The Carstens Stiftung is a foundation that supports so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) in Germany. They own ‘Natur und Medizin’ who just published a critique of Natalie Grams‘ book WAS WIRKLICH WIRKT. In this article, they dedicate an entire paragraph to me. The text accuses me of three things:

  1. that I have deliberately misrepresented published facts in one of my reviews;
  2. that I invent data;
  3. that I claim certain published studies are fraud.

To back up these allegations, they refer to references 17, 18 and 19 (listed below).

For those who can read German, here is the original text:

Ist das ihr Ernst?

Lässt man das Wort „systematic“ weg, ist der erste Treffer ein Überblick von Cochrane-Reviews zu Akupunktur bei verschiedenen Schmerzzuständen aus 2011.[16] Diese Arbeit ist hier, obwohl noch etwas älter, von besonderem Interesse, weil sie von Edzard Ernst stammt. Dieser mittlerweile emeritierte Professor ist über die sog. „Skeptikerbewegung“ eng mit Natalie Grams verbandelt und wird von Gegnern der Naturmedizin als die wissenschaftliche Autorität schlechthin angesehen. Denn er ist dafür bekannt, dass er kein gutes Haar an komplementären Therapieverfahren lässt. Notfalls greift er auch zu absichtlichen Falschdarstellungen[17], erfindet Daten[18] oder behauptet einfach, klinische Studien, die nicht die Negativ-Ergebnisse erbringen, die er erwartet, seien schlicht und ergreifend Betrug.[19] Im Falle der Akupunktur konstatiert aber sogar Ernst: „In letzter Zeit wurden mehrere Cochrane-Reviews zur Akupunktur bei einer Vielzahl von Schmerzzuständen veröffentlicht. Alle diese Arbeiten waren von hoher Qualität. Ihre Ergebnisse legen nahe, dass Akupunktur bei einigen, aber nicht allen Arten von Schmerzen wirksam ist.“ Positive Evidenz liege bspw. zu Migräne und Spannungskopfschmerzen, Nackenschmerzen und peripherer Gelenkarthrose vor.





According to my legal advisers, this text involves serious libellous claims. I have decided that, before considering legal action, to publish this open letter to ‘Natur und Medizin’ of the CARSTENS STIFTUNG asking them to avoid legal action by withdrawing the paragraph in question:

To ‘Natur und Medizin’ of the ‘Carstens Stiftung’, Germany

Dear Madam/Sir

you have today published on your website an article entitled ‘Was wirklich wirkt – Natalie Grams über sanfte Medizin’ and authored by Dr Jens Behnke. It contains at least three libellous and false allegations about me and my research. As they are severely damaging my professional reputation, I urge you to erase the paragraph in question as a matter of urgency. Failing this, I would have to instruct my legal team to take action.

I sincerely hope we can settle this amicably without going to court.

Best regards

Edzard Ernst


12 Responses to My open letter to ‘Natur und Medizin’ [‘Carstens Stiftung’]

  • Has it ever gone well for any AltMed types when they’ve ended up in court or, indeed, have taken others to court? The Canadian loons who were responsible for the death of their child is one case which was a (disgraceful) victory for AltMed, although I believe an appeal has been lodged. Similarly the class action against Boiron didn’t go the way we would have hoped, although there was the gratifying sight of Dana Ullman being deemed “not credible” by the judge.

  • There’s one thing these people obviously don’t get: Attacking your “enemies” in this way doesn’t make them look bad, but you. Someone who comes around without any prejudice, but used on people discussing things factually and politely, reads that and thinks “Ups – is that a way to talk about someone who’s obviously not without any merit in his field? Ist that your way to go into a debate about facts?”
    As I’ve said before: On the long run ad hominem is always more damagable for the image of the attacker as it can be for the attacked.

  • @ EE:
    Did they already take the statements down? I couldn´t find it on the homepage…
    However while looking for it, I came across the “Leitsatz” (guiding principle) of the Carstens-Stiftung founder Dr. Veronica Carstens, which I was not aware of before.

    Quote:”Der Arzt und die Ärztin der Zukunft sollen zwei Sprachen sprechen, die der Schulmedizin und die der Naturheilkunde und Homöopathie. Sie sollen im Einzelfall entscheiden können, welche Methode die besten Heilungschancen für den Patienten bietet.“

    Translation: “Future doctors should speak two languages, the language of conventional medicine and the language of naturopathy and homeopathy. In individual cases, they should be able to decide which method offers the best chances to cure the patient.”

    I do not understand why it should be beneficial to speak the rational language of science and the irrational gibberish of homeopathy at the same time.
    So… isn´t this “Leitsatz” an instruction to foster cognitive dissonance (in the best case scenario) or (even worse) a potential pathway to develop some form of dissociative identity disorder?!
    And if so, how on earth could this call to develop a sort of mental disorder have become the guiding priciple for the Carstens foundation??!

    • I just looked and still found it; go to any of Behnke’s articles and click on ‘other articles’ at the bottom

      • Thanks for providing the link the “Natur und Medizin e.V.” webpage.

        Logical consistency does not seem to be a strong suit of this Dr. phil. Jens Behnke character.
        On the one hand, he claims that you are known to be dogmatically against all SCAM therapies and even claims that you would go so far as to conduct scientific misbehaviour to discredit SCAM.
        In the next sentence, however, he states that this is not the case for acupuncture, thus demonstrating that your view is nuanced and dependent on the best evidence for each treatment and modality.

        Well… can´t say that I am very surprised to find cherry picking and logical incoherence in his tirades…

  • Well roared lion!
    The gentlemen from the alternative medicine side simply have to realize that they have no foolishness and cannot drag everyone into the dirt.
    To the “Review” regarding the new book by Dr. Grams, I also had two or three short thoughts:

  • I have just sent this letter to the person in charge:

    Sehr geehrte Frau Dr Schimpf,
    Heute hat Herr Behnke einen Artikel auf ihrem blog publiziert, der eindeutig diffamierend ist.
    Ich habe dazu einen ‘offenen Brief’ publiziert, den ich ihnen hiermit zuleite:
    Ich bitte sie dringend, den betreffenden Paragraphen zu entfernen und mir so ein rechtliches Vorgehen zu ersparen.
    Mit freundlichen Gruessen
    Edzard Ernst

  • Please correct the book title. It is “Was wirklich wirkt” not “Was wirklich hilft”. It is indeed such a nice alliteration.

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