Program & lectures

9:00 Registration
9:30 Welcome by Chair of the Flames interuniversity network
9:40 Announcement of the winner of the FLAMES Award 2019 and its keynote presentation
10:00 Keynote lectures : Steve Paulussen (Antwerp University), Yoni van Den Eede (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) and Joris Meys (Ghent University)

In his presentation at the FAM2019, Steve Paulussen will argue that fake news is not as much a ‘new’ technological phenomenon as it as an ‘old’ human and societal problem of which the causes and effects are already pretty well-known. While social media platforms carry a great responsibility in the dissemination of disinformation and should be urged to provide more algorithmic transparency, the battle against disinformation can only be won through the combined efforts of these platforms with educators, academics, governments, journalists, and citizens. Paulussen will discuss what each of these actors can do, and are doing, to tackle disinformation and its consequences.


The talk of Yoni Van Den Eede at the FAM2019, “Everyone Philosopher!” carries the subtitle “Making the Difference between Real, Fake, True, False and (Most Importantly) Ambiguous”. Humankind has been interested for ages in replicating the real – culminating in our present-day fascination with increasingly “realistic” video games, special effects in movies, and so on – so why is fake news suddenly a problem? Obviously because we expect from news an “objective” rendition of reality… But in how far is this a – pun not intended – realistic expectation? With developments such as Artificial Intelligence, deepfakes and the like we will soon become hardpressed to distinguish between real/true and fake/false every waking moment of our lives. In a way, all of us will be challenged to become philosopher – the type of person who pre-eminently, at least since Plato, sets out to find “true” knowledge and wisdom. But are we decently equipped for that undertaking? Moreover, are we not still stuck in Plato’s cave, in the sense that we still work in everyday life with binary real/true-fake/false categories? Perhaps what we need first and foremost, before we start trying to make the difference between true and false, is a graspable idea of ambiguity.


Joris Meys‘ talk at the FAM2019, “living with uncertainty” will focus on how to communicate about uncertainty to a public that wants solid answers. Terms like “uncertainty” and “likeliness” don’t carry the same load in the general debate as they do in science. Part of that confusion comes from the fact that they answer different questions in the minds of scientists and society. Agitators abuse this discrepancy to sow doubt about solid scientific findings. Using the discussion on climate change as an example, Joris will explore the mismatch between questions in science and society, and illustrate how considering these differences can help you both shaping your own research and provide answers to the genuine concerns of a society not accustomed to living with uncertainty.

12:30 Lunch
13:30 Afternoon debate with the speakers and moderated by Karel Verhoeven, editor-in-chief of De Standaard
14:30 Announcement of the Flames Summer School (FSS2019, Ghent University, Sept 2019)
14:45 Closing remarks
15:00 End of the meeting
Venue address
Flames Annual Meeting
auditorium Maria Baers
Martelaarsplein 7
1000 Brussels