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The Association for Skeptical Enquiry

Casting a critical eye over suspect science, dubious claims and bizarre beliefs

Welcome to the ASKE website

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 was mainly funded by annual membership subscriptions and donations from people who support its Aims and principles. Its main activity was the circulation of a magazine, the Skeptical Intelligencer which ran from 1996/7 to 2023, and a newsletter, the Skeptical Adversia, which ran from 2000 to 2012, when it was amalgamated with the Skeptical Intelligencer. ASKE ceased collecting membership subscriptions at the end of 2023. However, this website remains active and now serves the following purposes:

Donate to support the ASKE website

ASKE no longer has a subscribing membership but you are more than welcome to make a donation to the annual cost of this website by PayPal or credit/ debit card. Please go to the Donations page.

What is skepticism?

Perhaps the first thing to notice is the spelling of the word, which in the UK is usually 'scepticism' (similarly, sceptic and sceptical). In the USA it's spelt 'skeptic', etc. and this spelling has become universal in the present context. Whatever the spelling, in everyday usage saying that you're skeptical about something means that you're not convinced...

Being a skeptical activist

Many people from all walks of life are now actively involved in some way in what has become known as The Skeptical Movement .....
Read more....

Practical guides for skeptics

Are you intending consulting 'a psychic'? Or perhaps you are considering testing someone who claims to have paranormal powers. Are you a journalist preparing a newspaper article on a sensational new treatment outside of mainstream medicine or science? Would you like to devise your own quack remedy and set up a successful paractice, even though there is no evidence that it works? Would you like to learn how to be a dowser? The articles in this section provide instructions and advice on how to do all of these things.



From Sense About Science

'We're thrilled to announce that Nancy Olivieri, a senior scientist at Toronto General Hospital, has been awarded the 2023 John Maddox Prize for courageously advancing public discourse with sound science, despite challenges or hostility. The judges commended Nancy for communicating the importance of being open with patients about medical research whilst withstanding great personal cost. The 2023 Early Career Award goes to Chelsea Polis, a senior scientist of epidemiology at the Population Council's Center for Biomedical Research, New York, for her courage in challenging false marketing claims made by medical device manufacturers.


'Top science journal faced secret attacks from Covid conspiracy theory group: A conspiratorial group of extreme Brexit lobbyists mounted an extraordinary campaign against one of the world's most prestigious science journals - part of a series of joint investigations between Byline Times and Computer Weekly. ... The group attempted to have Nature and its staff put under surveillance and investigated by MI5, MI6, the CIA, Mossad, and Japanese and Australian intelligence agencies. They met Cabinet minister Michael Gove and later asked him to arrange phone taps and electronic surveillance. One member of the group led intrusive investigations into the intimate personal life and background circumstances of senior Nature staff the group suspected of "extreme Sinophile views".'


'Medical-evidence giant Cochrane battles funding cuts and closures. The group that helped to revolutionize medical practice has lost key funding and is reorganizing - moves that concern some researchers.'

'Traditional' Medicine

The World Health Organization has held its first summit on traditional medicine, with the group saying it was seeking to collect evidence and data to allow for the safe use of such treatments. However....'The World Health Organisation (WHO) is meant to implore us to ignore hearsay and folklore, and to follow the scientific evidence. So why is it now suddenly promoting the likes of herbal medicine, homeopathy and acupuncture?


Actor Leah Remini is taking her fight against the Church of Scientology to court with a new lawsuit alleging that the church and its current leader, David Miscavige, are behind years of "mob-style tactics" used against her in a targeted campaign of harassment.'

Nessie: The Search to End all Searches (until the next time)

'What has been described as the biggest search for the Loch Ness Monster since the early 1970s is due to be held later this month. Drones fitted with infrared cameras are to be flown over the loch, and a hydrophone is to be used to detect unusual underwater sounds. Organisers said volunteers would also look for possible signs of a creature from safe vantage points on land. The search is to be held on 26 and 27 August.'

Medical Clinics Fake Reviews

'Consumer groups say fake reviews are a "significant and persistent problem" and have called on internet firms to do more to remove them and fine companies. Which? has warned it could be a serious issue if someone chooses a treatment clinic based on reading a fake review. The government said it was toughening the law to protect consumers, while Google said it removed fake reviews.'

The Berlin Lion

'Sheepish authorities in Germany have called off the hunt for a loose lioness after admitting the missing animal is actually a boar. Authorities determined on Friday that there is "no acute danger" to people in Kleinmachnow on the edge of Berlin where a potentially dangerous animal was spotted, saying they no longer believe that a lioness is at large and calling off the hunt. A search turned up no sign of such a predator and experts who analysed a video have concluded that it was likely a wild boar, they said.'


'In the US: 'A former US intelligence official told a Congress hearing on UFOs that "non-human biologics" were recovered from crash sites. He said he prefers to use the term "non-human" rather than alien.''

Clinical Trials

'Medicine is plagued by untrustworthy clinical trials. How many studies are faked or flawed? Investigations suggest that, in some fields, at least one-quarter of clinical trials might be problematic or even entirely made up, warn some researchers. They urge stronger scrutiny.'

Covid-19 Origin

In the US, a ' long-awaited report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence put the lie to the theory that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, leaked from a virology lab in Wuhan, China, where the disease was first detected in humans. The lab-leak conspiracists were certain that the report would validate their contentions, for which there has never been any valid scientific evidence. Instead it did just the opposite.'

Antivax GP Struck Off

'A GP has been erased from the medical register after an MPTS tribunal concluded today that her statements on vaccines amounted to misconduct. Dr Jayne Donegan, who no longer works as an NHS GP, was found by the tribunal to have encouraged parents to mislead healthcare professionals about their children's diet or immunisation history". The GMC brought several allegations against Dr Donegan, about statements made between 2019 and 2020, however the determination of impaired fitness to practise (FTP) and subsequent erasure was based solely on her suggestions to parents. The tribunal determined that her misconduct "posed an ongoing risk to patient safety given her lack of insight and lack of remediation" and that "public confidence would be undermined" if such a doctor was allowed to remain in practice. … Other GMC allegations, such as Dr Donegan's statements failing to "give balanced information on the risks and benefits of immunisation", were proved true by the tribunal but were not determined to be serious misconduct.'


On May 31st, a NASA panel held its first public meeting on its study of UFOs, or what the US government now terms UAPs ('unidentified anomalous phenomena'). The panel was set up last year and a report on its findings is due for release in July. Nasa define UAPs as 'observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena from a scientific perspective.' Its study is separate from the previous investigation by intelligence officials at the Pentagon. The 16-member panel said that scant high-quality data and a lingering stigma pose the greatest barriers to unravelling such mysteries.


'A "very concerning" rise in the number of people catching measles in the UK has been reported by health officials. The virus spreads incredibly easily and a fall in vaccination rates is leaving more children vulnerable to infection. There were 54 cases of measles in the whole of last year. However, there have already been 49 in the first four months of 2023. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is encouraging parents to ensure their children's vaccinations are up to date.'

Virgin on the Ridiculous

'The Catholic Church has set up a task force to tackle a growing number of gurus who claim they communicate with the Virgin Mary. One even says she can magic up mystic pizzas on demand. A woman in Rome claims her statue of the saint can spirit up slices of pizza and has hundreds of followers. But Vatican chiefs say she is one of thousands who claim to have a private relationship with the Madonna, reports the Daily Star. The clampdown is being led by Father Stefano Cecchin, head of the Mariana Internationalis pontifical academy, as the church believes the claims cause confusion, promote apocalyptic scenarios and even make accusations against the Pope and the church.'


'A leading NHS consultant psychiatrist has met me in person and concluded I don't have ADHD - attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Yet, after shorter assessments online, three private clinics have told me I do - and offered me powerful medication.'

Traditional Chinese Medicine

'Foetuses exposed totraditional Chinese medicine have an increased risk of congenital malformations compared to those without exposure.'

Rachel Elnaugh

'A former Dragons' Den star is locked in a battle with angry locals after helping to create a community farm in the heart of the Peak District. Based in Cressbrook Dale. The project has drawn criticism from locals who claim the group is some form of "cult" believing in a "food apocalypse" and the "Great Reset". Ex-Dragons' Den star Rachel Elnaugh has posted videos previously to her YouTube channel discussing what she described as "the great resolution to dissolve the Global Masterplan". The Bakewell native has an interest in astrology and tarot, has described the Covid pandemic as a "mass fear event" containing lots of "ridiculous new variants" of coronavirus, and has speculated that a fake alien invasion produced by Hollywood could be used to trigger a "global military response".'


'Vaccination rates have fallen among schoolchildren in England since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, health officials have said, amid a global crisis of confidence in vaccines. Fears have been expressed in recent months that thousands of children are at risk of catching deadly diseases, such as meningitis and blood poisoning, with significant outbreaks likely due to reduced vaccination rates.'

Update on Madeline McCann

(See earlier posting below) 'A Polish woman who claimed she was Madeleine McCann appears to have ended her search for proof after receiving the results of a DNA test. Julia Faustyna, 21, made headlines earlier this year after posting a video to Instagram in which she claimed to be the British girl who disappeared, aged three, on a family holiday in Portugal.'

Another Conspiracy Theorist Sued

'Survivors of the Manchester Arena bombing have launched a legal action against a conspiracy theorist who has falsely claimed the attack was faked. Martin Hibbert and his daughter Eve were severely injured in the terror attack at an Ariana Grande concert in 2017 that left 22 people dead. The family have accused Richard D Hall of defamation and harassment after he promoted the theory that the attack never took place, and reportedly tracked them down and admitted spying on them. Last Friday, they sought an injunction and damages, having initially signalled their intention to bring legal action in October 2022.'

Evidence Week

Sense about Science is [once again] hosting Evidence Week in Parliament at Westminster on 3-7 July 2023, in partnership with the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), the House of Commons Library, the House of Lords Library, Ipsos and the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA). We will be joined by researchers from across the UK offering quick-fire policy briefings on hot topics to MPs and Peers. Evidence Week opens online with questions from the public about how Parliament uses and reviews evidence, with responses from constituency MPs, chairs of select committees and national experts. There will also be an in-person reception, with lively discussion on the need to create space in public life for politicians to be frank about trade-offs in policymaking. There is also a daily programme of evidence training for parliamentary staff from national experts, covering statistics, access to resources, constituency data and more.'

UK Clinical Trials

From TranspariMED: 'The UK is first country worldwide to commit to ensuring that all clinical trials are registered and all their results made public within one year of trial completion, as set out in the national Make it Public strategy. Today's transparency report of the Health Research Authority (HRA) - an official body that oversees all medical ethics committees in the country - provides a snapshot of the progress made so far.'

Traditional Mexican Medicine

'Health authorities in Mexico said Tuesday they will use more traditional medicine and more Cuban doctors in the country's woefully under-equipped public hospital system. Zoe Robledo, the head of Mexico's largest public hospital network, said at a news conference that the system will hire 753 practitioners of traditional massage and herbal treatments. The Social Security Institute will also employ "curanderos," who are non-licensed healers who use bundles of herbs, smoke, alcohol and eggs to "draw" sickness out of the bodies of their patients.'

Madeleine McCann

In 2007 Madeleine McCann, aged 3, went missing while on a family holiday on Portugal. She has not been found since. 'A private investigator and psychic says a woman who claims she could be Madeleine McCann is "happy she is getting the truth". Julia Wendell went viral after uploading a video online to an Instagram called "I am Madeleine McCann", saying that she thinks she could be the missing girl who vanished in 2007 at the age of three. Now, after receiving "a number of death threats", Julia was taken to California by Dr Fia Johansson, a self professed physic and has said she is investigating the case.'

Ivermectin for COVID-19

Another clinical trial fails to support the use of Ivermectin for COVID-19. 'Among outpatients with mild to moderate COVID-19, treatment with ivermectin, with a maximum targeted dose of 600 ?g/kg daily for 6 days, compared with placebo did not improve time to sustained recovery. These findings do not support the use of ivermectin in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19.'