Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Thyroid Diet by Mary J. Shomon

The Thyroid Diet: Manage Your Metabolism for Lasting Weight Loss by Mary J. Shomon – ISBN 0-06-0524444-8 It’s annoying how many authors repeat all the same sins again and again with – I assume, it’s possible – genuine good intentions, especially in the area of self-help health books. This particular book talks about how thyroid problems – that is problems with a small gland that depends on iodine and produces some critical hormones in our bodies – can result in overweight and a lot of accompanying problems. While the main premise of the book is likely to be true (I actually believe it, but as I am not a physician and expert in hormonal therapies, I’d rather pass the judgment to somebody more qualified), the book itself commits every typical memetic crime against your minds that so many health books do. First, it starts with scary stories allowing the reader to identify her/himself with the subject of the book. To make it more convincing, a little self-diagnose intro is placed right after that with usual bows toward laws restricting such practices like “you could have…” or “you may want to talk to your physician if…”, in this case “The risk of developing thyroid problem is greatest if:” Now, what ‘if’s are we talking about? Let me give you just a couple of examples:

  • If you are or were a smoker. (Yeah, who weren’t?)
  • If you have had a stomach infection or food poisoning… (Show me one person who never had a food poisoning…)
  • If you use fluoridated water… (That’s majority of US population.)
  • If you’ve been exposed to certain chemicals (e.g., perchlorate)… (That’s the rest of US population who have their water treated with chlorine instead of fluoride.)
You see? It’s cover-all list. That’s not a really helpful list of hints, that’s simply a memetic sales-weapon targeting every potential buyer who may go through the pages. And once she starts to give symptoms… oh, mine… Quote (again, just a few of them with my comments in italic):

You may be hypothyroid if

  • You are extremely exhausted and fatigued (with people working 10+ hours a day, who does not?)
  • You feel depressed, moody, and/or sad (economy and gas prices help this a lot, and, God forbid, don’t listen to blues…)
  • You’ve lost hair… (right, cover all bold guys and women with long hair)
  • You have an abnormally low sex drive (sure, who does not want more of that?)
You see? She basically tried every anchor in the book to get you on board. I don’t like such behavior, but I cannot blame her either, since there is a lot of people who cannot recognize these techniques and provide a commercial justification for such practices. Don’t forget, memetic environment is evolutionary, and every evolutionary environment has a co-evolution of hosts and parasites. Don’t blame a flu virus, just wash your hands, use a face mask, beef up your immune system and don’t show up on work, if you still got a flu. Same here, with mind viruses. Beef up your mind’s immune system and notice when you are sneezed on from the pages of the next health book.