U.K. woo-woo mag slams skeptics causing them trouble. Hilarity ensues.

The notoriously bad rag What Doctor’s Don’t Tell You has gone bonkers on their Facebook page. Nothing unusual there. Guy Chapman gives us an update of the nonsense going on as they decry skeptical activists who are making a difference (and causing WDDTY heartburn).

WDDTY goes “the full Errol” @ Guy Chapman’s Blahg.

The fake health magazine “What Doctors Don’t Tell You” (WDDTY) has lost its place on the shelves of Tesco, and it’s obviously hurting. They are urgently in need of credibility, and nothing says credibility quite like a creepy dig around the private lives of your critics. Especially when it shows that your hugely important project has been holed below the waterline by the efforts of a handful of private individuals blogging in their spare time.

Check out their Facebook page.

As you know, we have been the target of a concerted campaign to get the store chains to stop stocking us. The architects of this campaign are the same people who spend a good deal of time attacking and harassing alternative practitioners of every variety.

Their numbers aren’t large (there’re only about 80 of them in total), and they aren’t well followed (Alan Henness of the Nightingale Collaboration, for instance, has just 462 followers on Twitter; Simon Singh, just 44 actively following him), but they are well organized and fueled by a good deal of self-righteous passion about their mission, which is to stamp out what they view as quackery (ie, natural medicine of every variety, particularly the likes of homeopathy).

Stamp out for a damn good reason! That stuff does not work and it’s disingenuous to say that it does.

Needless to say, they get their facts hilariously wrong, or present them as sinister. (Apparently I [Guy] am a suspicious character because – hold your breath – I sing IN A CHOIR! How evil is that?) Three of the targets are the same ones who bore the brunt of cancer quack Errol Denton’s malicious nonsense before his conviction under the Cancer Act.

Notice how they say Simon Singh (@SLSingh) has only 44 followers on Twitter. That’s about as accurate as most of the content of WDDTY: the real number if 54,000. Another of their targets apparently changes the spelling of her name as she commutes South from one job to another, several hundred miles, apparently, if you believe WDDTY (I seriously advise you never to do that).

Their incandescent rage appears to have been sparked first by Tesco withdrawing the rag from sale, then by the fact that they used a copyright image without permission and had to change their “hilarious” spoof cover. This is discussed at “What Doctors Don’t Tell You Don’t Tell You”, a group blog dedicated to dissecting the crap published by WDDTY.

The final irony is that the author of the Facebook post, almost certainly Lynne McTaggart, accuses the skeptics of lacking medical qualifications, but in the next breath castigates the Advertising Standards Authority for relying on the advice of Edzard Ernst, who not only has a valid medical qualification, but was also the UK’s first professor of complementary and alternative medicine. In short, not only is he qualified, he is almost certainly the most qualified person in the UK to write about alternatives to medicine!

McTaggart herself, of course, has no medical qualifications, and has also written books purportedly on quantum physics, despite the fact that she knows nothing whatsoever about that either (unlike Simon Singh, whose PhD is in physics).

WDDTY’s Facebook post is an excellent source for skeptics looking for source materials in courses on critical thinking and logical fallacies. On the minus side, this post and other information shows that despite fulminating against skeptics “harassing” alternative practitioners by reporting false advertising to the authorities, the editors are actively engaged in genuine harassment of those who dare to question their assertions and check their sources.

‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’ mag threatens legal action against Simon Singh (UPDATE: libel backtracking) [From October 2012]

Thanks to Guy Chapman for contributing this piece. Rock on, our favorite UK quackbusters!

  10 comments for “U.K. woo-woo mag slams skeptics causing them trouble. Hilarity ensues.

  1. Angela
    July 2, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    An observation I have made about all of the “woo” folks, from paranormal die-hard believers to quackamedics. Every last one of them measures levels of success by how many ‘fans’ or ‘followers’ there are.

    If five thousand people believe a lie–it is still a lie. The fact that so many look to testimonials and gaining a following as a substitute for actual science and sound information was one of the first things about the whole mess of ’em that turned me off.

  2. drwfishesman
    July 2, 2014 at 11:08 PM

    Why don’t they just sue Simon Singh for libel. History has shown that tactic to be a smashing success.

  3. Peter Robinson
    July 3, 2014 at 2:04 AM

    Great news! The campaign against WDDTY is obviously hurting them bad. Did my tiny bit by writing to Tesco to complain about them stocking the rag. Just shows that a bit of skeptical activism can have an effect. Their resort to inaccurate ad hominem attacks is a sign of weakness. Time to step up the pressure when they are in a corner.

  4. chemical
    July 3, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    I read both Chapman’s and WDDTY’s pages and I must say, this fight isn’t even fair. I’d use the ‘bring a knife to a gun fight’ analogy, but it’s more like Chapman’s battalion of tanks vs. WDDTY’s 6 year old with a squirt gun.

    Nice to see this particular house of cards collapsing. Thanks Mr. Chapman.

  5. July 3, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    Although I’m not a fan of online activism, I just tried responding to Tesco on the issue and found some difficulties. It appears that their inquiry form requires a British-format telephone number and nothing else will do. I don’t like faking a number but the form does not allow you to finish until you use a set of digits that conforms to the UK system. I guess this makes a certain amount of sense since their customer base is local, but I’d like to think that world opinion can be brought to bear on this.

    “Hello, although I don’t live in the UK, I visit there on a regular basis and have been hearing about this awful publication called What Doctors Dont Tell You. At the risk of submitting myself to the magazine’s advert department, I checked through one issue and several lurid covers and am appalled that this sort of medical quackery — to the point of endangering people with nonsensical fearmongering and useless nostrums — can be publicly displayed. I would strongly encourage Tesco to discontinue this sort of charlatan pseudoscience which goes beyond simply misinforming and reaches into the realm of dangerously advocating false promises. Thank you for your attention.”

  6. Adam
    July 3, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    Their facebook rant seems to be little more than an extended ad hominem attack against their detractors.

  7. Ken McLeod
    July 4, 2014 at 1:04 AM

    Activist skepticism works. Sitting on bums and just grumbling does not.

  8. Bill T.
    July 7, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    “… stamp out what they view as quackery (ie, natural medicine of every variety, particularly the likes of homeopathy).” NOT HOMEOPATHY too! Why not homeopathy, because non-active concoctions are harmless (other than selling products under false pretenses, of course)?

    Sound like my kind of folks.

  9. Bill T.
    July 7, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    See the Oct 2012 update?

  10. Lee
    July 7, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    It is amazing that the reality or validity of a skeptical claim is weighed so heavily upon the variable of how many followers you have on Twitter. Preposterous.

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