News headlines from Europe about skeptical activism, mythbusting, science related policy decisions, consumer protection, frauds, health scams, alternative medicine, bad scientific practices, pseudoscience etc.
A psychologist employed by the Swedish Public Health Service has privately offered and sold healing treatments to patients who she was treating in the public clinic. The treatments have been following the teachings of “Access Consciousness”, a sect-like movement founded in the eighties by a former Scientology member called Gary Douglas.
The situation was revealed on 7 December by an investigative journalist in the TV program “SVT Dold” (SVT Hidden) at SVT, the Swedish public service broadcasting company.
The Swedish Skeptics Association (aka VoF) published a highly critical debate article on 8 December (http://www.svt.se/opinion/vof-om-sekter), explaining how important it is that the Swedish Health services take every step to not expose patients to quackery, and that they have to ensure that dangerous sects and other scams are kept out of public health care.
Speakers of the debate are Rauli Partanen, an independent science writer and energy-analyst for theEcomodernist Society of Finland and professor Jouko Korppi-Tommola, the founder and director of the centre for renewable energy at the University of Jyväskylä.
The debate will be held at the House of Sciences in Helsinki, first wednesday of December (7.12.2016) at 18:00. Entry is free, and everyone is welcome.
Activists in France destroyed a farm of non-GMO plant that was most probably created using mutation breeding. This technology is used since the 30th and some of the plants and plants created this way had not been the target of anti-GMO activists so far. Those had even been used in organic farming and product created from them had been sold as “natural” or “organic”. See for example here: Delicious mutant foods: Mutagenesis and the genetic modification controversy
Anti GMO activists now widen the definition of the enemy into such a scale that would practically include all plants and animals – including us.
This article comes from the latest edition of El Escéptico (The Skeptic), magazine of the Spanish Skeptics (ARP-SAPC) and examines the BioNeuroEmotion movement and its connection to cult- like organizations.
Many claims made by UK fertility clinics about the benefits of treatments that are offered in addition to standard IVF procedures are not backed up by evidence according to a study published in the online journal BMJ Open. The findings were featured in a Panorama undercover investigation broadcast on 28.11.16 on BBC One television.
In the UK, advertisements thought to be misleading may be reported to the Advertising Standards Agency. The ASA will investigate them and may instruct that the advert must be amended or withdrawn. ‘The Society of Homeopaths seemed to be taking responsible action to curb the claims of their members. But what’s been going on behind the scenes?’ The Nightingale Collaboration investigates.
This weekend, the Russian-speaking Skeptic Society (Общество скептиков, Óbščestvo skeptikov) holds its 3rd Skepticon (Скептикон) in Moscow. Based on the number of tickets sold, about 350 attendees have joined the conference, which centres around Health Myths this year.
Alexander Sergeyev, science journalist and member of the Commission to Fight Pseudoscience and Falsification of Scientific Research, on ‘Pseudoscience under the guise of fighting against pseudoscience’.
Vasily Vlasov, MD, professor of School of Economics, editor of several scientific medical journals, on ‘Myths about evidence-based medicine’.
Natalia Zakharova, psychiatrist, PhD, at the Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology of the Russian National Research Medical University, on ‘Recovery from depression’.
Sergey Velkov, chemical engineer and blogger, on ‘Placebos without deception’.
Anton Zakharov, psychologist and populariser of science, on ‘Genetics of sex’.
Elena Rydkina, sex education
author and co-founder of the Sexprosvet18+
conferences, on ‘Myths about sexuality’.
Alexey Payevsky, science journalist and editor-in-chief of the portal Neuron, on ‘What we have learned about the brain in the last half century?’
Katya Zvereva, co-founder and coordinator of Obscestvo skeptikov, on ‘But it works for me!’ Logical fallacies in defence of alt med.
Boris Tsatsulin, author and presenter of videoblog CMT. Scientific approach, on ‘The benefits and dangers of vitamins’.
Alisa Kuznetsova, good cop in the Prize named after Harry Houdini, and massage therapist, on ‘Alternative Medicine: Insights’.
Tim Skorenko, editor of the magazine Популярная механика (Popular Mechanics) and the website popmech.ru, on ‘Technical quackery: bio proofreaders, the healing power of the Egyptian techniques and other amazing devices’.
Konstantin Kunakh, practicing psychologist-consultant, on ‘Psychotherapy: Can something that has not been proven scientifically actually work?’
Norway´s national broadcaster NRK this week featured a case about a death related to acupuncture.
In February of 2015 a man died of infection shortly after visiting an acupuncture clinic. He had been there for treatment many times before, as this was a training clinic for new acupuncturists.
This time the student inserted the needle, discovered that the needle was placed wrong and proceeded to extract the needle before reinserting the same needle.
Four days after the treatment, the man fell ill. He was quickly committed to hospital, where the doctors could conclude that he had a blood infection. In the following four days he gained 20 kg from swelling and after 2 cardiac arrests his body could tolerate no more.
Eight days after the acupuncture treatment he was dead and his wife of 15 years marriage left a widow.
The autopsy never clearly stated that the death was caused by acupuncture, but no other reason for the rapid blood infection was found.
Viralgranskaren (‘The Viral Monitor’) is a standing column of the Swedish branch of the international freesheet newspaper Metro(that is also originally from Sweden). They specialise in finding out whether viral videos and stories are actually true, and encourage people to fact-check before sharing something on social media.
On 18 November 2016, they created both a Swedish and an English version of a video explaining why fact-checking news reports is important.
The example they give is of a story that went viral in late October 2016. It was based on a real news article from Sveriges Television (SVT). However, xenophobic conspiracy right-wing websites, blogs, shock-logs etc., especially outside Sweden (e.g. Infowars), seized upon the article – that didn’t even mention Islam, Muslims or refugees – to claim that decorative Christmas lights were ‘banned to avoid offending Muslim migrants’. (more…)
Head of the Department of Ecotoxicology of Agro-Enviromental Research Institute (AERI) Béla Darvas recently wrote an article on Átlátszó.hu – a Hungarian watchdog portal – discussing GM organisms. In his piece, Darvas – a prominent anti-GMO advocate – refers specifically to the Hungarian Skeptic Society (HSS) and various scientists as promoters of GMOs, claiming that for these “pro-GMO” organizations and individuals “GMO is beyond any scientific criticism and is the only viable way, providing the perfect solution”. Apart from the logical fallacies applied, including that of a straw man argument, there are several elements of his claims that should not be left unanswered. Thus, yesterday, the board of the Hungarian Skeptic Society issued a statement with regards to these claims. (more…)