Another kind of science fiction

August 26th, 2004 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, bbc, gillian mckeith, nutritionists, PhDs, doctors, and qualifications | 1 Comment »

Ben Goldacre
Thursday August 26, 2004
The Guardian

· Of course, I write about science fiction every week, although the authors I review somehow manage to get themselves filed under non-fiction. Like the Independent. Just send in your questionnaire and a lock of hair to the company involved, it explains, and the Food Doctor Weight Loss Plan can perform an analysis to reveal “your biochemical composition”. With a big shiny machine covered in flashing lights, I hope.

· The BBC ran a story this week on a company turning waste wood chips into amazing techno fuel pellets. “The pellets can be burned in industrial and domestic heating boilers without creating carbon dioxide, which causes global warming.” For lo, they have cracked the secret of alchemy, reworked the very structure of the atom, and converted long-chain molecules containing carbon into pure hydrogen. Why not gold?

· See if you can guess which sci-fi author was behind this flight of fancy on the health website bonasana.com: “All molecules have an electrical charge and a vibrational energy. Therefore, all foods, which are made up of molecules, contain these vibrational charges. The colours of foods represent vibrational energies … foods which are orange in colour … have similar vibrational energies and even similar nutrient makeup.” Many sci-fi authors like to write under pseudonyms, and Ms Gillian McKeith, you will remember, likes to write under the name “Dr Gillian McKeith PhD”, on account of her non-accredited correspondence PhD. Blue foods are good for “urinary tract infections, kidney problems, fevers”. Do medical doctors agree with colour food therapy, Gillian? “Generally medical doctors are not trained in this area.” How narrow-minded.

· I wasn’t going to write about her again. But, interestingly, Gillian McKeith PhD (who describes people who disagree with her as using bad science, no less) also claims to have “worked with Linus Pauling (PhD), world’s leading researcher in Vitamin C and Nobel Prize winner (New York, USA)”. Her “PhD” course began in 1993. Linus Pauling died in 1994. “He was an incredible inspiration. I was working solidly, but studying for a doctorate is not all sitting in a classroom.” Quite so. Although, of course, it didn’t really involve sitting in a classroom at all. I contacted Max Clifford Associates two weeks ago to ask if this should be filed under autobiography or sci-fi. They haven’t got back to me. Yet. Enough. I promise.


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