The number of people with crazy ideas, such as the flat earth, is increasing. That is the opinion of Paul De Belder, chairman of the scientifically critical association SKEPP. “The Internet has made the promotion of ideas very democratic. People who had no contact in the past, find each other. This creates small networks.”
In Ghent, some 100 European members of skeptical organizations gather this weekend for a biennial meeting. This year it is organized by SKEPP (Study Circle for Critical Evaluation of Pseudoscience and the Paranormal). They look back on the past thirty years of skeptical activism.
The internet has had a strong influence on the way of thinking and what the public believes. But it also has a positive side for the scientific and skeptical world. It is also easier for skeptics to share their ideas.
“It is quite clear that humanity today is in search of new stories and meaning. They start to believe some things more than science justifies. We must continue to work on this.”
A traditional theme among skeptical associations is the fight against alternative medicine. A series of experts at the conference also talks about deception, the paranormal and scammers. “In this way we learn where thinking goes wrong in our society and what we can do to encourage scientifically based thinking,” concludes De Belder.