KFM breakfast team: not skeptics

I wake up every morning to the KFM breakfast brigade doing their thing. It’s not bad as breakfast shows go – Nic is usually not a complete idiot, Mel is fairly silly in an endearing way, and the GK Elite challenge is about the only thing that can wake me up in the morning. Zenstar likes Wackhead Simpson’s prank calls, so it also has that going for it. On the down side would be the fact that you can’t understand a word Andre says because he talks at warp 5, and the fact that occasionally Nic proves he’s not as skeptical as he thinks he is.

The first inkling I had that all was not right in Breakfastland was when the celebrity guest one Wednesday morning was none other than media nutritionist Patrick Holford. Yes, that would be the Patrick Holford who:

  • Gives himself degrees in subjects he’s made up and then calls himself ‘doctor’
  • Lies about being published in the Lancet
  • Messes up the details on his CV (I’m being generous; some may say he lies)
  • Encourages others to make favourable edits to his Wikipedia entry
  • Never publishes any of his results for independent verification
  • Thinks Vitamin C has been proven more successful than AZT at fighting HIV
  • Makes a ton of money giving nutrition advice he makes up for himself at home

But really, to know Patrick Holford for the quack he is, you have to have done a little research, so I could forgive them for that. I got over it.

Then this week, calamity. I woke up to the sounds of our host bending over backwards to help a Human PIN Code practitioner sound like he wasn’t a complete nutjob! This included starting off the interview by claiming he, Nic Marais, was usually skeptical, but that this backwater numerologist had convinced him he wasn’t frootloops by… wait for it… the old “all the mug handles in your kitchen face the same way” party trick! Yip, Nic Marais decided to toss his intelligence out the window on the basis of a statement that applies to about 80% of the human population, along the lines of “you have a box of unsorted photographs stashed away that you always meant to put in an album but never got around to” and “I’m getting a name starting with the letter N… or it could be M…”

Now, I could almost understand it if the guest was a skilled cold reader, but it seems like all he’s doing is following Douglas Forbes’ books and courses and stumbling along when it doesn’t work, which just makes Nic’s eagerness to lap up it up that little bit more sad. This guy was like a second rate John Edward with a calculator. What ensued was a truly pathetic display by the guest, who got just about every reading that morning dead wrong and didn’t seem to know what to do about it. But no worries! Nic came to the rescue – when a call went bad he gave the PIN coder the easy out of ‘is it possible that people think they’re x but are really y?’, which he naturally jumped at like a life preserver.

When Noelene had a PIN coder on 3 Talk and a similar performance ensued, I didn’t say anything because I expect it of Noelene, dime-store Oprah that she is. But Nic is usually a lot smarter than this, so I guess I’m a little disappointed. On the basis of this week’s performance, I can only assume that he also finds fortune cookies incredibly personal and revealing, and is regularly shocked at the accuracy of his horoscope. So here’s a little more info for him, and anyone else who might be interested:

I eagerly look forward to next week, when I’m sure the KFM Breakfast team will be interviewing Danie Krugel, Mariette Theunissen, the ghost of Piet Koornhof, and someone who walks in off the street with a divining rod.


15 Responses to “KFM breakfast team: not skeptics”

  1. residentRSole Says:

    Is there a divining rod for finding corrupt politicians ? Or missing police dockets ? And filthy rich tax dodgers ? Even better, dangerous prisoners that escape from “maximum security” prisons ? And the cherry on top would be the “true killer ” of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman.

  2. […] 15, 2007 · No Comments The excellent Moonflake blog has just posted to point out that Holford has featured on the KFM breakfast show (in the Cape). All I can say that, given South […]

  3. So, Patrick Holford has arrived has he? Good luck South Africa. You’re going to need it.

  4. Come on Moonie, there are people you expect to good journalists, digging for the real story. There are people you want to expect to take bullshit with a pinch of salt, like government ministers.

    But there are some people you realise are always desperate for any material to amuse people with bad tempers, early in the morning – like breakfast show hosts. Remember this guys peers are Jeremy Mansfield, Gareth Cliff and Mark whatsisface. Not exactly bastions of insightful though* (on air at least).

  5. I think the difference is, I lost to Nic Marais in a provincial debating final when I was in high school. I expect more from people who can argue better than me!

  6. Nic has never liked me since I described him as having the perfect face for radio way back in the annals of 6000 miles.

    But then, I have never liked him. Full stop.

  7. Thanks. Enjoyed this. Glad I was emailed the link.
    couldn’t find an email address to hit you up. still, great work. I’ve never understood the crazy fringe obsession with disproving as a “quack” a guy who says things like “take vit C to avoid colds” and “drink lots of water, it’s good for you”. on the other hand, you’re right about the numerology, obviously.
    6000: I can’t say one ‘face for radio’ description really stands out from the hundreds of others (not to call your originality into question), but I don’t remember ever disliking you. I’m sure you’re wonderful.
    nic 🙂

  8. Nic – it didn’t sound like you thought I was wonderful.
    Appearances must be deceptive.

    I seem to remember that I likened you to a child in the playground. I’ll look up the post and get back to you.

    Moonflake: http://www.ballacorkish.net/6000/750.html & http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2007/11/10-awesome-gadg.html

  9. Nic: i genuinely hope that wasn’t a drive-by commenting and you come back to read this, because it is very important. Patrick Holford is not just a guy who tells people to drink a lot of water (although that can be fatal in extremes) and take vitamin C for colds (although the latter has been proven as baseless rubbish). He’s also a guy who tells people that Vitamin C is more effective at fighting HIV than AZT. We now live in, according to the UN, the country with the highest HIV prevalence in the world. If you genuinely think it’s a good idea to give local credence to someone who pushes this as an agenda, then you are putting people in danger. Sure, it’s harmless for some self-made quack (did I mention he gave himself that doctorate, and that it’s only honorary?) to be prescribing diets for middle class housefraus who want to lose a bit of weight, but do you realise he also prescribes diets to supposedly cure autistics? Diabetics? Schizophrenics? Do you know that he advises against vaccinating children based on research that was proven years ago to have been faked? The man is practicing medicine without a licence, which is actually perfectly legal in SA and the UK as long as you call yourself a “nutritionist”.

    Seriously, you may think those of us who bother to check the facts are a ‘fringe’ element, but that doesn’t mean we’re not right. Do yourself a favour and do some reading on Mr. Holford. Read what Dr. (a real one this time) Ben Goldacre over at The Guardian has to say about Holford. Take some time to peruse HolfordWatch. Then see if you still think he’s just a guy who tells people to drink water and take vitamin c for colds.

  10. moon: I’m not the drive-by type, although I do wonder if you really want a reply. I’m not sure we’ll find common ground here, especially since you’re intentionally taking it to the extreme. I also don’t want to get into an argument as devil’s advocate, because next thing you know my position’s being misconstrued too!

    Let’s be honest, though. We could, if we wanted to, read from your email that you’re saying we shouldn’t drink water (because it could kill us) or take Vitamin C (because you claim suggestions that it’ll help my immune system fend off colds are rubbish). Then I could call you a quack and start a paranoid moonflakeWatch website. I’m just not sure it’s fair, and I’m not sure – if we’re town-crying the importance of checking our facts – that we should jump to believe too much of what we read online or in the papers.

    You’ve made some claims, and the best I can do is to give you my experience of them. I’ve never seen Holford try to pass himself off as a doctor. In the front of the only two books I can find lying around at work, he’s suggested very explicitly that people with serious medical conditions contact medical doctors or nutritionists to talk to them, instead of simply following his advice. I’ve never heard or read that he has a doctorate: honorary, self-awarded or otherwise. He’s never called himself Dr Holford. When we chatted about the AZT-vs-Vit C story, he said he’d been misquoted and that he was encouraging human trials that haven’t been done – have they? Are there results? I’m sure he could be wrong, and I’m as far from a disciple as is possible.

    Frankly, I don’t really care, I certainly don’t believe that Vitamin C is more effective than AZT. At issue here is that he hasn’t, at least in my chats with him, ever claimed that. I’m absolutely behind an AZT roll-out and continue to feel that HIV/AIDS is, imho, the single most important issue facing this country. That said, I really hope you’re also reading studies about the efficacy of drugs like AZT, instead of simply being hugely impressed by guys like Ben having spent six years at med school. It wasn’t too long ago that doctors (real ones!) were pushing thalidomide for morning sickness?

    Now, you had a go about us putting him on the radio. My response to that was, and still is, that he’s saying things like Take Vitamin C (I’ll assume you don’t honestly think that’s a bad idea), drink water (ditto), eat seeds. It’s not rocket science, but it will, as far as I’m concerned, improve people’s general well-being.

    Hope that helps.

    p.s. I always feel a bit naked in these forums, since people hide their opinions behind monikers. Where/when did we debate together? 🙂

  11. nicm: Of course I want you to reply – you have every right to justify your position, common ground or not.

    As to my comment, I am being facetious about the water drinking, but I was being completely factual about the vitamin C. I am not saying you shouldn’t take vitamin C. I am saying that the research shows that megadoses of vitamin C, when taken for colds, have no more effect that normal doses of vitamin C, which is contrary to what Holford claims. I am not suggesting anyone do anything other than read the current research, familiarise themselves with the studies, and then act on that information. You shouldn’t listen to me any more than you should listen to Holford, neither of us are experts, but the difference is that I will direct you to a peer reviewed publication on PubMed to support my position, whereas Holford will suggest you buy his books.

    As to the AZT comment, I will quote Holford’s exact words and you can make up your own mind:

    “What I have said in the latest edition of my book, the New Optimum Nutrition Bible… is that ‘AZT, the first prescribable anti-HIV drug, is potentially harmful and proving less effective than vitamin C’.”

    As to the self-granted qualification, i was incorrect in calling it a ‘doctorate’, it was in fact Holford’s qualification as a nutritionist, his honourary ND, that he conferred upon himself as director of ION. Some have questioned his qualification to call himself a nutritionist based on this fact, but as I’m sure you are well aware the term ‘nutritionist’ is not legally protected and no qualifications whatsoever are required to call yourself one. So I guess it doesn’t matter whether he gave himself the diploma or not, and whether it’s honourary or not, since it’s worth exactly the same either way.

    As one of your listeners, I only ask that you research your guests thoroughly before putting them on your show and your website. You are probably one of the smartest people in entertainment today, and you have an amazing opportunity to present millions of listeners with things that are true rather than things that are popular, to change their way of thinking for the better in a truly non-random act of kindness. I’m not impressed by Ben Goldacre going to med school, I’m impressed by him backing up his opinions with verifiable facts that are publically accessible. I only wish you would be impressed by the same, more so than a charming smile and a smooth patter. If you really want to give your listeners good nutritional advice, consult a dietician. They actually have to take the Hippocratic Oath and register with the HPCSA and back up their claims with science, unlike nutritionists.

    As to who I am, I don’t give out my details here because this blog attracts nutcases. The nudity you should be used to, being famous and all 😉

  12. Nic: “That said, I really hope you’re also reading studies about the efficacy of drugs like AZT, instead of simply being hugely impressed by guys like Ben having spent six years at med school. It wasn’t too long ago that doctors (real ones!) were pushing thalidomide for morning sickness?”

    Great. The old “doctors once prescribed thalidomide too!!” argument. Meaning, AZT is just a drug that the big pharma companies are pushing on everyone through shills but is really hurting people. This shows that Nic doesn’t for a second believe that Holford is JUST “saying things like ‘Take Vitamin C'”.

    Moonflake, the problem with the smartest people we know, is that they are simply more sure they are right when they are not. The rest of us lunkheads have to rely on “science” and “studies” instead of being able to conceptualize what people like Holford are trying to get across. Some people are just smart enough to not need evidence anymore.

  13. it’s all bull crap, the only thing they all look for is money . speaking of which , why don’t they locate the adventurer billionaire who disappeared on land shortly agfter taking off in the nevada outback ,I give you one reason because they cannot and none of them can they are all snake oil doctors . realrambo at aol dot com

  14. Gadget…

    Great article, Go Gadget go…

  15. I follow your blog for a long time and should tell that your articles always prove to be of a high value and quality for readers.

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