The First Nutritionista’s Song

In which Dr Aust gets all Gilbert and Sullivan on celebrity Nutritionistas and their airs

Dr Aust is into rhyming at the moment.

This is in part because the Aust-mobile (a twelve-year old tin box on wheels with the absolute minimum of features) finally gave up the ghost a few weeks back. The clutch started making strange groaning noises, and was diagnosed as terminal, and the gearbox is apparently also on its last legs. As result I have been travelling to work and back each day on our wonderful (note: irony) local public transport system, after a gap of nearly a decade. I now get 40 minutes* each way, daily, to read a book (too much paper-folding to read a broadsheet, the Metro is too brain-numbing to count as a newspaper, can’t face working), or to do some thinking.

(*median value: the range so far is 30-55)

Anyway, one of the more relaxing ways I have found to pass these journeys is to try and think up lyrics to comic (more specifically, parody) songs.

But who to write them about?

Well, recently I was thinking it had been a while since I wrote anything about our friends the Nutritionistas. And then I saw this amusing – if rather depressing – piece about an Old Friend of the BadScience Blogosphere who is something of a National Nutritionista celeb.

The final piece of the jigsaw fell into place when my father, while visiting last weekend, told me that he was once in the chorus for a student production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore.

For those not familiar with HMS Pinafore, Wikipedia notes that one of its underlying themes is

“pok[ing]…fun at… the rise of unqualified people to positions of authority”

G and S were rather good at puncturing pomposity and sending up those with inflated ideas of their eminence and importance. The particular scene that swam into my mind’s eye on this occasion was this one from Act One of H.M.S. Pinafore.

I have attempted a Nutritionist re-write.

Scene: A conference held in the Institute of Optimistic Nutrition.

An audience of worried looking people sit in anticipation. Many are clutching books with a picture of a bronzed and healthy-looking smiling man with short greying hair on the cover.

Enter THE CHORUS stage right. They are dressed as journalists, and carry notebooks, laptops and Blackberrys. Some are Lifestyle journalists, recognisable by their GoreTex bicycle clothing (men) or unfeasibly large handbags (women)

A second chorus of younger people (THE GRADUATES) files on stage left. They are wearing white coats and smart trousers and carrying clipboards and glossy brochures. Their leader is a glamorous blonde (the NUTRITIONAL THERAPIST).

Finally, THE NUTRITIONIST enters, smiling and waving, to applause from the CHORUS OF GRADUATES. He is clad in jeans and a collar-less denim shirt, and looks about 35.

[Note: If the production budget stretches to this, he may be accompanied by a MINOR CELEBRITY, for instance an actress, model, has-been singer or serial footballer dater, The MINOR CELEBRITY does not speak or sing, but should look at THE NUTRITIONIST adoringly].


Music: “Now give three cheers” (sometimes known as “I am the monarch of the sea”)

NUTRIONIST (N): I am the Great Nutritionist

On that my revenues quite insist

To whom packed lecture halls pay tribute

NUTRITIONAL THERAPIST (NT): And so do the graduates of his Institute!

ALL: And so do the graduates of his Institute!

The Graduates of his Institute!

N: I know what’s best for you and me

Vitamins A, B, C, D and E

My supplements are just as good as eating fruit

NT: And so say the graduates of his Institute!

ALL: And so say the graduates of his Institute!

The Graduates of his Institute!

N: When sceptics try to catch me out

To claim the rules of evidence I flout

I’ll just deny I made the statement in dispute

NT: Supported by the graduates of his Institute!

ALL: Supported by the graduates of his Institute!

And also by his clients who think it must be a science Institute!

(music changes to tune of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “First Lord’s Song”, sometimes known as “When I was a lad”)

The Nutritionist’s Song


N: When I was a lad I took a degree

In experimental psychology

In a library book I found the odd conceit

That schizophrenia is caused by what we eat

ALL: That schizophrenia is caused by what we eat!

N: I seized on this idea so avidly

That I now am a Nutritional Authority

ALL: He seized on this idea so avidly

That he now is a Nutritional Authority!

——————————————————–


(NB Repeats similarly for each following verse)

———————————————————


Finding that my skill was at the writing game

I churned out books and got a shot at fame

I found that people crave Eternal Youth

And pseudoscience makes my Snake Oil sound like truth

I flannelled away so semi-plausibly

That I now am a Nutritional Authority

—————————————————-

My Richard Gere looks and healthy glow

Won me a slot on a breakfast TV show

I plugged antioxidants and vitamin pills

Whilst denouncing the Poisons of the Pharma Shills

I smiled so winningly handsomely

That I now am a Nutritional Authority

——————————————————

To improve education I took a new route

By setting up my very own Institute

And no-one could have been more surprised than me

When it then awarded me a very special degree!

I burnished my CV so meticulously

That I now am a Nutritional Authority

——————————————————

Now I lecture round the country giving more hard sell

To my target audience of the worried well

I listen to their piteous laments

And then I plug my own-brand range of supplements

I’ve played this game so successfully

That I now am a Nutritional Authority

————————————————–


So nutritionists all whoever you may be

If you wish to rise to the top of the tree

The Golden rule is to smile – insist it’s “common sense”

And at all costs have no truck with evidence

Stick to this rule – and charge eye-watering fees

And you too may be Nutritional Authorities

[BPSDB]


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51 Responses to “The First Nutritionista’s Song”

  1. Dr* T Says:

    Bravo! Bravo!

    I’m sure it would go very well with DC’s “They’ll none of ‘em be missed” from the Mikado.

  2. apgaylard Says:

    Classic. Wrap anything up in G&S and it goes straight into my brain! Caused by an early educational experience; when I was at junior school a teacher used to play us bits on a Friday afternoon. Much better than the teacher who got us singing political protest songs!

  3. dvnutrix Says:

    The G&S performances that I have attended. ;-)

    G&S lend themselves to the form of parody and commentary. Nicely done.

    Intrigued today to discover the the revisionism of Holfordian history can startle even me – according to the biographies of teachers for some online learning programme or other, Holford founded the ION in 1984 with Linus Pauling.

    In 1984 Patrick founded the Institute for Optimum Nutrition (ION) in London, with his mentor, twice Nobel Prize winner Dr Linus Pauling.

    I thought the origins of ION were rather more humble than that…

  4. draust Says:

    Thanks, gents. Peer approval always appreciated.

    I can take protest songs as long as they have any out of: of a good tune; words with some poetry; or a sense of humour… having said that, my mad French teacher (also a fervent Marxist as I recall) who tried to get us to sing “Blowin’ in the Wind” got a chilly reception.

    I have a sneaking liking for the odd protest song that does righteous anger AND black humour AND a chorus… e.g. this famous one, which after the last five years seems distinctly relevant again.

    I understand the folk-protest aversion, though. I was at primary school back in the days when folky tunes were practically compulsory, usually sung by painfully serious young teachers with guitars. My memory is of spending a significant part of my first four years at school refusing to sing along to Kumbaya and the like.

  5. apgaylard Says:

    The junior school songs that stuck in my brain are the Zulu song “I don’t care if I go to prison” (Asikhatali) and the original version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (Mbube). Not sure if the latter really counts as a protest song.

    My favorite protest song from my folk phase – and I still stand by this one, showing my age – is Phil Ochs “I ain’t marchin anymore”. What about an alt med ditty to that tune?

  6. draust Says:

    That “Linus and Patrick” one is a jaw-dropper, DVN. Linus must have been busy, what with running his Institute, anointing Matthias Rath as his successor (according to Rath, at least), and helping Patrick found the IoN.

    I suppose Patrick may have met the great man at some point on the Nutri-nonsense circuit… and they seem to have had Abram Hoffer as a mutual acquaintance. Has Patrick ever told us whether he met Pauling? I would have thought that, given Patrick’s inherent modesty, he would have been quite unable to keep it to himself if he had.

    Right bunch of fruit-loops that Patrick is associating with on that site DVN linked to. I notice that Patrick’s some time co-writer Jerome Burne is up there, together with Max Gerson’s daughter Charlotte, of the legendarily crazy Gerson Therapy.

  7. draust Says:

    AP – how about one about the tedium of mung bean and healthfood diets? We could call it

    “I ain’t munchin’ any more”

    I guess I’ve got some of the same memory banks. Another of the late 60s protest songs that sticks with me is Buffy Sante-Marie’s Universal Soldier. There is a video of her singing it at an Iraq War protest rally here, or a clip where she talks about how the song was written in the Vietnam era here. Anyway, another song that has retained its relevance in the era of Bush and Blair, though not really a singalong.

  8. draust Says:

    Our old friend Svetlana (Pertsovich) keeps sending comments under multiple aliases. I am not going to post them all, but I will re-post (with edits) any that are actually sensible or useful. The most sensible is:

    “But I fear that the life is more ironic than our jokes about it. Holford with his optimistic nutri-nonsense is a reality, unfortunately?”

    Which I agree with completely. As the saying goes, one doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry… Not just at the gullibility of the public, but also at the mind-sapping ubiquity of slick Snake Oil-salesmen like Patrick. Plus, in his particular case, his special skill at “framing” his message, notably by co-opting the roles of “pioneer” and “underdog”. There is a great danger that this will help push the Nutritionista message to people in positions of some influence who really should know better – see Holfordwatch for a recent example of these approaches in action.

    Getting back to Svetlana, she still seems to think I am a kind of Online Stealth Avatar ( or “Sockpuppet”) for Professor David Colquhoun:

    “Doc, don’t be angry with me…

    Simply, I hadn’t understood at once who is you actually
    Honestly! You played so well that I thought – you are REAL!”

    *Sigh* Well, if I “sound” real, and not like David Colquhoun, that’s because I am real…and not David Colquhoun. I have real parents (not called Colquhoun), and two real children, and a real Mrs Dr Aust, and a real job. Really.

    I keep hoping, apparently vainly, that if I can convince Svetlana that I am really not David Colquhoun, then she will leave me in peace.

    As I have said several times on this and other blogs, I know David Colquhoun. I first met him long ago when I was a student and went to ask him a rather mundane question about fitting titration curves. He was exceptionally gracious, and took the time to explain least-squares curve fitting to me, so that I could go back and implement it on my lab’s much-prized Hewlett Packard computer (probably one of these, from the look of it).

    So: I know David. But he isn’t me. There are even people around who can attest to this since they have seen both of us at the same time.

    Note added 30 minutes later:

    No good. *sigh* She still doesn’t believe me, and I have two emails to prove it. Reality appears to be no match for belief.

    Which is, of course, a recurring theme around here

  9. UK dietitian Says:

    Encore!
    How about a parody of something from the Mikado, given that its original idea (later discarded) was to be about changes in behaviour after taking a ‘magic lozenge’…..

  10. LeeT Says:

    “ALL: And so say the graduates of his Institute!”

    Really loved the song, but seeing as you were being pedantic about pronunciation a few weeks ago can I point out that people coming out of the ION are diplomates not graduates …?

  11. David Colquhoun Says:

    Lovely. It scans better than my own attempt at G&S. But that’s enough. According to Svetlana, I’m talking to myself -better increase the dose of fish oil.

  12. draust Says:

    David – yes, another bunch of messages for you have already come in from Svetlana. She obviously thinks you are indefatigable as well as multi-persona-ed. Or perhaps you are just omniscient and omnipresent. Now who does that remind me of…?

    LeeT - thanks for the correction. I hadn’t checked their set-up, but you are quite right: you are a mere IoN “diplomate” unless you sign up for additional course units at the Univ of Bedfordshire (who should, needless to say, be ashamed of themselves) to upgrade yourself to a B.Sc. …Which should stand, in this case, for “Bogus Science Course”.

    I guess the million dollar question is how the Dip ION graduates, sorry, diplomates would describe themselves to a paying patient, sorry, punter, sorry, “client”.

    UK dietitian – a pleasure to see you here. I will have to have a proper look at The Mikado. The Major General’s song from Pirates of Penzance is another one that springs to mind – how about:

    “I am the very model of an integrative therapist”

    – might be a bit difficult to find good rhymes, though.

  13. LeeT Says:

    They are indeed diplomates and whenever one describes herself/himself as a graduate we should shout “diplomate.” Perhaps you could work that in the song? On a more serious note I spent more time than I sould have done looking at several Dip ION websites. Not one of them stated they were coverting their diploma in an honours degree. How strange. It is worth remembering that Ben Goldacre mentions the University of Bedfordshire was criticised by inspectors for the way they organised their foundation degrees.

  14. LeeT Says:

    Further to my above comment, here is the 2005 audit of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education on the University of Luton. The most relevant paragraphs are 45 to 52:

    http://www.qaa.ac.uk/reviews/reports/institutional/Luton1105/RG162UniLuton.pdf

  15. Nash Says:

    Found this on a hoe site.

    http://www.cafeoflifepikespeak.com/Videos/Licensed%20To%20Pill.swf

    Billy Joel Warning:
    This is based on a Billy Joel song. People who enjoy music will find this upsetting. If you have been affected by a Billy Joel song, then listen to music, prefereably played at a high volume. It is as s**t as the original

  16. dvnutrix Says:

    OK – is there anyone who doesn’t consider this a ready-made G&S?

    Dirk Budka, MSc, MSc, BSc, Dip Dok studied Environmental Science, Immune-Biology, Bacteriology, Parasitology & Virology and Mycology. He practices Nutrition, Microbiology and Allergology

    BCNH somewhat missed the point of Ben Goldacre’s lecture to them.

    BCNH Science blog.

  17. draust Says:

    Goodness. That BCNH stuff DVNUtrix linked to has left me somewhat at a loss for words.

    I’m not sure whether the correct adjective is:

    “Woeful”

    or:

    “Woo-ful”

    or both.

    As for LeeT’s links, it all adds to the perception that there is little some insitutions WON’T do for money, at least at the lower end of the University sector.

    Though they seem to be drawing the line at degrees in astrology, at least so far. But don’t hold your breath.

  18. dvnutrix Says:

    Dr Aust, you’re not counting the PhD from Southampton then? (More in that thread.) Of course, applied astrology might be different (*fetches own coat before fetched by people in monochrome outfit*).

    Applications of astrology to health psychology: psychological and astrological factors and fertility treatment outcome.

    tbf, Southampton has some excellent departments.

  19. draust Says:

    Yes, I had forgotten about the So’ton PhD in Astrology, DVN.

    Talking of which, did we ever get to the bottom of how serious a piece of work it was? (Or wasn’t.)

    It certainly would be perfectly possible to construct a rigorous PhD / study based around how patients’ beliefs, even utterly bizarre ones, influenced their response to treatment, and / or their perception of how the treatment had gone. This would be a well-tried theme in medical social sciences, and can be regarded as independent of whether the beliefs you are talking about are bonkers or not.

    To take an obvious example, if you gave someone “treatment” for their allergies which consisted of “allergen testing” by applied kinesiology, and then treatment by homeopathic remedy, I would predict that people who were keen on New Age flapdoodle in general would be far happier with this as a treatment than people who were of a broadly sceptical frame of mind, or had a science background.

    I would also expect (perhaps as my null hypothesis) that if one took a “symptom rating scale” that was highly subjective:

    “How do you feel your symptoms have been during the treatment?”

    – that the woo-types would report bigger improvements with woo therapy than would the sceptics.

    I would also expect (further hypothesis) that if one could devise a more objective measure of symptom scoring then this “woo premium” would decrease towards zero.

    Anyway, within this kind of set-up, the beliefs looked at could just as well be astrology, or belief in UFOs. It does not invalidate the research, provided that the researchers are not infiltrating their own pro-Unreality biases into the study design, data collection, interpretation etc. and thus finding apparent effects where there are really none.

    Of course, the problem arises when you incorporate the high likelihood that anyone who chooses to do a piece of research like what I have just described, or like the So’ton Ph.D., has a bedrock positive attitude to Alt.Reality. One sees endless examples of this, notably with the homeopaths. So the million dollar question is, was the person who did the “Astrology PhD” well into astrology? If so, I would expect it to be a rubbish piece of work, as they would be talking themselves into believing it at every turn and would thus be blind to any and all slipshod-ness in what they had done.

    Which calls to mind my favourite aphorism on this:

    “The first principle [of doing proper scientific investigation] is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.” Richard P Feynman

  20. draust Says:

    And a quick dig reveals that the person doing the Ph.D. Pat Harris, was and is – you guessed it – an astrologer. Ho hum.

    Though what the nominal supervisor, Jackie Powell, who is “Professor of Social Work Studies and a co-director of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods”, was thinking of, I can’t imagine. Probably distinctly embarrassed, I would think.

  21. John H Says:

    Is it just me looking for meaningless and non-existent patterns or is there a hidden message in the URL posted by LeeT above:

    http://www.qaa.ac.uk/reviews

  22. draust Says:

    Svetlana Pertsovich (alias all sorts of things) is still barred at the moment, and in fact until she shows she can behave.

    However, she is keeping an eye on us and, credit where credit is due, has described the QAA page John linked to quite wittily as:

    “Bureaucratic delirium”

    Of course, people who grew up in the old Soviet system have a lot of experience of all-embracing and paralyzing bureaucracies. As increasing numbers of ex-USSR academics filter into the Western Universities, including in the UK, they have commented on some interesting parallels. One that I remember being very amused by – having sat through a few HR-mandated training courses in my time – is the comment by a blogging Professor of Mathematics on one of DC’s old posts here.

    The DC post itself, on “In-human resources, science and pizza” is a good read – as is the whole discussion thread following it, if you want an insight into what academics really think of most of the “skills training” provided in Universities by the HR folk. It also contains rare examples of HR people actually joining the debate to put their viewpoint.

  23. John Charles Says:

    Very clever, and good choice of video clip.
    I printed out your alternative words and sing them in time with the clip. They very nearly fit!
    (Seems to me, you must have too much time on your hands.)

  24. Svetlana Says:

    You have unblocked me in vain. I can say here nothing good about you. Unfortunately you treated me badly! John Hooper’s comments about me in your blog are a lie. I said nothing about his mother in phone talks with him.
    Remove his comments, please, Doctor.

  25. John H (Mobile non tactilus) Says:

    Let me clarify a few things here.

    Svetlana calls me constantly. I had 12 calls last night and 6 calls so far this morning.

    I have 16 saved voicemails from her on my phone, including the one with the word she denies having used about me. She is actually calling me now as I type this message (11.15am) and I have 4 missed calls over the last few minutes.

    These are facts. Not lies.

    Vodafone told me (about an hour ago) that yes, there were a number of calls from Russia, but there was very little they could do about it. I need to take two more calls and report them to VF, then get a police crime reference and then they will change my number free of charge. Big deal.

    If any police officer, mobile carrier security person, university or other employer either in the UK or Russia would like the phone log and copies of the voicemails they are more than welcome.

    And here comes another one (11.21).

    Not lies at all. Absolute fact – backed up by the records of Vodafone.

    As the voicemails are in very poor English I could be wrong about the use of the epithet in question, although I would need convincing there is a Russian word that sounds similar.

    It could also be that the person making the calls is not the person above. Two recent text messages came from a number which showed up as +7 915 **** ***.

    +7 is the prefix for Russia and 915 indicates a Russian mobile carrier.

    One of them is addressed to “My dear David” so a poor grasp on proceedings as my name is John.

    And another one (11.32).

    If anyone can suggest any rhyme or reason for this then I am all ears.

  26. Svetlana Says:

    Moreover, let this scoundrel Hooper make an apology me.

  27. draust Says:

    Svetlana

    It is quite clear that you have been harassing John Hooper by phone, as you have previously harassed David Colquhoun. And I have lost count of the number of ranting, garbled emails, sometimes threatening, that you have sent me.

    Let me be clear:

    PLEASE GO AWAY. AND DO NOT COME BACK.

    I am saying this as politely as possible. Otherwise I will place a permanent post on the blog detailing exactly why you are barred.

    Does it not occur to you that all that you are doing by pursuing this idiotic vendetta is making yourself look more and more ridiculous?

  28. Svetlana Says:

    “Does it not occur to you that all that you are doing by pursuing this idiotic vendetta is making yourself look more and more ridiculous?”

    Look at yourself, buddy ;) At last it is territory of YOUR blog, isn’t it? ;) If you had though a spice of brains in your head, then you would stop it immediately and silence both us! But you are taking your pleasure yourself by this American fray!
    Well!! OK! Keep on, if you want, Doc! But according to rules of genre the scene needs in the cake! Give me your birthday’s cake from your old post and I’ll catapult this cake into invidious Hooper’s physiognomy!
    :P

  29. Svetlana Says:

    John Hooper tells a lie.

  30. John H Says:

    Hmmmmmmmm

    Not sure where to start really.

    I will load all the voicemails onto my website and anyone who wants to hear Svetlana’s rambling will be welcome to do so.

    Now I have no idea who she THOUGHT she was dialling but I know the calls came through to my phone (8 since the previous posting.).

    It would be a great help if Svetlana could go away and allow this site to revert to criticism of mumbo-jumbo and pseudoscience. It would also be a great help to me and the other people she pesters if she would just shut up full stop.

    [NOTE: edited to reduce invective, though the invective is quite understandable]

  31. John H Says:

    And if some of the above does not make sense or cross reference anything it is because Dr Aust had the common sense to delete many of the ramblings.

    I would suggest reading between the lines but I think the 1.39 pm posting gives a true flavour of Svetlana’s output.

    [Minor EDIT to de-invectivise]

  32. draust Says:

    John Charles wrote:

    I printed out your alternative words and sing them in time with the clip. They very nearly fit!

    (Seems to me, you must have too much time on your hands.)

    Thanks for the approving note, John. You may be the first person apart from me who has actually sung them!

    Re. too much time on my hands, just don’t tell Mrs Dr Aust or she will have me scrubbing the kitchen floor as well as tidying the kids’ toys, cleaning up after dinner and loading the dishwasher. Though loading the dishwasher has a kind of appeal for a science nerd, as you can try and work out the most efficient way to get absolutely the most dishes in. (Sad, I know – how one’s horizons shrink in middle age).

    In fact, the main secret of finding time to blog has been substituting writing and blogging for watching TV.

    Lyrics actually take less time than extended pieces of writing like the previous post on WHR Rivers. Or maybe it’s that lyrics take time in chunks here and there, over a long-ish period – the G&S parody has been in the works for several months, on and off. But the you-can-do-a-bit-at-a-time nature of lyrics means that they really do fill dead time on buses and trains rather well.

  33. Dr Aust Says:

    For anyone still wondering why it has gone a bit quiet, the answer is that I have bowed to the inevitable and blocked all Svetlana’s comments, regardless of which alias she is using.

    This is in the hope that we can all get back to something more useful than the recent endless cascade of nonsense.

  34. John H Says:

    Dr Aust

    It may have gone quiet on the blog site but it has not gone quiet on my mobile phone.

    After a brief period of respite I have had another ten-twenty calls today (most of them I just kill so I lose track).

    I even tried talking calmly and rationally to the caller but it has no effect whatsoever.

    Apparently I am supposed to apologise – for what exactly ?

    Not even any requirement to disinvectivisate this post !

  35. Pages tagged "piteous" Says:

    […] bookmarks tagged piteous The First Nutritionista’s Song saved by 6 others     xHuax bookmarked on 12/11/08 | […]

  36. dvnutrix Says:

    Yes, Dr Aust. There is an uncanny resemblance between your verses and the latest warblings on the topic of ORACs from a certain, costly cherry concentrate rather than from your everyday foods. It has been said before, but it is impossible to parody these people.

    You may be interested to know that despite the period in the 80-90s when ION disappeared from Companies House, they are nonetheless holding a conference and dinner to celebrate their Silver Jubilee.

    They really should offer a Dip.Chutzpah, a topic in which they are truly second to no-one else.

  37. DBB Says:

    Amazing… how many “Ben Goldacre wannabes” are to be found on the internet. Maybe DVNutrix, Dr Aust, John H. are ONE person. YES you guessed right: They ARE Ben Goldacre.
    By the way: What is the difference between Patrick Holford, Gillian McKeith and Ben Goldacre?
    YEEEAAAH: They ALL want to sell their products (especially their books).
    Ooops and what is the difference? Patrick and Gillian can sel their books without ridiculing others. :-)

  38. Neuroskeptic Says:

    “What is the difference between Patrick Holford, Gillian McKeith and Ben Goldacre?”

    Ooh, I know this one! Ben Goldacre is the only one who can legally use the title “Dr.”!

    If we’re doing jokes…

    Ben Goldacre walks into a bar. Ouch, it was an iron bar. He takes an aspirin.

    Patrick Holford walks into a bar. Ouch, it was an iron bar. He takes fifty vitamin pills washed down with several glasses of expensive cherry juice.

    Gillian McKeith walks into a bar. Ouch, it was an iron bar. She does a poo and examines it to make sure she doesn’t have concussion.

  39. Neuroskeptic Says:

    Also –

    Some people allege that a global warming skeptic walked into an iron bar. But in fact there is no convincing evidence for this! The bump on his head is just a coincidence! There’s a letter signed by several iron experts attesting to their doubts over the theory of ferrogenic-head-bumpening.

    A JABS member walks into a bar. Ouch, it was an iron bar, but thank God it wasn’t made of aluminium or mercury!

    A homeopath gets gently tapped on the head with a small paperclip. He can now walk into iron bars and be completely safe.

  40. Wulfstan Says:

    DBB – that’s a good one.

    Patrick and Gillian can sel their books without ridiculing others.

    No, they just make a mockery of science, knowledge and scholarship. As for what you probably meant, are we talking about the same people?

    Holford regularly derides the knowledge of doctors in comparison with his own inflated assessment of his abilities. McKeith ritually humiliates people on her TV programmes that are designed to support her books.

    My, my. And it seems that we have a new phenomenon. If Capgras is the belief that familiar people have been replaced by strangers – what ought we name the phenomenon where Woo-sters affect to believe that several bloggers are, in fact, the same person?

    If one were to lend any credence to some of your more outre commenters, Dr Aust, you are both David Colquhoun and Ben Goldacre – if some bizarre cloning experiment is in progress, then I think that we should be told.

  41. DBB Says:

    Hi Wulfstan…
    what I wanted to avoid the most was to defend Holford and McKeith…
    Hope you got this one right… and sorry for any misunderstanding.

    By the way – the ION diploma is NOT recognized in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and people who studied at ION cannot be let loose to give everybody 50 vitamin pills against IBS, broken knee caps, depression and multiple chemical sensitivities and sick building syndrome (love esp the last two ones). And people like FOOD DOCTOR will not be allowed to use the title… not even as a joke (sick joke!)

    Happy New Year to all of you

  42. draust Says:

    By the way: What is the difference between Patrick Holford, Gillian McKeith and Ben Goldacre?

    Hmmm. Personally, dbb, I would have said that the main difference between Ben G, Cher Patrique and “Dr” Gillian’s books was that only Ben’s book wasn’t full of completely unbelievable nonsense.

    Oh, and it’s the only one that is funny.

    Re. “sell their products(especially their books)”, they certainly all have at least one book to sell. But only two out of the three have major own-brand retail Empires for which the books are basically extended plugs, and which are based on flogging you the notion of their own magisterial authority. No prizes for guessing which two.

    As Wulfstan points out, I have now achieved a notable “Double” in being accused of being both David Colquhoun and Ben Goldacre. I will persist in regarding both of these as major compliments.

    The truth, as already familiar to regular readers, is that I know David Colquhoun, having first met him when I was a student waaaaay back in the distant mists of time (well, the 80s). I have met young Dr Ben precisely once, though I have been in the same room at a conference a couple of times and have exchanged the odd email with him over the last couple of years.

    As to being a “Goldacre wannabe” – I happily admit that it was Ben that started me and some of the rest of the “BadScience Posse” blogging, something that developed from my being a regular commenter at Ben’s Bad Science blog. Is that being a “wannabe”? Well, I would certainly be very happy if I had done as much to combat belief in nonsense, dismal media reporting, and general understanding of science and medicine, as either Ben or David. Or if I was even a tenth as good a scientist as David Colquhoun.

    Incidentally, dbb, would this be you running a nutrition clinic? Your email address suggests as much.

    Thanks for the info about the IoN diploma not being recognised in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, by the way. I am not surprised, actually, since in the light of the Heilpraktikergesetz anyone calling themself a “nutritionist” in Germany would be legally required to have a proper qualification of some kind. But it certainly doesn’t speak well for the perceived quality of the IoN’s “Diploma”.

  43. DBB Says:

    Oh Oh being a German makes things a bit more difficult. This “Goldacre Wannabe” was NOT meant to be negative… quite the opposite in your case.
    And yes, I am dirk bernhard budka (dbb), hope I can stay :-)…
    And yes, I mean No, I do not have a doctor, but 2 MSc’s and I am now the “Scientific Advisor” for BCNH. And yes, yes, yes… what an uphill struggle – but please give me some time.
    YES – I will invite poeple like Dr. Goldacre for lectures
    YES – I am not a friend of supplementation
    YES – I do not agree with weekend practitioners (“avoid wheat and dairy” and “You have candida”)
    YES – I will introduce a Master’s Degree course in Molecular Nutrition and Food Science for students who do not want to be medical practitioner but want to work in food engineering etc.
    YES – would be great to get some constructive help to get things right
    and
    NO – Mr. Holford will not be invited, not even to clean the stairs
    NO – the FOOD DOCTOR can sell his ready meals at M & S, but should not give any advice to anybody
    NO – Gillian McKeith will not even invited tpo sniffle the poo samples we analys with our PCRs
    YES – we will invite molecular and cell biologists and food engineers andandand…

    What a list at the end of a funny year!
    Best wishes from snowy Germany with sauerkraut (high in histamines) and sausages (bacteria-laden)
    dbb

  44. draust Says:

    Kein Problem, Dirk – Gefühle ganz nicht verletzt. Und herzlich Willkommen bei Dr Aust’s Spleen usw.

    Good luck with your project – I would like to think it should be possible to run a sensible M.Sc. course as you describe, although being pessimistic I suspect you may find you have your work cut out to make sure that “prospective customer (student) demand” does not pull you towards the “Nutritionista” end of things. But like I say, good luck.

    And of course, given the date:

    Ein gutes neues Jahr!

  45. DBB Says:

    The first thing I am going to teach them is “The First Nutritionista’s Song”

  46. Phil Alexander Says:

    Superb stuff, Dr Aust :-) After your comments about a Major-General parody, you might be similarly amused by one I wrote a year or two ago on much the same sort of subject (“I am the very model of a woo-factor nutritionist”)- with a bit of luck it’ll be linked above.

  47. draust Says:

    Love the song, Phil. In fact it is so good that I will probably avoid that tune for a parody!

    Some personal favourite lines, and which apply to almost any of the high-profile Nutritionistas, are:

    In fact, when I can write an article that quotes a reference
    When I don’t threaten lawsuits for a minor lack of deference
    When I have done some research that’s accepted scientific’ly
    When I can answer questions both precisely and specific’ly

    But for the particular person you have in mind I think the final couplet is a classic:

    But still in matters faecal, and with never a commission missed
    I am the very model of a woo-factor nutritionist

    Masterful.

  48. DBB Says:

    The support band will sing the following:

    IBS, broken knee, CFS and diarrhoea
    Avoid coffee, dairy, wheat and beer

    CHORUS: (yodeling) Yuppheidi and yuppheida…
    you all have Candida

    Poo smelling, vega test and kinesiology
    drink 3 litres of water and happy are we

    CHORUS: (yodeling) Yuppheidi and yupp hei…but!
    It could be also leaky gut!

    Migraine, Pancreatitis, diabetes…oh my dear
    Avoid coffee, dairy, wheat and beer.

    CHORUS: (yodeling) Yuppheidi and yuppheidease
    I believe its also sick building disease

    Goji berries, 100 supplements and aloe vera
    treats cancer, arthritis and diarrhoea

    CHORUS: (yodeling) the whole environment does you harm
    lets take out the amalgam

    Athlete’s foot, terrible flu, oh dear oh dear
    avoid coffee, wheat, dairy and beer.

    End of support act’s song.

    PS my engagement as Scientific advisor at BCNH lasted 2 weeks!

  49. draust Says:

    Did you have a tune in mind, Dirk? I like to link to a musical performance of whatever tune / song I am thinking of on Youtube.

  50. LBC - laughable, blustering, canting « Dr Aust’s Spleen Says:

    […] on Radio 5 Live (as it was then) back in 1999 or so. I heard it while driving down the M42 in the old (though then almost-new-ish) Aust-mobile, and it nearly made me drive the car off the road, so relentlessly stupid was it. But I really […]

  51. Is this the end of the gluten-free fad? | Scripturient: Blog & Commentary Says:

    […] Nutritionistas. Love that  word. They need their own theme song. […]

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