Calorie Lab” is a web­site that ordi­nar­ily pub­lishes more or less use­ful com­men­tary on diets and diet plans, gen­er­ally skew­ing to the reality-​​based side, but this last week they pub­lished a very cred­u­lous workup of Stanley Burroughs and his “cleanse” diet plan here.

The arti­cle presents the diet in a more or less legit­i­mate sound­ing light until the last few grafs. That was extremely trou­bling to me, so I posted this com­ment on the article:

This sort of pseu­do­sci­en­tific mumbo-​​jumbo is not merely wrong; it’s actu­ally dangerous.

Anyone will­ing to take diet advice from a man who didn’t even acknowl­edge that germs make peo­ple sick is tread­ing a dan­ger­ous knife-​​edge of stupidity.

Please keep your arti­cles to medically-​​responsible subjects.

While the online fol­lowup from the Calorie Lab edi­tor was a bit snarky, I tried to keep it light. However, I received the fol­low­ing in my mailbox:

On Jul 17, 2008, at 9:02 AM, Mark Schrimsher wrote:

Did you actu­ally read it? We said the guy was a crank and felon, and
then hoisted him by his own petard with quotes from his nutty book.

My reply read as follows:

But the arti­cle was pre­ceded by a lengthy descrip­tion of the diet. The exco­ri­a­tion came last. It was read­able as an endorse­ment, and fol­lowup com­ments by oth­ers indi­cated a cred­u­lous accep­tance of his teachings.

Mark Schrimsher then fol­lowed up with this incred­i­ble defense:

Yes, our nor­mal pat­tern is to neu­trally describe some­thing like this,
and then after that to offer more op-​​ed eval­u­a­tion. There are other
sites that sim­ply rant against pseu­do­science and the like, and because
of that they’re not get­ting ads or mak­ing any money, the writ­ers
aren’t get­ting paid, and they don’t have much of an audi­ence. That’s
the sort of thing you have the lux­ury to do on a per­sonal hobby blog
with­out a payroll.

But in this case we trashed the guy before and after the neu­tral
descrip­tion of the diet, which wasn’t so neu­tral any­way in that there
were sar­cas­tic asides pep­pered throughout.

Check out YouTube and Flickr for “mas­ter cleanse”: For bet­ter or
worse, this is com­pletely main­stream, with upper mid­dle class peo­ple
buy­ing Whole Foods 365 Grade B maple syrup by the gallon.

If you want to help out, go over to Wikipedia and try to edit some
sense into their Master Cleanse arti­cle. I’ve been mak­ing changes, but
there is some idiot revert­ing every­thing that is against the diet. We
need to gang up on him.

We have an order in with the Placer County, California, Department of
Vital Statistics for a copy of Burroughs’ death cer­tifi­cate, which
will hope­fully yield some more mate­r­ial to trash the guy, since I bet
he died of some­thing he claimed his treat­ments would cure.

Oy! Yes! Unbelievable! Not only was I taken to task for point­ing out the stu­pid­ity of the diet, but I was blamed for being truth­ful, accused of being a “hob­by­ist”, and my legit­i­mate objec­tions were blown off as being, in essence, just so much whining.

I’ve added the full text of my reply here:

On Jul 19, 2008, at 6:51 AM, Mark Schrimsher wrote:

Yes, our nor­mal pat­tern is to neu­trally describe some­thing like this,
and then after that to offer more op-​​ed eval­u­a­tion. There are other
sites that sim­ply rant against pseu­do­science and the like, and because
of that they’re not get­ting ads or mak­ing any money, the writ­ers
aren’t get­ting paid, and they don’t have much of an audi­ence. That’s
the sort of thing you have the lux­ury to do on a per­sonal hobby blog
with­out a payroll.

Wait. You’re say­ing you’re pre­sent­ing a crank diet plan, which is known and doc­u­mented to be dan­ger­ous to those that use it, for the money?

Um.

That can’t really be the mes­sage you want to send, can it? I mean, you can’t seri­ously be send­ing me the mes­sage that you’re doing it for the money, can you?

But in this case we trashed the guy before and after the neu­tral
descrip­tion of the diet, which wasn’t so neu­tral any­way in that there
were sar­cas­tic asides pep­pered throughout.

You’d bet­ter explain that to the oth­ers who’ve fol­lowed up, defend­ing him, then. (You might have noticed that mine is the sole ‘anti’ voice in the crowd.) Or would you pre­fer me to do it?

Check out YouTube and Flickr for “mas­ter cleanse”: For bet­ter or
worse, this is com­pletely main­stream, with upper mid­dle class peo­ple
buy­ing Whole Foods 365 Grade B maple syrup by the gallon.

Okay, so some­how now it’s my fault that an entire ret­inue of under­e­d­u­cated peo­ple are starv­ing them­selves at the behest of this guy?

Listen. Just because 50,000 coy­otes are eat­ing road­kill jackrab­bit doesn’t mean I should do it too, even if I’m a god­damned coyote.

If you want to help out, go over to Wikipedia and try to edit some
sense into their Master Cleanse arti­cle. I’ve been mak­ing changes, but
there is some idiot revert­ing every­thing that is against the diet. We
need to gang up on him.

No, no, no, no, no. If YOU want to help out, it is YOUR respon­si­bil­ity NOT  to pub­lish apparently-​​sustaining works on these diets, par­tic­u­larly not those that CALL THEMSELVESHOW-​​TO, as your arti­cle does, under the aegis of a site that dis­penses otherwise-​​valid dietary advice.

We have an order in with the Placer County, California, Department of
Vital Statistics for a copy of Burroughs’ death cer­tifi­cate, which
will hope­fully yield some more mate­r­ial to trash the guy, since I bet
he died of some­thing he claimed his treat­ments would cure.

You should have waited to go to ‘press’ until after you had that. As it is, you’re try­ing to make me out to be the bad guy, the lone crank, when you *know* I am right. Look again at the com­ments on the arti­cle, and ask your­self who’s really being irre­spon­si­ble here.

Folks, I could really use some help here in shut­ting down this stu­pid idea that Burroughs’s diet is some­how valid. EVERY OTHER COMMENT on that arti­cle is favor­able. Calorie Lab is being insanely irre­spon­si­ble in their stand, and their unwill­ing­ness to back down, post a retrac­tion or even pub­licly acknowl­edge their mis­take could com­pro­mise the health of dozens, or pos­si­bly hundreds.

Their hand-​​waving that they’re wait­ing for a coroner’s report is utterly irrel­e­vant. They’ve pub­lished shoddy advice as a diet plan, it’s being sup­ported by other read­ers (look at the other com­ments on the post), and they’re try­ing to make me out as being the vil­lain here.

Share

No related posts.

Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.