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

Swedish Skeptics Awards for 2018

The Swedish Skeptics (a.k.a VoF or Vetenskap och Folkbildning) announced the winners of their 2018 awards on 2 Jan.

Winner of “Enlightener of the Year” award was “Fråga Lund” (“Ask Lund”) which is a popular TV show where viewers submits questions to a panel of professors, researchers and experts. Fråga Lund, which was revived in 2016 after an hiatus since 2000, has had a great outreach with over a million viewers per episode.

Winner of the ironic “‘Bewilderer’ of the Year” award was the author and public speaker Thomas Erikson, for his book “Omgiven av idioter” (“Surrounded by Idiots”). The book and its sequels are based on the DISC / DISA personality inventory theory and claim to teach you how to divide people into red, yellow, green and blue personality types and how to best handle them based on their colour. The theory has no scientific support and Thomas Erikson has gained a big following with the books selling up towards a million copies, despite having no grounds in proven theory.

Date: 6th January 2019

Countries:
Original news: link

The Skeptical Circle of Spain announces winners of the Pepe Cervera and the José Carlos Pérez Cobo prize.

The well-known paediatrician and media commentator Lucía Galán has been awarded by the members of the Skeptical Circle of Spain with the Pepe Cervera Award for the promotion of critical thinking in the media and digital media for her constant defence of scientific evidence-based medicine against the pseudo-therapies and anti-vaccine movement.

Lucía Galán is a champion of the effectiveness of vaccines and science. “I cannot remain silent when I hear in the media that vaccines produce autism or that homoeopathy cures. I cannot. And I speak, of course, I speak. And I will continue talking with the authority that my training and my profession gives me, “said the winner.

The recently deceased palaeontologist Pepe Cervera (1964-2018) was known for promoting science and knowledge through social media.

Lucia Galán, known as ‘Lucia, my paediatrician’ uses the social networking platforms as well as mainstream media to combat misinformation. In her blog, Instagram and Twitter, and in her interventions on radio and television, she firmly confronts pseudoscience.

The third edition of the José Carlos Pérez Cobo Prize for journalism and critical thinking has been awarded to journalist Marta Ley Barnuevo for her article “The most expensive placebo in the world,” published in the newspaper El Mundo, part of a special on pseudoscience coordinated by Virginia Hernández.

The award-winning article reviews the history of homoeopathy in Spain, from its introduction in the 19th century to the current situation. Focusing on the peculiar legal situation of this pseudoscience and doing an exhaustive study of how this pseudoscience considers the different colleges of Physicians, Pharmacists and the different Health Departments.

The jury was composed by the journalist Ángela Bernardo as the winner of the previous edition, the journalists Manuel Rey and Olga Pereda and the members of the Skeptic Circle Cesar García-Perez and Manuel F. Herrador.

The prizes will be awarded on December 19, 2018.

The event will also include the appointment of a new honorary member of the Skeptical Circle.

 

Date: 11th December 2018

Countries:
Original news: link

Roger Scotford

The latest Newsletter of the British False Memory Society (see link) conveys the sad news of the death of Roger Scotford. Roger founded the BFMS in 1993 amidst concern about the growing number of families in North America, Europe, Australasia and elsewhere who had been torn apart by accusations of historical sexual abuse against a parent and sometimes other relatives and even neighbours. These accusations, sincerely held to be true by the those making them, were solely based on ‘memories’ of the alleged events uncovered during psychotherapy. Often the information thus elicited was extensive and elaborately detailed, and would become increasingly so as the therapy proceeded. Roger had his own personal experience of this and with his colleagues at the BFMS he worked tirelessly to bring this dreadful scandal into public awareness and to provide help and guidance to many people in the UK whose lives had been ruined by such allegations.

Despite there being no other evidence to back up the accusations, and even contrary evidence, the accused persons were sometimes charged, tried, convicted and sentenced. It may come as a surprise to some readers that miscarriages of justice are still happening, as the November 2018 BFMS Newsletter reveals. So let us remember Roger and continue to support his fight for justice and reparation for those unfortunate enough to be caught up in these terrible events.

Dr Ben Goldacre

Dr Ben Goldacre, author and head of the Evidence-Based Medicine DataLab in Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, has been appointed chair of the UK government’s new HealthTech Advisory Board. The appointment was announced in a speech by the health secretary at the NHS Expo in Manchester setting out ‘plans to make the NHS an ecosystem for the best available technology, including innovations in areas such as artificial intelligence and machine learning’. The HealthTech Advisory Board will report directly to the Secretary of State and ‘will highlight where change needs to happen, where best practice isn’t being followed, and be an ideas hub for how to transform the NHS to improve patient outcomes, patient experience, and to make the lives of NHS staff easier’.

Keywords:

Fake news enquiry

A UK parliamentary committee has published a preliminary report highlighting what it describes as ‘significant concerns’ over the risks to ‘shared values and the integrity of our democratic institutions’. It calls for ‘urgent action’ from government and regulatory bodies to ‘build resilience against misinformation and disinformation into our democratic system’: “People are increasingly finding out about what is happening in this country, in their local communities, and across the wider world, through social media, rather than through more traditional forms of communication, such as television, print media, or the radio. Social media has become hugely influential in our lives. Research by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has shown that not only are huge numbers of people accessing news and information worldwide through Facebook, in particular, but also through social messaging software such as WhatsApp. When such media are used to spread rumours and ‘fake news’, the consequences can be devastating.”

Keywords: ,

Report on Research Integrity

The UK’s House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has issued its latest report on Research Integrity (Sixth Report of Session 2017–19).  “This inquiry looks at trends and developments in fraud, misconduct and mistakes in research and the publication of research results. Research by Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology indicates the trend in misconduct/mistakes in publishing is still upwards. There has also been a so-called ‘crisis in reproducibility’ of research. The Committee continues the previous Committee’s inquiry, taking forward the evidence it had received before the General Election.”

Keywords:

Hans Rosling to be commemorated by annual day

World renowned Swedish medic and professor, Hans Rosling, known for his popular adult education talks at TED and other places, will be celebrated with an annual popular adult education day. The theme of the first Hans Rosling day will be ”Factfulness”, named after the book released earlier this year.
The founders are Gapminder Foundation, Nobel Foundation and Nobel Center.

Date: 10th June 2018

Countries:
Original news: link

Keywords: ,

Sale of MMS banned in the Netherlands

Very good news: the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) has issued a ban on the sale of MMS.

Miracle Mineral Supplement, also known as Miracle Mineral Solution or Master Mineral Solution, is frequently sold on the Internet as an alleged cure for numerous diseases. However, research has shown that the use of MMS can lead to serious health risks, including burns in the digestive tract, breathing problems and kidney and liver failure.

In 2010, MMS caused controversy in countries around the world. At the time, the NVWA warned against the product, but this did not result in a decrease of MMS sales. After stuyding its effects, the Authority concluded it was too dangerous to be available. The NVWA has also advised the Dutch health minister to encourage stricter regulation of MMS throughout the European Union.

 

#ProVaxChallenge

Dear skeptics (not only) in Europe!

As many of you know, the lack of vaccinating is becoming a serious issue (again, not only) in Europe. That is why the Czech Skeptics Club Sisyfos has created the #ProVaxChallenge.

“It is a challenge for all, who are not afraid of needles. And an even bigger challenge for those, who are. Join MUDr. Jaromir Sramek, the chairman of the Czech Skeptics Club Sisyfos, in a 2018 vaxathon. Immortalize yourself either while getting a vaccination or with a post-vax band-aid. Take photos of your vaccination cards. Don’t be afraid to involve your kids and pets. Share your photos on social media with the #ProVaxChallenge.

The goal of this challenge is to show people that vaccinating is a part of life in the 21st century. The first compulsory vaccinations were introduced in the half of the 19th century. One of the most significant accomplishments of preventive vaccinations was the eradication of variola in 1980. Many other diseases, for which vaccinations do exist, have not been eradicated. A new wave of, an already numerously overcome, fear of vaccinating is causing a resurgence of diseases, which doctors, until recently, saw only sporadically.

In 2016, almost 10% of newborns worldwide were not vaccinated. What’s alarming is that nearly one-half of these newborns live in countries, where medical care is available, but their parents refuse to vaccinate, many times for irrational reasons. That is why the number of unvaccinated children in developed countries is growing.

The ECDC reported 4,643 cases of measles in 2016. In 2017 there were more than 20,000 with 35 deaths. The pathogen is not picky about where its focal point is, so there were measle hotspots not only in Romania (10,623), Italy (4,991) or Greece (1,463), but also in Germany (926), Czech Republic (146), France, Great Britain, and Sweden. No one can come up with an estimate of how many people will succumb to measles in 2018.

The USA is suffering from exponential growth in cases of mumps.

Europe as a whole is suffering from growth in cases of hepatitis A.

257 million people are living with hepatitis B, which managed to take the lives of 887,000 lives in 2015. Even though children can be protected from this disease by vaccinating.

There are vaccinations available for all of the diseases mentioned above. However, most of these cases manifested in unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated individuals. According to WHO, in 2016 the vaccination coverage of the second dose of the measles vaccine has dropped under the needed 95% in twenty of the twenty-seven EU countries. The WHO also reports that the vaccination coverage of DTP3 fell under 50% in the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, as well as Ukraine.

Though it is slowly changing, vaccinations remain voluntary in many European countries. Due to the lack of experience with diseases, due to relying on lies and myths propagated by “alternative” experts and under the emotional duress brought on by antivaxx activists, their active suppression of facts and fearmongering, many people are afraid to vaccinate, especially when it comes to their children. Then they, in good faith, endanger herd immunity and thus are endangering not only themselves but also those, who cannot be vaccinated for valid reasons.

Let’s lead by example and practically show that vaccines are safe, apart from sharing scientific data and statistics. Let’s show that we are not afraid of vaccines, we do get vaccinated, and vaccines don’t harm us!

Help us, in 2018, raise awareness of the number of adults and children, who are protected by vaccines.”

Aneta   Pierzyna

#ProVaxChallenge