It’s that time of year when a lot of folks’ thoughts turn to detoxing. It’s also the time when a lot of other folks’ thoughts turn to rubbishing the idea that detoxing could ever be anything beneficial. As a some-time scientist, logical positivist, gleeful-debunker and proud skeptic, you might hazard a guess at where I stand on this. No. I’m firmly on the side of the detoxers.
My anti-anti-detox-bullshit detectors went into overload yesterday when I saw a friend share a Cosmopolitan (I know, I know, fish: barrel) article entitled Why Your Detox Is Bullsh*t. I’ll happily admit I didn’t read the article – life’s too fucking short. My immediate response to the headline was:
- You don’t know me
- You don’t know my detox
- Your headline is bullshit
- What the fuck is wrong with your “i” key? The word is “bullshit”? Or is the term you are looking for “Bullsh[giggle, giggle, tee hee hee, this is a really rude word, I can’t quite bring myself to write it out in full, oh no, oh no, I’m such a bad person, I’m really going to burn in hell for this, even though I know there’s scientific proof that hell doesn’t exist]t”? You pathetic, sad, hopeless fucking fuck of a fuckunt.
“But Dan, but Dan, it’s scientifically proven that detoxes don’t work”.
I’ll break that down in a moment. But first, if you ever use the term “scientifically proven” or “scientific proof” on me again, I will ram Karl Popper down your throat so hard you will be shitting out of Australia.
The heart of most anti-detox arguments I’ve heard is the liver. “Dan, we already have something in our bodies which removes toxins, it’s called the liver”. Yes. Well done.
Now, what’s the first thing that every detox tells you to cut out? Alcohol. Do you think your miraculous liver would prefer it if you take a month’s break from alcohol? Or drink alcohol every night? “Dan! Drink alcohol every night man! Liiiii-verrrr! It’s detoxing you, dude. All. Of. The. Time”.
“Anyway”, you say, “what you’re talking about there is not detoxing. It’s not-toxing-in-the-first-place”. Yes. And that is what many other people mean when they say “detoxing”.
And this is really my point. “What people mean when they say detoxing”. Somebody criticised me recently for saying that I plan to detox by cutting out sugar, caffeine, and dairy products, and reducing my intake of grains and pulses… “whoah, whoah, whoah, whoah, whoaaaah Duuuuuude, do you even know what a toxin is? How you gonna reduce toxins by cutting out stuff that in’t even toxic, you sheee-itfer brains?”
Read Wittgenstein. Read Alice in Wonderland. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean. You cunt”. Yes, it’s important for scientists to be able to define a term like toxin, and to use it in a precisely controlled manner to include and exclude things based on whether they are, or they aren’t. And that’s how words work in clearly defined interest groups of technically-minded people. But that’s not how words work period. When your friend comes running to you in tears and says “oh SciBabe, I’m in a toxic relationship”, do you turn around to him and say “and what exactly are these small molecules, peptides, or proteins that are capable of causing disease on contact with or absorption by body tissues which have entered your relationship? You science-unknowing DIVVAT.” No. You say “Babe, that’s terrible, how can I help?”
Words mean exactly what people mean them to mean.
Detox means “adapt my diet and behaviour in such as a way as to make me healthier. Maybe not forever. Maybe not even for any longer than my detox. But at least for a short period of morehealthierness”.
“Make. You. Healthier? Prove it. Where’s the proof?”
Dude, I’ve done experiments. Exactly the best kind of experiments. Experiments where n=1 and 1=the most important being in my ego sum universe. Experiments where the placebo effect is totally spaghettied up in the expected outcome, and I don’t give a fucking tootledy-doot, because if placebo effect is what you’re selling – hey! – hit me with as much of it as you’ve got, because to my mind it feels exactly as fucking good as the real thing. THE REAL! FUCKING! THING, BABY!
You’re making a category error. You’re trying to squeeze my “this is me and everything I have an love and what makes my life feel better” in with your “this is a toxin. This is not a toxin. This does not remove toxins, because: evidence.”
But, above and beyond all of that, you think you are teaching me science. You are actually using your scattering of scientisms to be a more effective grammar Nazi. You are. You are. I can see you, lying there in the kerb. Mumbling “fewer-fewer-fewer-fewer-fewer-fewer-DETOX-DOES-NOT-MEAN-THE-SAME-THING-AS-MAKING-YOU-FEEL-BETTER. DETOX-DOES-NOT-MEAN-THE-SAME-THING-AS-MAKING-YOU-FEEL-BETTER.”
My one small concession: yes, I gather there are shitwipes out there getting rich off assorted snake-oils, branded with the word “DETOX” (I tend not to notice them, because I stay out of the gutter). There are also plenty of damaged and confused people who fall for these tonguevipers’ shitschtick every time, people who I feel sorry for but you prefer to condescend to.
If you’re really bothered about stopping your friends from buying placebos, all you have to do is preach “beware of charlatans bearing expensive panaceas of dubious provenance”. What probably won’t win you any converts is shouting at every passerby “DETOX IS NOT A WORD. DETOX IS NOT A WORD”.
Now leave me alone and let me get back to my detox. You sad, sad, sad, sad, sad trollwunt.