News headlines from Europe about skeptical activism, mythbusting, science related policy decisions, consumer protection, frauds, health scams, alternative medicine, bad scientific practices, pseudoscience etc.

What are the beliefs of the Swedish public? – The VoF Study

False ideas both historically and today, have in many cases led to disastrous consequences. To achieve a deeper knowledge of how Swedes today relate to these questions, VoF (aka the Swedish Skeptic Association) commissioned an opinion poll in the early summer of 2015. This survey covers a wide range of issues that are of interest from a skeptical point of view.

A PDF document (in English) can be downloaded from VoF’s web site here: The VoF-study 2015

Homeopathy is advertised on TV by wellknown actors and actresses

Hungarian Society of Homeopaths (MHOE) launched a controversial TV advertisement campaign with testimonies of well known actors and actresses. This caused an uproar in the scientific community resulting several the publications of critical articles even in daily papers and on generally not so critical portals. Now the videos and related materials can’t be found on the MHOE home page and on their YouTube channel. Some copies had survived the cleaning however.

1943 dissertation critical of homeopathy now online

David Karel de Jongh.

In 1943, David Karel de Jongh M.D. defended a Ph.D. dissertation on homeopathy, which he ended by concluding that homeopathy should be abolished. He based his judgment on his meticulous examination of many hundreds of articles and books and his experiences while working for quite some time in a homeopathic hospital in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

The dissertation has been is digitised in its entirety by Stichting Skepsis, because, according to secretary Jan Willem Nienhuys, ‘de Jongh’s conclusions [on homeopathy] are still as valid as ever’. A summary of de Jongh’s research can be read in English herein Dutch here and in German here.

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Graphology is banned from Hungarian court rooms

Until March 2016 graphologists had been used as forensic experts in Hungary. Graphologists used their unproven methodologies even in serious cases. For example in a child abuse case based on the parents’ handwriting they established that those could not have committed crime. Graphologist claim that hand writing analysis can be used to detect lies and to determine personality trades. Now the online portal Index.hu reported that the Ministry of Justice had removed graphology as a method to be used in the court rooms.

“Iceman” Wim Hof’s Cold Trickery

Wim Hof during a cold endurance record attempt (Aad Villerius CC-BY-SA 4.0).

Dutchman Wim Hof earned his nickname ‘The Iceman’ for his world records involving the cold – standing for almost two hours in a crate full of ice cubes, that sort of things. But in recent years he is promoting the methods that he claims enabled him to achieve these records as a method for achieving better health as the ‘Wim Hof Method’. Lacking scientific evidence, Hof is careful not to claim explicitly that his method can cure diseases like cancer, but he definitely suggests that improving the immune system can achieve this. Already he has gained a lot of enthusiastic followers and he has been training many people to propagate his method. But how is it supposed to work, and does it? Skeptic Pepijn van Erp investigates…

Read article in English – Lees artikel in het Nederlands

Healer found guilty

A norwegian healer have been found guilty according to norwegian quackery laws.

The healer originally started to treat a middle aged woman for migraines in 2008. When the woman two years later was diagnosed with intestinal cancer, she kept using the healer for help. The local cancer ward advised chemotherapy, which supposedly was halted due to the healer claiming that the therapy interfered with his treatment.

The healer continued his treatment even after the hospital asked the healer to discontinue the treatment.

The woman died in 2010 and the healer was given a suspended sentence of 30 days in 2014. After a retrial in 2015 the court doubled the sentence to 60 days. This is one of the few times the norwegian court system have implemented the quackery laws.

 

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Petition about Homeopathy in Hungary

Prof. Zsolt Boldogkői, molecular biologist, head of Department of Medical Biology at University of Szeged (Hungary) launched a petition among fellow scientists and physicians today with the title: Homeopathy is pseudoscience.

During the last two years Boldogkői had written many articles, was invited to several media programs and participated in quite a few debates on homeopathy and on other controversial medical practices. He is very active on the social media. It is very promising that he had already gathered many physicians, scientists and university students around him. Most of them had been in silence about these topics before, but now ready to drop what was considered as “political correct” behavior toward these unscientific ideas and towards colleagues practicing alternative medicine.

Clairvoyant medium is a hoax claims skeptic Tjomlid

Two of Norway´s foremost skeptics have condemned Michael Winger´s supposedly finding of a body earlier in 2014.

Winger claimed he used his powers to locate the body of a missing man in Nes county in Norway. He found the body of the man in the woods together with a local dog owner.

Skeptics Gunnar Tjomlid and Didrik Søderlind picks the claims apart in the news article and Tjomlid also wrote a longer blog post which is more precise.

In short terms, the skeptics showed that Winger already had been in the area, and that he knew where the search parties, yet hadn’t looked.

Video interview: Comparing environmental impacts of conventional and organic farming

Dr. Hanna Tuomisto explains the results of her meta-analysis regarding environmental impacts of conventional and organic farming. The researchers analysed data from 71 studies published in peer-reviewed journals that compared organic and conventional farms in Europe. The results suggest that organic farming is more marketing hype than real life benefits for the environment, especially considering land use, eutrophication potential and restrictions of modern technology.