Well it is about time.
Gillian McKeith has been a prominent enough person in the general UK media to have her own category on Ben Goldacre’s fascinating Bad Science blog. If you dont know about her this extract from Bad Science gives a bit of background:
Call her the Awful Poo Lady, call her Dr Gillian McKeith PhD: she is an empire, a multi-millionaire, a phenomenon, a prime-time TV celebrity, a bestselling author. She has her own range of foods and mysterious powders, she has pills to give you an erection, and her face is in every health food store in the country. Scottish Conservative politicians want her to advise the government. The Soil Association gave her a prize for educating the public.
She is a force of pure marketing evil. She bullies fat people to the point at which they burst into tears. She advocates all manner of weird and wonderful woo as cures for various illnesses. Her ideas about health diet defy belief. She claimes eating Chlorophyl will oxygenate your blood. She claims DNA/RNA is only present in growing cells and defies aging. â€œIn the heart,â€ she explains, â€œchlorophyll aids in the transmission of nerve impulses that control contraction.â€
In short, she is completely off her head.
You can read more about McKeith on Quackwatch – www.quackwatch.org/11Ind/mckeith.html or better still, Ben Goldacre’s blog where you can read the full details of her current problems with the Advertising Standards Agency.
In association with Channel 4 Nutjob McKeith pushed herself onto the UK public as a “Clinical Nutritionist” (woo-title if ever there was one). She is often called Dr McKeith, or even “Dr Gillian McKeith PhD,” with the implication she is a medical doctor when in fact she has a PhD. However, this PhD is from a woo-factory of dynamic proportions. She has her “PhD” from the Australasian College of Health Sciences (Portland, US), yet you cant find out any of the details of her final thesis. She touts her “professional membership” with the American Association of Nutritional Consultants, yet this is the same level of membership Ben Goldacre’s dead cat has.
The amount that could be written about McKeith is phenomenal. She combines ignorance, voodoo-woo and an a massively outspoken personality. She capitalises upon lazy people not bothering to understand science but who are enamoured by the trappings of science and the weird rituals she practices (sniffing crap for example). To paraphrase a USENET post I read, as people move away from religion, the void is filled by conspiracy theories, sprituality and mumbo-jumbo – it is the conservation of idiocy. McKeith is a prime example of this.
Anyway, it seems a reader of the BadScience.net column has actually gone to the advertising standards agency and complained about her use of the title “Dr” and “PhD.” The ASA has upheld the complaint, but to avoid a formal ruling, McKeith has voluntarily agreed to stop calling herself “Dr.” This is not as toothless as it may sound, as she has spent a lot of time building a rep based on her status as “Dr McKeith.” She claims that she will continue to call herself Gillian McKeith PhD but from Ben Goldacre’s leaked wording of the ASA text that was also going to be prohibited (note: this is in relation to advertising materials only).
This may be a small victory for common sense but it is still a victory!