The Dutch Society against Quackery, Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij (VtdK), will hold its annual symposium on 1 October 2016 at De Nieuwe Liefde in Amsterdam. This year, the conference will focus on the tax-exempt status of many alternative therapists, which might lead to the promotion of quackery, and giving it undue legitimacy.
– Prof. dr. René van der Paardt, professor in excise taxes at Erasmus University Rotterdam
– Dr. Cees Renckens, honorary chair of the VtdK and emeritus gynaecologist
– Mr. Saskia Huizer, tax advisor, specialises in VAT, Rotterdam
The symposium will start with the presentation of the Master Quack Award to whoever promoted quackery the most this year in the Netherlands (read here who were nominated). Also, the Bruinsma Brothers Medal will be awarded to Henk van Gerven, MP for the Socialist Party, who has a long record of questioning and criticising dubious medical practices both within regular medicine as well as numerous alternative therapies.
Entrance fees are high for non-members; they are recommended to join the Society, or go along with a member as an introducee.
The Dutch skeptics foundation, Stichting Skepsis, will hold its annual congress on 22 October 2016 at De Eenhoorn in Amersfoort. This year, four pairs of speakers will jointly give a presentation, and then discuss the topic with each other and the audience:
- Maarten Boudry (philosopher UGent, SKEPP)
& Massimo Pugliucci (prof. Philosophy CUNY, Rationally Speaking podcast):
‘Why do people cling to unproven ideas?’ (keynote session, in English)
- Peter Jan Margry (prof. Ethnology UvA)
& Cees Renckens (gynaecologist, former VtdK chair):
‘Alternative treatments’ (in Dutch)
- Brecht Decoene (ethicist UGent, SKEPP)
& Leo Polak (popular science journalist):
‘Conspiracy theories’ (in Dutch)
- Martijn van Calmthout (Volkskrant science journalist)
& Patricia Osseweijer (prof. Science Communication TU Delft):
‘Science Communication’ (in Dutch)
Between 10-12 August the Hungarian Skeptic Society organized programs again at the international Sziget Festival in Budapest. Participants from all over the World were invited for discussions, see interesting demonstrations and for checking their knowledge via tests on controversial topics.
The Dutch-speaking skeptical landscape
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”