What IS Misinformation?

One comment that wasn’t approved to be attached to my previous post “Obesity: What it is and why we care” tried to claim that trolls who prowl the FA blogs and post shaming messages of ridicule about the “Health” of fat people really DON’T care about each of our individual healths (Ahhh, honesty, how refreshing); they are just trying to prevent the spread of Misinformation of Actual Science!  I find this incredibly laughable.  While you might consider yourself a knight on a noble quest to rid the world of “misinformation”, especially the kind that might have, oh let’s say… Harmful Medical Consequences, I think you’re poking at windmills over here in the Fat-o-sphere Sir Quixote.

So what IS misinformation?

Misinformation is wrong or inaccurate information. It is distinguished from disinformation by motive – misinformation is simply erroneous, while disinformation, in contrast, is intended to mislead. (Wikipedia)

Misinformation ~ Untrue or incorrect information (Webster’s Revised Abridged Dictionary)

Misinform ~ to give false or misleading information to. (Dictionary.com Unabridged)

So to misinform would be to give false or misleading information; to pass along as fact something that is untrue or wrong.  Hmmm.  Let’s see if I can find a few examples, shall we?  OH!  Here we are:

Diets ~ Often prescribed as a “Cure-All” fix for any and everyone deemed Overweight or Obese based upon an arbitrary scale relating height to weight (BMI).  A commonly purported concept is that losing a mere “10% of your current body weight” will drastically improve your health.  This means that NO MATTER where you fall on the spectrum of weight after you lose that 10%; you will supposedly ALWAYS be able to lose a further 10% for the “Optimal” in health benefits.  It is a Never Win situation.  And let’s not forget that Diets DON’T work to make you keep off weight.

Diets are Misinformation.  Their propagation is misleading and wrong.  Diets are prescribed based on a stereotypical and ERRONEOUS belief that fat is only a result of overeating and sloth; that anyone possessing any and every amount of fat over the arbitrarily set BMI limits is a lazy food-hoarder.  However, Genes play a FAR LARGER (pun intended) role in the shape and size of our bodies than any amount of eating and inactivity.  Actual Science is finding Over and Over that studies are showing correlations between better health and NOT DIETING.  Though Correlation does not equal Causation, these studies are not simply far-flung or isolated incidents.  And yet the media continues to promote diets.  Hmm.  Actually, wait.  MAYBE you’re right.  This isn’t Misinformation; it is Disinformation, information intended to mislead for the purpose of financial gain to those who stand to benefit from an entire society of people who believe that weight loss, by any means, will somehow Improve Health.  Which brings us to Weight Loss Surgeries…

WLS ~ “Weight-loss (bariatric) surgery changes the anatomy of your digestive system to limit the amount of food you can eat and digest.”  This invasive surgery ALTERS YOUR INTERNAL ORGANS in order to reduce the amount of food you are able to eat without vomiting.  But, this is only seen as a “good health option” because people seem to believe, STILL, that fat is a result of lazy food-hoarders stuffing over-copious amounts of “bad foods” down their gullets.  (See “Diets” above)  This is Misinformation.  Fat is NOT solely a result of overeating.  Crafting a surgery that addresses a stereotyped belief does NOT improve the health of a population.

“The most severe complications that may occur with bariatric surgery include intestinal leakage, internal bleeding, pulmonary embolus, and, although very rare, death.”  Although, by “Very Rare” we do mean a 1% nationwide (US) risk of death after having this surgery.  Which is not just a “small risk”.  Even having this life-changing, drastic surgery, is no guarantee that you will lose the weight.  So if this surgery is actually intended to Improve Health, the Actual Science of the results afterwards, based on studies done on actual patients, shows no long-term health benefits for such a large and immediate set of health risks.  But, yet again.  Perhaps this is only Disinformation and not Misinformation.

I think I’d rather be Misinformed than Dis-informed at this point.  At least if I am Misinformed I can read more studies and discuss the most recent Actual Science and adjust my ideas and perhaps even my opinions.  If I am Dis-informed then I have been LIED to and who wants that?

Perhaps our noble Sir Quixote should turn about and point his sword of accusation back where he came from and first analyze the Misinformation or worse, Disinformation, that he is trying to pass off as Actual Science, hmmm?

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3 thoughts on “What IS Misinformation?

  1. What it always comes down to is that apart from actual trolls, most of our opponents have exactly the same goals as we do … which is both amusing and scary.

    Example: When we advise our readers to quit dieting, we only want to help, but many people out there would think that we are spreading misinformation. When other bloggers post diet advice because it has worked for them, they are only trying to help, too. In this case we are the ones who think they’re spreading misinformation.

    That makes any sensible discussion nearly impossible.

  2. Tiana I agree, it does make things difficult. It is hard to separate “But I’M RIGHT” discourse from “Well, let’s discuss these studies and ideas” and get to a point where we’re all talking WITH each other instead of TO each other. I do hope that someday, as more and more people are willing to question study results and question “Big Scare” media topics, we will all be able to talk together from both sides. :) Maybe a lofty goal but it is possible.

  3. Pingback: Correlation is not causation – what does that mean? « Zaftig Zeitgeist

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