Woo on Woo – layers of nonsense

October 24, 2008 at 4:16 pm (Alternative Medicine, Bad Science, NLP, Supplements, Woo) (, , , , , , , )

I’ve written before about woos trying out different ‘healing modalities’ seemingly as the mood takes them. I think that the last time I wrote on this topic, it was a homeopath disseminating dietary advice that had caught my attention: Dr O. I received an email yesterday that included a link to this page: Sulis. The advice is Holford’s, but why an NLP practitioner would feel the need to reproduce woo-ish dietary advice on their website is beyond me. I can understand someone believing in the value of NLP, but why assume other woo is true? Seems to be quite common to me. Instead of speculating wildly about the thinking of people who are into multiple forms of woo (which is what I’d normally do at this point), I’m going to have a quick laugh at the advice.*

Eat three pieces of fruit such as apples, pears, bananas, berries, melon or citrus fruit […] Avoid any form of sugar, also white, refined or processed food with chemical additives, and minimise your intake of alcohol, coffee and tea.

It works best with these two pieces of advice if you show them together in the same quote. According to the Sulis site, Patrick Holford is advising you to avoid all forms of sugar while, at the same time, advising you to eat fruit such as banana. Hmmm… I wonder if bananas contain sugar in any form? Why, yes – yes they do. According to the USDA database, bananas are about 12% sugar and this comes in the form of glucose, sucrose and fructose.

Supplement your diet with a high strength multivitamin and mineral preparation and 1000mg of vitaminC a day.

Well, the rest of his advice seems to fit in with the ideal of eating a balanced and varied diet – including advice to eat plenty of fruit and veg – so why would anyone following this advice need a high strength multivitamin and a 1,000mg vitamin C tablet? They almost certainly wouldn’t. Which is what makes Patrick’s advice so laughable – he advises people to eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin C and then tells them to add a supplement. Why? To make expensive piss? I can’t think of any other reason.

Drink six glasses of water, diluted juices, herb or fruit teas.

Ah, water woo. http://tinyurl.com/draust will give you more info on that topic.

Eat whole, organic, raw food as often as you can.

Why? Is there any evidence that organic, raw food is better for you? Should we eat all foods raw or is it better to cook, say eggs to prevent Biotin deficiency [the avidin in raw eggs is a bastard for binding to Biotin, apparently] – or tomatoes to increase the bioavailability of Lycopene? Is organic food healthier than non-organically grown produce?

*I will say this: it’s bad enough that experts believe themselves to be more expert than they actually are [*cough* experts-versus-equations], but surely it’s worse when amateurs believe themselves to be competent in various domains when they haven’t, actually, demonstrated their competence in any or all of these domains?


  1. Claire said,

    I wonder if she intends to pass on PH’s nuggets of nutri-wisdom in her forthcoming event at RCGP?

  2. stavros said,

    The organic food thing particularly annoys me! I don’t know if one is better than the other although I have had a look at the available literature and there is nothing to suggest that organic food is better (as you mention too). Of course I might be missing something.

    My point, however, is that people are jumping on the bandwagon of organic food, without knowing much about it, wrongly assuming that organic means pesticide free, only natural, all goodness etc. food. In my opinion, and until clear evidence appear, it is simply more expensive food.

  3. Neuroskeptic said,

    “surely it’s worse when amateurs believe themselves to be competent in various domains when they haven’t, actually, demonstrated their competence in any or all of these domains?”

    Indeed, in fact I just blogged about this topic here. The problem is that there’s a persistent distrust of anyone who claims to be an expert, even if they are in fact an expert. this is especially true in CAM circles. So amateurs see nothing unusual in the fact that expert say they’re wrong, in many cases they’re proud to be so unorthodox.

  4. jdc325 said,

    That’s brilliant Neuroskeptic – you’ve included mentions of MMR, Serotonin pills, Kruger & Dunning and that Sagan quote about Bozo the clown. Love it.

  5. Neuroskeptic said,

    Ta very much. Yes I tried to cram as many Goldacre-isms into one post as I could. Hopefully I will be a bit more original in the future.

    I’ve added you to my blogroll, cheers for the delicious link, and if you add me to your blogroll I will be forever in your debt.

  6. Claire said,

    Via Ben Goldacre today, a link to a body offering B.Sc hons degrees in nutritional therapy and also NLP training.

  7. Dan Roland said,

  8. jdc325 said,

    Thank you for the interesting link. I’d not come across Joe Greenfield (or even knol) before.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: