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Wait, what if idiocy is blood-borne?

Larry Moran is proudly Canadian, so this must have hurt a little bit: Canadian Blood Services is advertising with a load of codswallop about your blood type. This is complete nonsense:

  1. Type A: So, you’re an A. You already know that having type A blood suggests that you are reliable, a team player and may benefit from a vegetarian diet*. Did you also know that anthropologists believe that type A blood originated in Asia or the middle east between 25,000 and 15,000 BC?

  2. Type B: So, you’re a B. You already know that having type B blood suggests that you are independent, a self-starter and may benefit from a wholesome well-balanced diet*. Did you also know that anthropologists believe that type B blood appeared between 15,000 and 10,000 BC in the Himalayas?

  3. Type AB: So, you’re an AB. You already know that having type AB blood suggests that you are organized, friendly and may enjoy a vegetarian or wholesome well-balanced diet*. Did you also know that anthropologists believe that type AB blood did not originate until 900-1000 years ago and came into existence when eastern Mongolian invaders overran the last of European civilization?

  4. Type O: So, you’re an O. You already know that having type O blood suggests that you might be competitive, goal oriented and a real meat eater*. Did you also know that anthropologists believe that type O is the oldest and most common blood type, originating in Southern Africa?

Notice the personality descriptions are vague and always positive: this is classic woo technique. Forget your blood type, just read the descriptions, and if you’re willing to go along, they’ll always fit you. This is the same trick astrologers use, formulating anemic, non-specific ‘predictions’ that the gullible reader can retrofit to their own situation.

But the claims about the origins of these blood types are simply lies! They aren’t even consistent: how can you claim A and B arose over 10,000 years ago, but that the heterozygote AB never occurred until 1000 years ago? Since the ABO blood types are present in other apes, like chimpanzees, it’s obvious that claims of recent origin are bogus. Also, as Larry points out, type O is the null allele — it’s caused by a non-functional transferase enzyme. It’s pretty damned unlikely that it is the oldest type.

The Canadian site does list their sources: they include a weird Japanese blood type cult and a pop diet book from a naturopathic quack. So here’s an organization that offers important medical services, and they are peddling woo of the rankest, stupidest kind. I know that blood from morons is just as good as blood from geniuses, but really…why would you want to miseducate your clients?

(Also on Sb)

Comments

  1. Carlie says

    You already know that having type AB blood suggests that you are organized, friendly and may enjoy a vegetarian or wholesome well-balanced diet*.

    Huh. And here I thought that having type AB blood meant that a person with type A blood and a person with type B blood made a baby together and donated their A and B alleles. Silly me!

  2. SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu says

    Ah. I’ve seen that “Eat Right for your Type” book around a lot, and have often wondered about its claims. Thanks for clearing up the nonsense.

  3. says

    you might be competitive, goal oriented and a real meat eater*.

    Well they certainly got me…totally wrong! Gee, what a surprise. :eyeroll:

    I’m also pretty sure if I was a “real meat eater” I wouldn’t be dealing with this pesky anemia problem.

    My last hospital visit, while waiting for my cat scan, the TV in the waiting room was on and obnoxiously loud, so it was difficult to ignore. It was playing a panel show with a variety of doctors and one of the things they discussed was the ‘blood type diet’. They thoroughly debunked it.

  4. Miki Z says

    I’ve been asked my blood type a few times here in Japan, but not quite as often as I’ve been asked my ‘sign’ when in the U.S.; the local blood bank doesn’t offer any advice on what blood type means for personality, though — they just do a standard screening for donators.

  5. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    That little * alongside silly diet suggestions leads to a disclaimer:

    * The What’s Your Type? program is a recruitment program with information provided for the participants’ enjoyment. You should seek medical supervision for all matters regarding your health.

    I’m sure Canadians are feeling comforted by the fact that a medical organization that support “information provided for participants’ enjoyment” then refers them back to real medical institutions for actual information. As in factual information instead of made up bullshit.

  6. matthew says

    Now you’ve gone too far, PZ. The blood type descriptions certainly are vague, but it’s just wrong to call them “anemic”.

  7. David Marjanović, OM says

    Japan has had blood-type woo for years now. It’s like astrology in the West, in that your blood type is supposed to determine every detail of your personality.

    when eastern Mongolian invaders overran the last of European civilization

    WTF!

    That never happened. The Mongols didn’t get farther west than modern Poland.

    And they didn’t reach Europe “900[ – ]1000 years ago”, but less than 800 years ago, in the 13th century. Why would anyone get such a basic fact wrong instead of looking it the fuck up?

  8. Tim DeLaney says

    I wonder just how this particular meme was born. Did a modern day L. Ron Hubbard make it up for financial gain? Was it spawned by some hack trying to break out of writer’s block? Did some well-meaning moron misinterpret some genuine scientific data?

    I think it would make a fascinating case study in memetics. Mind you, I wouldn’t waste my own time trying to track it down. It’s a meme that seems more or less harmless, except for dubious dietary advice.

  9. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Why would anyone get such a basic fact wrong instead of looking it the fuck up?

    David, You already know the answer to this.

  10. Ben says

    This is especially weird — “may benefit from a vegetarian diet” — since EVERYONE benefits from a vegetarian diet, directly or indirectly.

  11. Michael Zeora says

    Heck, Blood types now a days are not just ABO anyways… most still “fit” into the ABO system, but the international standard has around 30+ going right now. Although they recognise over 200 types (so far) the top 30 most common make up around 96% of the population.

    Don’t worry those who have a rare blood type – O neg is still works in your system.

    I am not a hematologist, I just play one on TV… (kidding)

  12. Rob says

    I’m sure it would be much nicer here in Europe if we still had some civilisation around.

    Now, where’s my pony gone, I have a game of Buzkashi arranged.

  13. Kurt1 says

    Is there a form anywhere with questions to determine my blood type? Screw blood testing, just answer a few questions!

  14. Miki Z says

    Why would anyone get such a basic fact wrong instead of looking it the fuck up?

    The author probably has type B blood. This makes for impetuousness and a lack of care in fact-checking. I note your use of ‘fuck’ — anger problems? Must be type O! Maybe a fire sign as well, such as an Aries?

  15. Quodlibet says

    1.Type A: So, you’re an A. You already know that having type A blood suggests that you are reliable…

    2.Type B: So, you’re a B. You already know that having type B blood suggests …

    This is too much like

    1. Color 1: So, your skin is Color 1. You know that having Color 1 skin suggests that you are [list of supposed personality traits, diet preferences, etc.]

    2. Color 2…

    I’m uncomfortable whenever people try to link physical attributes with personality traits, etc.

  16. says

    I see that the ‘Canadian site’ link contains an email for questions about this.

    Perhaps some of the Canadians here, whose business it is rather more than the rest of us, might consider using it.

  17. donald says

    I blame the Conservatives for this or perhaps this is just some lame attempt by Canadian Blood Services to get people to donate blood. It has always been an uphill battle here.

    Thanks PZ, glad to see that your BS detector is zeroed right in!

  18. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    … and a pop diet book from a naturopathic quack.

    Oh for fucks sake. Mr Darkheart’s entire fucking family buys into this bullshit. To wit: My sister-in-law won’t give her three year old daughter milk because it’s “not right for her type”.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that since I’m O neg, I shouldn’t eat any wheat products and that I will feel better if I cut it out of my diet. Except 1) I feel perfectly fine, thanks and 2) Great job for using not so subtle code words to call me fat. No, really, I totes appreciate it!

    Gah! I could go on for pages about this shit. Thankfully, the in-laws have lightened up a bit– after I was asked to make a (get this) dairy-free and wheat-free cheesecake for a family get-together, I patiently explained to everyone that, no, I won’t make crazy substitutions for them and if they don’t like it, tough.

  19. HappyHead says

    What I’ve heard about the origin of the Blood Type Personality Thing in Japan is that it was originally a ploy to convince every Japanese citizen to find out their blood type in case a transfer was needed. Want the masses to all make sure they know some vital piece of information about themselves? Attach some hokey mythology to it and promote it as popular culture. Just telling them “We need you to know this in case you get your leg torn off in a horrible lawnmower accident” would get maybe 1/4 of them to look it up, and about 1/2 of those might actually remember it. This way, they use social pressure to get everyone to know their blood type for the purpose of life saving* emergency blood transfusions.

    * Except of course for the people who just decide that because they don’t like meat must mean that they’re a type A and don’t bother confirming it. They’ll die horribly when the transfusion of type A+ blood they’re given doesn’t mix well with their B- blood type.

  20. Canadian says

    WTF is wrong with me people! Aren’t we supposed to be your sane cousins form the north? Apparently not.

  21. Patrick says

    I’d never even heard of this one. Unlike other forms of scrying (is that the woo-umbrella this falls under?), your blood type can change – my wife’s recently did after a bone marrow transplant.

    Do they propose that someone transitioning from an A blood type to an O blood type should also be going through a personality shift? That my wife should stop eating salads (which aren’t allowed right now anyway – lettuce isn’t clean enough and whatnot) – and that she’s going to suddenly become more competitive and goal-oriented? Or do they believe that this is fixed with your blood type at birth?

    Inquiring minds must know… or they just haven’t thought this all the way through.

  22. Penn says

    I accompany friends to Canadian Blood Services to donate blood every six weeks or so (they won’t take mine for silly reasons). I’ve never seen anything like this there, nor have I heard anyone mention this. I suspect that someone with web access just got overzealous. Don’t blame the whole organization.

  23. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    Oh and this:

    Type O: So, you’re an O. You already know that having type O blood suggests that you might be competitive, goal oriented and a real meat eater*.

    Vaguely positive or not, that is not me in the least– I’m far too much of a space cadet to be “goal oriented”. Unless that goal is sitting outside with a book and a glass of sweet tea, that is.

    Argh! This bullshit makes my blood boil.

    (Sorry about that. Pun not intended!)

  24. SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu says

    I was asked to make a (get this) dairy-free and wheat-free cheesecake for a family get-together

    For the love of L. Ron, seriously? Fuck that noise. When I see people eating fake cheese substitutes and processed vegetable protein “hot dogs,” I think to myself, “That person transitioned to veganism/vegetarianism before they actually understood the point of it.” That shit seems even worse than the real deal. If I were going to be vegan, I can think of a bazillion things to do for good eats besides trying to recreate cheesecakes and hot dogs without using any animal products. Blergh.

    Don’t mind me, I’m just slightly bitter from having been forced to eat imitation cheese sandwiches with imitation butter for days on end at a natural building conference hosted by vegans once. At a BUILDING conference, where people were actually building things, not just talking about building things! A group of non-vegs banded together and pooled our resources and we ended up having a delicious meal of scrambled eggs, chorizo, and kim chi, cooked up in someone’s VW camper can.

  25. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    What am I missing?

    That it’s published on the official site of Canadian Blood Services.

  26. Deepsix says

    You already know that having type O blood suggests that you might be competitive

    ZOMG! They, like, so nailed this! I’m type O and competitive! Take that type AB losers!

    TYPE O RULZ!!!

  27. Steven says

    Stupid question, could you do a blood transfusion between a human and another ape, lets say a chimp?

  28. rad_pumpkin says

    I wonder if these hilariously vague descriptions also work backwards. Let’s try it!

    I do not eat meat, I exercise frequently, and I am in pretty great shape. That would make me an A or AB type. Great, now for personality: I am a socially inept, narcissistic prick. I loathe societal conventions, and I prefer to remain as distant from anybody I may know as possible. So…type B? It would appear that my personality/lifestyle matches AB most closely. Dare I request it for transfusion?

    (I ain’t AB, just sayin’…)

  29. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    Sally,

    For the love of L. Ron, seriously? Fuck that noise.

    Seriously. I stared slack-jawed at my MIL for a good two minutes before I was all lol wut?

    I’ve cooked for people who have food allergies and medically necessary restricted diets and it’s been my experience that they don’t ask for crazy impossible shit. But the people I know that decide to restrict their diets on a whim expect to eat exactly what I’m eating, but tailored to their habits, no matter how idiotic their request is.

    If you want to eat cheesecake, eat a goddamn cheesecake is what I’m sayin’.

  30. Discombobulated says

    That’s funny. There was recently a sketch on one of the ubiquitous mind-numbing, spirit crushing variety shows here where they did short dramatizations of the blood types, and instead of showing AB as “organized, friendly”, they showed them as indecisive, disorganized basketcases, and I just confirmed with Mrs. Discombobulated and wackypedia that that is the common conception of AB (mixed “types” = mixed up).

    So not only are they promoting woo, but they don’t even accurately reflect the common opinion in Japan. It’s … almost as if someone pulled this straight out of their ass.

    All science so far!

    P.S. I just realized the new blog can probably go without registration for a long time, since Mabus is now incarcerated! Woohoo!

  31. moggie says

    Deepsix:

    TYPE O RULZ!!!

    You sound like one of those overcompensating Rhesus-negative losers.

    The first time I encountered the Japanese thing, I was amazed. It seems so impoverished. Western popular astrology is bad enough, pigeon-holing everyone into a mere twelve categories, but you want to cut that down to four?

  32. ChasCPeterson says

    If Marjanović can crosspost, I can too. Lots more comments over here, btw.

    Rosalie, SB comment #2:

    Is there any truth at all to the idea that there is a connection between your blood type and what type of diet would be good for you?

    No.
    What people don’t seem to realize is that blood of different blood “types” differs almost imperceptibly trivilally, at the chemical level (pdf link), and differs negligibly, if at all, functionally. Afaik the membrane glycolipids involved have no function other than as cellular ID tags, and just one of a huge number of such tags.

    The gene alleles code for an enzyme that synthesizes the glycolipid antigen. Any mutation that results in a loss of enzyme function shows up as type O, so there are actually a number of different O alleles. There are also a number of known sequence-different A and (I think) B alleles with neutral or near-neutral mutations. (Note, btw, that this means that early attempts to quantify genetic differences among human populations with use of phenotypic blood type as a proxy for genes were very conservative, which is one reason I roll my eyes at people who still refer (many of them without knowing it) to Lewontin 1972. But anyway.)

    What’s interesting about the trivial variation in this particular glycolipid ID tag–and the reason we know about it at all–is that our immune systems produce antibodies against the antigens we lack phenotypically. It used to be taught (to me and by my even) that this was the only known example of “innate immunity”–pre-priming of the immune system against an antigen without exposure to it. (Not that this ever made much sense–for one thing the perfect linkage of alleles that would have to occur seemed unlikely–but it seemed empirically true.)
    Now it turns out that exposure is necessary–but that identical/very similar antigens are found in ubbiquitous gut bacteria as well as (apparently) some plant seeds.
    Worldview restored.

    But no, no effect whatsoever on nutritional requirements.

  33. Kevin says

    @30

    Short answer: No. It’s that pesky thing called “evolution”. Even though primates have similar blood types, there are enough genetic differences on the surface proteins for the blood to be seen as a foreign invader and be rejected by the animal’s immune system.

    A few million years of divergence from a common ancestor will do that.

  34. says

    @ ben, # 11:

    EVERYONE benefits from a vegetarian diet

    Everyone who isn’t genetically incapable of manufacturing taurine, you mean. Unless you think going blind and dying in screaming agony as your internal organs fail one by one are positive things.

  35. peter says

    “That it’s published on the official site of Canadian Blood Services.”

    I still read it as a spoof that some stupid US prof fell for and took it seriously.

  36. frustum says

    moggy @35 said:

    Western popular astrology is bad enough, pigeon-holing everyone into a mere twelve categories, but you want to cut that down to four?

    When I was in Japan for a few weeks in the early 90s, I saw this blood astrology too. However, the way it worked was your reading was a cross product of your blood type and your sign, or maybe it was a cross product of your blood type and the animal you were born under. One guy told me he was born in the year of the mouse and I unthinkingly said that in the west we call it the year of the rat. He didn’t appreciate the information.

    Walking around the streets of Kyoto at night, every few blocks there would be a fortune teller sitting at a small card table with a chair opposite for customers. It was funny to see that some had few or no customers, while others had looooong (like 30) lines of mostly young women waiting for their turn. I guess some were better at making up romantic claptrap than others.

  37. amc says

    I’m seeing a possible change in career in my future, so what blood-type does that make me?

  38. Dianne says

    Well, to give them about 0.00001% of a point, there may be some differences in thrombotic risk and incidence of von Willebrand’s disease in different blood groups. So it may be more advantageous for people with some blood groups to eat a (low cholesterol) vegetarian diet than for others because they have an additional minor arterial vascular risk factor. However, I don’t remember right off if thrombosis is even more common in A type blood or not, so I may be completely off about this. It’s certainly not a major factor either way. I’ll look it up if anyone’s interested. At best, it’s a bit like saying that people of European ancestry are more likely to have celiac disease than other people therefore no Europeans should eat wheat.

  39. Freerefill says

    If you make your lies convincing, beautiful, or threatening enough, you can convince anyone of anything.

    *coughlronhubbardcough*

    Sorry, had something in my throat. But yeah. I’m glad there isn’t anyone taking advantage of hundreds of thousands of innocent people by using the knowledge of the willingness of the human mind to be put at ease, regardless of the lack of evidence to support the bogus claims.

    *coughlronhubbardcough*

    Geez.. I should get a lozenge.

  40. Quodlibet says

    I’m Type O, but I’m really not as goal-oriented as I’d like. Guess I’ll ask for a shot of Type B – that should help me to be a bit more of a self-starter. I’m already really well-organized, so I don’t need any AB.

  41. NC says

    Living in Japan now. Almost everyone knows their blood type. The dietary aspect isn’t from here, and as #34 Discombobulated pointed out, Moran got the generally accepted vague characteristics wrong. Yeah, he even got the woo-part wrong.

    Fwiw: tofu cheesecake is absolutely scrumptious (but I can’t imagine it without the graham-cracker crust, as a wheatless version would have to sacrifice).

  42. frankb says

    I am a specialist in blood banking and am ashamed for my profession. Every blood service has a medical director. Is he or she not paying attention to the donor recruitment department?

    I am type O, so now I have reason for loving meat.

  43. jjgdenisrobert says

    I sent an SWL (sternly-worded letter) to the Canadian Blood Service, as a Canadian, and got this reply:

    “””

    Thank you for your feedback regarding our What’s Your Type? program. We appreciate your taking the time to share your opinion with us.

    We do make reference to selected aspects of ketsueki-gata within the What’s Your Type program and our intention is for this to be a light-hearted way to involve potential new donors in the typing process.

    However, we view it as only a minor part of the process. Once the initial contact with a potential new donor is made, we use the What’s Your Type program to discuss the science of blood typing. This includes explaining in detail the ABO categories of blood types as well as the use of anti-serum during the typing process. Once the participant’s blood type has been determine, we explain the importance of knowing one’s type, as well as the number of people within the Canadian population that have that same type.

    The conversation then moves to the idea of donating blood and the reasons why it is an important thing to do. While the typing is done in a mobile environment and not a lab, we find this part of the process is actually a valuable window into the science behind blood and a demonstration that most participants find compelling and informative.

    We have found the program to be a successful recruiting tool, particularly with young people. They are often nervous about the typing, and the reference to a potential link between personality and blood type offers them an avenue to share their experience with others in a way that, for many, relieves the tension of the process. All participants, however, are made aware that the link between blood type and personality is not, in any way, scientific.

    We are working on some updates to the What’s Your Type program this year with more focus on science based facts while still keeping the program fun for potential blood donors in Canada.

    Thank you again for contacting us.
    “””

    In other words: “Who cares if it’s all BS, it’s FUN!!!!”.

  44. Psych-Oh says

    Diane – That is interesting, and makes sense. There is research out there on susceptibility to different diseases and blood type. I did a bunch of reading on Norovirus and type O blood the last time my daughter fell ill with it.

    I am not much of a team player or a vegetarian. I guess I’m a bad A.

  45. Roger says

    “This is especially weird — “may benefit from a vegetarian diet” — since EVERYONE benefits from a vegetarian diet, directly or indirectly.”

    Not butchers, Ben

  46. Quodlibet says

    jjgdenisrobert @ #47

    We are working on some updates to the What’s Your Type program this year with more focus on science based facts while still keeping the program fun for potential blood donors in Canada.

    [emphasis mine]

    Science-based facts.

    Is there any other kind? A fact is a … fact.

  47. Quodlibet says

    Me at #50 –

    jjgdenisrobert, I failed to make clear that the material I blockquoted @ #47 was from the letter you cited. I knew that wasn’t you. Sorry. My posts are loading very slowly, so I hope this loads soon enough to head off any distress.

  48. jjgdenisrobert says

    @Quodlibet #50:

    Which is pretty much what I said in my reply…. I pointed out that the phrase: “[...] the link between blood type and personality is not, in any way, scientific” was a cop out, and that the reality was that “[...] the link between blood type and personality is not, [...]” TRUE.

    My SWR (sternly worded reply) was a little more stern than my original SWL… We’ll see if they reply to that one. I essentially told them that they weren’t in the entertainment business but in the blood business…

  49. Makes this loony not want to donate says

    We are working on some updates to the What’s Your Type program this year with more focus on science based facts while still keeping the program fun.

    Yes, the danger of an undue emphasis on “science based facts” is that the program won’t be fun anymore. What, anyway, is a “science based fact”? Is it in opposition to, say, the “lie based facts” that they are currently promoting?

  50. frankb says

    The ABO system is pretty simple. There are the two co-dominant genes A and B, and the recessive null gene O. A has a few subtypes but they are fairly rare and don’t cause problems. ABO is the most important antigen system because if you don’t have the antigen you will have the antibody to it. Anti-A and anti-B are very hemolytic. About 5 mls of ABO incompatible blood can kill you. Type AB persons don’t have to worry about that.

    There are many different antigen systems on the red cell, so every person has their own unique profile of antigens. People can have rare antigens or rare combinations of common antigens. This gives blood bankers fits sometimes when trying to find compatible blood. Only about 5% of people produce unexpected red cell antibodies, but it is all those people who need blood on Friday nights.

  51. SirKaid says

    As disgusting as having woo published by a respectable and useful organization is, if this gets more donations then I’ll have to plug my nose and go along with it. I certainly hope this is just a cynical attempt at garnering more blood.

    Bit of a contradiction in terms, though. Hoping people are being cynical? Bah, whatever brings in the blood.

  52. says

    jjgdenisrobert:
    thanks, I thought I wasn’t being a complete idiot. :-)

    Quodlibet quots jjgdenisrobert quoting that letter not (as far as I’m aware) quoting anything else: “science based facts”.
    And asks if there’s any other kind.
    Unfortunately now-a-days in this current Age of Faith and Stupidity you just gotta specify, cause in the minds of many (if not in reality) there are definitely other kinds. :-(

  53. Quodlibet says

    richardelgurur,

    Oh I know, I was being sarcastic, and should have said so. It’s pretty sad, in any case.

  54. Al says

    The UK’s National Blood Service doesn’t always think much more clearly: one of their recruiting posters asked for donors who had Type A, AB, and O blood…

  55. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    SQB,

    Audley, but have you ever made kosher ham for your in-laws?

    Yes, I have. It was turkey “ham” that I fried up for breakfast.

    Next!

    (Funny aside, the in-laws are Jewish, but they don’t keep kosher. Eat Right For Your Type is where it’s at! Bleck.)

  56. Matt Penfold says

    The UK’s National Blood Service doesn’t always think much more clearly: one of their recruiting posters asked for donors who had Type A, AB, and O blood…

    There is actually a reason for that. Some people with type O think that because it is so common in the UK there is not as much need for their blood. By phrasing it as they do, the National Blood Service is making it clear that donors of all groups are needed.

  57. Mattir-ritated says

    Stephen @ #30 –

    I once heard Jane Goodall, commenting on the similarities between humans and chimps, say that one could probably receive a blood transfusion from a blood-type matched chimp, but I would not be brave enough to roll up my sleeve for that experiment.

    (Watching Goodall make chimp faces at the Spawn while she was waiting to speak was quite a treat.)

  58. bananacat says

    I donate blood as often as I can and this really bothers me. Of course I won’t stop donating because of it, because I won’t let someone else die over this, but it really pisses me off.

    And it’s blatantly wrong too. I’m o Positive and I’m not goal-oriented (unless doing just enough to get by counts as a goal) and I’m a vegetarian.

  59. Undularbore says

    I thank you, too, PZ for posting about this.

    About 3 weeks ago I get an email from my sister with a link. “Wow, look, I’m type A and it says I should be a vegetarian” blah, blah, blah. I told her she was silly to believe it. I got the feeling I deflated her balloon. LOL.

    I’m a type O and I’m not a team player (well, sometimes I am) and like Darkheart, I’m too much of a space cadet to be goal orientated.

  60. Sastra says

    One of my first attempts at casual in-person grass-roots skepticism involved dealing with someone who was advocating the blood-type diet to a group of women. She was a former registered nurse (and alt med promoter.) I told her that it didn’t seem to fit in with what I knew about biology OR anthropology, but I’d do some research and get back to everyone. That was fine, I was assured, because there was science behind this. I’d see.

    It didn’t take me long of course to ascertain that it was pretty much bullshit all the way down — and so I reported. About the only value to the diet was that — like any diet — paying attention to what you eat and cutting back on something, anything, was likely to help you lose weight. But as for the specifics, none of it mattered. It was a prop.

    That’s when I was informed that hey, nobody ever said it was science. It was supposed to be a prop! That’s all! A fun little hook you could choose to use, or not choose to use, as long as it was useful to you. The chemistry, history, and haematology weren’t meant to be taken literally or seriously in the first place. So we were still all fine, and nobody was wrong!

    A bit later the nurse was telling us how her daughter had called up one night crying because the Blood Type Diet was so restrictive — no dairy, no wheat — and she had had to remind her daughter to stay strong and keep with it: her blood type mandated that those foods had to be avoided.

    Hey! WTF? Didn’t you say the blood-type diet was supposed to be a sort of game, a handy little prop which you need follow only if you wanted to because it was a fun way to lose weight? Shouldn’t you have told your daughter that if it wasn’t making her happy she should find another diet? It was supposed to be all about choice wasn’t it?

    The look of chagrin on the nurse’s face was … priceless.

    They lie. They lie to others and they lie to themselves, and convince themselves that contradicting themselves is open-minded and being caught out in a lie means someone else is being judgmental — because there are no lies. There are only different ‘choices.’

    The alternative to a “scientific fact” is a “true fact you learn with your heart.” Those who make faith into a virtue have a lot to answer for.

  61. Celeste says

    Wait, so as an O I should be competitive and goal-oriented. I wish someone had told me that a long time ago. I could have had a completely different personality!

  62. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    Sastra:

    The chemistry, history, and haematology weren’t meant to be taken literally or seriously in the first place. So we were still all fine, and nobody was wrong!

    Yeah, tell that to the people who are sliding toward disordered eating because of this shit.

    A bit later the nurse was telling us how her daughter had called up one night crying because the Blood Type Diet was so restrictive —no dairy, no wheat —and she had had to remind her daughter to stay strong and keep with it: her blood type mandated that those foods had to be avoided.

    This is what worries me the most actually– removing staples from your diet for no discernible reason can’t be healthy. And this isn’t some sort of lose weight quick! scheme (not that those are any good for you, either), but it’s supposed to be an entire lifestyle.

    Sorry, guys! Sorry. This is a huge pet peeve of mine, made worse by the fact that I deal with this craziness all the fucking time.

  63. Matt Penfold says

    This is what worries me the most actually– removing staples from your diet for no discernible reason can’t be healthy. And this isn’t some sort of lose weight quick! scheme (not that those are any good for you, either), but it’s supposed to be an entire lifestyle.

    The no dairy is worrying. It is hard to ensure adequate intake of calcium without including dairy products in the diet.

  64. Icaarus says

    Just sent them a question regarding references. I wonder what they will say in response. In general I feel that it is a sad day to be a Canadian.

  65. Icaarus says

    In addition, on the point of the above comments regarding the non-dairy cheesecake, that’s just funny. I cannot have dairy, never have been able to. And for a while I was an economic vegetarian (guess I should say vegan since the only non-vegan thing I partook of was honey). I can stomach spicy tofu once in a while, and soy based “ice cream” on a hot day when I cannot find a proper italian gelato. But that doesn’t stop me from being creeped out by the whole Yves lineup. The best substitution I have heard of is the dairy free double chocholate brownie, what circle of hades underworld and hermes imagination created such an evil creation.

  66. unbound says

    Well, I do eat real meat (I assume fake meat is tofu or some equivalent). 1 out of 3 things right is pretty good for total BS.

  67. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    This is unsurprising of CBS. After all, they still think that the blood of gay men is de facto tainted, specifically with HIV, if they’ve ever had sex with another man since 1977.

    I certainly don’t expect CBS to be critical of woo, when they defend nonsense policy and regularly face tainted blood scandals anyhow.

    I really do hope that I never have need of blood here in Canada, because the irony may kill me. (Incidental funny alert.)

  68. Seeker Lancer says

    Well I’m AB, I’m very disorganized, I’m rather anti-social, and I eat too much meat and hardly any vegetables.

    Better luck next time Canada.

  69. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    Seeker Lancer, don’t hang this on Canada. Despite the name, CBS is a private NFP, tied to the Government legislatively only. Don’t equate CBS with Canada.

  70. Chad says

    I also made use of the reply email to send a SWL, and got the same stock response as jjgdenisrobert in a matter of minutes. This from the same organization that will still not take blood from TEH GAYS.

  71. cag says

    Some people are lacto-vegetarians. I’m a beefo, chicko, porko, lambo, fisho, turko, eggo, squido (calamari) shrimpo … vegetatian. Does that fit with O neg?

  72. 24fps says

    I’ve sent off an email to Canadian Blood Services and also made a phone call to complain about the campaign. I made sure to use the words “falsehood”, “anti-science” and “irresponsible”. I also told them there will be no donations from me of any kind until they stop the nonsense. I’ve been promised a phone call. Should be interesting.

  73. Al says

    @Matt #63

    Ah, I wasn’t sufficiently clear: the wording of the poster strongly implied that they were looking for people with all 3 blood groups in the same set of veins…

  74. Synfandel says

    Remember, PZ, that Canadians also have a sense of humour. It says right on the What’s Your Type page that the horoscope-like character traits by blood type are strictly for entertainment purposes. Perhaps your Web browser doesn’t render the <nudge> and <wink> elements in a clearly visible way.

  75. nostradumbass says

    I just sent them an email expressing my disappointment and immediately got the same lame form letter back as described in #47.

    Looks like someone prepared an automated response. I wonder if they actually read the emails.

  76. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    Synfandel, what’s supposed to be entertaining about a lie and an appeal to popular woo like astrology? I’m Canadian and I find it neither humorous nor entertaining. I find it unprofessional of CBS to appeal to woo in a marketing scheme to appeal to the youth demographic. It sends the express message that, while they don’t subscribe to the woo, it’s okay to use, even in ‘jest’, for the appeal. The woo is justified as a means to an end, is the message they send, because donating blood is so important. Which is rather ironic, as CBS refuses to take blood from a sizable population of people who would be willing to donate, namely people who have had sex with men who have had sex with men since 1977.

    It’s not even a coherent policy, when one considers that not every woman who offers to donate can be sure of the sexual history of her male partners.

    I do agree, Canadians have a sense of humour. I must qualify, however, that I believe most Canadians have impeccable senses of humour. The only thing here that makes me even smirk is the bloody taste of irony.

  77. Vicki, running low on patience says

    Thomathy,

    The cynical voice says that nobody can be that sure of the sexual history of her or his partners, especially not the negatives. What you can be sure of is what you, personally, did with your partners (or actually watched them do, if that’s what you’re into). The rest is all about various levels of confidence that people are telling you the truth about their sexual histories. (I don’t think my partners are keeping anything important from me, because I’ve arranged things such that they would have little or no reason to do so. But that’s not proof of anything.)

    And of course what the blood banks are doing is eliminating anyone who fits into certain categories (including men who have had sex with a man, even once, since 1977; women who have had sex with such men (sometimes only if it’s within the last year); users of certain drugs; and people who have recently been tattooed), knows it, and tells the truth. “Knows it” doesn’t catch women whose male partners haven’t told them the whole truth. And “tells the truth” will miss people who have reasons to lie (say, because they don’t want to admit to using heroin, at a work or school blood drive at your office or school, or because they don’t trust the volunteer, who they recognize, not to gossip).

    Quite a few years ago I pointed out to a friend that the rules were entirely about behavior: being attracted to other men didn’t disqualify him, since he hadn’t acted on that. (How much of that was his religious scruples, and how much was shyness, I have no idea.)

  78. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    Vickie, I agree with the cynical voice. No one can be sure. It makes the CBS’s policies look arbitrary, being behaviour based. What they ought to do better is screen the blood. And, if they’re relying on people being knowledgeable and honest in the first place, why not give gay men the same chance that they give everyone else?

    Higher risk starts to look more and more like a way to discriminate, and it looks a lot more like discrimination if CBS can judge a person to be gay and can, presumably, contact authorities to investigate to find out if a person has lied on their forms, since it is noted to be illegal to (wilfully) lie on their forms.

  79. Erulóra (formerly KOPD) says

    strictly for entertainment purposes.

    Astrologers and psychics use that one, too. Keeps them out of legal trouble. Doesn’t keep people from fucking up their lives over it, though.

  80. David Marjanović, OM says

    I note your use of ‘fuck’ — anger problems?

    Yessssssssss! *quietly strangles Miki Z in the background, using bare hands*

    Must be type O!

    Could be. I don’t know. BTW, it’s 0 (zero), not O. Yes, I know “O” is usual in English; see “anger problems”.

    Maybe a fire sign as well, such as an Aries?

    Interestingly not, no :-)

    and 2) Great job for using not so subtle code words to call me fat.

    Wheat allergy manifests in dry, thin, rough skin on the knees and/or elbows, not in fat deposition.

  81. truthspeaker says

    Regarding not taking blood from men who’ve had sex with other men since 1977 – is that a CBS policy or a government policy?

    I ask because here in the states it’s the government regulators that insist on that policy. The Red Cross has asked to relax it and were denied.

  82. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    David:

    Wheat allergy manifests in dry, thin, rough skin on the knees and/or elbows, not in fat deposition.

    You’re missing the point a little bit here. No one thinks I’ve got a wheat allergy (or ciliac), Eat Right For Your Type is a weight loss program.

    Also, in the good ol’ US, if someone touts a particular diet as “you’ll feel great!” it usually means “you’ll lose weight!” There’s the implication that fat people can’t feel good or energetic– those things are reserved for skinny people. It’s all a part of fat-shaming.

  83. Icaarus says

    Just looked into the CBS questionaire, the following scare me:

    18. At any time since 1977, have you taken money or drugs for sex? ……………………………………………………………………………….
    19. Male donors: Have you had sex with a man, even one time since 1977? …………………………………………………………………….
    22. Female donors: In the last 12 months, have you had sex with a man who had sex, even one time since 1977 with
    another man? ……………………………………………………………………

    Website: http://blood.ca/CentreApps/Internet/UW_V502_MainEngine.nsf/resources/Eligibility/$file/ROD2011-05-01.pdf
    which was found today by going to CBS main page, http://www.blood.ca and scrolling through the eligibility section.

  84. lordsetar says

    This is what you get when the Prime Minister’s science advisor waffles on evolution.

  85. says

    O-negative blood is the universal donor: since it lacks the factors, anyone can take it without fatal reactions; and O-positive can be given to anyone with Rh-positive blood. Did the British health service not ask for B blood as well? Or were they just making the point that A lot of people are O and need O blood?

    I’m AB and I’m disorganized.

  86. says

    If you want to avoid the formletter, you can call them like I did. Of course, what I got was no better: “don’t take it so seriously.”

    These are the people we trust for blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants? The hell?

    Other insane policies by the CBS: have you lived in England for >6 mos over between (I think) 1991-1996? Clearly, you are a mad cow and should never be permitted to donate.

    Have you lived in Europe for >5 years in total? No donation for you.

    I lived in Africa – where the policy is shoot it and eat it, and nevermind what it was doing before it died – and I can donate. AND I’m married to someone who comes in under the mad cow rubrick. What, do they think we (TMI alert) never exchange bodily fluids?

  87. says

    I personally like the fact that it recommends a ‘wholesome well-balanced diet’ for B and AB only. Apparently, as an O, I can live entirely on bacon, cookie-dough ice-cream and merlot.

  88. Geoffrey Brent says

    @Al (#61) and other commenters above:

    “The UK’s National Blood Service doesn’t always think much more clearly: one of their recruiting posters asked for donors who had Type A, AB, and O blood…”

    I know it’s tempting to mock government bodies for perceived stupidity, and I certainly wouldn’t assume competence. But it’s also a bad idea, and a little arrogant, to assume people are incompetent in their professional field without stopping to confirm that your own understanding is correct.

    In this case, checking Wikipedia would have been enough to show that the “type O = universal donor, AB = universal recipient” line is only a simplification. If you’re trying to transfuse whole blood in a hurry, it’s a useful rule of thumb, but it’s not perfect.

    Type O blood doesn’t contain any A or B antigens. But it contains antibodies to both those antigens. If you transfuse AB blood into an O recipient, the recipient’s A/B antibodies will latch onto the antigens in the donor blood. Blood cells lyse, Bad Things happen.

    When you transfuse O blood into an AB recipient, the donor blood contains A/B antibodies, which will latch onto the A/B antigens in the recipient’s blood. The consequences are a lot less drastic, and generally better than letting somebody bleed to death but it’s still better to provide an exact match where possible.

    When transfusing plasma rather than whole blood, the “universal donor” rules are actually reversed: anybody can receive AB plasma (which contains no A/B antigens), and only type O recipients should receive type O plasma (which has both, and hence attacks any type A/B/AB blood).

    So, yeah, the NBS are probably aware that it’s more complicated than you realise.

    (Not meaning to be snarky here, but I’ve seen quite a few people do the “assume incompetence” thing in various directions lately, and it’s starting to get annoying.)

  89. Pierce R. Butler says

    Fwiw, and iIrc, Aldous Huxley wrote a book in the early ’60s titled Literature and Science, which I found quite amazing in that he never once addressed the topic of science fiction.

    His goals included a high-minded sharing of worldviews (blahblahblah), illustrated by ways in which writers could enrich their work through scientific understanding. As one example, not only did he ascribe different personality traits to different blood types, he declared that the mixtures thereof found in the Middle East would guarantee turmoil there indefinitely, regardless of political conditions.

    Am I too high-minded to say something like, Clueless in Gaza? No.

  90. says

    “So, you’re an AB. You already know that having type AB blood suggests that you are organized, friendly and may enjoy a vegetarian or wholesome well-balanced diet*.”

    No. No, no, no, no, no. Just no.

    I’ve been cleaning my apartment for months, and for dinner I had twelve slices of bacon, four scrambled eggs (fried in bacon grease), and a couple of handfuls of Tootsie Rolls, plus the majority of a 2-liter bottle of soda.

    And I have AB+ blood.

  91. Harbo says

    “B Negative”

    More than a blood group, a way of life!

    So much better than our soppy positive cousins.

  92. Tristan says

    hey aren’t even consistent: how can you claim A and B arose over 10,000 years ago, but that the heterozygote AB never occurred until 1000 years ago?

    Actually, that’s entirely consistent: all it requires is that the two types arose in reproductively isolated populations, which didn’t mix until 1,000 years ago. It’s wrong, but it’s consistent.

  93. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Today’s blood horoscope:

    If you have A+ blood, with stars in your eyes (but not guiding your future) you’ll walk into a lamppost. Which will hurt, though not in any sort of permanently crippling manner.

    If you have A- blood, an emu has been tagging along with you for the better part of the day and you feel you might be able to be friends, if only you could break down the deeply ingrained anti-emu-friend lessons you’d learned as a youth.

    If you have O+ blood, your favorite food today is chicken wings. This isn’t up for debate, and if you’re vegetarian just pretend chickens aren’t all that bright anyway and probably deserve to be turned into little sticky delicacies.

    If you have O- blood you are the bee’s knees today. Which is better than tomorrow, when you’re the antelope’s arse.

    If you have B+ blood then the phrase “puppies from heaven” will never come into popular usage, despite your intense lobbying for it to become a pop culture ‘hip phrase’, as they’re known, following your faux pas at a party. You’d know the reason why your lobbying was fruitless if you knew of the cabal working to keep such a phrase out of the common domain and the horrible secret behind its usage.

    If you have B- blood you’ll find neglecting the voices in your head (the bulk of which are saying “Don’t be cruel to animals with large, pointy teeth,” though there are a few reciting “Paradise Lost” in German, which you didn’t realize the voices knew, and one rather annoying one that’s singing Barry Manilow tunes. Badly. Yeah, I know. You see why it’s annoying.) may result in you becoming a vampire.

    If you have AB+ blood you should take the utmost care in picking your lottery numbers today, as if, perchance, you choose a certain combination it’ll spell out the secret name of God the cabalists (not the ones mentioned above, different group) have been trying to come up with and the world will end. And you’ll still not have won the lottery, so you’ll end up being not rich, unpopular for having ended the world, and possibly feeling guilty about that.

    If you have AB- blood you will feel an indescribable urge to do something, which I’d elaborate more upon, if it was describable, which it isn’t, so I won’t.

  94. Forbidden Snowflake says

    ‘Tis Himself, I can only reply: been there, done that. Lots of A+ blood spilled that day.

  95. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    Ben,

    and for dinner I had twelve slices of bacon, four scrambled eggs (fried in bacon grease), and a couple of handfuls of Tootsie Rolls, plus the majority of a 2-liter bottle of soda.

    O neg here. Last night for dinner I had baked ziti and a tossed salad, followed up by a Mounds bar. Absolutely not meat.

    Lunch? PB sandwich, a banana, and a pudding. No meat.

    Breakfast? One apple cider doughnut. No meat.

    I feel like I’m letting my blood type down or something.

  96. Quodlibet says

    To those who say “It’s just a joke – lighten up!” — That’s fine for 1) people who are knowledgeable enough to know that this is BS and 2) people who are curious or cautious enough to seek out and read the disclaimer/CYA statement. But, as illustrated by the many anecdotes related here, large numbers of gullible, underinformed, or ignorant people do indeed take it seriously and make actual life changes based on this misinformation. It is irresponsible at best and dangerous at worst to have promulgated this lie.

  97. MichelleZB says

    This is pretty serious! I sent them an email, but it looks like we are just getting form letters back.

    Perhaps we can find some board members to write to and express our concern that they are providing UNPROVEN DIET ADVICE to their donors?

  98. andyo says

    Love the asterisks!

    And yeah, expanding on what David and others said, it’s extremely common in Japan. To the point that, having worked in a Japanese establishment in LA, I’ve never met a Japanese co-worker who didn’t believe it. And it’s not like I asked either, it’s just common conversation. I’d say that asking “what sign are you” is probably less common in Western society (and viewed as dumber) than for Japanese asking “what blood type are you?”. The same about speculating about someone’s sign/blood type based on their behavior.

  99. WhiteHatLurker says

    PZ, someone pushes your button and you go straight off the deep end. I am not surprised that you fall for so many internet urban legend/hoax things.

    Just to warn you, the CDC isn’t really saying there will be a zombie invasion. In case it comes up …

    The CDC and Canadian Blood Services are both using a mechanism to grab attention for a more serious problem using something that no one in their target audience would take seriously.

  100. The Lone Coyote says

    No one takes it seriously whitehatlurker?

    My ex’s sisters certainly do. One of them is trying to impose this crap on her 2 year old son. Poor kid is always hungry whenever my ex watches him, and you should see the inedible pigslop they were sending for his lunch based on this stupid garbage. I tried to explain to them that this is unscientific horseshit, but they have a BOOK! They wouldn’t have written and published a book about it if it wasn’t pure scientific fact!

    This shit is dangerous. It is not just a bit of harmless fun from the CDC to get more donations. If it was, why is there a book being sold? Why all the stupid dietary recommendations? And it’s not like the stuff they’re telling them to cut out is bad stuff anyways, my ex’s sisters were ‘giving up’ such bad habits as red peppers and carrots. WTF?

  101. The Lone Coyote says

    I just sent them this email:

    Shame on you. You are a government health organisation, and you are promoting pseudoscientific woo. Is this the state of canadian medicine? Reducing blood donation to a type of astrology? For shame.

    My girlfriend’s sister has bought your ‘Eat Right For Your Type’ book and taken it seriously, including imposing your ridiculous dietary restrictions on her two year old son. The child is almost always hungry, and the food he’s being forced to eat is pure slop. This is completely on you.

    I will not be donating blood, period, at all, until your organisation stops promoting this type of pseudoscientific gobbledegook. Furthermore, I shall be telling absolutely everyone who’ll listen about the lies you support.

    If all I’m going to get in return is a form letter telling me about how it’s all just a bit of harmless fun to get more donations, don’t bother. If you send the form letter anyways, I’ll know this means you didn’t even read my email.

    Thanks for nothing.

    I know, I called my ex my ‘gf’ in this, but I figure it’s a pretty slim distinction in this case.

    I eagerly await their (non)reply.

  102. says

    Well, I’m type O+.

    I am not competitive, I’m not goal oriented, and while I do eat meat I tend to stick to white meats so I don’t think I’m really a real meat eater.

    So complete fail there!

  103. MichelleZB says

    I replied to their form letter. What annoys me the most about their form letter is that they admit they use “selected aspects of the ketsueki-gata”. That sort of downplays what they are doing quite a bit. So I wrote:

    Thanks for your response.

    “Eat Right For Your Blood Type” by Dr. D’Adamo (an American naturopath) is NOT a “selected aspect of the ketsueki-gata”. You are distributing unproven, potentially dangerous diet advice to young, gullible Canadians for “entertainment”.

    While the ketsueki-gata is silly, it is also harmless, so that’s fine. However, telling everyone who is Type A that they would be better off vegetarians is most certainly NOT harmless. You are directly contradicting Health Canada and Dietitians of Canada.

    Can you explain to me this aspect of your recruiting program, and why you felt it was necessary to include it to interest young people?

    Michelle

  104. says

    Type O: So, you’re an O. You already know that having type O blood suggests that you might be competitive, goal oriented and a real meat eater*.

    Hehe, I’m type O, and that is wrong on every account.