Nieuws - 27 september 2012

Professor nominated for quackery prize

Research on influence of electromagnetic fields said to be 'closed book'. Savelkoul: 'I am a serious scientist.'

Wageningen UR has once again been placed in the limelight by the Dutch Society Against Quackery (VtdK). Professor of Cell Biology and Immunology Huub Savelkoul is among the nominees for the Meester Kackadoris prize for those who have done most to further the cause of quackery this year. For Savelkoul the nomination is 'an insult' and he has no wish to comment on the details.
Savelkoul is doing research on the influence of magnetic fields on the immune system. 'There are no plausible hypotheses for this influence and most people in the profession see this as a closed book,' says Cees Renckens of the VtdK prize jury. 'Savelkoul is just prolonging this confusion with his research.' This comment refers to patients who blame their unexplained health problems on electromagnetic radiation. The nomination targets only the topic of the research and not its quality.
Savelkoul also sometimes gives lectures at gatherings of pseudo-scientists. Renckens: 'Then he mingles with anthroposophists, homeopathists and all sorts of strange people. A man of his stature has no place there. He lends them legitimacy.' This November, Savelkoul is due to speak at the training day of the controversial Dutch society that is critical of many vaccinations, the NVKP.
The nomination has not gone down well with Savelkoul. Over the telephone, he controls his fury. 'I am a serious scientist and I do not recognize myself in this at all. So I do not want to be identified with this.'