DAILY DIARY – DEBUNK THE JUNK, APRIL 25, 2004
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“Clever liars give details, but the cleverest don’t.” – Anonymous
Day 25: Fructose? I’ve been using it for years and am not inclined to blame any health problems I may have on this one factor. One of the most annoying things about the Super Size Me site is the lack of any cites or information regarding a list of so-called facts presented in support of the agenda of the film. As a long time researcher who respects the tradition of noting sources for information, I was aghast at the complete absence of source materials. People, if you see a list such as the one below, it should raise a big red flag and raise your critical thinking skills antenna, I’ve made a few notations that might give some insight into why a “fact” may skew a certain way.
From the Super Size Me Site:
Each day, 1 in 4 Americans visits a fast food restaurant. So what? Lots of Americans and people all over the world “eat out” every day.
In 1972, we spent 3 billion a year on fast food—today we spend more than 110 billion. One simple explanation could be that there are a lot more of us and many more McDonald’s restaurants today than in 1972.
Sixty percent of all Americans are either overweight or obese. This figure is based on the BMI chart that measures nothing more than height and weight to determine category people fall into. This chart is so skewed that the 60 percent figure above includes people like Dr. Phil and Tom Cruise.
McDonald’s feeds more than 46 million people a day—more than the entire population of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Spain. Fortunately, these people have food to eat; there are others who have very little to eat.
Minus some sort of context or citation, these “facts” become merely emotional arguments against the fast food industry. Without any citation, I have no way of determining the validity of any of the above statements. If I wanted to go to a lot of trouble, I could try to disseminate where these figures came from, but why bother? The film is skewed, I have no doubt that the list is skewed as well and there is nothing more to learn from it other than as an example of junk science in action.
Another example of this trend towards skewing facts in order to make a point in a documentary can be found in the Oscar winning film Bowling for Columbine, some excellent research work turned up many discrepancies with the numbers presented as facts in support of Mr. Moore’s argument for gun control. I’ve mentioned this site before but I highly recommend a look at http://www.hardylaw.net/Truth_About_Bowling.html for an in-depth exploration of this disturbing trend in manipulating information in order to make a more controversial film. A documentary is supposed to be a reflection of real life not manipulated to become nothing more than a piece of propaganda for a particular agenda. Mr. Spurlock may have been able to pull the wool over the eyes of the judges at Sundance and some left leaning movie critics, but there are far more of us who recognize this film for what it really is and are disappointed at the willingness of people who should know better to jump on the blame game bandwagon.