Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij
|Area served||Netherlands, Belgium|
|Focus(es)||Opposing quackery and promoting evidence-based medicine|
The Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij (English: Association against Quackery) is a Dutch organization that investigates the claims of alternative medicine and opposes quackery. Ever since its foundation in 1881 the organization has published a magazine, currently titled Nederlands Tijdschrift tegen de Kwakzalverij. Since 2003 it annually hands out the Meester Kackadorisprijs, a mock award given to the person or organization that is deemed to have promoted quackery the most that year.
The organization was founded in 1881, making it the oldest skeptical organization in the world. It has published its magazine Nederlands Tijdschrift tegen de Kwakzalverij (NTtdK, "Dutch Magazine against Quackery") ever since. In these early years the Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij played a part in the professionalization of medicine. Its efforts in the public debate helped to make the Netherlands one of the first countries with governmental drug regulation.
In 2000 the organization published a list of what it considered to be the "greatest quacks of the 20th century". This publication would later lead to legal and financial troubles (see below). In 2003 the organization began awarding the annual Meester Kackadorisprijs to discourage influential people from spreading quackery. This mock award frequently makes the national news.
The aforementioned list of "greatest quacks of the 20th century" included Mayita Sickesz, a Dutch doctor who claims to be able to cure autism, depression, schizophrenia and several other diseases through an unconventional treatment similar to chiropractic health care. Sickesz pressed charges and in 2005 lost the case. In 2007, on appeal, she won. This brought the Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij in financial troubles. The verdict was much criticized and Netherlands national newspaper de Volkskrant listed it as number one in their top ten of legal failures that year. The verdict was overturned in May 2009, because a judge decided that using a narrow definition of the word kwakzalver ("quack") that a previous ruling was forcing the group to defend in a libel case, was incompatible with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In 2001 Dutch celebrity Sylvia Millecam died as a result of breast cancer. She had refused conventional medical treatment, opting for alternative medicine instead. After her death the public prosecutor pressed charges against two alternative health care providers and the self-proclaimed "healing medium" Jomanda. The prosecutor dropped these charges after concluding that Millecam had made up her own mind about her treatment. At this point the Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij together with Stichting Skepsis took legal steps forcing the prosecutor to continue his case. This resulted in a 2009 verdict against the two alternative health care providers, but acquittal for Jomanda.
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