Criticism: Take it with a Shot of Xango
As the Mangosteen penetrates the North American supplement market with astonishing rapidity, criticism is inevitable. We shouldn’t be shocked by it. We do not even need to be distressed by it. It is simply the natural response to a new arrival which either threatens established interests or draws public attention. Mangosteen is doing both of the above.
When established interests such as other supplements are threatened, we can expect severe, even vicious, criticism as territorial instincts are aroused. This criticism will be largely an exercise in polemics with extravagant comparisons and derogatory comments made without any serious appeal to facts or objective data. While nettlesome, I suggest we simply ignore such criticism since responding to it or refuting it only stirs up more enmity. Serious consumers can easily see that the emotional rhetoric used by this type of critic lacks objectivity and substance. No one takes their folks seriously.
A second type of criticism made by established commentators in the medical field deserves more attention and comment, however. This morning I heard Dr. Rosenthal, the Fox News health consultant, respond to a question asking about the potential health benefits of Mangosteen. Recently, Dr. Andrew Weil answered a similar question and Dr. Ralph Moss dedicated a whole issue of his newsletter to the subject of Xango.
These men, viewed as medical experts, have each, in my opinion, over the years have provided valuable service by rendering complex medical issues understandable to the interested lay public. For example, Dr. Moss’s treatment of the acrimonious debate about the use of antioxidant supplements during chemotherapy is, in my opinion, the most balanced exposition available of both sides of the question. Dr. Weil has acquired a well-deserved reputation as a champion of nutritional concerns within standard medicine and is a pioneer in the field of CAM. Dr. Rosenthal has a pleasant and engaging manner and usually discusses medical topics of current interest both knowledgeably and accurately. He is, of course, as are all the others as well, at the mercy of his researchers when he holds forth on a topic with which he isn’t familiar.
As we examine what these experts and others like them say, it is important to realize that these commentators possess biases which influence their positions and utterances.
When they are aware of and admit their unfavorable biases openly, as does Dr. Weil each time he comments on the network marketing model, his audience can evaluate what he says taking his biases into account. However, when the biases are not admitted but obviously present, as is the case with Dr. Ralph Moss’s commentary on Xango, the reader must look carefully to detect the prejudices present and weigh Dr. Moss’s comments accordingly. In Dr. Rosenthal’s two minute treatment of the Mangosteen, he admitted hat he was unaware of any scientific investigation of the fruit and made clear that his bias (a common bias among medical doctors) is skeptical of any purported remedy which addresses more than simply one complaint.
Medical doctors use drugs. Drugs are intended to do only one thing in the body. Not surprisingly, doctors are skeptical of substances which fall outside this single-dimensional model that underpins their practice of medicine.
I want to make it clear before I go much further that in this editorial I am not apologizing for the doctors and the criticisms they level. They have all made elemental mistakes which require rectification.
Intellectual honesty matters when a well-known expert expresses an opinion. Doctors, perhaps more than other experts, have a difficult time admitting ignorance but, inevitably, when they express opinions based on inadequate information that ignorance becomes clearly evident. In my opinion, it is simply poor form for medical experts to comment at all when they haven’t got the facts.
For example, Dr. Weil must have read nothing at all about the Mangosteen because he literally made no other comment except to admit his bias against Xango’s marketing model and then to dismiss the product as “expensive fruit juice.” This is appropriately called ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater.’ Dr. Rosenthal did the same thing after having made his bias clear regarding multi-function products. They would both have provided better service to their listeners by simply saying they knew nothing substantial about the product rather than expressing their biases. Pretending to know something when you don’t and then holding forth to a trusting public as if you did know enough to express an informed opinion is intellectually dishonest. These gentlemen owe their public an apology. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for one because this type of deceitful misdemeanor goes on all the time in health commentator circles. Frankly stated, being an expert in some areas doesn’t make you an expert in all areas.
Dr. Moss’s piece merits harsher criticism than does what Dr. Weil and Dr. Rosenthal said because he doesn’t admit his biases openly and he also pretends to know more about Xango than either of the others. As well, Dr. Moss makes his living as an expert. His expertise is his ‘claim to fame,’ so to speak, and he therefore has a greater responsibility to research his commentaries. More responsibility, in my opinion, than do the other two experts, who are practicing physicians but do not make the same implicit or explicit claims to being a ‘final’ expert whose opinions represent the best advice available. Finally, Dr. Moss is deceitful when he presents himself as a friendly critic. He isn’t friendly at all and it is demeaning to his readers, who may use Mangosteen, to pretend he is anything other than a blunt naysayer when it comes to Mangosteen.
Dr. Moss exhibits numerous biases which are not openly admitted in his diatribe against Xango:
- He believes drugs are superior to natural products.
- He believes the network marketing sector of the Natural Products Industry is morally corrupt.
- He believes any expert who doesn’t share his opinions is benighted.
- He appears to believe that when he thinks he knows enough about a subject, his opinion is sufficient evidence that he does.
There are biases of major importance, and if the inaccuracies in his research weren’t so glaring they would be enough by themselves to disqualify what he has said. However, the inaccuracies also need to be pointed out because they are multiple and basic. They disqualify his research as valid.
- He errs in concluding that the website he assessed and comments on was the Xango corporation’s website. How basic is that as an error?
- He literally misquotes me. The citations aren’t correct.
- He states as facts erroneous information about Xango executives.
- He read on article written by a botanist about the fruit and decided he had read enough. He ignored 50 other articles.
Essentially, all three of these commentators took aim at a target, the Mangosteen or Xango, took their shot, and never came close to a hit. In other words, we still haven’t read or heard anything cogent or informed as criticism of Xango and/or the mangosteen.
I repeat what I believe to be true about the Mangosteen: “It will be bigger than Aloe Vera.” When it is, these gentlemen and any other health experts will have complementary things to say about it.
I know that the Mangosteen cannot address all ills. I know that it will not resolve all health concerns but it is a worthwhile supplement with versatility and promise. To criticize it without adequate examination is simply bad reporting on the part of these three experts who don’t habitually slough off important health news as insignificant but who did precisely that in the case of Mangosteen.