Nov 05

Top Level Homeopaths Behind Ebola Mission in Liberia

The ultra brief summary of this post might be: ‘Honorary consul of Liberia in Germany arranges homeopathic mission from the Liga Medicorum Homeopathica Internationalis (LMHI) to Liberia to find homeopathic cure for ebola.’

Homeopaths Removing their Tracks

In my previous post “Homeopaths in Liberia: ‘Mission Ebola‘” I identified the four homeopaths who are (now) in Liberia. They are Richard Hiltner (US), Edouard Broussalian (Switzerland), Medha Durge (India) and Ortrud Lindemann (Germany, living in Spain). They are all classical homeopaths but were also educated as doctors in real medicine, how odd that may seem. Hiltner even has more strange hobbies like iridiology and medical astrology. This is not the type of doctor you would want to help you out with such a serious problem as ebola.

The most interesting sources of information have been deleted by now, so it is clear the homeopaths think they have something to hide. But of course there are archived versions. The sources which give details which enable us to connect the dots are:

I’ve updated my post a few times, but now it’s time for a more elobarate update, because things are getting more and more clear.

The German Connection

The connection with the German homeopaths is far more important then first thought. Already had become clear that this mission is supported by the German organisation Freunde Liberias (Friends of Liberia) and Michael Kölsch, a honorary consul of Liberia in Germany. From the websites of Freunde Liberias and Michael Kölsch and also a newspaper article (pdf) in a local (Leipzig) newspaper we are led to believe the following story: Michael Kölsch was approached by an international group of 20 medical doctors who were seeking a way to help out with the ebola crisis in Liberia. Kölsch has contacts with Freunde Liberias which already raises money for an ebola project. This project is mainly about providing information on ebola in Liberia and according to the newspaper they had already raised at least 5,000 euro at the end of September, with which they financed a documentary for instance. Kölsch himself can help with visas and contacts in Liberia.

Nowhere is mentioned that also homeopaths will be part of this team! Didn’t Kölsch and Thomas Köppig (president of Freunde Liberias) know? And did the homeopaths perhaps somehow manage to ‘infiltrate’ a bona fide mission consisting of regular doctors who were unaware of their hidden agenda? This thought can be binned after we take a closer look at Kölsch.

Michael Kölsch is married to Monika Kölsch, a homeopathic medical doctor. She also holds several functions in the German homeopathic organisations. At the moment she is treasurer of the Deutsche Zentralverein homöopathischer Ärzte (DZVhÄ) which is the overall association of homeopathic doctors in Germany. She is therefore also well connected with homeopaths worldwide (via the LMHI). Homeopathy is not just the interest of Monika, her husband has in recent years also been involved with Homöopathen ohne Grenzen (Homeopaths without Borders). In 2012 he arranged a visit for that organisation to Liberia. In a personal report about of one his trips to Liberia with business people (‘Bericht über eine Unternehmerreise nach Liberia im März 2012‘) Kölsch also describes a (personal?) visit to the clinic which would be the host of the Homeopaths without Borders:

Es freut mich, dass sie der Homöopathie sehr aufgeschlossen gegenüber steht. Sie teilt meine Auffassung, dass die Homöopathie eine geeignete Heilmethode sei, um damit das Gesundheitswesen in Liberia zu ergänzen. Sie ist preiswert und die Offenheit der Liberianischen Bevölkerung für alternative, sanfte Heilmethoden darf unterstellt werden. Wenige Tage nach meiner Abreise werden die „Homöopathen ohne Grenzen“ aus Deutschland zusammen mit Frau Gieraths-Nimene Liberianischen Ärzten in Monrovia die Homöopathie vorstellen.

From which we can conclude that Kölsch himself is a believer in homeopathy and thinks it should be integrated into the health care system of Liberia.

The president of Freunde Liberias, Thomas Köppig, must also be very well aware of the homeopathic character of this mission. Both on the website of the organisation as on his own business website he links to the homeopathic practice of Monika Kölsch. His company is even in the same building as her practice.

Planned at the Top

It looks like this mission was planned and organized by homeopaths at the highest level, especially those in Germany. The new information confirms what was stated by LMHI president Renzo Galassi in his letter from August 25th: “Some of our colleagues from Germany are in contact with members of the government of Liberia and in a few days a door could be opened to that country.” We can now also better interpret the following sentence written by Ortrud Lindemann in the vanished message on Facebook:

And we thank Renzo, Altunay, André, Conni and Curt for setting us on the track by their unlimited efforts and Michael Kölsch and Siegfried Ziegler to connect us to Ganta Hospital

  • ‘Renzo’ is Renzo Galassi, president of the LMHI;
  • ‘Altunay’ is Altunay Soylemez, treasurer of LMHI;
  • ‘André’ is most likely André Saine, also mentioned by Broussalian. He is a Canadian homeopath, dean of the Canadian Academy of Homeopathy. He debated Steven Novella in the past ;
  • ‘Conny’ is probably Cornelia Bajic, current president of the DZVhÄ;
  • ‘Curt’ is probably Curt Kösters, former president of the DZVhÄ. While he was president, Cornelia Bajic was vice-president (zweite Vorsitzende).

Other people mentioned in her update are related to the Methodist Church in Liberia and Ganta Hospital.

What did the Inviting Party know?

Siegfried Ziegler is another key figure in this story. He was manager of Ganta Hospital during 1974-77. Back in Germany he made a career as manager in health care facilities run by the evangelical methodist church. After his retirement in 2012 he started to work on raising money for a renovation (or a complete rebuild) of Ganta Hospital. He is well connected to the Liberian government for he knows the current health minister from his early days in Liberia and via the church there’s also an connection with president (and Nobel Peace Price winner) Ellen Johnson Sirleaf , she also donated to Ganta Hospital as a private person. This can be read in newspaper articles copied on the site of Kölsch.
What Ziegler thinks about homeopathy and whether he knew about the background of the team members are open questions for me at the moment.


My guess is that the plan by 20 international medical doctors stems completely from homeopaths active in the LMHI and DZVhÄ (Germany) in particular. And that there is just this team of four homeopaths who actually went to Liberia. This also makes more sense, because why would you send 20 doctors to one small African hospital? Also it would explain that I failed to find any news from other medical doctors who might be part of such larger group that went to Liberia (and I looked quite hard for such information ;-)  )

Many people will agree that this homeopathic mission is a foolish, unethical and possibly dangerous endeavour. Also I think it is fair to conclude that Kölsch and Freunde Liberias have deliberately misled the public by raising money for their ebola project by not explicitly mentioning that this mission was a homeopathically inspired one.

Update 6-11-2014: the LMHI has put a statement on their website in which they claim that they offered to send a team of homeopaths in a letter to the Liberian government dated August 26th and that they were invited by the government on October 7th. Maybe they mean by ‘government’ just the honorary consul Kölsch.

Update 13-11-2014: another update on the LMHI website. The homeopaths have not been able to treat ebola patients: “somewhat surprisingly and due to a few diplomatic problems, they were not allowed to administer homeopathic remedies to the EVD [Ebola Virus Disease] patients as an adjunct to the WHO protocols.” This may seem good news, but the update also mentions that they “treated very severe non-EVD patients who did arrive, regardless of their disease.  Both hospital and clinic out-patients were seen and treated, with impressive results. The results were so promising that the LMHI were requested on departure to establish a program of homeopathic teaching and treatment in the Hospital.” Yuck! :-(

Update 14-11-2014: it feels a bit strange to praise an article in the Daily Mail on things related to health, because they have it wrong so often on that matter, but I’m quite happy with the following article: ‘Homeopaths sent to deadly Ebola hotspot to treat victims with ARSENIC and SNAKE VENOM‘ by Simon Tomlinson and man on the ground in Liberia, Gethin Chamberlain.

Update 20-11-2014: another article in the Mail in which the homeopaths who went to Liberia (excluding Broussalian) are interviewed: ‘Homeopathy CAN cure Ebola': Doctors attack ‘armchair intellectuals’ at World Health Organisation who refuse to let them treat deadly virus with snake venom remedy.

Update 24-11-2014: finally main stream media in Switzerland and Germany begin to pick up the story. Yesterday it was the Neue Zürcher Zeitung with ‘Genfer Homöopath von Liberia abgewiesen‘. They don’t mention Broussalian by name for some reason I do not understand. And today there’s a story by Der Spiegel: ‘Homöopathie: Liberia verhindert Tests an Ebola-Patienten‘ which delves more into the organisers behind this mission, Kölsch and the DZVhÄ.

Oct 25

Homeopaths in Liberia: ‘Mission Ebola’


In the last few months we encountered some homeopaths with extremely weird ideas for treating ebola. ‘Normal’ not working homeopathy and even diluted violin music or white noise. Now there seem to be at least four who are trying to put their illusionary treatments to work in Western Africa. On the website ‘Spirit, Science & Healing’ homeopath and Huffington Post columnist Larry Malerba wrote a message on 21 october: ‘Update: Team in Liberia Using Homeopathy for Ebola.’ Of course this astonishing news was picked up on Twitter and Facebook, resulting in many reactions of disbelief. The message was removed soon after. But to make things disappear from the Web is quite hard. Further digging into this story learns that we probably should take this endeavour very seriously indeed.


The blog which was deleted can still be found on an online archive

The blog is still in the Google cache and now also on Four homeopathic doctors,  dr. Richard Hiltner (US), dr. Edouard Broussalian (Switzerland), dr. Medha Durge (India) and dr. Ortrud Lindemann (Germany), are part of this team. It might look like a big bluff when you read it at first. Who can imagine that these people might actually get access to ebola patients and will be allowed to ‘treat’ them with sugar pills and drops?

Broussalian was a familiar name to me, he had been conducting some ‘research’ during a cholera epidemic on Haiti. This story is documented in ‘Spectrum of Homeopathy‘ (Nr 2. 2011) a magazine by publisher Narayana Verlag from Germany. His methods are extremely dubious. Broussalian and his team were apparently allowed to help treat the cholera patients. Those patients were treated with regular methods, mainly a drip.  But Broussalian also gave them the homeopatic remedy Phosphorus 200C from a spray flacon. In their strange working minds the homeopaths addressed all success of the recovery of the patients to this remedy in stead of to the regular treatment. At the end of the article is this ominous sentence:

At the end of our stay, we were no longer providing new patients with an infusion, but immediately gave them the phosphorus spray.

There is nothing in the article on the recovery of these patients, most likely Broussalian had already left. Let’s hope that they got a drip anyway after he left, and in time. On YouTube Broussalian presents his ‘research’ in a video. I will not embed that video in this post, because I suspect the patients never gave permission to use the footage for this purpose. We can see from the video that Broussalian never informs the patients about what a homeopathic treatment is. He just sprays them in casual matter.

This sort of unethical behaviour doesn’t predict anything good for his stay in Liberia. On his website there is a post from October 12th: ‘Mission Ebola‘. You can’t read it straightaway, it’s password protected. After a few guesses I found that it is simply ‘ebola’. So read this now before they remove it or change the password [1/11/2014: post is removed, see update below]. He writes that they will first take the two-day course learning how to deal with those protective suits. Also that he thinks that it is not certain that they will be able to access ebola patients in an early fase of their illness, that might take a bit longer as was his experience on Haiti. Their goal is to find out which homeopathic remedy works best and they strive for a zero procent mortality. And probably they will get opportunities to treat the numerous other illnesses that are now a little less ‘in fashion’. He ends his post with the following words:

Enfin, c’est une occasion unique de démontrer la valeur de l’homéopathie. On nous dénigrera bien sûr, on contestera que les malades guéris fussent malades, mais nous espérons en soigner un si grand nombre qu’il n’y aura pas de contestation possible. Les marchands de vaccins expérimentaux pourront alors aller se rhabiller.

[rough translation: ‘Enfin, this is a unique opportunity to demonstrate the value of homeopathy. Of course they will discredit us, they will contest that the cured patients had been sick in the first place,  but we hope to treat such a big number that there can be no doubt. The companies working on the experimental vaccins can start packing their bags.’]

Dangerous boasting. In their magazines and on YouTube they will probably succeed in framing their experiences as a big succes for homeopathy. If things go on as planned, that is. Ganta Hospital, the Methodist hospital where the four allegedly will start working in the new ebola clinic, has been informed about their true intentions.

Update: just found this post on Facebook. It seems that for the moment things go as planned for the homeopaths, they were received by a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Asriel C. Davis) and a certain Victor Doolakeh Taryor, hospital administrator of Ganta Hospital. [28/10/2014 this post is now changed, the letters from the homeopaths have been deleted]

Update 27-10-2014: for those who have doubts that the Liga Medicorum Homoeopathica Internationalis has something to do with this mission, read this letter (pdf) by their president Renzo Galassi from last August. Many national organisations of homeopaths are member of this Liga, so they share responsibility.

Update 28-10-2014: The team of homeopaths is most likely part of a bigger group of twenty doctors which are sent to Ganta Hospital by German foundation. See this post on their website: Freunde Liberias e.V. ebnet Weg für internationales Ärzteteam. I’ve send them an e-mail for confirmation, but no reply yet. They might not know what the secret agenda of the homeopaths is.

Update 1-11-2014: the blog post ‘Mission Ebola’ by Broussalian has been removed, as I expected. Here is a screenshot of the contents after entering the password, a plaintext version is also available.

This story is followed up in a new post:

Top Level Homeopaths Behind Ebola Mission in Liberia


Oct 19

Science Babe Takes 50 Homeopathic Sleeping Pills. Does it Debunk Homeopathy?

This YouTube video by Yvette d’Entremont, who calls herself the ‘The Science Babe’, is making rounds on the Internet, also on skeptical websites. She tries to convince the viewer that homeopathic sleeping pills don’t work by swallowing a whole packet of 50 pills of Calms Forté. She doesn’t feel sleepy even after waiting one and a half hour. So, homeopathy is bullocks and the producers of these pills are misleading consumers?! That might be true, but I don’t agree that this is a convincing way to debunk homeopathy in general, but I’ll explain that after the video:

As you can see in the comments on YouTube or in the comment areas of the blogs which show this video, a lot of homeopathy supporters come with counter arguments: the Science Babe didn’t take the pills according to the ‘rules’, like don’t touching them with your hands and swallowing them together with the diet Coke. According to them you should drop some pills under your tongue directly from the bottle and let those dissolve there. So this video is just another example of those pesky skeptics who don’t understand homeopathic principles and start shouting that it is nonsense, based on faulty tests. Do they have a point?

10^23For a proper debunk, I think you have to test the exact claims which are made. Does the producer of these homeopathic ‘sleep aid’ pills claim that they contain active ingredients? Does it claim that taking more pills enhances the claimed effect? What does it say about how you should take the pills? Maybe you can check for yourself on their website.

But that’s not my main problem. These type of homeopathy debunking video’s or actions like ‘1023 Homeopathy: there’s nothing in it’ tend to focus on the implausibility of homeopathy, i.e. (most) homeopathic remedies are diluted to such a point that it is highly unlikely to find even a single molecule of the stuff they started with, the mother tincture, in the pills or drops that are sold. Therefore there is no imaginable working mechanism for these remedies to achieve an effect other than a placebo effect. According to science. But there’s where the discussion with homeopaths doesn’t stop. Some might argue that over the counter sold homeopathy can’t be compared to real homeopathy, which requires a completely individualized approach. Others have set their hopes on nanoparticles as a ‘normal’ explanation for the alledged working mechanism. But in fact many don’t dispute that you can’t detect any molecules of the mother tincture in their stuff and that therefore it can’t work according to accepted science. But they just dispute that the current status of sciencific knowledge has the last word in this matter. Either they claim that science hasn’t evolved far enough to understand how homeopathy works, or that it works in ways the scientific method will never be able to figure out in the first place.

So how to deal with these arguments (how silly they may seem)? I think it’s a better strategy to ask homeopaths how they are able to obtain knowledge on how their products work, while that’s impossible by ‘our’ science. How do they figure out which remedy is fit for which symptom? Of course this standard homeopathic theory, they perform so called provings. If they want to find out what a new homeopathic remedy might be good for, they give a couple of healthy volunteers this remedy in the form of pills or drops and let them notate all symptoms they experience. These symptoms can be quite diverse, from a little itch on the left shoulderblade, to dreams about snakes, actually anything which they consider out of the ordinary. In this way the homeopathic ‘knowledge’ base is constructed: probably millions of combinations of remedies and symptoms. These combinations can also be found by dreaming (dream provings) or group effort (trituration provings). One famous homeopath even loves to take a bath in a tub filled with water to which a single droplet of the new remedy is added and then he lets thoughts run freely to find the symptoms by association.
These remedy-symptom combinations don’t look to be obtained in a very controlled way and skeptics will argue that these are just random combinations. And that’s something that could be tested in several ways. You would expect for instance that repeating the provings would more or less give the same results. If not, what are these combinations worth? Of course you should do these replications proparly blinded. You could also test the skills of homeopaths in detecting symptoms. If they fail to discern the ‘established’ symptoms from a remedy if it is given to them without knowing what they are given, that does say something, doesn’t it? But homeopaths are very reluctant to perform these kind of blind replications when challenged. They have tried themselves a few times in history, but you do not hear much about those efforts from themselves and that’s not that surprising.

Can homoepaths figure out which remedy is which, when the labels are taken off?

Can homoepaths figure out which remedy is which, when the labels are taken off?

Homeopaths in the United States in 1879-1880 performed a test in which homeopaths were given ten vials with sugar pellets of which only one contained sugar pellets moistened with Aconite 30c. Simple task: fgure out which of the vials contains the actual homeopathic remedy. The idea was that they would just do a proving for each of the vials, note down the symptons and see which of the proving results looked most like one of Aconite 30c. This turned out to be an utter failure for homeopathy, read Early use of blind assessment in a homeopathic scientific experiment (Kaptchuk, 2004) for this. Similar tests were done by German doctor Fritz Donner, with similar dissapointing results for homeopathy. But these occured during the reign of the Nazi’s in Germany and are therefore under some cloud of obscurity.

A more recent study is one by Michael Teut: Homeopathic drug proving of Okoubaka aubrevillei: a randomised placebo-controlled trial: “Thirty-one subjects were included (19 Okoubaka and 12 placebo). Data for 29 participants could be analysed. No significant differences in number of characteristic symptoms in both groups were observed between Okoubaka.” Quite damning for homeopathy in my opinion.
There is also recent attempt by Jermey Sherr, a homeopath known for his provings but also for his unethical experiments with homeopathic remedies for hiv/aids and malaria in Africa. Sherr gave several experienced homeopaths a list of symptoms obtained in a recent (re)proving of a remedy which had been used in a proving in the past without telling which remedy. So they had to guess what the most likely candidate was from all remedies in the Materia Medica. It was actually Ozone C30, which proving was done in 1993 and had been replicated around 2008, but these last results had not yet been added to the Materia Medica. Sherr manages to present the result as a success for homeopathy, because two of the seven homeopaths had chosen the right remedy amongst their three allowed guesses in the first round of this test. That looks very impressive indeed if you think that they could have chosen from 2372 remedies in the Materia Medica. But if you look closer to how this test was set up, the results don’t look that impressive. It is also remarkable that Sherr’s wife, Camilla, was one of the participants. On the Skepsis-blog is a thorough analysis, only in Dutch at the moment.

Of course homeopaths find excuses for these failures, but those are not convincing. Also simple tests are shunned by homeopaths, like the challenge at the Quackometer (no homeopath has dared to take this up since December 2007). In the Netherlands the Dutch Skeptics foundation Skepsis almost came to agreement with homeopaths in 2004 to perform a test in which homeopaths were to determine from recorded symptoms by volunteers who either took Sulphur C200 or a placebo. But the homeopaths backed out after some starting negotiations by the secretary of their organisation, who seemed quite willing to cooperate. Probably some members of his organisation understood the risk of participating in this test better than he did. And there’s also the test which famous homeopath Vithoulkas would do for the JREF one million dollar challenge, but this didn’t happen because they failed to achieve agreement on the testing procedure.
Many homeopaths with some clue of science and statistics are probably well aware that their knowledge is not replicable and therefore they will never participate in tests that would easily show this. That’s why they prefer randomized controlled trials, often with faulty designs, which give pretty good chances of getting significant results just by chance (or a bit of help). But those don’t mean a thing because of the prior probability of zero that those ultra diluted substances can have an effect.

Summarizing: the ‘experiment’ of the Science Babe is okay enough to show that homeopathic remedies don’t work like normal medicine, but that isn’t what homeopaths claim. To challenge their actual claims you have to challenge them to reproduce their provings. Challenge them to show that their knowledge is actually something other than just random relations of remedies and symptoms.

By the way: this Science Babe ‘experiment’ with homeopathic sleeping pills was a recurring item in talks by James Randi, so it’s not very original either. See his TED Talk from 2010:


Oct 07

No Clues for Negative effects of Wi-Fi on Trees According to Wageningen University

About four years ago scary news about research that had shown devastating effects of Wi-Fi on trees and plants went all over the Internet. This research was done at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and was allegedly supported by Delft University and TNO. De study was commissioned by the Dutch municipality of Alphen aan den Rijn, in particular by Niek van ‘t Wout, head of green space of that city. Goal of the experiment was to find out whether electromagnetic fields (EM-fields) from Wi-Fi routers might have anything to do with the occurence of a mysterious tree disease which had already affected a lot of trees with bark nodules and fissures. As no known biological explanation could be given for this disease Van ‘t Wout came up with the idea that radiation could be part of the problem.
Soon the story was brought back to its proper proportions: it were just preliminary results and the prestigious institutions apart from Wageningen University were not involved at all. And although the experiment found some differences between the trees exposed to Wi-Fi and an unexposed control group, the experiment was quite small and it was not clear whether there was any connection between the found leaf discolourments and the disease of the trees in Alphen aan den Rijn. A bigger and better controlled experiment was announced, but we had to wait some years to hear anything from this again.

Climate chamber with Wi-Fi transmitters (src: report Wageningen University)

Climate chamber with Wi-Fi transmitters (src: report Wageningen University)

Recently the results were presented on the webpage of Alphen aan den Rijn. It mentions three reports of which the most important, in my view at least, is the replication of the previous study in which trees were grown in climate chambers: Rapportage “Effect EM Velden op bomen” by dr. André van Lammeren (Nov. 2013). In some of the climate chambers radiation sources were placed, in the other rooms dummy versions. This time the researchers also used UMTS and DVB-T transmitters. If you read the summary of the report it becomes clear that this time the researchers are far more careful in presenting their conclusions, of which the first is:

During the experimental research period of 5-8 months no damage like bark nodules, fissures or necrosis were found on the used ash trees in the climate chambers with or without EM-fields.

[Translation by me, the report is in Dutch and has not yet been published in an (international) scientific journal.]

So the study itself is of limited importance in unravelling the cause of the tree disease which was the motivation for the experiments. But it is still interesting to see whether EM-fields had any distinguishable effect at all. But if you read the rest of the conclusions you’ll find out that almost all measurements the researchers took (and they took a lot) showed ‘no significant difference’ between the exposed trees and the control group. They only found some differences in the leaves (curling, forming of exudate), which might be worth further investigation. But I doubt that these small differences should be called significant as no correction was performed for the many outcome measurements that were compared.

Bark nodules

Bark nodules

Another mentioned report from Wageningen University (F. van Kuik, March 2013) is about a field test. Two groups of trees were planted and surveyed during 1.5 years. One group exposed to Wi-Fi and the other group was planted in an area with low exposure to radiation. Also here there were no real significant differences. But also the researchers stress that they didn’t pay much attention to be sure that other factors (soil and light conditions) were exactly the same between the groups. To me it seems that this experiment was more about checking whether the used tools for measuerements were capable of doing such research for follow up experiments under better controlled settings.

The last report is by Van ‘t Wout himself together with a certain H.Luik (about whom I didn’t found anything). It’s on bio-potentials and inspired by the ideas of Andrew Goldsworthy, a researcher whose name regularly pops up as someone who warns for non-thermal effects of EM-fields. He worked as a scientist, but much of his research I saw is rather dodgy (especially his experiments on ‘magnetically treated’ water) and that makes it difficult to take his ideas very serious (which are not really very wel worked out in any case, much speculation). The experiments for this reports were done at the same time and in the same climate chambers as the other experiments of Wageningen University, but that’s all there is of a connection. The researchers of Wageningen University bear no scientific responsibility for these experiments as was confirmed to me by Van Lammeren. Anyway, to me it seems that the experiments at best show that you can measure with two electrodes stuck in a tree when a transmitter nearby has been put on or off. Even if this proves to be a reliable detection, it remains the question whether this has any meaning for the health of the tree.

To cut things short: the scientific experiments by Wageningen University don’t show any clue that Wi-Fi (or other sources of EM-fields, like UMTS and DVB-T) might have a negative health effect on trees. It therefore is very unlikely that EM-fields play any role in the occurence of the tree disease and the cause of that should be sought in another direction.
You would expect that this result was welcomed by Alphen aan den Rijn, but that doesn’t seem to be the case if you read their website.There the ‘significant’ differences mentioned in the reports are put forward, as well as the perhaps not so scientifically reliable experiments by Van ‘t Wout himself. The website is definitely suggesting there is now proof that Wi-Fi does have an effect on trees. This looks more and more like a personal motivated mission by Van ‘t Wout in which an objective evaluation of the scientific evidence has been lost out of sight. A bit weird that Alphen aan den Rijn gives him so much space to influence the presentation of the results, but he is even more outspoken on Twitter.

Stories about possible negative effects of electromagnetic fields from Wi-Fi, mobile phones and microwave ovens, are picked up quickly and are bound to go viral on the Internet. No matter the quality of the research nor the reliability of the source. We have seen this before with the Danish schoolgirls experiment with garden cress. Note that Van ‘t Wout and Goldworthy were among the foreign ‘experts’ who were so enthusiastic about that experiment.

[Based on my post on Kloptdatwel: Universiteit Wageningen: geen aanwijzingen dat Wi-Fi schadelijk is voor bomen]

Jun 13

The Incredible Floww Health Technology


From the Floww website:

Floww® Health Technology was developed by Dutchman Jim Wagenaar. In the nineties he foresaw an irreversible increase in the amount of electromagnetic radiation. He also noted that more and more people had health problems which they attributed to radiation. Knowing that the human body itself also possesses a broad range of frequencies, he conceived the idea that radiation from outside could possibly be converted into body natural frequencies. Based on this he developed a unique method: Floww® Health Technology. 

Their products range from a mobileFloww, costing 49 euro, which you are supposed to stick on your mobile phone, to a homeFloww set costing 1,350 euro. Just another company selling bogus devices against electrosmog?

Out with the Bioresonance Drops and New ‘Research’

Almost two years ago Martin Bier, professor in physics, wrote an article about Floww on, the Dutch skeptic website of which I’m one of the editors. He made clear that the claims of Floww are complete nonsense from a scientifical viewpoint. At that time, the company was also selling bioresonance drops, just plain water with a touch of ethanol to which a composition of frequencies was added. The specific composition was chosen depending on a analysis of a cheeck swap you would have to send in when ordering. They don’t sell those Floww Drops anymore, perhaps because of regulations you have to go by when selling ingestibale stuff. But the other products are sold without this personal analysis, so now we are supposed to believe that one size frequency fits all?

Since Bier’s article it seems that Floww has grown fast and is focussing on the international market more and more. Also their website presents some new ‘research’ on their technology. About time for a follow up in English, I thought.

Read the rest of this entry »


Because Crop Circles and Chemtrails are sooo 2013 …

Chemtrail circle?

Just kidding

Apr 30

Great example of debunking bad science: on health effects Fukushima fallout in USA

There is a lot of fear mongering on the effects of the Fukushima disaster. Most of it comes from vague sources and is easily debunked. Things get a bit more complicated when supposedly real scientists are publishing articles in peer reviewed journals which show horrifying health figures caused by radioactive fallout in the months following the events which started with the deathly tsunami which struck upon the Japanese coast. Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman startled the US public with at least two articles, one even showing that probably 14,000 Americans had died due to the radiation. These scientists, however, have a clear anti-nucleair agenda and their calculations are deliberately misleading, as other more sincere scientists discovered.

The article on the 14,000 excess deaths was introduced by a press release:

 An estimated 14,000 excess deaths in the United States are linked to the radioactive fallout from the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan, according to a major new article in the December 2011 edition of the International Journal of Health Services.   This is the first peer-reviewed study published in a medical journal documenting the health hazards of Fukushima.

The article itself was published as: An unexpected mortality increase in the United States follows arrival of the radioactive plume from Fukushima: is there a correlation? More recent (2013) is the article in which they show an increase in congenital hypothyrodism in the months following the Fukushima disaster: Changes in confirmed plus borderline cases of congenital hypothyroidism in California as a function of environmental fallout from the Fukushima nuclear meltdown (Open Journal of Pediatrics).

Sounds frightening, doesn’t it? However both articles are completely bogus. In the following video these articles are ripped apart:

Popular Mechanics published a nice article on the nasty consequences of publication of this sort of bad science: What Can We Do About Junk Science? It ends with the following statement:

It’s easy to blame the impact of junk science on sloppy experiments, irresponsible reporters, or a failure of peer review. But even after it’s debunked, junk science sticks because it preys on the public’s fear and distrust. Ultimately, junk science can be dispelled only if individuals think like scientists: Evaluate all the evidence and try to disprove your own preconceptions.

This might be true, but I think it takes some effort by scientists to lead those individuals where to look for good evidence and to give some clues how to evaluate it. An academic ‘debunk’ in the form of a response on the article in the journal which published it, will also probably not reach the wider audience which was misled by the original article itself or it’s passing on in an uncritical way by other media. And such a response could be behind a paywall as well. That’s why I appreciate this debunking video so much. It does a far better job in setting things straight for the audience the propaganda was aimed at in the first place, I think.

Mar 25

Acupuncture in Cows, Wageningen University and the Soviet Space Program


In November 2012 someone sent me a link to an article in a Dutch biologists magazine about some research done by Wageningen University, something to do with acupuncture in cows. On itself this already looks quite weird, why would scientists from a reputable university be involved with nonsense like (electro)acupuncture? But Wageningen University has quite a trackrecord in doing pseudoscientific research on homeopathy and they have ties with the anthroposofic research institute Louis Bolk. So this was not that surprising to me.
What was interesting is the background story of the device they used for the electroacupuncture. In the published articles the authors tell it is an improvement of a device developed by the Soviet space program in the nineteen-eighties and used by Valeri Polyakov to stay in good health during his record stay in space. In the following months I tried to find out what could be true about this.


What is the connection between cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov and acupuncture points on cows?

Read the full story I wrote about this for Dutch skeptics magazine Skepter:

Veterinary Acupuncture and the Soviet Space Program

Mar 20

Philip Stein Sleep Bracelet – Expensive Placebo

Ook te koop in de KLM Sky High collection

Available in the KLM Sky High Collection

A reader of, the Dutch website I frequently write for, sent an e-mail about a product he found in the onboard catalogue of the KLM Sky High Collection: The Philip Stein Sleep Bracelet. This bracelet is ‘is tuned to pick up natural frequencies that are believed to improve your quality of sleep’, the Philip Stein company claims. This is supposed to work via the proprietary Natural Frequency Technology they have developed.
The company even states that there is objective evidence that it really works. Are these just empty statements or is there some truth in the claims with which this bracelet is promoted by Philip Stein, next to the gaudy watches and other jewelry they sell?

What does Philip Stein state on how the bracelet is supposed to work? You might like some assurance on that before buying the bracelet, which was sold aboard the KLM fligth for 235 euros, don’t you?

Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 01

Update on #KoftaGate – Egyptian Miracle Detectors and Cures for Hepatitis C and AIDS

Last weekend the Egyptian Armed Forces came with remarkable news: they claimed to have developed devices for detection of the Hepatitis C Virus and HIV. Furthermore Major General dr. Abdel Atti told the Egyptian people that after 22 years of research his team has now a machine that can even cure HIV/AIDS. During the press conference in which he announced this, he made this rather peculiar statement:

We conquered AIDS and I take the AIDS from the Patient and return it to him as Kofta “meat balls”

Here is the video with English subtitles:

The hashtag #koftagate was soon born on Twitter, a clear indication that many Egyptians don’t believe a thing the man said. And they are right. I was glad to see that presidential scientific advisor Essam Heggy soon spoke of a scientific scandal. On the website Egyptian Chronicles I found quite a good summary of events up till now.

The story of Abdel Atti gets more silly by the day it seems. After last weekend he said he had been offered two billion dollar for his cure by a farmaceutical company but that he declined the offer to make sure that the Egyptian people would profit from this invention alone. The Economist has more on the background of Abdel Atti:

 Investigations by local reporters appear to show that Mr Abdel Atti received his general’s rank not through military service, but as an honorary title. As recently as last year he appeared as a faith healer on religious satellite channels and had previously made an income as a private consultant in herbal medicine. An article in a Saudi newspaper in 2009 mentions him in connection with charges of sorcery.

See below for an update.

Abdel Atti also shows a lack of humor as he is threatening to take a comedian Bassem Youssef to court who made fun of his invention on television. [update: check the blog by @mostafa for more info on this]

Read the rest of this entry »

Older posts «