Last Sunday, one day before its 23rd anniversary, representatives of member organisations of the European Council of Skeptical Organisations (ECSO) elected a new Board. This happened during the 17th European Skeptics Congress in Wrocław, Poland. The ECSO Board 2017-2019 is constituted as follows:
President: Claire Klingenberg
(Czech Skeptics Club Sisyfos, Czechia) Vice-president: Tim Trachet
(SKEPP, Belgium) Treasurer: Amardeo Sarma
Member: Paola De Gobbi
(CICAP, Italy) Member: Pontus Böckman
(Vetenskap och Folkbildning, Sweden)
Associate member: András Gábor Pintér
(Szkeptikus Társaság, Hungary) Associate member: Michael Heap
(Association for Skeptical Enquiry, UK) Associate member: Catherine De Jong
(Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij, Netherlands) Associate member: Leon Korteweg
(De Vrije Gedachte, Netherlands)
Gábor Hraskó has stepped down as president, and was thanked for his efforts in chairing the rationalist pan-European umbrella in the past four years. Hraskó, though unofficially in capacity, will still be instrumental in the functioning of ECSO.
The Council also welcomed a new member organisation to its ranks: the Polish Skeptics Club (Klub Sceptyków Polskich, KSP), founded in 2010 and co-organiser of the 17th European Skeptics Congress.
Aside from choosing a fresh leadership, reforms and expansions of the ECSO’s functioning, activities and international cooperation were extensively discussed. One of the first orders of business is to analyse relationships that ECSO has with its member organisations and see what the new Board can do to make ECSO a powerful ally for its members, both nationally and internationally.
These are the ECSO’s founding documents: the Establishment Agreement and Charter, as adopted on 25 September 1994.
They were drafted during the sixth European Skeptics Congress that was held in Oostende, Belgium. At earlier conferences and in letter correspondence in the run-up to this weekend, extensive negotiations had taken place between eight organisations from different (Western) European countries with the same goal: to protect the public against harmful misinformation, to investigate extraordinary claims and to promote evidence-based science policies. As it happened, the French skeptics’ representative had to return home due to grave family conditions, so seven organisations (including the U.S.-based CSICOP) became the founding members (with the later approval of the national and regional organisations’ boards). Here is a photo of the people who signed on behalf of each (you may recognise some of them):
22 years later, the thus established European Council of Skeptical Organisations has grown and expanded to include many more groups across the continent, especially the east and north. Ten more Congresses and several symposia and campaigns have been held in support of transnational skeptical activism. The ECSO is currently looking to cooperate with associations in countries where organised skepticism is still relatively new and could use the support and know-how of the old family. Internationalisation requires skeptics to work together, because pseudoscience and extraordinary claims have also profited from fading boundaries and new technologies.