Harald Walach

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A photograph of Walach smiling in front of a building
Harald Walach in 2012

Harald Walach (born 1957) is a German parapsychologist and advocate of alternative medicine.

Background[edit]

Walach was born in 1957. He received a degree in Psychology from the University of Freiburg in 1984, a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Basel in 1991, and a PhD in History of Science from the University of Vienna in 1995. In 1998 he received his habilitation in psychology from the University of Freiburg.[1] He was affiliated for a time with the Samueli Institute[2] before its closure in 2017.[3]

He worked for a time at the University of Northampton,[4] then as director of the Institute of Transcultural Health Studies at Europa Universität Viadrina,[4] where he led a training course for doctors in complementary medicine and cultural sciences.[5] In 2012, the state of Brandenburg's commission for reviewing Universities concluded that Walach's institute should not be continued within the university.[6]

In 2017, he was a part-time associate professor at Poznań University of Medical Sciences,[7] teaching mindfulness to the international medical students.[8] In July 2021 the university cut its ties with Walach,[9] in response to a paper that he published in Vaccines, stating that Walach's work "misleadingly used data to yield conclusions that are wrong and may lead to public harm."[10]

Research and professional activities[edit]

Walach has conducted studies examining elements of complementary and alternative medicine,[11][4] and developed the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory.[12] He was an editor of an essay series on Neuroscience, Consciousness, Spirituality,[13] and until 2021 was editor-in-chief of the Karger journal Forschende Komplementärmedizin.[14]

In 2017, he started the CHS Institute to publish his own writing, including COVID-19 satire[15] and denial.[16][clarification needed]

Controversy[edit]

Walach has advocated for revision of the concept of evidence-based medicine,[17] promoting holistic and homeopathic alternatives in his publications.[18]

Starting in 2001, along with theoretical physicists Hartmann Römer and Harald Atmanspacher, Walach developed a model of "weak quantum theory" or "generalised entanglement" that attempted to explain anomalous phenomena, such as non-specific therapy effects and parapsychological phenomena.[19][20][21] This was not taken seriously by other physicists,[22] and referenced mainly in the fields of homeopathic medicine and consciousness studies.

In 2012, Walach received the negative prize "Goldenes Brett" from Austrian skeptics, an annual award for the "most astonishing pseudo-scientific nuisance" of the year. The prize was awarded in part for a masters thesis about the Kozyrev mirror conducted under his supervision, which was widely regarded as unscientific.[23][24]

Walach is on the scientific advisory board of a blog called "CAM-Media Watch", which is run by the alternative medicine company Heel. The blog describes itself as a "spin doctor" for promoting Complementary and Alternative Medicine ("CAM"). In 2012, it was reported that the blog had been paid to smear Edzard Ernst, a scientist critical of homeopathy.[25][26]

Retracted papers[edit]

In June 2021, Walach published two high profile papers containing research pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, one exaggerating the risks of vaccination, and the other concluding that children should not wear masks. Both papers were retracted the following month.[27][28]

  • The first paper, published in Vaccines, was retracted within a week[29] because of “misrepresentation of the COVID-19 vaccination efforts and misrepresentation of the data,” "several errors that fundamentally affect the interpretation of the findings," and "incorrect and distorted conclusions".[29][30] Five members of the editorial board of Vaccines resigned when the article was published, protesting it as "grossly irresponsible".[31]
  • The second paper was published in JAMA Pediatrics, to immediate criticism.[32] This study was funded by an organization (MWGFD) that was founded to fight governmental pandemic protocols, and is known in Germany for promoting COVID conspiracy theories[33] and distributing anti-vaccine flyers.[34] The journal retracted the paper 12 days later, after the authors did not provide sufficiently convincing evidence to resolve the scientific issues raised about the study.[35]

In a press statement, the Poznań University of Medical Sciences dissociated itself from Walach and asserted that his vaccine study "misleadingly used data to yield conclusions that are wrong and may lead to public harm."[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lingh, Gerhard (2014). Horizon 2020. epubli. p. 110. ISBN 9783844293166.
  2. ^ "Samueli Institute". Siib.org. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  3. ^ Weeks, John (2017-03-20). "Wayne Jonas, MD and the Closure of the Influential Samueli Institute: Next Steps". HuffPost. Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  4. ^ a b c "Harald Walach, PhD". Samueli Institute. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Institut für transkulturelle Gesundheitswissenschaften • Europa-Universität Viadrina / EUV". Euv-frankfurt-o.de. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  6. ^ "Report by the "Hochschultrukturkommission"" (PDF) (in German). Mwfk.brandenburg.de. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-07-03. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  7. ^ "Harald Walach - Campaign for Open Science". opensciences.org. Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  8. ^ Petrov, Nikolay. "Harald Walach PhD". The Galileo Commission. Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  9. ^ a b Staszewski, Rafał; Walkowiak, Jarosław (6 July 2021). "Press statement: COVID-19 Vaccinations". PUMS Poznan University of Medical Sciences. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  10. ^ Oransky, Ivan. "University terminates affiliation with researcher who had paper on COVID-19 vaccines retracted as mask study comes under scrutiny". Retraction Watch. Center for Scientific Integrity. Retrieved 2021-07-07.
  11. ^ Fjorback, Lone Overby; Walach, Harald (4 January 2012). "Meditation Based Therapies—A Systematic Review and Some Critical Observations". Religions. 3 (4): 1–18. doi:10.3390/rel3010001.
  12. ^ Walach, Harald; Buchheld, Nina; Buttenmüller, Valentin; Kleinknecht, Norman; Schmidt, Stefan (June 2006). "Measuring mindfulness—the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI)". Personality and Individual Differences. 40 (8): 1543–1555. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2005.11.025.
  13. ^ Walach, Harald; Schmidt, Stefan; Jonas, Wayne B, eds. (2011). Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality. Studies in Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality. 1. Springer Science+Business Media. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-2079-4. ISBN 978-94-007-2078-7. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  14. ^ "Forschende Komplementärmedizin / Research in Complementary Medicine - Home - Karger Publishers". Karger.com. 2013-08-15. Retrieved 2013-10-12. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ "Satirisches zu Covid 19". chs-institute.org (in German). Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  16. ^ "Aktuelles zu CoviD19". chs-institute.org (in German). Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  17. ^ Walach, Harald; Falkenberg, Torkel; Fønnebø, Vinjar; Lewith, George; Jonas, Wayne B. (2006). "Circular instead of hierarchical: Methodological principles for the evaluation of complex interventions". BMC Medical Research Methodology. 6: 29. doi:10.1186/1471-2288-6-29. PMC 1540434. PMID 16796762.
  18. ^ Walach, Harald (2009-10-01). "The campaign against CAM and the notion of "evidence-based"". Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 15 (10): 1139–1142. doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0423. ISSN 1557-7708. PMID 19848550.
  19. ^ Atmanspacher, Harald; Römer, Hartmann; Walach, Harald (2002). "Weak Quantum Theory: Complementarity and Entanglement in Physics and Beyond". Foundations of Physics. 32 (3): 379–406. doi:10.1023/A:1014809312397. S2CID 118583726.
  20. ^ Walach, H.; Schmidt, S. (2005). "Repairing Plato's life boat with Ockham's razor: The Important Function of Research in Anomalies for Mainstream Science" (PDF). Journal of Consciousness Studies. 12 (2): 52–70. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  21. ^ Walach, Harald; von Stillfried, Nikolaus (2011). "Generalised Quantum Theory—Basic Idea and General Intuition: A Background Story and Overview". Axiomathes. 21 (2): 185–209. doi:10.1007/s10516-010-9145-5. S2CID 54848009.
  22. ^ "An Academic Responds to the Homeopathy Challenge – The Quackometer Blog". Retrieved 2021-07-21.
  23. ^ Von Bernd Kramer (2012-05-07). "Kozyrev-Spiegel: Masterarbeit an der Viadrina Uni belegt Hellsehen - SPIEGEL ONLINE". Spiegel.de. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  24. ^ "Esoterik an der Uni Viadrina - Zu tief in die Röhre geschaut - Wissen - Süddeutsche.de". Sueddeutsche.de. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  25. ^ "German Homeopathy Companies Pay Journalist who Smears UK Academic | The Quackometer Blog". Quackometer.net. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  26. ^ Zeitung, Süddeutsche. "Schmutzige Methoden der sanften Medizin". Süddeutsche.de (in German). Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  27. ^ Walach, Harald; Weikl, Ronald; Prentice, Juliane; Diemer, Andreas; Traindl, Helmut; Kappes, Anna; Hockertz, Stefan (2021-06-30). "Experimental Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Content in Inhaled Air With or Without Face Masks in Healthy Children". JAMA Pediatrics. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.2659. ISSN 2168-6203. PMC 8246331. PMID 34190984.
  28. ^ Christakis, Dimitri; Fontanarosa, Phil (2021-07-16). "Notice of Retraction. Walach H, et al. Experimental Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Content in Inhaled Air With or Without Face Masks in Healthy Children: A Randomized Clinical Trial". JAMA Pediatrics. 175 (9): e213252. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.3252. ISSN 2168-6203. PMID 34269801.
  29. ^ a b Vaccines Editorial Office (2021-07-02). "Retraction: Walach et al. The Safety of COVID-19 Vaccinations—We Should Rethink the Policy. Vaccines 2021, 9, 693". Vaccines. 9: 693. Retrieved 2021-07-02.
  30. ^ Oransky, Ivan (2 July 2021). "Journal retracts paper claiming two deaths from COVID-19 vaccination for every three prevented cases". Retraction Watch. Center for Scientific Integrity. Retrieved 2021-07-02.
  31. ^ Wadman, Meredith (2021). "Scientists quit journal board, protesting 'grossly irresponsible' study claiming COVID-19 vaccines kill". Science. doi:10.1126/science.abk2629.
  32. ^ Walach, Harald; Weikl, Ronald; Prentice, Juliane; Diemer, Andreas; Traindl, Helmut; Kappes, Anna; Hockertz, Stefan (2021-06-30). "Experimental Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Content in Inhaled Air With or Without Face Masks in Healthy Children: A Randomized Clinical Trial". PubPeer – via PubPeer review.
  33. ^ Wasner, Anouschka (2020-07-22). "Wenn Ärzte von der Coronakrise als einer kriminellen Inszenierung sprechen". Medical Tribune (in German). Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  34. ^ "Flugblatt zu Corona: Desinformation in Millionenauflage" [Corona fake news in the mailbox]. tagesschau.de (in German). Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  35. ^ Christakis, Dimitri; Fontanarosa, Phil B. (2021-07-16). "Notice of Retraction. Walach H, et al. Experimental Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Content in Inhaled Air With or Without Face Masks in Healthy Children: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Pediatr. Published online June 30, 2021". JAMA Pediatrics. 175 (9): e213252. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.3252. ISSN 2168-6203. PMID 34269801.

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