What we’re about
The purpose of this meetup is to engage in meaningful conversations without having to navigate through commonly held false beliefs, superstitions, and conspiracy theories. To make this as concrete as possible, this meetup is for interesting conversations with people whose worldview is free from the following delusions:
- I believe one or more of the following ideas are real phenomena: Astrology, karma, chakras, telekinesis, telepathy, premonition,…
- The moonlanding was fake / a secret elite rules the world / the earth is flat / chemtrails / Illuminati / 5G conspiracy / Holocaust denial
- If I just pray hard enough, I can make things come through / The Law of Attraction will provide, if I want it hard enough / The universe gives me what I need.
- UFO sightings and encounters are proof of extraterrestrial life visiting Earth and/or secret government cover-ups of their existence.
- The pyramids might be made by an alien race. Who knows, right?
- I have some doubts about evolution. I don’t believe humans and great apes have a common ancestor, I don’t believe mankind evolved through evolutionary processes.
- The religion I believe in (out of the thousands upon thousands we've cooked up over the millenia) is the one true religion. It's also definitely not filled with contradictions that are rationalized away in a labyrinth of thoughts and theology books.
- Deepak Chopra does not speak quantum-jibberish, he is the man that speaks many of mankinds greatest truths.
- Global warming is not real. (And if it's real, it's not because of us, and/or it's not something to worry about. Science can't know. Nature decides. The sun is to blame. Etc.)
- Homeopathy works as proclaimed. Science just doesn’t understand, it’s different from science. It’s not just placebo! A manufacturer of an "alternative medicine" doesn't have to prove that it works, because it's different than “science”.
- One or more powerfull people and/or companies are hiding the cure for cancer, so big pharma can make more money.
- Vaccines are dangerous / full of damaging chemicals / cause autism. I fear it’s not safe. It’s probably best for my kids to not have them vaccinated.
- COVID: Researchers rushed the development of the vaccine, so its effectiveness and safety cannot be trusted. The COVID-19 vaccine changes your DNA. We should have let the virus run rampant and free. The COVID-19 vaccines themselves cause variants, etcetera etcetera.
- Homosexuality is not “natural”. It's always a choice. It's a disease that should be adressed. It's the doom of society. We should try to prevent our kids from choosing that lifestyle.
- "The government" should be abolished. "Anarchy" today will give us the ultimate freedom and makes the best life possible.
- 9/11 might have been an inside job, who knows?
- Guns should not be as restricted as they are now in e.g. European countries. Guns don't kill people. People kill people.
- Russia is really the victim of Western agression. Nato provoked Russia. Russia is just defending itself. The West is pushing Ukraine towards conflict. Russia is just taking back what is theirs. Russia is defending ethnic Russians in Ukraine. The West shuns diplomacy and goes straight to measures like sanctions. NATO has plotted against Russia since the end of the Cold War, encircled Russia with forces, etcetera etcetera.
- Donald Trump wasn’t doing a bad job. He was the lesser of two evils. He's a businessman and knows what he is doing. At least he's a man of action! Right?
- Brexit is a good thing. More countries should leave the EU. The EU is the way backwards!
Also, if you’re prone to riding waves of righteous indignation and outrage about matters of gender identity and expression, perceived threats to traditional values, perceived censorship from mainstream media outlets or social media platforms,… or if a main focus is expressing anger and frustration towards issues you dismiss as “woke!”, this is probably not the meetup group for you.
Further, we believe in constructive criticism of politicians and companies based on their actions and policies rather than resorting to simplistic demonization. We encourage nuanced discussions that recognize the complexities of the issues and systems at hand rather than resorting to blanket statements like "capitalism bad" and “all politicians are corrupt”.
In summary, this meetup is for people who are "realists”, but also have a progressive outlook on the world. From this starting point, we can have meaningfull talks about superinteresting subjects, without having to waste time on the things in the list above. And without having to find out the other person believes the moonlanding was fake – after having talked about space exploration for twenty minutes. Or finding out the other person believes 9/11 was an inside job - after having talked about international politics for twenty minutes. Etc.
Anyway, if that get's you excited, come and have a chat!
This meetup is sponsored by the online marketplace Books in Belgium (https://www.booksinbelgium.be/), your one-stop-shop for used and antique books. Nothing pairs better with the existential dread of AI taking over the world than curling up with a good book!
WHAT DOES A MEETUP LOOK LIKE?
Someone usually starts off with a short intro about the subject/book at hand. Result: very interesting talks that go far beyond the initial subject!
DO I NEED TO BE AFRAID?
No, nobody will bite you and everybody is always very friendly and considerate. The above list might come across as a bit aggressive maybe, but it's just to be very clear what this meetup is not about.
WHATS THE PURPOSE?
To get to know other “progressive skeptics”, to engage your mind into a respectfull exploration of all kinds of topics, to hone your social skills, to crack a joke or two, etc.
WHO COMES TO THESE MEETUPS?
Usually expats living in Belgium, or people visiting Belgium for a short or longer period of time. Some Belgians attend, but they are usually a minority.
“You put these points as presenting statements rather than open questions”
Indeed, that is entirely the point. If you think the things in the above list are opinions or open questions, then – respectfully – this meetup is not for you. There’s no shortage of people that - no matter how old they get or how much information is available - keep talking & thinking about the things in that list, and cannot draw conclusions. That is fine. But I'm not looking for those discussions in this particular meetup.
“This is so dogmatic”
Reality does indeed have a way of being quite unescapable.
"So I believe your focus is to discuss the nuances of these issues rather than having to argue about the basics"
No, this meetup is specifically NOT to discuss these issues. E.g. plenty of people still want to debate homeopathy after thousands upon thousands of studies that did not find any evidence for it. If you can’t make up your mind after the facts are clear, and want to get lost in nuances, then this meetup is not for you. All the statements in the list are – for me – in the same category. I’m quite done with them, there is no point – for me – in debating them further. Or at least, the effort necessary to honestly engage in these talks – all too often very one-directional and emotional – does not bring enough added value anymore – for me. If I wanted to create a meetup about these issues, I would have done so. If you think I should change the purpose of the meetup, then I – respectfully – think you should think again, take action, and organize a meetup according to your own wishes.
"When this 'Brexit is a good thing. More countries should leave the EU.' then it feels dogmatic. Can't join in such discussions." (sic)
Like the Trump bullet point, the Brexit phenomena is too broad to be an actual "fact” fact. But that does not mean it's out of mans ability to reach valid conclusions about complex issues. Of course, it’s also not out of mans ability to keep rationalizing the most dishonest, misguided, self-centered and destructive backwardness as is portrayed by the leading forces of Brexit & Trump. These forces trap a lot of people in their web of slogans, constructed out of cherrypicked & mangled pieces of reality. A reality which is by it’s nature complex enough to provide these forces with neverending opportunities to spin, to lead you into a labyrinth of cheap, empty, fake, misleading arguments. They keep you trapped, walking about, never reaching an exit, never reaching… a proper conclusion. The result: egotistical, insensitive, narrow-minded, powerhungry, corrupt, cunning, crude, damaged human beings that are completely incompetent for the actual purpose of the job, get in positions of power and stay there long enough to do some serious damage. They make all of our circumstances worse, inscrease suffering and waste valuable years and resources that should have been used to move us forward to a better world for all.