Facebook has redefined the word “like”, so let me start out with a simple request. If you haven’t already done so, please “like” me on Facebook. Do it now; I promise the blog will still be here, when you get back.
Today, I am going to share a bit of a retrospective view with you that spans over a decade. That view will take you from the halcyon days of early pioneering in internet communications, to today’s explosive and ever changing environment. As you might expect, the more things change, the more they stay the same. And also, as always, there is a mixed blessing in our current state of things.
First, the good stuff. You can find anything you need and find anyone you need, on the internet. You can search out historic places and people and learn more in one hour than you used to learn in a week of class at school. You can stay current with new developments, literally in real time, as they happen- so no one is truly left out or kept in the dark about important things, or even not so important things. You can find people you haven’t seen or heard from in years and still not see or hear from them, but you can tweet them, text them or IM them. For some, that constitutes meaningful communication.
The bad stuff can be pretty much summarized this way. You have a surfeit of information and a deficit of attention. You also have a surfeit of opinions and a deficit of real expertise. And you have no way to distinguish one from the other.
The internet and its sundry derivatives have created more pseudo-experts and conspiratorial fortunes than at any time in the past. I know of one very famous internet guru who, in addition to paying offshore researchers and a dozen or so big name copywriters, has several people on his staff dedicated to keeping their fingers on the pulse of social opinion. These people literally look for the “next big trend” and gauge the time to pull the trigger on the next marketing campaign. It’s worked well and this person is so big now, that they can “create” the market, rather than waiting. Millions of eyeballs, from the internet and TV, create the seemingly most important piece of the puzzle: social proof. If that many people are interested in it and think it’s good, it must be good.
So were pet rocks and that crawly thing toy that climbed your wall and made its inventor millions. So was the clever website, where you could buy a pixel and send the kid through college. But those were harmless.
The vast array of instant communication has accelerated the “As seen on TV” phrase into another galaxy. I heard it on Twitter, Facebook or so and so’s website, which I trust, because 2 million other people do, so it must be good.
Sadly, it’s not. The same people who claim to fight the system, on your personal behalf and are dedicated to the “truth” will, in private circles, start off their conversations with how much money they made last month. The same people, who claim to be pioneers, will scour the globe as “talent scouts”, barely mention the names of the ones who created the invention or idea, at best allowing them to stand mutely, in their shadow on the YouTube video, that has a million visits. Scouts or thieves- you decide.
By the way, a surprising number of them have been sued for misrepresentation and false claims. Several have gone to jail. But of course, they did it for YOU and YOUR rights, so with the power of social media, they are now heroes.
I guess the world needs a good villain, since everyone who does something wrong is a hero these days.
And then there was me.
For the past decade plus, I have been telling it as I see it. And not without some proof on my side, mind you. Scientific proof, research based and clinical (as in saving lives, not drinking tea or rubbing on creams) experience. But, in truth, that has paled in the face of social proof and it always will. One of my recent newsletters on alkalinity and its real effects is a classic example of how telling the truth offends people and goes totally against social proof.
That often leads to not being liked, in the non-Facebook definition of the term. We tend to want to hear what we believe, not what we do not. We tend not to like people who disagree with us. I am not different than you, in that respect. But, I hope we are also the same in another respect.
Once I feel challenged by something and am determined to prove it’s wrong –I do something few people do. I read the literature that my opponent cites as “proof”. Most times it has little if anything to do with the point being made. You’d be surprised how many scientific articles are cited as proof of something at the end of an article or newsletter that has nothing to do with the claim at all. Not even anything! Here is an example.
At a recent conference, the first words out of a prospective customer’s mouth were a scornful, “You don’t use Mag Stearate in your products, do you?!” Judge, jury and executioner. Based on what?! In point of fact, I have not developed anything recently that uses Mag Stearate. I avoid it like the plague, in my new formulations, although I still have some “old ones” that have served the world exceedingly well and somehow seem to have improved the health of the people who have taken them for years. I now avoid it, simply because of social proof, not scientific proof. It is simply too much trouble to fight against the weight of the great scientists and MD’s, who have lashed out against it in the past decade or so. Hint: there are none, zip, zero! That created controversy was a brilliant marketing ploy. The person most responsible is not a scientist, doctor or anything close. They did go to jail though, for the very same thing they accuse supplement companies of: false and dangerous claims!
But Mag Stearate is an artificial filler, so it can’t be good! Stearic Acid is a common fatty acid, found in significant amounts, in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, butter, grains, and milk products. Magnesium is a common mineral found everywhere, in almost any food group. The combination certainly exists in nature!
I admit it, they won! I don’t put Mag Stearate in any of my newer products. But, if you read the actual study that is cited, P W Tebbey and T M Buttke Molecular basis for the immunosuppressive action of stearic acid on T cells. Immunology 1990 July 70(3): 379–386, you’ll notice it’s already 22 years old and has never been repeated. Since that time, there have been several studies that suggest the opposite to be true. In this case, Mag Stearate was implicated in causing damaging biofilms that harm our health.
If you care, here is the actual study that shows the OPPOSITE: Soni KA, Jesudhasan P, Cepeda M, Widmer K, Jayaprakasha GK, Patil BS, Hume ME, Pillai SD. Identification of ground beef-derived fatty acid inhibitors of autoinducer-2-based cell signaling. J Food Prot. 2008 January 71(1):134-8.
Food Safety & Environmental Microbiology Program, Department of Poultry Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843, USA.
In my various blogs, Facebook posts and newsletters, I spend a fair amount of time attacking the nonsense that is out there, for those who actually care about the truth.
My comments on cancer, oxygen therapy and alkalinity have not led me to large numbers of favorite site designations.
My recent biochemical evaluation and debunking of the literature on krill, was another example of this. I sampled a famous marketer’s krill and found it to be rife with mercury, lead, arsenic and PBC’s compared to my fish oil product. I pointed out several articles showing how krill harvesting negatively affects the biosphere and debunking its “renewable resource” moniker. I showed how Acker Biomarine’s own study, documented a rise in Arachadonic acid, an Omega 6 derivative, compared to Omega 3 membrane content and how they had no answer, for that potentially damaging situation. I followed the money trail on the krill “science” and it lead directly to the manufacturers of the product. And I cited several company-sponsored studies that showed no difference between an inferior brand of fish oil and krill, in real world clinical outcomes.
I don’t always win these battles. As a matter of fact, I usually don’t. Krill has garnered 13% of the Omega 3 market and websites all over the world are scraping blogs and other contents from the drivers of this “next big thing”. Not bad, for a little organism that I used to feed my Gouramis and one that has never been a direct part of the human food chain.
I am however, educable and fallible. I admit, I caved to social proof on the Mag Stearate thing and while I am not pro or con, I have not used it in any of my newer supplements. I guess I DO want to be “liked”. I do make mistakes and I am willing to admit it. Recently, I learned that flammable and inflammable mean the same thing, in a somewhat harsh way.
When I am wrong, I will admit it. It is my goal, however, to be right, most of the time, for the people who care. I take what I make and I stand by what I say. I called a guy out on his misuse of the word, epigenetics recently. He did the right thing. He deleted my post and ignored me.
Perhaps a better goal would be to emulate another guy (or his copywriters) who admitted he no longer sells cod liver oil, because it might cause colon cancer, due to its huge Vitamin A content.
If the guy really believed that, he would have kept it to himself, because he would have gotten dozens of lawsuits for causing cancer. Instead, because of social proof, he was lauded for his position and people sent ME emails, stating I was using dangerously high Vitamin A levels, in some of my supplements. If you want to find out the truth on Vitamin A, see my blog: The Return of the Big Bad Wolf – Lessons Learned from Vitamin A Studies.
I will close by saying, I am all for people making a living, an honest living, by providing truth and high quality products or services. I like it very much. I also like shining the BS detector and opening at least a few eyeballs, to see what is really going on. I really don’t like people, who are not experts, pimping free content, from real experts and not giving the source credit. It happens to me almost daily, on the telomere front. I despise people, who are sick, teaching people how to be well. I despise people, who use their social proof positions, to create mass influence that harms people. I am sad that so many people knee jerk defend wrong things, because they like the person who said it and never research where it came from. Few of us are really the underdogs we perceive ourselves to be! I admire people who are willing to stand for the truth and are not afraid to say it out loud. Even if they disagree with me. If they can prove what they say, I am a big fan. And I trust them.
Often, people don’t know what to make of me, because I stand for some of the same things they do, but not all of them. I agree with some conspiracies and fight some of “their” evils of the world (like Big Pharma and Big Food), but not all of them. Sometimes, I even blame the ignorant consumer, for believing the internet hype behind a product. So, it’s kinda like, right after you decided I am your kind of guy, I come out with something that pisses you off. That is the truth.
Hopefully, that will help you decide on what social media has now made the most important question: What kind of guy am I? I am an honest guy who asks a lot of questions. Too many for some.
So how do you “like” me now!