Superstition and quack medicine are as old as humanity. The media however, with their growing and all pervasive power and scope, are a more recent phenomenon. And we, scientists and skeptics alike, are still trying to cope. Science turns out not to be one of the most fashionable subjects, while many pseudoscientific stories seem to make attractive fodder for the masses.

Skeptics see this happen with envy. It looks like it is very difficult to get scientific stories in the media, and even more so when you try to debunk the next pseudoscientic claim. Accuracy and truthfulness are all too often sacrificed on the altar of the news breaking scoop. And when it comes to discussions with the "believers", those with knowledge of the other side, one often becomes frustratingly wrapped up in argumentations that are not relevant for the subject but which help your opponents win the game. But letting them to bring their exceptional claims unchallanged is no option either. All too many bogus therapies and pseudoscientific stories get unbridled attention. To call them a halt it will be necessary to understand what’s making them so attractive and why -- among other things -- politicians so often lend them a helping hand.

How do we get a scientific message across to lay people in an attractive, persuasive kind of way? How do we communicate with people who are partially or completely immersed in the world of pseudoscience or new age?
What’s a skeptical critique worth, when nobody hears it? How good is your critical remark when the pseudoscientific claim gets all the attention? How can we get the media to listen to the rational arguments? How can we help journalists to get the skeptical approach across to the greater public?
This 12th European Skeptical Congress is a exceptional occasion, right in the middle of the capital of Europe, to share experiences and build a platform of rationality. Skeptics, scientists and journalists from all over Europe will gather to explore the field of knowledge and knowledge communication.

Please pass a link to this website to the other members of your organisation who you think might be interested to come to Belgium as participants.

For more information mail to

Scientific Committee

Prof. Willem Betz (chairman) Brussels, Belgium
Prof. Jean Bricmont Louvain, Belgium
Prof. Jean-Paul Van Bendegem Brussels, Belgium
Prof. Johan Braeckman Ghent, Belgium
Prof. Henri Broch Nice, France

Time table

Thursday, October 13
18.00 Ceremonial opening
Opening in the Gothic City Hall, Grand Place, Brussels.
Welcome by the city authorities.
Opening speeches by prof. Willem Betz, chairman of Skepp, and Amardeo Sarma, chairman of ECSO.
Friday, October 14
9.00-9.40 Marie Prins (The Netherlands)
Herbal fraud in the Netherlands: Libidfit
9.40-10.20 Li Sheng-Xian (Chinese Medicine Association - China)
Will China see a third Qigong craze?
10.20-10.40 Coffee
10.40-11.20 James E. Alcock (York University - Canada)
The appeal of alternative medicine
11.20-12.00 Cees Renckens (Westfries Gasthuis - The Netherlands)
On the policy of some Dutch medical-scientific societies towards their members, practicing alternative medicine: reproachable negligence
12.00-14.00 Lunch
14.00-14.40 Frits Van Dam (Universiteit van Amsterdam - The Netherlands)
Fluctuations in the use of alternative cancer therapies through the years, the influence of mass media
14.40-15.20 Willem Betz (VUB Univ. Brussels - Belgium)
The WHO and homeopathy
15.20-15.40 Coffee
15.40-16.20 Barry Beyerstein (Simon Fraser University - Canada)
Errors of perception and reasoning that make bogus therapies seem to work
16.20-17.00 Michael Heap (Univ. Sheffield - UK)
Let's wave goodbye to the unconscious mind
17.00-17.30 General discussion: pseudoscience and the media
20.00 Skeptic walk
Saturday, October 15
9.00-9.40 Christopher French (Goldsmiths College - UK)
The "Haunt" Project: Can we build a "haunted" room?
9.40-10.20 Jean-Paul Van Bendegem (VUB Univ. Brussels - Belgium)
2 + 2 = 4, or whatever you want
10.20-10.40 Coffee
10.40-11.20 Dirk Volckaerts (Journalist - Belgium)
On Ethics and Credibility in Newspaper Journalism
11.20-12.00 Luis Alfonso Gámez (Journalist - Spain)
Paranormal in the Press. A skeptical point of information for millions of readers
12.00-14.00 Lunch
14.00-14.40 Hans van Maanen (Journalist and author - The Netherlands)
Sex and science
14.40-15.20 Krissy Wilson (Goldsmiths College - UK)
Striking a happy medium (or why some people would like to punch self-satisfied TV psychics!)
15.20-15.40 Coffee
15.40-16.20 Richard Monvoisin (EDISCE)
Forewarned is forearmed - How to use examples of pseudoscientific gaps and insidious philosophical trends in science magazines to teach critical thinking
16.20-17.00 Jean Bricmont (UCL Univ. Louvain - Belgium)
From the Sokal affair to the Teissier affair
17.00-17.30 General discussion: pseudoscience and the media
19.30 Skeptic dinner
Sunday, October 16
9.00-9.40 Jean-Michel Abrassart (Belgium)
to be announced
9.40-10.20 Fadel Niang (Ecole Supérieure Polytehcnique - Senegal)
to be announced
10.20-10.40 Coffee
10.40-13.00 Rupert Sheldrake
Lecture about telepathy, followed by debate
13.00 Closure of the congress


The formal opening session of the conference will take place on Thursday night in the City Hall of Brussels.

The conference will be held at
De Markten Cultural Center
Oude Graanmarkt/Rue du Vieux Marché aux Grains, 5
1000 Brussels


Since the conference has started, you can register on site at the reception desk.

Registration fees

registering before September 15, 2005
normal skeptics organization members students
three days € 75 € 65 € 30
one day € 30 € 25
registering after September 15, 2005
normal skeptics organization members students
three days € 90 € 80 € 40
one day € 40 € 30
guided skeptical walk € 10
conference dinner € 40

Note: please make certain that this amount arrives without deduction of bank transaction costs.

Payments can be made by bank transfer to:

payments to:
Laarbeeklaan 103
B-1090 Brussels, Belgium
bank account number: 001-2168478-22
for foreign transactions:
IBAN: BE06 0012 1684 7822
Swift/BIC Code: GEBABEBB (for all non-EU transactions)
Reason: ESC 2005


Atlas Hotel - which is situated just near the congress centre - offers special rates for the participants of the conference: &euro 97 for a single room and € 114 for a double room per night, breakfast included.

To enjoy those special rates please contact Atlas Hotel via, by phone on +32-2-502 60 06 or fax +32-2-502 69 35. Don't forget to mention that you are an ESC2005 participant.

Atlas Hotel
Oude Graanmarkt/Rue du Vieux Marché aux Grains, 30
1000 Brussels

A large number of alternatives is available.

A number of youth hostels provide accommodation.