Someone on Tenerife must be laughing very hard every time he cashes another 1,700 euros for a complete meaningless report and the certificate which comes with that. Unfortunately, there are many people who are scared of the possible negative health effects from radiation coming from mobile phones, Wi-Fi or DECT. Or radiation from microwave ovens. Or even from earth rays. A lot of products claim to protect you from this radiation, but the scientific sounding explanations probably cannot be checked for validity by those people who might be interested in buying them. Some sort of official sign of approval might help them in making a choice. And there is something pretending to be just that: a certification of the Internationale Gesellschaft für Elektrosmog-Forschung (International Association for Electrosmog-Research, IGEF). One small problem, this certificate is completely worthless.
The IGEF methods
The companies who sell anti-electrosmog devices often claim that their products have been investigated by scientists and have been certified. When you look into these claims a bit closer, you’ll see that these are not separate things. They can only show a report and a certificate from IGEF. The products are tested for efficacy with diagnostic methods like bioresonance, heart rate variability and living blood cell analysis. These methods sound sciency, but are in fact well known pseudoscientific nonsense and can’t be used to test the validity of the pseudoscientific theories used to sell all those anti-electrosmog pyramids, pendants and stickers.
Let’s have a look what an IGEF investigation looks like. As an example I choose the findings from one test participant from the report on the Akaija-Iloa. “The Akaija is working like a two-way-hatch for energies enhancing the reconnection between our own energy-system and the cosmic ‘field’ surrounding us, as well as inviting cosmic energy into our system.” is a good example of the sciency sounding nonsense used by the vendors of these type of products. The test was done on the silver version (which sells for 55 euros) and using heart rate variability (HRV) for analysis. For every participant they measured HRV before and after wearing the jewelry:
The percentages in the right column should be interpreted as follows: 12,26% means that in a comparable group of persons who were tested, 87,74% had a better score. ‘RMSSD’ means ‘root mean square of successive differences’. If you would like to know more about the details, I suggest that you have a look at the full report (pdf in German) yourself. It’s more important to see that after wearing the Akaija for a couple of days the measurements look a lot better:
To figure out what is actually meant by HRV you could read Steven Novella’s blog on Science-Based-Medicine: Energy Medicine – Noise-Based Pseudoscience. Heart rate depends among other things on your breathing and changes in blood pressure. There are a lot of therapists who offer HRV-training giving you direct feedback on your heart rate. With little effort you can control your breathing in such a way that you achieve a ‘better’ HRV (‘coherence’). Some think that this reduces stress. Whether you think this is plausible or not, it definitely shows that HRV is easily influenced. From Novella’s blog:
For many pseudosciences, when you dig down to the core of their claims you will find there either nothing, or simply noise – some source of random or artifactual signals that generate data to feed into the predetermined conclusions of the pseudoscience.
Add to this the fact that there is no mentioning at all of blinding in the reports of IGEF, we can conclude that the results don’t mean anything with regards to the alledged effects of radiation of the used sources. It’s a useless setup for testing those effects. Of course this doesn’t bother the vendors, they will be happy with a certificate that ‘proves’ their devices work.
Who is behind the IGEF?
IGEF is registered in Birmingham (UK), but is run from Tenerife. That’s where the home is of Wulf-Dietrich Rose, president of IGEF. Rose is originally from Memel, East Prussia, nowadays part op Lithuania, and his signature is on all certificates from 2010 onwards. Before that time the tests were performed in the ‘lab’ of Paul Sommer in Schleussingen (Germany), who was working together with Rose in the IGEF. Both Rose and Sommer are ‘Building biologists‘ working on all kind of environmental issues which could influence healthy living conditions. That sounds rather reasonable, but people involved in Building biology adhere all kind of pseudoscientific ideas and use ditto devices to measure those influences.
It is not a common thing to see pseudoscienctists criticise colleagues, but a certain Claus Scheingraber of the Arbeitskreis Elektrobiologie swept the floor with the IGEF certificates in a blog titled: ‘Betrügerische Gutachten der IGEF zu unwirksamen Abschirmprodukten‘ (fraudulent reports of IGEF on not working protection products). Interestingly, Sommer is cited in the comments on that blog from an e-mail he wrote to Scheingraber (in the first comment). He states that he had broken up with Rose, because he found out that Rose had issued a new certificate for a mobile phone sticker, he (Sommer) had found out to be not working in his lab. Rose had adjusted an old report and used that for the certificate. According to Sommer Rose himself didn’t do any of the research which is/was the basis for certification. So it seems legit to question whether the reports from 2010 onwards are based on actual research (which in itself would give useless results anyway as we have seen).
This seems like pretty good business to me: issuing certificates for devices based on research which might not even have been executed using pseudoscientific methods and all this for a problem, which is most likely nonexistent. And it pays of well. I asked Rose about the price for his certification using the smallest number of test participants. According to Rose, twelve participants should be considered the lowest number possible and it would cost me about 1,700 euros. Add to that amount 500 euros as a yearly fee for using the certificate for commercial purposes.
As a researcher Rose is also involved with The Clean Natural Solutions Group, which has its seat on Tenerife as well. That organisation is dealing with new solutions for environmental disasters like oil spills, fresh water poullution and electrosmog. Another researcher in that organisation is the Russian Konstantin Korotkov. He is doing stuff with bio-electrography, which is a kind of Kirlian photography. He goes as far as claiming that he has ‘photographed’ souls which had just escaped from a dying person. It wouldn’t surprise me much if this bio-electrography will be added to the methods used by IGEF in the near future.
Another nice example of the worthless and fraudulent methods of IGEF. I found this in the test report (pdf) of the ‘Xenomide’ a product of Vita products. On page 50 we are shown this picture of a test with garden cress:
More info on IGEF can be found at the PSIRAM website (mostly in German).
This blog is based on the Dutch version on Kloptdatwel.nl: Het onzinnige IGEF certificaat