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

Surrounded by Idiots: Swedish Pseudoscience Now on Export to the World

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.

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Anthroposophical Remedies No Longer Allowed in Sweden

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As of 1 September, the transition period is over and the former exception is no longer in effect.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.

Link to article, see left.
Additional link: The Swedish government press release in 2017.

The Joy of Skepticism – 18th European Skeptics Congress

August 30th – September 1st, Ghent, Belgium

Every other year skeptics from all over Europe come together to meet at the European Skeptics Congress. 
They listen to talks about a variety of subjects, participate in debates, 
exchange experiences with colleagues from abroad while having a great time together. 
This year we are meeting in Ghent, one of the great historical cities of Belgium, 
home to one of its main universities, with a pre-program ‘Skeptics in the Pub’ event in the center of Brussels. 
Come and join us for 3-4 days of fun and learning with Edzard Ernst and Kavin Senapathy, 
and don’t forget to sample Belgium’s fine beers and chocolates while you’re here. 
All information on www.esc2019.be
 
 
Register on our website. 
Special discounts for members of skeptical organizations and students.



Join the banquet on Saturday night in the company of the finest selection of skeptics in Europe (separate ticket).
 

 

Teaching critical thinking

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.

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National clinical trial transparency strategy

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.

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QED, Manchester, October 2018

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.

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

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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

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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.