Welcome to the Association for Skeptical Enquiry (ASKE)ASKE was founded in 1997 in the UK by a small group of people from different professional backgrounds who were opposed to the promotion of irrational ideas and practices and the misrepresentation of science for purposes that deceive the public. The association is mainly funded by membership subscriptions and donations from people who support its Aims and principles. The organisers of ASKE pursue these by the following activities:
- Maintaining this website, through which members of the public and people in relevant professions may access appropriate information. This includes advice for those who may be considering availing themselves of Psychic services and practices undertaken by people such as astrologers, unorthodox medical practitioners, and other individuals and organisations making extraordinary and unsubstantiated claims about the validity and efficacy of their services.
- Preparing an online quarterly magazine-cum-newsletter (see Publications), the Skeptical Intelligencer. This is freely available for public inspection and contains articles, reviews and announcements of interest. ASKE members receive emailed copies of the Skeptical Intelligencer and are also sent paper copies if they wish. Members may also contribute their own articles, reviews and announcements. Back copies of the Skeptical Intelligencer and a previous publication, the Skeptical Adversaria, are available to members in the Members area.
- Regularly informing members of relevant news, announcements, upcoming events, and so on.
- Responding to enquiries from members of the public, professional people, and the media about matters of relevance to the above aims. We also provide a Watchdog archive for people reporting how they have suffered adverse consequences at the hands of individuals or organisations making extraordinary and scientifically unsubstantiated claims about their services.
- Maintaining an email discussion network which members may join in order to exchange ideas and information.
- Organising public meetings. This is not currently a common activity, but in 2003 ASKE organised the 11th European Skeptics Congress and in September 2015 jointly organised the 16th such event (see below).
- Testing people who claim to possess paranormal abilities (The ASKE Paranormal Challenge). ASKE offers an award of £10,000 to anyone who can successfully demonstrate under controlled conditions, 'a paranormal ability' which they claim to possess. The claimant and ASKE will jointly undertake a test designed in such a way that one outcome would unequivocally demonstrate that the claimant possesses the ability in question. Successful claimants who reside in the UK will then be eligible, if they wish, to apply for the €25,000 Sisyphus Prize offered by SKEPP, the Belgian Skeptical society. If you are interested in either these possibilities, go to The Sisyphus Prize on this website.
What is Skepticism?To find out more about skepticism and for answers to some of the questions that may have occurred to you, click on ASKE blog, where you will find a series of short introductory articles about skepticism. You will also find some previous articles by ASKE members in the Articles section.
Links to Like-Minded Groups and WebsitesIn the General links section you will find a growing list of websites of national and international like-minded organisations, groups and individuals.
European Council of Skeptical OrganisationsThere are quite a number of European countries with national skeptical organisations, some of which, as in Germany, Sweden, Italy, Belgian and the Netherlands, are very substantial. Like ASKE, many of these organisations are affiliated to the European Council of Skeptical Organisations (ECSO). ECSO now has a very active website, a prominent feature of which is the regular appearance of news items of interest from skeptical groups throughout Europe. Another feature is a link to a comprehensive calendar of meetings. Articles on skeptical topics are also featured.
Making a Complaint about Health ClaimsThe media, including the internet, are full of advertisements for products and treatments that are touted as alleviating and curing illnesses and problems in the absence of any real evidence that they are able to do this. They may even be dangerous. ASKE encourages members of the public to formally complain about any such scams to the Advertising Standards Authority/ Committee of Advertising Practice. Guidance on how to do this may be found on the ASA/ CAP website. Over the years individuals and groups, such as the Nightingale Collaboration (see below) have been very successful at having advertisers remove misleading health claims for their products from their advertisements, promotional literature and websites. The ASA/ CAP publishes its rulings every week here.
Come and Join Us!ASKE is a small organisation that relies on annual subscriptions of just £10 and voluntary donations from people who share its aims and principles. But we also like our members to be involved in any of the above activities, including contributing to this website and writing for the Skeptical Intelligencer. If you would like to join us or provide a donation, please go to our Membership page.
The Bi-annual European Skeptics CongressThe 16th European Skeptics Congress was held at Goldsmiths College London from Friday 11th to Sunday 13th September 2015. The congress was held under the auspices of ECSO (the European Council of Skeptical Organisations), and was jointly organised by ASKE and APRU (the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths College). Photographs of the congress may be viewed at https://flic.kr/p/yq4rw4 and a short video prepared by Mark Williams can be viewed at https://youtu.be/_o1Rx-2QkEw. Klaus Schmeh has a video of his talk on parascientific codes on YouTube at https://youtu.be/jS56Pe_nfsE. A video recording of the debate on skepticism and medicine is at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4erJFq1Ds0 and https://youtu.be/xyiuzE5fueo. The 17th European Skeptics Congress will be organised by the Polish and Czech Skeptics in Wroclaw, Poland from September 22nd - 24th 2017 (see website at http://euroscepticscon.org/ and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/euroskepticscon/).
ACTIVITIES OF SOME ASKE MEMBERS
|Michael Heap is a
clinical and forensic psychologist living in Sheffield. He is Chairman and one of the founders of ASKE. He is an expert on hypnosis and has written, lectured and taught
extensively on this as well as on subjects such as clinical psychology, psychiatric diagnoses, NLP, alternative medicine, and skepticism generally. For many years he has given
talks in schools on 'Science and the Paranormal'.
Many of his papers are to be found on his website.
|Mark Newbrook is from Wirral,
near Liverpool. He completed a BA (Honours) in Classics (including Indo-European philology) at Corpus Christi College, Oxford and a PhD in linguistics
at Reading University and worked as a lecturer and researcher in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. Mark is one of the world's few identifying 'skeptical linguists'
and authored the first ever survey work on the subject in a book entitled Strange Linguistics, Lincom-Europa, Munich, 2013.
A sample of his writings can be found on this website.
Challenging misleading healthcare claims
Fed up seeing misleading healthcare claims on the Internet, in magazines, etc?
Rational Veterinary Medicine
The Rational Veterinary Medicine website http://www.rationalvetmed.org/) is run by Niall Taylor, a veterinary surgeon in mixed practice in the south-west of England. Its main aim is to collate many of the references and clinical papers used by proponents of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, both human and veterinary. Papers are critiqued and links are provided, wherever possible, to the original papers themselves and to additional commentaries elsewhere. There are also links to relevant media articles and a number of bespoke articles on the topic.
Peter Lucey is an ASKE member and skeptic. He found skepticism while engaged with Scientology criticism in the 1990s and being referred to the old "sci,skeptic FAQ"
(http://www.faqs.org/faqs/skeptic-faq/). That lead to other skeptical books and publications and it has been a "growth experience" (as they say). Peter attended the second James Randi Education Conference (JREF) and some European events, and has appeared as a skeptic on Kilroy, and even Trisha, though neither of the latter can he described as educational! Peter worked in the computer industry for 30 years and has since retired. (Open to all offers!) Now an atheist, he is interested in belief systems generally, and what makes us act on those beliefs.
Peter's website is href=http://www.peterlucey.com.