Archiv für die Kategorie ‘English’

John Fire Lame Deer Jr & Dr Stephan Götze: Casting the net for the (prospective) affluent, or: Hogwarts-on-Rhine just opened shop

23. November 2015 Keine Kommentare

Yes, dear readers: Hogwarts presents a new branch – the „University of Applied Management Studies“ in the town of Mannheim in Germany! (Its original German title is somewhat less impressive with an „Academy of Economy for Management“.) Its Wikipedia article is somewhat on the advertising side and offers but a modest list of references. Having taken up business in April 2011, the academy had 379 students in the winter term of 2014/15.


Stephan Götze

Already since 2013, Dr Stephan Götze has been working hard at reducing his employer to laughingstock teaching hogwash. Hired as a „lecturer for Sustainability and Marketing & Research“, however, this is not all he’s getting paid for. An unsavoury blend of professional work and private pastimes comes on top of that.

Besides Marketing & Research, Götze has been a „shamanic“ student of Archie Fire Lame Deer. Although Archie Fire was trained as a medicine person, he was viewed highly controversially by the Lakota for accepting white persons at ceremonies and teaching and training them. Mr Fire has helped to produce a plethora of Wanabi shame-ons training more and more „shamanic“ exploiters who picked up little, understood only part of that, and pass on even less. Mr Fire also caused the first reported fatality of a Newager when his client Ronald Delgado died in a vision quest led by Fire on July 12, 1980. Mehr…

Xavier Naidoo – at long last an entry at Psiram’s English Wiki

21. November 2015 Keine Kommentare
Titel bei Haaretz

Headline at Haaretz


When news spread that Xavier Naidoo had been nominated for the European Song Contest by public broadcaster NDR – represented by Thomas Schreiber (responsible for Fiction & Entertainment) – , we meant to cover this. Like many others in the internet, we had already written a blog article on Naidoo’s strange views some time ago. The issue was hot again now. It became even hotter with many blogs and comments covering it – including (although it’s hard to believe) Germany’s largest tabloid, also known as the Four-Letter Rag. There isn’t much more publicity to be had. Mehr…

Brooke „Medicine Eagle“ Edwards – Plastic Shaman with some 40 Years of Experience in Fleecing

25. April 2015 Keine Kommentare

Edwards is one of the plastic shamans in business for several decades and has been exposed as a fake so often everyone should be aware of what she is. One example is Edwards being renounced as a plastic shame-on in an AIM resolution passed during its 1984 National Leadership Conference, in which she is aptly called Brooke „Medicine Ego“. Unfortunately, her being debunked as a fake did not take her out of business, and in 2015, Ms Edwards will come to Europe (Malta, Spain, France, Germany, Great Britain) looking for more sheep to fleece with workshops, seminars, and „shamanic conferences“, and she will also visit Damanhur community in Italy which is a cult masking itself as an ecologically-minded „intentional community“. In Germany, she will participate in a so-called „Medicine Wheel Gathering“ organised by the Bear Tribe which was founded by plastic shaman Vincent LaDuke aka Sun Bear.

Indeed Edwards has maintained ties to the Bear Tribe since 30 or 40 years and cooperated with LaDuke resp. the Bear Tribe in the USA. The medicine wheel as used in the Newage scene, and by Ms Edwards, is largely an invention employed by LaDuke to appeal to an affluent white clientele.

At the Bear Tribe gathering, Edwards will also meet Francis Talbot aka Manitonquat or Medicine Story who poses as a Wampanoag elder and medicine person. Indigenous activists in the USA have been working for years to convince authorities Talbot was a fake, as several prisons used to accept him to do ceremonies for imprisoned indigenous persons. He is regularly touring Europe for summer camps in various countries, and cooperates with ZEGG, Tamera, and Findhorn. Mehr…

Psychology of Vision III – „We’ll get you all“: Multitasking in a pyramid scheme

21. Januar 2015 Keine Kommentare

As we have seen before, PoV employs strategies to lure in clients and keep them. The courses for „Steps to Leadership“ address a higher income business audience resp. persons who intend to qualify for executive functions.

Chuck&Lency are grateful German clients keep their fridge filled

Chuck&Lency are grateful German clients keep their fridge filled

Chuck&Lency are grateful German clients keep their fridge filled

However, public funding is always welcome. A PoV vendor from Northrhine-Westfalia sells courses in Steps to Leadership lasting seven weekends and one Saturday. The prices asked are € 1,390 for one person, couples will pay € 1,200 per person, and unemployed persons will pay € 1,000. Additionally, possibilities of public funding and subventions are lined out:

The Department for Employment, Integration, and Social Issues of the federal state of NRW may grant subsidies provided certain prerequisites are being met (a so-called Educational Cheque), or the Department of Education and Research may grant a so-called Educational Premium. […] [1]


How does a non-recognised, non-validated pyramid scheme without peer review trying to give itself the air of a pseudo-scientific appearance go together with (gasp) education? How can a federal state department „recognise“ such a mumbo-jumbo? Are they getting their homework done in the department every now and then? Hard to believe, in particular when one reads the description of PoV as provided by this vendor: Mehr…

Psychology of Vision II – Grabbing state money, demanding donations, and still mimicking the benefactor

18. Januar 2015 Keine Kommentare

Not to worry our European readers about where their tax money goes to: this is happening in Canada. Methods and practices aren’t any less perfiduous and merit a closer look.

Canada, same as the USA, has an indigenous population who were not always treated nicely by the government. There is a multitude of reservations, mostly not alloted to entire ethnicities, but to individual groups or villages of an indigenous nation. In ancient Rome, this was called: divide et impera. Members of these groups were recognized as „Status Indians“. However, indigenous populations always present a reminder to the fact that the land once belonged to other people, which is a fact that may be inconveniently aggrieving – on the other hand, the good colonialist aims at civilising the „savages“ and knows what’s best for them. Mehr…

Psychology of Vision I – Paying to cry your eyes out and be hypnothised

13. Januar 2015 Keine Kommentare

We would like to point out a vendor on the psycho Newage market to our readers which gets too little attention by critical websites: Psychology of Vision. This enterprise is active in several countries, among them Canada, PR China, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hawaii. PoV was founded by Charles „Chuck“ Spezzano and his wife Lenora „Lency“, US citizens living in Hawaii.

Chuck im Hawaii-ShirtSpezzano’s curriculum vitae is somewhat meandering: first, he studied theology and joined a religious order, even took initial vows and studied philosophy and psychology which he finished with a Bachelor’s degree. Afterwards, he left the order and continued his studies in San Diego, where he earned a doctorate in counseling psychology.
At the end of 1979, he opened up a counseling practice as a marriage and family counselor. Accordingly, a respective licence can be traced for California which expired in 1990; Spezzano never applied for a licence in Hawaii where he has been living since the early 1980ies. Instead, he started Psychology of Vision, with a company „Spezzano & Associates Ltd.“ in its background.

Having a look at the seminars offered, one realises that PoV events are being done anywhere – however, of all of the USA, seminars only take place in Hawaii. For the other 49 states: Nothing. Nada. There may be reasons for this. Mehr…

Prof. Potrykus on Golden Rice

8. September 2013 Keine Kommentare


Ingo Potrykus, Professor emeritus at the Institute of Plant Sciences, ETH Zurich, is one of the world’s most renowned personalities in the fields of agricultural, environmental, and industrial biotechnology, and invented Golden Rice with Peter Beyer. In contrast to usual rice, this one has an increased nutritional value by providing provitamin A. According to WHO, 127 millions of pre-school children worldwide suffer from vitamine A deficiency, causing some 500,000 cases of irreversible blindness every year. This deficiency is responsible for 600,000 deaths among children under the age of 5.

We are delighted Prof. Potrykus kindly agreed to be interviewed by Psiram. (Zur deutschen Version) Mehr…

How much medicine is evidence-based?

26. September 2011 Keine Kommentare

A few weeks ago we noticed a claim in GEO, a German magazine, stating that only 40% of medicine were evidence-based. Since the article contained lots of errors (we blogged about its flaws) and no real source was given (apart from the allegation this was a quote from a former president of State Chambers of Physicians), we were inclined to dismiss the contention without further consideration.

But then we pondered the question and started digging. We found an official document on Evidence-Based Medicine and we discovered a website of the British Medical Journal dedicated to evidence based medicine supporting the claim.

Clinical Evidence

Clinical evidence for medicine

The BMJ Site displays a nice diagram showing that 51% of medicine were of unknown effectiveness! 51%. And another 15 percent were harmful/likely ineffective. We were flabbergasted. According to these figures, medicine(about 40% proven efficiacy) was not much better than alternative medicine(about 0% proven efficiacy).



A rate of unknown effectiveness of as much as 51% for medicine? Wow. We were stunned and decided to ask Professor Edzard Ernst about the BMJ page.

You probably know the following page:
This overview isn’t exactly much to write home about. What is your opinion on this?
Isn’t it unfair to look down upon alternative methods when there is still so much unknown in medicine?

  • Firstly, the low percentage of proven treatments is partly due to the fact that this figure includes alternative medicine.
  • Secondly, the figure relates to all treatments even those that are very rarely used. If you look at the percentage of effective treatments that are actually in daily use, you arrive at figures around 80%.
  • Thirdly the process of applying science to medicine is relatively young – so we are looking at work in progress.
  • Fourthly, if one area is not optimal, this is no reason to allow another one to be even worse.

Alternative medicine is included in those figures? Well, ok, that explains a lot.

“By definition”, I begin
“Alternative Medicine”, I continue
“Has either not been proved to work,
Or been proved not to work.
You know what they call “alternative medicine”
That’s been proved to work?

(Storm by Tim Minchin)

Edzard Ernst and the Half-Quack Prince

4. September 2011 Keine Kommentare

When we contacted Edzard Ernst about the disgraceful interview in the Telegraph, we were presented with the opportunity to do a full interview. It was very interesting and a bit alarming…

As you may know, Edzard Ernst is the first Professor of Complementary Medicine, and more or less retired, two years prior to the official age of retirement. To understand the reasons for his early retirement and some of our questions, we need to look back a few years:

Edzard Ernst became professor for Complementary Medicine in 1993 and has built quite a reputation as a man of science and as a researcher. But in 2005, things took a rather strange turn. Economist Christopher Smallwood, personally commissioned by Prince Charles, claimed a lot of money could be saved applying CAM treatments. Unfortunately, this position was not supported by evidence. Not in the least! Edzard Ernst called it “complete, misleading rubbish.”. To cut a long story short, Prince Charles’ private secretary complained about Edzard Ernst who became “persona non grata” at his university.

Mr Ernst had been promised further funding, but all fundraising died down at that time. (This is actually quite an obvious development, since most CAM institutions apparently do not want real science to have a look at their methods) He had been promised the university would match initial funding of his unit, but this did not materialize. The unit was not able to keep all employees. He was informed the unit would be entirely dismantled after his retirement.

And so he negotiated. The deal: Immediate retirement and getting re-hired part-time for a year to help find a successor. The unit was not to be shut down.

Professor Edzard Ernst officially retired in May. We did not like that kind of horse-trade, but if Professor Ernst is fine with it, it is fine with us, too. The world is complicated, and so be it. The only part of the bargain we truly liked was that Professor Ernst may choose his successor. Well, at least this is what we assumed when we started asking…

But let’s get started with the interview:
Professor Ernst, when you started examining these methods scientifically, did you expect to meet such massive opposition or did that come as a surprise?
Lots of things were very surprising to me: that alternative medicine practitioners in the UK are often anti-scientific untrained non-medics, that so many of our results turned out to be negative, that there was so much public interest in my work, that alternative medicine enjoys royal protection in Britain etc, etc. The fact that I soon came under increasingly bitter criticism from the enthusiasts was, of course, a result of all this.

Most “alternative professors” practice Cargo-Cult-Science. Why does critical approach seem to be so unusual?
Yes, most if not all of my colleagues use science as a drunken man uses a lamppost – for support and not for illumination. I have come to the conclusion that this is due to them being primarily advocates of alternative medicine and true scientific scrutiny comes at a far remote second or third place.

In which way could this be improved?
One would need to make sure that critical scientists are appointed, for instance, by looking closely what any candidate has previously published. If it is mostly poor science or promotional pseudo-science, the person should be disqualified.

Do you agree with the way your results are being communicated?
I am often misquoted from both sides of the divide. The Telegraph article, for instance, claimed that I am against all alternative medicine. This is not true; I am against all ineffective or unsafe treatments, and that is very different.

You are compelled to a state of “retirement” now, as a result of the éclat with “Prince Charles”. (Smallwood report)
Was there any reaction by the Prince (or someone from his environment) after you called him a ‘snake-oil salesman’?

I offered to go in order to save the unit. My med school is now looking for a successor. Previously I was told that they will close the unit on my retirement. When I called Charles “snake oil salesman” there was no reaction from him or his entourage at all. I did not expect a reaction.

So, you are looking for a successor; do you believe he will have an easier life? Or do you think Prince Charles and his ilk will also try to throw a spanner in his works?
It depends what he/she will do. It would be easy to have it easy in that position; either one does very little or one does only stuff that upsets no one [such as surveys] or one does some basic research that is not so relevant to the public or one avoids all publicity – there are many ways.

The reaction of Charles and other enthusiasts of bogus medicine will depend on the work of my successor and the public image it receives.

Are there promising candidates for the position yet?
I have not yet heard of any.

How much freedom do you have in choosing a candidate? Can you choose/decide freely?
Sadly, I was only involved in drafting the job description. Everything else is out of my hands. I offered my further assistance but the offer was so far not accepted.

ERRM. Half a second. Wait.
What the …??? We understood the deal Professor Ernst made to save his unit, but so far we were under the impression that he will choose his successor!

We winced and mourned the loss when Professor Ernst retired (even when, in an interview, he said he was over the moon with that solution; that he feels exhausted, feels the scars from the many battles). We felt the loss. And now once more, we feel very strongly about the issue at hand!

Dear University of Exeter, to whomever it may concern, do not forget you (probably) have the only real chair of alternative medicine in the entire world (the entire world!), the only position respected by the scientific community and not just by quacks and royal half-quacks. Please, pretty please, do not gamble with your reputation.

Professor Ernst, can the public assist you in any way? Is it possible for us ordinary citizens to help your unit in any way to continue work same as before the éclat?
Public support will be a crucial element whenever controversies arise. I had lots of it – despite all the flack.

This answer is too diplomatic for our liking!

We know there are lots of supporters of Mr Ernst and his fantastic work out there, fighting an eternal battle against the overwhelming degree of lunacy in the world; therefore we would like to encourage all of you to join this fight, too. You may think it is premature, the university of Exeter should be given a chance. Certainly, but once they have taken a decision, it will be too late. We have to take a stance now and proactively defend this chair.

Let’s tell the university that we, the public, will not accept a quack or mediocre scientist in that position. While he/she will not be able to fill the gap, he/she has to be a true scientist! We will accept nothing less!

Edzard Ernst versus poor journalism in The Telegraph

29. August 2011 Keine Kommentare

Bitte beachten, dieser Artikel existiert auch auf Deutsch:

During these last few weeks, we blogged a lot about poor journalism in German publications, as e.g. „Die Welt“ and in „GEO“.

When we noticed a recent interview in the „Telegraph“ with Edzard Ernst, we were enthused, since we are huge fans of Mr Ernst.

We are certain most of our readers have already heard about Edzard Ernst, and probably read „Trick or Treatment“, a book on alternative medicine he wrote together with Simon Singh. Despite his being known here already, we would like to give our readers a short introduction;


Mr Ernst is the first Professor of Complementary Medicine in the world at the University of Exeter, England. He is the world’s leading expert on alternative medicine and a stalwart defender of scientific methodology. His position is probably best expressed in his own words (from an interview with Mr Ernst and Simon Singh):

For us, there is no such thing as alternative medicine. There is either medicine that is effective or not, medicine that is safe or not. So-called alternative therapies need to be assessed and then classified as good medicines or bogus medicines. Hopefully, in the future, the good medicines will be embraced within conventional medicine and the bogus medicines will be abandoned.


His work has earned him a lot of respect by scientists all over the world.

Back to the topic at hand. The article published in the Telegraph turned out to be – errrm, well. Let’s put it like this, it had a particular touch. We had expected something different, something more sound, with more style.
Taken aback, we decided to ask Professor Ernst about the article:

What annoyed you most about the „Telegraph“ article?

In my view, the most irritating thing was the attitude of the journalist. She seemed to belittle science and promote non-science. This is what one might expect from a cheap women’s magazine but not from the most-read UK broadsheet.

Well, we cannot agree more, the article sounded very condescending to us. The journalist’s attitude is probably most aptly described with „So what, I couldn’t care less“.

Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come. We asked Professor Ernst about the quality of the article and possible mistakes. He was so kind as to provide a few examples:

There were too many factual mistakes and inaccuracies to mention. For instance, there is no such thing as „recuperative medicine“. I told her that I had the chair of rehabilitation medicine in Vienna. Similarly, I never said that at the peak my unit was doing 20 research projects; I told her that once we were 20 researchers. At that stage, we ran many more than 20 projects and even now we conduct about 20. These may look like trivialities but they are, in fact, the result of poor journalism.

Well, our German readers probably agree this is nowhere near what GEO or Die Welt published, but it is bad enough. Shouldn’t a journalist strive to get the facts straight? We are not certain which is worse: The blatant mistakes easily detected in our German newspapers or the negligent, lackadaisical mistakes in the Telegraph?