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You want me to click through 12 pages?

I was really into this NYTimes story. He had me with his seven word lede: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Yep. I was going to read the article, though I typically hate diet stories for the exact reason the writer seems to hell-bent NOT to espouse in this.

The same reason I argued with my 10th grade history teacher that teaching us about evolution was stupid. I told him, as straight faced and well-behaved as my sarcastic 14-year-old, know-it-all self could: What’s the point? You know this isn’t the truth. Next month they will inevitably find some new fossils that will completely change the theory, and not only that but we will never be told. We will go through life being purposely misinformed.

It’s like how we’ll all go through life thinking Pluto’s a planet. Some day our kids will bring home an assignment to build a model of the solar system. We’ll offer to help, and when we ask why they only have eight planets, where’s Pluto? They’ll roll their eyes and say, “Don’t be silly, mom. Pluto’s not a planet. Second-graders know that!”

Unfortunately, I still had to memorize the descent of man and watch boring documentaries about our exodus from Africa. And I still consider Pluto a planet.

Also, unfortunately, people are still writing health/diet articles based on “a recent study found eating (insert pretty much anything edible and a few things of questionable edibility) may (increase/decrease) your likelihood of (insert any disease, illness or ailment that may afflict humans).” You can pretty much fill in any of your choices in those blanks and find some study to back it up — and consequently someone who’s written about it.

So, I liked the approach Pollan took. He went for the obvious answer, and then drew me in for the kill. Why, I wondered as he reeled me further, all those studies touting the benefits of everything? Why, I read on, would anyone willingly down fish oil if it wasn’t healthy for you? Why… is this essay going on for 12 pages?!?!

Yeah. He had me right until I happened to skim ahead and notice at the bottom that I was investing my precious time in something that I would never read to the end of.

Which was the entire point of this post. How many other people see 12 pages ahead and say woah. Nevermind, can I get the Cliff Notes version? Is there an index around here so I can skip to what I really care to know?

It is hard to get people to read a good story on the Web. There are widgets and gadgets and e-mail and instant messages and blogs and games and a few billion other things to drag their attention away.

This story managed to capture mine for several minutes. But, sadly, once I realized I was about to fall over heels for a 12-page story, I quickly retreated. I am willing to invest two maybe three pages in the average article. If it’s something I really care about, you might get six or seven pages to make a point. But I can’t think of anything that will bring me to click through 12 pages of an article on the Web.

Afterall, he made his point of in the first seven words.

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