Idiot #1 – Gillian McKeith

July 20, 2010

Who is this idiot?

She’s that woman off of channel 4.  The one who is invited into the homes of morbidly obese people.  She generally feels the need to look at their tongue and root around in their shit,  in order to conclude that they’ve got a bad diet.

Isn’t that rather unnecessary?

Yes. Yes it is.

Then what?

Then the magic starts.  When I say magic, I mean “you won’t believe this.  The rooting about in shit was by no means the most toe-curling element of the show”.  Basically, the woman has one recognisable talent (if that’s the word I want).  She is horrible to an extent you won’t believe possible unless you sit through one of her “documentaries”.  Basically, she employs this skill to harangue, abuse, and brow-beat the poor fatties until they cry. 

You parents should be arrested and locked up in jail for this kind of child abuse. How dumb must you be to feed your precious wee ones like this?”

(That example is given to show how great she is, in a positive review, by the way. You’ll note that they can’t spell).

This is entertainment?

Apparently. 

Does it work?

Does it fuck.

Of course, she thinks her methods are fine; indeed, they form the basis for amusing anecdotes like this one:

one day, at the end of a really long week, this woman came in and banged a bottle of vodka and a pack of cigarettes on the table and she said ‘I’ll do your diet, honey, but I’m not giving up these.’ I’d had enough, and I just heard this voice screaming ‘Get out of my office! Get out!‘ and I gave her a push out of my office

So she’s just some bully with a TV show, shouting at fat people. What’s the problem?

Well, for one thing, she’s not just some bully. She’s an enormously wealthy, powerful and prolific bully.  You can spot her on TVwriting books, and producing her own range of nutritional products. Amongst many other things.  Also, she believes she can change the entire nation’s health. 

Gosh, that’s all very expensive stuff, isn’t it?

Yup.  Still, houses in Hampstead don’t buy themselves, you know.

Haven’t I heard that she isn’t a real doctor?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’d imagine you have.  Ben Goldacre and his band of followers did the best job.

So what does she call herself now?

It varies.  Big juicy words, signifying nothing, for the most part.  “Holistic nutritionist” appears to be the most commonly used.

Isn’t nutritionist a protected term?

Nope.  Even if you want to join the (voluntary) Society, all you need is to be able to “demonstrate ‘a genuine interest in the science of human or animal nutrition’ and support the Society’s aim, ‘to advance the scientific study of nutrition and its applications to the maintenance of human and animal health’,” apparently. Oh, and cough up your £75, natch.  Dietitian is the protected term.  Needess to say, she’s no dietitian.

What does holistic mean?

Buggered if I know.  That’s the point, you see.  It sounds good, until you try to explain it in words with, y’know… meaning.

This is all ancient history, isn’t it?  Why the fuss now?

Well, for one thing, she’s a good target for a first post.  She shows many of the characteristics of the idiot.  Anyway, she’s back in the news, being an idiot in a new and interesting way.  You’ll see.

Can you use her to identify some of the characteristics of the idiots you dislike?

Of course I can. 

– We’ve already seen that she’s not a real doctor.  Pride in a long list of totally inane qualifications is a good sign of an idiot.  Oh, and the qualifications from proper universities are in International Relations, by the way.  She’s no more a scientist than I am a geranium.  Or a pelargonium, if my mum’s reading this.

– She’s vicious.  As we’ve seen.  She isn’t only unpleasant to fatties, though:

As I sat down to enjoy the ride and sighed a sense of relief in honour of some quiet time, I barely heard some mumbling from Harry to break a much cherished silence. Ignoring it to soak in the rapidly moving scenery, I heard it again … ‘You know, fish has more omegas than flax,’ he stated. ‘I beg your pardon,’ I said. ‘I said that fish has more omegas than flax seeds,’ he re-stated. The only thing I could think of was: ‘Why was this invasive, somewhat jovial, but truly kind man, talking about flax …’ ‘In all due respect, you’re wrong, Harry.Flax seeds contain far greater levels of the healthy oils (omega-3 and omega-6) in a properly balanced and assimilable form,’ I explained. ‘No, I disagree,’ he argued. ‘What do you mean, you disagree? Have you spent years conducting clinical research, working with patients, lecturing, teaching, studying the omega oils in flax, obtaining worldwide data, compiling one of the largest private health libraries on the planet, and writing extensively on the topic?’ I asked. Not to mention writing this very article on this very day.

‘No,’ Harry feebly replied. I wondered, ‘Are you a scientist, a biochemist, a botanist, or have you spent a lifetime studying food and biochemistry as I have done?’ ‘No,’ he again replied. ‘So, where do you get such stuff? Where is your scientific authority?’ I demanded. Harry proudly announced: ‘Oh, my wife is a doctor – a gynaecologist – by the way.’ ‘Is she a food specialist or nutritional biochemist as well?’ I quickly retorted. ‘Um, ah, well, no, but she is a doctor,’ he offered.”

That’s yet more material that I’m ripping off from the wonderful Dr (and here there is no doubt about the term) Ben Goldacre.

– She’s absurdly litigious – because you won’t catch idiots engaging in scientific debate.  They’re not (all) that stupid.

– The biggie, of course: she’s really, really, properly crap at nutrition.  Which is her job. Which made her a millionaire.  Can we move on, please?  Before I self-harm?

Yes.  What’s all this about her being in the news again?

Oh, that.  To be honest, I don’t think it is much of a story (though it is very funny).  It’s been very well covered by a number of excellent bloggers.  It’s just a useful reminder: we can beat these idiots in court. We can challenge them with the ASA. We can shout at the top of our lungs.  But they won’t fuck off while there’s money to made.  She’s still prolific. She’s still an idiot.

Can I find out more about her?

If you really want to, it isn’t hard.  As I’ve said, Ben Goldacre is very much the man on this one.  All of his articles are here.  Oh, and she gets a chapter in his book.  Be careful, though – if you tweet about that, you’ll end up being accused of hating America.  Stick  #gillianmckeithhasnophd into Twitter if you want bite-sized abuse morsels.

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