Alternative medicine and pseudoscience have found a footing in Croatian society, so much so that they are reported as facts on public TV stations (HRT) in shows such as At the Edge of Science (Na Rubu Znanosti) and even the Alphabet of Health (Abeceda Zdravlja), which recently aired a programme about cancer focused on dubious assertions made by a bioenergy healer.
It’s perhaps no surprise then that when responsible journalists report the lack of evidence for such pseudoscientific statements, and when they expose the financial gains that alternative healers stand to gain by confusing and misleading the public, these journalists get sued.
Croatian energy healer Đuka Bajić recently initiated a court case against science journalist and editor Nenad Jarić Dauenhauer and his former employer, the news portal Tportal, because of a text in which the journalist says he tried to show how the bioenergetist deceives people.
Jarić Dauenhauer in his article specifically referred to advertisements that the bioenergetist placed in the media, to comments from people claiming to have attended his healing treatments, and scientific studies in which a possible mechanism and results of energy medicine had been explored.
An advert for Bajić’s healing powers and his bioenergy healing courses published in Studio magazine, claimed that Bajić successfully alleviates a number of chronic illnesses, that he has “raised from the dead” and completely cured one man from Portugal whose vital organs and spinal cord began to die, and that he healed a whole group of people suffering from various diseases in Belgium.
The practice of suing science journalists
when they dig into uncomfortable truths
also seems to be on the rise there
“Without any exaggeration,” claimed the advertisement, “it can be said that he has rescued thousands and thousands of unfortunate and ill people.”
In his article, the Croatian journalist warned that energy healing has never been scientifically confirmed, either at the theoretical level or in terms of practical results. He pointed out that it could even be dangerous if people turn to energy healing in place of effective conventional, evidence-based treatment.
He also contacted the Croatian ministry of administration which replied that Bajić did not have their approval for issuing certificates for his courses, as he had claimed in the advert, and that they would report the healer to the state attorney’s office for false advertising.
But the article led to a backlash against the journalist.
Shortly after the publication of the text, the journalist received an anonymous threat on his cell phone regarding the defamation of alternative medicine. Soon after, Bajić’s lawyers sent their denial of the journalist’s text, which was then published in accordance with the law.
Obviously, Bajić was not satisfied by this denial alone, as he filed a lawsuit claiming that his reputation was damaged and that his career suffered greatly.
Unfortunately, the practice of promoting alternative and energy medicine in Croatia is fairly common. Even the Croatian Medical Chamber repeatedly awarded their members for participating in various congresses of alternative medicine. And the practice of suing science journalists when they dig into uncomfortable truths also seems to be on the rise there.