continue.

  • this is bad news again!
    so,it’s too late, I endorse what Norbert wrote!

  • Welcome to the other-side 🙂 – you are now an outcast from The Science ™ .
    You should stay and fight back as hard as you can, “…I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death your right to say it…” as the fella said.

  • Lieber Prof. Ernst,
    Ihre Entscheidung ist – für die internationale skeptische Bewegung und für mich besonders traurig, aber verständlich. In nicht einmal einem Jahr ist aus der Gesellschaft, die wegen Ihres Einsatzes für wissenschaftliches Denken weithin geschätzt wurde, ein abscheulicher, intellektueller und sozialer Scherbenhaufen geworden. Die Atmosphäre von Respektlosigkeit und Häme, die der Hümmler-Fanklub verbreitet, ist nicht zu ertragen.

    Zum Abschied möchte ich mich nochmals herzlich für Ihre Unterstützung bei unserer Publikation Handbuch Andere Medizin bedanken, ich habe viel von Ihnen gelernt.
    Mit lieben Grüßen

    Dear Prof Ernst,
    Your decision is – for the international sceptical movement and for me in particular – sad, but understandable. In less than a year, the Society, which was widely respected for its commitment to scientific thinking, has become a vile intellectual and social shambles. The atmosphere of disrespect and malice spread by the Hümmler fan club is unbearable.

    In parting, I would like to thank you once again for your support with our publication Handbuch Andere Medizin, I have learnt a lot from you.
    With best regards
    Krista Federspiel

  • Dear Edzard,
    I saw it coming that you would not wait until the next general meeting to make your decision. Nevertheless, like Norbert, I would have asked you to stay on (I have done this before) but now it is what it is.

    You don’t need the GWUP and certainly not in its current state. However, I can’t imagine how the GWUP should continue without you even in the best case scenario at the moment.

    Be that as it may, I can fully understand your decision, especially after the latest developments. For my part, I will try to hold out until the general meeting and be there in any case if the GWUP should reflect on itself again. Otherwise …

    Well, we will certainly stay connected in the common cause. The GWUP wasn’t our link anyway.

    My best regards and respect

  • @Edzard Ernst

    Holm Hümmler and his supporters will never admit this. Perhaps some will even be quietly pleased that a potential “disruptive factor” (as I like to put it) is leaving the GWUP. But the association still suffers another major loss after Armadeo Sarma as a result of your departure.


  • Dear Edzard,
    I can understand your step very well and if I’m honest, I don’t know whether I’ll last until the general meeting. In just a few months, a respectable club became a shambles. The new rulers can be really proud of themselves.
    In any case, I regret that it had to come to this.
    But we will certainly stay in touch and continue our little project.
    Even though I am only the lowest man of the totem pole, I would still like to thank you for all your commitment and achievements for the GWUP.
    My best wishes and my sincere respect!
    Yours truly “Uncle” Michael

  • Pleas rethink!
    I live in Lower Bavaria, a region poisoned by anty-vaxxers , esotherics and “Heilpraktiker”.
    We need here a united GWUP!!
    Yes it’s not funny since about a year, but i think all of you academics should go a step back.
    We non academic do not understand a part of the disscussions.
    Think about the people living in the country sid in a kind of science diaspora.
    We need the combined help of all we could get against the science enemies.
    Why all of you do not make a weekly zoom call to clarify the problems.

    • thanks
      I will be more efficient without the GWUP, I promise!

      • @Edzard Ernst

        So are we. We found that all the time talking with skeptics and explaining them facts was wasted. The same is true for journalists. The time we had to invest to explain things to them was much more than we need to write the articles ourselves.

  • I am really sorry to read that, Edzard, cause your thinking and knowledge was always a big part of the GWUP. However I can understand your decision, cause sometimes you reach a point, where something good turns really bad and you don’t want to be a part of that. If they continue their path of self-disassemblence, they will be history in a very near future.
    However, I personally will stay for a while, so far I think you can better change things from inside than outside.

    Stay well and keep up your incredible Work.

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