Lynne McTaggart tweets: “Last year drug-company lobbyists tried to ban WDDTY – but we WON. Please vote us Health Website of the Year TODAY”. This is of course a malicious lie – if she had any evidence she would already have published it. The sole grounds for this mendacious claim appears to be that McTaggart’s only experience is with people whose writing is blatant shilling for their own commercial interests; as a result, she does not seem to be able to understand any motive other than naked profit. Now read on…. Continue reading Lynne McTaggart attacks critics with blatant lies
We in the reality-based community always wonder why quacks and cranks are unable to understand any motive other than profit. After all, it’s not as if their entire industry is founded on charlatans seeking to profit from the misery of others, is it?
Oh, hang on…
As a loyal “pharma-sponsored troll” it would be remiss of me not to alert you, my fellow minions of the drug overlords, to this blatant effort to stir up a quacklash against W. H. Smith, who have apparently at last done the decent thing and dropped the “viciously, viciously anti-vaccine” McTaggart’s Andrex substitute from sale.
There’s an email address there. You know what to do.
Don’t bother commenting on WDDTY’s Facebook wall, though, it will be censored for free speech.
- If you are a member of the Consumers’ Association, you might like to ask them what their views are on conspiracy-mongering quack advertorial masquerading as health and consumer advice.
- If you are a listener or viewer of consumer affairs programmes such as You And Yours, you might like to pick one or two of the grossly misleading and inaccurate stories in recent issues and invite their views.
- The “electrosmog doctor” has another advert repeating the claims adjudicated as misleading by the ASA – no need to report this as it’s already been done, but you might feel motivated to comb the pages and highlight any other repeat offenders.
- A few supermarkets (allegedly including Tesco again) stock WDDTY. If you are on good terms with the in-store pharmacist, why not show them some of the more egregious stories in the issues on sale? Their professional reputation is being trashed by a product their employer is selling.
- Finally – and most important – if you are being paid by “big pharma” please put us in touch, we could use the cash.
Reblogged from Gareth Lewry’s blog, with permission.
Here is a hint, Doctor’s don’t tell you it because it’s crap!!
So I came across the “What Doctors Don’t Tell You” Facebook Page earlier today. I have known for sometime that this is essentially aimed at people who want an alternative view to the mainstream medicine approach to curing your ails, and cant be bothered to educate themselves any further than this.
On the surface it looks OK, the articles are compelling and full of what they call “science”. However that is the surface. When you dig a bit deeper you see that most of the articles and information they are conveying to the public is disingenuous to say the least.
Here is an example of a post on FB:
Now, this post is typical of what they are doing, they are sensationalising the story Massively, however there are some half truths in there that make it credible, and therefore lends to being a source of credible information. However as they have given a source for their article I decided as a good sceptic, it would be irresponsible of me not to back up the information I’m reading by going back to the original source……and here it is: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/140701.htm
As you can see the FB post says that Acrylamide definitely causes cancer, but when I look at the actual press release, I’m buggered if I can find the phrase “definitely causes cancer” or anything near it. Posting this sort of disingenuous misinformation is dangerous, because people who solely read this for their scientific information are already on the wrong path and will end up believing this nonsense.
So as my good deed for the day I thought I would help them out. Here is my response to them:
I hope they understand I’m only trying to help…. by actively discrediting this nonsense before people buy to much into this. However as I am relatively new to this, I implore you all to to be careful what you read especially about health and science. I will always post references to articles so at least you will have the source of information, and if I get it wrong (as we all do from time to time) I welcome feedback, as it is a learning experience for me as well.
As proof, I offer the Facebook post captured at right, from WDDTY’s wall, where all dissenting views are ruthlessly excised because free speech.
Notice two things:
First, McTaggart leads with a ridiculous personal attack on Laura and Mike Thomason, two people whose identities they seem to think are a sinister secret, presumably because they have never heard of Google or are truly incompetent at following the projects of their self-declared nemesis Simon Singh.
Laura, as all UK skeptical activists know, is painstakingly scrupulous in being fair to those she critiques. I can find no evidence at all that she has called for the banning of WDDTY- but of course as far as McTaggart is concerned any campaign designed to force WDDTY to be honest in its self-promotion and content, is precisely that: a call for it to be banned. Presumably they know, deep down, that they cannot ever be factual and honest.
I cannot think of anybody who it would be more insane to describe as a troll, though of course cranks have always used such labels for anyone who does not accept their belief on their own say-so – it’s a way of managing the cognitive dissonanceW.
Nothing says “credible health resource” quite like vitriolic personal attacks against private individuals who have a reputation for being fair, polite and reserved.
According to WDDTY, Singh says that “every drug works and is perfectly safe”. This will come as news to the followers of All TrialsW, championed by Sense About ScienceW and Simon, who have been critiquing “big pharma” for covering up the fact that all drugs do not work and are not perfectly safe. In fact, I have never heard anybody, even the most hardened shill for big pharma, claim that all drugs are effective or that any drug is perfectly safe. Most, however, are both effective and acceptably safe.
As to the idea that “alternatives don’t work at all”, I cite Minchin’s Law: “By definition, alternative medicine has either not been proved to work, or been proved not to work. You know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work? Medicine.”
Simon Singh is not in denial about this. Alternative treatments can be tested, objectively. A few have been found to be effective. They are no longer alternative. By definition.
I Am More Powerful Than Google (apparently)
Reblogged from SouthwarkBelle with permission
So, it’s been a bizarre evening so far.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a short article on the magazine “What Doctors Don’t Tell You” (WDDTY). I was concerned that they hadn’t accurately represented a piece of research about possible links between antidepressant use in pregnancy and autism in children. It got a few comments, which was nice. For some reason my comments system is a bit screwy, one of the comments didn’t actually show up on the blog, but I got an automatic email telling me about it so I copy – pasted it in and that was that (see! this is the level of Google-destroying technical genius you have here dear reader).
Then, earlier today, WDDTY posted a screenshot of that comment on their Facebook group. You can see it here: You can also see the claim that the link it included was intended to manipulate Google and mess up web traffic to WDDTY.
Firstly, that’s not how the internet works.
The link in the comment will take people to WDDTY in a way that won’t INCREASE their Google rankings. Now if I were some über powerful web presence and the majority of WDDTY’s readers were accessing their site through me, say for example, if I were MORE POWERFUL THAN GOOGLE then that might be an issue, but sadly, I’m not. If I could get that kind of traffic to my blog I would have advertising the length and breadth of it and I wouldn’t have spent 40 minutes this evening on a commuter train with my head in someone’s armpit*. But I don’t. I get a few thousand hits a month. Most of those are repeat visitors so in terms of unique visitors I’m looking at maybe the low hundreds. I am small, small fry.
It wasn’t even me who put the link there, it was a comment made by someone else. Ordinarily I always include links to anything I write about. I want readers to go to the source and make up their own minds. So I thought long and hard about it with this post. In the end my personal feelings were that the depression/autism story badly misrepresented the science, and that in so doing it posed a real risk of distressing already vulnerable women. I assumed that WDDTY have advertising on their website and that the more people visit the site, the more money they will make from those adverts (I don’t know if that’s true, I was guessing). I knew that the number of people reading my blog wouldn’t make much difference to that but I decided, as a matter of principle, not to link to it. I told readers they could find the magazine in shops and I assumed they could Google it if they wanted to. The link that WDDTY is now complaining about was in a comment made by Guy Chapman, I was glad to have it so my readers could see what I was talking about without helping WDDTY out in the process. I don’t think I had even heard of Guy Chapman before he commented.
All that, unfortunately doesn’t matter to the supporters of WDDTY. One of them is now calling for my blog to be blacklisted by organisations that rate the trustworthiness of websites. Apparently, because I allow comments on my blog I should be shut down.
Wow. just Wow.
Interestingly, none of these supporters have commented on the blog post I wrote. Neither has anyone from WDDTY, although they have clearly visited the site.
The comments box is right there if I have the science wrong.
I’m really not a big deal, I have absolutely no influence over Google. I’m a mum who works part-time in a lab for a charity. When I get time I write blog posts about my kids, about good causes and about the way the media misrepresents scientific stories concerning mothers and pregnant women. I have no idea if Guy Chapman and Josephine Jones are the same person, I’ve never met him/her/them and I’m not on a personal mission to shut down WDDTY. I’ve written this blog for 5 years and I’ve criticised various organisations, the Telegraph, the NCT etc. none of the others ever tried to set their supporters on me, or have me shut down.
Anyway, I have to go clear up the kitchen now, then sort out the kids clothes for tomorrow and hope I can get a bit of sleep before my baby wakes up screaming at 5am, such is the life of the internet’s evil overlord….
*This is artistic licence. I am freakishly tall, he had his head in my armpit (which is at least a little less horrible).
Reblogged from Guy Chapman’s Blahg.
It’s not news that SCAM believers are also into conspiracy theories. Global epicentre of bullshit The Whale is only the most notorious example of the crank magnetism that draws believers in the unverifiable and implausible together.
Naturally this provides a fertile source of mirth. For example, Lynne McTaggart stated as fact that I am @_JosephineJones, an idea so self-evidently ludicrous that I had no reservations over replying: “Yes, Lynne, you’ve got me: like electrons, there is only one skeptic in the universe, I get about a lot”.
McTaggart believed it! And when @JoBrodie pointed out it was a blindingly obvious piss-take, Tat Maggot deleted Jo’s comment because free speech is so important.
Today, another one:
Yes, according to Loon McTagnut not only am I Josephine Jones, I am also @southwarkbelle. And a Dark Lord of Google (I love this, I am so shit at SEO that I will substitute her reality for mine on this, any time!).
Better still: apparently there are “canaries in [my] midst”, which raises the rather amusing possibility that Lynne is not just making this shit up out of thin air, but being actively and very expertly trolled. Whoever it is, keep it up!
Obviously there’s a serious side. McTaggart seriously believes that there is a sinister conspiracy to discredit her, using such underhand techniques as demonstrating her history of AIDS denialism. The bastards.
Actually of course we suck badly at conspiracy. Rule no. 1 for a successful conspiracy: don’t do it using open social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
And collaboration is not conspiracy. Of course we collaborate and share and talk and joke, we have a lot of interests in common, especially debunking quackery and bigging up SCIENCE, because it rocks.
Get a group of skeptics together you’d almost certainly find we’re all fans of Ben Goldacre and the Infinite Monkey Cage. You’ll also find that we’re very different. The youngest are teenagers, the oldest are retired. There are gay men, young mums, single people, secular Muslims, atheists, even Christians. Most of us have a scientific education, that’s the root of the common ground.
And it’s why the cranks will eventually lose. Nothing about SCAM is new, really: the cognitive errors are old, the appeals to fallacious reasons are old, the conspiracy theories are old. Nothing about modern SCAM is in any way qualitatively different from the 19th century snake oil salesman or the bible-belt creationist.
And if you look at the lesson of history, increasing societal education tends to correlate with decreasing belief in gods. The New Age will wane as the religions of old waned. And the public will again move away from belief in nonsense. At least I hope so.
I just hope it doesn’t take a modern-day equivalent of the 1950s polio epidemics to cause people to wake up and smell the bat guano as sold by every woo-monger in Britain.
(Reblogged with permission from Labcoats Unbuttoned)
I was recently (for a short while) involved in posting on the Facebook page for our favourite magazine, ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’. We’ve talked about this rag before, but since then the ‘war’ between the skeptics and the toilet paper has escalated in spectacular style. Rather than try to document this here, it’s probably best to link to the ‘Master List’ drawn up by Josephine Jones on her blog, which is a comprehensive summary of both the dangerous reporting in the magazine along with responses from consumers and retailers regarding the recent attempts to have their ‘homeopathy for cancer’ issue withdrawn from sale in major supermarkets. It’s a fantastic resource, and worth going through.
Now, I WAS engaged in online debate with some of their fans and readers, but this is sadly past tense. Why so? This is because I, alongside several other skeptics, got banned from the page, with our comments deleted leaving embarrassing threads of people who appear to be talking to themselves. From a magazine that cries ‘FREE SPEECH!’ as soon as anyone does something so pesky as I don’t know, ASKING THEM TO BACK UP THEIR CLAIMS WITH EVIDENCE, this is somewhat hypocritical. Apparently we were deleted for (non-existent) ‘personal attacks’, yet a WDDTY supporter who called me a ‘plebeian wage slave’ remains on the page.
One thing that really struck me when talking to people on the page, was the brainwashed, cult-like mindset of some of their ‘followers’. Homeopaths serving up so-called evidence for their claims: that I expected, but what really saddened me was the hero-worship from the general public, who genuinely seem to believe that Lynne McTaggart and her magazine are spearheading a noble crusade against evil Big Pharma. Never mind the dozens of scientists providing concrete evidence to refute their claims-they must all be being paid to do so. It’s classic conspiracy thinking, and very, very similar to what we saw with the Umlingo juice for HIV. Then, as now, the ludicrous claims are so laughably easy to debunk that it is truly exasperating how some people can be so blind. There is genuine ignorance and there is genuine wickedness, and the irony is that while they dismiss their critics as being in the pay of Big Pharma, they publish articles about vitamin C curing all diseases alongside full-page, paid adverts for vitamins. Hypocrisy? Surely not?.
Sometimes Quacks can be somewhat clever. Ben Goldacre devoted an entire book to the clever and subtle tricks that can be used to mislead when it comes to science and in particular healthcare science. Statistics are tricky, and it’s easy enough to manipulate them so that your average untrained (or even trained) eye glosses over the error. What WDDTY do is on a whole other level. It’s so hilariously botched, so pathetically obvious that you almost have to admire their nerve in keeping a straight face as they spout this crap.
Case in point: the most recent post on their Facebook page (and on Lynne McTaggart’s own social media pages):
OUR ESTIMATES OF HARM FROM HPV VACCINE WAS TOO CONSERVATIVE
We’ve been attacked for reporting that the HPV vaccine has been linked to 68 deaths, but our figures now seem too conservative.
An issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (July 26, 2013 / 62(29);591-595), the weekly report prepared by the US government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that between June 2006 and March 2013, the US’s Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System has received approximately 1671 reports to be exact – of ‘serious’ adverse events occurring in girls who’d received the HPV4 vaccine.
Reports are classified as ‘serious’ if they include one or more of the following, said the CDC: hospitalization , prolongation of an existing hospitalization , permanent disability, life-threatening illness, or death.
This relates to a previous article Labcoats Unbuttoned did on HPV vaccines and we mostly dealt with the actual vaccine in that post. I’m bringing this up again to illustrate a point about how not only does this magazine cherry pick, mislead and manipulate, they very simply flat-out LIE, and that is the only way of putting it.
They’ve often been criticised for not posting their references, well here they did, and thus the egg met the face. Their ‘source’ is this CDC report. I thought I’d go through what they are claiming and compare it to what is in the report. ‘1671 reports of serious adverse effects’ – true, but neglecting to mention that this is out of 56 MILLION doses given from June 2006 through March 2013. They actually received 21,194 reports of adverse effects, 92.1% of these were classified as non-serious. These can include things like fainting (common in people with a phobia of needles) through to hives, slight fever, localised redness or swelling, etc. These adverse effects are seen across all vaccines. In the ‘serious’ adverse effects, the most common included headaches, fever, weakness, nausea and vomiting. Now, as we addressed previously, serious side effects are an unfortunate part of any vaccination program. They do occur, at rates which are clearly defined (by this exact sort of report on the available data) and there is no ‘cover up’. Actually, 1 serious adverse event in approximately 35,000 doses is in line with or slightly better than what you would expect for most vaccines. No health intervention comes without risk.
What is crucial is that the risk is balanced by the reward, and here WDDTY have been very sneaky indeed. They’ve splashed their ‘evidence’ with a misleading headline and a negative spin, completely neglecting to mention that actually, the report then goes on to discuss that there is no good evidence the vaccine is unsafe, and makes strong, unambiguous recommendations that we need to improve the current vaccination program to ensure better uptake of the HPV vaccine. Far from supporting their agenda, this report directly contradicts them – WDDTY says the vaccine is dangerous while quoting a report that says more people need to have it.
Here is the crucial paragraph in the document which WDDTY seem to have scrolled past:
‘Approximately 79 million persons in the United States are infected with HPV, and approximately 14 million will become newly infected each year. Some HPV types can cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancer among women; penile cancer among men; and anal and some oropharyngeal cancers among both men and women. Other HPV types can cause genital warts among both sexes. Each year in the United States, an estimated 26,200 new cancers attributable to HPV occur: 17,400 among females (of which 10,300 are cervical cancer) and 8,800 among males (of which 6,700 are oropharyngeal cancers).’
That is what this vaccine is trying to protect people from. WDDTY, rather than addressing these statistics, choose instead to stick their fingers in their ears and LALALA, claiming that only 4000 new cases are reported every year. Unsure where they got that figure from – I assume they are capable of reading the paragraph above as well as I can. But I’ve given up on expecting better from them. I’m sad, however, that I’m now banned from the page and can’t call them out on their misguided claims and hypocrisy. One of their supporters, having read the report and as expected, become very confused as to why their claims didn’t match their reference, concluded that it was a ‘CDC’cover up, as it contradicted what WDDTY was saying. If that isn’t worshipping at the altar of a dangerous cult, I’m not sure what is, but for now I’ll sit here and wait, either for Lynne to get back to me on Twitter or for someone to magically produce whatever evidence WDDTY are privy to that the CDC are not. On both counts, I think I might be here for a while.
A FEW POINTERS FOR OUR MEDIA
On Thursday, the BBC’s Radio 4 Today show featured an interview with Glenn Greenwald, a former Guardian journalist, and they were talking about the revelations of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Greenwald’s position is that British and American intelligence agencies have been allowed to create a system of mass spying with no accountability and that reforms are necessary.
The BBC interviewer was arguing against the Snowden leaks, saying that they’d been incredibly useful to Al-Qaeda and were now on up on their website and consequently a terrible threat to western security.
Hang on a moment, said Greenwald (we’re paraphrasing here). ‘What website is this? Have you ever seen it?’
‘Uh, uh. . .’ the BBC reporter said, and kept stuttering until Greenwald cut in, ‘You’re just accepting what the government tells you. You’re not being a proper journalist. I’m telling you, there is no such website.’
So Today put the Government’s assertion to Greenwald, and he torpedoed it. Anybody who expects the government to be straight about anything to do with intelligence or foreign affairs is living in a dream world.
So here’s a tip for our current media about cancer statistics and all things medical. We know it’s going to come as a shock, but we offer it as a pointer for free :
DON’T GET YOUR FACTS FROM THE GOVERNMENT. OR INDEED FROM CANCER CHARITIES LARGELY FUNDED BY THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY
Whoa, bait and switch, much? What WDDTY are basically saying is that cancer charities and the government are EXACTLY THE SAME in their motivations and biases.
This is transparent nonsense.
However, it introduces a nice ironic twist: if The Guardian is to be taken as a reliable source, as WDDTY’s statement implies, then they have a bit of a problem.
- The medical establishment shielded Andrew Wakefield from fraud claims
- ‘Choice’ fetish spawns mind-meltingly stupid homeopathy policy
- What doctors definitely won’t tell you
- Simon Singh threatened with legal action for criticising health magazine
- How to be beautifully, blissfully wrong about Tamiflu: just call it a bird flu vaccine
- Women and yogurt: what’s the connection?
So: The Guardian, which is cited as a peerless source of great journalism, has repeatedly shown WDDTY to be talking nonsense.
Ah, but wait: I think what Lynne means here is that whenever any source of any reliability contradicts WDDTY, we should always believe WDDTY.
Because the alternative would be to dispute her infallibility.
Over at the WDDTY Facebook page, we are beginning to wonder if Lynne McTaggart has handed the keys to Mohammad Saeed al-SahhafW, whose comically implausible propaganda was such a feature of the Iraq War.
So many of you have asked how we’re doing that I wanted to reassure you. We are all great – and so is What Doctors don’t Tell You. Our sales are hugely up, every last store that was behind us before the Times attacks is still behind us, our supporters are more vocal than ever. This story continues to go wildly viral around the world. Every attack on us has made us immeasurably stronger.
Every one apart from Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, that is – perhaps you forgot about them?
How many copies were bought by skeptics looking for material for blogs, I wonder? A lot if the current coverage is anything to go by.
The episode with the Times and the sustained attempt to censor us has motivated the many thousands of those who care about non-drug based medicine – in fact, those who care deeply about change and evolution – to stop apologizing for their views and unabashedly stand up for them. And it has simply strengthened our resolve that what we’re doing is more necessary than ever.
Oh, Lynne, you keep saying this and it keeps being very obviously false. Your freedom of speech is not in any way impaired by your poisonous inaccurate rag not being stocked where it might mislead people into thinking it offers genuine health advice.
It’s not about “non drug based medicine” – supplements are drugs too, and herbal medicines are medicines, just of unknown dose and unproven effect.
What your critics care about is accuracy in health advice. Start providing that, and your problem goes away!
Don’t be deceived by the few highly vocal trolls who have attempted to undermine us on these pages and in the social media. The millions of people interested in a new type of health care – indeed a new type of life – far outnumber those who don’t. You represent a giant nation of consumer and political power. All we need is to organize a little more and shout a little louder.
The idea that the vox populi can make science not be true is, I am sure, especially seductive to one like Lynne who believes in homeopathyW, but it is, alas, fallacious. In fact, it makes the problem worse. You see, it doesn’t matter how loudly you insist on the right to be able to promote homeopathy as a cancer cure or vitamin C as a cure for AIDS, the facts remain the facts. Homeopathy does not cure anything, including cancer, and vitamin C does not cure AIDS.
Promoting the idea that you can earn the right to say these things, or even make them true, by shouting loudly, just increases the pressure for some regulatory action to be taken to stop it.
Because, in the end, it’s dangerous and irresponsible to make these claims.
Many of you have asked what you can do to help. You can help us most at the moment by buying What Doctors Don’t Tell You at your local newsstand (find out about your closest store or subscribe at www.wddtysubscribe.com ) Make us even stronger and we’ll continue to be your very noisy mouthpiece.
WDDTY is a noisy mouthpiece for a large, unscrupulous and unethical supplement industry. Sadly, you are their patsies. As long as you and your friends keep making scientifically unsupportable claims, they don’t have to: and thus they escape scrutiny. You say goji berries are a miracle cure for the usual grab-bag of things, they just have to sell goji berries. If instead you were to focus on the science then they would either have to fund good quality studies (good luck with that, especially since good quality studies tend not to say what the supplement industry would like them to) or the claims would die out and people would be better informed.
We love natural things. We love our planet: many of us learned the types of fallacious antics used by the alt med and supplement industry by watching industry-funded climate denialists at work. It would be fantastic if there was a genuine, effective, natural cure for cancer.
Right now, the evidence says there isn’t. But that doesn’t stop a whole lot of people preying on cancer patients by claiming there is.
If and when one does arrive, it will be science that works out how to use it, in what quantity, what cancers it affects, how it works, and what other lessons might be learned. And throughout this no doubt long and arduous process, supplement vendors who pay close to nothing on R&D – your advertisers – will talk up and sell whatever is being investigated. Even if it turns out to be a bust.
Because that’s what they always do.
And you give them a free pass while promoting palpable nonsense undermining real medicines like vaccines.
We hope you are comfortable with your role in this exploitative industry: a noisy mouthpiece, I think you said?