Book Review: Why DIRTY GENES sucks.
Rating 1*out of 5* possible.
It’s going to be difficult for me to give much positive input on this book. I disliked it in several different ways on a few different levels.
Personally, I find 1* ratings often much less useful than 2* or 3* ratings. Usually because the reviewer issuing them often has a bias that I can’t share or empathise with. But here a 1* rating seems to me mandatory, unusual because so many other reviewers seem to have a high opinion of this book. It consistently receives high ratings on both Amazon and GoodReads.
The author is a Holistic Practitioner and I have nothing against Holistic Medicine, as long as the techniques available work as well or better than a placebo (the same requirement that I have for mainstream medicine). I have found some some techniques such as acupuncture and massage very useful.
Don’t misunderstand me, the author gives some astute and sound nutritional advice. But this advice could similarly been dispensed in a more straightforward and less pseudo-scientific manner than that found in this book.. A simpler, less dogmatic treatment treatment might have generated more trust, less scepticism than the sort of totalitarian-health-utopia protocol that DIRTY GENES promotes.
The secret of a good con artist, a professional classification that most self-styled experts, snake-oil salesmen and gurus tend to fall into, is that much of what he says will seem to ring true. A good con will take off and really sprout wings once the practitioner has gotten his mark to trust him enough to cause a suspension of disbelief. If you look and talk the part of an expert, then you take on much the same opinion of the emperor’s new clothes as the emperor himself has of his own costume.
As my 12 year old daughter once plainly scolded me years ago (with obvious mixed feelings): “Dad, stop pretending. If people want to believe in Santa Clause, we should let them because it’s nice to believe in him. But that doesn’t make him true.”
Somewhere at the beginning of DIRTY GENES, the author offers the advice that it’s not necessary to test for the genes that he is covering, for expediency’s sake, you can just follow his checklist to determine whether or not you possess them. He comes up with the simplistic concept of a “dirty gene”, one which can be scrubbed and cleaned up using his protocol. This obvious attempt at marketing his point of view by dumbing down the rather complex subjects of genetics, epigenetics and nutrigenomics possibly makes sense as far as making it more comprehensible to a standard 12 year old reader is concerned. He is merely being dogmatic, creating a false sense of utility and further obscuring the whole fascinating and powerful topic by doing this for the rest of us.
Far from empowering his readers and providing them the buoyant hope that he/she has the ability to fix his or her less than optimal DNA strands (should he or she find them annoying or bothersome), he employs a rather transparent set of psychological tricks compounded with the latest scientific sounding catchword phrases to create an alternative reality that sounds and seems intuitively plausible, without the advantage of being rock-solid or scientifically proven.
In my opinion, it just doesn’t work. Not because it isn’t possible, as I think that the subject itself has fantastic potential to improve the lot of most living creatures on this planet. The concept inherent in DIRTY GENES doesn’t work simply in the same way that the emperor’s nice new suit of clothes didn’t.