“My right to be called a nutritionist” – Patrick Holford

February 16th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, patrick holford | 78 Comments »

From the letters page today:

My right to be called a nutrionist
Friday February 16, 2007
The Guardian

In Ben Goldacre’s column on January 6 he once again accuses me of “bad science” in reference to a statement in one of my books that “AZT is potentially harmful and proving less effective than vitamin C”. As he well knows, the author of the research – Dr Raxit Jariwalla – wrote to the Guardian (January 20 2005) the last time Goldacre made this claim, to confirm that my statement is correct on the basis of two studies on HIV-infected cells. The real crime here is that no full-scale human trials have been funded on vitamin C to follow up Jariwalla’s important finding because it is non-patentable and hence not profitable. Goldacre seems unconcerned about the way commercial interests distort scientific research.

Goldacre, who only left university in 1995, says I am unqualified to call myself a nutritionist. I have spent the last 30 years researching, teaching, writing and practising nutrition. I am not sure what else I can call myself. For the record, I did not confer my own diploma, as he states. The board of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition (ION), which is an educational trust that I founded in 1984, awarded me an honorary diploma. I am not, nor have I ever been, on the board of trustees. ION offers a fully accredited foundation degree in nutritional therapy, upgradable to a BSc with a further year’s extra study. The British Association of Nutritional Therapy, which is the self-regulating organisation that represents this profession, made me an honorary fellow. I am unclear about Goldacre’s qualifications for dismissing these professional standards or his patronising comment that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist.

Patrick Holford
London

Oh, the Jariwalla he’s so excited about, incidentally, is here:

www4.dr-rath-foundation.org/THE_FOUNDATION/youcan2005dec/05.html

“Dr. Jariwalla is a senior researcher in nutrition and infectious diseases at the Dr. Rath Research Institute in California, USA.”

And you’ll remember who Rath is: the South African vitamin salesman who tells AIDS victims that his vitamin pills are better than medication.

This is quite a graduation for Holford from diet books and daytime telly. AIDS. Nice. 4 million dead already. He’s playing with the big boys now.


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78 Responses



  1. superburger said,

    February 16, 2007 at 7:08 am

    Sir,

    Patrick Holford asserts his right to be called a nutritionist. He is well within his rights. At present, the term has far less legal meaning that “minicab driver” might.

    I would rather take healthcare advice from a cabbie than from a man who appears to believe that a cure for AIDS (25 million dead since 1981) may lie in conspicuous consumption of clementines, rather than the herculean efforts of some of the best scientists and medics working in the world today.

    Mt Holford can call himself what he wishes. Many scientists will choose to call him deluded.

    Yours, etc.

    Superburger.

  2. igb said,

    February 16, 2007 at 7:14 am

    I’m enjoying the “Look here, young man” references to Ben’s age. The ghost of Brian Clough must be chuckling.

    Isn’t the point about those bogus claims for Ascorbic Acid curing AIDS just that if you take a dish of cells (I’m not sure I understand what “AIDS indected cells” mean, but I presume it means in vitro) and add acid it kills the cells? Similarly, I presume vinegar is more effective than AZT.

  3. John Coffin said,

    February 16, 2007 at 7:19 am

    Hmmm.

    “For the record, I did not confer my own diploma, as he states. The board of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition (ION), which is an educational trust that I founded in 1984, awarded me an honorary diploma. I”

    And the difference is? Ah, right, as an ‘honorary’ diploma, you don’t even have to pretend to have earned it.

  4. Mojo said,

    February 16, 2007 at 8:47 am

    “I have spent the last 30 years researching, teaching, writing and practising nutrition.”

    30 years of “researching, teaching, writing and practising nutrition” and he doesn’t even know how to search pubmed properly, or the fact that the number of hits a search returns isn’t as important as what the papers found actually say:

    www.badscience.net/?p=361#comment-10470

  5. motmot said,

    February 16, 2007 at 9:07 am

    “Goldacre seems unconcerned about the way commercial interests distort scientific research.”

    Absolutely priceless! I suppose Patrick hasn’t considered the fact that they’re not exactly giving alternative treatment away in the street; but what is sauce for the goose? I like the way he calls the BANT self-regulated, too, when on their front page they claim to be regulated by the Nutritional Therapy Council (which is, of course, not a regulatory body at all – see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Patrick_Holford#BANT_as_a_regulatory_body).

  6. uberdada said,

    February 16, 2007 at 9:22 am

    Gosh, you only left university in 1995? Why that’s a mere 11 years, you are virtually still a student!

  7. Dr* T said,

    February 16, 2007 at 9:34 am

    Sir;

    I enjoyed Patrick Holford’s attempt to rebuff the assertions made by Ben Goldacre in his Bad Science column [My right to be called a Nutritionist, 16th Feb].

    His line “Goldacre seems unconcerned about the way commercial interests distort scientific research” indicates that he really doesn’t understand the charges being put to him. Dr Goldacre’s highly enjoyable column regularly deals with exactly that topic – scientific research being distorted by commercial interests and the exposure of the dubious self-promoter involved.

    We only have to look at yesterday’s report on watercress cutting the risk of cancer (paid for by the Watercress Alliance) or Durham Council’s shameful sell-out with their thoroughly unscientific child experimentation ‘trials’ involving giving unnatural amounts of fish oils to children (paid for by the fish oil producers).

    I’m sure Mr Holford would agree?

    Yours etc

    Dr* T

  8. superburger said,

    February 16, 2007 at 9:49 am

    if you left university in ’95 after 5 years of medical school (inc half day nutrition training – unless you skipped the lecture of course) and you didn’t take the middle class birthright that is the gap yeat, that makes Dr Goldacre about 35ish.

    Given Lawrence Bragg, Paul Dirac, Werner Heisenberg and James Watson all got Nobel prizes before 35 I wonder what Holford AND Goldacre’s excuses are?

  9. amoebic vodka said,

    February 16, 2007 at 10:37 am

    Ben’s a doctor, not a researcher, so that’s his excuse.

    “I did not confer my own diploma. The board of [...] an educational trust that I founded in 1984, awarded me an honorary diploma.”

    So if you get your friends to do it, that’s okay then?

  10. superburger said,

    February 16, 2007 at 11:18 am

    On his webpage he claims to have formed a relationship with linus pauling

    Now, doesn’t Ms McKeith also claim to have been buddies with Pauling? The poor guy seems to have met a lot of cranks.

    In his later years, Pauling was really into high doses of vitamin C as therapy.

    Which is a pity as “The Nature of the Chemical Bond” is still a cracking bedside read.

  11. Calibre said,

    February 16, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Amoebic,

    Yeah. Or your employees.

  12. Martin said,

    February 16, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Not only that – he gets his friends to give him an honorary diploma and claims that this confers some knowledge of the subject.

    Honorary titles are a decoration, not a result of years of hard work, and certainly do not mean the same as an ‘honours’ degree.

  13. calmooney said,

    February 16, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Long-time reader, first-time poster etc etc.
    This is the letter I sent to the Guardian in reply:

    If Patrick Holford (Letters, February 16) believes that being awarded an honorary diploma makes him a bona fide nutritionist, presumably he would be happy to take legal advice from Pierce Brosnan (Honorary Doctor of Laws, University College Cork, 2004) or get some seemingly much-needed help with the science behind antiviral drug therapy from Pierluigi Collina (Honorary Doctor of Science, University of Hull, 2004)? Perhaps he might also consider talking to Kermit the Frog ( Honorary Doctorate of Amphibious Letters, Southampton College, Long Island University, 1996) before writing on the nutritional benefits of fish oils in the future?

  14. roGER said,

    February 16, 2007 at 11:36 am

    In the spirit of good alternative scientific practice, why don’t we all chip in a few pence each to found some board, then vote who gets a degree, a diploma, a fellowship, and so on.

    We could call it something really rather grand like:

    “The Goldacre Research Board of Applied and Theoretical Holistic Nutrition and Energy”

    Whadyathink?

  15. stomec said,

    February 16, 2007 at 11:38 am

    The loony is also posting on the BMJ (only noticed this today so apologies if this has been stated already)

    www.bmj.com/cgi/eletters?lookup=by_date&days=5#158870

  16. Tristan said,

    February 16, 2007 at 11:44 am

    I’d love a professorship if their going. I work in a uni, but on the professional services side, so I’m never going to get one here!

  17. Ben Goldacre said,

    February 16, 2007 at 11:48 am

    www.badscience.net/?page_id=357

    the Bad Science Diploma is coming soon.

  18. Will said,

    February 16, 2007 at 11:57 am

    I want a diploma too! Can I have an Honorary Diploma in Horny Goatsweed? Or a doctorate in Doctoring the Evidence?

  19. Coobeastie said,

    February 16, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    Calmooney, I love your letter and really hope it’s printed.

  20. MissPrism said,

    February 16, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Hurrah! What letters do we get after our name? D.B.Sc? And do we have to write a “thesis” with “references”?

  21. Martin said,

    February 16, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    roGER,

    How about the “Board of Applied and Direct Social Conformity for Integrated, Essential Nutrition and Culinery Excellence”?

    We should be able to get backing from both Holford and Jamie Oliver!

  22. Andrew Clegg said,

    February 16, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    Ben, if the letters page don’t publish any of the readers’ responses, I hope you take him apart re. the South African AIDS denialist connection on Saturday.

    Andrew.

  23. Ben Goldacre said,

    February 16, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    Hurrah! What letters do we get after our name? D.B.Sc?

    hahahahaaaa DipBSc is brilliant. fantastic. will you form a board and confer an honorary one upon me too?

  24. Mojo said,

    February 16, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Re #22: “I hope you take him apart re. the South African AIDS denialist connection on Saturday.”

    And the misleading use of search results.

  25. Dr* T said,

    February 16, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    MissPrism – I can see you’ve been working very hard on all manner of Bad Sciencery.

    Have a PhD from [I]Dr* T’s PhD and Magic Bean Outlet Centre.[/I]

  26. DrM said,

    February 16, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    Good lord. I assume this chap is a close associate of Ms McKeith? They should definitely compare notes if not, they appear to have a similar foundation for their qualifications. “I’ve worked really hard in the field for years, so I can call myself whatever I like”. I’ve been eating for years, so I think I’ll call myself a nutritionist too…

  27. superburger said,

    February 16, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    from Holford’s letter “writing and practising nutrition”

    Never mind practicing it, I just ‘did’ nutrition when I ate my sandwiches for lunch.

  28. paulp127 said,

    February 16, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    ” have spent the last 30 years researching, teaching, writing and practising nutrition” and yet not time to get a proper qualification

  29. Dr Aust said,

    February 16, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    WRT to Holford’s riposte to Ben’s BMJ column, if you look on:

    www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/334/7588/292

    – the latest response is from the excellent Catherine Collins, who is a dietician (NOT a nutritionist) and sometimes turns up on radio pointing out nutritional nonsense. She sets out (again) just why nutritionist snake-oilers like Holford should not be compared to dietitcians

  30. guthrie said,

    February 16, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    I think writing an essay for your diploma would be most amusing. Then they could go into some sort of archive of mockery.

  31. cat said,

    February 16, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    I think a Dip.ShT would be an appropriate qualification for Ms McKeith or anyone else who prefers to buy rather than earn the letters after their name.

  32. Ben Goldacre said,

    February 16, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    ha great ideas. i’ve been thinking about an essay competition, maybe a parody one is a good idea. and yes, we could give out a DipShT if people fail the DipBSc exam.

  33. kingcnut said,

    February 16, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    Since everyone seems to be posting their letters to Letters here, I thought I’d stick my lightweight tuppen’orth in:

    Dear Letters

    Patrick Holford (Letters, 16th February) questions Dr Goldacre’s qualifications to state that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. Obviously Goldacre needs no qualifications to make the statement; similarly, the term “nutritionist” is unprotected by statute, so Holford needs no qualifications to call himself one.

    Yours

    King Cnut

  34. Kells said,

    February 16, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    GOLDACRE! See me after class boy!

    that has really made me laugh after a bad day. Show no mercy.

    i would like some degrees too please – either that or I will be a trustee and grant some DipShT’s. Think of the power – cash for honours? Yes Please!

  35. Leigh W said,

    February 16, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    “Good lord. I assume this chap is a close associate of Ms McKeith? They should definitely compare notes if not, they appear to have a similar foundation for their qualifications.”

    actually, my sincere belief is there is some severe ‘professional’ (sorry, can’t think of another word) jealousy there – you see, Holford REALLY wants his own television show and I’m sure it drives him up a wall to see Gillian dancing across the screens. Don’t think he’s a millionaire yet through his wonderful books and needs some commercial tie-ins. I’ve been in a meeting where he was proudly promising us he was in the short list for fronting a new show – luckily, haven’t seen anything.

    btw – if you haven’t met the guy, you really must in order to believe the slime which oozes….

  36. Ken Zetie said,

    February 16, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    How about founding the Institute of Bad Science. Members can be MIBs to make that spooky link with government cover-ups all too clear (Men In Black for those not up to date with the jargon), and then people who do really bad science can be made Fellow, so they could put FIBS after everything they write.

    Can I be first to propose Ms McKeith and Mr Holford for Fellowship?

  37. MissPrism said,

    February 16, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    Zetie- yeah! And we can award McKeith a Fellowship of the Institute of Bad Science (FIBS).

  38. Rakster said,

    February 16, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    Added my twopennorth to the Holford letters thing

    Dear Letters,

    Patrick Holford (Letters Feb 16th) is welcome to call himself a nutritionist, it isn’t a protected title (unlike, say, dietician). However, by the same token, I can call myself a mechanic. You wouldn’t want me to fix the brakes on your car though.

    Dr (*) Rakster

    (*) Real one and everything. Though if I’d known how easy it was to use the title I wouldn’t have slogged my guts out for three soul destroying years.

  39. Matt Black said,

    February 16, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    OK, I am no apologist for ‘badscience’, don’t take this as a troll please :-)

    Common sense dictates that it is very unlikely that vit c rids the body of HIV or even provides symptomatic relief from AIDS.

    But is completely beyond the realms of possibility that it might have some effect? There is a certain interest in folk remedies by some researchers, perhaps there is a willow bark/aspirin thing to be had?

    I had a quick look at medline but didn’t really come to any conclusions – my attention span is way too short and my knowledge too limited.

  40. Ben Goldacre said,

    February 16, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    the claim from patrick holford is not “some effect”:

    the claim from patrick holford is that AZT is proving less effective than vitamin C.

    that’s quite a claim.

  41. Matt Black said,

    February 16, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    PS I realise that the point is that it is unproven science and so should not be promoted as a cure, as people will die, but some people seem to be blindly ruling it out, which seems almost as dangerous as blindly ruling it in.

  42. drking said,

    February 16, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    Ben: just demonstrates that you’re on the right track and getting results. Go go go!

  43. crichmond said,

    February 16, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    Wasn’r mr Holford a postgraduate student at some point? Where? And am I right in thinking he did not complete his studies? Perhaps he would clarify this point?

  44. jdc325 said,

    February 16, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    crichmond – “he failed to complete a masters in nutrition from Surrey 20 years ago.” Doctoring The Records blog.

    www.badscience.net/?p=345

  45. dkb said,

    February 16, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    Ben – your comment #40 needs proofreading!

  46. evidencebasedeating said,

    February 16, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    er, is “nutrionist” the same as a “nutritionist”? (title)???

    doesnt’ really matter. Patrick is neither. But he does a fine Nero

  47. cshelley said,

    February 16, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    Just checked out Patrick Holford’s website. He has some great nutritional advice, for example on how to be clever.

    “Here are five easy steps you can take now to help keep your mind and memory sharp:

    1. Read my book ‘Optimum Nutrition for the Mind’ £12.99
    2. Join 100% Health today and you can have this book at a members discounted price.
    3. Have a personal nutrition consultation.
    4. Attend my 100% Health Weekend Workshop
    5. Follow my Brain Friendly Diet and supplement programme.”

    Excuse me while my cynicism counter goes off the scale.

  48. Nebbish said,

    February 16, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    Of course if Holford were to go out and get himself accepted as a registered dietician it would really shut us up. Should be a doddle for someone with 30 years experience of etc. etc.

    Also, have you looked at the Wikipedia page on PH today? Look soon, it won’t last long. Holford is pouring out his little heart for us there.

    Ben@40 you mean more effective don’t you?

  49. jdc325 said,

    February 16, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    “As he well knows, the author of the research – Dr Raxit Jariwalla – wrote to the Guardian (January 20 2005) the last time Goldacre made this claim, to confirm that my statement is correct on the basis of two studies on HIV-infected cells.”
    Dr Jariwalla doesn’t seem (at least to me) to explicitly confirm in his letter that Holford’s statement is correct.
    “AZT is potentially harmful and proving less effective than vitamin C” is the quote in the book and Dr Jariwalla’s letter to the Guardian is available here –
    preview.tinyurl.com/2f5oj7

    At the bottom of the letter is a link to Ben’s response and Ben’s response has a link to the Jariwalla paper on pubmed (free full text available as pdf).

  50. jdc325 said,

    February 16, 2007 at 8:12 pm

    Bah, Dr Jariwalla’s written a new letter. It’s on Holford’s website (linked from PH’s Wikipedia page). Nice spot Nebbish.

  51. j said,

    February 16, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    Has Holford been writing his own wikipedia entry again – see the (Holford’s) responses to criticisms – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Holford#ANSWERING_THE_NUTRITION_CRITICS

    Yep, I can think of a few things to call him.

  52. HypnoSynthesis said,

    February 16, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    When I saw Patrick Holford at the Vitality show a couple of years ago he claimed to have written the first ever book on the so-called Glycemic Index (GI) diet. I don’t know anything about the subject at all, but it seemed a bit odd. What do you guys reckon?

  53. Dr Aust said,

    February 16, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    Do you think you’re getting to Patrick, Ben? The Wikipedia self-justification spree might suggest so.

    As to the VitaminC and HIV research, Patrick must be losing it if he thinks it is worth taking at fact value a piece of “research” that comes from an institute run by one of the world’s most flamboyant and legendary medical snake-oil salesmen – the vitamin messiah Matthias Rath – if you fancy a laugh see Rath’s terribly modest bio on:

    www4.dr-rath-foundation.org/THE_FOUNDATION/About_Dr_Matthias_Rath/dr_rath.htm

    Mad, mad, mad, mad, mad.

  54. jdc325 said,

    February 16, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    ALLERGY WARNING: May contain nuts.

    I’ll get me coat…

  55. evidencebasedeating said,

    February 16, 2007 at 11:20 pm

    #52 HypnoSynthesis –

    another example of Patricks delusions. I heard him on the radio making the same bizarre claim that he ‘invented’ GI. Odd, that. His first GI book had so many inaccuracies that the Amazon comments were scathing. He raced it out after failing to spot the zeitgeist anti-Atkins movement, exploited by registered dietitians writing on the subject.

    Fast forward a few years to the Holford Low GL diet ™, and the same claim that he ‘invented’ it in promotional interviews.

    For the record, the concept of GI – a ranking system for determining the speed at which a food is digested and turned into glucose – was established by Professor David Jenkins, Professor of Nutrition at the University of Toronto in 1981. He originally envisaged it as a tool for stabilising the erratic swings in blood sugar common in insulin-dependent diabetes. High blood sugar contributes to the vascular damage and complications associated with diabetes, so improved blood sugar control helps reduce the risk of these. The concept was later extended by Professor Jennie Brand-Miller (another real nutritionist) of the University of Sydney. The GI concept has now been extended to weight management.
    www.utoronto.ca/nutrisci/faculty/Jenkins/

    If Patrick REALLY had ‘invented’ GI in 1981 along with Professor Jenkins, perhaps that accounts for part of his 7 year absence (1977-1984 from his current cv?
    www.pat rickh olford.c om/c ontent.as p?id_Content=1279

  56. pv said,

    February 16, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    This is classic. The man is presenting himself a victim of big bad Ben. That’s rich coming from someone whose livelihood derives from exploiting the victims of nutritional fear and ignorance.

    Btw, Ben, when Holford says AZT is less effective that vitamin C in the treatment of HIV and Aids, he is accusing the pharmaceutical industry of profiting at the expense of those infected with HIV or suffering from Aids. Which is a shameful thing to do. If he was so confident of his claim there’s nothing to stop him doing his own trials – except perhaps the fear of gigantic lawsuits in the almost certain event he will fail.
    His ridiculous behaviour, along with that of TAPL, is surely not untypical of someone whose business is (even remotely) threatened when their credibility is exposed as a sham. In my view it’s all about show business and money, fame and fortune, and has precious little, as far as the “media” nutritionists are concerned, to do with science or medicine. This is why, when you take them to task over the science, they can only defend themselves by prevarication and personal attacks.

  57. hinschelwood said,

    February 17, 2007 at 7:59 am

    I loved reading his letter in the Guardian. My instant reaction was that he had confirmed Ben’s criticism in every aspect. You didn’t even need to know what Ben had written to see that he was a self-justifying crank.

  58. amoebic vodka said,

    February 17, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    The paper itself suggests in the discussion that the effect of vitamin C in the in vitro experiments is possibly down to the toxic products when vitamin C is oxidised. While those may hang around in a petri dish, they won’t in blood – that pesky homeostatis again.

    By the way, the ascorbate was buffered, so they weren’t bathing the cells in acid.

  59. drbunny said,

    February 17, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    Im amused that Patrick Holford states in his BMJ response he has “no conflicts of interest” while describing himself as a ‘media nutritionist’ and mentioning he is founder of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition

    Obiously the same shoddy approach to veracity as to science…

  60. evidencebasedeating said,

    February 17, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    drbunny – you forgot to add his constant reference back to the book ‘Food is Better than Medicine’ , alluded to on the BMJ letters page, but not mentioned as a conflict of interest. Guess it doesn’t count if he didn’t put the Amazon reference page alongside, or offered a ‘money off coupon’.

    Funny that Jerome Burns, co-author, who submitted a similar letter virtually simultaneously to the BMJ referred to his authorship in the same book.

    Perhaps Patrick has problems with selective memory loss. Not a good advert for the pill-for-every-ill Optimum Nutrition approach.

  61. j said,

    February 18, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    Sorry to keep banging on about the bloke, but it looks like the Guardian cut his letter a bit. The last paragraph is on his website and he challenges Ben Goldacre to a debate.

    “Both ION and I have previously invited Goldacre to debate the science behind any nutritional claims he wants to take issue with. So far he has not accepted the challenge, seeming to prefer to use his column to defame health professionals with a non-drug approach, rather than expose the numerous examples of distorted and poor quality research used to support the use of drugs whose side effects kill more than 10,000 people a year in the UK.”

  62. Mojo said,

    February 18, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    Debates are not necessarily the appropriate forum for this sort of debate. A glib opponent can make a good impression despite the facts being against them by using what are effectively “soundbites”, and if they do introduce pieces of “research” into the debate it is impossible to check their facts before responding. In addition to which they can bring in large numbers of supporters who are unlikely to be swayed by whatever evidence is presented by the other side.

    Hovind got away with this sort of thing for years.

  63. Ben Goldacre said,

    February 18, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    hahahahaaaa

    his thing about the debate is absurd, he asked, i accepted. i’ve written to remind him, suggesting he takes this pathetic ad hominem slur down, forwarded the whole email correspondence, he just ignores it, like a child, in my opinion.

    if he doesnt take it down in the next couple of days i’m going to post the whole email correspondence, i dont think he comes out of it looking too good frankly. again. i mean really.

    just written to him again.

    with the best will in the world i see absolutely no value in him making factually false allegations.

  64. Mojo said,

    February 19, 2007 at 10:41 am

    The factually false allegations will be enough to convince his followers that he has somehow “won”.

  65. Ben Goldacre said,

    February 19, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    i might have to think seriously about what to do about this. patrick’s style is clearly to have public and presonal spats, which i think is rather undignified, as is the law. it is very bizarre behaviour though.

  66. Tristan said,

    February 19, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    undignified it may be, but that doesn’t stop it being fun!

  67. Ben Goldacre said,

    February 19, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    i’ve written to him very politely again.

    i have to say i find this completely baffling, i have no personal beef with patrick holford. it’s a very unpleasant way to distract attention from discussing the science of HIV AIDS and vitamins.

  68. j said,

    February 19, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    you mean when you accepted the offer of a debate Holford didn’t even have any excuses about how the dog ate his debating notes ;) he just didn’t answer your e-mails? Anyway, as Mojo said, I guess that factually false allegations will be enough to convince Holford’s supporters that he ‘won’ this debate which hasn’t took place.

    I guess if the allegations are demonstrably factually false, that’d be libel wouldn’t it (though I’m not a lawyer). Again, though, people don’t exactly tend to come out of libel cases looking dignified…

  69. Ben Goldacre said,

    February 19, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    i’ve had abusive mails from his supporters calling me a chicken. it’s incredibly bizarre. i started out here in all good faith to address the science but my opinion of this man is plummeting, i tell you. plummeting.

  70. j said,

    February 19, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    Nah, it’s great. Holford’s insistance on his serious authority as a health professional is accompanied by accusations that you’re a chicken. I mean, what better way is there to ensure that Holford’s taken seriously ;)

  71. Tristan said,

    February 19, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Just wait for the email from Holford saying: “My dad’s harder than your dad”.

    That would just about match the maturity of his behaviour so far.

  72. Tristan said,

    February 19, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    I’ve just noticed his website has the slogan: “100% health for life”

    Now, surely that would only work if you were perfectly healthy, then died suddenly in a car crash or something. I mean, how else are you going to die whilst avoiding ill health?

  73. pv said,

    February 19, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    Ben, seriously, Mr Holford’s actions/inactions here smack of a bit of showbiz manipulation, not someone interested in the science of anything. I would avoid a public debate with him like the plague because, unless one is permitted to stick solely to the facts of the matter, it would be a disaster.
    I think one has to remember that Mr Holford has got to where he is because he has remained largely unchallenged. To the media (newspapers, tv et al) people like him bring in the audiences, which pleases the advertisers. But in all likelihood he, like TAPL, doesn’t have an answer to any scientific criticism because the “science” such as it is is something to invent where necessary, to hide behind and to impress his scientifically illiterate public.
    Now he has been challenged. His credibility is on the line, and his credibility is his route to extracting dollars from clients. So what does he do? He can’t defend the science so he does what every showbiz person does, he gets his lawyers onto the case. In fact, the more I think about it the more his offer of a debate seems like a smokescreen and he probably never had any intention of debating in the first place. Maybe the plan all along has been to make a drama out of it and to try and make Dr Goldacre look bad without ever debating anything. Why else would he ignore your emails? It all fits.

  74. Ben Goldacre said,

    February 19, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    he is mr showbiz. with some papers off pubmed, that he doesnt understand, as props.

  75. gadgeezer said,

    February 20, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    Presumably, most of H’s followers are taking fish oil supplements. If BG is getting abusive emails, does this mean that they *don’t* soothe the temper or even out emotional peaks and troughs? At the very least, I hope that all of the emails display immaculate spelling and grammar (as implied by the Food for Brains work).

  76. j said,

    February 20, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    And of course Holford takes (at least, says he takes) a range of supplements, and helpfully publishes his regime on his website. OK, so it’s an unblinded trial with only 1 subject but, in the spirit of high quality nutritional research, we could see what inferences can be drawn from this about the effects of supplements ;)

  77. Mojo said,

    February 28, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Re #61: “Sorry to keep banging on about the bloke, but it looks like the Guardian cut his letter a bit. The last paragraph is on his website and he challenges Ben Goldacre to a debate. ”

    Looks like he’s removed the offending paragraph from his website. It now has the same text as the letter as published in the Grauniad:

    ww w.pat rickholford.co m/con tent.asp?id_Content=1751

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