Czech Skeptical Club SISYFOSSkepticism
27.05.2006 / 14:07 redakce čtenost 113691 email@example.com
The Czech Skeptics Club Sisyfos is a member of the international skeptical movement which has been initiated in U.S.A. in 1976 by scientists and philosophers who reacted against the rise of irrationality in the community. Among the founders of the newly established society CSICOP, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal were several Nobel prize winners. CSICOP has been chaired by the philosopher Paul Kurtz from its foundation up to now. According to the original program the CSICOP was engaged in the scientific analysis of pseudo-scientific opinions and of the so-called supernatural phenomena. The engagement of the skeptics has been gradually extended to all problems where the pseudoscientific approaches were broadly propagated. The “new skepticism” understood as the critical rationalism has been developed into the working tool of CSICOP. Nowadays the CSICOP is a large institution with more than 50,000 members, many of them cooperating with several research centers. It publishes the journal Skeptical Inquirer.
Soon afterwards, similar skeptical societies were founded all over the world, e.g. GWUP in Germany, CICAP in Italy, AFIS in France. Large skeptical organizations exist also in Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand and in India. New skeptical institutions started in Eastern Europe and in Russia after 1989. Nearly 100 skeptical organizations all over the globe have similar programs formulated as the scientific study of pseudoscientific and paranormal ideas and practices. All skeptical organizations support critical ways of thinking. In 1994 the European skeptical societies have been associated into ECSO, the European Council of Skeptical Organizations.
The Czech Skeptical Club
Owing to the initiative of several Czech rationalists, the Czech Skeptical Club Sisyfos was founded in spring 1995. It associates now about 400 members of various professions, education and age. Two thirds of its members are university graduates. Natural scientists, technologists and physicians prevail among them. Nearly half of the members are from Prague and surroundings. The seat of the club is in Prague and its branch exists in Brno. Sisyfos is the member of the Czech Council of Scientific Societies from 2000.
The statutes define the aims of the club. The club is concerned with the defense and propagation of the scientific knowledge. This implies the education to the rational critical way of thinking and to the proper understanding of scientific methods. The scientific analysis of problematic and “supernatural” phenomena belongs to the chief targets of our activity. We make the public acquainted with results of our analyses and in open discussions we try to oppose to the dissemination of pseudoscientific, paranormal ideas, and to the propagation of unproved procedures and instruments. We offer the assistance to the citizens in their protection from frauds of broadly advertised pseudoscientific procedures, expensive non-functional apparatuses as well as warn the patients of the ineffective and in some instances even dangerous methods of alternative medicine. The club does not interfere with political problems, or with the religious faith.
The club coordinates its activity with European skeptics and with skeptical institutions all over the world. We are regularly attending the European and International congresses of skeptics.
The range of our critical activity
All occult, esoteric and paranormal beliefs, activities and phenomena are brought into disrepute. The main themes are astrology, celtomania, numerology, ufology, visits of extraterrestrials, poltergeists, afterlife, dowsing, krypto-zoology, miracles, creationism, parapsychology with all related phenomena as e.g. spiritualism, psychotronics, psychokinesis, telepathy, biotronics and “psychic” forces. Important theme is the alternative medicine, which represents a serious health threat to misinformed citizens. Among the most frequent disciplines of alternative medicine is homeopathy, cluster medicine, acupuncture, chiropractics followed by tens of other curious methods. We discuss other alternative disciplines as well, e.g. the Waldorf schools in the educational system, or radical “ecological” agriculture. We try to make public aware of the negative role of mass media in dissemination of irrationality.
There are new domains of misinterpretation of scientific achievements extending from flight from science and reason up to frauds. This new pseudoscientific field comprises the activities of radical ecologists, movement against nuclear energy industry, against genetically modified foods and genetic engineering. Our endeavor is to explain the principles, advantages and disadvantages including the potential risks of new scientific disciplines and we refute false and distorted opinions.
The theoretical and philosophical problems of rationalism are not put aside. We have the section of social sciences where philosophy of sciences, arts and postmodernism are the main themes of discussions. We suppose that the activity of the sections of natural sciences and medicine will be renewed.
Activities of the Czech Skeptical Club
Our aims are realized by the broad spectrum of activities. The skeptical ideas are propagated by the Czech Bulletin Sisyfos where the reader finds contributions from our authors and a selection of translated papers published abroad. The Bulletin started in 1995 as a quarterly. In addition to it our members submit essays and reports to the newspapers. We are engaged in public lecturing. Starting from 1995 we have organized together with the Czech Academy of Sciences a series of lectures and public discussions under the title Science versus Irrationality. Public lecturing takes part also in Pilsen, Brno, Kladno and other cities of the Czech Republic. We have published professional books as well as fictions on the theme of skepticism.
We try to participate in programs related to propagation of sciences and rationalism as well as in critical discussions with the proponents of irrationality in radio and television. We inform ministries and other authorities of citizens complaints on frauds and we submit petitions on the irrational activities of institutions and individuals breaking the law.
We organize a satirical prize giving ceremony Erratic Boulders, where three most prominent individuals and three institutions propagating irrationality are honored “for the outstanding deliberate deception of the public”. The English equivalent of BlB, the Czech abbreviation of Erratic Boulder is “twerp”. The yearly ceremony meets a broad response in public and media.
In spite of many obstacles and difficulties we were successful in contributing to the action of the Czech Medical Society which has expelled the Czech Homeopathic Society together with its section on Cluster Medicine. Further on, the Czech Medical Society has dissolved the Section for Voll´s Electro-acupuncture of the Czech Medical Acupuncture Society. The deceitful instrument Depolar “interfering with the harmful electromagnetic radiation” had to be withdrawn from the market after our initiative to detect the fraud. We participated in exposing and debunking several healers and imposters in critical programs of TV.
The Czech web site of our club is www.sisyfos.cz with full information on our recent activities and all issues of our Bulletin.
Alternativní medicína, možnosti a rizika. (Alternative Medicine, Opportunities and Risks). Kolektiv autorů. Grada, 1995.
Homeopatie, clusterová a anthroposofická medicína. (Homeopathy, Cluster and Anthroposophical Medicine). J. Heřt a kol.. Nakl. Lidové noviny, 1997.
Sborník Věda kontra iracionalita 1. (Science versus Irrationality, 1.). Kolektiv autorů. Academia, 1998.
Sborník Věda kontra iracionalita 2. (Science versus Irrationality, 2.). Kolektiv autorů. Academia, 2002.
Sborník Věda kontra iracionalita 3. (Science versus Irrationality, 3.). Kolektiv autorů. Nakl. V. Nosková, 2005.
Akupunktura, mýty a realita. (Acupuncture, Myths and Reality). J. Heřt, J. Hnízdil, P. Klener. Galén, 2002.
Trialog o životě ve vesmíru. (Trialogue about Life in Universe). Remešová Stanislava, Grygar Jiří, Grün Marcel. EMINENT 2001.
Trialog o mimozemšťanech. (Trialogue about Extraterrestrials). Grygar Jiří, Grün Marcel, Ramešová Stanislava. Paseka 2006.
Mýty v zrcadle vědy a fantazie. (Myths Reflected by Science and Fantasy). J. Splítková. Nakl. Gumruch, 2001.
Je to hustý (eseje a povídky). (It is cool, essays and stories). V. Nosková. Nakl. V. Nosková, 2003.
Utopený Archimedes. Malý alternativní výkladový slovník. (Drowned Archimedes, vocabulary of esoterics). V. Mornstein. Nakl. V. Nosková, 2003.
Alternativní bajkýdky (Alternative Fables). M. Kutílek a U. G. Sato. Nakl. V. Nosková, 2003.
Czech Skeptical Club SISYFOS | Sisyfos - český klub skeptiků