So you might have heard a while ago there was a study that said eating chocolate can help with weight loss. Well, it doesn’t, and the “study” was a deliberate hoax.1 Here’s how it was done.

I’m in two minds about things like this. On the one hand, yes, let’s all laugh at how terrible “diet science”–especially the stuff that gets popular in magazines and online–is. On the other hand: anti-vaxxers. Once a “study” is out there, no matter how fake, no matter how many times the entire medical community renounces it, there will always be more people willing to believe the junk than not. Sure, eating chocolate with your low carb diet probably won’t cause you to get measles and die,2 but there are already a lot of people out there with disordered eating and food- and body-related pathologies that really, really don’t need junk like this in the system. Especially because, I’m willing to bet, more people read the original “study” than this har-har-fooled-you post in io9.

Also, let’s be super-real here: go look at the pictures of articles reporting on the fake paper results. What do you see?

Yeah, you know what I’m talking about, don’t you? You see women. That’s the punchline: har har vain bitches go crazy for chocolate. You ask yourself: why dieting and why chocolate? Well, this is why. Because it tells the kind of narrative about female appearance, vanity, and obsession we as a society fucking love to gloat over.

To be fair to John Bohannon (the hoaxer), he does sort of acknowledge this. But, again, it’s a lede that’s very, very buried under a lot of “har har suckers” style gloating. so… yeah.

Tl;dr science journalism is terrible, diet “science” “journalism” is worse.

  1. Which is to say, it was actually a study, and it was actually done, but it was deliberately actually done badly, so the results would be junk. []
  2. Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure measles don’t work that way. []