Wim Betz

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Wim Betz

Willem (Wim) Betz (22 February 1943 – 8 June 2019) was a Flemish physician and professor emeritus at the Belgian university Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), where he was head of the center for training in general medical practice until November 2007. Betz was a leading skeptic in Flanders and participant in the EU COST B4 Project (a European initiative for comprehensive research on complementary and alternative medicine). He was a founding member and vice-president of the Belgian skeptic organisation SKEPP.[1]

Biography[edit]

After twenty years as a general practitioner, he turned full-time to the teaching of general medical practice as well as conducting scientific research. He took courses in several types of alternative medicine (homeopathy, neural therapy, manual therapy) and practiced them successfully. However, he started to question the explanations given for the successes that were being claimed by alternative treatments and began to investigate the existing evidence for these methods. According to Betz, the explanations can be found in the field of psychosomatics (which studies how the mind can affect the body), in the placebo effect, in the fact that many illnesses disappear spontaneously (e.g., common colds) or fluctuate (e.g., allergies), as well as in the deceptive methods of quackery.

Skeptic[edit]

Betz was a co-founder of SKEPP, a non-profit organisation that promotes scientific skepticism in Belgium, where he served as president and vice-president. At SKEPP he was the expert in alternative medicine and the relevant legislation.[2] He has participated actively in the debate on near-death experiences, following the publication of an article by the Dutch cardiologist Pim van Lommel.[3][4] Betz was also involved in the creation of the EU COST B4 Report. The report describes the scientific criteria and conditions for alternative medical practices before they can be recognized as a medical profession.[5] Betz is also a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.[6]

Betz became professor emeritus in October 2007. He died on 8 June 2019.

Awards[edit]

In 2012 Betz was presented with the European Council of Skeptical Organisations' Outstanding Skeptics Award at the 6th World Skeptics Congress.[7][8][9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "SKEPP". Skepp.be. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  2. ^ Betz, Wim. Presentation at the 2012 World Skeptics Congress. Homeopathic Tactics on YouTube. Uploaded 8 July 2012 by Rational Humanism's channel on YouTube.
  3. ^ van Lommel, Pim; van Wees, Ruud; Meyers, Vincent; Elfferich, Ingrid (15 December 2001). "Near-death experience in survivors of cardiac arrest: A prospective study in the Netherlands" (PDF). The Lancet. Elsevier. 358: 2039–2045. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(01)07100-8. ISSN 0140-6736. PMID 11755611.
  4. ^ Betz, Wim; Verraes, Walter; Crevits, Luc (6 February 2002). "Bijna-doodervaringen wetenschappelijk verklaard". SKEPP website (in Dutch).
  5. ^ European Commission, Directorate-General XII: Science, Research and Development (1995), Cost Action B4: Unconventional Medicine: First Annual Report 1993-94, Luxembourg: Office for the Official Publications of the European Commission, ISBN 92-827-4525-2CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ "CSI Fellows and Staff". Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  7. ^ "worldskeptics.org". worldskeptics.org. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  8. ^ Sturgess, Kylie, Sixth World Skeptics Congress–Berlin 2012. Skeptical Inquirer, Volume 36.5, September/October 2012
  9. ^ Sarma, Amardeo. World Skeptics Congress 2012: In Praise of Reason Award / Outstanding Skeptics Award (Introduction) on YouTube. Uploaded 16 June 2012 by Rational Humanism's channel on YouTube.