There seems to be no limit to the amount of pseudoscience, alternative therapy bollocks, infiltrating itself into the minds of many unsuspecting souls. But we can do something about it. As members of a critical thinking, evidence-based community, we have the ability to explain, expose and execute bad science. Working alone often feels like you’re chipping away at a wall of quackery with an acupuncture needle but if we work together – to focus our ‘natural energy’ – we can make an impact.
With that in mind, I am trying to rally our collective voice, and help stop the widespread distribution of a magazine called ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’.
What’s the problem?
WDDTY is a magazine that claims it ‘provides health information to change people’s lives for the better’, but in reality it promotes the use of unproven alternative medicine, often as a replacement for conventional medicine. Josephine Jones has provided a meticulous account of articles from WDDTY that are controversial and misleading. Looking through the list it is clear that the editors are happy to impart their questionable wisdom on a variety of topics including cancer, depression, allergies, vaccination, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, arthritis etc. etc…Andy Lewis at The Quackometer has also just initiated a call to action which contains more information on the dangers of WDDTY.
This is wrong. Telling people not to take proven preventative drugs for malaria, but instead take some homeopathic sugar pill is wrong. Telling people that vitamin C is as good as chemotherapy but without the side effects is wrong. Claiming all manner of potions, vegetables and inner energy can replace rigorously tested evidence-based medicine is wrong.
I have previously highlighted some of the ways that WDDTY abuse scientific evidence through using irrelevant citations, crap trials, cherry-picking stats with no context, paraphrasing text from articles and a lot of the time just speaking out-right bullshit.
This is wrong. Abusing scientific data is wrong. Misrepresenting the results and conclusions of a study is wrong. Using references from quack journals that are not accepted in the wider scientific community is definitely wrong.
What to do about it?
I have already worked with Sense About Science to create a letter for their ‘Ask for Evidence’ campaign, which was sent to Bryan Hubbard at WDDTY, asking for evidence for some of the claims made in an article. I contacted Bryan twice without any response and now feel that being more tactical could be better. Taking advice from Simon Singh, Alan Henness and the hordes of other skeptics that have duly noted WDDTY, it was clear that the next mode of action would be to make complaints to stockists in an attempt to have it removed from the shelves. So below is a template of a short letter that everyone can use/edit/personalise to send/email to any of the stockists. Thanks to the work of Apoptoticus, there are strong indications that Tesco are open and willing to act if enough voices are heard. The more complaints they get, the more likely we are to get a result.
I am writing to express my concern over your stocking of a magazine called ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’ (WDDTY). I have found that WDDTY publishes misleading, unsubstantiated and often dangerous health information on a variety of serious medical conditions.
[Insert personal story – why this affects you and what your personal perspective is – are you a loyal customer, patient, doctor, scientist, nurse etc.]
WDDTY consistently push the use of unproven and disproven alternative treatments over evidence-based conventional medicine. This has included the promotion of quackery while criticising rigorously tested treatments for conditions such as asthma, inflammatory diseases, cancer, dementia, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The editors also advise the public to abandon preventative treatments for diseases such as malaria, and instead promote the use of unsubstantiated homeopathic and alternative ‘natural’ therapies.
You state yourself that one of your three big ambitions is to improve health by “helping and encouraging customers to live healthier lives”. Surely, avoiding exposure to dangerous health information would reflect this policy. You also claim that you “want to be the most trusted retailer in the world” and want to “demonstrate that our products are safe”. Selling untrustworthy and dangerous health advice to your consumers does not appear to meet these claims.
As a leading retailer with consumer influence I would hope you agree that presenting information such as this in the mainstream could lead to people making ill-informed decisions about their health. You have the ability and the responsibility to ensure that the public are not exposed to unbalanced and dangerous health advice, and by considering the removal of WDDTY from your shelves, are showing that you care for your customers.
I look forward to hearing your response.
Send email to:
If you send an email please leave a comment below so we can track the numbers and please spread the word!