News headlines from Europe about skeptical activism, mythbusting, science related policy decisions, consumer protection, frauds, health scams, alternative medicine, bad scientific practices, pseudoscience etc.
In some European countries there is a common belief that calcium preparations have beneficial effect in curing allergic reactions of any origin. However there is no evidence-based data to justify this procedure. Now Hungarian doctor Dr. Hunor Novák – who is rather actively promoting evidence based medicine in wide range of media – launched an petition on his Facebook page against using calcium for these conditions. Many well known doctors and researchers joined so there is a good chance that this old will disappear soon in Hungary.
The Swiss skeptics have published their second discussion paper about CAM: “Evidence-based vs. complementary and alternative medicine: It’s about epistemology (not about evidence)”. In the document they present the argument that the problem with CAM is not a lack of evidence – but the defective epistemology of CAM.
This June/July, American alternative cancer healer Brian Clement is touring Europe to give talks about how cancer can be cured with diet and various other things. His venue has cancelled the booking in Stockholm after a major Swedish news paper today posted an article: “Allegedly fraudulent health speaker stopped”.
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
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.
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 here, in Dutch here and in German here.
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.
Joralf Gjerstad is an alleged healer from Norway. In January of 2016 norwegian documentary movie maker Margreth Olin released a documentary about the ageing healer. The movie depicts Gjerstad apparently applying his abilities on several subjects.
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…
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.