Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Dieting doesn't work but.....

...the idea that dieting works, works. It's called myth, defined as a story that serves to explain the worldview of a society.

How telling that is about the current obesity crisis, itself a myth based upon that myth.

It all purports to be about science, because science is society's lodestar, it's guiding light. Or we believe that it is. Because most of us don't really understand it, myself included, that allows us to be manipulated by pseudoscience, that which purports to be science, but isn't.

I'm currently reading a book by Lewis Wolpert , it's about how science rarely accords with common sense, or what we expect to be so by common logic. It is rarely, intuitive, it is a particular mode of thought and assuming that it is common sense is one of the many ways in which we are mislead as to the nature of it.

This is interesting when it comes to the mythology of weight loss dieting. It is often described as common sense, easy, simple, things not usually associated with science.

It purports to be based on scientific principles, even if true, that does not make it science. The fact that it doesn't work, not only disqualifies it from being science, it disqualifies it from being technology, which Wolpert explains is also not science- although modern technology is based on scientific ideas.

He says that science deals primarily with ideas, and technology is about making things work.

Dieting doesn't pass muster on either.

That is probably because it is 'common sense'.


  1. That's an interesting way of looking at things. I like it -- and I'm a scientist :-)


  2. Thank you Tilleul,

    Do you mind telling me, what field of science you're in?