Pseudo-Science on Channel 4

Posted on February 12, 2007


A great article by Ben Goldacre can be found here. Most people are, of course, quite ignorant of the details of science. As someone who is doing a PhD, it obviously rankles me to see someone who bought theirs on the internet being recognised as some sort of authority. The interesting thing is that the only way she has been able to do this (according to Goldacre) is through the threat of litigation.

Channel 4 has produced a lot of these kinds of lifestyle gurus in recent years, including McKeith (‘You Are What You Eat’), Nickly Hambleton-Jones (’10 Years Younger’) and Gok Wan (‘How To Look Good Naked’). What links these shows is the authoritarian manner in which advice is dolled out, reducing the hapless members of the public to quiverin, teary goo before rebuilding them in some finer, meticulously composed and controlled upgrade.

This seems to appeal to something quite masochistic in the pysche of the participants. Goldacre suggests that there’s something quite individualistically right-minded going on, but I’m more inclined to take a Foucauldian stance on it. Could this be bio-power?

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