Teresa Giménez Barbat: Skepticism in the Heart of Europe

Teresa Giménez Barbat of Barcelona is a member of the European Parliament, and before the attendees of CSICon 2017, she positioned herself squarely as an ally and advocate for skepticism and secularism. Her job, she said, is “to make skepticism and secularism heard in the heart of Europe.”

While the issues she works on would certainly be familiar to us in the U.S., it is telling that one of the more absurd examples of what she calls “homeopathic laws” — laws that are well intentioned but have no real benefit — include the bizarre regulation dictating the curvature of cucumbers.

There are instances of dangerous science denial, of course, though according to Barbat it can come in forms that are sort of chimeras of American issues. For example, she’s dealt with those who blame global warming on “patriarchal attitudes.” Well, I could see a case for that, but of course the point is that it’s an avoidance of the plain physical causes of climate change.

And, with an issue that is right at the heart of CFI’s international efforts, Barbat discussed how she advocates for the rights of those accused of apostacy and blasphemy in countries like Pakistan.

She revealed how she had not always been a skeptic, with a nominally Catholic childhood followed by a young adulthood, in which she confessed to being “an annoying and insufferable hippie.” It takes courage to admit that.

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