An alternative explanation for the unduly positive reputation of the Atkins diet in our data is that reviewers make mistakes or lie. However, it seems unlikely that measurement error could account for the three- to four-fold difference in weight loss we observed, or that reviewers exaggerate to such a large degree in an online review. Similarly, error alone seems unlikely to account for the significant differences in conception rates, and reviewers had little motivation to lie about pregnancy status. It is also unlikely that fake reviews (written by people wishing to inflate or deflate the reputation of the product) account for our results. The deviation between the reputed benefits and the real effects of the treatments is similar across all eight Atkins diet durations (), similar across 15 years of diet book reviews, and is similar over all three menstrual cycles. This consistent pattern of deviation seems more likely to stem from characteristics of human psychology than from deliberate fake review creation.
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