And the Golden Board 2016 goes to…!

The German-speaking skeptical society GWUP nominated three people/institutions for “the most bizarre, most outrageous, brashest pseudoscientific nonsense contribution” in Germany, Austria and Switzerland of 2016: Ryke Geerd Hamer (founder of the dangerous Germanische Neue Medizin), Roland Düringer (comedian turned politician who spreads lots of conspiracy theories) and Krebszentrum Brüggen-Bracht (alternative cancer clinic of Heilpraktiker Klaus Ross). The award is called the ‘Golden Board in Front of the Face’, to rebuke purveyors of pseudoscience who don’t see the harm they’re doing.

The award ceremony was held on 11 October in Vienna, co-organised by the Viennese regional GWUP group Society for Critical Thinking (Gesellschaft für kritisches Denken) and the Freethinkers League of Austria (Freidenkerbund Österreich). A side-event was held in Hamburg Skeptics in the Pub with a livestream of the Viennese ceremony.
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Dutch vet society wins quack award

Logo of the Royal Dutch Society for Veterinary Medicine.

Last Saturday, the Dutch Society against Quackery (Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij, VtdK) has given the Master Quack Award (Meester Kackadorisprijs) to the Royal Dutch Society for Veterinary Medicine (KNMvD). Out of five nominees, the july ruled that the vet society promoted quackery in the Netherlands the most last year.

It had given the non-accredited Study Group for Complementarily Operating Vets (SCwD) too much room to practice freely, ‘shamelessly’ granting it a seemingly official status, on top of the fact that the SCwD makes ‘unjustified health claims’. According to the jury, Utrecht University’s Faculty for Veterinary Medicine, that offers the only accredited training for veterinary surgeons in the country, has – unlike the KNMvD – always clearly rejected alternative medicine as unscientific.

KNMvD president Dirk Willink was personally present to receive the ironic award, which he did ‘not regard as a reprimand, but as an open invitation to begin a discussion with people who think differently’. He opined that there is much science doesn’t know yet, and there should be tolerance for alternative therapies, even if it is unknown if they even work, and if so, how. Piet Borst, a renowned Dutch skeptical physician, urged Willink to check whether the KNMvD was correctly applying a 2008 Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) guideline, that rules that ‘physicians may only practice irregular treatments under strict conditions’; Willink promised they would.

Nominees for the Golden Board 2016

This year’s nominees for the GWUP’s ironic award Goldenes Brett vorm
Kopf (‘Golden Board in Front of the Face’) are:

  • Ryke Geerd Hamer – founder of the dangerous Germanische Neue Medizin (Germanic New Medicine);
  • Roland Düringer – a comedian who has entered politics and spreads all kinds of conspiracy theories;
  • Krebszentrum Brüggen-Bracht – the alternative cancer clinic of Heilpraktiker Klaus Ross, where at least three patients died recently after receiving fatal injections that have stirred up controversy.

The website www.zentrum-der-gesundheit.de receives the Golden Board Lifetime Achievement Award (Goldenes Brett fürs Lebenswerk).

The annually awarded Golden Board honours “the most bizarre, most outrageous, brashest pseudoscientific nonsense contribution of the year in German-speaking countries.” This year’s winner will be presented on 11 October in Vienna, Austria.

More information in GermanSamenvatting in het Nederlands

VtdK Symposium 1 October 2016: ‘Quacks’ Tax-exempt Status a Legal Error?’

The Dutch Society against Quackery, Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij (VtdK), will hold its annual symposium on 1 October 2016 at De Nieuwe Liefde in Amsterdam. This year, the conference will focus on the tax-exempt status of many alternative therapists, which might lead to the promotion of quackery, and giving it undue legitimacy.

Speakers:
– Prof. dr. René van der Paardt, professor in excise taxes at Erasmus University Rotterdam
– Dr. Cees Renckens, honorary chair of the VtdK and emeritus gynaecologist
– Mr. Saskia Huizer, tax advisor, specialises in VAT, Rotterdam

The symposium will start with the presentation of the Master Quack Award to whoever promoted quackery the most this year in the Netherlands (read here who were nominated). Also, the Bruinsma Brothers Medal will be awarded to Henk van Gerven, MP for the Socialist Party, who has a long record of questioning and criticising dubious medical practices both within regular medicine as well as numerous alternative therapies.

Entrance fees are high for non-members; they are recommended to join the Society, or go along with a member as an introducee.

Dutch Defence Minister amongst quack award nominees

Dutch Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert is a nominee.

During its 1 October symposium, the Dutch Society against Quackery, Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij, will announce who has won this year’s Master Quack Award (Meester Kackadorisprijs). Nominated are:

  1. The Donders Institute at Radboud University Nijmegen
    Because of a bad dissertation on acupuncture. See also
    Acupunctuurpromotie RU: niet meer dan placebo-effect volgens promotor Coenen (Dutch)
  2. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Minister of Defence
    Military personnel has, without their knowledge, been given a health insurance, where alternative care has been included in basic care.
  3. Dutch Royal Society for Veterinary Medicine (KNMvD)
    The organisation lets alternatively operating vets, united in the Study Group for Complementarily Operating Vets, practice freely. Nominated for the third time.
  4. André Rouvoet, chair of VEKTIS
    VEKTIS registers alternative healthcare providers, which they require in order to be eligible for compensation by health insurance companies. According to the Society, VEKTIS’ assessment procedure is a farce.
  5. Huub Savelkoul, professor at Wageningen University
    Nominated for a second time, this year for his cooperation to a course on ‘orthomolecular dietetics’.

The prize is meant for the institute, person or enterprise that has contributed most to the spread of quackery in the Netherlands last year by means of act, word or writing. On skeptical blog KloptDatWel.nl, you can vote for whom you think should receive the 2016 ironic award until Friday 16:00 CET.