First I’d like to thank The Older Brother for taking over the Fat Head chair while I was in Washington, D.C. (You’ll be hearing from him again in May when I’m on the low-carb cruise.) I received a record number of emails about Harvard’s latest “Meat Kills!” study just before I left town, so I was pleased The Older Brother gave it a worthy whack and pointed readers to Denise Minger’s slice-and-dice. Gary Taubes also took the study apart and made the remaining points I would have made (and then some), so I won’t bother weighing in on that one. Bottom line: it’s another worthless observational study. Enjoy your steak and burgers.
Now, about that speech I gave in Washington …
The good news is that I received some very positive feedback from the five people who saw it. The bad news is that five people saw it. (I’m not counting Dr. Richard Feinman or Dr. Wendy Pogozelski, who were presenters in our group.) So it wasn’t exactly my version of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
I spent hours writing the speech, more hours making slides, still more hours memorizing (I can’t stand reading a speech from a script), had myself all geared up to handle any hostile questions afterwards, flew 650 miles to do battle, and ended up talking mostly to empty chairs. It felt a bit like training for a fight and then stepping into the ring, only to find the opposing fighter’s corner empty.
Nonetheless, here’s the speech. In the first half-hour after I posted it to YouTube, more people had already seen it online than saw it in person.
The Office of Research Integrity conference (titled Quest for Research Excellence) wasn’t a nutrition conference; it was conference dealing with research issues in a number of disciplines, with multiple presentations being delivered simultaneously. Apparently nutrition wasn’t the hot topic among the attendees. Too bad. In Dr. Feinman’s presentations, he offered several examples of research that was definitely not excellent. Dr. Wendy Pogozelski, a colleague of Dr. Feinman’s at State University of New York, also gave an interesting presentation about childhood obesity and how the current dietary guidelines aren’t helping (to put it mildly).
Aside from their presentations, the second-most interesting part of the whole trip for me was standing in line at Reagan International airport in front of two older women with the thickest New Jersey accents I’ve ever heard. They had just dropped off a rental cah and were heading back to Joysey. Either one of them (going by voice, at least) could have been Bugs Bunny’s grandmother. I kept wanting to turn around and ask if they made a wrong toyn at Albukoyke.
The most interesting part of the trip was finding myself in a bit of mini-debate with Dr. Feinman over dinner on Thursday night. We’re both convinced people are getting sick and dying younger than necessary thanks to lousy dietary advice from the USDA and other organizations that promote the usual low-fat nonsense. He believes we need to focus on convincing the federal government to re-evaluate the science and, by extension, the dietary advice. I believe the USDA is basically a division of Monsanto, Cargill and ADM, and always will be. I don’t expect the federal government to ever stop promoting a high-carbohydrate diet based on wheat and other grains, so my goal is to convince people to stop listening to the USDA.
One of us is right. So perhaps the only logical strategy is to wage this war on both fronts. That was the point of going to Washington to pick a fight. I hope it’s more of a fight next time.