I've just finished reading Lore of Nutrition, the book by Professor Tim Noakes and Marika Sboros about the conduct of the Health Professionals Council of South Africa, his colleagues in the Medical Faculty at the University of Cape Town, a number of medical specialists, the Association for Dietetics in South Africa, and numerous individuals. It is difficult to decide which of these was the worst and most deserving of the adjectives that kept entering my mind: vile, envious, egregious, greedy, prejudiced, disloyal, manipulative are but a few.
As an academic, although nowhere remotely near the eminence of Noakes, who is in a class of his own, I was physically ill to read how his colleagues shafted him and publicly held him out to dry. This conduct was utterly disgraceful. Ad hominem attacks are the refuge of people who fear to debate principles.
Noakes' discussion and justification for his Damascene moment in realising and having the courage to admit that he had been wrong about diet for most of his professional career is a sometimes heavy read for a lay person, but well worthwhile. Whether or not his conclusions are correct, based as they on extensive research, is not for me to say. What I do say, and I shout this from the rooftops, is that when a colleague presents a revolutionary view, you sit down with him or her and engage in reasoned debate. You may agree with the findings, or not, but you discuss the matter rationally and on the basis of the evidence on both sides.
People lied, suppressed information, ganged up, scorned and crucified a scientist, most of them not scientifically worthy to carry his books.
The HPCSA deserves particular opprobrium for the way it departed from its mandate and did everything in its power to achieve its predetermined decision. It says much for the redoubtable Advocate Joan Adams, chair of the hearing, that justice triumphed in the end.
My scorn for the petty, mean minded, devious members of ADSA is boundless. Fortunately, and perhaps this is partly what was driving them, they will be long forgotten, and whatever books some of them may have written have disappeared even from church bazaars, while people are still referring to Noakes' books.
Marika Sboros' description of the hearing itself reads like a thriller. Brilliantly written, she displays the ability and clarity of the seasoned journalist that she is.
As I write this, Noakes is enduring an appeal against the decision as the pygmies try again. I'm not sure of the grounds on which the appeal is being heard, but time will tell.
What I am sure of is that Lore of Nutrition is essential reading.