Leon Korteweg has a BA in History from the University of Nijmegen. He is board member of Dutch freethinkers association De Vrije Gedachte, Dutch team leader of Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia, and contributes to the skeptical blog Klopt Dat Wel? (Is That Right?) and the Kritisch Denken (Critical Thinking) podcast.
Internet memes have radically changed the way we communicate online, especially on social media. It usually consists of a photo or cartoon with some text making a point. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and may therefore be much more effective at communicating a message than an entire well-reasoned, evidence-based essay (especially when Twitter limits posts to 140 characters).
Memes can be very witty in explaining something odd about the world in the form of a simple joke, and make people rethink their view of society. But, although they may often contain a kernel of truth, they’re usually inaccurate in detail, and sometimes extremely misleading or just plain wrong. Continue reading “Be skeptical of quote memes! A guide”
The Stichting Kennisplatform Elektromagnetische Straling (SKES, ‘Knowledge Platform Electomagnetic Radiation Foundation’) has published an alarming press release about a research paper from the German scientific journal Reviews on Environmental Health (Belyaev et al. 2015), assessing potential harm done by electromagnetic fields (EMF). It starts as follows:
Too much exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) from mobile and wireless telephones, WiFi, electric devices, electric cables and other sources at home and in public places, can cause several health complaints, infertility and even cancer or Alzheimer. The best way to treat and prevent these ailments is to reduce exposure to EMF, an international group of scientists concludes.
For a bit of context, let me take you on a short tour around the skeptical movement in the Dutch-speaking world. This includes the Netherlands and Flanders (Northern Belgium). In total there are four active organizations; two in the Netherlands and two in Flanders. In the Netherlands the Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij (Society Against Quackery) or VtdK, founded in 1881, is the oldest skeptical organization in the world. The VtdK specifically focuses on fighting harmful or useless (alternative) medicine. The second organization in the Netherlands is Stichting Skepsis (founded in 1987 with the help of Paul Kurtz), which focuses on skepticism in general. In Flanders there is SKEPP (founded in 1990 with the help of James Randi and Skepsis), also focused on skepticism in general. Het Denkgelag, the fourth group, is a recent offshoot from SKEPP (althought they’re not competing, rather completing each other) that was founded in 2012 to hold discussions and lectures aimed at attracting people outside the skeptical community, and stimulating critical thinking. Continue reading “Report from the Skepsis Congres on 8 November 2014 in Utrecht, the Netherlands”