Saturday, March 19, 2011

Trashing the Experts

This message was recently posted by a coach on a weight loss website:
"Hi everyone
I've been getting reports about a few of your threads here recently because they tend to trash our experts. Here's the deal: You are welcome to follow whatever program you'd like, and to share your experiences. But we have certain recommendations and guidelines we follow on this site, based on years of sound research. You don't have to agree with it, but it really creates a negative situation when a member asks a simple question about pizza dough and gets a lecture about why low carb is the way to go. As you can see from her response, that wasn't anything close to the information she was looking for.
We won't allow members to constantly challenge or talk negatively about our experts. If you can't just share an experience or talk about our staff in a respectful way, then you'll be asked to leave the site.
Any questions, let me know.

Coach Jen"

When I first saw the post on the low carb team, as I started to post a response, I decided to stop.  I'll post my controversial and dangerous thoughts here instead.
This post is still a work-in-progress, but I just wanted to be sure that people had access to it in case it is erased or modified.  This e-mail from the coach was not a message to a particular person who may or may not have crossed the line on a particular thread.  It was a great shot across the bow, and was posted to and meant to be read by an entire low-carb team.  If there was a problem with a post, a message should have been sent to that poster, not to almost 4000 other low carb fans who had nothing to do with it.  Apparently, thousands of other people needed to hear this important warning.
The coach's message was clear.  "If you disagree with our gold-standard recommendations based on years of peer-reviewed data in the gold-standard publications that have been carefully reviewed by our designated experts, we will go after you and kick you out."  While it has always been their policy to ban attack posts, now it is being made very clear that any challenges to their authority on the carbohydrate topic will be considered an attack and will not be tolerated, regardless of whether that challenge has merit based on the data.
Here's my original response:

"I think that the difficulty that some are having is that when some person goes on that board and asks a simple question about low carb, there are some regular "troll" posters who are all over it, telling people they are crazy, that they can't follow it, etc. It can be really discouraging. As far as I know, the [redacted] moderators aren't going over to their [redacted]teams leaving them warnings. And, it is kind of hard to track some of those posters down since they don't have pages and they haven't been on long. (Kind of a dead giveaway that they are trolls.)
Then again, I can certainly see the [redacted] experts' point. It's their site, and they call the shots. If people don't like that then they can go somewhere else."
Here's what else I had to say.  We all have choices.  This weight loss site is free, and we are also free to come and go as we please.  No one is holding a gun to our heads.  While it may be true that our doctor, our family, our society may be holding a gun to our heads with regard to weight loss, there are other sites and tools we can use to get to our goals.  
Honestly, I do not understand why a website that depends on people visiting and clicking on their ads would deliberately try to piss off over 20 percent of their users, so I am going to assume that it is unintentional.  If it is intentional, then it is ill-advised.  Their own poll shows that over 20 percent of the responders prefer low carb over low fat.  If they want to base their business model on attracting visitors who are interested in reaching their goals based a high carb diet, then they can fight with other sites like Weight Watchers or Dr. Oz for their share of that market.  Meanwhile, an ever-increasing group of low carb fans will gravitate towards the low carb and Paleo blogs and sites, click on their ads and buy their books instead.  If I were this weight-loss website's marketing director, I would insist that a good portion of these "expert" blogs, recipes and articles be revised so as to be more welcoming to people who have found a different way of eating to be more suitable.  From a marketing perspective, the only disastrous and dangerous aspect of the low carb diet is that the more people who succeed with it, the less interest people will have in their website.
I started this here blog a while before I started posting on it.  After I received my first letter from the coach ( ), I was concerned that I would get kicked off the site, so I started moving my posts over here more quickly.  After this incident, I am even more comfortable in my decision to wean myself off any of the trackers so I am not beholden to ANY website.  I have already moved my diet tracking onto the Dr. Oz site, and am working on trying to get rid of computer tracking altogether.
I did post information on one message board, which I removed after receiving a warning letter.  I did not post on the cited pizza thread, preferring instead to respond directly to the original poster.  (Yes, I would freeze the pizza dough!)  I trash bogus research studies, researchers and poorly-done studies, not nutritionists.  If they continue to stand behind their data, they may get knocked down from time to time as the avalanche of newer data pushes everything aside.


  1. Becky Hand should be forced to go on national television and debate you in an unscripted, unedited environment.

    When you can't intelligently defend your position, you retreat into a hole and ignore anything that goes against it.

  2. Hey!

    Just wondering, where exactly did you see "that" message on the low carb team. Been looking high and low.

    I'm also thinking of keeping my low-carb blog posts to my personal blog on blogspot.

    So. Much. Drama. Jeez...

    I wonder if the vegans get it as much as the low-carbers.

  3. I think it is on "Friday". I suspect that some of the anti-low-carb people are also getting letters since many of the newer posts are from entities that don't have sparkpages. They have probably created a throw-away troll accounts to keep up the fight.