Julia Powell, the inspired Julia/Julia blogger (the first blog to be made into a movie), wrote in the Washington Post she was “almost 95 percent sure that Seth Roberts, author of THE SHANGRI-LA DIET: The No Hunger, Eat Anything Weight-Loss Plan (Putnam, $19.95), is a snake-oil salesman.” Almost 95%?
Recently in Japan, a group of scientists at the Japanese National Food Research Institute led by Nobuya Shirai turned their attention to snake oil . . . Shirai and his team evaluated the effects of Erabu sea-snake oil on a number of outcomes in mice, including maze-learning ability and swimming endurance. In both cases, snake oil significantly improved the ability of the mice in comparison with those fed lard. . . .The original Chinese purveyors of snake oil offered something that probably did exactly what they claimed it would do: help fellow workers relieve the pain of their labors.