Friday, December 10, 2010

The Detox diet myth- don't be an idiot, dumbass.

Here at Hawsepiper, we're not all about poop and fart jokes interspersed with maritime musings. I'm all about the PSA's, too, especially when it comes to Bullshit Science.

As a person with a relatively reasonable level of critical thinking ability, I do tend to get all bent out of shape when science gets perverted and misused, either for economic or social gain. This is why I've landed in the cynic's camp whenever scientific evidence is misused as justification for social engineering, like the very incomplete data used in support of Anthropogenic Global Warming theory.

Well, today I end up in a completely depressing conversation with another employee at my company's office. The subject of holiday weight gain came up, and I (being overweight but finally now being comfortable with a low-sodium and low-cholesterol diet that seems to be working well) tried like hell to get out of this conversation with any sort of dignity, as I was speaking to a very thin and opinionated person. It didn't work.

One of my most shameful character flaws is that when I try to be nice to someone by listening to them go on and on, is that I have a time limit. After x number of minutes, I try to steer the conversation elsewhere, or, if they're talking out their ass, I try to present an alternative to their viewpoint and give them the opportunity to consider another opinion. Sometimes this works, and the conversation moves on or actually gets interesting... and sometimes it doesn't. My point, though, is that I try not to correct people in a harsh fashion, and I expect the same in return... the thing about opinionated people is that they very often can't be persuaded in an argument, even when they're dead wrong. They take ownership of their opinion, even when they've staked a claim on rotten ground.

I challenged two people today to give me the name of five toxins that a detox diet would eliminate from their diet in comparison to what a healthy balanced normal diet can do. I wanted the full chemical names. I told them that if they could do it, they could have my beloved truck.

Anyhow, in my own, perhaps too polite way, I was trying to make a point without pontificating. It's a goddamned shame that people aren't being taught critical thinking skills.

Far worse, to me, is that people are putting faith in the mystical when it comes to their diet- that rather than being able to rely on scientific evidence in their choices for healthy eating, they're bombarded with products that claim to detox, cleanse, and otherwise rectify the humours of the body. We have a muilti-billion dollar industry producing organic snake oils for the faithful idiots who don't know enough to question whether or not packaging some pills, a cream, or a can of magic beans in a printed plastic bottle is evidence enough that the advertiser ain't full of shit.

Anyhow, it makes me sad that people aren't, for the most part able to smell bullshit when they've got it under their nose. Whether it's taking advantage of parents of kids with autism by telling them that they can feel free to blame their family doctor for having given them immunizations, or selling a $2.99 box of repackaged Flintstones vitamins for $40 and telling people that by eating healthy for a week and eating their magic pills, their ass will look as clean as a chromed bugle, whatever. I don't know who's to blame more: the salesmen, or the consumer, for being so easy to mislead. Still, when you think that people are relying on Jenny McCarthy and some guy on TV with plastic hair and a $40 suit for medical advice, Christ.

1 comment:

Jim said...

"their ass will look as clean as a chromed bugle" Oh man, I love that one and will borrow it for future use.

I've had so many conversations about junk science that begin with me asking, "do you understand the basic laws of physics?" or, "is the website where your read that selling something?" They seldom end well, or with any changed opinions, but I refuse to simply give up to the forces of ignorance.