But, as I never tire of pointing out, he repeatedly gets basic facts wrong and will take any junk statistic on trust if it furthers his vendetta against Ronald McDonald (and, more worrying, against physical exercise).
Today, he directed his Twitter followers towards the website of one Dr Joseph Mercola, which promises us "the truth about fast food".
The "article" in question begins thusly...
Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at fast food restaurants? Fast-food insiders (i.e. former employees) reveal a slew of nasty secrets that may make you think twice about ever eating in one of these restaurants again …
I like the idea that anyone who has ever worked at a burger joint is a "fast-food insider". This sets the bar rather low for the reliability of the information to come (it's not as if burger chains ever have any disgruntled, stupid or deceitful staff, obviously).
And the bar needs to be set low, for what follows is a load of tommy rot.
Most Fast Food is a Mixture of Chemicals, Sugar, Flavoring and Salt
It is, in short, two-a-penny tree-hugging anti-science from a rinky-dink website written by an alternative medicine chancer who happens to sell various "natural remedies" and "dietary supplements". It would not be considered a reliable source by a stoned teenager, let alone Wikipedia.
Business Week says that Dr Mercola's huckstering comes from "an unfortunate tradition made famous by the old-time snake oil salesmen of the 1800s". He has been thrice warned by the FDA for making false claims and violating federal law. He thinks microwaves are dangerous because they supposedly alter the chemistry of food. He doesn't think HIV causes AIDS. Instead he thinks that "the severe, acute psychological stress of being diagnosed "HIV Positive" is quickly transformed into a severe, chronic psychological stress of living with a prediction of a horrifying decline that could start at any time. This causes a dangerous suppression of the immune system."
We've gone beyond 'free thinker' and 'maverick' here, I think, and entered 'fruitcake' and 'dangerous crank' territory.
I don't suggest that Aseem Malhotra necessarily shares any of Mercola's other wacky beliefs, but I do find it troubling that a man who is presented by Newsnight as an expert—a man of science, no less—could go to the website of a notorious quack and not smell the bullshit, let alone laud it as "the truth". It's no surprise that the Guardian's go-to man comes out with the whoppers he does if he gets his facts from this sort of lazy, indiscriminate googling, but if I were in public health I would be muzzling this guy because he's an ill-informed accident waiting to happen.