Implausible Treatment Modalities

Holford has recommended a number of biologically implausible treatment modalities over the course of his career: this is not a case of the odd inadvertent mistake, but a consistent pattern of credulity. Holford may have moved from recommending health dowsing to the more high-tech looking QLink pendant, but the plausibility and efficacy of these approaches is identical.

Health Dowsing

A health dowsing kit, for use to diagnose which supplement pills are needed.

Early in his career (reportedly, shortly after he spent some time studying with Hoffer and Pfeiffer, and after he had started treating patients) Holford argued that

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

This is hard to believe – because we know no plausible mechanism through which this might work, and have no good evidence that it does. The above diagram – from Holford’s Whole Health Manual – shows one of these kits in action: apparently, one has to learn to ask it appropriate questions. And no – we can’t see how that type of thing would produce meaningful results, either.

Applied Kinesiology

Also early in his career, Holford argues that

While the concepts behind [Applied Kinesiology] are often hard to grasp there is little doubt that it works and is a useful test in improving the overall function of our bodies

However there is – once again – no plausible mechanism though which Applied Kinesiology could work. We also lack any good evidence that it does work: as John Garrow has shown, Applied Kinesiology produces results similar to chance when subjected to blind testing.

Homeopathic Vaccines

Unfortunately – despite his claimed decades of nutritional research – credulity is still a problem for Patrick Holford. Holford states that

Although less well researched, you may wish to investigate homoeopathic immunisations. In one study 18,000 children were successfully protected against meningitis with a homoeopathic remedy, without a single side-effect.

Again, there is no plausible mechanism through which homoeopathy might work and no evidence that it does work any better than placebo. To suggest that this is used as an alternative to proper vaccination for such a dangerous disease is extremely unwise.

The QLink Pendant

Holford has claimed that

There are many gadgets out there promising to protect you from electromagnetic radiation and give your energy a boost. I’ve investigated many and didn’t find any stacked up. The one exception is QLink. The scientific proof is deeply impressive.

However, once again, there is no plausible mechanism (aside from the placebo effect) through which these might work, and no good evidence that they do. In fact, as Ben Goldacre found that they don’t do anything useful: they don’t emit any interesting ‘frequencies’, and they contain a “coil connected to nothing. And a zero-ohm resistor, which costs half a penny, and is connected to nothing.”

Oh dear. All of this leaves me with one question – is homoeopathy or Applied Kinesiology the better treatment for chronic credulity?

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5 responses to “Implausible Treatment Modalities

  1. Pingback: Dr John Briffa on testing for food sensitivity: applied kinesiology, dowsing and IgG tests « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science

  2. Pingback: Patrick Holford Refers to Himself As An Expert (No-One Else Was Volunteering) « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science

  3. Pingback: Seriously, What Do They Teach at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition Judging by the IONistas in the Public Eye? « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science

  4. Pingback: Patrick Holford Claims More People Die, Prematurely, From Cardiovascular Disease Than Actually Die, Prematurely, From All Causes « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science

  5. Pingback: A Tale of Two WorkForces in the Same Workplace: Different Rules for Dietitians and Nutritionists in the NHS? « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science

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