Homeopathy to blame for obesity! #ten23

This morning I swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills. I had a handful of headache pills too, and I think some opium for good measure. This is how I felt afterwards:

Well, OK, I felt a little sick first, but that’s only because I’m not used to stuffing hundreds of sugary ‘pillules‘ into my mouth at once. Which is really to say that I’m not used to stuffing my mouth full of sugar (unless it comes in the form of a brownie). But once I had washed them down with a good glug of water, I felt pretty good, and I can now say from personal experience – along with the experiences of my fellow overdosers – what we already know of homeopathy: there’s nothing in it. Except sugar, of course, and a large dose of bullshit.

This is serious. Do the 50,000+ fools (the Beckhams and the Queen included) who opt for homeopathic treatment every year in the UK realise how many empty carbs are in that stuff? And here everyone’s been pointing fingers at McDonald’s and Coca Cola for making the world fat.

Yes, there is one born every minute, but if you are going to stuff yourself full of sugar, you could at least make sure it tastes of a brownie.

2011: The (pizza) wheels go grinding on

Well I’ve more than once intended to post pictures of groaning festive season tables over the last few weeks, but technical problems have gotten in the way of that venture (probably for the best, since no one really needed to see a picture of me wearing a paper hat that came out of a Christmas cracker). So this will instead by my customary grumpy “new year” post in which I express relief that all the silliness is over and we can get back to work/life/normal silliness.

So, back to work, which for me means continuing to read too much food media, and which at this time of year gets particularly annoying as most people are on the predictable “detox” curve. (Fortunately these are as predictably countered by detox-debunking stories like this one, though unfortunately stupidity is as stubborn as people who continue to buy and wear PowerBalance bracelets, or refuse to vaccinate their children (%^$#%$#%!!!!), even though it’s clearly bullshit – to paraphrase Penn & Teller once more).

Yes, January is predictably an echo of this remarkable cover from Time in 1972 – back in the days when such a magazine cost 50c! Perhaps there’s a correlation between stupidity and inflation (hmm, behavioral economists?).

OK fine, so I admit that I once again ordered a wagon for the first days of this year, and this time I remembered to specify that it should NOT be stocked with whisky. So I did glide into this new year feeling rather virtuous (and slightly more grumpy than usual). But I’ll be the first to reiterate the fact that the idea of modifying your behaviour based on the time of the year is just plain stupid. Anyone notice how the gyms were suddenly packed in the first weeks of December? Then they were blissfully quiet between Christmas and New Year when everyone was off stuffing their faces. Now they’re full of guilty people again. I had a good chuckle at the story related by someone who I meet there quite regularly, let’s call her X (because I don’t know her actual name) – X told me she had been working out next to some new and eager gym bunny getting “in shape” for Christmas, and when bunny asked her when she had started training, X replied “40 years ago”.

So, wha’ever – the time of sanctified excess is over, and yes, it’s time to get back to work. Now if people could just remember that salads do not mean punishment. Sometimes salads are the very nicest thing to eat, especially when it’s too hot to slave over home-made pizza. But sometimes that’s what you have to do, just like sometimes you have to cook on an open fire on the hottest day of the year. And when that happens, you better make sure you have some premium ice cream (preferably home-made, with lots of cream) to cool you down and send you into sweet dreams.

Sometimes on a working weekday when the sun is shining you also have to give it up and go have lunch somewhere nice by the sea. Just because you can, and because you better be grateful for the fact that you aren’t in Brisbane right now.

On that note, and with my best grumpy cheer, happy 2011. Let’s hope we make it past 21 May. Oh wait, that’s bullshit too. Bon appetit.

Twitter saga with The Awful Poo Lady (#TAPL)

In case you missed it, here follow accounts of the fascinating saga that unfolded over the last few days involving nutrition-nazi Gillian McKeith (“PhD”), and Ben Goldacre (actual PhD, and author of Bad Science). (Short of long, @gm accused @bg of telling “lies” about her in his book. Read the chapter in question for yourself here). This is a story of the great value of social media over bad science.

From Jack of Kent, (a blog “mainly about the misuse and misrepresentation of Law”), “The Integrity and Honesty of @gillianmckeith”

From Cubik’s Rube, “The Awful Poo Lady Loses her Shit

From David Naylor, “Gillian McKeith vs. Ben Goldacre

From BoingBoing, “Pseudoscience’s “Awful Poo Lady” can’t flush twitterings

More Bad Science (uncovered)

From Ben Goldacre (15 April 2010)

‘After 2 years of pursuing one man through the courts, at a cost to him of £200,000 and 2 years work, the British Chiropractic Association yesterday dropped their libel case against science writer Simon Singh. The case was over a piece he wrote on this very page, criticising the BCA for claiming that its members could treat children for colic, ear infections, asthma, prolonged crying, and sleeping and feeding conditions by manipulating their spines.’

Read the full article here.

Is “junk” food addictive?

In the same week that (just in time for Easter!) we are (again) told that chocolate is “good for you”, come these depressing headlines:

Depressing not because of the news itself, but because of how that news inevitably is – has been, will be – abused by lazy reporting and lazy reading. True to the “addicts” that some of us apparently are, we look to the instant gratification of headlines and will happily regurgitate them at dinner tables, if not (even more depressingly) use them to explain away the need to take responsibility for what we put in our mouths. Francis Lam at Salon put it poignantly when he wrote that ‘seeing food in the dark light of addiction … filled me with a confused sadness‘, but I’d venture that many more people will be delighted at the news. Finally, we can point the finger at evil food (Good news, Mr. Creosote. It’s been the food’s fault all along!). Continue reading “Is “junk” food addictive?”