I was highly stimulated after reading John Sculley’s book Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple in the late 80s. Ask a question, get an answer, ask another question was the mantra of the world of knowledge navigation he foresaw.
In a sense, the internet has made this a reality. However, I don’t think even he could have predicted the extent to which the internet would democratise the world, by giving a voice to everyone with some form of electronic connection – even a mobile phone set up for Twitter.
Essentially, the Big Brother world of George Orwell’s 1984 could not happen in this world of mass broadcast. The further implication is that people within ‘niches’ are not only able to tell the world about their special interests, but they can also connect with other like-minded people.
By way of example, here’s a small selection of e-books relating to diet:
Cabbage Soup Diet 2.0 – The Ultimate Guide: the writer claims a weight loss of 10 pounds in two weeks. I’m not surprised; if cabbage soup is all that’s on the menu you’re likely to give up food entirely.
The Kremlin Diet: “Kremlin bosses secretly commissioned a group of the top doctors in Moscow to create a special dietary system for use only by the highest and most loyal officials of the party, and their wives and girlfriends…. and by loyal party members who were groomed to be the “face of the USSR” to be shown to the world.” I think they were just trying to look like the female Russian spies in Bond movies.
Scarsdale Low-Carb Diet: this one claims a weight loss of up to 30 pounds per month. Just how low are those carbs? One crumb of bread per day?
Detox Diet Secrets: My gut feel (OK, perhaps not the ideal choice of words) is that our bowels are designed as an efficient first-in, first-out system. The writers of this book splash pictures of horrible looking stuff, called Mocoid Plaque, they claim resides in our intestinal tracts, waiting to make us ill.
Celebrity Cookie Diet: Yay! Eat these cookies four to five times per day, don’t take any pills or supplements and certainly don’t exercise. You will look like a celebrity!
The 100 Calorie Diet: my first thought was “of course you’ll lose weight if you only eat 100 calories per day”. The trick here, the writers tell us, is to eat in correctly constituted 100-calorie increments. As if our stomachs have calorie counters telling our bodies to get fat if we eat a 220 calorie snack rather than a 200 calorie one.
The Alkaline Diet: the reason all kinds of horrible things happen to your body and your health is due to a pH imbalance, claim the authors. Inevitable pictures of ironing-board stomachs abound.
Bachelor Diet Method: “cook once, eat for a month” is the strapline of this diet. The author even reproduces the till slip for his monthly supermarket shop to prove how much money he’s saved. There’s no mention, though, of beer, or leftover pizza for breakfast.
The Chocolate Weight Loss Diet: here’s another eureka diet. “End obesity with chocolate” strikes me as being a ‘hair of the dog’ solution, which even offers relief from tooth decay! They go into detail on the claimed “disadvantages of exercise”. This diet appears to be all gain, and no pain (although ‘gain’ may be an unfortunate choice of words in this context).
I could go on, but I leave you with one of my favourites, The Paleo Cookbook. The author has put together a collection of recipes that are free of wheat, dairy, processed sugar and preservatives, based upon prehistoric hunter gatherer diets. “There is a reason you’ve never seen a picture of a fat caveman” says the author. Yes, no-one had cameras on their mobile phones then … duh!
Caveat emptor. The days of snake oil salesmen in the days of the Wild West spring to mind.