As I wrote in my review, The Magic Pill is a beautiful film that shows how switching to a paleo diet produces astounding improvements in health for a handful of people.
So naturally, The Anointed want Netflix to pull the darned thing:
Netflix is being urged to pull a documentary narrated and produced by celebrity chef Pete Evans.
The streaming giant quietly released a show about the controversial ketogenic diet earlier this month. The documentary – which is narrated and produced by Australia’s best-known paleo – features several people who claim a diet high in protein and fat but low in carbohydrates can help alleviate everything from asthma to autism.
The Magic Pill came under fire soon after it was commissioned, with high-profile members of the medical industry calling for it to be scrapped.
Well, of course the medical industry wants it scrapped. The Magic Pill proposes that instead of always looking for a pill or procedure to cure what ails us, perhaps we should change our diets and avoid getting sick in the first place. If people follow that kind of radical advice, it won’t exactly be a boon to doctors.
If members of the Australian medical industry believe The Magic Pill promotes incorrect ideas, they’re free to critique it. No one is stopping them. But that’s not what they want; they want to prevent you and me and everyone else from seeing the film in the first place.
It’s the same urge to stifle dissent we see over and over with The Anointed. Normal people are satisfied to argue in favor of what they believe and let others decide for themselves. I believe a vegan diet is unhealthy for many people (and I’ve had the sick vegan friends to buttress that belief), but I would never in a million years demand that Netflix pull What The Health. In fact, I applaud Netflix for offering documentaries that recommend very different diets. That’s how a marketplace of ideas is supposed to work. You make your case, I’ll make mine, and we’ll see who’s more convincing.
But that’s not how The Anointed think. The Anointed assume people are too stupid to think for themselves, so if they’re exposed to multiple viewpoints, they’ll be led astray – and astray, of course, means any course of action not approved by The Anointed. So The Anointed favor censoring “incorrect” ideas, as I pointed out in this post and this post.
Here’s a perfect example:
Newly appointed AMA president Dr Tony Bartone told Fairfax Media he was worried vulnerable members of society – for example, people living with cancer – would believe some of the claims contained in the documentary over the advice of health professionals.
For goodness sakes, don’t try curing yourself with food! Shut up and take your pills.
Dr Bartone said there were decades of evidence-based research to back up current healthy eating guidelines.
Boy, that really makes me mad. Back in my standup days, I’d spend dozens of hours writing a new bit, shaping it, rehearing it, tweaking it, etc., etc., all in the hopes of drawing a good laugh. And here Dr. Bartone says something that’s laugh-out-loud hilarious without even trying to be funny. Life ain’t fair.
Suuuure, Dr. Bartone, it’s because of those evidence-based eating guidelines that we have worldwide epidemics of radiant health and successful weight loss.
I’ve seen several Twitter commentators (otherwise known as idiots) saying something along the lines of Well, of course, we should listen to doctors instead of Pete Evans. He’s just a cook!
Dr. Bartone says pretty much the same thing himself:
“I respect Pete Evans’ ability and expertise in the kitchen, but that’s where it begins and ends,” he said. “I would never dream of telling him how to prepare a meal. However, when it comes to the trusted health of our patients, everyone should turn to a health professional. That is, in the first instance, your GP.”
Ahh, so doctors are qualified to give advice on diet and health, but not a mere cook. That’s an odd argument to make, considering that the average doctor spends a grand total of about 24 hours studying nutrition in medical school. I’ve spent more time reading up on nutrition over a long weekend. I suspect Pete Evans has as well. In fact, I suspect Pete Evans has spent more time studying nutrition than 100 typical doctors combined.
The he’s not a doctor! argument is especially odd coming from Australia, where Dr. Gary Fettke was told to stop giving dietary advice because he wasn’t qualified. In case you need a reminder, here’s what ABC in Australia said about that case:
According to Dr Fettke, an anonymous complaint from a dietician at the hospital sparked an investigation by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
Two and a half years later the watchdog found he was working outside his scope of practise and was not qualified to give specific nutritional advice, and he was ordered to stop speaking about the low carbohydrate, high fat diet.
“The committee does not accept that your medicine studies of themselves provide sufficient education or training to justify you providing specific advice or recommendations to patients or the public about nutrition and diet, such as the LCHF lifestyle concept,” it read.
So according to the AHPRA itself, graduating from medical school doesn’t qualify anyone to give dietary advice … although as Dr. Fettke pointed out, doctors ranging from neurosurgeons to cardiologists regularly tell patients what to eat, and nobody complains. I’m pretty sure The Anointed don’t really mind if doctors give dietary advice, as long as they don’t tell people to stop eating grains and margarine.
As for Pete Evans being “just” a cook … so what? I’ve met him. He’s a very bright guy. Why the heck would anyone need to go to medical school and learn which pills to prescribe in order to have an informed opinion on diet and health? This is the same nonsense we see when The Anointed tell us to ignore Gary Taubes and Nina Teicholz because they’re “just” journalists.
According to my college degree, I’m “just” a journalist as well. I’ve never taken a single class in computer programming, and yet I somehow developed enough skill to write complicated software programs for Disney and BMI, who were happy to employ me. In fact, I was hired a couple of times to rewrite crappy software developed by people with computer science degrees. As one employer told me, “We were fooled by the previous guy’s degrees and Microsoft certifications. He looked really good on paper.”
The Anointed love to pretend that the only way to acquire knowledge is to get a degree – because they control the degrees. But as Nassim Nicholas Taleb pointed out in Antifragile, far less knowledge is generated in universities than most people think. A heck of a lot more knowledge is generated by tinkerers than by professors.
But for those impressed by degrees, it’s not as if Evans stood up in front of a camera in The Magic Pill and expressed his own opinions for 90 minutes. Many of the people he interviewers are doctors and researchers – people with degrees. They explain the theory of why a grain-free, low-carb, paleo diet improves health. Then we see ordinary people improving their health on that diet.
So what exactly is the problem here? What’s the big threat to health that Netflix is risking by showing The Magic Pill? That people will throw away their Wheat Thins?
The only threat is to The Anointed themselves … because viewers might actually learn something about how to take care of their own health.
p.s. – The Magic Pill is distributed by Gravitas, which also distributes Fat Head. While I was on the cruise showing the final version of Fat Head Kids, I received an email from the acquisitions manager: yes, they watched Fat Head Kids and yes, they want to distribute it. They were a streaming-only distributor when they took on Fat Head, but now they do the whole works: DVDs, download to rent or buy, you name it.
That’s great news, but it means I’ll be busy putting together trailers, art work, bonus DVD tracks, and other materials they’ll need. I’ll probably be posting once per week until we’ve got it all wrapped up.