Thursday, July 15, 2010

You are what you tweet

If you weren’t aware of Gillian McKeith before yesterday, there’s a very good chance you will soon.  She’s a nutritionist who hosted a programme called You Are What You Eat for Channel 4 and Dr Gillian McKeith's Feel Fab Forever for Granada.  She’s also written various books on nutrition and is the face of several products of dubious effectiveness, including, famously, Horny Goat Weed

Her TV show You Are What You Eat was by all accounts horrific.  McKeith uses shock tactics and bullying to goad fat people into crying on camera, seemingly more for the benefit of her viewing figures than for her victims.  It was also known for her habit of sorting through her victim’s faeces under the pretence that this could somehow aid diagnosis of their weight problems.

McKeith is known for blithering statements.  For example, she’s said that seeds are good to eat because they contain all the energy a plant needs to grow.  That’s right, an acorn contains all the energy to grow an oak tree.  Confusingly, since she doesn’t seem to believe in photosynthesis in plants, she seems to think it works in humans.  She promotes, for example, products that are rich in chlorophyll as that will “oxygenate your blood.”   As Ben Goldacre puts it in the above link:

…chlorophyll will only make oxygen in the presence of light. It’s dark in your intestines, and even if you stuck a searchlight up your bum to prove a point, you probably wouldn’t absorb much oxygen in there, because you don’t have gills in your gut. In fact, neither do fish. In fact, forgive me, but I don’t think you really want oxygen up there, because methane fart gas mixed with oxygen is a potentially explosive combination.

Aside from this idiocy, McKeith’s… shall I put this?  McKeith’s honesty has been called into question.  The question in particular is “how has she managed to get away with being so dishonest?” and the answer, surprisingly and pleasingly, is that she hasn’t.  Rather, she’s been smacked down on a few things, including the fact that her PhD was purchased from an unaccredited degree mill (and thanks to complaints from the Advertising Standards Authority she is now unable to call herself “Dr.” on her products) and the fact that the MHRA found her guilty of "selling goods without legal authorisation whilst making medicinal claims about their efficacy.”

McKeith’s has never been slow to make false claims to spin these difficulties in a positive light.  For example, she blamed the removal of the aforementioned goods (supposed herbal sex aids) on EU legislation, saying “the EU bureaucrats are clearly concerned that people in the UK are having too much good sex."  The MHRA, on the other hand, stated categorically that the products had never been legal to sell in the UK and that McKeith’s organisation certainly knew this.

I said way up at the top that if you hadn’t previously heard of McKeith, there’s a good chance you’ll hear about her soon.  This is because she appears to have committed another act of blitheringness.

This has been covered elsewhere, so I’ll just link you to the hilariousness…

…and then just ram some points home.

McKeith, or whoever was operating her Twitter account at the time, showed up to savage some random tweeter who mentioned her (fake) PhD.  She accused that woman of being ‘anti-American’, insinuating that the reason she had a problem with it was because it was from the US, rather than because it was bought from a degree mill.  Then she accused Ben Goldacre’s book of being “lies”.  Then she pretended that the Twitter feed was not Gillian McKeith’s official feed, despite the fact that it was linked to from her official website and her Youtube channel.  Then, when this was pointed out to her, she had the link (inexpertly) removed from her website.

Goldacre has asked for a simple apology from McKeith, on Twitter, stating that his book does not contain lies.  Otherwise, there’s an implied threat that he might pursue legal action.

Whichever option McKeith takes, it seems likely to be hilarious and I can’t wait.

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