Famim Ahmed

Researcher, Dismislab
What Dr. Devi Shetty never said
This article is more than 2 years old

What Dr. Devi Shetty never said

Famim Ahmed

Researcher, Dismislab

Dr. Devi Shetty is a renowned cardiologist of India. He and his hospital, Narayan Hrudayalaya are very popular in Bangladesh. Awarded the Padma Shri and a host of other commendations, this experienced doctor’s health advice of any kind is thus taken very seriously. For his part, Dr Shetty often writes articles and speaks on interviews expressing his opinions. But social media platforms often feature health tips attributed to him, which are not Dr Shetty’s.

A search on just Facebook finds 5500 posts from 1 January 2020 on various pages and groups with multiple spellings of Shetty’s name in Bengali. Many of these posts have already been proven false and baseless by multiple fact-checking outfits. But those claims are still floating around.

This article is about the baseless and misleading statements attributed to Devi Shetty circulating on Facebook, YouTube and mainstream media.

The viral 22 

Forever to be known as the year of the Covid, 2020 saw publication of Devi Shetty’s 22 health tips to prevent Covid, in May. The online editions of Daily Kaler Kantha, Ekushey TV, and Daily Naya Diganta carried the story. But according to several fact-checking organisations from India and Bangladesh, Dr. Devi Shetty had not given any such advice regarding the coronavirus at that time. In March that year, the doctor published an opinion piece in Times of India on what to do about the pandemic, but told The Quint that he had nothing to do with the ‘22 tips’ attributed to him.

Later, two media outlets in Bangladesh removed the news item from their websites, but it still remains on Daily Naya Diganta’s online version. However, a search shows that posts on those 22 tips of Dr Shetty still abound on Facebook and the number is over 700. Among these 700, 4 posts of 2020 have been shared more than 5,000 times. There are several videos as well on YouTube making the same claim.

Fake audio of Devi Shetty discouraging Covid test

In 2020, another fake health advice attributed to Dr. Devi Shetty spread across several social media platforms and even the mainstream press. In April 2020, several outlets in Bangladesh, including Somoy TV, Bangladesh Pratidin, Business Standard, Jugantar, Bangla News, Ekushey TV’s online version published a news report headlined “Don’t test for Covid every time you have fever” as an advice from Dr. Devi Shetty.

Basically, the media reported the story based on a 4-minute audio supposedly from Shetty. But various factchecking websites including Boom BD, India’s Alt News, AFWA and Check for Spam found that Dr. Devi Shetty had not made any such recording. The audio was of another doctor by the name of Santosh Jacob.

Although Somoy TV’s online version later corrected the report, news reports and Facebook posts with the false claim can still be found.

For example, on 19 March 2020, this misleading news was posted twice from NTV Online’s verified Facebook page. This false news, shared almost 250 times, can still be found online. Same is the case with another news outlet, Dhaka Times. Also, YouTube still has videos with the same misleading claim.

Dr. Devi Shetty never said soybean oil is toxic

Recently, several posts went viral on Facebook and YouTube claiming that soybean oil is toxic and that it is produced at 2000 degrees Celsius. Although the claims are attributed to Dr Devi Shetty, there is no mention of when or where Shetty made the comments.

Later, when Dismislab contacted Dr. Devi Shetty’s hospital, Shetty said, he had never made such a comment. But it has been explained in this report how this claim attributed to Dr Shetty spread on social media. 

Besides, Bangladeshi factchecking outfit Rumor Scanner also published a report in this regard last November.

Nor did Shetty give tips on everlasting youth 

A post titled “Tips to stay young forever – Dr. Devi Shetty” with 14 tips went viral on Facebook this year. Later, in August, Bangladesh-based fact-checking initiative Rumor Scanner found out from Devi Shetty’s hospital that Shetty had never given these tips or suggestions.

But the tips for everlasting youth are still being shared. Even as late as 7 October, such a post went up on a science enthusiasts’ group on Facebook that has been shared more than 250 times so far. Further, these confusing tips have been shared over 1,000 times from just 3 Facebook groups.

Moreover, a fake message claiming to be from Dr Devi Shetty spread across social platforms after India’s Kannada-based movie star Punith Rajkumar died on 21 October. It began as “This is a message from Dr. Devi Shetty.” Indian fact-checking agencies ascertained this message as baseless. India’s Webkuf, Newschecker and Factly confirmed that Dr. Devi Shetty never gave any such ‘message’ after the death of the movie star.

What to do when you come across a statement claiming to be Dr. Devi Shetty’s?

As you already found out, there is an abundance of false statements attributed to the renowned doctor Devi Shetty especially during health crises. There were numerous comments on the post claiming Devi Shetty had said soybean oil is toxic. One asked, “What’s the alternative?” Another wondered, “What do we use for cooking then?” Another comment read, “Thanks for this information. These will help us become aware.” Many have believed the statement, and are even looking for alternatives. So, if you see such statements or advice claiming to be from Dr. Devi Shetty or any other doctor, for that matter, it is best to verify that claim first.

Usually, Dr. Devi Shetty’s own statements or health advice are published on the official website, Facebook page or Twitter handle of his own organisation ‘Narayan Health’, which also has a YouTube channel. Apart from this, he regularly writes opinions in several Indian newspapers under his by-line. Moreover, in case of any query, people can write to the official e-mail address of Narayan Health.

Already, a number of misleading and untrue claims involving Devi Shetty, in several languages including Bengali, have been factchecked and ascertained as false. Therefore, in case of such statements going viral, a Google search should help find the factcheck reports as well.