The Anointed aren’t big fans of free speech. Sure, they pay lip-service to the idea now and then, but when you watch them in action, it’s clear they don’t much like wide-open discussions and free-wheeling debates. You may recall, for example, what happened when Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise, was invited to be part of a nutrition panel at the National Food Policy Conference: members of the Center For Science in the Public Interest and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Committee threatened to boycott unless she was disinvited … which she was.
I wrote at the time that the CSPI weenies were afraid Teicholz would kick their asses in a public debate. I still believe that’s part of the explanation, but recent events (which I’ll cover in later posts) got me thinking there’s more to it.
To explain, let’s start by quickly summarizing the Wisdom of Crowds concept: when ordinary people share their experiences, ideas and insights with each other, the right answers tend to eventually bubble up to the top. Notice that the Wisdom of Crowds doesn’t mean the majority is always correct, and it certainly doesn’t mean everyone’s ideas are good ideas. It simply means that when ideas and information are freely exchanged within that big ol’ crowd, the good ideas tend to take hold.
Freedom of speech and freedom of the press in the U.S. are based on a similar concept. The Founders believed in what’s often called the Marketplace of Ideas. Thomas Jefferson, for example, wrote that it’s safe to tolerate error of opinion where reason is left free to combat it. Fredrick Siebert put it quite nicely in Four Theories of The Press:
Let all with something to say be free to express themselves. The true and sound will survive. The false and unsound will be vanquished. Government should keep out of the battle and not weigh the odds in favor of one side or the other.
Notice what both the Wisdom of Crowds and the Marketplace of Ideas have in common? That’s right … they’re based on faith in ordinary people. Given access to lots of information and competing ideas, most people will come to the correct conclusion most of the time. So people who believe in the Wisdom of Crowds view the prospect of debate and discussion with an attitude of Bring it on! I’ll make my case, you make yours, and we’ll see who wins.
The Anointed, by contrast, view wide-open debate and discussion as a threat. Why? I used to think it’s because they know their Grand Plans are based on flimsy or non-existent evidence. As Thomas Sowell points out in both The Vision of The Anointed and Intellectuals and Society, The Anointed tend to fall in love with bold, new, exciting ideas. They don’t like waiting for solid evidence to support their bold, new, exciting ideas, and are quite adept at ignoring or dismissing evidence that their bold, new, exciting ideas are wrong. So I figured they’re hostile to debate out of simple fear someone will prove them wrong.
But that doesn’t jibe with a fundamental trait of The Anointed: their extreme confidence in themselves and their ideas. So after noodling on it for awhile, I decided their hostility towards debate and discussion is rooted in two of their most dearly-held beliefs, which are:
1. They are very, very smart.
2. The rest of us aren’t very, very smart and are often quite stupid.
Therefore, The Anointed aren’t afraid they’ll be proven wrong – heck, they don’t believe it’s possible for them to be wrong. Rather, they’re afraid the rest of us are too stupid to discern how right they are. When we hear lots of contrary opinions, we (unlike The Anointed) don’t have the intelligence to weigh the evidence and come to the correct conclusions. So as far as The Anointed are concerned, an open debate is nothing more than an opportunity for the great unwashed masses with their inferior intellects to be led astray.
That’s why so many of them long for the good ol’ days when a relatively small number of information gatekeepers decided what most of us see and hear. That’s why so many of them are angry about the emergence of talk radio, social media, blogs, and other forms of what they derisively call the “pajamas media.” (I’m not wearing pajamas at the moment, in case you’re wondering.) The information gatekeepers have lost control of the gates, which means the Marketplace of Ideas is a vastly larger and more diverse marketplace than it once was.
That’s what allows the Wisdom of Crowds to flourish. But The Anointed don’t believe in the Wisdom of Crowds, so they consider all that debate and discussion a problem. We’ll look at how they (ahem) “solve” that problem in the next couple of posts.
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Good to be back in the Fat Head chair after some time away. I spent a chunk of that time working with Chareva on the book and the film. Reading The Older Brother’s guest-host post reminded me of why we’re banging away on a project directed at kids. Perhaps we can convince a few of them to stop eating those carbage-laden “heart-healthy” school meals before they become fat, diabetic adults.
But there’s more to life than work, so I took an actual vacation as well. Jimmy and Christine Moore arrived the Sunday before Thanksgiving to spend the week in Franklin. That’s two years in a row, and I hope it’s now firmly established as an annual tradition.
They came bearing gifts – a lot of gifts: a printer, a Ninja coffee maker (which the girls love because it froths milk), various flavors of Quest bars, various flavors of Mark Sisson’s Primal Kitchen bars, Primal Kitchen oils, mayonnaise and salad dressings, walkie-talkies for the girls, a water purifier, and some Bulletproof coffee. Jimmy insisted the booty was supplied for free by his sponsors, but I happen to know he bought some of the stuff himself. He’s been showing gratitude for the success of the Keto Clarity books by buying gifts for both friends and occasional strangers. That’s the kind of guy he is.
I looked at the load of gifts and said all I could offer in return was a disc-golf course with no waiting and no green fees. He replied that it was a fair trade, and we began the tournament with three rounds on Sunday, four on Monday and five on Tuesday.
After those first three days, we had an Election 2016 situation: Jimmy won some games by a huge margin (nine strokes in one case), but I won several games by a stroke or two. So he had the better overall score, but I was ahead in the victory column. Or as I like to put it, he won the popular vote, but I won the electoral college. Jimmy considered staging a protest in downtown Franklin and possibly smashing some store windows to express his outrage at the result, but then remembered he’s an adult. He settled for threatening to demand a recount of all the strokes on the 17th hole.
You may have noticed the Cubs World Series Champions sweatshirt and hat I’m wearing. Those showed up as anonymous gifts on our doorstep awhile back, and I posted a note on Facebook thanking whoever sent them. Turns out it was Jimmy. I’m pretty sure his sponsors didn’t supply those.
There’s not much to do on the farm these days. Between the two flocks of chickens, we’re getting a few eggs per week. That’s because Chareva elected to let the chickens rest for awhile instead of encouraging egg-laying by heating the coops. Once we get winter temperatures, she’ll turn on the heat.
The ladies did, however, harvest some sweet potatoes from Chareva’s garden while Jimmy and I were busy in the front pastures, trash-talking and trying to beat each other in disc golf.
Hoping to get into Jimmy’s head before the next round, I pointed to the sweet-potato harvest and said something like Boy, those farm-fresh sweet potatoes are going to be delicious. Too bad you can’t eat them, huh, Mister Keto Clarity? Huh?
Turns out Mister Keto Clarity eats sweet potatoes during holiday weeks. Well, good. They were delicious, by the way. Everything we grow tastes better than the grocery-store version.
The weather for the week behaved so nicely, you’d think I bribed someone in Climate Control. We had 60-ish temperatures all the days we played disc golf. We’d planned to take Wednesday off to rest our arms, and that happened to be the only day it rained.
The rainy-day storm left us with an unexpected present:
Here’s how living on a little farm changes your attitude about things: Any other place I’ve lived, I would have viewed that fallen tree as a major pain in the arse, something I’d have to pay to have hauled away. When I noticed it on Wednesday afternoon, my first thought was Wow! Look at all the free firewood! Sure, I’ll have to get out the chainsaws and cut it up, but I’ve grown to enjoy that kind of work. The wood stove awaits the proceeds.
It did occur to me later that I had no idea the tree was dying and could topple. Given the size, it’s what folks who know about such things call a Widow-Maker. Any one of us could have been in that side field when the tree landed. So I’m thinking it’s time to have a tree expert pay us a visit and identify the other Widow-Makers on the property. I know from painful experience I can survive a whack on the noggin from a t-post hammer, but a tree punches in a much higher weight class.
Thanksgiving was a real treat this year. Jimmy and I played six rounds of disc golf while the ladies prepared a feast of turkey, ham, green-bean casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed cauliflower, dressing (made with gluten-free bread), cranberries, and three pies. (Before any of you other ladies get all righteously indignant about the division of labor, I should mention that we didn’t expect Chareva and Christine clean up the kitchen afterwards. I had my daughters do it.) Chareva’s mother gave me a bottle of single-malt scotch to say thanks for the help getting them settled into their new house, and I enjoyed some of that while watching football on Thursday night.
Jimmy and I played our final rounds of the 2016 Thanksgiving tournament on Friday. I finally put that popular-vote/electoral college controversy to rest by shooting some good rounds and dropping my average score. Our final average scores for the week were so close, I’d call the difference statistically insignificant … although I’m sure a Harvard nutrition researcher could perform a few math tricks and tease out an association or two.
Thanksgiving is supposed to be about gratitude, and I have many reasons to feel grateful. I’m thankful to have friends like Jimmy and Christine. I’m thankful Chareva’s parents found a lovely home just four miles down the road from ours. I’m thankful that at age 58, I can play 22 rounds of disc golf (which means walking about 26 miles up and down our hilly land) in a six-day span without feeling tired. I’m thankful to see the book coming together with Chareva’s excellent cartoons and graphics. I’m thankful The Older Brother fills in when I need a break from the blog.
And as always, I’m thankful to have intelligent and engaged blog readers who keep the conversation going. Happy Holidays, everyone.
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I don’t have much time to sit down and read an actual book. When I do read the old-fashioned way, it’s usually a book someone sent me to review on the blog. Hey, I like reading and reviewing those books, but I don’t want to be limited to them. There are more fascinating books that have already been published than I could read in a thousand years … and while I plan on living to a ripe old age, a thousand years seems overly optimistic.
Since driving to and from work takes a big chunk of each week, I make the commute useful by listening to books I don’t have time to sit and read. My Audible.com library online shows that I’ve downloaded 25 books so far this year. Yup, that sounds about right, a book every other week or so. I like a variety of genres: history, economics, psychology, and of course fiction. I’m a big fan of mysteries by Jonathan Kellerman and Michael Connelly.
I rarely listen to books on diet and health, but I often find myself connecting ideas from audiobooks to the topics I cover on the blog. (I also find myself slapping the steering wheel and grumbling aloud when a fiction writer refers to foods like bacon and eggs as “artery-clogging.” Kellerman does that on a fairly regular basis.)
Last week, I posted Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s essay about what he calls the Intellectual Yet Idiot – a description very much like Thomas Sowell’s description of The Anointed, the term I adopted for the blog. These are the people who think they know better than the rest of us and thus feel qualified to impose their Grand Plans on us. Think U.S. Dietary Guidelines.
Based on recommendations from readers in comments, I listened to three of Taleb’s books in the past year: The Black Swan, Fooled by Randomness and Antifragile. I don’t remember exactly which idea came which book, but I do remember that much of what he wrote applies to health and the health sciences.
One reason Taleb is so critical of the Intellectual Yet Idiot types is that (as he explained in all three books) human beings don’t know what they don’t know and are thus lousy at predicting future consequences. They don’t consider the rare or black-swan event that can cause everything to blow up or go sideways. So they make Grand Plans and 10-year forecasts that are nearly always wrong – way wrong.
As he explained in one of the books (I believe it was Antifragile), that’s why he considers centralization (especially a big, centralized government) dangerous. Centralization amplifies mistakes. Instead of small groups experimenting with their own ideas and producing results others can learn from, we get one plan and one set of results for everyone – often bad results.
Once again, think about those Dietary Guidelines. Back in the day, people decided which foods were good for them based on something like the Wisdom of Crowds. They learned from their grandmothers, their coaches, their friends, and perhaps their doctors – most of whom were speaking from experience.
Then for some reason, The Anointed decided we needed a national nutrition policy. Medical protocols, school lunch programs, nutrition labels on foods, you name it, they were all based on federal guidelines that told us saturated fat is bad, cholesterol causes heart disease, and grains are good for us. Those guidelines were a mistake – and centralization amplified the mistake. The national policy produced a national disaster for health.
Taleb also has rather a lot to say about education and experts. Many of us believe (because we were taught to believe) that most scientific knowledge comes from academics toiling in universities. They produce the pure science, then tinkerers and entrepreneurs put that pure science to practical use.
Wrong, wrong, wrong, according to Taleb. More often, it’s the tinkerers who produce new knowledge. They tinker and tinker and find something new that works. Then the academics come along and figure out why it works. Then they run off and write their papers. As Taleb explains, it’s not necessary to understand exactly why something works to know that it does, in fact, work. For example, the guys who invented the jet engine couldn’t explain the physics. They just knew they’d tinkered their way into something that worked. Academics figured out the physics of the thing later.
I of course related that back to diet and health while listening. Think of all the dietary wisdom our ancestors carried with them. They knew they should feed their growing kids saturated fats and cholesterol. They knew they should eat fermented foods. They knew they should eat organ meats. If you asked your great-grandmother which foods make people fat, she probably would have blamed sugar and flour, not butter and lard.
Could these people cite scientific papers to support their beliefs about diet? Not likely. But they knew what works. I believe that’s an important lesson for all of us: it’s more important to find and adopt what works than to read all the science.
The “settled” science, is of course, often wrong. Taleb points out several examples in his books. I was reminded of further examples in two books by David McCullough, The Wright Brothers and The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Orville and Wilbur Wright were master tinkerers. They were also geniuses. When they began designing their first airplane, they consulted the established books on physics and aeronautics. They were dismayed to discover that much of the “settled” science was clearly wrong. It didn’t hold up to their own tests and measurements. So they had to toss the books and tinker their way into finding what worked.
The Brooklyn Bridge was designed by another genius named John Roebling. The bridge was a mammoth undertaking, and when Roebling submitted his plans, some society of learned engineers in New York City published a long article explaining why his design would never work. The bridge would fall down, you see. The experts cited plenty of science to explain why.
The bridge not only didn’t fall down, it now easily withstands the weight of countless cars and trucks – despite being designed for pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages. The society of learned experts was wrong, despite their scientific citations.
Does that remind you at all of current dietary science?
Another book that reminded me of diet and health topics despite not being about diet and health was Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin and Robert B. Cialdini. (I know, the title makes it sound like a book on marketing and sales. Trust me, it’s more about psychology.)
One major point the authors make is that warning people about a problem without also providing a solution that works is pointless – unless your goal is to make people depressed. In fact, if you regularly offer warnings without workable solutions, people will just avoid you.
That made me think of all the morons who believe we can fat-shame people into losing weight. Doctors need to more aggressive in telling people they’re overweight, ya see (according to some health official the U.K., if memory serves.) We need to make it socially unacceptable, blah-blah-blah.
Warning people that being overweight will kill them doesn’t provide a solution. Telling them to just cut calories or go on low-fat diets also isn’t a solution for most of them. So if health officials convince doctors to be more aggressive in telling people to lose weight (i.e., engage in white-coat fat-shaming), what do think will happen? Well, studies have already shown what will happen: people who can’t lose weight will stop going to the doctor to avoid the lectures. Someone please inform Meme Roth.
The book also explains that many people are persuaded by what the authors call social proof. If everyone else seems to believe something, they’ll believe it … even if logic and experience should tell them otherwise.
I think it’s safe to say that social proof had a lot to do with the low-fat diet craze. The government experts told us we should be on low-fat diets, major media began promoting the idea, and eventually everyone seemed to believe it. Watch reruns of TV shows from the ‘80s and ‘90s, and I guarantee you’ll hear references to arterycloggingsaturatedfat! I’ve noticed at least a dozen of those references while watching Seinfeld reruns.
I like to think of myself as someone not persuaded by social proof, but apparently I am – or at least I was then. I kept trying low-fat diets, despite feeling lousy and not losing any weight. Everyone says this is a healthy diet, so it must be a healthy diet! I hope I’ve become less easily persuaded as I’ve gotten older. I’ve certainly become more skeptical of experts and authorities.
But I also believe social proof can work both ways. Not everyone has the time or inclination to experiment with different diets or look into the research, so many just follow the herd. If the herd is moving towards paleo, or low-carb, or gluten-free, that’s not a bad result.
Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to leave the office and drive home while listing to a Jonathan Kellerman novel. I hope he doesn’t make any cracks about bacon and eggs clogging our arteries.
I’ll be taking Thanksgiving week off from both work and blogging. Jimmy and Christine Moore will be visiting, and when I’m not socializing or playing disc golf with Jimmy, Chareva and I will put in extra time on the book. I’ve asked The Older Brother to take over the Fat Head chair if the mood strikes him.
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Geez, time flies. Blink twice, and it’s another birthday.
In two years, I’ll be 60. I remember when 60 sounded old. Maybe it is, but I predict I won’t feel old. I’m 58 today, and I feel better than I did at 35. No arthritis in the shoulder, no psoriasis on the back of my head, no bouts of mild asthma, no gastric reflux, no belly aches, no restless legs or mysterious backaches at night.
I should probably send Morgan Spurlock a thank-you card. Super Size Me annoyed me, which inspired the idea for Fat Head, which led to me learning a lot more about diet and health than I’d ever planned to know. None of this — the film, the blog, the little farm in rural Tennessee, the upcoming book — was what I envisioned 20 years ago, which just proves the universe had better plans for my life than I did.
We had the family celebration on Saturday night. Tonight I’m just going to kick back and watch Monday Night Football and enjoy feeling alive and healthy and optimistic about the next 50 years.
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In case you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t had much time for posts lately. The programming job, Sara’s birthday (for which she chose a family zip-lining expedition over a party), sessions with Chareva to go over her graphics for the book, trying to wrap up a script for the film version of the book … not much bandwidth left at the end each week.
This won’t be a full post either, even though it’s long. Twitter brought me an essay I believe is worth sharing. The author is Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and the essay is apparently from a work in progress titled Skin in the Game.
I first became aware of Taleb in March, when I quoted one of his Facebook posts because it seemed like a perfect comment on The Anointed. Several of you chimed in to say I should read his books, so I did, and I heartily recommend all of them.
Turns out that Facebook post was from the essay below (although I think the essay has since been updated.) Taleb asked that people who reproduce the essay do so in its entirety, so I will. The Intellectual Yet Idiot is, once again, a perfect commentary on the people who are so impressed with their own intelligence, they feel qualified to tell the rest of us how to live. Enjoy.
The Intellectual Yet Idiot
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.
But the problem is the one-eyed following the blind: these self-described members of the “intelligentsia” can’t find a coconut in Coconut Island, meaning they aren’t intelligent enough to define intelligence hence fall into circularities — but their main skill is capacity to pass exams written by people like them. With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30 years of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating at best only 1/3 of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers (or Montaigne and such filtered classical knowledge) with a better track record than these policymaking goons.
Indeed one can see that these academico-bureaucrats who feel entitled to run our lives aren’t even rigorous, whether in medical statistics or policymaking. They can’t tell science from scientism — in fact in their eyes scientism looks more scientific than real science. (For instance it is trivial to show the following: much of what the Cass-Sunstein-Richard Thaler types — those who want to “nudge” us into some behavior — much of what they would classify as “rational” or “irrational” (or some such categories indicating deviation from a desired or prescribed protocol) comes from their misunderstanding of probability theory and cosmetic use of first-order models.) They are also prone to mistake the ensemble for the linear aggregation of its components as we saw in the chapter extending the minority rule.
The Intellectual Yet Idiot is a production of modernity hence has been accelerating since the mid twentieth century, to reach its local supremum today, along with the broad category of people without skin-in-the-game who have been invading many walks of life. Why? Simply, in most countries, the government’s role is between five and ten times what it was a century ago (expressed in percentage of GDP). The IYI seems ubiquitous in our lives but is still a small minority and is rarely seen outside specialized outlets, think tanks, the media, and universities — most people have proper jobs and there are not many openings for the IYI.
Beware the semi-erudite who thinks he is an erudite. He fails to naturally detect sophistry.
The IYI pathologizes others for doing things he doesn’t understand without ever realizing it is his understanding that may be limited. He thinks people should act according to their best interests and he knows their interests, particularly if they are “red necks” or English non-crisp-vowel class who voted for Brexit. When plebeians do something that makes sense to them, but not to him, the IYI uses the term “uneducated”. What we generally call participation in the political process, he calls by two distinct designations: “democracy” when it fits the IYI, and “populism” when the plebeians dare voting in a way that contradicts his preferences. While rich people believe in one tax dollar one vote, more humanistic ones in one man one vote, Monsanto in one lobbyist one vote, the IYI believes in one Ivy League degree one-vote, with some equivalence for foreign elite schools and PhDs as these are needed in the club.
More socially, the IYI subscribes to The New Yorker. He never curses on twitter. He speaks of “equality of races” and “economic equality” but never went out drinking with a minority cab driver (again, no real skin in the game as the concept is foreign to the IYI). Those in the U.K. have been taken for a ride by Tony Blair. The modern IYI has attended more than one TEDx talks in person or watched more than two TED talks on Youtube. Not only will he vote for Hillary Monsanto-Malmaison because she seems electable and some such circular reasoning, but holds that anyone who doesn’t do so is mentally ill.
The IYI has a copy of the first hardback edition of The Black Swan on his shelves, but mistakes absence of evidence for evidence of absence. He believes that GMOs are “science”, that the “technology” is not different from conventional breeding as a result of his readiness to confuse science with scientism.
Typically, the IYI get the first order logic right, but not second-order (or higher) effects making him totally incompetent in complex domains. In the comfort of his suburban home with 2-car garage, he advocated the “removal” of Gadhafi because he was “a dictator”, not realizing that removals have consequences (recall that he has no skin in the game and doesn’t pay for results).
The IYI has been wrong, historically, on Stalinism, Maoism, GMOs, Iraq, Libya, Syria, lobotomies, urban planning, low carbohydrate diets, gym machines, behaviorism, transfats, freudianism, portfolio theory, linear regression, Gaussianism, Salafism, dynamic stochastic equilibrium modeling, housing projects, selfish gene, Bernie Madoff (pre-blowup) and p-values. But he is convinced that his current position is right.
The IYI is member of a club to get traveling privileges; if social scientist he uses statistics without knowing how they are derived (like Steven Pinker and psycholophasters in general); when in the UK, he goes to literary festivals; he drinks red wine with steak (never white); he used to believe that fat was harmful and has now completely reversed; he takes statins because his doctor told him to do so; he fails to understand ergodicity and when explained to him, he forgets about it soon later; he doesn’t use Yiddish words even when talking business; he studies grammar before speaking a language; he has a cousin who worked with someone who knows the Queen; he has never read Frederic Dard, Libanius Antiochus, Michael Oakeshot, John Gray, Amianus Marcellinus, Ibn Battuta, Saadiah Gaon, or Joseph De Maistre; he has never gotten drunk with Russians; he never drank to the point when one starts breaking glasses (or, preferably, chairs); he doesn’t even know the difference between Hecate and Hecuba (which in Brooklynese is “can’t tell sh**t from shinola”); he doesn’t know that there is no difference between “pseudointellectual” and “intellectual” in the absence of skin in the game; has mentioned quantum mechanics at least twice in the past five years in conversations that had nothing to do with physics.
He knows at any point in time what his words or actions are doing to his reputation.
But a much easier marker: he doesn’t even deadlift.
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Interesting items from my inbox and elsewhere …
Noakes found guilty! Or not.
As you probably know, Professor Tim Noakes has been on trial in South Africa for a tweet in which he advised a young mother (in response to her question) to wean her baby onto high-fat, real foods. Some idiot dietician was horrified that Noakes would suggest a high-fat diet for a baby (because as we all know, mother’s milk is fat-free!) and threatened to bring him up on charges – which she did. So Noakes was dragged before The Health Professions Council of South Africa on charges of unprofessional conduct. (We can safely assume “professional conduct” therefore means “giving out the lousy, low-fat advice officially sanctioned by governments around the world.”)
Apparently, the HPCSA was a wee bit overly anxious to declare victory:
The Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) released a press release today saying it has found Prof Tim Noakes guilty of unprofessional conduct.
That’s not possible, of course, since the case against him has not concluded. The HPCSA’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) that is hearing the charge against Noakes, hasn’t even heard closing argument from lawyers on both sides yet. And it only intends issuing a ruling after that, on April 21, 2017. PCC chair Pretoria advocate Joan Adams has issued a tightly worded, clearly irate statement saying the HPCSA’s press release is “devoid of all truth”.
Well, I think it’s perfectly fitting for the HPCSA to issue a press release that’s devoid of all truth. After all, so are the changes against Noakes.
Noakes has been fortunate to have some impressive experts testify on his behalf, including Nina Teicholz and Zoe Harcombe. You can read about their testimony and other aspects of the kangaroo-court proceed—er, I mean government hearings here.
It’s an outrage that Noakes is being dragged through all this because of a tweet that annoyed an ignorant dietician, but perhaps this trial will become the South African version of the Annika Dahlqvist hearings in Sweden that led to a LCHF revolution there.
Baseball players are overweight
I’m still hoping and praying for a Cubs miracle. During my 15 years in Chicago, I lived within walking distance of Wrigley Field. I walked to a lot of games and staggered home from a few. Man, I loved watching the Cubs … but I don’t recall the players being overweight. I likewise haven’t noticed an obesity problem while watching the World Series. But according to a recent study, most baseball players are too heavy:
Major League Baseball players have become overwhelmingly overweight and obese during the last quarter century, say health researchers. They found that the athletes’ weight held steady for over 100 years, with the majority of them weighing in at what is considered “normal,” — i.e., with a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9. However, around 1991 the average player’s BMI began to rise, and over the last 25 years nearly 80 percent of players fall into the overweight or obese category with a BMI above 25.
Sure, some power hitters are thick around the middle. But 80 percent of professional baseball players are overweight or obese, seriously? Have these researchers bothered watching any games?
I’m thinking that rise in BMI has a lot more to do with weight-training than with baseball players becoming too fat. Most of these guys are sporting some serious guns under those sleeves.
The USDA’s food-consumption data is nonsense
Back in this post, I wrote about a study of just how reliable those food questionnaires used in observational studies are – or more precisely, are not. Now the same researchers have produced another study pointing that the USDA’s per-capita food-consumption data is highly suspect. Here’s what lead author Edward Archer told me in a recent email:
In the study, we examined the USDA loss-adjusted food availability per-capita caloric consumption data. We found that if the US population actually consumed what the USDA was telling us we consumed, we would have lost ~12-36kg from 1971-1980 and gained ~42-98kg from 1988-2010. The actual changes from 1971-2010 were gains of 10kg and 9 kg in men and women, respectively.
Do you know anyone that lost over 80lbs and then gained well over 200lbs during that time-frame? Nevertheless, the USDA continues to publish these data as fact.
Well, I suppose somewhere in the world we can find a few people who gained 200 pounds from 1988 to 2010 … but they were probably infants in 1988. You can read the abstract of the study here.
NuVal is ByeVille
Back in 2010, I wrote about NuVal, a system for telling grocery-store shoppers which goods are good for them and which foods aren’t. It was the usual low-fat and anti-meat nonsense – such complete nonsense that on a scale of 100, a turkey breast received a “health” score of just 31, while a glass of chocolate soy milk received a score of 68, despite being loaded with sugar.
One of the developers of NuVal, by the way, was Dr. David Katz – who got in hot water after reviewing his own novel under a fake name, comparing his own writing to the works of Charles Dickens and John Milton. After being busted, Katz explained that the fake review was no big deal because he was expressing his honest opinion. Hey, we all love an honest egomaniac.
Anyway, it looks as if sanity is taking hold at some grocery stores that had adopted the NuVal system – meaning they’re dropping it.
Tops Markets is getting rid of a controversial nutrition ratings system it has used to help customers make food purchasing decisions. The system rates brownie mix and ice cream as healthier than some canned fruits and vegetables.
And let’s not forget sugary soy milk being healthier than turkey.
The NuVal Nutrional Scoring System debuted at Tops in 2011. The system scores foods on a scale from 1 to 100–the more nutritious the food, the higher the number. The NuVal score is based on an algorithm developed by a team of scientists from schools such as Yale and Harvard.
The process behind the scoring has never been disclosed but the company has said it calculates a food’s good elements–such as protein, calcium and vitamins–against its bad elements–such as sugar, sodium and cholesterol. NuVal has said it does not share details about how it comes up with its scores because that information is proprietary.
Meaning we just made this @#$% up.
Two other grocery chains have dropped NuVal recently, including California-based Raley’s and Massachusetts-based Big Y, which told the Yale Daily News the system was “out of date.”
No kidding. I think we’re probably seeing the Wisdom of Crowds effect kicking in. Consumers are probably telling grocery-store managers what they think of the ratings, and the store managers are responding.
If this trend continues, perhaps Dr. Katz will retire from handing out lousy nutrition advice and turn his attention to writing more novels. I think he should compare himself to James Joyce next time … under an assumed name, of course.
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