Tonight, however, was an occasion when I attended a seminar on healthy living, and my dilemma involved the fact that the speaker, in her zeal, provided misinformation, personal beliefs, and outright nonsense to the audience.
Perhaps a few samples of the drivel being passed off by the speaker as "facts" might help readers understand my concerns:
1. "Aspartame turns into formaldehyde" - outright falsehood. This urban legend thoroughly debunked at Snopes.com.
2. "One in three American children has diabetes" - actually, seven percent of the US population has diabetes, although childhood obesity is on the rise.
3. "God had designed a healthy diet for man, but now man has violated God's natural law by putting chemicals in food" - Whoa! There are plenty of Old and New Testament verses dealing with diet, but I do not recall the Bible telling us not to modify food that must be stored.
4. "When we put the right food in our bodies, we will have no need to take prescriptions again" - WHAT? She did NOT just suggest that the physicians of these good people attending are misguided, and people should chuck the hypertension meds for blueberry extract, did she?
On and on, ad nauseum.
Now, I am not a physician, but I am someone who has spent a great deal of time studying epidemiology, I consider myself to have a knowledge of health issues at least a few notches above the average layman, not to mention that some of the claims being made could be refuted by anyone with an A in ninth-grade biology.
So I sat for a few minutes listening to this tripe, weighing the value of calling out this misinformed (but well-intentioned) food zealot versus causing a ruckus at an event that was more social than educational. All of a sudden, a well-spoken woman in the back hit her boiling point before me.
"Excuse me," she said, very politely. "Are you a registered nurse, or a licensed dietician? If not, than I suggest that people take up these issues with their medical providers."
Amen, sister. Now the floodgates opened, and people began to pick apart the specious claims of the presenter. While more than half of the crowd continued to act like sheep, writing down her lecture as though it were dietary Gospel, at least rational skepticism finally entered the discussion.
And, because I waited an extra few minutes, someone with greater diplomacy than I broke the ice, instead of me entering full-bore debate mode, shredding the incompetent speaker but alienating the rest of the crowd.