Botanical Nutrition

by Rob Seeman official blogger of the health food movement

Blogger rips Whole Foods for engaging in “pseudoscience”, exposes own ignorance – film at 11

9 Comments

If you’re biased against something, it is easy to make a one-sided attack. Simply bring up whatever negative points exist (don’t all of us have some?) and harp on those. However, when you can’t really find much negative to say and you have to really grasp at straws, that is when you come up with something that is the delightful combination of potentially really offensive and much less than accurate.

Such is the case with pseudo-blogger Michael Schulson’s pathetic stab at Whole Foods (and, assumedly, all they represent – meaning the organic movement and natural medicine in general) entitled “Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience”.  To prove his point, that Whole Foods is the temple of pseudoscience, his over-arching point is a comparison to another bastion of “pseudo-science”, the creationist museum in Kentucky.

First of all, if you choose to believe in creationism, and to visit the museum in Kentucky – hats off to you. I don’t personally identify with those views represented there, but I’m not often in the business of making fun of other people’s beliefs. Mostly because I usually have better more constructive things to do with my time.Whole-Foods-006

When it comes to implying that there is, like creationism, no science and only faith; in natural medicine, the organic movement and all the things this young blogger found in Whole Foods – I have to stop and school the little brother.

He makes a laundry list of things he finds in the aisles of Whole Foods that he believes are ‘pseudo-science’ — including probiotics. To skewer this valuable supplement (used in numerous double-blind placebo-controlled studies) what does he do? Does he search pub med or some other database for research to validate the claims made on Whole Foods shelves? No, he asks an anonymous friend who is a “biologist” (biology student?) who says they are “bulls&*%”. If this isn’t “psuedo-journalism” — I don’t know what is.

If he really wanted to gather scientific information on probiotics, he might have contacted Institut Rosell  who have been doing award-winning research for over 70 years. Yet, instead of using the scientific method to combat ‘pseudo-science’ this blogger instead resorts to unsubstantiated conjecture and poppy cock.  He says a bunch of other stuff that is basically a fairly well-worded version of what his biologist friend referred to, and a degree in science as well.

The internet is an amazing thing. It can open doors to new information, but only if we rationally ask the right questions and start to look outside of our own paradigms and assumptions. This is when the quest for actual intelligence begins.

For the thousands upon thousands who have come to Whole Foods, and other health food stores, seeking an alternative to the American processed way of life, and have found great health – they know that there is science for those who need it, and healing with foods for those who need it too. We human beings have been doing it since Hippocrates (and – truth be told – for thousands of years prior), and I don’t see it going the way of the Edsel any time soon.

Author: Rob Seeman

I can't imagine anything more important than making sure everyone in the world has healthy food. Other than making sure they have the freedom to live a healthy life in general.

9 thoughts on “Blogger rips Whole Foods for engaging in “pseudoscience”, exposes own ignorance – film at 11

  1. I followed the link to this page from your comment on the source article. I was hoping to find some concrete rebuttals and was disappointed by the lack here. The one concrete thing here, the link to Institut Rosell, does not work at this time. The other concrete thing mentioned (but not linked to as evidence) is studies of probiotics’ effect and does not address whether they are effective for healthy individuals or to protect folks taking significant courses of antibiotics.

    • That’s a fair criticism. This was not a blog entry on probiotics. It was admittedly a quick response to a superficial attack.
      If you’d like to understand the science of probiotics – I suggest you start with a scientific text.
      http://www.amazon.com/Microbiota-Regulation-Advances-Experimental-Medicine/dp/0387799893/ref=sr_sp-btf_title_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1393256653&sr=8-4&keywords=probiotics+textbook

      There are so many strains of probiotics, you might end up doing a lot of searching to find that evidence, but to start with – I went to http://www.pubmed.gov and typed in
      “acidophilus human studies”. (Not that in vitro non-human studies have no validity, because they do.)
      Here are a few that popped up
      Anti-inflammatory response in epithelial cells
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24130731
      Effects of antibiotics on species
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23403424

      The research goes on and on – is it pseudo-science? I see no reason to think so.

      • With respect to citing that paper about an inflammatory response in epithelial cells, I would suggest that one be very cautious about drawing conclusions regarding any health effects based on a study carried out on tissue culture. At best such a study should be considered preliminary and might provide mechanistic insight to effects. It should not be considered, in itself, evidence of in vivo effects.

      • For sure, August, that is a valid statement. Should I stop eating yogurt until the human clinical trials begin?

    • Or you could take the view that if, when digging through that Daily Beast article, the strongest thing he could find to dispute it was that probiotics work, then the article must be spot on. Probiotics may be health promoting and are probably useful for certain things but the evidence in the literature is mixed and not strong. Probiotic products, in general, due to a minimal regulatory environment, have been known to have great issues of quality control (not that better regulated drugs –and yes, I am calling probiotics drugs as long as people are making drug like claims for them– don’t ever have quality control issues but, at least, the label tends to reflect the contents). Not that you have to agree with everything he writes there, but Mark Crislip wrote an informative article on probiotics 5 years ago:
      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/probiotics/

      I might argue, instead, that comparing creationism to Whole Foods Market fails for entirely different reasons. When hordes of hipsters and hippies start using the public school system to propagandize children into accepting homeopathy and ear candling as valid medical modalities by using Whole Food Market inventory lists and sale brochures as their educational materials, the author of that Daily Beast piece may be able to make a stronger point.

      • It is funny you warn against extrapolating too much from too little data, but just because I picked Probiotics to talk about you assume the rest was spot on? I think that is a pretty big assumption.

        Your bias against “hipsters and hippies” is your problem and not mine. I wish you the best health for yourself in your own personal journey!

      • Whole foods doesn’t sell ear candles. Try again.

  2. Like the blog, but why that picture???

    #Duly noted, why not change it. How about a picture of some organic food?

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