News headlines from Europe about skeptical activism, mythbusting, science related policy decisions, consumer protection, frauds, health scams, alternative medicine, bad scientific practices, pseudoscience etc.
The emergency caused by the spread Covid-19 is putting a strain on our health system and demands everyone’s collaboration to limit undesirable consequences.
CICAP, in accordance with its mandate, focuses on the role of information, which now more than ever has to be both clear and accurate. In recent days the dissemination of non fact-checked news, which then proved to be false, spanning from alleged miraculous cures to pure alarmism, has fuelled confusion and hindered efforts to deal with the epidemic.
CICAP asks the news media to honour their vital social responsibility and to exercise the utmost care in verifying news. In this crucial phase, going for the big headline and spreading unverified news is more than ever counter-productive.
avoid interviewing people without a specific scientific background (such as show business, industry or sports personalities) on virus or lockdown-related issues
entrust expert science journalists to verify research sources, to prevent the spread of unverified news such as the airborne transmission of the virus or the healing properties of vitamin C
keep to the facts and avoid unnecessarily dramatic language: don’t use words such as “panic” or “hysteria” to describe people’s behaviour or use extreme language such as “massacre”, “lazaret” and so on
don’t give space to conspiracy narratives not supported by solid evidence
oppose the spread of unverified audio messages.
We understand that journalism has an ethical obligation to timely reporting, but this must not be at the expense of fact-checking and contextualization that would allow for an autonomous and objective evaluation by the reader.
in accordance with the advisements of the World Health Organization (though we still disagree on CAM issues) and national officials, skeptical organisations across Europe are temporarily closing their doors.
However, please do check out your local organisation’s website – there is enough content to hold you over for at least a month.
If you are interested in knowing updates concerning the virus, check the following websites and remember, WASH YOUR HANDS:
In the article linked on the left, Dan Katz, licensed psychologist and psychotherapist, and member of the board of VoF (aka the Swedish Skeptics Society), explains why Thomas Erikson’s success with his book “Surrounded by Idiots” is one of the biggest pseudoscience scandals in recent history. The article has been translated from Swedish to English.
The book and its successors in the “Surrounded by…” series is based on the personality test known as DISC (or DISA) which has no scientific background whatsoever. In spite of this, the books have sold in huge numbers and are now translated to several other languages, including English. They are currently being promoted abroad in the US, the UK, Australia and elsewhere.
VoF urges Skeptics around the world to read the linked article and create awareness locally that the books and the theory they describe are utter nonsense. Actions that can be taken are contacting the media and local publishers and book sellers to make them aware that this is not scientific, and that Thomas Erikson has no academic credentials even though for example Amazon calls him a “behavioral scientist”.
Thomas Erikson was awarded the Swedish Skeptics’ satirical “Confounderer of the Year” award for 2018.
For more info, please contact the Swedish Skeptics at info(at)vof.se
UPDATE: The day after this was posted, the topic was picked up by neurologist Dr Steve Novella on his Neurologica blog, based on this article. His input can be found here.
As of 1 September 2019, the exception for Anthroposophical remedies in Sweden is history.
In November of 2017 the Swedish government published their decision to phase out an exception from 1993. The exception allowed one Anthroposophical hospital called ‘Vidarkliniken’ (also known as ‘Vidar Rehab’), to use Anthroposophical remedies as a complement to evidence-based treatment. Vidarkliniken has up until now been located in the city of Järna, just south of Stockholm.
As of 1 September, the transition period is over and the former exception is no longer in effect. The Swedish government had stipulated that in order for continued use of Anthroposophical remedies, Vidarkliniken would have to file for approval of their treatments according to the same regulations and rules as other medical treatments. No such applications has been registered.
Vidarstiftelsen, the foundation behind Vidarkliniken and its related activities has recently applied for voluntary liquidation, stating that without public support and permission, their activities are no longer financially sustainable. A local Anthroposophical pharmacy in Järna run by the international company Weleda has now also declared that they are closing as of 1 September due to financial reasons.
Michael Marshall Project Director of UK’s Good Thinking recently visited King Alfred’s Academy in Oxfordshire on an unusual mission: to highlight proofs that the Earth is actually flat, and to encourage students to question the shape of their world. The goal of the talk was actually to encourage critical thinking, and to get students to question what sources they can trust and what arguments can be taken as credible.
A national clinical trial transparency strategy will be published before the end of this year, the UK government has announced. The statement marks a significant step towards ensuring that all clinical trials conducted in Britain are registered and publish their results. The new strategy is expected to include central monitoring of all clinical trials conducted in the UK to check if they were registered and reported.
An account of the QED meeting that was held in Manchester in October 2018 has now appeared in the Observer newspaper. This includes interviews with Michael Marshall, Chris French, Jonathan Jarry, and Deborah Hyde.
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.