Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

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Wednesday, 4 December 2019

What Doctors Don't Tell You magazine returns as Get Well magazine in UK shops

tl;dr: I've asked Sainsbury's why they've started selling Get Well magazine (also known as What Doctors Don't Tell You and WDDTY) again, having previously stopped selling it, and their spokesperson said -
“We stock over 700 different publications and, with the exception of explicit material, we do not routinely make a judgement on content.

We are however aware of the concerns around this magazine so have taken the decision to review whether we will continue to stock it.”
 Of course they could decide that their review has convinced them to continue to stock it...

It seems I've not written on this blog about What Doctors Don't Tell You aka WDDTY aka Get Well (its new branding) magazine since 2014. Around that time (2012-2014) the magazine was on sale in a number of UK supermarkets before the efforts of doctors, scientists, activists and skeptics got it largely removed, though it crept back in a few places.

Concerns about the content of and advice given in the magazine had done the rounds in mainstream and social media / blogs. Tom Whipple reported in The Times (Oct 2013) that there had been a "Call to ban magazine for scaremongering". Dr Margaret McCartney tore strips off it ("ridiculously alarmist") in an exchange with one of the editors, Lynne McTaggart, and umpired by Dr Mark Porter on Inside Health (Oct 2012). A big chunk of the advertising within the magazine was found to be in breach of the Advertising Standards Authority's codes.

The best place to get an overview of the catalogue of the various magazine articles considered problematic is on Josephine Jones' blog: "WDDTY: My master list" which links most of the mainstream articles and blogs, and gives a timeline of events.

Earlier this year the magazine sent an email to subscribers highlighting that they were rebranding the version of the magazine on sale in UK stores as 'Get Well' though keeping the 'What Doctors Don't Tell You' branded version for subscribers.

The magazine now seems to have reappeared in Sainsbury's and concerns were immediately raised about that and about one article in particular called 'Reversing Autism' which is a story of one woman and her autistic son. There has been an emerging Twitter campaign to ask @Sainsbury's to remove the magazine from its shelves and shops. I contacted their press team, explained I was going to write about the magazine's reappearance there and asked if they'd be happy to explain why they decided to start stocking it again. The quote above was the reply. I hope they will decide to stop stocking it but have spotted the ambiguity in the spokesperson's quote.

I have not seen the magazine myself 'in the wild' for a number of years but have no reason to doubt everyone on Twitter who's saying it's reappeared.

My favourite of WDDTY's errors
On 1 July 2014 the magazine editors wrote a Facebook post about several of the people who'd written or complained about the magazine and they somehow managed to include me in this. Amusingly there were a number of errors in there (my name spelled wrongly, they said I worked for someone I'd never heard of, my efforts to get them to correct this went nowhere) but more interesting was the tiny error they made about how many people followed Simon Singh on Twitter.

Here's what the post said "Their numbers aren’t large (there’re only about 80 of them in total), and they aren’t well followed ... Simon Singh, just 44 actively following him..."

Here's a screenshot of his Twitter profile from 2014.

As of 2014 Simon was following 44 people and had 54.1k followers.

They'd simply got it the wrong way around, an easy thing to fix. Everyone pointed this error out assuming that the 'cognitive typo' as I called it would be quietly fixed and we'd move on.

In an unusual scene in the Facebook comment thread they instead offered this clarification - "Just to set the record straight.Simon Singh has had 54k people over the years who have, at some point, tuned into his Tweets. But the actual number of people who are actively following him at this time are, as I said, 44." 

This is just not true.

1 comment:

  1. Spotted in Morrisons today, and a complaint went straight to customer services. I'll be following up with head office. The message the cover sends both to and about autistic people is appalling.


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