Speech: Diet, Health and the Wisdom of Crowds

      122 Comments on Speech: Diet, Health and the Wisdom of Crowds

I want to thank The Older Brother for taking over the Fat Head chair while I was away last week. I can always count on him to stir the pot with his posts.

I was in Massachusetts, giving a speech at Springfield College to about 300 students and a dozen or so faculty members. Dr. Richard Wood, the director of the Center for Wellness Education & Research at the college, is a Fat Head fan and set up the event. It was way big fun. The official Q & A session afterwards lasted about 25 minutes, but when the event was over, students lined up to ask me questions one-on-one. So I stuck around another 45 minutes or so.

The college has a highly respected nutrition program, and it was encouraging to talk with students who asked so many intelligent questions. These students aren’t going to go out into the world after graduating and parrot what they’ve been told.Β  Dr. Wood encourages them to think for themselves and sometimes requires them to argue both sides of a debate. There’s hope for the nutrition world yet.

Anyway, here’s the speech.

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122 thoughts on “Speech: Diet, Health and the Wisdom of Crowds

  1. CD.UK

    So I just looked at the USDA guidelines for 2010, and it said reduce saturated fat to 7% of calories. Yet it also said saturated fat and cholesterol is completely unnecessary to get from diet as the body makes it’s own. If that’s the case, then where does the 7% even come from? Why not say 0% is the ideal to strive for? If it’s such a risk factor for disease, in their view, why compromise with the arbitrary 7%…unless it’s an admission that any lower would be torture. If 0% of both in a diet is the ideal for perfect human health, why would it be torture?

    They themselves say Americans eat 19% “solid fats”. So if people didn’t listen to 10% solid fats, then what on earth makes them think people will follow 7%?

    Well, it’s like I said in the speech: failure means we need to do the same thing again, only bigger.

    Reply
  2. Cary L

    An entertaining, well-paced, highly persuasive speech. Thank you so much for sharing this publicly, especially as too many people would have kept this to themselves or parsed it out for a fee.

    Thank you for watching.

    Reply
  3. Eric from Belgium

    Tom,

    Congratulations for an amazing and highly entertaining speech. Wisdom of the anointed will shortly be on my to-read list.

    As I was listening to your presentation it struck me that the same process is followed in pretty much all areas where some form of power can be exercised, be it religion, politics or corporate management. And boy, do we have a lot ‘politically anointed’ entities here in Belgium.

    As to why this happens, I think Robert Cialdini’s work (Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion) provides potential explanations. If you have the chance, read his book, it’s a real eye opener.

    Thanks for sharing your work with us.

    E.

    I’ll put that on my list. We get the Vision of the Anointed whenever a small group of experts decides to impose its solution on the rest of us. The solution isn’t always a failure, but if it is … well, nothing like having a failure imposed on you, is there?

    Reply
  4. Eric from Belgium

    Tom,

    Congratulations for an amazing and highly entertaining speech. Wisdom of the anointed will shortly be on my to-read list.

    As I was listening to your presentation it struck me that the same process is followed in pretty much all areas where some form of power can be exercised, be it religion, politics or corporate management. And boy, do we have a lot ‘politically anointed’ entities here in Belgium.

    As to why this happens, I think Robert Cialdini’s work (Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion) provides potential explanations. If you have the chance, read his book, it’s a real eye opener.

    Thanks for sharing your work with us.

    E.

    I’ll put that on my list. We get the Vision of the Anointed whenever a small group of experts decides to impose its solution on the rest of us. The solution isn’t always a failure, but if it is … well, nothing like having a failure imposed on you, is there?

    Reply
  5. Marcie Tandy

    As per your advice I watched Cereal Killers and enjoyed it, I think Donal is pretty cool. He was interviewed by Sam Feltham recently as well. Thank you for keeping us informed of other Low carb promoters. Everyone I talk to about this looks at me like I’m an idiot when I say it’s ok to eat fat. My brother lives in LA and is a vegan (shocker) and is always tired but insists its had nothing to do with his diet. Anyway thanks for keeping it real! Happy holidays

    Happy holidays to you and yours, including your tired vegan brother.

    Reply
  6. Jesrad

    Thomas Sowell should be mandatory reading in every college;.. Another good read for understanding how experts can and do go wrong when given a position of authority, is Friedrich Hayek’s 1972 Nobel acceptance speech.

    I agree. Politicians wouldn’t get away with so much nonsense if more people understood basic economics.

    Reply
  7. Rae Ford

    Speaking of school lunches being so bad and busybodies doing what they can to regulate them, I just heard about the efforts of an Ohio democrat who wants to make homeschooling more difficult by mandating that home school parents must be investigated by Social Services. And others think parents should have to get the permission of the local school board. And the scary thing to me is, I could totally see this all coming to pass.

    If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it at least twice: The next time you hear someone say, “Hey, it’s a free country!” the proper response would be a hearty laugh.

    Reply
  8. Marcie Tandy

    As per your advice I watched Cereal Killers and enjoyed it, I think Donal is pretty cool. He was interviewed by Sam Feltham recently as well. Thank you for keeping us informed of other Low carb promoters. Everyone I talk to about this looks at me like I’m an idiot when I say it’s ok to eat fat. My brother lives in LA and is a vegan (shocker) and is always tired but insists its had nothing to do with his diet. Anyway thanks for keeping it real! Happy holidays

    Happy holidays to you and yours, including your tired vegan brother.

    Reply
  9. DS Foxx

    In Philadelphia for the holidays. Just heard about “slo-tility” — which bills itself as the World’s First Crowdsourced diet — and thought of you. (Slo-tility.com doesn’t have much up yet, more on facebook.) Wonder how much more crowd wisdom they’d end up with if a ton of lifetime LCHF folks joined in?

    Happy winter!

    Happy Winter and Merry Festivus to you.

    Reply
  10. Jesrad

    Thomas Sowell should be mandatory reading in every college;.. Another good read for understanding how experts can and do go wrong when given a position of authority, is Friedrich Hayek’s 1972 Nobel acceptance speech.

    I agree. Politicians wouldn’t get away with so much nonsense if more people understood basic economics.

    Reply
  11. Rae Ford

    Speaking of school lunches being so bad and busybodies doing what they can to regulate them, I just heard about the efforts of an Ohio democrat who wants to make homeschooling more difficult by mandating that home school parents must be investigated by Social Services. And others think parents should have to get the permission of the local school board. And the scary thing to me is, I could totally see this all coming to pass.

    If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it at least twice: The next time you hear someone say, “Hey, it’s a free country!” the proper response would be a hearty laugh.

    Reply
  12. DS Foxx

    In Philadelphia for the holidays. Just heard about “slo-tility” — which bills itself as the World’s First Crowdsourced diet — and thought of you. (Slo-tility.com doesn’t have much up yet, more on facebook.) Wonder how much more crowd wisdom they’d end up with if a ton of lifetime LCHF folks joined in?

    Happy winter!

    Happy Winter and Merry Festivus to you.

    Reply
  13. Bret

    Great speech, Tom. And while I am sure this was not intended, I could not help but think of Obamacare during every bullet description of the Vision of the Anointed. Perfect match on all counts.

    Luckily, people figure out how to adapt and thrive in spite of government’s arrogant attempts to control their lives with central planning, as both you and the Older Brother have helped me learn. I am a lot more optimistic about the future than I used to be.

    Sowell points out that The Anointed often escape blame for the effects of their Grand Plans because the negative unintended consequences can take a decade or more to manifest. The advantage (if you will) of ObamaCare is that the unintended consequences are manifesting so quickly, there’s no chance most people won’t connect the dots.

    Reply
  14. Bret

    Great speech, Tom. And while I am sure this was not intended, I could not help but think of Obamacare during every bullet description of the Vision of the Anointed. Perfect match on all counts.

    Luckily, people figure out how to adapt and thrive in spite of government’s arrogant attempts to control their lives with central planning, as both you and the Older Brother have helped me learn. I am a lot more optimistic about the future than I used to be.

    Sowell points out that The Anointed often escape blame for the effects of their Grand Plans because the negative unintended consequences can take a decade or more to manifest. The advantage (if you will) of ObamaCare is that the unintended consequences are manifesting so quickly, there’s no chance most people won’t connect the dots.

    Reply
  15. Teco Mendes

    Hello Tom! Love your work and how you put serious stuff in a funny way!

    Since I’ve watched fat Head I have a question. I understand how government pushed the low fat life style with no science to suport it in the USA. But what about the universities? If I graduate from college as nutritionist, dietitian or physician, I will study books! And college books are written by PHD based on scientific papers! How come they leave college with the same idea that low fat is good? And even worse, how come it happened in several countries like here in Brazil that nutritionists from Universities think the same way?! In the 50’s this decision from American Government influenced the world this easy? Even today with the internet and comunication/information easy to obtain we dont have in Brazil a single paleo/primal book translated to portuguese so this “new” Idea can be spreaded, how they managed to do that in the past when even fax wasnt available?!
    Have no idea! Do you? πŸ™‚

    Regards,

    Teco Mendes

    Universities kow-tow to the government as well. As I recounted in Fat Head, Dr. Kilmer McCulley was basically sacked from Harvard when he published a paper concluding that it’s not cholesterol that causes heart disease. (He placed the blame on homocystine.) Someone at Harvard was afraid they’d lose their government grants.

    Unfortunately, much of the world followed the U.S. lead on the matter.

    Reply
    1. Bret

      That fear of defunding really illustrates how government funding is as much a form of coercion as it is a real benefit to society, if not more so.

      If scientists are willing to do decidedly UNscientific things, like force incomplete/sloppy research into publication, manipulate their data, ignore contrary findings, fail to criticize other scientists for shoddy work, etc, all for the sake of preserving their funding, then there is really no point in funding them to begin with. They’ve got the cart before the horse, thanks to their government benefactors, and our nation suffers as a result.

      So we’re spending tons of money to reinforce bad advice. Hell of a paradigm, ain’t it?

      Reply
      1. HungryinTN

        Added to that, scientists now leave universities often with massive piles of (ironically) federally-funded student loan debt, leaving them in much more desperate financial situations than many of their predecessors. I work in a research field (historical, not scientific) in which federal funding plays a massive role and I know exactly what this feels like. Dissenting researchers with integrity simply get overlooked, creating a natural bias to the available “scientific” articles and publications.

        Reply
  16. Teco Mendes

    Hello Tom! Love your work and how you put serious stuff in a funny way!

    Since I’ve watched fat Head I have a question. I understand how government pushed the low fat life style with no science to suport it in the USA. But what about the universities? If I graduate from college as nutritionist, dietitian or physician, I will study books! And college books are written by PHD based on scientific papers! How come they leave college with the same idea that low fat is good? And even worse, how come it happened in several countries like here in Brazil that nutritionists from Universities think the same way?! In the 50’s this decision from American Government influenced the world this easy? Even today with the internet and comunication/information easy to obtain we dont have in Brazil a single paleo/primal book translated to portuguese so this “new” Idea can be spreaded, how they managed to do that in the past when even fax wasnt available?!
    Have no idea! Do you? πŸ™‚

    Regards,

    Teco Mendes

    Universities kow-tow to the government as well. As I recounted in Fat Head, Dr. Kilmer McCulley was basically sacked from Harvard when he published a paper concluding that it’s not cholesterol that causes heart disease. (He placed the blame on homocystine.) Someone at Harvard was afraid they’d lose their government grants.

    Unfortunately, much of the world followed the U.S. lead on the matter.

    Reply
    1. Bret

      That fear of defunding really illustrates how government funding is as much a form of coercion as it is a real benefit to society, if not more so.

      If scientists are willing to do decidedly UNscientific things, like force incomplete/sloppy research into publication, manipulate their data, ignore contrary findings, fail to criticize other scientists for shoddy work, etc, all for the sake of preserving their funding, then there is really no point in funding them to begin with. They’ve got the cart before the horse, thanks to their government benefactors, and our nation suffers as a result.

      So we’re spending tons of money to reinforce bad advice. Hell of a paradigm, ain’t it?

      Reply
      1. HungryinTN

        Added to that, scientists now leave universities often with massive piles of (ironically) federally-funded student loan debt, leaving them in much more desperate financial situations than many of their predecessors. I work in a research field (historical, not scientific) in which federal funding plays a massive role and I know exactly what this feels like. Dissenting researchers with integrity simply get overlooked, creating a natural bias to the available “scientific” articles and publications.

        Reply
  17. Lynda

    Hello Tom and family – I have yet to watch this video but will over the holiday break. Thank you for your continued inspiration. Merry Christmas to you and your gorgeous girls (all three of them) πŸ™‚

    And to you and yours.

    Reply
  18. Lynda

    Hello Tom and family – I have yet to watch this video but will over the holiday break. Thank you for your continued inspiration. Merry Christmas to you and your gorgeous girls (all three of them) πŸ™‚

    And to you and yours.

    Reply
  19. Linda

    Hello Tom,

    I was doing prep work for my LCHF Christmas dinner and thought of you. For the first time ever, I have a pastured turkey! There is a farm on the outskirts of town and I have just found out that they raise turkeys and chickens and anyone can go and buy one from them. They slaughter and dress the fowl for you. I ‘m not sure I’m up to Chareva’s caliber! Visions of slaughtering that big bird almost sent me to the grocery store. I was saved by the farmer, who laughed and told me to wander around and look at things while he got my turkey ready. The birds are almost like pets- they wandered up to me and were totally unafraid. I did have a spare thought for the poor bird I sent to his doom- only one, though. I can’t wait to see how a pastured turkey compares to the frozen variety in the store!

    Anyway, this is just to wish you and your wonderful family a Merry Christmas!

    Linda

    Belated Merry Christmas to you too.

    Reply
  20. Linda

    Hello Tom,

    I was doing prep work for my LCHF Christmas dinner and thought of you. For the first time ever, I have a pastured turkey! There is a farm on the outskirts of town and I have just found out that they raise turkeys and chickens and anyone can go and buy one from them. They slaughter and dress the fowl for you. I ‘m not sure I’m up to Chareva’s caliber! Visions of slaughtering that big bird almost sent me to the grocery store. I was saved by the farmer, who laughed and told me to wander around and look at things while he got my turkey ready. The birds are almost like pets- they wandered up to me and were totally unafraid. I did have a spare thought for the poor bird I sent to his doom- only one, though. I can’t wait to see how a pastured turkey compares to the frozen variety in the store!

    Anyway, this is just to wish you and your wonderful family a Merry Christmas!

    Linda

    Belated Merry Christmas to you too.

    Reply
  21. Lori Miller

    Loved the speech!

    Speaking of how politicians don’t always have the public’s best interests in mind, I saw a cute movie last night called “Monster in Paris” that made the same point.

    Reply
  22. Lori Miller

    Loved the speech!

    Speaking of how politicians don’t always have the public’s best interests in mind, I saw a cute movie last night called “Monster in Paris” that made the same point.

    Reply
  23. DebbieC.

    Super talk. I’d also dearly love to hear the Q&A even if it is only Audio.

    I haven’t listened to it yet.

    Reply
  24. Navada

    That was awesome. I’ve heard your message before and wasn’t actually going to listen to the entire 44-minute speech, but I couldn’t stop watching. I hope your live audience was as captivated as the rest of us who come here for your engaging wisdom-sharing.

    I don’t know if they were captivated, but a lot of them queued up to talk to me afterwards, which was nice.

    Reply
  25. Navada

    That was awesome. I’ve heard your message before and wasn’t actually going to listen to the entire 44-minute speech, but I couldn’t stop watching. I hope your live audience was as captivated as the rest of us who come here for your engaging wisdom-sharing.

    I don’t know if they were captivated, but a lot of them queued up to talk to me afterwards, which was nice.

    Reply
  26. Adam

    So Tom, what do your parents think about what you’re doing these days? What was their reaction to you doing a lchf type diet and losing weight?

    Mom’s happy to see me in this kind of shape at age 55. She often comments that I look better now than I did 15 or 20 years ago.

    Dad has Alzheimer’s and has no idea who I am, and therefore no opinion on the matter.

    Reply
  27. Adam

    So Tom, what do your parents think about what you’re doing these days? What was their reaction to you doing a lchf type diet and losing weight?

    Mom’s happy to see me in this kind of shape at age 55. She often comments that I look better now than I did 15 or 20 years ago.

    Dad has Alzheimer’s and has no idea who I am, and therefore no opinion on the matter.

    Reply
  28. Austin

    This was amazing. The more eloquent people like Tom we have on this subject, the better I feel about our chances for a healthy future.

    Reply
  29. Rich Wood

    I know that this if off topic, but watching the YouTube video was amazing. Thanks Tom for making it available!

    The parallels between what happened and is ongoing in the nutrition world and what is currently happening in the global warming “crisis” are uncanny.

    You might like to take a peek and look at how those “anointed” to tell the world how bad it really is are behaving towards those that look at their “science” and point out to them the flaws in their doctrine.

    btw no relation (that I know of) to Richard Wood at Springfield MASS.

    It’s not global warming anymore, because we haven’t had warming for more than a decade. Now it’s “climate instability.”

    Reply
  30. Rich Wood

    I know that this if off topic, but watching the YouTube video was amazing. Thanks Tom for making it available!

    The parallels between what happened and is ongoing in the nutrition world and what is currently happening in the global warming “crisis” are uncanny.

    You might like to take a peek and look at how those “anointed” to tell the world how bad it really is are behaving towards those that look at their “science” and point out to them the flaws in their doctrine.

    btw no relation (that I know of) to Richard Wood at Springfield MASS.

    It’s not global warming anymore, because we haven’t had warming for more than a decade. Now it’s “climate instability.”

    Reply
  31. Boundless

    The lengths the anointed will go to in order to avoid admitting that they might be mistaken:
    Telegraph: Most cancers are caused by bad luck not genes or lifestyle, say scientists
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11320497/Most-cancers-are-caused-by-bad-luck-not-genes-or-lifestyle-say-scientists.html

    The actual paper is paywalled at Science, and probably not worth reading even for free. I doubt it bothered to investigate, for example, why some cultural groups (not on SAD) are so much “luckier”.

    What this leads to is suggested by two “Related Articles” links titled “Cancer is the best way to die and we should stop trying to cure it, says doctor” and “Let’s stop trying to cure cancer, says cancer professor”.

    Translation: the anointed somatic theory of cancer just can’t be mistaken, so we didn’t bother taking a real unconfounded look at diet correlations, which means you’re just gonna have to die.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      Well, we’ll all die eventually, but I sure don’t think cancer is purely a matter of luck.

      Reply
  32. Boundless

    The lengths the anointed will go to in order to avoid admitting that they might be mistaken:
    Telegraph: Most cancers are caused by bad luck not genes or lifestyle, say scientists
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11320497/Most-cancers-are-caused-by-bad-luck-not-genes-or-lifestyle-say-scientists.html

    The actual paper is paywalled at Science, and probably not worth reading even for free. I doubt it bothered to investigate, for example, why some cultural groups (not on SAD) are so much “luckier”.

    What this leads to is suggested by two “Related Articles” links titled “Cancer is the best way to die and we should stop trying to cure it, says doctor” and “Let’s stop trying to cure cancer, says cancer professor”.

    Translation: the anointed somatic theory of cancer just can’t be mistaken, so we didn’t bother taking a real unconfounded look at diet correlations, which means you’re just gonna have to die.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Well, we’ll all die eventually, but I sure don’t think cancer is purely a matter of luck.

      Reply
  33. Boundless

    Get ready for a huge dose of “well, that’s not working, so let’s do it harder”.
    http://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2013/11/05/believing-in-impossible-things-there-is-a-trick-to-it/

    Statins lower LDL. But the results of this huge experiment on the population show that there is no lowering of adverse cardiac events associated with that lowering. Therefore, we must redouble our efforts to lower LDL.

    The name of this Grand Plan 2.0 is “PCSK9 Inhibitors”, coming soon to bankrupt universal healthcare policy near you. Lower LDL even more. Hugely expensive. Patent-protected (which statins imminently are not, where they aren’t already off-patent).

    Reply
      1. Boundless

        And never ever admit the plan was wrong. For PCSK9 Inhibitors, this aspect of this particular Grand Plan is already in place well prior to launch:
        “…
        The agency says that if it approves the drugs based on their effects on cholesterol, the approval will not be rescinded even if trials now underway fail to show the drugs reduce the risk of heart attacks and deaths.
        …”
        http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/10/health/cholesterol-levels-ldl-drugs-heart-attacks-fda-panel.html

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton

          Good grief. As long as we beat down cholesterol, we don’t care if it actually serves a purpose.

          Reply
  34. Boundless

    Get ready for a huge dose of “well, that’s not working, so let’s do it harder”.
    http://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2013/11/05/believing-in-impossible-things-there-is-a-trick-to-it/

    Statins lower LDL. But the results of this huge experiment on the population show that there is no lowering of adverse cardiac events associated with that lowering. Therefore, we must redouble our efforts to lower LDL.

    The name of this Grand Plan 2.0 is “PCSK9 Inhibitors”, coming soon to bankrupt universal healthcare policy near you. Lower LDL even more. Hugely expensive. Patent-protected (which statins imminently are not, where they aren’t already off-patent).

    Reply
      1. Boundless

        And never ever admit the plan was wrong. For PCSK9 Inhibitors, this aspect of this particular Grand Plan is already in place well prior to launch:
        “…
        The agency says that if it approves the drugs based on their effects on cholesterol, the approval will not be rescinded even if trials now underway fail to show the drugs reduce the risk of heart attacks and deaths.
        …”
        http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/10/health/cholesterol-levels-ldl-drugs-heart-attacks-fda-panel.html

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          Good grief. As long as we beat down cholesterol, we don’t care if it actually serves a purpose.

          Reply

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