The random thoughts of a sceptical activist

WDDTY: Waging war on “doctor-induced disease”

What does the two-decade-old ‘endorsement’ by The Times really say?

Any reader not aware of the current fuss and bother over the What Doctors Don’t Tell You magazine can find a comprehensive list of blog posts, etc curated by Josephine Jones: WDDTY: My Master List.

In a recent spat — after The Times published an article by Tom Whipple (Call to ban magazine for scaremongering) — WDDTY posted a scan of part of a 1989 Times article that appeared to praise their original (online subscription) publication of the same name, saying it was “A voice in the silence”.

WDDTY use this same endorsement 24 years later on their main website, the WDDTY subscription website for their latest glossy, supermarket edition (although they get the quote mixed up with others) and in the glossy magazine itself.

Despite calls for them to publish the complete article, its editor, Lynne McTaggart, has not obliged, so I will.

The Times

Note the charming cartoon of WDDTY being used to beat up a doctor.

I’ll leave you to ponder the full article, but here are some quotes:

[WDDTY] promises to reveal all those irritating little things the GP has been keeping to himself, such as the potential side-effects of drugs.

McTaggart: “[WDDTY] will wage war on “doctor-induced disease” — illnesses triggered by prescribed drugs.”

McTaggart: “We are not gunning for doctors and we are not an alternative medicine journal. We feel that the cure should be worth the side-effects, and that people have a right to as much knowledge as possible so they can make an informed decision.”

[McTaggart] feels her magazine is needed because people may be willing to lose their hair to achieve remission from cancer — but not to cure a headache.

McTaggart: “We will be exposing alternative therapists, too”

McTaggart: “[doctors are] being taught that vitamins and diet are not important and there is a pill for every ill.”

McTaggart: “It is impossible for the average doctor, unless he has a computer, to understand how all these drugs can react and overlap. They can only trust the regulatory bodies.”

McTaggart: “If we ever make any money out of this I’d like to use it as a lobbying body in Britain.”

McTaggart says her journal will accept no advertising — “we have to remain pure”

WDDTY is not without promotional gimmicks. Subscribers will receive a free copy of the What Doctors Don’t Tell You guide to the side effects of drugs — a “ready reference guide” to fit into a Filofax [a kind of portable, tree-based information retrieval system — Zeno]

One of the future stories puffed in the sample issue is “New tests for candida sufferers”, together with “Alternative cancer therapies: what’s really working?”, “Why you should think twice about immunizing your child” and “Why to avoid ultrasound tests if you’re pregnant”

The sample [magazine] leads on a report entitled “The breakthrough that backfired” and accuses doctors of over-using antibiotics “once reserved for life-threatening illnesses” because of an “unholy alliance” between doctor and patient that all illnesses can be treated with drugs.

Antibiotics, the article goes on to say, can weaken the immune system, leaving the body open to candida, “gastro-intestinal or hormonal disorders, severe allergies, psoriasis or even multiple schlerosis [sic]

Quackbusting

The article goes on to quote Caroline Richmond, founder of the Council Against Health Fraud (now known as HealthWatch), dismissing the publication as a “scaremongering crusade” and saying “my quackbusting detector is working overtime at the sound of this.”

She also questioned WDDTY’s ‘volunteer advisory panel’ of “top medics”, asking why there were so few real doctors. Blogger Josephine Jones has recently had to ask a very similar question: WDDTY: The Editorial Panel. The answer Josephine gives may not be all that surprising.

McTaggart was asked if she was “worried about protests from the multi-billion pound drug industry which should find the new publication a bitter pill to swallow?”, apparently. Her answer:

My first book was on baby stealing in the United States, attacking six powerful lawyers. They didn’t like what I had written but they had to admit it was fair. Accuracy is a powerful weapon

Has What Doctors Don’t Tell You lived up to this billing? Has it been successful? Have they exposed alternative therapists? Has its attitude to doctors, conventional treatments and evidence changed in the intervening two decades? Have they been a voice in the silence?

I’ll leave that for you to decide.

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