I haven't read Born to Run, but since you say it only presents one perspective, I think it's like a lot of documentaries I've watched, with an obvious agenda. :) Of course the most effective arguments are made when the rhetor addresses the counter-argument(s) as well, or even concedes a point or points. I think Real Simple was probably trying to discourage folks from going out and running in fivefingers, because you really do need to do some research and make the switch sloooooooowly. Still, they could have just said that or something.
So the Harvard study on barefoot running
was partially funded by Vibram. That's pretty frustrating! I mean, I can see why they'd want to actively support this research, since the results could totally be to their benefit, but at the same time, the study now feels super-biased and I can't take it completely seriously.
I really enjoy minimalist running, though my vibrams have basically fallen apart in like 2 months of light running--half marathon training but long runs have only gotten up to 4 miles. The rubber is pealing off the mesh on one of the toes and there are two holes in the mesh (plus a bloodstain but I guess that can't be helped). The Merrell Pace Glove with Vibram sole
looks interesting, though. And less lizard-y...
Just seems like I know people who have worn conventional running shoes and can no longer run after 35-40 years because of injuries. And I know people who have taken up barefoot running and didn't make it a week before they injured themselves, sometimes pretty seriously, and I know people who are still running strong after decades in conventional shoes and I know people who have been running barefoot (usually -actually- barefoot and not minimalist) for years and, again, are still running strong.
So basically, it just seems to me, in my obviously scientific opinion :) that running, any way you do it, involves risk. See what works best for you and keeps you injury-free and go with it. You can get injured with any type of shoe or without shoes, sometimes even when you're doing it -right-!
Oh, and that study about the less expensive shoes is fascinating! I'd love to read it. While running in my $80 vibrams ;)