European Council of Skeptical Organisations

European Council of Skeptical Organisations
Abbreviation ECSO
Formation 1994 (1994)
Type Nonprofit organisation
Legal status Eingetragener Verein registered in Darmstadt
Purpose Co-ordination between European organisations and individuals that promote scientific skepticism[1]
Headquarters Roßdorf, Germany
Region served
Gábor Hraskó[1]

Pronunciation of 'European Council of Skeptical Organisations'

The European Council of Skeptical Organisations (ECSO) is an umbrella of skeptical organisations in Europe.


Founded on 25 September 1994, the ECSO aims to co-ordinate activities of European organisations and individuals that aim at critically investigating pseudoscientific statements and claims regarding observations of paranormal phenomena, and to make the results of its investigations known to the broad public.[1] It means to continue the series of European skeptical congresses that preceded its foundation[2] and supports a biennial congress and a symposium every other year.[1]

The Charter of the European Council of Skeptical Organisations states that it strives

1) To protect the public from the promulgation of claims and therapies which have not been subjected to critical testing and thus might pose a danger to them.
2) To investigate by means of controlled tests and experiments such extraordinary claims which are on the fringe of or contradict current scientific knowledge. In particular this applies to phenomena commonly identified as "paranormal" or "pseudoscientific". However no claims, explanations or theories will be rejected in advance of objective evaluation.
3) To promote public policy based on good practice in science and medicine.[3]

The Charter was signed by Amardeo Sarma (GWUP), Michael Howgate (UK Skeptics), Miguel Angel Sabadell (ARP), Paul Kurtz (CSICOP), Tim Trachet (SKEPP), Arlette Fougnies (Comité Para) and Cornelis de Jager (Stichting Skepsis).[3]


Board of directors

The board gathered in London 2015 (left to right): Trachet, Sarma, Heap, Hraskó, de Jong.

Cornelis de Jager served as first chairman until 2001, when he was replaced by Amardeo Sarma (2001–2013).[4] Since August 2013, the ECSO board is composed as follows:[1]

Member organisations

The ECSO brings together the following skeptic groups:[6]

Local name English name Abbrev. Founded Region served Notes
Alternativa Racional a las Pseudociencias - Sociedad para el Avance del Pensamiento Crítico[7] Rational Alternative to Pseudoscience - Society for the Advancement of Critical Thinking ARP-SAPC 1986  Spain Founding member.[3]
Association for Skeptical Enquiry Association for Skeptical Enquiry ASKE 1997  United Kingdom
Association française pour l'information scientifique French Association for Scientific Information AFIS 1968[8]  France Member since 2001.[9]
Comitato Italiano per il Controllo delle Affermazioni sulle Pseudoscienze Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Pseudosciences CICAP 1989  Italy
Comité belge pour l'Analyse Critique des parasciences Belgian Committee for the Critical Analysis of Parasciences Comité Para 1949  Belgium Serves Wallonia and Brussels. Founding member.[3]
Círculo Escéptico Skeptical Circle CE 2006  Spain
Föreningen Vetenskap och Folkbildning Science and Popular Enlightenment / Swedish Skeptics Association[10] VoF 1982  Sweden
Gesellschaft zur wissenschaftlichen Untersuchung von Parawissenschaften Society for the Scientific Investigation of Parasciences GWUP 1987 D-A-CH Based in Roßdorf, Germany. Founding member.[3]
Irish Skeptics Society Irish Skeptics Society ISS 2002  Ireland
Observatoire Zététique Zetetic Observatory OZ 2003  France [11]
Skepsis ry Skepsis Skepsis 1987  Finland
Skeptiker Schweiz – Verein für kritisches Denken Swiss Skeptics – Association for Critical Thinking Skeptiker 2012   Switzerland [12]
Stichting Skepsis Skepsis Foundation Skepsis 1987  Netherlands Founding member.[3]
Studiekring voor de Kritische Evaluatie van Pseudowetenschap en het Paranormale Study Circle for the Critical Evaluation of Pseudoscience and the Paranormal SKEPP 1990  Belgium Serves Flanders and Brussels. Founding member.[3]
Szkeptikus Társaság Hungarian Skeptic Society SzT 2006  Hungary
Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij Association against Quackery VtdK 1881  Netherlands No formal membership yet.[13]
Český klub skeptiků Sisyfos Czech Skeptics Club Sisyfos Sisyfos 1995  Czech Republic

Furthermore, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI, formerly CSICOP), whose founder and long-time chairman Paul Kurtz was actively involved its formation (especially because the Skeptical Inquirer had many subscribers in Europe),[3] and the Israel Skeptics Society are associate members of the ECSO.[6]

European Skeptics Congress

ECSO Board and CSICOP members meeting at the 11th European Skeptics Congress in London.
Speakers at the 14th European Skeptics Congress in Budapest.
Meeting of the representatives of ECSO member organisations at the European Skeptics Congress 2015 in London

European Skeptics Congresses (ESCs), in which skeptical organisations from many different European countries participate, have been held ever since 1989. The conferences are often held in the month of September, and may last from two up to four days. The ECSO was formed at the 6th ESC on 25 September 1994 in Ostend, Belgium. Since its foundation, the ECSO co-ordinates in the organisation of new ESCs that take place (on average) every other year, and is hosted by a different member organisation each time. Skeptical organisations that are non-ECSO members may also send their delegations. Past ESCs have been:[2][14]

Event Date City Country Notes
1st European Skeptics Congress 5–7 May 1989 Bad Tölz  West Germany
2nd European Skeptics Congress 10–11 August 1990[15] Brussels  Belgium
3rd European Skeptics Congress 4–5 October 1991[16] Amsterdam  Netherlands
4th European Skeptics Congress 17–19 July 1992[17] Saint-Vincent  Italy
5th European Skeptics Congress 29–31 August 1993 Keele  United Kingdom Theme: "Science for Life: Health, Medicine and Well-Being". Organised by the UK Skeptics.
6th European Skeptics Congress 23–25 September 1994 Ostend  Belgium Theme: "Science, Pseudoscience and the Environment".[18] ECSO formed.[3]
7th European Skeptics Congress 4–7 May 1995 Roßdorf  Germany
8th European Skeptics Congress 4–7 September 1997 A Coruña  Spain
9th European Skeptics Congress 17–19 September 1999 Maastricht  Netherlands Hosted by Stichting Skepsis[19]
10th European Skeptics Congress 7–9 September 2001 Prague  Czech Republic Theme: "Rise and Development of Paranormal Beliefs in Eastern Europe"[4]
11th European Skeptics Congress 5–7 September 2003 London  United Kingdom
12th European Skeptics Congress 13–15 October 2005 Brussels  Belgium Theme: "Pseudoscience, Alternative Medicine and the Media"[20]
13th European Skeptics Congress 7–9 September 2007 Dublin  Ireland Theme: "The Assault on Science: Constructing a Response"[21] 100+ attendees.[22]
14th European Skeptics Congress 17–19 September 2010 Budapest  Hungary [23]
15th European Skeptics Congress 22–25 August 2013 Stockholm  Sweden Theme: "ESCape to Clarity!"[24][25]
16th European Skeptics Congress 10–13 September 2015 London  United Kingdom Organised by Association for Skeptical Enquiry and Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit[26]
17th European Skeptics Congress 2017 Wrocław  Poland Provisional; to be organised by Klub Sceptyków Polskich and Czech Skeptics Club Sisyfos


Chairman Gábor Hraskó stated in a 2015 interview that the goals of ECSO are to first find out who are all the active leaders for the various European groups. Several have disappeared, others are still active but with new leaders, it is important to "establish networks". At the 2015 conference held in London, Hraskó felt that he had learned a lot about organizing from the UK skeptic groups. They operate differently than the continental Europeans, which tend to be one group that runs everything. The UK groups are all independent and more grassroots, but they end up working together on big conferences and projects. The 2017 conference "hopefully will be with the Polish and Czech skeptics". Hraskó stated that the Czech skeptics disappeared for some time, and he hopes that they have reorganized and they and the Polish skeptics will formalize the plans for the 2017 conference.[27] Catherine de Jong stated that having an organization overseeing the entire European skeptic groups is helpful to disseminate information when an alt med lecturer is planning a European tour. She gave the example of faith healer Peter Popoff being one who planned a tour of Europe. The UK skeptic Michael Marshall was able to contact the ECSO who in turn were able to notify all the leaders of the other groups. They were able to share information and plan how to handle the events.[28]


During the 6th World Skeptics Congress (Berlin, 18–20 May 2012[29]), co-sponsored by the ECSO, GWUP and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), the ECSO presented the "Outstanding Skeptics Award" to Wim Betz (SKEPP) and Luigi Garlaschelli (CICAP) "in recognition of [their] dedication and outstanding contributions in promoting science and investigating extraordinary claims". Simultaneously, the CSI presented Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst with the "In Praise of Reason Award" "in recognition of [their] distinguished contribution to the use of critical inquiry, scientific evidence, and reason in evaluating claims to knowledge".[30][31]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "ECSO: Skeptics in Europe – About". ECSO website. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  2. 1 2 "Earlier European skeptic events". HSS website. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 de Jager, Kees (December 1994). "Een Europese Skeptische organisatie". Skepter (in Dutch). Stichting Skepsis. 7 (4): 11.
  4. 1 2 Mahner, Martin (February 2002). "10th European Skeptics Congress: Rise and Development of Paranormal Beliefs in Eastern Europe". Skeptical Inquirer. CSICOP. 26 (1). Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  5. Michael Heap (ASKE) was elected in August 2013, but stepped down because he was too busy with other matters. He is yet to be replaced by someone from the ranks of CICAP.
  6. 1 2 "Skeptics Organisations: ECSO Members". ECSO website. European Council of Skeptical Organisations. 16 March 2008. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  7. ARP-SAPC website
  8. (French) Jean-Pierre Thomas. "Notre histoire". Website AFIS. AFIS. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  9. Mike Heap (June 2002). "From the Chairman: The 10th European Skeptics Congress". Skeptical Adversaria. Association for Skeptical Enquiry. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  11. "FAQ". OZ website. Observatoire Zététique. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  12. Gregor Schenker (24 March 2014). "Wir Skeptiker sind keine Nörgler". Tages-Anzeiger (in German). Tamedia. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  13. The VtdK membership has not been formalised yet, but there is close cooperation with the ECSO, and its chairwoman Catherine de Jong already serves as ECSO board member.
  14. "European Skeptic Congress and ECSO Events". Lanyrd. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  15. Michels, Hans (1990). "Over de frontlijn. De European Skeptics Conference 1990". Skepter (in Dutch). Stichting Skepsis. 3 (4): 30–31.
  16. Hulspas, Marcel (December 1991). "Van APE-mensen tot wijntherapie. Het derde Euroskeptics Congres". Skepter (in Dutch). Stichting Skepsis. 4 (4): 30–31.
  17. Koene, Bart; Nanninga, Rob (September 1992). "Quali prove? Het vierde EuroSkeptics congres". Skepter (in Dutch). Stichting Skepsis. 5 (3): 1–3.
  18. Poley, Stephen (December 1994). "Bijeen in Oostende. Het zesde EuroSkeptics congres". Skepter (in Dutch). Stichting Skepsis. 7 (4): 8–10.
  19. Ted de Hoog (6 October 1999). "Sceptici aller landen...". De Groene Amsterdammer (in Dutch). Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  20. "European Skeptics Congress 2005". University of Hasselt. 11 October 2005. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  21. "13th Congress of the European Council of Skeptical Organisations (ECSO)". ISS website. 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  22. Shane Hegarty (7 September 2007). "Surely it's not the sceptics?". The Irish Times.
  23. Hall, Mike; Marshall, Michael; Harris, Colin (23 September 2010). "Skeptics with a K: Episode #031". Skeptics with a K. Episode 31. Merseyside Skeptics Society. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  24. Agnes Tieben (27 May 2013). "15th European Skeptics congress, 23 – 25 augustus 2013, Stockholm, Sweden" (in Dutch). Klopt Dat Wel?. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  25. Frazier, Kendrick (16 September 2013). "Three Days of Science and Skepticism in Stockholm". CSI website. Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  26. European Skeptics Congress
  27. "Episode #001, feat. Gábor Hraskó". The European Skeptic Podcast. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  28. "Episode #002, feat. Catherine de Jong". The European Skeptics Podcast. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  29. 6th World Skeptics Congress Program
  30. Chairman's Blog (8 October 2012). "The Sixth World Skeptics Congress". ASKE website. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  31. World Skeptics Congress (16 June 2012). "World Skeptics Congress 2012: In Praise of Reason Award / Outstanding Skeptics Award (Introduction)". YouTube. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
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