As reported previously, the German skeptics (the GWUP) are in turmoil:

The current rift, many hope, will end imminently, when the GWUP membership elects the new board on the occasion of the ‘SKEPKON‘ (May 9-11). The members then have the choice between Holm Huemmler and Andre Sebastiani and their respective teams.

For many, the choice might be difficult, as they are bewildered (as am I) about what seems to be going on within the GWUP. Therefore, I will today try to provide an assessment according to objectively measurable criteria. For each team, I will calculate the

  1. Number of members with an H-Index (as a measure of the productivity and citation impact of the publications by each team);
  2. Number of members with a Wiki page (as a measure of public visibility).
  3. Number of members who are fellows of the CSI (as a measure of acceptance by skeptics internationally).
  4. Number of members who were active during recent months on social media in relation to the GWUP (as a measure of current engagement in the affairs of the GWUP).
  5. Number of female members (as a measure of equality).
  6. Number of members who are not German or who have been brought up in countries other than Germany (as a measure of internationality).

Please don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that these are validated measures of anything (for instance, I am not claiming that a H-Index is necessary for leading a skeptics organisation, yet I do feel that at least some members of the board should be experienced scientists); the measures might merely be rough indicators. But I still hope they might offer some crude guidance for those GWUP members who look for some guidance beyond the heresay, gossip and accusationst that currently circulate.

Let me first introduce the two teams:


  • Dr. Holm Gero Hümmler (Chair, management consultant, studied physics)
  • Dr. Stephanie Dreyfürst ( Deputy chair, director of adult education, studied German)
  • Dr. Jochen Blom (Bioinformatik, studied bioinformatics)
  • Dr. Claudia Preis (Treasurer, manager, studied European ethnology)
  • Ralf Neugebauer (Judge, studied law)
  • Annika Harrison (Teacher)
  • Sabine Breiholz (Behavioural scientist, studied biology)
  • Mirko Gutjahr (Director of a museum, studied acheology)


  • André Sebastiani (Chair, teacher and consultant for media didactics)
  • Judith Faessler (Deputy chair, philosophy and Oriental studies)
  • Stefanie Handl (Deputy chair, veterenaty medicine)
  • Rouven Schäfer (Studied economics, adult education and psychology)
  • Stefanie Weig (Energy and construction industry)
  • Stefan Uttenthaler (Studied physics and astronomy)
  • Timur Sevincer (Studied psychology)
  • Stefan Soehnle (Treasurer, studied physics and economics)
  • Babro Walker (Science council, studied educational sciences and psychology)

And here are the findings of my evaluation:

  1. Number of members with H-Index: team Huemmler 2; team Sebastiani 4.
  2. Number of members with a Wiki page: team Huemmler 1; team Sebastiani 2.
  3. Number of members with membership in CSI: team Huemmler 0; team Sebastiani 0.
  4. Number of members active on social media: team Huemmler 1; team Sebastiani 4.
  5. Number of female members: team Huemmler 4; team Sebastiani 4.
  6. Internationality: team Huemmler 0; team Sebastiani 4.

According to these figures, team Sebastiani seems better suited. Of course, these findings have to be interpreted with caution. Firstly, the differences are not large. Secondly – as already stressed – the parameters I used are at best indicators. Thirdly, it is possible that my evaluations were not 100% correct.

The main problem I faced when conducting this comparison was that objective measures which can easily be extracted from the data available to me are illusive, If anyone knows better ones, please let me know.

To be a useful board member of a skeptics organisation for German speaking countries, one should probably have qualities such as the following:

  • An ability to lead towards a common goal, meaning experience in heading teams and in tricky negotiations.  
  • Experience in organising events and projects.
  • Good connections to scientific organisations and academia.
  • Experience in public dissemination of science. 
  • A commitment to scientific skepticism and evaluations based on evidence.
  • An understand of how science works. 
  • Good international connections and co-operations.
  • Determination and ability to solve problems rather than just looking for problems and blaming others for them.

These qualities might be important, but they are not quantifiable – at least, I don’t know how to measure them based on the available material.

So, if you want to make an informed choice that is likely to be best for the future of skepticism in German speaking countries, I urge you to go on the Internet and inform yourself beyond my admittedly simplistic attempt to provide guidance.

17 Responses to The German Skeptics (GWUP) are at a cross-roads: ‘Team Sebastiani’ vs ‘Team Huemmler’

  • The choice the GWUP members face is: Do they want to stay together within one organisation, or would a divorce between the two “teams” be more productive after all?

    Voting for either “Team Hümmler” or “Team Sebastiani” by majority vote (“Ober sticht Unter”, as we say in German) seems to be heading to the “divorce” direction, given recent developments. If, on the other hand, members feel that keeping a strong, united voice of german Skeptics under the roof of the GWUP is preferable, some creativity and will for compromise are essential: For example, by finding a third candidate who is accepted by both sides as a bridge builder. Or a “mixed team” with rules in place how the discussion about the difficult topics is to be continued in a non-destructive way.

    • After the stormy board elections last year, which were accompanied by accusations, Holm Hümmler had promised to act as a quasi-neutral authority to mend the rift between the “woke” and “non-woke” members. He failed across the board and ensured that more and more long-standing members decided to leave the GWUP in disgust.

      In my opinion, that ship has sailed. Another neutral body will not bring a solution and will only postpone another dispute. As the saying goes: “It’s better to make a painful break than draw out the agony.”.

    • As a GWUP-watcher from the outside: „a mixed team“ already exists, but the cooperation within the executive board and with the scientific council is broken. The real question is the chair person and the majority of the board. With the re-election of team Hümmler they will fight against Uri Geller, Satanic Panic, and ABA – at least, so they say. You don’t know WTF this is? That’s the problem. All else will be „political“, that is, transphob syn. alt-right.

  • One more kick in the behinds of the rednecks…

    Serves ’em right.

    Funny coincidence, really funny coincidence, that while Edzard Ernst wrote his blog text, the Women’s Power Department of the ALLAXYS-1 Lifeboat on Earth put up a new headline:

    “a tilted view on housewives making noise”

    Well, they did it under a special topic, of course. It is their way to have fun.

    In the very same thread they already on 29th. April published a premonition:

    “This is how the world ends. Not with a bang. It simply disappears…”

    I think this is a very fitting comment. And the pictures do fit quite well for: BEFORE and AFTER.

    But, alas, the crack already happened, years ago. GWUPwanaland is no more. And the particles drift away…

  • You forgot to compare their shoe sizes.

  • In a longer article, Armadeo Sarma explained, among other things, how he perceives the current rifts in the GWUP to have come about. The trouble does not appear to have started around 2 years ago, but dates back to 2016. At that time, the first efforts were made to prevent the dissemination of supposedly unwelcome opinions and attitudes.

    The article is in German only.

  • As already noted elsewhere, people like Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Martin Gardener and many others would hardly join the GWUP. Or does anyone know any excellent scientists in this organisation? With a few exceptions, we’re dealing here with bachelor scepticism.
    If you compare the contents of the “Skeptical Inquirer” with those of the “Skeptiker”, you can see the difference.

    [as I do only accept comments in English, I took the liberty of translating your text (Edzard Ernst)]

  • I just learned that team Sebastiani has won the election!

    • Me, too! Very goods news.

      I congratulate Team Sebastiani and wish them every success in returning the GWUP to a rational skeptical path. It will take a lot of effort to heal the damage done since 2022 and regain the trust lost inside and outside the association.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new blog posts by email.

Recent Comments

Note that comments can be edited for up to five minutes after they are first submitted but you must tick the box: “Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.”

The most recent comments from all posts can be seen here.