Wednesday, October 31, 2018

And today in #microbiomania (aka overselling the microbiome) - ridiculous claim from Raphael Kellman's book marketing group



Just got this email below.  It is from a marketing person promoting Raphael Kellman's new book.  And it has an absolutely dangerous, ridiculous claim in it.  They claim that if you have memory loss, or mood problems, these are not in your head at all - this is caused my problems in your microbiome. What absolutely bullshit.  Sure, the microbiome can impact the brain and mood.  But to go from that to claiming that all memory loss and mood issues are due to problems with the microbiome.  Dangerous.  Deceptive.  Scary.  Snake oil.

But yes, I would be happy to write about your book.  Right here.  Right now.

Here is the email

Hello!

We are excited to announce the publication of The Microbiome Breakthrough: Harness the Power of Your Gut Bacteria to Boost Your Mood and Heal Your Body by Raphael Kellman, M.D. This revolutionary guide by the author of The Microbiome Diet offers a medication-free, scientifically-based approach to healing depression, anxiety, and brain fog by focusing on your “whole brain” – the brain, the gut, the microbiome, and the thyroid. 

If you are one of the millions of people who feel that you have memory loss or an inability to maintain a balanced, happy mood, the problem is not “in your head,” it is in your microbiome (the trillions of health-promoting bacteria in your body) and your gut. In The Microbiome Breakthrough, you’ll learn about the latest cutting-edge science and discover the Whole Brain Protocol, a powerful four-week plan that advises you on what to eat and which supplements and probiotics to take, so that your brain functions at its best level. Along with delicious, health-supporting recipes, meal plans, and other tips and strategies, The Microbiome Breakthrough will help make your brain work better, enabling you to feel calm, energized, and clear headed without prescription medications.

We would love to partner with you to spread the word about this groundbreaking book from a pioneer in holistic and functional medicine. If you would like to review it on your blog or website, promote it on your social media or email newsletter, or host a giveaway, we would be more than happy to send you a copy.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Thank you,
NAME 
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NAME 
Marketing Department
Da Capo Press | Lifelong Books | Seal Press
An Imprint of Perseus Books | A Hachette Book Group Company
53 State St., 9th Fl. | Boston, MA 02109

Saturday, October 27, 2018

A 22 step guide to how to write a story to stir up germophobia.

Another day.  Another excessively germophobic news story. Today it is:

What's the dirtiest surface on an airplane? The result may surprise you | CBC News

In reading this article I realized, as others have before me, that these tend to follow a simple script.  Swab. Report on how dirty things are.  But I decided to dig in a little more.  And I have come up with  a foolproof way to write such stories. Just follow these 13 steps. These do not have to be done in the order below.
  1. Swab something
  2. Send swabs off for testing with a microbiologist or testing company to make it seem like there is some serious science going on. 
  3. Bonus points for showing microscopes or bacterial plates or other science things.
  4. Don't report the full methods or data. Just make it seem like you know what you are doing.  Be vague some of the time.  And use really big #s other times.
  5. Report on the results that make things seem way dirtier than people might have expected.  Say things like "Dirtier than a toilet seat". 
  6. Mention feces.  Or fecal matter.  Pretend or just flat out lie about how the testing you did shows that feces was in the samples.
  7. Mention something else that is gross. Condoms.  Bodily fluids.  Vomit.  Disease.  Vermin.
  8. Repeatedly use synonyms of "dirty" or "gross". 
  9. Mention human illness.  Often. 
  10. Bonus points for telling people they "could" or better yet - "likely will" - get specific diseases from touching these sites even when there is likely absolutely no evidence regarding likelihood of transmission.  
  11. Bonus points for mentioning nasty symptoms of human illness like diarrhea or vomiting or things involving bleeding.
  12. Mention specific microbes but only ones that make people sick and don't mention all the other microbes in samples.
  13. Definitely do not mention that some microbes you are calling dangerous also frequently come in non dangerous forms.
  14. Get a known fear mongering germophobe to comment about the results. 
  15. Bonus points if the person you get to comment has a nickname involving microbiology.
  16. Bonus points if the person you get to comment runs a company involved in infection prevention.
  17. Tell people to use hand sanitizer.
  18. Discuss how nobody cleans the surfaces swabbed in the story as often as you would have thought.  
  19. Bonus points for misleadingly saying that you can say something about how often or how well people clean the sites being studies from a limited amount of indirect swab data.
  20. Link to other germaphobic stories or videos.
  21. Ask the people responsible for the sites that were swabbed to comment without really providing them with enough details to be able to know what exactly was done or whether it means anything.
  22. Ask employees or other personnel to comment about other gross things they have seen associated with the sites being sampled.
And today's article has most / all of these.  I will leave it to you, dear readers, to figure out how to map these 22 things onto this and other stories.