Their replies suggest not.
I have decided to publish my correspondence in full so that you can see what I mean.
I originally emailed Customer.Relations@WHSmith.co.uk on 27th September. I’m afraid this was done in haste and I’m ashamed to say I neglected to even mention the vaccine scaremongering. Still, I did raise some very strong concerns.
I believe it is dangerously irresponsible of WHSmith to stock the magazine ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’.
This magazine encourages mistrust in qualified health professionals, discourages people from taking the advice of their doctors, frightens people off prescription medication and pushes unproven and disproven ‘alternative medicine’ and associated theories and ideas. This magazine is promoting quackery.
This could have serious consequences. For example, there is an asthma exclusive – with the suggestion you could “end your child’s wheezing without drugs”. There is also the suggestion that you could “sunbathe your diabetes away”. There is the suggestion (headlined ‘Unsteady Gran’) that falls in the elderly are caused by drugs, not old age. Asthma and diabetes are both life threatening conditions that need to be controlled with medication.
It is unbelievably irresponsible to spread mistrust in doctors and medicine to those who need medicines to keep them alive.
I believe WHSmith should not stock this magazine and to do so could be damaging to your reputation.
Their reply (already discussed on the Quackometer, here) was as follows:
Thank you for contacting us regarding the magazine “What the doctors don’t tell you”.
As the UK’s leading retailer of stationery, books, magazines and newspapers, we aim to offer our customers a wide choice of products, whilst also respecting customer views. Our customers often have widely differing opinions about the products we sell, so we aim to strike the right balance to meet the needs of all our customers.
We work closely with the magazine publishers to ensure that their products meet the expectations of our customers. Where we receive customer complaints about a certain publication, WHSmith commits to raise these concerns directly with the publisher.
Customer feedback is extremely important to us and I’d like to thank you for taking the time to share your concerns.
Customer Services Coordinator
Incidentally, the publishers are Lynne and Bryan McTaggart who also edit the magazine. I decided to point out to WHSmith that these people have not reacted well to concerns being raised.
Yesterday, I wrote:
I have already complained to WHSmith about this magazine and received a reply which indicated that where there have been customer complaints, WHSmith has a commitment to raise concerns directly with the publisher.
However, it is my understanding that the magazine is essentially self published (by Lynne McTaggart and Bryan Hubbard). I believe their response to complaints so far has been inappropriate and since concerns are so strong, I think the onus is now on the distributor and retailers to take action.
If this magazine is to be considered reliable and respectable (as a presence in high street retailers would suggest to consumers), it is important that editors take care to ensure articles are not misleading or inaccurate and that editors take legitimate complaints seriously. Yet it is my feeling that much of the magazine is in breach of the PCC Editors’ Code on Accuracy.
Are you aware whether the PCC Editors’ Code applies to What Doctors Don’t Tell You?
Since a large proportion of the articles are misleading (in my view), it would be impractical for me to try to detail every example. Here is just one, from The Selling of Gardasil (page 31):
Your chances of getting cervical cancer are only eight times greater than your risk of getting killed by an asteroid.
This is clearly false and the article is very misleading in general. As well as playing down the risk of cervical cancer, it makes the false assumption that any adverse event following the vaccine was caused by the vaccine.
It is also worrying that a very high proportion of the advertisements seem to be misleading and in clear breach of advertising regulations.
In case you are not aware of how Lynne McTaggart and Bryan Hubbard have responded to complaints so far, I’ll summarise:
Critics of the magazine like myself have been labelled ‘bully boys’ and ‘trolls’ online. Legitimate concerns have been politely raised then ignored and deleted – for example from Lynne McTaggart’s Facebook page and from her blog. Although it is my understanding that there has been a legal threat against Simon Singh following his correspondence with the distributor, Comag, Ms McTaggart described the Guardian story where this was reported as ‘complete fabrication’ and stated that she has asked for a correction. She also deleted a Facebook post in which she stated that Simon Singh had been reminded by Comag that tweeting untrue statements against Comag or What Doctors Don’t Tell You is libel.
I have also written to Comag Specialist, Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.
I await your response.
The reply was as follows:
Thank for your your further email regarding this magazine.
We work closely with the magazine publishers to ensure that their products meet the expectations of our customers. Where we receive customer complaints about a certain publication, WHSmith commits to raise these concerns directly with the publisher. We have no current plans to remove this magazine from our stockfile .
Customer feedback is extremely important to us and I’d like to thank you again for taking the time to share your concerns.
Customer Service Co-ordinator
I think this could get very embarrassing.