The “silly food fad” phenomenon is, for me, a fascinating case study in the laws of unintended consequences. Media organizations depend on grabbing eyeballs in order to boost ad and/or subscription revenues. How better than to use sensation, because everyone loves to stand and gawp at something sensational — that’s why people stare at the carnage after a road traffic accident, or film someone’s heart attack on their phones.

Of course PR companies know this perfectly well, so they exploit our simple-mindedness quite ruthlessly, as your examples demonstrate. Food companies know that not even one person in a thousand will stop to evaluate the plausibility of their bogus claims, and even if they were to lose one in a thousand that’s still a great return for a sensationalist headline that generates subsequent purchases by the credulous. Food companies leverage the need for sensation inherent in the mass media, thus they take full advantage of a cheap way to amplify falsehoods across the general population.

Glossy magazines are among the worst culprits, having no interest in the actual well-being of their readers but merely driving towards that month’s sales targets. As the general population is unlikely ever to become less gullible or better informed, perhaps the correct reaction isn’t to attempt to educate people (few welcome this) but simply to utilize one’s knowledge of human nature to… create and market a range of miracle food products oneself? After all, money is everything and who cares how many get hurt in the process. It’s The American Way.

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