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In Conversation with Claire Klingenberg — President, European Council of Skeptic Organizations

2022-12-15

Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/08/01

Claire has a background in law and psychology, and is currently working on her degree in Religious Studies. She has been involved in the skeptic movement since 2013 as co-organizer of the Czech Paranormal Challenge. Since then, she has consulted on various projects, where woo & belief meets science. Claire has spoken at multiple science&skepticism conferences and events. She also organized the European Skeptics Congress 2017, and both years of the Czech March for Science.

Her current activities include chairing the European Council of Skeptical Organisations, running the “Don’t Be Fooled” project (which provides free critical thinking seminars to interested high schools), contributing to the Czech Religious Studies journal Dingir, as well as to their online news in religion website. In her free time, Claire visits various religious movements to understand better what draws people to certain beliefs.

Claire lives in Prague, Czech Republic, with her partner, and dog.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Claire, what are the issues for young skeptics?

Claire Klingenberg: The issue for young skeptics is to find their passion in the movement and to find what they want to focus their skepticism on, or their skeptical work in.

It is to fight against the stereotypes because they are young and they might feel as if their opinions may not matter as much. They should realize that they need to get experience and get knowledge. Young skeptics should be given a platform to express where the focus is needed.

I think the skeptical movement has gotten much better at accepting younger voices and promoting younger voices, which attracts younger people to join.

Jacobsen: What are some other identifications that skeptic youth tend to gravitate towards, so if one is a humanist something like 90% of them or more will be atheists?

Klingenberg: I think that is also true of the skeptical movement. If you are a young skeptic, then you are most likely a young atheist, and a young humanist. If you are a humanist, then you are a supporter of LGBTQ communities and their rights.

You are usually politically progressive. Those things go, very much, together.

Jacobsen: If someone is young and takes on a view similar to an Einsteinian type of God, something equivalent to the laws of nature, at the same time they identify as skeptic or atheist, do they have harder time in the community with those who simply reject all forms or definitions of a God or gods including an Einsteinian one of some distant abstract found in the laws of nature?

Klingenberg: So, I am going to give a very unskeptical example here. At the QED, Question Explore Discover, a conference in Manchester, it is a wonderful conference by the way, they did a poll among the participants there.

“How many people here are atheists?” My eyeball assumption was that it was 90% were atheists. Maybe, 10% label themselves as agnostics. Some of them might believe or have this Einsteinian version of God or other versions.

The thing is most skeptical organizations can stay out of religion as long as religion stays out of science. For instance, even in the Czech Republic, we are an atheist country, a secular country, but we have a lot of Christians in our skeptical movement.

Their personal faith, as long as those do not interfere with skepticism and they do not apply that personal faith to the laws of nature, can be a non-issue. You might believe God was the one who set off the Big Bang.

There is a lot of discussion about what happened before the Big Bang: “So, why not?” Of course, it would be an issue if you said, “God created the world 6,000 years ago.” I do not think you would get very far in the skeptical movement.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Claire.

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.in-sightpublishing.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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