Good news this week as TV diet guru Gillian McKeith agrees to drop the title “Dr” from the marketing of her products after the Advertising Standards Authority came to the provisional conclusion that her use of the title (based on earning a PhD from a non-accredited distance learning college) was likely to mislead the public (see article here).
Perhaps the use of the honorific is not the only thing “likely to mislead the public”. McKeith’s apparent understanding of biology and approach to nutrition has been labelled as pseudoscience by a number of nutritional experts (for an example, see here). This has been well-documented by Ben Goldacre, writer of the Bad Science column in the Guardian, who outlines the various erroneous claims and shaky evidence behind McKeith’s methods (see link here).
Of course, this may not necessarily put a stop to McKeith’s brand of pseudoscience. She happens to be the star of a popular show that has all the elements of reality TV gold: a steady succession of participants that audiences can look down on, the use of ritual humiliation, a cynical view of human nature, and a story arc of redemption/behaviour change, produced through a hectoring style of communication. Pure”entertainment”.