This week's TIME magazine featured an execrable perspective on The GenoType Diet courtesy of columnist Andrea Sachs. In a column called Calorie Countdown she treats TIME readers to an array of her opinions on the various 'notable diets of 2008.'
The GenoType Diet gets short shrift from the pen of Ms. Sachs. In an analysis which appears to me no deeper than the back cover of the book's dust jacket (while also deriving substantial inspiration from The Fifth Dimension) she writes:
By Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo, with Catherine Whitney (Broadway; 317 pages). Naturopathic physician D'Adamo has identified six "GenoTypes"--the Hunter, the Gatherer, the Teacher, the Explorer, the Warrior and the Nomad--and gives food dos and don'ts for each. The book comes off about as scientific as telling Scorpios they should eat only food grown when Jupiter aligns with Mars.
Trying to learn more about who writes this type of article for America's most beloved weekly illustrated magazine, I retrieved this biography off the TIMES.com site:
Andrea Sachs is a former English major whose dreams were fulfilled when she became TIME's publishing reporter in 1995. What could be better than interviewing authors, reading fabulous new books, and going to publishing parties?
I guess Goethe was right. You do see what you know. Ms. Sachs never interviewed me, and seems to have not actually read my 'fabulous new book.' As far as the parties... well.
Some people seem to just get things wrong. One can only suppose that in world of Andrea Sachs I actually think that the universe splits up into Teachers and Nomads and that Teachers should teach stuff and Nomads should wander around. Those are just memes. Science writers often do this in an attempt to bring complex characterizations to life for laymen. That, as any good English major should know, is called a literary device. Read The Seven Daughters of Eve by Brian Sykes for a similar treatment. In the last third of the book Sykes writes narratives about fictional clan mothers ('Helena', 'Tara', etc.) which correspond to one (or more) human mitochondrial haplogroups.
A friend of mine was fond of saying that "You can always spot the pioneers. They are the folks with the arrows in their backs."
Now, that's real science.
*. The phrase 'file under futile' is from 'Back In Judy's Jungle' by Brian Eno
Some of you might not remember this, but about six years ago I wrote a book called 'Live Right For Your Type' (LRFYT). It was a fun book to write since I was not hamstrung by the extreme limitations I experienced in the writing of my first book 'Eat Right For Your Type' (ERFYT). First books are hard to write, mostly because you have to encapsulate the universe into a teacup, and like the blacksmith in the Bible who wanted to learn the whole Torah while standing on one foot,* you don't have an unlimited amount of time. Plus, you have to write something that the average man in the street can understand. Yet because it was so simple, and because it heralded a new way of looking at nutrition, 'Eat Right' has always topped the list of my bestselling books, still selling quite well despite to this day, being only available as a hardcover.
When it came time to write a followup, it was easy to see what had to be included. We had been secretor testing patients in our clinic for over ten years and knowing secretor status can be a very helpful way to get the most out of the blood type diet associations. Simple enough.
However, there were problems. One, secretor status testing is not easy to perform. It is not a common lab test, and the two most common methods (saliva and testing for Lewis blood group status) are not amenable to home testing, like ABO and Rh. So when 'Live Right' was released, a lot of people responded with something like "Oh great. It took me a year to find out my blood type and begin following the Type (A,B,O,A diet. Now I've got to find out my secretor status."
Then they took a look at the changes to the food lists. That's when things really took off.
All of a sudden, certain foods changed value, not just depending on whether you were A,B,O or AB, but also whether you were an ABO secretor or non-secretor, and not always for the worse (i.e taking new foods away.) Sometimes a food was 'given back' (restricted in for type O in 'Eat Right' but perhaps returned in 'Live Right' if you discovered that you were a non-secretor type O. One thing I noticed about the reactions was that there was a certain type of reader who was more disconcerted by having a food returned back to their diet than they were by finding out that even more foods were now restricted. This type of personality had the hardest time with changes.
Well, feathers flew, folks came and went, but if you visit the boards and leave a story about how you need the Blood Type Diet to work better in your life, ten responders will post back to you with the advice to get yourself secretor tested.
Now, you don't need to be a graduate of the Harvard Business School to understand a new version of 'classic' is is released, you risk a certain degree of backlash. I'm sure that Coca Cola is still smarting from the 'New Coke' fiasco of years past. They did not do the market research to realize that people could turn against them if they felt they were not being listened to or neglected. Coca Cola's problem was not that they were introducing a new formula. That would have been a non-event. The problem was that they were planning on eliminating the older formula.
The GenoType system is really another turn of the same wheel. I think of it like this. Say you came to my clinic and I put you on a blood type based diet. Say in 6/10 circumstances it works just fine. But you're one of the 4/10 that it didn't. So we get you secretor tested. But you are one of the 2/10 that blood type and secretor status doesn't get the results that you need.
So, what should I do? My clinic doesn't have a back door, so I can't just run out on you, and I'm too obstinate to admit defeat. So back to the blackboard I go. Five years and thousands of man hours later, out comes The GenoType Diet. Still part of the overall continuum, still the same blood (and secretor) types, but incorporating these with the physical manifestations that also serve to make us unique; measurements, fingerprints, etc. And, for the first time, with a definable end-goal in mind: the optimum control of your day-to-day genetic interactions with the environment.
But behind it all is the continuity that Coca Cola forgot about; as I posted on the BTD forums the other day, if you are a type A with sinusitis, you're a type a with sinusitis pretty much whether you are an Explorer, Warrior or Teacher. Collinsonia will still work pretty well on you. But if you've read in my earlier books that type A is more prone to cancer and heart disease, your might be interested to learn that these risks split up along GenoTypes, and so the preventive measures that you can take will be more effective.
Like ABO and Secretor Status, Blood Type and GenoType need and benefit from each other.
* To his demand that 'As a busy man, I've not the time to spend studying and reading,' he was advised that the Bible essentially taught that he should 'Not do to someone that which you would not want done to yourself. The rest in just commentary.'
'What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.'
-Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death
Huxley wins in overtime.
The etymology of pathos, pathetic and pathological are all the same. They come from the Greek word ('pathologia') that is the name for the study of emotions.
Can you judge a book by its cover? What about if you don't even have a cover?
Recently my publisher leaked a tidbit about The GenoType Diet to one of those glossy woman's magazines. In an article of perhaps two whole paragraphs the editors chose to mention my book and another one I had never heard of as two of the new books on genes and diet.
Anyway, after a quick trial and summary execution from the resident expert, the reader was essentially advised to read the book not written by me.
Now, in case you don't already know, virtually all the women's magazines are the lock and stock domain of organization shills for professional nutrition associations, which is why the advice in these ad-driven magazines is so generic and inoffensive. Though they act the part of impartial consumer advocates, most glossy womens magazines are in the diet business themselves, usually cranking out a 'new' one with every issue.
I doubt that the resident experts ever laid eyes on a copy of The GenoType Diet. The manuscript wasn't ready in time to send them a galley copy.
So here we are. 'Experts' now tell us to avoid reading something they've never read.
Some of the moderators on the bulletin boards noticed that the recipe database had been 'hacked' by internet bots intent on leaving hundreds, if not thousands, of entries offering everything from mail-order brides to the possibilities of enlarging virtually any part of your body. Part of the problem was that anyone could enter a recipe in the database, and once these roving ambassadors of malfeasance find an open site they just bombard it relentlessly.
The beat way to deal with these types of attacks is to institute some sort of challenge response test which is usually in the form of some sort of visual recognition scheme. These are usually called "Reverse Turing Tests" after the brilliant, if tortured English math genius Alan Turing and they are now part of the internet landscape:
The basic idea is to prove that you are human, which may be easier for some than others.
Although I have a million other things to do, I suppose my type A mindset kept thinking of new enhancements to the recipe database, one of the more neglected step-children of this website. So why not take a tour of the new and improved recipe area?
This is the basic entry portal. From here you can list, search and display recipes. I'm working on a printer friendly version as well.
Saddened to hear of the passing away of the great Richard Rorty from pancreatic cancer. His book "Contingency Irony and Solidarity" was a big influence on me, giving me a sort of 'permission' to live with my thoughts and ideas without the burden of always having to analyze them to death. Certainly, Rorty's work in this area stemmed from John Dewey, but I alway thought that Rorty said it better, at least to me. In either case, if you think today's 24 hour "news" is actually "News" you may want to read these guys.