Sunday, May 20, 2007

leaves the bowl sparkling clean continuously

Ben "Badscience" Goldacre gets stuck into Patrick Holford's rampant quackery like a big hot meal:
Drilling down, the first thing we came to was the circuit board. This, we noted with some amusement, was not in any sense connected to the copper coil, and therefore is not powered by it.

The eight copper pads do have some intriguing looking circuit board tracks coming out of them, but they too, on close inspection, are connected to absolutely nothing. A gracious term to describe their purpose might be “decorative”. I’m also not clear if I can call something a “circuit board” when there is no “circuit”.

Finally, there is a modern surface mount electronic component soldered to the centre of the device. It looks impressive, but whatever it is, it is connected to absolutely nothing. Close examination with a magnifying glass, and experiments with a multimeter and oscilloscope, revealed that this component on the “circuit board” is a zero-ohm resistor.

This is simply a resistor that has pretty much no resistance: in effect a bit of wire in a tiny box.
£69.99 to you, my friend. Sadly, the rest of the Grauniad doesn't bother to read Dr Goldacre's column, with desperate results.
"We already know that folic acid, given without B12, is creating problems for the elderly," says nutritionist Patrick Holford. "And that's at half the amount that the FSA is proposing to add to British flour." Some scientists are also questioning whether we can blithely assume that synthetically produced folic acid will work in the same way as naturally occurring folate. They are calling for further research.
Must be a different Holford from the fraudulent charlatan flogging random electronic junk at seventy quid a time, right? And, naturally, there is no connection with this farrago of free-range biodynamic crap in the weekend supplement?

Yeah, I know the weekend magazine is merely an attention tax, a way of printing more high-end ads to support the real newspaper enabled by the Apple Mac and fast offset litho printing. But...really. I'd read the FT but theirs is even more egregious.

3 comments:

maskedrider said...

Yes, www.holfordwatch.info is always good for spotting holfrod's "work" educating the public...

cian said...

Actually he's right on the last two. The B12 thing was pretty uncontroversial last time I checked. And yes there are scientists arguing that about folic acid, but then aren't there always... Which demonstrates something - stopped clocks maybe.

Not that I have a huge amount of time for Goldacre either...

Jon said...

Nice post on Holford/Qlink, and thanks for the link maskedrider.

Cian, re. stopped clocks being right twice a day, I can see where you're coming from. However, while the B12 thing is pretty uncontroversial, the levels at which we'll be fortifying bread aren't likely to cause as many problems as Holford predicts (they'll lead to an average additional intake of 78mcg of folate/person/day - actually, much less than the effects of mandatory fortification in the US). The worst problems re. folate masking B12 defficiency appear to occur at 1000mcg/day or higher (though there is differing evidence about this - and if you're b12 deficient then increasing your folate intake is probably not a good plan).

I've also argued that Holford has a commercial interests in selling folic acid supplements. He sells 400mcg pills and, until recently, has not put any warning on his web-store about the risks of b12 defficiency. One problem with the Guardian article was, I would argue, that they completely to mention Holford's commercial interests in this area, at least until (to give them credit) they published a letter on the topic.

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