Meersseman: Mastermind or Snake Oil Salesman

Source: Leaders in Performance from Flickr

“Now, you listen here. He’s not the Messiah; he’s a very naughty boy. Now, go away!”
Life of Brian, 1979

Jean Pierre Meersseman is the founder and former head of the Milan Lab — an institution given near legendary status by many football journalists. Throughout the years, Meersseman and his former lab have received incredibly glowing reportage in The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, Four Four Two, These Football Times, BBC Sport and many more outlets.

If you’ve read UK coverage about the Milan Lab and Jean Pierre Meersseman’s supposed achievements, then it would not be a great surprise if you believed the man is a genius. But that’s because it turns out that the football writing community failed fundamentally in scrutinising his grandiose claims, his methods, and, in most cases, his medical expertise (or lack thereof).

As most writers wax-lyricised on Meersseman’s achievements and amplified his dubious claims, scrutiny and scepticism were ignored as they repeatedly coughed “ahem” and waved excitedly in the corner of the room. All in vain. It’s almost as if sports journalists were so mesmerised by Meersseman’s sales-patter that they bought his snake oil without even realising it was on sale.

The now well tread story of the formation of the Milan Lab goes something like this….

Fernando Redondo, an £11 million signing from Real Madrid, suffered a rupture of his anterior cruciate ligament during pre-season training. It took Redondo two and a half years to recover, making his first appearance midway through the 2002/2003 season. He played only 33 matches for the club during the four seasons he was there, finally hanging up his boots in 2004.

Former Prime Minister and AC Milan owner, Silvio Berlusconi, was said to be furious and vowed to never allow the same thing to happen again. Meersseman was tasked to put together and spearhead a state of the art programme using the most cutting edge science and data analytics in order to prevent injuries. Thus, the Milan Lab was born in 2002.

So how did Meersseman get this lucrative and prestigious gig? Well, he was already doing some work at AC Milan, and he happened to be Silvio Berlusconi’s chiropractor. Although not recognised as a source for primary health care at that time, within five years chiropractors in Italy were afforded, by statute, significantly more medical authority than they merit.

What is chiropractic? Professor Edzard Ernst, who has devoted much of his career to debunking quackery, examined its origins, pointing out it was invented by D.D Palmer in 1895 under extremely dubious evidential grounds (even at that time). Palmer claimed to have cured a patient’s deafness through manipulation of the spine. Next, through more spine manipulation, he claimed to have cured a man of heart disease.

One of Palmer’s key claims about a discipline he invented should set journalists’ alarm bells ringing before they ever write about chiropractic or adherents of it:

“Chiropractic was not evolved from medicine or any other method, except that of magnetic.”

Of course, that sounds quite ridiculous, but wait, there’s more:

“Chiropractic is based on metaphysical epistemology that is not amenable to positivist research or experiment.”

It is fair to say that chiropractors' views have changed over time and they vary greatly on what treatment they offer to patients, but the studies on the overall method of chiropractic when subjected to proper methodologies and controls are repeatedly clear: it is not evidence based practice (or to put as Palmer did, it is “not amenable to positivist research or experiment). Worse still, the evidence suggests that it has caused serious harm to some patients. In fact, it is increasingly documented that chiropractic treatment has directly caused life-changing adversities for some patients, including death. As Simon Singh said in his controversial 2008 article for the Guardian:

“If spinal manipulation were a drug with such serious adverse effects and so little demonstrable benefit, then it would almost certainly have been taken off the market.”

Am I being unfairly critical of the significance of the chiropractic discipline in the Milan Lab? After all, the Milan Lab was also made up of medical doctors and data analysts. Well, Meersseman proudly states how he sacked the doctors who weren’t willing to give his pseudo-science the time of day.

In a 2010 article by Michael Walker in The Daily Mail, Meersseman is quoted as saying:

“Since our model is deeply rooted in the philosophy, art and science of chiropractic, the medical staff was quite closed to the idea when I first arrived, so I had to fire the medical doctors who did not want to come onboard.”

The most significant part of that statement is Meersseman’s proud assertion that chiropractic practice and principles were the underpinning of the Milan Lab. It’s by no means a one-off comment. In another 2010 article in Four Four Two, Meersseman is quoted as saying:

“I tried to instill a chiropractic philosophy early on. Structural problems in the body can bring about injuries in just the same way that a bad tackle can and I wanted the players and management to realise this. Through performing chiropractic checks, I was able to identify structural problems and address them, which helped reduce injuries.”

Yes, the man tasked to run what is frequently heralded by sports writers as a scientific adventure built it on the foundations of a profoundly anti-science discipline.

One additional indication of the chiropractic underpinning of the Milan Lab is that, as of 2009, according to Jeremy Wilson in his article for the Telegraph, the Milan Lab balance of doctors were actually outweighed by chiropractors by four chiropractors to three doctors.

In a 2009 article in World Chiropractic Alliance, Meersseman is quoted as saying:

“Players are seen every day by the chiropractor. This allows us to prevent numerous injuries, while maximising the player’s performance. We apply chiropractic in a subluxation‑centered, wellness‑oriented perspective. We especially place a strong emphasis on the upper cervical area and applied kinesiology allows us [to] integrate the biochemical and mental aspect of the triangle of health, as well as to respond to the specific needs of sports chiropractic.”

As I alluded to earlier, there is no reliable empirical supporting evidence to support chiropractic methods for injury prevention or treatment so Meersseman’s assertions smell like the faeces of a bull. “Subluxation-centered, wellness-orientated” and “biochemical and mental aspect of triangle of health” is all just mumbo jumbo so one can be confused into thinking that Meersseman is an expert. It’s nonsense. Then again, this is from the same person who is reported to have told a Belgian interviewer, “Age doesn’t exist.”

To be fair, Meersseman hasn’t always tried to disguise himself as someone with scientific expertise. He outrightly professed his disdain for basic scientific principles, when discussing the ridiculous decision to remove Clarence Seedorf’s wisdom teeth in an effort to treat his persistent groin pain. In Meersseman’s 2013 interview with Sean Ingles for the Guardian, Meersseman is quoted as saying:

That one statement makes all his grandiose claims about injury prevention and performance improvements highly suspect, especially when these claims haven’t been verified by any objective scientists or researchers nor have we been able to test or explore the methodology that they’re supposedly based on. For all I know, they could be completely made up. We are asked to take, on face value, claims that for the entire time Meersseman headed up the Milan Lab, the ‘lab’ achieved a 43% reduction in days off (presumably this means days off due to injury), and an 80% reduction in non-traumatic injuries (injuries that don’t arise from physical clashes). We are expected to simply accept the claims that the physical performance average of the players increased by 50%. Again, according to Meersseman, we are expected to believe without any opportunity to properly scrutinise the claims that AC Milan player injuries reduced by two-thirds while he headed the esteemed lab. No one seems to have asked what the hell some of these claims even mean or what the determining criteria such bold bragging is based on.

According to Simon Kuper’s 2008 Financial Times article, Meersseman claims that the Milan Lab, “just by studying a player’s jump, could predict with 70 per cent accuracy whether he would get injured.” We are asked to just accept such a bold claim without asking for the evidence to support it.

If we don’t get to put any of these claims to any proper tests or examine them with any rigour, and, alongside those claims, we have a man who confidently states that the underpinning ethos of the lab he set up and oversaw was based on what most rational people understand is an anti-scientific discipline then please permit me to smell bullshit.

In one of the rare occasions when injury prevention abilities at AC Milan could be put to a more open and scrutable test, Meersseman’s claims look much more suspicious. As was reported in Football Italia in 2012, Gazetta Della Sport actually looked at, over five seasons, the number of games that players could not play in due to injury for five clubs. Meersseman seemingly took a less prominent role in the Milan Lab from 2010, so to try to be fair as possible, I’ll only outline the three seasons covered (from 2007–2008 to 2009–2010) that he was more firmly at the helm.

Napoli [64, 75, 118]
Roma [129, 130, 179]
Internazionale [180, 190, 108]
Juventus [131, 141, 216]
AC Milan [151, 161, 218]

Admittedly this is just one indicator for injuries and there are obvious flaws in the methodology. It’s arguably not long term enough to draw any significant conclusions — there may be general fluctuations anyway; AC Milan may have had players out for much longer periods that skewed the results despite the average number of days lost being much lower or the median number of days being lower; it’s also fair to point out that squad sizes vary (though from my review not that significantly and Milan tended to have a smaller squad for which you would expect less overall injuries as a result). However, this research in Gazetta Della Sport is at least one of the very few ways in which claims around injury prevention that we are expected to take at face value can begin to be put to the test more openly, and Meersseman’s abilities and output seem far less impressive as a result.

Source: Leaders in Performance from Flickr

What is truly astonishing to me is the near ubiquitous nature of reporting about Meersseman and his methods. Football writers and journalists simply took his word for it. In so many cases, journalists refer to him as a doctor (often, even, without the additional mention of him being a chiropractor). He is allowed to make grandiose claims without any challenge to prove or explain them. His medical expertise is simply assumed. The result is some of the most irresponsible and shoddy sports journalism I’ve come across, where, instead of being admonished, ridiculed, questioned or simply ignored, Meersseman is able to advocate for a medical procedure — the removal of Clarence Seedorf’s wisdom teeth — without any evidence whatsoever that the patient required it. Dangerous and ridiculous methods are giving credence and amplification to a bigger audience.

The oft repeated story about taking out wisdom teeth to treat groin pain is one of the most idiotic examples of the post hoc fallacy I’ve ever seen in sports journalism, and the sports writers who allowed the wool to be pulled over their eyes (even those retweeting articles discussing it without critical commentary) should be ashamed of themselves. After all, sports journalism is still supposed to be journalism.

If you feel I am being harsh on the football writing community, let’s look in a little more detail at how little scrutiny Meersseman has been given in prominent articles about him and the Milan Lab. We can start with Sean Ingle’s February 2013 Guardian piece which starts:

The patient is lying half naked on the treatment table in a clinic not far from Harley Street watching his feet being pressed together, rotated, tested. His pelvis is checked and he is asked to open his mouth. Finally Jean-Pierre Meersseman, founder of the world-renowned Milan Lab and special advisor to Milan, speaks. “Your pelvis is tilted, one leg is shorter than the other and you have suffered from groin injuries,” he says, correctly.

How does Ingle know that Meersseman’s evaluation is correct? Does Ingle have significant medical qualifications and background that we’re not aware of? Did Meersseman measure both legs in front of Ingle to confirm? Did Meersseman have an x-ray of the patient’s pelvis and a comparison of an x-ray for someone with a healthy pelvis?

Ingle goes on:

“[Meersemann] then applies local anaesthetic to an impacted wisdom tooth and suddenly the range of movement in the right leg significantly widens.”

This is diabolically irresponsible journalism from Ingle because he’s promoting absolute junk science as an effective treatment. He’s fallen for a basic parlour trick. Meersemann is likely forced to rely on such parlour tricks because he is not a medical expert but, instead, a charlatan (albeit one that might truly believes he’s not one).

It is therefore unsurprising that later on in the same article, when Meersseman discusses the Milan Lab’s use of ‘kinesiology’, it is not challenged by Ingles or even looked into.

The term kinesiology is brandished about by Meerseman frequently in interviews and it’s a term repeatedly mentioned by journalists in articles that featuring Meerseman and/or the Milan Lab, all without proper question or clarification as to what is being referred to.

Jeremy Wilson in a June 2009 article for the Telegraph:

“…the club’s medical director Jean-Pierre Meersseman, a Belgian kinesiologist studying how the body functions and moves.”

Michael Walker in a March 2010 Daily Mail article:

“Kinesiology is one of his key words: the study of human movement.”

And:

“Meerrseman would revolutionise Milan’s system. In came neurology, biochemistty, psychology as well as chripractic, kinesiology and plenty of staff.”

What Meerseman really means when he uses the term kinesiology is actually ‘applied kinesiology’. It would seem on the face of it that I am just being pedantic, but this is a hugely important distinction because kinesiology is an actual scientific discipline; applied kinesiology is quackery of such momentous quack order that scientists have barely even devoted any time to debunking it.

So what is applied kinesiology? Although what can be diagnosed or claimed varies greatly depending on the person applying this pseudo-junk test, the general principles involves applying pressure to limbs at the same time a person is asked to force against the pressure by lifting or dropping their limbs. Some people are requested to place items in their mouth or on their body or asked a particular question so that the strength of resistance can be tested again (or in opposite order). To be as generous as I possibly can, it’s quite possible that the pseuds who carry out applied kinesiology genuinely believe that it works, but that doesn’t stop it being a complete crock of shit.

After the applied kinesiologists complete their testing they will frequently diagnose a particular item or issue, often food, as causing the patient weakness (supposedly negatively affecting their aura or energy field) . Thus, there is often a recommendation that this aura-affecting article or entity should be avoided or removed from the patient’s life altogether. This can go so far as practically recommending divorce or separation from a marital spouse or partner without the applied kinesiologist having ever met them. Also after the completion of the testing, an applied kinesiologist might prescribe a particular programme of chiropractic treatment. This happens to be very convenient for many applied kinesiologists because they also happen to be chiropractors too.

It doesn’t take much to see holes in this absolutely ludicrous sham method. It is probably even more unscientific than chiropractic which really takes some doing.

As Professor Edzard Ernst states in his article from last year:

The only systematic review of [applied kinesiology] was published in 2008 by a team known to be strongly in favour of alternative medicine. It included 22 relevant studies. Their methodology was poor. The authors concluded that ‘there is insufficient evidence for diagnostic accuracy within kinesiology, the validity of muscle response and the effectiveness of kinesiology for any condition.’

If you want to see just a small example of how ridiculous it is to take such a discipline seriously (and also have a good giggle), then please take a look at the following video from the 2007 BBC 3 series The Bulls**t Detective:

Applied kinesiology is just another broken tool in the useless and often dangerous toolbox of a quack. However, consistently when Meersseman makes some mention of it or a writer mentions it in an article about Meersseman, there is always a failure to challenge or clarify the term or even ask basic questions as to the efficacy of the method.

I do have a smidgeon of sympathy for some of the football writers who have been bamboozled by Meerssemann because when someone uses a word like kinesiology, one could be excused for being fooled into thinking that the person is very clever, understands science, and happens to be talking about something that goes over most laymen’s’ heads.

In fact, comment on the use of that discipline is often accompanied by comment on the use of other disciplines alleged to prevent injuries, increase performance and/or extend players’ careers, such as “neurology”, “biochemistry”, “psychology”, and “electromyography”.

These are usually disciplines or practices with an evidence-based ethos. But when they’re practiced by chiropractors, the disciplines often change drastically in concept and in their scientific rigour.

Take the claims made about Milan Lab’s use of neurology. It’s quite possible that AC Milan did use genuine neurology, but with a chiropractor and applied kinesiologist at the helm, in my view, it’s far more likely that they used and were really referring to “chiropractic neurology”.

A genuine neurologist, Steven Novella, looked into chiropractic neurology in 2011 for Science-Based Medicine, saying of it:

“It appears to me to be the very definition of pseudoscience — it has all the trappings of a legitimate profession, with a complex set of beliefs and practices, but there is no underlying scientific basis for any of it.”

Again, when we consider the use of electromyography which is mentioned in several articles about Meersseman and the Milan Lab, it is reasonable to suspect that this discipline will be the bastardised version associated with chiropractors. And this version is usually surface electromyography, where a device is used to measure the electrical activity of individual muscles or muscle groups.

Of this method, Samuel Homola, a critical retired chiropractor and author of Inside Chiropractic: A Patient’s Guide, states in an article for Chirobase:

“In 2000, after reviewing more than 2,500 original articles, reviews, and books, an American Academy of Neurology subcommittee concluded that SEMG was “unacceptable as a clinical tool” for diagnosing low back pain or neuromuscular disease.”

And if you’re still not convinced that we should be highly suspicious of any claims made by Meersseman about the Milan Lab, it is worth noting that he had players routinely tested for their psychic abilities. I would not need to be a psychic to have predicted that the results were highly unreliable. How can you possibly test players for abilities that no one has? I am extremely confident that if a proper controlled experiment was designed and carried out on AC Milan players in order to test psychic abilities, any correlations that Meersseman might have found earlier would not stand up to scrutiny.

The very fact that these tests were conducted should have been a decent sign for journalists to doubt Meersseman’s other methods and claims. At the very least, you would think that journalists might research and then question the use of such a test, but they’ve said nothing.

It’s hard not to read Jamie Jackson’s August 2009 Guardian article about Bruno Demichelis (formerly of the Milan Lab) and his comments about conducting tests in Chelsea that are routinely conducted at Milan Lab without coming away thinking that Jackson must have thought psychic testing on players was a credible procedure. In the article, Jackson highlights some of the prospective tests for Chelsea players in the context of tests ran at Milan Lab, saying they “could include a PSI test, which monitors psychic ability”. He then says nothing about how ludicrous this testing is for the rest of the piece.

This isn’t the only reference to the Milan Lab carrying out psychic testing in players. In a blog post for Innovation Enterprise, Simon Barton mentioned these assessments taking place at the Milan Lab, stating, “Additionally, players must complete a PSI test to monitor their psychic ability.”

Apart from acknowledging that Meersseman’s “techniques remain unorthodox”, once again, we have another writer saying nothing of the highly dubious (let’s be honest: ridiculous) nature of carrying out tests for players’ psychic ability. There’s unorthodox and then there’s bat-shit crazy.

Meersseman pictured centre. Note: Chiropractors love wearing white lab coats (Source: Twitter)

If for some reason you remain wedded to the idea that Meersseman is a medical expert and the Milan Lab was set up with scientific rigour, then consider that he “headed the decision” to purchase an Axiom’s DRX9000 back-compression machine for the Milan Lab in 2008.

DRX9000? That certainly sounds like a sophisticated piece of machinery. After all, it’s called DRX9000 and it comes with LED lights and monitors. Axiom, the company that manufactured it, also claimed an 86% success rate for significantly reducing back pain in patients. However, the study they based this claim on was heavily criticised in a 2007 Live Science article (originally published in Skeptical Enquirer) by a retired doctor, Harriet A. Hall, who said:

“It was easy to see why it wasn’t published in a reputable, peer-reviewed medical journal — it wouldn’t have passed review.”

Of a similar machine (VAX-D Machine), Dr Stephen Barrett examined the lofty claims about its efficacy in a Chirobase article, concluding:

“VAX-D therapy may provide relief for properly selected patients. However, there are good reasons to believe that manual treatment can usually accomplish the same thing more quickly, safely, and less expensively. The same considerations apply to the… DRX-9000”

More worryingly those machines had frequently been advertised as treatments for ailments for which there was no evidence they could cure, such as for degenerated or herniated discs. As former doctor, Harriet Hall, highlighted (in a follow up for Science-Based Medicine in June 2008), The Medical Letter carried out an evaluation of spinal decompression machines, concluding:

“There is no acceptable evidence that non-surgical spinal decompression machines can correct degenerated or herniated discs or that they relieve pain in patients with these conditions.”

It’s also important to note, as Harriet Hall puts it in her article:

“These treatments DO have side effects; they sometimes aggravate symptoms and can harm patients.”

These aren’t the only machines with scarce reliable evidential basis for purchasing or using at the Milan Lab. In 2010, the Milan Lab entered into a partnership with Mectronic for the use of chelt therapy. According to Mectronic, chelt therapy involves an “innovative synergy between dry cryotherapy and… lasertherapy”, “ideal for the reduction of pain, inflammation, swelling and edema, and to accelerate recovery”.

But the use of cryotherapy (use of very cold temperatures on muscles and body to help treat injury or help the body recover) is increasingly seen as problematic. As was reported by Emily Sohn in the Washington Post:

“There’s more and more evidence coming out that the inflammation that cold reduces is actually imperative for the recovery and healing process,” says Joseph Costello, an exercise physiologist at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom.

Sohn goes on to point out the low evidential basis to justify its use for improving sports performance and treating or preventing injuries, referencing a number of reviews of the scientific literature available.

There is also no reliable scientific evidence that combining cryotherapy with low level laser therapy is any better than a placebo in treating pain, let alone preventing injury or speeding up recovery. Mark Crislip undertook a review of the available research on low level laser therapy in an article for Science-Based Medicine, stating:

“Reading the literature suggests there is no reason for lasers to have any real effects beyond placebo, which regular readers know I consider to be no more than the patient convincing themselves they are improved when, in fact, they are not.”

Not only that, but what has often been advertised as treatable through low level laser treatment is way beyond its actual very limited evidence base, as was also pointed out in Crislip’s article. This is more egregious because it could influence people to forgo proper evidence based treatment, and, in its place, go for a likely bogus alternative.

If there is little evidence the machines work and little evidence they work any better than manual therapy or far less expensive alternatives, why did Meersseman purchase such expensive machines for the Milan Lab? I am speculating here, of course, but perhaps sophisticated looking machines helped to give him a veneer of scientific and medical expertise and respectability. Regardless, the availability of such equipment and Meersseman’s other considerably hefty efforts of scientific sophistry are not a sufficient excuse for football writers not to have been more sceptical and adversarial in their work.

Adopting a more scrutable approach would have avoided so many writers from being inadvertently duped into thinking Jean Pierre Meersseman is an expert when he’s really a sham artist (but one that probably doesn’t realise that he is). This is more important than you might immediately think, because those writers ended up lending false legitimacy to dubious, duplicitous and sometimes dangerous practices.

Even in other less problematic areas, there remains a distinct lack of journalistic challenge to Meersseman’s bragging. In an interview with Simon Kuper in the Financial Times, Meersseman takes the credit for AC Milan signing Cafu at the age of 32. He claims: “Everybody said: ‘You can’t do it, he’s at the very end’.”

The difficulty with believing this claim is that I can find no record of anyone with football, medical or scientific respectability suggesting anything close. Admittedly, Cafu had agreed to join Yokohama F. Marinos in the J-League (before doing an about-turn and joining AC Milan), which at the time (and still currently) is considered as a lower-level league than Serie A, but it is brazen nonsense to suggest that anyone with credibility would have said that Cafu was “at the very end” — he racked up 41 performances for Roma in the season before he joined AC Milan, his second highest in his entire club career.

Kuper offered no challenge to Meersseman about this claim, but, then again, Kuper had clearly abandoned any sense of scepticism in his reporting anyway, never once mentioning Meersseman’s background as a chiropractor, and ending his ingratiating article with:

“If the Lab sold its secrets to the world’s consumers, it would render face-lifts and wrinkle creams defunct. This could be the salvation of Italy’s economy.”

This is a palpably ridiculous assertion because we have no way of verifying the success that the Milan Lab claimed or whether the lab’s interventions were causally linked to the purported successes.

There are several factors that shouldn’t be overlooked as to why so much of the writing and journalism about the Milan Lab and Jean Pierre Meersseman has been so utterly uncritical. The generally corporate model of journalism and media (in which most articles on Meersseman and the Milan Lab feature) isn’t conducive to critical, nuanced journalism. Editors and key decision makers fear flack, so articles critical of chiropractic and other quack disciplines are less likely to be published because they may, for example, fear a backlash through potential libel action. There are frequently word limits or space limits to how much can usually be written. This often has the outcome of censorship or limitation of criticism, in my view, using space restrictions as an excuse.

Significantly, it’s also much easier to write fluff pieces than it is to write critical pieces. Most of the articles I’ve highlighted or referenced in this essay about Meersseman and the Milan Lab will have been fairly easy to write. Even the feature pieces and long reads would have only taken a few days at the most to research and write, where as the piece you are reading right now has taken weeks to research and write. The incentives for critical thinking in journalism are completely out of whack.

Source: Repubblica.it

Based on the interviews with and statements made by Meersseman, it is fair to assume that he thinks that pulling out wisdom teeth is an effective way to treat chronic groin pain, rather than the gratuitously sadistic act that it actually is. It is also fair to assume that the journalists, who have either written about it as an effective treatment or failed to appropriately challenge the logic, likely think the same thing.

That an event is followed by another event does not mean they are directly related. Just because something happens, it doesn’t mean we can assign its existence to any event that happened before it. I once read a series of articles that failed to hold a quack to account and in many cases supported bogus and dangerous methods. After that, I found my phone was charged. If I followed the Meersseman and sycophantic football writers’ logic, then I would have to read shoddy football writing every time I wanted to charge my phone.

Speaking of both shoddy journalism and the ad hoc fallacy, a fine example can be found in Blair Newman’s These Football Times long read article, where he described Clarence Seedorf’s wisdom teeth removal as “temporarily painful, perhaps, but as the following decade was to prove, the end justified the means.”

I can only hope that Newman has not had groin pain since he wrote the article as I’m genuinely frightened he would have done something very silly to himself. Newman is also quick to applaud other methods undertaken by Meersseman at the Milan Lab, without any verification that they were significant factors for the successes claimed. “[They] may have seemed unorthodox to the outsider,” he writes. “But they were working.”

Towards the end of his piece, Newman’s grasp of science and basic reality proves to be something quite astonishing, when he says of Meersseman’s proclamation that age doesn’t exist:

“His viewpoint may be scientifically correct, but even if age doesn’t exist, retirement does.”

Honestly, I don’t even know where to start with a comment so mind-bogglingly stupid. Meersseman’s viewpoint may be scientifically correct, but only if we are discussing crocodiles. We’re talking about humans.

Unfortunately, this is apparently what we can expect when we look at football writing about Jean Pierre Meersseman and the Milan Lab. It speaks volumes as to how and why we have a culture so utterly lacking in its adherence to and respect for critical thinking that charlatans like Meersseman could not only find himself such an important role at such a prestigious club, but could actually thrive there.

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