top of page

It’s the freaks that get us ahead

Wittenstein Foundation’s new event series kicks off with Vince Ebert and his keynote speech “Flash of light or total blackout?”


More than 500 people attended the first event in the Wittenstein Foundation’s new “shifts in perspective” series on Thursday, November 16, 2023. Vince Ebert, the German physicist, comedian and author – best known for his long-standing role as host of “Wissen vor Acht” on ARD television – gave a keynote on his current SPIEGEL bestseller “Lichtblick statt Blackout – warum wir beim Weltverbessern neu denken müssen” (Flash of light or total blackout? – Why we need to rethink the way we improve the world) at the Great Kursaal Bad Mergentheim.

Is it really five minutes to midnight? Or just twelve minutes to five? In the keynote by Vince Ebert, everything revolved around the never-ending bad news on global warming, the energy crisis, the threat of blackouts and inflation. He combined a scientifically sound analysis sprinkled with humorous anecdotes with a passionate plea for more rationality and pragmatism. Through the “shifts in perspective” event series, the Wittenstein Foundation is consciously seeking to tread new paths in the future using artistic approaches of this kind with the aim of interesting, motivating and inspiring as many people as possible.

Greatest invention of modern times is the ability to create knowledge

Not long into his 75-minute lecture, the well-known German physicist asked whether a nation overwhelmed by the task of building an airport really can save the world from the climate crisis – setting the stage for a critical but thoroughly entertaining evening during which he mingled science and technology-based findings on global climate change with his inimitable brand of humor. Sometimes dubbed a climate troll or energy transition objector in certain circles, the comedian dismissed all such allegations with his expertise founded on scientific studies, references to a multitude of valid, independent sources and his ability to shed light on relevant aspects from different angles. It is precisely this diversity of perspectives that is urgently needed in our society, because, as Ebert pointed out, “someone who is only ever spoon-fed the same old, one-sided theories – who is totally unaware of the existence of any other perspectives – stands little chance of developing an alternative view of the world”. In this context, if you claim to be intent on improving the world and making it a better place, then you’ll inevitably be forced now and then to accept findings that contradict your own world view. Dr Manfred Wittenstein, host for the evening and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, agreed wholeheartedly: “The future is complex and no-one can predict what it holds in store for us, scientists included. In the end, none of us are the keepers of the absolute truth – all we can do is engage in dialog with one another and strive for the best solutions with an open mind.”

The most important resource is in our minds

Vince Ebert’s call to face the great challenges of our time first and foremost with more courage, rationality and optimism, which he backed up using differentiated and deliberately exaggerated examples, was one of his most forceful appeals to the sold-out Kursaal that evening. Issues like openness to technology, freedom of thought and a less restrictive policy framework were eagerly seized on by the comedian, who over and over again proved his skill in balancing seriousness of content with artistic interpretation. His final words to the audience were rewarded with prolonged applause: “It may sound hackneyed but the most important resource is in our minds. And only those individuals who have the courage to think differently – to take risks and depart from the norm – will actually help us move forward. If we take a look at the world today, it’s not the conformists – the ones who stick rigidly to the rules – who are responsible for the greatest innovations. It’s always been the ones that were different from the rest – the weirdos and the freaks.”

Next on the Wittenstein Foundation’s agenda

The next Wittenstein Foundation event will take place on November 29, 2023 at the TauberPhilharmonie in Weikersheim. The seventh event in the “enter the future” series will focus on “New space – from science fiction to daily reality”. Registrations will be accepted up until November 27 on the Wittenstein Foundation website.


Download PDF • 435KB

Image source: Wittenstein Foundation / Michael Pogoda

From left to right: Dr Manfred Wittenstein (initiator and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Wittenstein Foundation), Vince Ebert (comedian, keynote speaker and TV host) and Dr Anna-Katharina Wittenstein (member of the Board of Trustees of the Wittenstein Foundation).

Download ZIP • 4.36MB

Image source: Wittenstein Foundation / Michael Pogoda

More than 500 guests attended the kick-off event in the Wittenstein Foundation’s new series.

Download ZIP • 7.42MB

Image source: Wittenstein Foundation / Michael Pogoda

Vince Ebert is a comedian, keynote speaker and TV host. He is best known for his long-standing role as host of “Wissen vor Acht”, the German prime-time science show on ARD television.

Download ZIP • 5.76MB

Image source: Wittenstein Foundation / Michael Pogoda

The audience took the opportunity to exchange a few words and get an autographed book.

Download ZIP • 4.26MB
Download ZIP • 4.40MB

Image source: Wittenstein Foundation / Michael Pogoda

After his keynote speech was over, Vince Ebert was joined on stage by Dr Anna-Katharina Wittenstein, who asked him a few questions about himself.

Download ZIP • 3.98MB


bottom of page