What magazines don’t tell you

Last week I read a spectacularly bad article. Titled “Seven steps to a smarter child” it made wild, unsubstantiated claims about the terrible harms to the developing brain from tap water (too many metal ions), wheat, tooth filings and msg. Advice was given to avoid fluoride toothpaste and limit sunscreen use, despite the benefits of these. Unpasteurized milk and fish oils are enthusiastically endorsed without a balanced view of their risks and benefits.
So what, you may be thinking, there’s a lot of weird stuff on the internet. But I didn’t pick this article up from a link deployed in a Twitter argument. It was in my daughter’s school bag, put there by her teacher.
The article was printed in Families Oxfordshire, a free magazine distributed by local schools. It’s one of 39 national franchises offering local listings and “reliable advice on parenting and health”.
The article, which can be seen on page 23 here, was reprinted from, you’ve guessed it, ‘what doctors don’t tell you’ an alternative health magazine fond of undermining sound health evidence with articles such as “sunbathe your diabetes away”.
A jaunty note at the bottom of the reprint in Families recommended it as ‘a real eye-opener’.
So our children were being handed bad science to bring home. Does this matter? Yes, for several reasons. Firstly this article may lead to unnecessary health anxiety and expenditure on alternatives to the alleged toxins. Secondly, parents may avoid helpful things like fluoride and sunscreen due to this advice. Finally, all this nonsense conceals the very simple things you need to do to help kids cope with school; give them a balanced diet including breakfast, provide opportunities for learning through play at home, and TALK TO THEM. No raw milk and tofu smoothie will substitute for being listened to by a parent who has time for you and tries to understand.
The online version of the article, here, has a disclaimer about these not being the views of Families magazine, and some references. But as seasoned pseudoscience watchers will tell you, sticking a load of references after a dodgy article just makes a dodgy article longer. For the record this article is guilty of the usual mixture of cherry-picking, false inference and confusing proxy outcomes with real developmental effects.
And the fact remains that Families magazine was given to my children by their school.  This lends Families an air of officialdom, which in turn obliges the publishers to adopt a higher standard of accuracy than holds for the upper shelves of WHSmiths.
So, the first thing to do is to ask them to stop. I’ve written a letter to the owner, and what I want from you, dear reader, is this:

1) tell me what to change about the letter
2) think about whether you might like to add your name. Drop me an email at maxdavie at gmail if you want to.
If that works, great. If not there are a few options, but I’d like to appeal to the owner’s better nature first.


53 thoughts on “What magazines don’t tell you

  1. Pingback: What magazines don’t tell you|paedspoliticsbiscuits | Tea and a biscuit

  2. This is an excellent letter about a worrying development. I’ve blogged at tedious length about how What Doctors Don’t Tell You – because it is a glossy magazine sold in mainstream outlets – has an air of respectability it doesn’t deserve. Now you’ve shown how people are taking and regurgitating its rubbish, and again it is being lent false weight by the means of delivery.

    If you think it would help, I’d be glad to add my name to your letter – drop me an e-mail for my real world name.

    Please do blog any response you get, if you have time.

  3. I would add into the letter to the owner that as the school are distributing it you will also be contacting the head teacher and school governors to highlight to them the poor advice they are endorsing with a request that they cease distribution of the magazine entirely.

  4. Just a comment on metal ions in tap water. Up to 40% of homes still have lead supply pipe. Although risks are mitigated, there is no safe level of lead exposure, and recent studies in England have shown correlation between blood lead levels and poorer achievement and behaviour at school. Recommend changing lead supply pipe, or flushing cold tap well 1st thing in morning.

    • I think you make your point, which I may disagree with in some particulars, in a very balanced way, which is exactly what I am trying to promote

  5. Only thought is that at some point you could invite them (if they stand by their published claims/advice) to provide/discuss supporting evidence? Risks getting into a protracted discussion about the nature of good science, responsible journalism, etc, but would give them the opportunity to defend themselves, if they can, or perhaps reevaluate their positions on their own terms? I imagine their response may be pretty defensive either way, but offering dialogue might limit that?

    Just a thought.

    Great that you anticipate their responses in terms of their own disclaimers – so dishonest of publishers to use flimflam like that to try to shrug off responsibilities.

    Good luck with it. It’s a shocking story.

    • Absolutely. Which is why I’m proposing to write to them and express concerns, rather than shout about banning them etc. I just want people to suggest how to do this best.

    • Flim flam is the mainstay of the orthodox medical position, especially on things they have such a vested interest in. Take Vioxx the Cox inhibitor, 160,000 people world wide died taking it from catastrophic heart failure. They only stopped making it when the payouts overtook the profit, even though court cases showed they knew for years that it was killing people, a bloody pain killer. I suppose when you died you had no pain right.

      Magazines like WDDTY bring these issues to light and get unpopular flak from the septic community because they always polarise issues into pro and anti.

      • Vioxx was a disaster, and there are major issues with openness, which is why I joined the AllTrials campaign. That, however, in no way discredits all of medical science, especially given the huge benefits of immunisation on infectious disease.
        WDDTY did nothing to expose Vioxx- that would be proper journalism.

  6. When we are bombarded by utter drivel from so called ‘health professionals’ telling us we are all going to die from flu, not using fluoride toothpaste seems logical. What is wrong with telling people and parents how poisonous msg is, I mean are you seriously saying this is a problem?

    My kids came home from school the other day and were told if they didn’t have a flu jab they would ‘get the disease’. I mean this is a fairy story and has no EBM to support it – it’s a fallacy

    • Not sure where you get the idea that flu vaccination has no evidence to support it, nor what the connection is with fluoride.

      • The idea that orthodox health professionals are always ‘right’. The fluoride issue is a problem and I am not the only one welcoming WDDTY opening up the issue for discussion. Flu woo is a classic example of medical mythology, there is plenty of good evidence that flu vaccine is next to useless.

      • Where did you get the idea that flu vaccinations worked then?

    • Flu can be fatal; none of the campaigns of recent years made the claims you say. Were your kids really told that?

  7. We leave in a world that almost everything we research deeply enough turns out to be harmful. Then we move on to something new that wasn’t researched enough before and after a while that turns out to be harmful as well. Guess no way around it .

    • True- water and oxygen can be killers in excess. But that doesn’t mean we have to abandon the project of measuring and balancing risk

      • Yes but when we do measure and balance risk and find out that vaccination and flouride are not what they say on the tin someone decides it is not evidence anymore.

        There are lots of medical elephants in the room and unless we want to live in a medical military Junta we need magazines like WDDTY to get people to pull their fingers out of the deriere

  8. I mean take the utter crap this week in the media about vitamin C making chemo for cancer ‘more effective’.

    Even cancer charities are ‘cautious’ and say we need more research!

    You should check out this terminal guy recovering from Leukemia with IV vitamin C. and wonder how more research is needed, surely if you are terminal the cost and safety card seems bizarre. When Pharma says it is not interested in Vitamin C because there is no patent rights it is time to call time on this crazy situation.

  9. Worth pointing out that this guy’s family had to take the hospital to court to get this done. Even when he came out of the coma the hospital tried to sneakily suspend the IV line.

    Doctors like that should be nailed to a plank and set sail on a sea of shit.

  10. Interesting how you decide what evidence to moderate, did you enjoy that last film about vitamin C or was it too much. I suppose that is what septic science is all about, some quasi religious thang like scientology

  11. Ohh it’s back. Flu vaccine mythology is anecdotes maxipants, like Offit the prophet telling us kids can have 10000 vaccines with no side effect.

  12. What on earth are you busy fricking?

  13. WDDTY is a breath of fresh air on the newstand and I hope it makes you vomit everytime you see it. At least that is some kind of result.

  14. Here are some modern medical anecdotal nonsense “we all know vaccines save lives”.
    Or how about “only proper doctors know how to treat diseases”
    or how about “Medicine is winning the fight against cancer”
    Why don’t you go to a talk by Phillip Day and let us know which one you are going to so we can film you having your ‘arse ripped off’ when he presents the peer reviewed evidence that the septic community is in denial of.
    Bring it on

  15. I am not Phillip, he is!

    There is nothing pleasant or rational or scientific about your septic stance. You still haven’t pointed out why parents shouldn’t be made aware of msg toxicity, I mean what really is your issue with WDDTY, but not with the BMJ that prints bullshit continually that puts people’s lives really at risk and spends the taxpayers buck doing it.

  16. “Because I believe in evidence, science and balance. Not scare mongering nonsense” maxipants

    Uhh, swine flu, there’s a nice medical scaremonger, how about measles outbreaks in Wales hundreds will die if we don’t vaccinate,

    “1 More cases of H5N1 infection in humans increase the chances that the virus will adapt towards efficient transmission between humans and therefore of a flu pandemic.” BMJ preparing for the next woo pandemic

    Vaccines are another woo science, commonly not tested against real placebos (usually the adjavant in the same vaccine or another vaccine). This using weasel science nicely removes all the negative data in one go.

    The CDC and NIH don’t keep lists of people who get the diseases who have been vaccinated, this should be a basic data set but is conveniently left out. In so called epidemics of ‘vaccinatable diseases’, another medical myth, we often find high vaccine uptake rates. Whooping cough is a good example.

    I, and many others, could fill your pages with examples of medical woo masquerading as science but you will probably quietly ‘moderate’.

    That is another septic trait, cherry picking edits. You are one of those small people who are allowing the woo of vaccination to ‘infect’ the health of the nation by keeping medical anecdotes alive.

  17. Go to a talk on your own, by Phillip Day. It will do you good. I notice the Septic community never has a go at him, wonder why?

  18. Polio in India. Look at the disgraceful actions of Bill Gate’s variant polio maxi. That has replace wild Polio and using weasel medical science one is now able to claim no Polio in India!

    Why do you support these people, why don’t you read the facts, what exactly is the point of your blog that we can’t get by listening to Obama/bush/Blaire?

  19. “Because I believe in evidence, science and balance. Not scare mongering nonsense” maxipants

    let us revisit this mantra. there is nothing wrong with believing in evidence, science and balance, but what does this mean when it is applied to medicine?

    Most surgery has no EBM at all, medical science is not the same as real science because it is mainly about PR. Balance is an odd one, if my diet is killing me do I medicate/operate, or pull my finger out and stop eating crap?

    You know those programs with half ton people eating chips dipped in mayonnaise surrounded by ‘doctors’ telling us it is a surgical issue!

  20. Ah the repeating of the mantra clears the shakra’s. Only proper doctors know best, only proper doctors,……

    Vaccines save lives, vaccines save lives…………………………

  21. You shouldn’t really have to believe in your science maxi, it should be a fact!

  22. Over and over your position is only sustainable by editing out evidence that completely demolishes your weak pathetic position.

    Are you sure you are not a catholic priest?

    You are more offensive than anyone could be. Tens of thousands of people now have Bill Gate’s variant Polio because of people like you suppressing the evidence by denying proper scientific discussion.

    If the only way you can keep this stinking septic blog afloat is by polishing turds you are up there with the priests of child abuse.

    Or you are completely ignorant, either way people like you should be banned from blogging.

    I look forward to peacefully demonstrating outside any event you choose to speak at.


  23. Because you believe in medical anecdotes , anti-science and horror stories

  24. the broken record of sepsis rants on and on within a mindless explosion of pure gwana. this is the septic mind, the scientologist broken record of denial.

    Maxipants, for when the flow gets too strong to stem.

  25. Maxi catholic burns the heretics who dare to point out the massive holes in the septic scientology

  26. You need to get a book on Italian Papal gardens, you must be so interested in that Catholic science power trip.

    So did you look up the devastation that Bill Gates has caused in India with his new variant polio campaign? That is the kind of woo you are promoting and all you can say is Catholic evidence, Catholic science and Catholic balance.

    43,500 new people have Bill’s Polio and people like you are helping that become more of a reality. And guess what, he has the Indian government paying for it and he has shares in the company that makes it!

    And what are you? the diaper pad that is one of those little people who really think they are helping in a weird sort of way

  27. Maxipope edits again. Is this what they teach in medical college regarding EBM?

  28. Another septic site grinds to a halt after an assault with a tissue!

    Oh you are an ‘evidence believer’

    • Please stop this puerile behaviour. I have approved all comments in the interest of free expression, now either argue against the points actually made in my post, or bugger off.

  29. Pingback: paedspoliticsbiscuits | An interesting and positive reponse to my #wddty concerns

  30. Well you have ‘approved all the comments that you have cherry picked’.

    “So our children were being handed bad science to bring home.”

    This is a highly biased quote from your article. Children are brainwashed into believing that vaccination is immunisation! Considering the current outbreak of mumps in the US in 100% vaccinated cohorts and that following on the back of last year’s whooping cough vaccine failure with the highest ever uptake of vaccine.

    “wheat, tooth filings and msg”

    Are you saying that mercury tooth fillings are good for you, msg too? When I was a kid no one seemed to be wheat allergic. The issue now about wheat is the way the products are made, ie not fermented long enough with regard to bread. Fast fermentation stops proper predigestion and this is one factor behind the increases in ‘allergy’.

    Why should not a magazine generate discussion about these facts, you seem rather hell bent on censorship and muffling.

  31. Well Maxipants looks like no one’s listening!

    • If you bothered to actually follow my blog you find find that the publisher of this article has apologised to me for publishing opinion as fact. I guess because it’s a settled matter no-one is bothered about it any more.Let it go

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