In the October issue of The Cockermouth Post, a short and pointed letter from a local homeopath was printed on page 3.
Now, confession time. I do have a little ‘history’ with the non-medicine providing trained professional. A little while ago I responded by email to her posting an advert in the Post, which suggested homeopathic ‘remedies’ for young people. I asked her for details of what it takes to be a trained homeopath and how she could justify her generic advice when homeopathy is supposed to be aimed at the individual. The reply was simple and polite, though did not really address all my points. A short while later, another email arrived, this time asking if I’d reported the ‘clinic’ to the Advertising Standards Authority. Aparrently, the NLC website was being challenged about its claims. My reply was simple. No I hadn’t, though we’d be happy for her to either give a talk to our meeting, or meet me for a coffee and a chat. There was no further reply from her.
Then comes the letter. So, here is my reply (which may or maynot be published in The Cockermouth post next month). At least it has appeared here (and on the West Cumbria SitP blog)
Dear Editor, It was kind of Carey Blanden (homeopath at the North Lakes Clinic) to thank us last month for drawing her attention to the magazine ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’ in a “recent issue” of The Post. Unfortunately, she seems to be confused on two counts. Firstly, I have only mentioned WDDTY twice since the formation of the West Cumbrian Skeptics – issue 366 (February) and issue 369 (May). I don’t consider five months ago to be particularly recent (except in geological terms). Secondly, I feel the term ‘magazine’ is overly grand for a publication that purports to give health advice, yet shamelessly promotes diets and treatments that, in some cases, border on the ill-advised or dangerous. It is produced by two, non-scientifically and non-medically trained individuals, with articles by a range of ‘experts’, most of whom have no conventional medical education. For further information, Josephine Jones has compiled a useful list of references for anyone to check through for themselves. I hope Carey enjoys the magazine subscription (I actually believe she has been a reader for a while), though hope others soon realise that the “backed up by scientific research”statement is at best hyperbole, and at worst misleading or untrue. One final point, just for the record, The Society of Homeopaths had a recent ‘pasting’ from the Advertising Standards Authority about their misleading claims on treatments. Find the details here
West Cumbrian Skeptics
Please note: This is an opinion piece, though based on the best internet searches that money and time can buy. Do check the references for yourselves.
This is much harder than I thought! In my previous blog I commented on an email from What doctors Don’t Tell You magazine, and stated that I was about to review the current issue. Well, I’ve managed to get past the headlines on the cover, which include “Just in-case masectomy”, “The Big Cancer Cover-up” and “I said no to chemo and beat cancer”, and the ambulance chasers advert on page two.
Now came the the list of people involved in producing WDDTY. Let’s break it down:
Editors: Lynne McTaggart, Bryan Hubbard (husband of LM)
Managing Editor: Joanna Evans
Contributors: Dr Harald Gaier, Dr Rob Verkerk , Dr Patrick Kingsley, Dr Annemarie Colbin
Now, all of these names are new to me , except Lynne McTaggart, who I have previously read about and listened to. So, let’s start with her (as the magazine is basically her pet project)
Lynne McTaggart – An investigative journalist, with no/limited formal science education.Not medically trained. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynne_McTaggart. Her medical skills are such that she self diagnosed her own illness as being caused by “toxic yeast”. She is also repeatedly quoted (usually by herself and sympathetic other authors & web sites) as “award winning author” and “internationally recognized spokesperson”. It took me until page 22 of Google to find out which award it was – brace yourselves, it’s the prestigious 2008 Nautilus Award for Audio Books! Take a breath and relax. I know that was quite a shock for you, but there’s more. Initial searches show that the Nautilus Award is not for best shellfish study (though selfish could work here – more later), but a Polish Science Fiction and Fantasy award, which for technical reasons, did not award in 2008. So, I thought, gotcha! But not so fast, there’s more than one Nautilus Award, and here is the one she has a gong from (http://www.nautilusbookawards.com/Home.html). It “recognizes books that promote spiritual growth, conscious (sic) living and positive social change” Its alumni include such purveyors of rational thought, such as Deepak Chopra, Caroline Myss (medical intuitive and a mystic), Elizabeth Lesser (former midwife and co-founder of the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies) and Gail Straub (co-director of the Empowerment Institute). There are others in the list, some of whom I am sure are more or less worthy of such an award.
Bryan Hubbard – A journalist, philosopher, author (The Time-Light Program: A New Spiritual Therapy) and publisher. Not medically trained.
Joanne Evans – Apart from editorial responsibilities, is a regular contributor to WDDTY. In May 2009 she wrote a piece that asserted a link between pesticides, plastics and tobacco smoke to obesity, mostly due to parental exposure. Not medically trained.
Now we come to the main contributors.
‘Dr’ Harald Gaier – (also on the editorial board of WDDTY) is an Austrian-born British osteopath, homeopath, naturopath, master herbalist and acupuncturist. He is not registered with the GMC (http://thedailyquack.com/daily/haraldgaier). Not medically trained.
Dr Robert Verkerk – Founder of the Alliance for Natural Health (funded by various individuals and suppliers of dietary supplements) and “internationally acclaimed (sic) expert in sustainability”. He achieved an Ecology degree, then subsequently a Masters at Imperial College on Applied Entomolgy, follwed by a PhD in 1995 on ‘Multitropic Interractions’. Not medically trained.
Dr Patrick Kingsley – A retired M.D. Worked in “Ecological Medicine” (see also Patrick Holford). Ran his own clinic of ‘Nutritional Environmental Medicine’. Medically trained.
Dr Annemarie Colbin – Has a doctorate in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Wholistic (sic) Nutrition, gained in 2002 from the Union Institute and University, Ohio – WHO ONLY AWARDED SOCIAL SCIENCE AND HUMANITIES QUALIFICATIONS. The title of the thesis (brace yourselves!) was “Wholistic Nutrition: from Biochemistry to Chaos, Complexity, and Quantum Physics – applying some concepts from 20th Century Science to a new understanding of how food relates to health”. This can be downloaded for only $39.90 +tax +shipping. She has links to good old Dr Oz and Deepak Shopra. There is a nice quote where, in discussing quantum mechanics, she says “…I did not get into the math…”. Not Medically Trained.
So, that’s it for now (I’ve not even read the editorial yet!). If you think this needs a wider audience, then please pass on a link to this blog (or copy & paste the contents). Thanks.
After my previous post, I decided to send the advertising department a link to The Nightingale Collaboration’s latest review, which includes the number of ASA complaints. Here is my email and their response:
From: Ben Sagan [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 28 February 2013 17:44
To: Jenny Scott
I wondered what your response might be to the article here:http://www.nightingale-collaboration.org/news/143-wddty-9-taking-stock.html
If you need help generating copy tag lines, I offer you this: https://benseye.wordpress.com/ where you can also find a link to download a simple spreadsheet.
from Jenny Scott <email@example.com>
to: Ben Sagan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
date: Fri, Mar 1, 2013 at 8:52 AM
subject: RE: Advertising
Hi Ben, you are my friend. The publicity has sent our sales through the roof! Bless you : )
Now, apart from the slight taste of bile in my throat, I had a couple of other reactions:
1) I am definitely not her friend – we have never been in contact before
2) I seriously doubt that their publicity (I assume that of The Nightingale Collaboration) had any impact on sales this quickly AND I would love to see their sales figures for the current and previous issues. My idea of “going through the roof” may differ from theirs – anyone know how I can check this ‘fact’?
So now, what to do? Well I saved one (possibly two) poor soul(s) in our town by
throwing myself on the grenade buying a copy, and hiding the other one. I will now attempt to read it and produce some comments for a subsequent blog and a lengthy email to them.
P.S. I did also tweet a comment to Lynne Mcaggart who produces the
dangerous rag magazine with her husband, but as yet no reply.