Friday, July 17, 2009

A new religion

In what we call the developed Western world, we seek redemption and purification from the more extreme forms of our material indulgence: we fill our faces with drugs, drink, bad food and other indulgences, we know it's wrong, and we crave ritualistic protection from the consequences, a public 'transitional ritual' commemorating our return to healthier behavioural norms.

The presentation of these purification diets and rituals has always been a product of their time and place, and now that science is our dominant explanatory framework for the natural and moral world, for right or wrong, it's natural that we should bolt a bastardised pseudoscientific justification onto our redemption. Like so much of the nonsense in bad science, 'detox' pseudoscience isn't something done to us, by venal and exploitative outsiders: it is a cultural product, a recurring theme, and we do it to ourselves.

"Bad Science", p.12, Ben Goldacre
A very interesting book - an important antidote to much of the nonsense that is presented through the media. If your child's school runs "Brain Gym", protest - it is nonsense!! I thought the comments about the "religious" observance of rituals that have no real scientific justification was perceptive.