Speakers & Panelists

moravecGMOs

Tomas Moravec studied Biochemistry at the College of Natural Science of the Charles University in Prague. After multiple semesters abroad in France, USA and Germany, he worked in the laboratory of Dr. R. Beachy in Donald Danforth Planth Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri, USA between 2002 and 2006. Since 2006, he works as a researcher in the Institute of Experimental Botany of the Academy of Sciences in Prague. He focuses on the detection and classification of plant viruses, breeding plants to make them resistent towards virus-caused illnesses, the use of plant viruses for the production of pharmaceutically viable substances in plants, and the use of seeds for the production of pharmaceutical proteins. One of his projects, on which he is cooperating, is exploring plants as bioreactors for growing molecules for medical use. In 2015 he was named the Head of the Virology Laboratory at the institute of Experimental Botany.

 

Talk Title

How Rational are the Fears of GMOs?

Is Humanity in the danger of famine without transgenic products? Or is there a danger of our Planet being overtaken by Superweeds, which escaped from a laboratory of a mad scientist? The topic of genetic modification often brings out lively discussions full of emotion, but realistic facts are usually lacking on both sides of the argument. This talk will try to bring a sober look at the issue of GMO products in the context of the evolution of agriculture in the 21st century.

Tomasz Witkowski

Skeptical Psychology

Psychologist, skeptic (Poland)

 

Tomasz Witkowski is a Polish psychologist, skeptic and science writer. He is known for his unconventional campaigns against pseudoscience. He specializes in debunking pseudoscience, particularly in the fields of psychology, psychotherapy, and diagnostics. Witkowski also engages in debates on pseudoscience-related topics, emphasizing scientific skepticism. Witkowski studied at the University of Wrocław, graduating in 1988. After graduating, he worked for ten years as a senior lecturer at the same university. He received a Ph.D. in Psychology from the university in 1995.In addition to his teaching duties at the University of Wroclaw, Witkowski received a scholarship at the University of Bielefeld in 1993, and worked as a researcher at the University of Hildesheim in 1997. From 2004-2007,  he lectured at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities. He is also the founder of the Klub Sceptyków Polskich (Polish Skeptics Club). Witkowski has authored over ten books, over 40 scientific articles, and over 100 popular science articles. His articles have been published in journals including the Skeptical Inquirer, Research Digest, and The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice. He published two books in English: Psychology Led Astray: Cargo Cult in Science and Therapy  and Psychology Gone Wrong: The Dark Sides of Science and Therapy (co-written with Maciej Zatonski, 2015). In 2007, Witkowski repeated the Sokal hoax. He managed to publish an article on morphic resonance in the psychology journal Charaktery. The hoax received publicity from the James Randi Educational Foundation, as well as other science bloggers. Witkowski is frequently contacted by the media to comment on alleged frauds and abuses in psychology, psychotherapy, and other areas of scientific activity. He is a recipient of the Rationalist of the Year award, granted by the Polskie Stowarzyszenie Racjonalistów (Polish Society of Rationalists).

Critical Psychology, Social Psychology, Psychotherapy

Skeptical Psychology

Head of the Department of Psychology at MUNI (Czech Republic)

Zbynek Vybiral is a Czech psychologist, lecturer and currently the Head of the Department of Psychology at Masaryk University. He conducts research in the areas of Psychotherapy, Verbal Communication and Critical Psychology. Vybiral lectures about Psychotherapy, Critical Psychology, theoretical and applied Social Psychology and Counseling Psychology (with an emphasis on marriage and family). Between the years 2002 and 2010 he was the coordinator of the Czech branch of the international E-Learning project SEPTIMUS, pertaining to psychotherapeutic theory, and conducted research in Internet communication. He is a member of the Society of Psychotherapy research.
He is author of ten books. In the “Psychologie jinak” (Psychology Otherwise), as the first critical book in the Czech psychology, he explores many facets of scientific weakness of the traditional discipline, like overestimated traditional typology, dichotomisation, simplifications, naïve realism, and other biases. As the editor and co-author of the book “Soucasna psychoterapie” (Contemporary Psychotherapy) offers widespread view of the field of psychological treatments, included some fringe and risky approaches. Among the Czech psychologists, he is a leading critical figure, who criticizes unethical or misleading practice of some colleagues in public discourse. He repeatedly debunked many false or simplified claims in pop-psychology, counselling practice and psychotherapy. He has opposed the spreading of holding therapy in the Czech Republic and protested against its support given by official Czech Psychological Association. Consequently, he decided to step out of the National Psychology Association because of the continued support of the holding therapy. He encouraged several public, and academic discussions focused on other risky “treatments” like “family constellations”, or “pure school fanaticism” in psychotherapy. Recently, he has written entry „psychotherapy“ in Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology. He translated Paul Watzlawick’s books in the past.    
In 1984 he acquired his doctorate degree from Charles University in Psychology and in Czech Language. After continued work in the field, he acquired another doctorate degree in 1999 in Clinical Psychology at Palacky University. He has been lecturing at Masaryk University since 2000, receiving tenure in 2011.
He was Editor-in-Chief of the psychotherapeutic journal Konfrontace for 16 years and for the journal Psychotherapy for three years, currently residing on the board of the later journal.

 

Talk Title

Why Psychology Is Not Only in a Replication Crisis

Why popular and unscientific claims in psychology and in psychotherapy come to be accepted as true? In the paper “familiarity backfire effect” is mentioned. Other process is called as “life advices from The Little Prince”. Further explanations for popular simplifications are searched and suggested. The paper is focused very concretely on several examples, like Albert Mehrabian’s “the 7%-38%-55% rule“, bystander effect, “Marshmallow test” of delayed gratification, behavioural priming or seductive allure of neuro-explanations in today’s psychology. The today’s psychology stands not only within replication crisis, but also within scientific crisis. The historical roots in early psychoanalysis or in some Maslow’s and Eysenck’s statements and mission are mentioned, as well. Critical psychology and critical scientific thinking offer several explanations for so widespread pop-psychology and pop-therapies, which should be repeatedly discussed.

 

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