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Lifestyle pseudoscience… June 30, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Excellent piece here on Slate.com by Rebecca Onion taking on the NYT’s curious tilt into ‘wellness’ and detoxes – to the extent that they have a ‘My detox’ column. So pernicious is this that it describes the following:

My Detox isn’t the only place in the Times where you can find casual, credulous treatments of pseudoscientific “wellness” concepts. The Styles section has run its share of coverage that might trigger a skeptical reader’s bullshit alarm. For a recent installment of her Styles column
“Me Time,” Marisa Meltzer went to a spa, where she got one treatment combining clairvoyance (!) and acupuncture, and another with a crystal healer. Meltzer’s tone projects gameness—“Let’s try this out!”—rather than whole-hearted endorsement, but the writer does report some actual results. “The [crystals] session felt cathartic and left me emotionally vulnerable in a way that a massage never has,” Meltzer wrote. Available research suggests that if crystals work for you, it’s probably through the placebo effect. (And for what it’s worth, Emily Atkin wrote in the New Republic recently that the crystals you buy may have been mined under adverse conditions, for workers and the environment; it’ll be very hard for the average consumer to tell.)

I once did a course of acupuncture. I enjoyed it, but I went in believing that it’s only function was one of relaxation – and that’s how I came out after. Very relaxed.

The piece discusses how pseudoscience is creeping into newspapers – I think it never went away. Only recently the Observer (IIRC) had a long piece on astrology which was credulous in the extreme.

But I’m 100% with this:

As the Times’ Taffy Brodesser-Akner wrote in her great 2017 piece on the shift between an old “diet” paradigm and our “clean eating” world, talk of “cleansing” hides old compulsions in new clothing. In other words, the “detoxing” concept implies that it’s normal to lead a life where your body is “dirty,” then clean; dirty, then clean; over and over again. Boringly, the actual best way to stay healthy is to maintain a Pollan-esque diet, drink enough water, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep—over and over again, forever and ever.

That last is the key. Everything else is fluff, and sometimes, well, toxic and pernicious fluff.


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