Cees Renckens, MD, PhD
“Evil can now no longer be perceived as just the lack of good (privatio boni),
but it demands recognition and legalization: that's new.” – Gerard Reve in Book of Violet and Death
Cees N. M. Renckens, MD, PhD, has been a Dutch gynecologist since 1980 with Westfries Gasthuis in Hoorn (North Holland), with a special interest in infertility and endocrinology, retiring from active practice in June 2011. In 1988, Dr Renckens became chair of Vereniging tegen de Kwaksalverij, or VtdK — known in English as the Dutch Society Against Quackery. Founded in 1881, VtdK is the oldest anti-quackery organization in the world (note the term “quacksalver” in its Dutch name). Under his leadership, the organization grew from 300 to 2,000 members and Dr Renckens has made presentations all over the world. In 2006 he was appointed Knight of the Order of Orange Nassau for his work with VtdK in opposing many non-science-based health care practices. Under Dr Renckens leadership, VtdK won an important free speech legal case.
With many books and articles on quackery, mainly in Dutch, Dr Renckens has strongly argued that “alternative medicine” practices should not be the subject of research – that any “positive outcome must be considered an industrial accident.” He developed the “Dr. Renckens’s Quackiness Scoring System.”
After obtaining his medical degree in 1971 from the State University of Gröningen, Dr Renckens went on to work two years as a physician in Zambia at the Ndola Central Hospital, in its surgical and OB/GYN departments. Thereafter, he specialized in OB/GYN in Amsterdam University’s hospital. His special interests include the philosophy of science and fad disorders. He has contributed to the American journal Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine.
Selected Books (in Dutch):
- Manuscript Found Besides an Obstetric Forceps (in Dutch; 2011)
- Wrong Tracks in Medicine (dissertation, 2004)
- It Cannot Be Called Healing: Biographical Sketches of the Twenty Most Notorious Practitioners of the 20th Century (2001)
- Quacks in Potassium Hydroxide (2000)
- Contemporary Quackery (1992)
- “Please, let not Western quackery replace traditional medicine in Africa” (with TPC Dorlo), Tropical Medicine and International Health, 2012 Dec 10;. [DOI]
- “The use of complementary and alternative medicine in Dutch fertility patient” (with IMM Doodeman), Human Reproduction, 2010; 25(supp):i20-i21. [abstract]
- “Alternative medicine in infertility: patients feeling in control?”, Human Reproduction, 2010; 25(supp):i98-i99. [abstract]
- “[Dutch parliament legitimizes harmful quackery]” [in Dutch] (with FS van Dam), Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, 2010; 154:A1814. [abstract in English]
- “In the interest of all who value their purse and their health: a brief history of the ‘Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij’—Society Against Quackery—of the Netherlands,” Evaluation & The Health Professions, 2009 Dec; 32(4):431-450. [abstract]
- “A Dutch view of the science of CAM, 1986–2003,” Evaluation & The Health Professions, 2009 Dec; 32(4):431-50. [abstract] [DOI]
- “Stephen Straus (1947-2007): an obituary and some second thoughts on research priorities,” HealthWatch Newsletter, 2008 Apr; 7(69):.
- “Acupuncture helpful in IVF: an absurd claim!” Rapid Response–BMJ, 2008 Feb 19 [online only].
- Review of Lois Snyder, ed., Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Ethics, the Patient, and the Physician (Humana Press, 2007); Science-Based Medicine blog, 2009 Jan 18 [online only]
- “On editors, auditors and the science police: some reflections on the Cha-Wirth-Lobo affair,” The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 2006; 10:45-56.
- “Beware of quacks at the WHO: objecting to the WHO Draft Report on Homeopathy,” (with T Schoepen & W Betz), Special Report, Skeptical Inquirer, 2005 Sep/Oct; 29(5):12-14.
- “Hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy for severe premenstrual syndrome” [letter to editor], Human Reproduction, 2005 Apr; 20(4):1113-1114. [DOI]
- “Pain relief using electro-acupuncture for oocyte retrieval,” Human Reproduction, 2004 Dec; 19(12):2965-2966.
- “Some complementary and alternative therapies are too implausible to be investigated” (with E Ernst), Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 2003 Sep; 8(3):307-308.
- “The sharp end of medical practice: the use of acupuncture in obstetrics and gynæcology” [letter to editor], British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynæcology, 2002 Dec; 109(12):1418-1419.
- “A comparison between alternative pseudodiagnoses and regularly accepted fashionable diseases: an analysis prompted by the Dutch epidemic of obstetric ‘pelvic instability,’ ” The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 2002; 6(2):91-96.
- “Alternative treatments in reproductive medicine: much ado about nothing,” Human Reproduction, 2002; 17(3):528-533. [DOI]
- “Between hysteria and quackery: some reflections on the Dutch epidemic of ‘pelvic instability’ ” [Author's reply to letter], Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2001; 22(1):62-63. [DOI]
- “Between hysteria and quackery: some reflections on the Dutch epidemic of ‘pelvic instability,’ ” Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2000; 21(4):235-239. [DOI]
- “Trials of homeopathy” [letter], The Lancet, 1993 Jun 12; 341(8859):1533-1534.
- Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau, 2006, for outstanding service to society in his opposition to quackery.
- Hector Treub Prize, 2002, for important social achievement in health care, particularly in the field of obstetrics and gynecology.
In the News:
- “Dutch sceptics have ‘bogus’ libel decision overturned on human rights grounds,” by Le Canard Noir, The Quackometer [online only], 2009 Aug 3. “...The Dutch sceptics group, Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij (VtdK – The Society against Quackery) have managed to overturn a important court ruling that was preventing them calling quacks quacks. In a remarkable case, that in many ways closely parallels the BCA vs. Simon Singh case in the UK, a judge has decided that using a narrow definition of the word ‘quack’ that a previous ruling was forcing the group to defend in a libel case, was incompatible with Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. … In publishing their top 20 list, the Society were quite careful to explicitly define what they meant by the word ‘quack’. They said, (Google translation) ‘Quackery is:
(a) any professional act and/or the extending of advice or assistance related to the state of health of either man or animal;
(b) which is not founded on contemporary and/or empirically tenable hypotheses and theories;
(c) which is actively propagated among the public (“over-promotion”);
(d) which has not been tested on efficacy and safety within the professional group;
(e) which is (usually) performed without consultation of fellow practitioners.’’”
- “The Columbia University ‘miracle’ study: flawed and fraud,” by Bruce Flamm, Skeptical Inquirer, 2004 Sep/Oct; 28(5):.
- “Alternative treatments in reproductive medicine: the vexing problem of ‘seemingly impeccable trials...,’” by JP Vandenbroucke, Human Reproduction, 2002; 17(9):2228-2229.
The Online Cees Renckens:
VtdK in English [via Google translation]
(Renckens, English translation from Dutch)