A note on Carlton Fredericks and Bernarr Macfadden

I mentioned in Part II of the interview two key influences on Rheo Blair's nutritional thinking: Bernarr Macfadden and Carlton Fredericks. Some will find this intellectual lineage fascinating while others will scoff that neither of these two men possessed the credentials the world recognizes as legitimate and will therefore be more likely to cast a jaundiced eye on Rheo himself. We need to consider these matters briefly for my work in documenting Rheo's life is not so as to present a court case arguing for or against his professional legitimacy in the eyes of the American Medical Association; it is simply to tell his story and an interesting story it is.
Carlton Fredericks was not a nutritionist, if by that term one means a licensed clinical practitioner. His life's focus was in researching, writing and speaking on practical nutrition for the consumer. He was exceedingly well-read and studied on the subject, and garnered much respect from colleagues in the fields of nutrition, chemistry and medicine. Indeed many of his readers and listeners considered him a "nutritionist," and to them he WAS their nutritionist; for here was a man who wrote and spoke with detailed eloquence yet used down to earth language that everyone could understand. The bottom line is his audience found his information both practical and effective, and as a result he developed a huge following.
Well, that success was good news for him, but it was also bad news, because the orthodox medical "powers that be" were spooked by his growing popularity and influence. They hounded him in court, but when all was said and done he was able to continue his writing and speaking. He lost a few battles along the way but he won the war. One might add that those who would attempt to discredit his ideas by criticizing his lack of orthodox credentials are not really interested in the credentials themselves; it is the ideas they fear, for they criticize anyone in the field of alternative health regardless of their credentials -- physicians, chiropractors, psychiatrists, etc. When alternative health professionals have their credentials in order, their detractors in the media go after their ideas, especially when those ideas point away from drugs and surgery as the answer to every health concern and point toward the preventive and healing effect proper diet and supplementation can have on one's health. Carlton Fredericks wrote: "what nutrition cures, it normally prevents." That's the real concern -- that such self-health ideas might catch on among the general public. Attacking Carlton Fredericks for his credentials is nothing more than a cheap shot. A reading of his books will clearly display his knowledge on the subject of nutrition.

For his part, Bernarr Macfadden was a promoter of various fitness and nutritional ideas, many of his own concocting; he was, to be sure, a complete character. If you would like to learn more about him you can find much information here. As it happens, the ideas Rheo got and used from these two men, Bernarr Macfadden and Carlton Fredericks, worked brilliantly for him when he combined them in his own way; their lack of credentials notwithstanding. That is the take-away point here.

Now then, getting back to the telling of Rheo's story. There is more to that story here and the information gives us a fascinating glimpse into the person Rheo was. Rheo himself was not licensed or formally educated in any way and this is a fact he was actually very proud of. He believed -- and said this often -- that higher education closed rather than opened the mind and the thinking process. This is the opposite of what he sought; he wanted to learn how to open the mind and increase his creativity. In this pursuit he studied both philosophy on the theoretical side and self made men of great achievement on the practical side. Chief among his heroes in this regard was Thomas Edison. Rheo went so far as to model his own pursuit for nutritional knowledge and discovery on Edison's research methods. Rheo further believed that many of mankind's greatest achievements have been by men without the education and credentials the world recognizes. So the fact that MacFadden and Fredericks were self made men was all the more reason, in his thinking, to pay attention to them, not dismiss them out of hand! Indeed, Rheo had visited credentialed, licensed, "legitimate" orthodox medical professionals for years in search of answers for himself -- but to no avail. It was only when he began looking "outside the box" that the knowledge he sought presented itself.

Edison would have been proud.

Contact me

Home Page 

Spread the word!

Copyright © 2009 Charles Welling
All rights reserved.

Information found on Rheo H. Blair: The Book is meant for educational and informational purposes only, and to motivate you to make your own health care and dietary decisions based upon your own research and in partnership with your health care provider. It should not be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis or courses of treatment.