Today, we learned that the editors of Get Well – the rebranded What Doctors Don’t Tell You magazine – have decided to withdraw it from the shelves of retailers across the UK, so it will in future only be sold on a subscription-only model.
What Doctors Don’t Tell You has been notorious for years as a source of misleading health claims, ranging from the dubious to the downright dangerous. Good Thinking has aired our concerns over the pseudoscientific claims within the magazine for years, including congratulating WH Smith when they withdrew it from stock in 2014, successfully challenging the wisdom of the Steve Wright show on BBC Radio 2 when they aired an uncritical interview with the magazine’s editor Lynne McTaggart in 2016, and criticising the sale of the magazine in Sainsbury’s, Asda and Waitrose earlier this year.
We obviously are not the only people to raise concerns over this magazine. In 2012, Dr Margaret McCartney wrote a piece in the BMJ highlighting the danger of the misleading claims within What Doctors Don’t Tell You’s October issue; the Nightingale Collaboration wrote numerous complaints in 2013 regarding the breaches in advertising CAP code contained within the magazine; and skeptical writers and pro-science activists across the country have spent years highlighting the dangerous misinformation promoted by the magazine – you can find a good summary of the concerns here.
The final straw appears to have come when the magazine drew widespread criticism in December for its cover story claiming it was possible to “reverse autism” through craniosacral therapy, chelation and other pseudoscientific techniques. The issue was spotted on the shelves of Waitrose by autism ambassador Sophie Walker, leading to widespread condemnation from autistic people, charities and activists, and coverage in The Times and The Independent.
This was followed by a decision in April by major Australian retailers Coles and Woolworths to remove the magazine from their shelves, due to its false health claims regarding 5G, wifi and vaccines.
Editor Lynne McTaggart has subsequently confirmed in a blog post that the backlash to the misleading autism feature led many of her major retailers to question whether it was right to stock her pseudoscience magazine:
“Some of the stores got jittery and began essentially asking for our cover story images before we’d be ‘allowed’ to use it to sell our magazines.
“Another chain wanted information about our magazine’s contents before deciding whether to permit us to pay for prominent marketing placement in their stores.
“We were finding it increasingly difficult to maintain our editorial independence and please our sales venues.”
At the end of the month, Get Well / What Doctors Don’t Tell You will be withdrawn from sale in the UK. We’d like to extend our congratulations to the many activists, writers, scientists, doctors, health experts and journalists who have highlighted and debunked the dangerous misinformation within Ms McTaggart’s magazines for years. Well done!