I could have done without the clichés so endemic to dystopian fiction - the car chase, the secret meetings, having to choose between the Devil Lover aI could have done without the clichés so endemic to dystopian fiction - the car chase, the secret meetings, having to choose between the Devil Lover and the Angel Lover. But he captures the snowballing shallowness of social media and the many ways it works so, SO well.
As Levinovitz recently said in an interview, "Science is not great at constructing narratives. That’s its virtue and its downfall. Scientific inquiryAs Levinovitz recently said in an interview, "Science is not great at constructing narratives. That’s its virtue and its downfall. Scientific inquiry has to divorce itself from what makes the best story, and science writers, myself included, are in the business of making science compelling by telling stories."
The story - or should we say proven fact? - he presents is that diets strongly resemble religions. Everyone peddling a new diet or new religion/spirituality claims to have the answer for staying "healthy" (a word used just as often to mean "moral" as "not sick"). Throughout history, no one peddling the answers to guaranteed longevity or eternal happiness has been proven right. (If they were, their methods would be almost universally embraced, like seatbelts and the idea of keeping the kitchen separate from the toilet.) But we are still listening to every generation's new theories about the ideal way to live long and stay healthy because we are still afraid of illness and death.
While the book's title suggests an attack focused on the gluten-free fad, Levinovitz goes after several diets trending now and in recent history. He does an excellent job of showing how to tell a myth from a scientific finding, and how to identify mission creep - e.g., trying to get people to stop eating factory farmed food because the process is bad for the environment by telling them it's also bad for their bodies. In other words, how to sort our cultural forces from scientific facts.
He also adds to the growing evidence that just trying out a diet because everyone's doing it can be dangerous, especially if you have an unidentified condition. Dieting usually leads to bingeing, and intense elimination diets have been found to put your body under stress by raising your cortisol levels.
With this in mind, his book is as informative as it is necessary to the discourse.
He didn't convince me. His generalizations about human nature are far too broad - based on and applied to only the American political landscape. ApartHe didn't convince me. His generalizations about human nature are far too broad - based on and applied to only the American political landscape. Apart from an overly simplistic summary of India - which quite unfairly portrayed the country as monolithic - he ignores anything other countries have to teach us.
I'm convinced the age of paralyzing partisanship in the U.S. is due much in part to our two-party system. Other democracies - like Germany, my country of residence - manage to distance political action from group identity by offering voters a rainbow of choices. While social issues are debated openly and with passion, whom you voted for is considered a private matter and not one that is at all easy for outsiders to ascertain thanks to the lack of a conservative vs. progressive binary. In America, one need comment on only two or three issues before anyone can guess what color state you'd prefer.
Haidt ignores these examples, as well as those of so many other countries - Europe, Canada, New Zealand - that have more successfully integrated the liberal ideals he originally embraced into the mainstream of their societies. Cultures like Japan's, whose morals in no way can be separated into the Western right vs. left binary, are absent from his analyses.
This is all too bad because his microcosmic moral arguments - e.g. the ethical questions he poses to survey-takers - are stimulating. His America-centric view, however, renders his conclusion faulty. ...more
A very readable break-down of which alternative methods work, and which don't. His analysis of the placebo effect is fascinating, and his exposé of thA very readable break-down of which alternative methods work, and which don't. His analysis of the placebo effect is fascinating, and his exposé of the natural remedies that have been proven to increase rates of cancer and heart disease is terrifying. His personal experiences with the imperfections of mainstream medicine were also helpful in illustrating why almost everyone at some point has had a reason to hate doctors and hospitals. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone....more