Catherine de Jong

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Catherine de Jong
Catharina Jantina de Jong

NationalityFlag of the Netherlands.svg Dutch
Alma materUniversity of Groningen
OccupationAnesthesiologist, skeptical activist
Known forChairing the Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij
Spouse(s)Frans Klein

Catharina Jantina (Catherine) de Jong[1] (born 1956[2]) is a Dutch anesthesiologist, drug rehab physician, intensivist,[3] since 2009 board member of the Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij (VtdK), between 2011–2015 as chair, and board member of the European Council of Skeptical Organisations (ECSO).[4]


Education and career[edit]

In 1975, De Jong began studying law, but did not complete it. From 1977 until 1987, she studied medicine in Groningen, subsequently taking a course on anesthesiology in Sheffield in 1988. Thereafter she specialised in anesthesiology at the University Medical Center Groningen from 1989 until 1994, finally completing her education as an intensivist at the Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis in Amsterdam from 1994 until 1996. From 1996 until 1997, De Jong worked as an anesthesiologist and intensivist at the Sint Lucas Andreas Ziekenhuis, from 1997 until 1999 as anesthesiologist at the Academic Medical Center. From 2000 onwards, De Jong worked as a freelance anesthesiologist in several hospitals and clinics, and as an anesthesiologist and physician at the drug rehabilitation clinic Miroya from 2002 until 2012. Since 2007 until present, De Jong is employed as an anesthesiologist in a dental surgery for children in Amsterdam.[2][3]

Opposition to alternative medicine[edit]

During her study of anesthesiology, two incidents made her aware of the dangers of alternative medicine: the first case was a 48-year-old woman with breast cancer, who had put her faith in a treatment by a naturopath, but whose condition had become hopeless by the time she was hospitalised. The second case was that of a 13-year-old boy, who initially merely suffered from sinusitis, but which had grown to encephalitis, because his anthroposophical parents refused to have antibiotics administered to him. "When people cause unnecessary harm to themselves or their children because of their decisions, then it gives me a knot in my stomach. I find it incredibly hard to deal with", said De Jong, who emphasised making "wise, rational choices" regarding health. She opines that alternative therapists merely give their clients a "medically empty treatment ritual", make them dependent, waste their time and money and miss the opportunity to properly inform them.[3]

Skeptical activism[edit]

De Jong led the Dutch homeopathic suicide stunt.

In 2004, De Jong became a member of the VtdK, and in 2009 a board member. Following the example of the Merseyside Skeptics Society in 2010 (that in turn was inspired by SKEPP's action in 2004), De Jong and Maarten Koller together with 30 members of the VtdK and Stichting Skepsis organised the Dutch version of the international 10:23 Campaign. On 5 February 2011, they staged a homeopathic overdose at Multatuli's statue in Amsterdam, to publicly demonstrate the inefficacy of homeopathic products.[5][6] Health editor Gerrie Riemersma of the Leeuwarder Courant criticised the 10:23 overdose action, because "a very small amount of a functional solution will [only] work when it is repeated". In a response the article, De Jong claimed that there is no functional solution at all in those dilutions, and it would be honest consumer information if manufacturers would put content indications on all homeopathic products, in the same manner that is compulsory for actual medicines.[7]

On 10 October 2011, she succeeded Cees Renckens as the chair of the VtdK.[8][9] In that position, she spoke out against the use of alternative medicine such as acupuncture and homeopathy, because these have never been sufficiently proven to be medically efficacious; at most, there is a placebo effect.[10] An article in NRC Handelsblad that recommended detoxification, was branded an "uncritical advertorial" by De Jong, "unworthy" of the newspaper.[11] In a November 2011 letter, De Jong accused rector Martin Kropff of Wageningen University of 'providing a platform for pseudoscience' by approving a lecture series, which allowed several alternative therapists to speak on biophysical medicine. The Board of Directors of Wageningen University replied that attendees (students and employees) would be able to discern sense and nonsense for themselves. The Board acknowledged that biophysical medicine is a field that lies far outside of mainstream scientific views, but wanted to allow the discussion of ideas, 'idiotic' or not, that exist in society without legitimising them.[12][13][14]

In November 2014, a naturopath who treated clients with ibogaine, which resulted in one client's death and another client's blindness, was sentenced to 141 days imprisonment.[15] Following this case, De Jong pleaded on behalf of the VtdK and in consultation with the Trimbos-instituut and Informatie Voorziening Verslavingszorg for more rigorous oversight on private drug rehab clinics and naturopaths that treat drug addicts.[16] While drug rehabilitation is developing into a speciality that was recognised by the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) in December 2012, De Jong warned that there is no alternative treatment that has been shown to effectively help addicts, while in some cases patients are deliberately taken advantage of.[17]

On 24 August 2013, during the 15th European Skeptics Congress in Stockholm, De Jong lectured about pseudoscientific drug rehab treatments.[18] She stated that it is untrue that the "medical establishment" refuses to research alternatives such as ibogaine: experiments in the 1950s and 1960s have already shown that they did not work.[19] The next day, the Congress voted her in as a board member of the ECSO.[4][20]

When in September 2014 homeopaths from Groningen recommended swallowing "granules" to victims of the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa, and listening to music twice a day to prevent contamination, De Jong called that "criminal" and said: "Homeopaths should keep themselves and their delusions far away from these patients".[21] On 3 October, the Meester Kackadorisprijs, the VtdK's annual ironic award, was given to chair Pauline Meurs of ZonMw for her report that recommended to conduct more research into alternative medicine, which De Jong called a waste of valuable time, money and manpower, seeing that the past 40 years of testing have never resulted in anything beyond the placebo effect.[22]

Asked what advice she would give to people who are new to scientific skepticism, she responded that they should continue "asking questions", seek out skeptic groups and people to guide you. She states that these people will best guide them to the literature that will help them grow and learn. She added "skeptic are nice people and a lot of fun".[23]

In October 2015, De Jong was succeeded as chair by Nico Terpstra; she stayed board member for the VtdK.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Catherine de Jong is married to industrial designer and art historian Frans Klein, and has two children.[2]


  • Brewer, Colin; de Jong, Catherine; Williams, Jonathan (January 2014). "Rapid opiate detoxification and antagonist induction under general anaesthesia or intravenous sedation is humane, sometimes essential and should always be an option. Three illustrative case reports involving diabetes and epilepsy and a review of the literature". Journal of Psychopharmacology. 28 (1): 67–75. doi:10.1177/0269881113504835. PMID 24043724.


  1. ^ De Jong started writing her first name in English fashion for professional reasons; she steadily abbreviates her second name to 'J.'.
  2. ^ a b c Maarten Keulemans (15 October 2011). "Een kuur tegen kwakzalvers". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). De Persgroep Nederland. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Visser, Joost (18 July 2013). "Zomerportret 2. VtdK-voorzitter Catherine de Jong: 'Ik wil de alternatieve behandelwijzen aanvallen'". Medisch Contact (in Dutch). 2013 (29/30): 1544–1548.
  4. ^ a b "ECSO: Skeptics in Europe – About". ECSO website. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  5. ^ "Artsen op de bres voor wetenschap". Leeuwarder Courant (in Dutch). 7 February 2011.
  6. ^ Catherine de Jong (3 February 2011). "Consumenten in Nederland plannen inname homeopathische 'overdosis'". Website VtdK (in Dutch). Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  7. ^ Gerrie Riemersma (4 February 2011). "Anti-kwakzalvers hebben oogkleppen op". Leeuwarder Courant (in Dutch).
  8. ^ "Renckens neemt afscheid als voorzitter". Website VtdK (in Dutch). Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij. 10 October 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  9. ^ Edith Schippers (10 August 2013). "Minister Schippers (VWS) spreekt tot de ledenvergadering van de Ver tegen de Kwakzalverij". YouTube (in Dutch). Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  10. ^ "'Nooit bewezen dat deze zorg werkt'". Trouw (in Dutch). De Persgroep Nederland. 10 April 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  11. ^ Catherine de Jong (15 October 2011). "Sapkuur: zinloos of nuttig?". NRC Handelsblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  12. ^ "Verzoek aan Wageningen Universiteit: stop vage lezingen". Website VtdK (in Dutch). Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij. 2 November 2011. Retrieved 21 November 2014. (last changed 3 January 2012)
  13. ^ Bjinse Dankert (15 November 2011). "Wageningen geeft vrij baan aan omstreden medische stralingsleer". Eindhovens Dagblad (in Dutch).
  14. ^ "Anti-kwakzalvers boos op Wageningen". Resource (in Dutch). Wageningen Universiteit. 17 November 2014. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  15. ^ ANP (13 November 2014). "Celstraf voor natuurgenezeres". Trouw (in Dutch). De Persgroep Nederland. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  16. ^ Suzanne Docter (17 December 2011). "Genezers junks streng onder toezicht". Algemeen Dagblad (in Dutch). De Persgroep Nederland.
  17. ^ Catherine de Jong (24 January 2013). "Kwakzalverij in de verslavingsgeneeskunde" (in Dutch). Artsennet. Retrieved 14 December 2014. (last changed 18 February 2013)
  18. ^ Catherine de Jong (24 August 2013). "Att avslöja kvacksalvare". UR Samtiden. Föreningen Vetenskap och Folkbildning. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  19. ^ Bruno Van de Casteele (24 August 2013). "European Skeptics Congress, day 2". Skeptoid. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  20. ^ Gábor Hraskó (25 August 2013). "Magyar vezető az európai szkeptikus szervezet élén". Website Szkeptikus Társaság (in Hungarian). Szkeptikus Társaság. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  21. ^ Anneke Stoffelen (18 September 2014). "Ebola? Tweemaal daags muziek". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  22. ^ "Hoogleraar wint kwakzalversprijs". Website NOS (in Dutch). Nederlandse Omroep Stichting. 3 October 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  23. ^ "Episode #002, feat. Catherine de Jong". The European Skeptics Podcast. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  24. ^ Frits van Dam (21 October 2015). "Het bestuur". Website VtdK. Retrieved 5 November 2015.