All posts by Anarchic Teapot

It never fails to amaze me that, even when a writer uses a pseudonym in order to encourage people to judge the text on its own merits, you can always find someone dishonest enough to use ad hominem attacks because the writer is using a pseudonym. I'm a British citizen living in France, neither young nor especially inclined to tolerate quacks, scammers or dippy, dewy-eyed New Age mystics. Or Nutella. I really, really loathe Nutella. Vile stuff. *rants* I also dissect, debunk and devastate pseudoscience and bigotry on my own blog.

WDDTY on HIV/AIDS

This never happened, according to Lynne McTaggart
This never happened, according to Lynne McTaggart

(Also posted at Plague of Mice)

The recent article in The Times that caused the Blessed McTaggart to bust a blood vessel and scream CONSPIRACY!!!!! included a quote from the editor of Beyond Positive, a magazine for HIV+ people, condemning the misleading claims in an article entitled “Vitamin C fights it all, from measles to AIDS”.

Yeah. I’ll let that sink in, shall I? McTaggart’s rag promotes quackery for AIDS. The old wives’ tale that Vitamin C helps the immune system fight off infections was debunked a number of years ago. That doesn’t excuse you from eating your greens, but even if it had turned out to be effective in boosting defences against the common cold, it’s far from clear how Vitamin C could ever have been of use in revving up the immune system when the immune system is being directly targeted by an infection. It would be like trying to jump-start a car while somebody else takes a chainsaw to the wheels. Continue reading WDDTY on HIV/AIDS

WDDTY call for volunteers to help them sell FUD

(Originally posted at Plague Of Mice)

FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Quacks and other frauds, including extremist politicians, use this to sell you lies and false hope. Bigots of all types thrive on it. It’s the misshapen bastard offspring of many logical fallacies, born of such an horrendously incestuous orgy of every conceivable form of stupidity and dishonesty that the only clearly identifiable parent is the confidence trickster. In my experience, when FUD is in the air then someone is about to try to rip you very comprehensively off.

An example: this curious missive turned up in my email this week.

DO YOU WANT TO BE FEATURED IN WDDTY?

Would you like to be featured in a future issue of What Doctors Don’t Tell You (WDDTY) magazine?

Now, it’s not unusual for magazines to call for personal stories, especially during the silly season when copy is short and the duty fantasist is on holiday. It is, however, extremely rare that such stories are presented in a balanced article, with the claims carefully examined for likelihood, logic or even being-made-up-just-to-get-your-name-in-the-paper-ness. That’s in reputable newspapers. With the likes of WDDTY, where the bigger the fuckwittery the more they love it, you just know what’s going to happen. So, what do they want this time? What are they hoping people will send in for free, so they can make money out of it? Let us read on…

You could be if:

–You’ve come off worse from an encounter with medicine, or

Come off worse from an encounter with medicine ? That’s strong language. No ifs, no buts, not even “feel you’ve had a poor experience”. So, they’re fishing for malcontents and hypochondriacs here, and the phrasing makes it quite clear that claims will be taken at face value. How is the supposed prejudice to be evaluated? Or, as is usual with quacks, will the anecdotes be published uncritically with no analysis at all?

–You’re an alternative practitioner with a successful case study you can tell us about.

Alternative practitioners, or magical mystery cure peddlers as they are more correctly called, have no medical training as a rule and are therefore completely unqualified to talk about medical issues. In any case, a case study is simply another form of anecdote, related by someone paid to listen to somebody else’s complaints.

You’ll also notice that WDDTY are not interested in any so-called “case studies” from real doctors. This is politely referred to as “cherry-picking”.

In both cases, we will need to include your name and photograph.  If you are an alternative practitioner, we will want to interview the patient, and also include his or her name and photograph.

Ooh, look! Free advertising if you send us your anecdotes!

So what are we looking for?

You’ve come off worse from an encounter with medicine:  This could be your story or a relative’s (and we assume they would be happy to be featured).  It could be a wrong diagnosis, a bad reaction to a drug, a surgical procedure that went wrong. . .anything that would qualify as ‘My Medical Horror Story’.

Now this is nasty. They are looking for anecdotes from, and about, anybody. Forget the breezy “we assume they would be happy to be featured”, what they’re hoping for are stories about people who are deceased and therefore can’t object to the half-assed superstitious suppositions of a dimwitted relative. They’re hoping for tales along the lines of “If only Great-Auntie May had consented to IV vitamin C for her breast cancer, she’d be 94 and still be here today. My mum is 50 and has been taking it for 6 months and isn’t dead yet, so it works”.

Bad reactions to drugs? Chemo – the usual target – has unpleasant side effects, true, but the goal is to save your life (or at least prolong it long enough to put your affairs in order and say goodbye to your loved ones) and untreated cancer is far, far worse. Otherwise, yes: allergic reactions sometimes occur, but it’s hardly the drug company out to get you. I’m allergic to just about every self-adhesive dressing on the market, even the hypoallergenic ones, but I don’t feel the need to hate and blame anyone for it. It’s my bad luck, and medical staff try to find a solution to the problem on the rare occasions I need a dressing on anything other than my salad.

Doctors are human. Wrong diagnoses occasionally happen, but that’s why you’re allowed to get a second opinion. You also get cases of a patient being so in denial about a major diagnosis that they cannot be brought to accept it, or the treatment that goes with it… How can I put this into the context of WDDTY? For example: did you know Lynne McTaggart, chief quackitor of WDDTY, is a HIV denialist?

You don’t sink much lower than that. Look, we can finish this together. Just take a deep breath and we’ll move on. We’re almost done.

You’re an alternative practitioner: Here we are looking for success stories, especially of chronic conditions that conventional medicine isn’t reversing.  It could also be an insight where you have ‘joined the dots’ and shed new light on a health problem.

First off, you don’t reverse anything in medicine, except maybe an ambulance in a hospital car park. It’s a word only quacks use, particularly those who claim that illness is due to an imbalance in the chakras or a blockage in your supernatural energy flows – or possibly your colon, though many seem to equate the two, selling laxatives for practically everything except rigor mortis.

Secondly, a single, unverified and unverifiable anecdote does not constitute anything that could conceivably “shed new light on a health problem”. Not even if it came from a qualified and experienced researcher, let alone ignorant, untutored snake-oil sellers or their befuddled victims. And that’s assuming the stories aren’t made up just to get name and photo in the rag, rather than being an honest mishmash of misunderstanding, superstition and egomania.

In either case, please send a quick outline of your story to:
[email protected]

And remember to include your contact details.

We’re really looking forward to hearing your story.

My best

Bryan Hubbard
Publisher

Yes, it may seem more than odd that the publisher should be touting for anecdotes, rather than the rag’s editor, but Hubbard is in fact Lynne McTaggart’s husband. WDDTY is a self-published joint venture. Of course it is. What’s the best way of ensuring you maximise your revenues from a paper or book? And they want people to contribute material for free…

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