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As much a story about diet and health as it is the precarious nature of good science, it may one day be regarded as the spark that ignited a paradigm shift.

--- I understand that it is a story about diet and health and it is also full of good scientific research. Is it what it says?

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The word "precarious" indicates that theories and practices in science change due to new discoveries, research, etc. That's very important in understanding the sentence.

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NewguestAs much a story about diet and health as it is the precarious nature of good science, it may one day be regarded as the spark that ignited a paradigm shift.

It's hard to interpret without more context. What does "it" refer to?

I think "it" might be some event, such as the accidental discovery that limes prevent scurvy or perhaps Louis Pasteur's discovery that heating milk prevented food poisoning.

Pasteur is sometimes called the "father of microbiology", so his approach to medicine might be the paradigm shift mentioned.

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Newguest--- I understand that it is a story about diet and health and it is also full of good scientific research. Is it what it says?

No. The writer left a word out: "As much a story about diet and health as it is about the precarious nature of good science, it may one day be regarded as the spark that ignited a paradigm shift." The writer also mixed his metaphors. You can't ignite a shift.

 Englishmaven's reply was promoted to an answer.

OK, so what does this sentence actually say, because it sounds awkward to me? Is my interpretation above pretty much correct?

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anonymousNo. The writer left a word out:

The quote seems fine to me. It is an academic style.

 AlpheccaStars's reply was promoted to an answer.
AlpheccaStars
NewguestAs much a story about diet and health as it is the precarious nature of good science, it may one day be regarded as the spark that ignited a paradigm shift.

It's hard to interpret without more context. What does "it" refer to?

Longer quote:
"Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes. An exhaustive, meticulously-researched account of why so much of what we’ve been led to believe about nutrition is wrong, and how it all happened. As much a story about diet and health as it is the precarious nature of good science, it may one day be regarded as the spark that ignited a paradigm shift.
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AlpheccaStarsThe quote seems fine to me. It is an academic style.

The formula is "Z is as much X as it is Y". So far so good. But the writer has for X "about diet and health", and for Y "the precarious nature of good science". Without the second "about", the reader sees "the story is the precarious nature of good science". I think this is the root of the OP's confusion. If you correct the wrong word placement, you get an understandable sentence, worthy of an academic: "A story as much about diet and health as it is the precarious nature of good science, it may one day be regarded as the spark that ignited a paradigm shift." This still sucks, but at least it makes sense.

The book is about diet and health, but also presents the idea that highly-regarded scientific principles can be completely overturned by new evidence. The information is so revolutionary, that this book may change everyone's thinking about or approach to the subject.