Category Archives: Anti-science agenda

Dental fillings could be causing decay in other teeth

… scream WDDTY on their webshite in a brief post dated Thursday, October 29, 2015:

Dental fillings could be doing as much harm as good. They trigger decay in surrounding teeth in more than 60 per cent of cases, new research has found.

The chances of further decay are worsened by the technique of the dentist, especially if he or she isn’t following the latest practices, and by the oral hygiene of the patient.

One possibility could be that the dentist is damaging surrounding teeth when drilling and preparing the tooth that is to be filled.

In a review of 750 patients who had fillings, 61 per cent had decay in adjoining teeth within five years, researchers from the Nordic Institute of Dental Materials in Oslo discovered. Of these, 30 per cent needed filling.

The researchers said the risk was similar with all types of fillings, including amalgam, gold, glass ionomer, and porcelain.

(Source: Journal of Dentistry, 2015; 43: 1323-29)

All very scary. For once, given WDDTY‘s tendency to muck up the references, the journal and abstract are easy to find: they’re here.

So, are dental fillings per se triggering decay in surrounding teeth? Well, in a word:


Yes, once again WDDTY has totally misrepresented the findings of a study. What the researchers really concluded, in as many words, was:

Both patient- and dentist related variables are risk factors for caries development on approximal surfaces in contact with newly placed Class II composite restorations.

What are these patient-related variables? Dental hygiene, or the lack thereof. But you’d guessed that.

What are these dentist-related variables? Skill and technique, says the study.

I suspect we can add to that: not enough time spent on educating patients, especially the very young, about the necessities of dental hygiene and why fluoride is a good thing. Of course, like most medical professionals, dentists often don’t have much time to spend on prevention. Which is why irresponsible lies and scaremongering by rags like WDDTY is all the more reprehensible: they try to frighten people away from getting proper preventive care and real medical care.

Why don’t doctors tell you dental fillings could be causing decay in other teeth?

Because it’s  exactly as true as saying cars cause car accidents.

WDDTY Then And Now: 1998 interview with Lynne McTaggart

In November 1998 the Independent published an interview with Lynne McTaggart. We thought it might be interesting to see what’s changed since then.

Its hundredth issue, published in July 1998, included a letter from a doctor that condemns it as “inflammatory, scare-mongering hyperbole”.

OK, so that’s still the same…

So what are Lynne and her team doing to upset the medical establishment so much? Simply, she says, telling the truth.

That was as false then as it is now.

“It’s all about disclosure of information,” she explains. “Medicine is a sort of private conversation between doctors. We feel that we have to make this private conversation public; the public has the right to know so they can make informed choices about healthcare.”

Here’s the progress WDDTY has made towards that aim:

tumbleweed Continue reading WDDTY Then And Now: 1998 interview with Lynne McTaggart

The All Trials dilemma

This story is updated thanks to @JoBrodie and @_Josephine Jones, via Twitter.

WDDTY has a dilemma.

On the one hand, Ben GoldacreW’s book Bad PharmaW is, on the face of it, a gift to quacks, shining a light on chronic abuse of the clinical trials system by Big Pharma – and the All TrialsW initiative is a public campaign that is likely to effect material change.

On the other, WDDTY is part of the world characterised by Wally Sampson as “sectarian medicine”, where taking sides is the thing that matters most. Sectarianism is why quacks support each other even when their ideas are mutually exclusive. WDDTY cannot promote Bad Pharma or support All Trials, because Ben Goldacre is one of the most effective critics of quackery today, and All Trials is promoted by Sense About ScienceW.

As in politics: the mere fact of having been suggested by the “opposition” makes it ideologically impossible to get behind an idea, no matter how transparently sensible and correct it is.

Worse: the mere existence of these things is a fatal body blow to the idea that criticism of quackery is motivated by slavish devotion to “big pharma”, the most obvious example of the many thousands that already exist proving that the “pharma shill” claim is and always has been fallacious nonsense.

So WDDTY has been floundering as the story builds, ineffectually picking at the edges of a genuine grass-roots campaign which has already achieved more in a year than WDDTY has in its entire existence.

There is a pressing need to spin something as showing that the real world “supports” WDDTY’s agenda, in the face of the increasingly obvious fact that any connection between genuine need for action and WDDTY’s content is purely coincidental. Hence this News story from WDDTY on 7 Jan 2014:

The UK government is demanding greater openness from the pharmaceutical industry after it spent £424m on stockpiling the Tamiflu anti-viral drug without ever knowing if it would work.

The UK Parliament’s public accounts committee wants the release of all research data on every prescription drug available on the country’s National Health Service (NHS). It is “of extreme concern” that the true effectiveness, and safety, of prescription drugs remains unknown because the drugs industry refuses to reveal research data from drug trials, the committee has said.

Half of all trial data is never released, and this is invariably the ‘bad news’ about drugs not working properly or not being safe.

(Source: BBC News, January 3, 2014).

I thought this was the BBC story: Bacon MP: Drug companies ‘routinely’ twist research, but my Sinister Elves tell me it’s actually Lack of drug data ‘extreme concern’. Both cover the same event: the Public Accounts Committee’s call for all trial data to be published.

If it’s the first, I congratulate WDDTY on finding a story that supports the All Trials agenda without actually mentioning All Trials or Ben Goldacre (as so many do). Bonus points for getting a kick at Tamiflu (which also, er, wasn’t mentioned in the interview with Richard Bacon MP), promoting the WDDTY “nobody dies from flu and Tamiflu doesn’t work” agenda (unlike the badly off-message BBC News story on Jan 8: First N America H5N1 bird flu death confirmed in Canada).

If it’s the second, then we all get to point and laugh, because the longer story not only names the All Trials initiative, it also quotes Ben Goldacre and credits him as a leading player. And my Sinister Elves are likely right, meaning that WDDTY has plucked out the passing reference to Tamiflu and completely ignored the primary focus of the story, which is the Public Accounts Committee picking up on All Trials.

There’s none so blind as she that will not see, I guess.

It must be tricky seeing a story building that feeds your paranoid fantasies, and having so much of the coverage completely unusable because it mentions the reality-based community that is not only driving change, but is also exposing your own dangerous nonsense.

Hat tip: @JoBrodie, @_JosephineJones and many other fantastic Twitter followers of @WWDDTYDTY

What Doctors Don't Tell You
Why don’t doctors tell you that much industry-funded research is not published?

They do – and they are doing it vastly more accurately and effectively than WDDTY. Special thanks to Doctor Ben Goldacre!

Heartburn drugs increase risk of nerve damage, anaemia

heartburn bollocksWhat WDDTY said:

Heartburn drugs increase risk of nerve damage, anaemia

What the source said:

Previous and current gastric acid inhibitor use was significantly associated with the presence of vitamin B12 deficiency. These findings should be considered when balancing the risks and benefits of using these medications.

The source additionally shows that:

  • 12% of people with Vitamin B12 deficiency are taking PPIs (i.e. most are not)
  • 7.3% of people without Vitamin B12 deficiency are taking PPIs
  • 4.2% of people with vitamin B12 deficiency are taking H2RAs
  • 3.2% of people without vitamin B12 deficiency are taking H2RAs

Here’s how WDDTY interpreted this:

Heartburn and acid reflux medications are causing B12 deficiency, which can lead to nerve damage, anaemia and dementia. The medications, known as PPIs (protein pump inhibitors), increase the risk of vitamin deficiency by 65 per cent in those who take them longer than two years, say researchers at the Kaiser Permanente research division. Similar risks have been seen in those who take higher-strength drugs but for shorter periods. PPIs are among the most common pharmaceuticals; in the US alone, around 157 million prescriptions for the drugs are written every year. The researchers discovered the B12 deficiency risk when they analysed the records of 25,956 people with the deficiency and compared them to 184,199 people with normal levels of B12. Twelve per cent of those with a deficiency had been taken a PPI for at least two years compared to 7 per cent in the healthy group. (Source: JAMA, 2013; 310: 2435-42)

Sadly space did not permit the following quotes from the investigators:

These findings do not recommend against acid suppression for persons with clear indications for treatment, but clinicians should exercise appropriate vigilance when prescribing these medications and use the lowest possible effective dose.

At a minimum, the use of these medications identifies a population at higher risk of B12 deficiency, independent of additional risk factors. (emphasis added)

Here are some of the problems with WDDTY’s slant:

  • The study only covers courses of 2 years or more. The absence of the words “long-term” from the WDDTY headline is scaremongering.
  • The study does not show a link between PPIs and H2RAs and dementia, anaemia or nerve damage. This is a potential secondary effect of Vitamin B12 deficiency. The implied direct link is scaremongering.
  • The study results clearly show that if all PPI and H2RA mediated B12 deficiency stopped overnight, the overall effect on B12 deficiency levels would be barely noticeable.
  • As an observational study, no causal link is established (though it is entirely plausible and quite likely to be at least contributory).

So, WDDTY’s hysterical anti-medicine agenda leads it to turn “long-term use of certain classes of drugs for acid reflux may increase your risk of vitamin B12 deficiency” to “HEARTBURN MEDICINE CAUSES DEMENTIA“.

Now put yourself in the position of someone who has short-term acid reflux, perhaps as a result of pregnancy. Would the difference between these two statements be significant to you? You can see how an Ob-Gyn news journal covers the story here.

Who’s most at risk of dementia? Perhaps the following might have been considered relevant, taken from Ob Gyn News:

The association between vitamin B12 deficiency and the use of acid inhibitors was strongest among patients younger than 30 years of age and diminished with increasing age.

And why don’t doctors tell you this? Oh wait, they did. One of the researchers was part-sponsored by “big pharma”, even though the findings are clearly not to big pharma’s advantage.

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Evolution schmevolution

Crank magnetism. The force that draws believers in all forms of nonsense together, united against the common foe: reason.

A keyword search in the back-catalogue flagged up a word I wasn’t really expecting to see. A word that most woo-peddlers steer clear of (one of the rare exceptions is Chris Beckett of CureZone, seen here as “chrisb1” using the classic crank epithet “scientism” to describe anyone who prefers empirical evidence over faith; he also advocates colloidal silver, Budwig, Gerson, Gonzalez, Burzynski… but I digress).

Two pieces show tantalising hints of this most deeply-rooted of anti-scientific beliefs: denial of evolution by natural selection.

Mythical Monkeys
qotm“In the US, campaigners against evolution have won another small victory: next year school textbooks in Alabama will have to describe evolution as ‘a controversial theory some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things’ (Science, 1995; 270: 1305). ‘No one was present when life first appeared on earth,’ says the preferred text, ‘so any statement about life’s origins should be considered as theory, not fact.’”–BMJ, 1995; 311: 1650. (vol. 8 no. 1 April 1997)
Harald Gaier
The accumulating evidence means that, in today’s toxic conditions, we need to be especially vigilant not only for the sake of our own health, but for that of our children and their children, too. It also means that we need a radical rethink of how heredity and evolution work, integrating Lamarckian mechanisms into the theories of Darwin and Dawkins. Harald Gaier (vol. 19 no. 8, August 2008)

LamarckismW is of course wrong. Lamarck was right about evolution happening, but wrong about the mechanism. The correct understanding of the mechanism of inheritance is afforded primarily Mendelian geneticsW. Lamarckism suffered a bit of an image problem, having been the root of LysenkoismW, the disastrous Soviet policy, but it was 99% bunk before Lysenko and remained only 99% bunk afterwards.

Some people think that epigeneticsW somehow rescues Lamarckism from the scientific rubbish pile, but it doesn’t. Epigenetics is very restricted in scope and Mendelian genetics accounts for the vast majority of evolutionary behaviour. Lamarck was, basically, wrong; the fact that a few examples unknown to him have displayed a superficially similar effect, is coincidence.

There’s no outright evolution denial in WDDTY that I can find so far, but with its support for prayer, meditation and other trappings of the religious mindset, it’s not a stretch to believe there might be an undercurrent there.

The WDDTY wars: why they don’t want you to read all about it

tweetLong experience indicates that the reaction of cranks to criticism is very often to reframe it in terms that reduce cognitive dissonanceW, for example by dismissing scientific evidence as coming from “pharma shills”.

On October 3, WDDTY tweeted the following commentary to its followers. Continue reading The WDDTY wars: why they don’t want you to read all about it

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.


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

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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What ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’ really told you

From Tetenterre:

The tacky health-scare magazine self-styled “journal”, What Doctors Don’t Tell You, has been getting a little hot under the collar recently about things that it claims it is reported to have said, but didn’t really say. It’s also been making some rather surprising assertions about other things. Some of these are clearly silly “couldn’t be bothered to check”-type errors, others are more than that. You be the judge. This post will be added to as time and information permits.
The Claim The Reality
McTaggart (said) her journal would accept no advertising – “we have to remain pure” – Not only is approximately a quarter of each issue devoted to advertising (based on June 2013 issue), in February 2013, the Nightingale Collaboration reported that the Advertising Standards Authority had adjudicated against advertising in WDDTY to the tune of 54 CAP-Code breaches. This is in addition to eleven “informally resolved” cases (i.e. the advertising was acknowledged to be in breach of CAP-Codes and was amended voluntarily.)
“…the Nightingale Collaboration, a ragtag group who meet in a pub of the same name…” Errr.. there is no pub called The Nightingale Collaboration.
“…the pharmaceutically backed organization [Simon Singh] fronts, ‘Sense About Science’….” Sense About Science is a charity. Its accounts are therefore open to scrutiny.

Less than 5% of its funding comes from companies; none of these is a pharmaceutical company.

WDDTY complained: “The Times stated: we said vitamin C cures HIV.”
“Five Live followed up with a television debate about our magazine.” Five Live doesn’t do TV debates. (Clue: It is a radio station!)
“It’s also apparent from the information published in The Times and in all the media following that not one journalist or broadcaster has read one single word we’ve written, particularly on the homeopathy story, and for very good reason: the article and the magazine containing it in fact have not yet been published.” Ummm — WDDTY published their claims for homeopathy months ago!And bragged on Facebook about doing so!
(To the Times) “You have no idea yet what we’re going to write about, so how can you say we’re going to write that homeopathy ‘cures’ cancer?” Ummm… Maybe they were referring to a claim WDDTY has already made? (See above)
“Just to clarify yet another lie about us: we are not ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ vaccine.” From WDDTY, June 2013: “The safest interpretation is that the MMR increases the risk of autism by 5 per cent”
“Not one of the newspapers, radio shows or television stations bothered to contact us, even to solicit a comment,,,” The Times journalist who reported on the campaign to get the magazine off supermarket shelves sent this email:

And phoned twice:

(Having had no reply from the “Editorial” department, he next tried “Accounts and General Management”)

“…the Swiss government decided that there is some proof of homeopathy…” It did nothing of the sort! See Zeno’s Blog for what really happened.
“For months, Singh, whose Sense About Science group has the sponsorship of the British Pharmaceutical Association…” If the The British Pharmaceutical Association actually exists and is not just something else made up by McTaggart, it is not a sponsor of Sense About Science.
“[Waitrose] are not one of our stockists” Curious. That’s not what the distributor thinks:

“The letter being sent out by the Times to our readers…” The Times is sending out letters to WDDTY readers?
Is WDDTY implying that the Times somehow got hold of the WDDTY subscriber database?
Has anyone ever actually seen one of these letters?
What does become apparent is that WDDTY needs some sort of disclaimer on a lot of what it asserts!