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Feb 4, 2022

Zurich43 Retreat 2022: Witches vs. Bill Gates

The first Zurich43 (nearly) post-COVID-19 retreat was held at historic Grimsel-Hospiz, 31 January – 01 February 2022. The theme of the retreat was "Witches vs. Bill Gates: Conspiracy Beliefs & the Role of Science — Implications for Gender Bias & Inequality". 

Travel to Grimsel-Hospiz in winter was an adventure in itself, with the transfer from Innertkirchen, possible only with a guide, via Postbus, two cable cars, and a section via minibus through the labyrinthian tunnels of the Oberhasli AG power station, before finally emerging from the tunnels to navigate the deep snow over the last few meters to the hotel on foot.

The 25 participants — 14 men and 11 women — gathered with strict COVID precautions in place. The sessions included reviews of books and themed presentations based on scientific papers, magazine and newspaper articles, videos, and internet searches. The first day was devoted to dissection of conspiracy theories and approaches for debunking them, and how to understand people who have spiraled into "rabbit holes", as well as historical accounts of witches and witchcraft. Breakout groups conducted role-playing exercises to explore how difficult it can be to combat deeply held beliefs, even with scientific arguments. The focus of the second day was gender issues, with examinations of implicit biases that work to disadvantage women in a world designed for men. A highlight of the retreat was Esra Neufeld's inspired and hilarious turn as a Victorian-era physician lecturing on the "mysteries of the female body" to illustrate how medicine has been failing women over millennia by viewing them as alien, non-human creatures. In brainstorming sessions, participants collected ideas to add to a draft of a Gender Equality Plan for Z43. The plan — intended to codify Z43's long established gender balanced atmosphere — will soon be finalized, then implemented and tested during the next 4 years.

All participants are sincerely thanked for their engagement, well-researched input, and lively discussions!

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Participants of the Zurich43 Retreat 2022 at historic Grimsel-Hospiz

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Hotel Grimsel-Hospiz

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View from the hotel towards Lake Grimsel reservoir

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Esra "playing doctor"

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