Patrick Holford Believes That He Is More Knowledgeable Than the BDA?

Patrick Holford and his Magic Answers have come to Dr Crippen’s attention recently: mostly because of Holford’s:

claims to enable people to say “no” to cancer, arthritis and heart disease.

And diabetes. It seems that Patrick Holford and other nutritional therapists who claim that doctors have no interest in nutritional or lifestyle approaches to health problems are wrong.

Dr Crippen is a great believer in the importance of nutrition, and frequently refers patients for dietetic advice. There is an excellent dietetic resource on the internet. You will find no magic cures for serious illnesses there but you will find wealth of sensible advice. I talk, of course, of the British Dietetic Association.

I’m sure that the BDA will welcome Dr Crippen’s support – particularly in the light of Patrick Holford’s ill-judged comments about BDA spokeswoman Catherine Collins and the BDA. There is so much amiss with Holford’s article (to which I hope to return at another time) that there is a delicious irony in Holford’s disingenuous remark:

But do you think that showing this kind of evidence will shift this kind of closed-minded thinking about optimum nutrition?

We know what sort of evidence Patrick Holford favours…Andrew Wakefield, Part 1 and 2; the hard evidence for a link between MMR and autism; the virtues of homeopathic vaccinations; the value of secretin as a treatment for autism; misinterpreting the NNT for statins

The brothers Hoofnagle discuss one of my all-time favourite papers in their Unified Theory of the Crank. The paper is by Justin Kruger and David Dunning in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. It is about how people who are incompetent not only have an inflated sense of their own competence, but are also incapable of even recognizing competence (pdf).

What’s even more amazing is that when they then shared the performance of other participants with the people who performed poorly (hoping that they would then adjust their self-perception downward) people who scored poorly failed to adjust their self-perception of their performance. In other words, they are completely unaware of their own [in]competence, and can’t detect competence in others.

Kruger and Dunning is a fascinating paper and it explains a lot that would otherwise seem inexplicable.

Update Jan 15 2008: A Photon in the Darkness offers a helpful discussion of this paper: The Arrogance of Ignorance



Filed under Andrew Wakefield, BDA, British Dietetic Association, catherine collins, Dunning, Holford, Kruger, patrick holford, Wakefield

4 responses to “Patrick Holford Believes That He Is More Knowledgeable Than the BDA?

  1. Anonymous

    So being generous, Holford is unconciously incompetent in the science of nutrition.

    The alternative, of course, is that he hypothetically must be a manipulative exploiter of the vulnerable – be they the ‘worried well’, the genuine unwell, or the yummy mummies who want to ‘do’ nutrition and gain a meaningless* ‘qualification’ in nutrition gained whilst subbing Patricks enterprises (oops, charidees) for £4k worth of ‘the world according to PH’.

    *from the IONs own course material, the DipION may – or may not- count as the equivalent of an access course, which may – or may not – be sufficient for the IONist to register for a ‘proper’ degree in nutrition or dietetics.

  2. Shinga

    He does have a remarkable ability for self-promotion and business acumen. He probably also has a remarkable degree of emotional intelligence.

    There are several occasions on which he is unconsciously incompetent in communicating appropriately and accurately about nutrition.

    So, possibly, unconscious incompetence is a working hypothesis.

  3. Pingback: Food for the Brain Results on Trevor MacDonald 13 July « Holford Watch

  4. Pingback: Patrick Holford and His “Deeply Impressive” Scientific Proof « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science

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