Who the hell is Gillian McKeith?

This lady. You know, the ‘nutritionist’ who analyses poo, and creates gravestones out of the amount of chocolate her prey supposedly eats, and similarly awful things:

This kind of behaviour on TV prompted scepticism in the science blogosphere, which promptly got on the case and discovered that her PhD, famously, is from an institution which is also happy to give an accredited qualification to a dead cat. Pretty sure you wouldn’t catch Warwick doing that kind of thing (although I can attest they will give pretty much anyone an English degree). She was subsequently taken to the ASA and had to drop the title of ‘Doctor’ from her show. And her books. It’s not that she hadn’t written a thesis. It’s just…more of a mockery of a thesis.

Why has this come up again?

She’s actually been on Twitter for a while, judging by her 1000+ tweets, but it seems like the science community only took note this morning (see the Guardian science man Adam Rutherford’s response). Presumably having noticed a Google Alerts/done a search for her own name – McKeith attacked one Bad Science reader Rachel Moody for this. Which then prompted this. And this and this and this. There are several things wrong with McKeith’s @ replies. This is a quick list:

  1. Oh Lord. Is she so arrogant she monitors the entire web/Twitterverse for mentions of herself? Presumably to tackle legal threats. Not like it works anyway. Read the Goldacre post I referred to above.
  2. I shouldn’t have bothered posing the above point as a question. I just looked at some of McKeith’s subsequent tweets. Viz: CLOSER MAGAZINE just gave a great book review on my new book, Women’s Health. It is truly a great book!!!. May I refer you to Terry Pratchett’s law of multiple exclamation marks.
  3. That was one tweet from Rachel Moody commenting on McKeith’s PhD. How does that morph into ‘anti-American bigotry‘?
  4. Speaking of legal threats, isn’t this, um, potentially libellous to Ben Goldacre?

You can also read Rachel’s plea for support on the Bad Science forums. Cue outrage across the science blogosphere – which can, admittedly, be a giant echo chamber but in this case the approach was justified.

Despite being active across various social media networks (across which she has, astonishingly, remained unscathed. Or she deletes negative comments, I don’t know), McKeith has declined to comment on the more recent aspersions being cast on her qualifications.

Maybe it’s time constraints. But then again, she seems to have found the time to block Goldacre.

Update: 13th July

Gillian McKeith (still failing to understand how social media works) has now deleted all of her semi-abusive tweets. Luckily, Ben Goldacre screengrabbed her tweets here yesterday, so scroll down to see the deleted tweets.