Professor Patrick Holford of Teesside University and Head of Science and Education at Biocare frequently upbraids professionals and researchers for what he perceives as their lack of up-to-date research.
You may recall that we previously mentioned Holford’s advocacy of health dowsing as a way of diagnosing nutritional needs and said that we had seen a diagram of the kit that was for sale. Well, we promised a copy of the diagram: it has taken a while but we hope that you enjoy it.
For those of you with the stamina to work through the entire page of nonsense on this topic, we have provided a pdf of Patrick Holford and the Whole Health Dowsing Kit for your entertainment and so that you can see the diagram in context. To be fair, you will also learn to ask ‘clear’ and ‘unbiased’ questions when using the pendulum; to wit, “don’t ask if you have cancer!”. To recap the wonderful loopiness:
Although it is hard to believe, [health dowsing] is an accurate and simple method of diagnosis that uses intuition rather than logical thinking to determine people’s nutritional needs. (Holford 1983, 132).
“[H]ard to believe” doesn’t begin to cover our astonishment. Unsurprisingly, health dowsing is not an effective diagnostic technique: there is no plausible mechanism by which it might work, and no good evidence that it does, whether for allergies or the assessment of putative dietary deficiencies.
Given Holford’s insistence* that he has been researching the science of nutrition since his epiphany in the late 70s, it is interesting to see Holford focusing on “intuition rather than logical thinking”. Sadly, given the type of ‘evidence’ that Holford views as “deeply impressive”, it appears that Holford has a long history of advocating a special approach to science and nutrition. Here at Holford Watch, we feel that logical thinking about nutrition can be useful: relying on intuition is inadequate. Advising that people should take dietary advice based on the swing of pendulum – well that is a very special application of the scientific method.
*Holford’s juvenilia are less than interesting to read, unless one is entertained by such stuff, but we include them for several reasons. Holford claims to have been researching nutrition for more than 30 years; it seems that he must count some of this material as part of that ‘research’. He regularly refers to having written “more than 20 books” whether defending a complaint brought by the ASA or in his own biographical notes. It seems that he includes his early works in that list. A substantial number of those books are of a similar quality and length to this book: yet, Holford and others regard this back catalogue as indicative of his self-declared gravitas and standing as a researcher and scientist.
It is particularly interesting that Holford must have been researching and writing this particular book in the gap between graduating in 1979 and beginning to treat ‘mental health patients’ in 1980 (pdf); a time when, as declared on his CV, he was spending time as a student of Drs Hoffer and Pfeiffer. Did he learn about the value of applied kinesiology and health dowsing while ‘studying’ with them?
After the interesting corrections to the Holford CV and profile, we are fascinated by when, where, and with whom Holford gained sufficient clinical knowledge and experience to start working with clients in such an important capacity. Did he advise them to use kinesiology and health dowsing to diagnose nutritional deficiencies?
Holford, P. (1983) The Whole Health Manual, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire: Thorsons.