As you’ve probably heard, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) recently gave the USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee the spanking it deserves. Here are some quotes from an editorial in The Hill written by Rep. Andy Harris, who also happens to be a doctor:

The nation’s senior scientific body recently released a new report raising serious questions about the “scientific rigor” of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This report confirms what many in government have suspected for years and is the reason why Congress mandated this report in the first place: our nation’s top nutrition policy is not based on sound science.

In order to “develop a trustworthy DGA [guidelines],” states the report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), “the process needs to be redesigned.”

Among other things, the report finds that the guidelines process for reviewing the scientific evidence falls short of meeting the “best practices for conducting systematic reviews,” and advises that “methodological approaches and scientific rigor for evaluating the scientific evidence” need to “be strengthened.”

In other words, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are far from the “gold standard” of science and dietary advice they need to be. In fact, they may be doing little to improve our health at all.

Heh-heh-heh … remember what happened when Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise, wrote a piece in the British Medical Journal criticizing the dietary guidelines as unscientific? Dr. David Katz (who reviewed his own novel under a false name and compared himself to Milton and Chaucer) dismissed her critique as “the opinion of one journalist.” The USDA’s report, he insisted, “is excellent, and represents both the weight of evidence, and global consensus among experts.”

Then for good measure, he and several other members of The Anointed tried to harass BMJ into retracting the article by Teicholz.

And now along comes the NASEM report, saying Teicholz was right. The “opinion of one journalist” (which of course was shared by countless doctors and researchers) is now the official opinion of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. You gotta love it. Perhaps Dr. Katz can write a rebuttal to the NASEM report, then review his rebuttal under a false name and compare himself to Albert Einstein.

Anyway, back to the editorial by Rep. Harris:

It seems clear that the lack of sound science has led to a number of dietary tenets that are not just mistaken, but even harmful – as a number of recent studies suggest.

For instance, the guidelines’ recommendation to eat “healthy whole grains” turns out not to be supported by any strong science, according to a recent study by the Cochrane Collaboration, a group specializing in scientific literature reviews. Looking at all the data from clinical trials, which is the most rigorous data available, the study concluded that there is “insufficient evidence” to show that whole grains reduced blood pressure or had any cardiovascular benefit.

So far, so good. Now for the part where I disagree a bit:

It is imperative that the advice championed by our national nutrition policy be unimpeachable. With the process for the 2020 guidelines soon to be underway, now is the time for the Congress to take action to reform the Dietary Guidelines development process so that proposed guidelines work as intended – as a tool to restore and protect our nation’s health.

I periodically receive requests to sign a petition to put this-or-that expert in charge of the USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee. I always politely decline. Here’s who I think should be in charge of the nation’s dietary guidelines:

Nobody.

That’s right, nobody. We don’t need national dietary guidelines any more than we need national dog-grooming guidelines. People managed to figure out which foods were good for them long before the federal government got involved. In fact, it’s pretty obvious by now that the crowd wisdom handed down over the generations was vastly superior to the New & Improved! dietary advice concocted in Washington 40 years ago.

For reasons I can’t fathom, some people believe if you want a job done right, then by gosh, you need to put the feds in charge. Our history says otherwise. People don’t magically become smarter, wiser, or more ethical when they go to work for the federal government. They do, however, acquire the power to replace the diffused wisdom of crowds with the centralized decisions of the few. I don’t want a little group of experts in charge of dietary policy, even if they’re experts you and I respect.

As Nassim Nicholas Taleb points out in his terrific book Antifragile, centralized decision-making amplifies mistakes. If you empower one little group of experts to make decisions for everyone, their mistakes affect everyone.

That’s exactly what happened with our national dietary guidelines, which were imposed on schools, prisons, hospitals, the military, and pretty much every other institution run or funded by government. Worse yet, other countries adopted and imposed our dietary guidelines, apparently believing the people who wrote them had a flippin’ clue. Whoops.

Taleb points out that we rarely see big, disastrous governmental screw-ups in Switzerland. Why? Because there’s little centralized authority. Switzerland functions as a loose confederation of city-states that make most of their own decisions. If a city-state makes a bad decision, it doesn’t ripple through the entire country. The harm remains local. The other city-states see a plan that didn’t work and avoid it. On the other hand, if a city-state makes a very good decision, the other city-states see the happy result and adopt a similar plan.

That’s how the U.S. was originally intended to function as well. The states, not the federal government, were supposed to be the incubators of public policies. States and local governments can learn from each other’s successes and mistakes. When the feds make a mistake, what we usually learn is that while only death and taxes are forever, crappy federal departments and programs are so hard to kill, they may as well be immortal.

I’m glad the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine gave the USDA Dietary Committee the spanking it deserves. If the 2020 national dietary guidelines are based on rigorous science, that would certainly be an improvement.

But the best outcome would be if Congress decided, once and for all, that the rest of us don’t need the U.S. government telling us how to eat. There’s no good reason to have bureaucrats in Washington deciding what grade schools in Franklin, Tennessee are allowed to serve for lunch.

Low-carb, paleo, gluten-free, locally raised … they’re all grass-roots movements that are making a huge difference. Nobody’s in charge of them.  They weren’t designed by government committees – if anything, they were resisted by government committees, but thrived anyway because of the Wisdom of Crowds effect.

So instead of rooting for 2020 to be the year we finally get some real scientists on the USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee, I’m hoping it’s the first year new dietary guidelines are scheduled to be released, but nobody bothers to write them.

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98 Responses to “The USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee Gets The Spanking It Deserves”
  1. Lori Miller says:

    OTOH, it would be awesome to watch the meltdown of all the low-fat, plant-based, healthy-whole-grain munching goodie-two-shoes have a meltdown and get pushed off to the fringe where they belong.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Agreed, but my fear is that as long as we have a government committee deciding what schools, military institutions, etc., are allowed to serve for meals, people with their own agendas will be highly motivated to seize control of that committee. Take away the government power, and the corruption goes away as well.

      • Lori Miller says:

        Sorry for my badly worded comment.

        Somebody has to decide what is served in government institutions that have a captive group. With wards of the state in particular, like children and mental health patients, someone in charge needs to make up a healthy menu that meets nutritional requirements and provides variety.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          Sure, someone has to make a decision in that case. I’d rather it be someone on site, not a distant bureaucrat.

          • Thomas E. says:

            And that person on site would be responding to the demands of the “customers”, that is you and me.

            We see that working at grocery stores. The Kroger that my wife and I go to started selling Cheddar Cheese Curds a 6 months or so ago. But they often ran out. I have noticed that they keep on ramping up the on-hand inventory. This past weekend when I was there they had over 8 or 9 5oz bags in the display. My family consumes about 2 to 4 bags a week, so it is obvious we are not the only customers purchasing the little cheese turds (as we call them).

            I am sure the central planners would not approve of my family’s cheese turd habit.

            So, it is best they are not involved in my purchasing decisions.

            I’ve also noticed the section of the Boulder cooking in Olive oil chips is growing ……..

            • Tom Naughton says:

              Exactly. Nobody’s claiming local decision-makers never make mistakes, but they’re generally more responsive than distant bureaucrats to the people they serve. And if they screw up, they only screw up locally.

          • Walter Bushell says:

            Except in the case of mental patients and prisoners. A private prison is very likely to chose the cheapest possible option or even cheaper. Most of the people in both institutions will get out eventually and they have enough strikes against them already in establishing positive ties to society.

  2. Dan says:

    This is great – libertarian dietary policy. Love it.

  3. JIllOz says:

    Great piece Tom.

  4. Linda says:

    I love this! The USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee has long deserved a spanking and worse in my opinion. I am informally counseling a retired culinary instructor from the high school, helping her to switch to LCHF and get both her obesity and Type II diabetes under control. Listening to her tell what they were required to feed children when she worked part time in the cafeteria during summer school is something out of a horror story! And of course these STUPID guidelines are what she has been using to try and get her diabetes and obesity under control! But that’s what she was taught in college and what I was taught in the nutrition course we took in nursing school.

    I, too think it would be wonderful if the committee just forgot to write the new guidelines, but I fear the anointed would never let us off the hook that easily!

    Keep doing what you do. I thank God I found you, Jimmy and others that set me on the right path! I use every opportunity that comes up to direct others to your blog, movie and book! Thanks for what you do!

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I’ve seen the horror of school lunches up close and in person when visiting my daughters in the cafeteria. That’s why Chareva packs their lunches.

      • Brooks Bell III says:

        What is a typical lunch for ur daughters?

      • Thomas E. says:

        School lunches are amusing. I am very lucky that my children have grabbed a hold of independent thought. My daughter likes a much lower carb lunch, with a bagged lunch the bears little resemblance to what others are eating.

        Occasionally other kids mention it. And she just says, this is what she prefers. My son, his lunch appears a bit more normal, and he is one of the cooler kids of his class, so he has yet to be questioned about his lunch.

        ahhh.

        But, having been there during the lunch period, it is absolutely scary what many of the children are eating. The school lunch appears more nutritionally complete/healthy than what many of the kids bring it.

        If you can imagine, some kids eat 2 or 3 100 calorie packs of crackers/chips and such for lunch. Uggg.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          Yeah, I believe it. When I visited my daughters during lunch, I was horrified to see what most kids eat.

          • chris c says:

            I was lucky that my infant and junior schools were near enough that I could walk home and have a delicious mummy-cooked lunch.

            Not so the senior school – and I don’t think at first my mother believed my descriptions of the dire food, until she asked around. After that I took sandwiches, well in retrospect the bread didn’t help any, but the rest was healthy.

            She was fortunate – and so were her kids – that the school where she taught actually had a decent canteen which served Real Food. I’m not entirely sure how legal that would be today, I’ve read not a few horror stories about parents being fined for not putting enough carbs in their kids’ lunchboxes, and the kids being forced to eat crackers.

    • Bonnie says:

      I was a “cook” one year at a summer day camp for low-income kids. I say “cook” because we didn’t really cook – we reheated & assembled high-carb foods from the government & donors. I found out by trying to eat what the kids were eating that it was not only unhealthy, it tasted terrible.

  5. Tom Welsh says:

    Great post, Tom. I particularly agree with this:

    “That’s how the U.S. was originally intended to function as well”.

    As it happens, I am currently reading Albert Jay Nock’s biography “Mr. Jefferson”, where I came across this quotation from Jefferson:

    “… I think we shall be [virtuous] as long as agriculture is our principal object, which will be the case while there remains vacant lands in any part of America. When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe”.

    There is material for a number of essays and debates in that passage (for example, “**vacant** lands, White man?”) But the central idea is very important, and might astonish a lot of modern Americans (and Europeans). After all, even when I was a child – back in the 1950s – we considered the USA the epitome of urban civilisation and the home of the skyscraper.

    Not only was Jefferson all in favour of leaving as much autonomy as possible to the states, he explicitly stated that a bit of revolution every few years would be healthy, and perhaps indispensable, for political freedom. (He also believed that, as well as good fences, substantial distances made good neighbours).

    I’m glad to say that, as well as following in the great tradition of American criticism established by men like Bierce, Emerson, Thoreau, Twain, Nock, Mencken and Stone, you are also living very much as Mr Jefferson would have wished. What’s more, unlike him you are competent enough to make a good living from farming (and your other activities, of course) – so you won’t end up bankrupt as he did.

    Of course, it helps not having 50 or 60 slaves to look after…

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Thank you. But for the record, we don’t make a profit from farming. It’s a very enjoyable hobby.

      One of my favorites from Jefferson:

      “A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”

      • Walter Bushell says:

        If you had to buy your veggies and eggs of the same quality, it would be quite expensive. And you get the raccoon meat for free. >;)(

        Eat what we can and what you can’t eat you can.

    • Emily says:

      It’s a good thing this Tom isn’t “looking after” (i.e. imprisoning and forcing labor from, tearing children from, raping) people. I think Tom’s wife would have a few things to say about him emulating Thomas Jefferson. Probably with a hammer.

      One thing that gives me great pause in libertarian circles is that so many of them seem so uncritical of people like Thomas Jefferson. While on one side we have people saying he was just evil and you shouldn’t listen to anything he said (nonsense), on the other we have people completely ignoring or excusing the evil things he did (also nonsense.) Benjamin Franklin tried to get slavery abolished, so it’s not like its evils weren’t known at the time.

      This is a tangent, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. So many people who would describe themselves differently politically, who make fun of or even hate the “other side,” actually want exactly the same policies. If we came together to get that accomplished, we’d be unstoppable. How do we do that, then? How do we communicate in a way to avoid turning people off from what we want? How do we, in other words, play politics in the age of the internet?

      • Tom Naughton says:

        Few people in history are all good or all bad. People are complicated. As for Jefferson, you’ve heard Social Security described as the “third rail” of politics, right? Meaning if you try to touch it, your political career dies.

        Slavery (which Jefferson called a “moral depravity”) was the third rail of his time, according to one of the biographies I read. He did, in fact, try to touch it as a young legislator. It was illegal in Virginia to free a slave. He tried to pass a law making it legal. The bill was soundly defeated and he lost the next election so badly, his political career was thought to be over. He concluded there was little he could do about slavery at the time.

  6. Jenny says:

    THANK YOU for continuing to express this message.

  7. Firebird7478 says:

    I spent 20 years listening to their guidelines and ended up UNDEREATING because they said men should consume 1500 calories per day. Even though I have adopted the low carb, high fat way of eating, I am still in the 1500 calorie range. My body has simply adapted metabolically to a low calorie diet. I suspect I need another 500 – 1000 calories per day to adjust cortisol levels and improve thyroid and adrenal function (I just never leaned out when I switched to LCHF — even got fatter), but how to do it without feeling stuffed or force feeding is the $64 question.

    • Phillis Hammond says:

      Firebird, I too had a bit of trouble after almost a lifetime of low calorie starvation dieting. I lost 120 pounds with LCHF but after an illness gained back 20 of it. I stalled for about 3 years and couldn’t get anything to move. Up a pound, down a pound but nothing significant. It was very frustrating. Finally I hit on Jimmy Moore’s egg fast and Dr. Jason Fung and his take on intermittent fasting. I also discovered MCT oil. I’d had problems with coconut oil as I have bile acid reflux. (A lifetime of low fat eating ruined my gall bladder and the reflux is a complication from that.) The lauric acid in coconut oil really set off my stomach but MCT oil (from coconuts) doesn’t have lauric acid so is processed in my liver differently than most fats so VOILA! no embarrassing disasters. The combination of all those really got my weightloss going again. I’m down the 20 pounds and still losing. I was only a few pounds from my original target goal weight so I’m very glad to be getting there again! Hope any of this may be of benefit to you.

      • Firebird7478 says:

        I’ve been using MCT oils consistently for 30 years when they were first introduced as a bodybuilding supplement and it took a while before it stopped upsetting my stomach. It may have been a variation of what they have on the market today (lauric acid, for example). I experimented with a similar egg fast that was introduced in the 50s by Vince Gironda. I did well with it but it was unsustainable (READ: Boring). I love eggs but I hit my limit LOL.

        I’ve done intermittent fasting in the past but it’s been difficult to sustain. I had a rough time getting past the hunger barrier…just too hungry in the AM to hold off until noon. IDK if others have had that problem. In my case I suppose I am just too impatient.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          Dr. Bill Lagakos says if people are going to skip meals to engage in fasting, they should eat breakfast and skip dinner. Personally, I find it easy to skip breakfast, but that’s me.

        • Phillis Hammond says:

          I think a lot of it depends on your personal physiology as to what works. I’d tried just about everything and just couldn’t break that 3 year stall. I finally had to put myself in hard ketosis. Even now if I go above 30 grams of carb I’ll start to gain. I try to go until around 10 am on my fasting but I do have a bullet proof coffee as soon as I wake. That blunts my appetite enough so I can wait longer to eat.

  8. Dianne says:

    Wooo Hooo! This has been a long time coming. Now I wonder how the USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee will respond. Hopefully, by going away and staying there. Like you, I’m firmly of the opinion that telling us what and how to eat is not a job for the feds. After all, most of us had grandmothers!

    • Tom Naughton says:

      If the committee can’t be dissolved, I say we pack it with 10,000 grandmothers.

      • Firebird7478 says:

        The way things have played out over the last 40 years, more like great-grandmothers.

      • Walter says:

        Too late for that. We would need grandmothers of my grandmother’s generation. My sister is a grandmother and my mother kept a can of Crisco on top of the refrigerator and used margarine (because it was healthier, fortunately not “spread”.)

        We need to go back to great grandmothers at least.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          True. I’m old enough to be a grandfather, which means I was a young adult during the height of the low-fat craze.

          • Dianne says:

            Ummm — you’re right. My grandmother was born in 1883 or thereabouts. That’s why she had sense enough to know that if you wanted to drop a few pounds, you gave up bread, potatoes and desserts, and that if you wanted to be healthy you ate meat, eggs and veggies.

            • chris c says:

              Yup, mine too (1885) and this knocked on to my mother (1915) who could recall when dieting was called “Banting” the first time around.

              There was “processed” food back then, but it was mostly made from Real Food, not just “ingredients” and byproducts from oil refineries and chemical plants.

              The Government got involved during both World Wars, but then their principal job was to increase nutrition. Somewhere I still have my parents’ copy of the leaflet “Dig For Victory” about growing your own food during WW2, to add to your weekly Rations. Now their main job is maintaining the profitability of The Industry. As a result they are exhorting us to be overfed but still malnourished.

              After wrecking my shoulder I wanted to replenish my medicine cabinet. Though I seldom need painkillers I favour Co-Codamol as they last longer than Acetaminophen and hence keep the dose down. It is ILLEGAL here to sell more than one box at a time. Yet they want us all on statins, starting at age 8, and low fat diets from age 2. You Just Couldn’t Make This Up.

              • Walter Bushell says:

                The Acetaminophen is added to poison you if you take what the government thinks is too much.

                I was given a prescription for this once. Perhaps it was good that I could not get it renewed.

  9. Dale Williams says:

    Thank you for this post.

    I recently participated in the Canadian Government’s online review of the Canada Food Guide and was surprised by the overwhelming support for plant based nutrition and shocked by the vitriol displayed by some of the more strident members of the vegetarian/vegan community. A few of us from the low carb/paleo sphere attempted to put forward our position, however all were jumped on immediately and had a difficult time getting our thoughts on the site without super harsh criticism.

    Given that the government’s official review committee essentially agreed that most nutrition should come from plants (in their first report) and that saturated fats etc. should continue to be limited, it looks like the official food pyramid won’t change much. On a positive note, the report indicated sugar consumption should be reduced.

    However, while contributing to the survey, it did occur to me that the last thing we need is diet advice from a powerful regulatory authority. Given the access to information we now have, we can figure it out for ourselves.

  10. Stephen T says:

    Nina Teicholz deserves an apology from the ‘scientific’ mob mobilised by the CSPI in an attempt to get the BMJ to withdraw her article criticising the way the guidelines had been put together. Teicholz has once again been vindicated.

    Well done to the BMJ’s editor, Dr Fiona Godlee, for standing firm against the pressure to retract the article.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      BMJ has shown some real backbone on this issue, the statins issue, etc. Kudos to Dr. Godlee.

      • Phillis Hammond says:

        Slowly but surely there is progress being made in the medical field by forward thinking doctors like Dr. Godlee. We’re seeing a lot of headway here in the Kansas City area with cardiologists like Dr. James O’Keefe at St. Luke’s Mid-America Cardiology who embraces much of what we discuss here in his fight against heart disease. We’re also seeing a huge sea change in the areas of bariatric medicine at The University of Kansas Medical Center and their use of intermittent fasting for Type 2 diabetes and weight control. It’s taking a while but the change IS getting here.

    • chris c says:

      I found out what happened to the Guy From The CSPI.

      He’s moving to Montana soon, to raise a crop of dental floss.

  11. Kathy in OK says:

    “So instead of rooting for 2020 to be the year we finally get some real scientists on the USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee, I’m hoping it’s the first year new dietary guidelines are scheduled to be released, but nobody bothers to write them.”

    I’ll gladly sign that petition!

  12. Bill says:

    It is becoming increasingly obvious, if not alarming, how people are becoming ‘believers’. If you are not a ‘believer’ you are a ‘denier’. What the hell ever happened to rational debate? It seems to me that the ‘believers’ shout long and hard at ‘deniers’ and then have the effrontery to call ‘deniers’ anti science without even thinking that they themselves, more often than not, have not looked into the subjects they are are passionate about. The hysterical rhetoric that spews forth every time another one of their precious tenets is proved wrong by mmm, let me see, science is becoming very, very tiresome. Global weather and diet are two areas I am interested in. I have gone out of my way to study both of these areas and to understand the reality. But hey, joe public doesn’t seem to want or know about truth. After all if it’s on Facebook, twitter, in the press or on the tele it must be true, like, kinda right?

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I think many Joe Publics are interested in the truth, which is why the people who shout “deniers!” are so anxious to stifle debate. They don’t want Joe to hear any dissenting opinions.

      • Deb says:

        Fabulous post! Thank you, thank you! And to Bill (above),thank you as well: you had the courage to pull back the curtain on “global weather” as well. Both hot topics of so-called climate change and of nutritional “wisdom” are full of sound and even more fury by the believers, even though all the real science sides with us “deniers”. As far as the guidelines, this might be proof that we should wear our rebel labels proudly.

      • Bill says:

        You are most likely right. Hamlet:methinks the lady doth protest too much seems appropriate in many cases as it seems that any dissent brings a vitriolic response to perhaps cover the fact that the dissenter may be right. If more media and news channels did a bit more investigative journalism,as they used to, then perhaps Joe Public would be better informed. I’m not going to hold by breath on that one….

        • Tom Naughton says:

          I think it gets back to the fundamental difference between objectivists and subjectivists.

          An objectivist has the mindset of “if it’s true, I’ll believe it.” Objectivists aren’t hostile to dissent because they believe the more we debate and discuss, the more likely it is that the truth will rise to the top.

          A subjectivist has the mindset of “if I believe it, it’s true.” Subjectivists are hostile to dissent because they fear that the more we debate and discuss, the more likely it is that people will be persuaded to adopt the “wrong” beliefs.

          If someone tries to shut down debate by labeling dissenters as “deniers” or insisting that we have a consensus so the debate is over, you’re probably dealing with a subjectivist.

          • Bill says:

            Interesting, my other thought is that if you are firmly entrenched in a particular camp whether it be politics, religion, or anything that is essentially someone else’s idea it means that you don’t have to think it through yourself and your position is justified- at least to yourself and your peers. So I guess a subjectivist would believe everything that comes forth from the gurus in charge of your particular set of beliefs where as an objectivist would, even if they were in the same camp at least question some aspects of the argument.

            I find the whole modern ad hominem and labelling of people as deniers positively mediaeval. Bit like Galileo, who was accused of heresy by the church because he dared to propose that the earth travelled around the sun. When it comes to human nature and corporate behaviour not much seems to change.

    • Thomas E. says:

      I find it very interesting, people have sets of facts, or knowledge. And in many areas they are proven to be correct, so they fall to the fallacy that since they are correct in many areas, they must be correct in all areas.

      I see this in celebrities like Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Certainly both are very accomplished in many areas. So all of a sudden they believe they are just correct. And then they appeal to the fallacy of authority that seems to be all too common in this modern day connected world. And thus it becomes really easy to create an aura of consensus. And from there you have big helping of confirmation bias.

      But, where we get in real trouble is the believe the precautionary principle is getting played out. And this is both in medical and global warming. Simply put, even if the vegan thing, and global warming thing are not real, should we not do our best to pursue preventing them?? And of course, the unintended consequences of those massive efforts are piling up.

      • Tom Naughton says:

        I’m not a big fan of the precautionary principle because of how it’s used and abused: basically, all you have to do is predict a horrible possible outcome if we don’t take a particular action, and the precautionary principle will tell you to take that action every time.

        I once explained that to a lefty acquaintance when he tried the “but we should do blah-blah-blah and blah-blah-blah and blah-blah-blah even if we’re not sure humans are causing global warming, because if the global-warming theory is right and we don’t act, we’re screwed” argument.

        Under that logic, I told him, George Bush made the right call in invading Iraq. Because if it turned out Saddam Hussein DID have weapons of mass destruction and WAS planning to set them off in the U.S. and we didn’t act, we’d be screwed.

        Oh, and he should also become a reborn Christian immediately, because if it turns out reborn Christians are right about non-believers going to hell and he doesn’t convert, he’s screwed.

        That shut him up for a while. Not long enough, but for a while.

        • Jason B. says:

          “Pascal’s Wager”, in case you’ve never heard of it.

          • Walter Bushell says:

            And Pascal was a Roman Catholic (Somewhat oxymoronic IMAO, perhaps there should be a Nashville Catholic Church??). when we all know the one true church is the Unitarians. So the more he practiced his religion the madder D-G got at him.

  13. Emily says:

    Good luck getting the fed out of schools, prisons, hospitals, etc. Too many of these places require federal dollars to even function. That could be vastly improved re: prisons by stopping incarcerating people for minor drug offenses, but there’s way too much money in prisons for that fight to be an easy one. And different groups who want the same things (say, marijuana decriminalization) tend to hate each other more than they hate the people running the prisons. Get the hippies and the libertarians together, though, and you might get somewhere.

    One issue that I see as insurmountable here, though, is the armed forces. The federal government has to run, and feed, them. And that’s an awful lot of people, with an awful lot of money at stake. It’s already a super long shot to get the federal government out of local stuff, and to figure out where they should and should not be locally.

    Yes, I firmly believe they sometimes should be there locally. I don’t really care about the founders’ “original intent”, considering that was over 200 years ago and the world is totally different. For instance, they originally intended slavery to be legal.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      One question: if Congress passed a law making it illegal to criticize the commander-in-chief or the military during wartime, would you expect it to be declared unconstitutional because the First Amendment guarantees your right to free speech? Or would you accept that we can ignore the Constitution when it suits us because it was written more than 200 years ago, and therefore we needn’t concern ourselves with what the founders intended?

      After all, it’s a totally different world today. The founders couldn’t have anticipated that criticisms of the U.S. military would end up on YouTube 15 minutes later and provide inspiration to enemies in distant lands who want to kill our soldiers.

      I ask because the “living, breathing Constitution” crowd seems very inconsistent on when we must respect what the Constitution says vs. when we can just reinterpret it if we don’t like its limits on federal power.

      The founders did anticipate that the world would change. That’s why there’s an amendment process.

      • Firebird7478 says:

        I know this is heading off topic, but as far as the whole NFL protest goes, I am with the players. I think the Constitution trumps any company or corporate policy that deems what an employee says or does makes them “look bad”. There are people picking and choosing when, how and why people should protest without ever considering the thought of what might happen to them when it is their turn.

        The flag and the anthem are symbols. I accept the flag, but I think there are better, classier songs than the Star Spangled Banner (America the Beautiful comes to mind). They can be changed at any time.

        The Constitution and particularly the First Amendment, on the other hand…

        • Tom Naughton says:

          I have mixed feelings. Of course players have a right to protest. We all do. On the other hand, employers are allowed to tell employees not to protest on company time or on the company’s property. The Constitution prohibits government from abridging your right to free speech, but doesn’t require anyone else (including your employer) to provide you with a forum for your speech. So if the NFL owners demanded players stop the protests or leave the team, they’d be within their rights. I think it would be a mistake, but within their rights.

          It would also be nice if people were consistent in their attitudes about the right to be offensive. Some of the same people who think it’s okay to prevent conservatives from speaking on their campus or to tear down statues they find offensive suddenly become fans of free expression when NFL players kneel in protest during the National Anthem, which of course offends millions of people.

          • Firebird7478 says:

            There is an official code on how to treat the US Flag. Section 176 is how to “Respect the Flag”. It is chilling to me that people in the US have become so conditioned to behave and think in such a manner that they don’t understand the rules of conduct. For example, people will cheer when the flag is unfurled and the length of the football field, yet do not realize that to display that flag in such a manner is disrespectful. Any team logo with the variation of the flag is disrespectful. A sticker of the American flag on a football, baseball, hockey helmet, etc. is disrespectful to the flag. So are the paper napkins, cups and plates people use on the 4th of July. People are oblivious to it, yet get their panties in a bunch because a few athletes are protesting a cause.

            These are the same people who get up to go to the bathroom, get something to eat or change the channel when the game they are watching starts the anthem, or go to a Springsteen concert and sing along to “Born in the USA”.

          • j says:

            I would love if those kneeling babies would get penalized 🙂
            They get paid millions to play freakin football, not to make political statements on the field..

            • Firebird7478 says:

              Not all of them are making millions. Only a handful and even the ones that are came from families that had nothing and had experienced first hand the issues that they are protesting — which isn’t the flag, the anthem or the veterans — that most of us have never had to experience, and hope we never do. How many times has anyone with similar hopes and aspirations been told, “When you become rich and famous, don’t forget where you came from and us little people.” Well, they haven’t and they’re getting torn apart for it. Damned if they do. Damned if they don’t.

              Honestly, I don’t know why this has sparked more outrage than anything Harvey Weinstein has done. Baffles the hell out of me that symbolism is more important than a movie mogul exchanging sexual favors for career enhancement — but that’s just me.

        • Thomas E. says:

          I think in this case, so far, it is all working out perfectly.

          The players are not being are not seeing their rights being abridged by the government, 1A upheld perfectly.

          On the flip side, there is nothing to say we, the fans/viewers, have to like what they are doing. And thus responding in turn to apply market pressures by no longer consuming the product. That is, people who are offended by the players kneeling during the national anthem are not going to, or watching the games on TV.

          Thus, so far all of this is perfectly constitutional. Where I am mixed is what I dislike the most, I very much dislike kneeling during that national anthem, but I also very much dislike being told I should not have an unfavorable opinion about the kneeling.

          This is a long way off on the post, but it is a very interesting discussion, and yet I am contributing to this thread.

          Weather it is right or wrong, many people are offended by the kneeling during the nation anthem. And even if add specific rules disallowing kneeling may offends many, it is certainly within the team owners rights to demand a specified behavior when the employee or contracted individual is a representative of the employer. And so far the NFL has regulated this down to the color of the cleats the players may use. At least twice in as many years players have not been allowed to change the color of their cleats to show support for cancer awareness or other seemingly worthy events/causes. And the same when the NFL disallowed the Dallas Cowboys from wearing a small patch to show support for the Dallas PD after 5 members of the force where killed. It would certainly be consistent with past behavior for the NFL to specify players must stand facing the flag during the national anthem.

          I believe what you are seeing is people being fed up of being fed up with the NFL. From drunk driving, to spousal abuse, to dog fighting, the NFL has been pushing the boundaries for many people. And this is the straw that broke the camels back.

          So, to bring it back around, and yes, I quoted Jimmy on purpose, I am very thankful for the doctors, dietitians, authors and researchers who are fed up of being fed up of the bad science and have put themselves out there to spread the information.

          And this goes down to Tom himself. It is possible that his employer could be upset with the public works of Tom and decide it looks poorly on them to have their employee, Tom Naughton, out there conflicting the modern wisdom of the medical community and decide to terminate him.

          • Tom Naughton says:

            Agreed, and like I said, I just ask people to be consistent in their principles. If you believe NFL players should be allowed to offend millions of fans and still keep their jobs, fine … but don’t scream for a TV star to be fired if he tells a journalist he believes homosexual behavior is a sin and you find that statement offensive. You either support the right of celebrities to be offensive and still keep their jobs, or you don’t. If your principle is “only people who offend ME should be fired,” then you have no principles.

            • Firebird7478 says:

              I’m one of those people that hate being told what to do, I suppose. I like to point out that it is “The Bill of Rights”, not “The Bill of Rights (With the following exceptions)”. 😉

  14. Martin K says:

    While I agree that governments should not be “recommending” dietary guidelines, unfortunately that’s what they’ve been doing for the past forty years. The trouble is, nearly two generations have been subjected to the hearthealthywholegrain, arterycloggingsaturated fat nonsense and despite the fact that many of them have become fat and sick, too many still believe what they have been told is the healthy way to eat. After all the government couldn’t be wrong…could they? Is it possible that if the government just stopped giving out dietary advice as you rightly suggest, many will carry on following the previous advice because it’s been “common Knowledge” for decades. Unless these people actively search out Fathead, this blog or others like it, they may never know there is an alternative…unless someone ” the government” tells them. Followers of your blog can see what the problem is and what can be done about it. Its possible that many people don’t even realise there’s a problem.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      There is that problem, yes. I’ll amend my dream scenario to include an announcement by the feds that they got the previous advice all wrong and won’t be issuing any new advice because people can figure it out for themselves.

  15. Dietary guidelines – are they mistaken? Obviously.
    Are they an out-and-out evil, empowering every little Hitler out there who’s “just doing their job”?
    Looks like it here
    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2017/10/the_fight_for_the_right_to_eat_seal_blubber.html

  16. Renato says:

    At last the errors of the “Anointed” have been brought into the light !

    “It is the perilous privilege of really eminent men, that their errors, as well as their wisdom, should be fertile in consequences.” — Richard Jones

  17. Roger Haubold says:

    I agree and disagree. It is my mission to start local with our school district superintendent to educate and hopefully inspire to change the way our district is feeding our children. So, local I agree. On the other hand, with no guidelines or agreed upon scientific research, someone could convince a school superintendent that donuts and soda are the key to a healthy diet with monetary backing for athletic programs and school resources. Basically what we have now. We need a scientific foundation to stand on to begin the local change.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Sure, but I don’t believe we need government to give us that scientific foundation. We’ve seen a huge rise in the popularity of low-carb, paleo, gluten-free, etc., all because of the spread of scientific knowledge in cyberspace. That knowledge is affecting what consumers buy and what producers produce, even though the trends go against current government advice.

      As soon as we lobby for agreed-upon guidelines, everyone with an agenda will want to decide what’s agreed upon. I’d much rather let the marketplace of ideas work.

    • Sorry, but if you assume that it’s a school district’s job to be “feeding our children” you’ve already ceded the argument — and the children — to them.

      Cheers

      • Bonnie says:

        When I was in first grade the school didn’t have a cafeteria – we brought our lunches. After the cafeteria was built, many of us still brought our lunches. Makes me wonder what happened now that schools are expected to provide breakfast & lunch.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          I could be wrong, but I don’t believe the grade school The Older Brother and I attended had a cafeteria either. We usually walked home for lunch, although sometimes we carried a lunch from home. I remember my Spider Man lunchbox fondly … partly because I liked the design, and partly because I once whacked a bully across the head with it.

      • Gilana says:

        Yup. It’s my responsibility to feed my daughter, and I pack her lunch pretty much every day. Except for Fridays. That’s pizza day, and she gets to pick a bottle of that nasty sugar-water (fat-free chocolate “milk”). It gives her a feeling of control, camaraderie, and it gives me a few extra minutes. I feel the compromise works.

  18. Whenever we talk about how things should be, there’s always the question of how do we get from here to there. As long as the federal government is responsible for feeding lots of people – military, prisons, schools, food stamps, etc. – they need some guidelines for what to feed them. You can say the feds shouldn’t be responsible for feeding all those people, but as long as they are they need guidelines.

    But even if we get to a place where there’s no centralized authority dictating what (some) people will eat, there’s still the idea of what we should eat. We don’t all have time to read every study that comes out. At some point nearly everyone has to rely on the recommendation of some expert.

    In a perfect world, that expert is someone who is at least acting in my interest. (They could still be wrong, of course.) And since I can’t afford to pay what it would cost to do the science, I have to pool my money with other people somehow. That means either government or business. Unless I own the business I’m a customer, which means their goals are at odds with mine.

    Long story short: Government is in the best position to do fundamental research. Business is in the best position to turn that into products and services. Now how do we get from here to there?

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I’m happy to let the universities, corporations and private institutions conduct all the research they want, as long as government doesn’t take an official position on the outcome. I believe in the marketplace of ideas concept. Let time and experience show us which ideas are best.

      I must be more optimistic than you. Over time, people gravitate towards what works, whether we’re talking diets or smart phones. I don’t think we need a centralized authority telling us what we should eat any more than we need a centralized authority telling us which electronics to buy. We’ll figure it out.

  19. Orvan Taurus says:

    Ain’t it amazing how “The Invisible Hand” always eventually seems to come to the right decision, while Visible Bureaucrats (almost?) NEVER do?

    Let’s run millions of concurrent experiments (it’s called Liberty…) and see what works.

  20. Kate Miller says:

    This is a terrific conversation. I think the information has to be out there, and people can try different dietary approaches themselves. I have had a lot of luck with LCHF and Intermittent Fasting, but I also know people who do exactly the opposite and have great success.
    On the grandmother topic, my grandmother was born in 1893, was very well educated, and the daughter of a pretty famous surgeon, who had great concerns about operating on obese patients (I wonder what he would think now.). When he told my grandmother he thought she was fat, she went on the low fat/magarine bandwagon. This was back in the Eisenhower’s heart attack days, well before the Dietary Guidelines.
    Gotta to back to the great grandmother!

  21. Melinda says:

    Off the subject a bit, has anyone read or heard anything about “The Angry Chef: Bad Science and the Truth About Healthy Eating” by Anthony Warner? It just came out and was recommended to me; but it looks like it’s the usual rhetoric.

  22. Jeffrey T Ranney says:

    The main problem, as we all know, is the money in Big Food and their interests. Try as we might, they will win in government until something is done about all that money affecting decisions. I agree with Tom… who needs guidelines? Hardly anyone follows them anyway, as most people are going to eat what they want to eat, regardless what some calorie label declares. This is a hard one.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Trying to get the money out of politics is attacking the wrong end of the problem. As long as we give enormous power to small groups of people in government, the money will find its way to them. If a federal agency can make decisions that affect my bottom line by millions, I’d be an idiot not to attempt to influence their decisions. Take away the government power, and there’s nobody worth bribing.

  23. Nick S says:

    I actually do use the nutrition info from restaurants, but it’s never been a problem for me to look them up on my phone.

    The problem is actually something else entirely; the nutrition facts don’t match reality. I’ve tried weighing a few things to see what I’m actually getting from i.e. packaged foods and fast food, and the nutrition facts are USUALLY wrong, and frequently off by 50% or more. Some places (like Subway) standardize pretty effectively, but McDonald’s can end up giving you 25% more french fries than the nutrition facts say, stuff like that.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      And unless we’re going to make them weigh everything before serving it, that will always be the case.

      • Walter Bushell says:

        And it doesn’t *even* matter. Most people reach an equilibrium and one has to change the composition of the diet to get away from that. Or add fasting to their regimen.

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