The magazine What Doctors Don’t Tell You has this week issued a bizarre statement in response to a Times article by Tom Whipple. Among other things, they seem to be upset that the article claimed “that we’d told parents in our latest (October 2013) issues not to immunize their children with the MMR”.
Here’s the part of the statement where they attempt to defend themselves against the criticism of their stance on vaccines:
We interviewed – and simply quoted – a medical doctor called Dr Jayne Donegan, who had carried out her own research into the MMR, and concluded that a child with a strong immune system shouldn’t have the vaccine. This was the considered view of Dr Donegan, not us. We were simply quoting her.
So, it wasn’t WDDTY who advised against immunisation with MMR it was Jayne Donegan. WDDTY simply quoted her. All they did was seek out an anti-vaccine doctor, interview them, and uncritically report their views. That’s all. (There’s also been an interesting exchange on Facebook, reported here: “You mistake the views of the subject of an article for the views of the publication itself, as you did with the MMR article, where we simply interviewed a doctor critical of the MMR.”)
Perhaps it might be useful if I simply quoted WDDTY? I do have a copy of their Vaccination Bible, after all.
Here’s something from their introduction:
It’s likely that you’ve already heard the case in favour of immunisation. Hence, our writings make an unabashed case against it.
I think that’s pretty clear. There are, of course, disclaimers and weasel words though.
WDDTY like to claim that they’re not trying to convince people not to vaccinate, that they’re trying to provide balance to correct an imaginary pro-vaccine bias, and that their aims are informed choice and freedom of choice rather than a decrease in vaccine uptake. You can find balanced, informed discussion of the risks and benefits of vaccines in the scientific literature, on the websites of health authorities and educational establishments, and, occasionally, in the mainstream media – WDDTY don’t add balance, they add bias by making an unabashed case against vaccination. If informed choice is really an aim, they might do better if they provided information as opposed to misinformation. And they might claim not to be trying to convince people not to vaccinate but if anybody takes heed of what WDDTY publish they will only be less likely to vaccinate – WDDTY are pushing in one direction and one direction only.
There is a chapter in the Vaccination Bible on Measles, Mumps and Rubella (not to mention chapters on MMR and autism and on ‘the Wakefield controversy’). It begins with the author confusing SSPE and encephalitis (not a promising start).
There is a claim that measles is “not the random killer that medicine would have you believe” and some wittering about what governments don’t tell you. The author refers to an outbreak with a high case fatality rate of 1 in 300 and complains that poor nutrition and lack of access to medical care may have played a part in some of those deaths; the British Green Book and the American Pink Book cite lower case fatality rates and the scientific literature makes perfectly clear that poor nutrition is a factor in high mortality rates.
Then there’s this:
Well-nourished children have little to fear from catching measles—and possibly much to gain.
According to some research, measles may be good for children.
There’s a description of the research, but no reference to the source – I can’t check for myself what the research says. Then there’s a reference to “earlier research” which is again unreferenced. It might seem unreasonable to demand citations for every claim somebody makes, but given what I’ve read in their magazine and on their website I’m not inclined to accept at face value what McTaggart and Hubbard tell me about research. Here’s a post on “the most important piece of supporting data” for a Lynne McTaggart article on HPV vaccination. And here’s something on Bryan Hubbard’s attempt to interpret a paper that found no association between autism and exposure to antigens from vaccines: WDDTY measles mmr.
And another quote, beginning the section on rubella:
Vaccinating against rubella is a pointless exercise.
Here’s the first line of the mumps section:
Mumps is usually an innocuous disease
WDDTY bend over backwards to make negative statements about vaccination and downplay the seriousness of diseases – and even make positive statements about measles. They misrepresent VAERS data. They fail to reference their sources, or cite poor quality research, or misreport the decent research they do cite. They make an unabashed case against vaccination.
To be honest, I’m struggling to understand why they might have a problem with a report that suggests they might be anti-vaccine. It’s pretty clear they are.