Archive for the “Random Musings” Category

Hey Fatheads!

I know I usually do the right thing and disappear for a few months after commandeering The Big Chair, but this was too good not to share.

I was perusing the local paper of record Monday and there was a story headlined “BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS: Free services offered to children with skill deficits.” It was about a”new intensive feeding clinic” developed by the Southern Illinois University’s Child Behavior Research and Training Lab. Its mission is to help parents use “Applied Behavior Analysis” (ABA) to overcome the dread “picky eater” crisis that’s sweeping the nation.

I’m assuming it must be a crisis, anyway, since one of our main public universities — in a state that is hundreds of billions behind on pension funding, hasn’t passed a budget in over two years, and has put half of the NFP social service agencies out of business — is devoting resources to it and running the program at no charge.

They’re applying some of their expertise from other areas of child behavior. One example, for instance, was how to avoid your kid having a tantrum in the store because you won’t buy them Skittles. So the solution offered by the expert is to give them one Skittle per minute while shopping.

Seriously. These are experts.

I’m accustomed to such credentialed idiocy (as are most Fat Heads, I believe), but another line regarding a predecessor program being used as a template for the picky eater solution had me howling out loud:

“Earlier this spring, Hirst rolled out an intensive, one-day potty training program that incorporates a mix of evidence-based procedures. “

Yep, there it is kids. Pre-adolescent turd disposal has joined the elite ranks of all things evidence-based. So if any of you still thought “evidence-based” had any real meaning, that swishing sound you hear is the last shred of any of the term’s rhetorical value swirling around the bowl.


Don’t worry, Mom — it’s evidence-based!

We now return to our regular programming…

Cheers!

The Older Brother

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Greetings Fat Heads!

Well, still here. Hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend. Special thanks to all vets and their families. Tom and family are back from the 2017 Low Carb Cruise, happily exhausted. I’m looking forward to getting the full report. I told him if he wanted to wait until next week, I’d fill in Thursday with an “evidence-based” rant.

Anyway, when I left off at the last post, Jimmy Kimmel’s son was doing great and I was in a bad mood. Not about Mr. Kimmel’s son of course. That was the wonderful part. The level of care we have available in this time and in this country is beyond the imagination of what was available to the richest people and kings even a few decades ago.

I wasn’t even particularly stirred up over Mr. Kimmel’s making the availability of the miraculous procedure that saved his son somehow tied in with keeping Obamacare intact. Between being a dad just past a major health scare and living in La La Land among the economically illiterate (seldom right, but never in doubt) I’m okay with him calling it any way he wants. I put it in there with the “all brides and babies are beautiful” protocol. It accomplishes nothing to argue, and it’s just plain rude.

The rest of the Idiocracy, however, deserves no so respect. Instead of politely giving Jimmy’s emotional description props and then moving on, they treated his completely sincere and completely uninformed comments on insurance and Obamacare as the Magnum Opus of the health care debate.

At any rate, I stated toward the end “It’s not like we don’t have major issues with the health care system in the good old U.S. of A. But the issues are with the availability of dollars, not doctors, …”

There are issues with dollars. As I mentioned, I was aware of Kimmel’s son’s condition because The Oldest Grandson had the same thing – and the same miraculous treatment – when he was born just about ten years ago (yes—before Obamacare).

His mom, my daughter-in-law, pointed out that back then just his hospital tab was over $300,000, which would break anyone without insurance, not to mention that he’s facing at least two more surgeries. Under insurance as it mostly existed prior to the current debacle, there could be real issues with lifetime spending caps and him trying to get health insurance as an adult with that type of pre-existing condition.

To paraphrase an old politician, $300,000 here, $300,000 there – pretty soon you’re talking real money! Definitely a dollars issue.

So what’s a libertarian to do? Is there a solution other than “I’m sorry, Mr. Kimmel, there’s nothing we can do?” That’s what you would hear in most of those countries where it’s “free.” Don’t we want to save babies in this country? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to do that and not go broke? How can we do that today, and still be able for that kid to afford reasonable health care later?

Fortuitously, Dr. William Davis’ new book – “Undoctored” came out just recently, and Tom did a book review.

[Confession time – I don’t read Tom’s book reviews any more. When I see he’s written one, I just save myself the time and buy the damned book.]

Now, if you want a great book on the disastrous macro-economics of our health care system, and policy proposals to address insurance and health system availability at a national level, don’t buy this book. That’s totally not what it’s about.

What it is about is you getting control of your health, which Dr. Davis reiterates throughout is not particularly connected to medical care. In fact, unless you get yourself informed and proactive, medical care can often be inversely related to your health. Although he doesn’t do a deep dive on the economic history of the health care system, he does do a great job illuminating how the money and incentives in the current system don’t line up with attaining real health as an individual. Then you’re off on a terrific primer in how to evaluate, improve, and monitor your health, in conjunction with health care professionals who will work with you and at your direction when needed.

Seriously, buy the book.

Okay, so how’s that tie in with the subject at hand? Well, the idea that the medical industry is more responsive to money than patient outcomes was nothing new to me – or probably any Fat Head, really. “Have a $tatin with that hearthealthywholegrain muffin” vs. “have the bacon and eggs and take a walk,” right? So, I was already on board with the concept.

Right in the introduction to “Undoctored,” Dr. Davis noted that we spend (endlessly pointed out with delight by the single-payer cheerleaders) over $3 trillion dollars a year – 17% of our GDP — on health care. Which I also already knew.  But this time when I read it I’d been thinking about Kimmel’s performance, and my daughter-in-law’s point, and then pretty close in to the beginning of the book Davis points out that:

“The system is ready and willing to commit you to a life of taking drugs and injectable insulin for diabetes, … providing “education” designed by people who put commercial interests first, while no one provides the handful of inexpensive health strategies that have been shown to reduce, even fully reverse, type 2 diabetes.”

Once again, nothing I didn’t already know, but it kind of all came together at that point and I thought, “well, just how the hell much do we spend on all of this crap?!?”

So I looked it up.

I tend to do that. I just stopped reading and went Googling for info on how much money we spend on the various medical substitutes for good habits. I’d like to think it’s due to my insatiable inquisitiveness when I’ve got an intellectual conundrum, but it’s probably just ADD.

I struck gold fairly quickly when I found a JAMA paper from 2016 titled “US Spending on Personal Health Care and Public Health, 1996-2013.” They collected seven years of data from 183 sources and sorted them into 155 conditions. The numbers, which, once again, we’ve probably all heard at different times, are stunning when you look at the whole picture.

The total spending for 2013 – the last year in the study – was $2.1 trillion. The estimate for 2014 was $2.9 trillion, so Dr. Davis’ $3 trillion seems to line up well with the reports info, and it would be safe to assume that the numbers I’ve got increased proportionately.  So, pretty much every number I’ve got has likely gone up by 50%. But here are some of the things we see:

Right off the bat, “diabetes had the highest health care spending in 2013, with an estimated $101.4 billion in spending, including 57.6% spent on pharmaceuticals…”

Keep in mind, that’s more like $150 billion today. One hundred and fifty billion dollars. A year. For a “disease” that’s easily 90% treatable by just stepping away from carbs.

Heart disease – the one that Dr. Davis put himself out of business from treating by getting people to change their lifestyles vs. post factum medical treatment — was $88.1 billion, so I’m calling it $130 billion.  I’m not saying no one would ever have a heart attack if we all stopped cooking with vegetable oil and started taking an evening walk, but it wouldn’t be an industry that by itself would rank in the top quarter of the rest of the world’s GDP’s.

Plus, that $130 billion does NOT include treatment for hyperlipidemia (i.e., statins) which earns itself $52 billion ($75B?) all by itself, or high blood pressure.

Here’s some other big ticket items, almost all of which the case studies of folks in “Undoctored” either completely reversed or substantially improved – often within weeks – of making the simple changes that Dr. Davis promotes:

Blood Pressure:  $84 Billion

Back & neck pain (think largely obesity and sedentary lifestyle related, so I’m counting it): $88 Billion

Depression (think mood disorders and gut biome dysbiosis. Not considered are other “mental” health issues – ADD, bipolar, etc): $70 Billion

Dental (tooth decay, inflammation): $66 Billion

Skin conditions: $55 Billion

Alzheimers and other dementias (i.e., Type III diabetes): $36.7 Billion

The 2013 numbers for all of those come up to about $469 Billion, which scales up to over $700 Billion in today’s spending. Mostly avoidable by straightforward, understandable lifestyle modification.

Like I said, some people will still have heart attacks, or pull a back muscle, or get depressed and need some help so you don’t have a 100% savings on the table; but the largest part of these diseases are self-inflicted and self-treatable.

I also left out other categories (Osteoarthritis – $47.9B; Asthma – $32.5B; Endocrine, metabolic, and immune disorders – $19.6B; and cancers, which were disaggregated into 29 separate conditions); so there’s some pickup available from the same lifestyle changes in areas I’m not counting. The point is that nearly one quarter of our health care spending is going to conditions that we have the capability of exerting a large degree of control over. Quickly.

Preterm birth complications, BTW, ranked 73rd at just under $5 Billion, so it seems like if we could get a handle on our grain and industrial foods habit, Jimmy Kimmel’s son and my grandson shouldn’t cause too much financial discomfort to the system.

After thinking about this, I had an epiphany.

I know Tom and many others, including myself, have compared the various and sundry mandatory coverages — dictated via Obamacare and other legislated and regulatory bodies — to requiring your auto insurance provider to include free oil changes, tire rotation, tune-ups, etc.  in your policy. The point being that these are known conditions that are a routine part of automobile ownership. Inclusion in a policy would only increase overhead and incentivize over-utilization, resulting in inevitable, recurring premium increases.

We completely misrepresented the argument. It’s correct as far as it goes, but it stops so short of reality that I count it as a huge error.

Our entire medical cost reimbursement system, as currently comprised, is like requiring that all auto insurance companies include DUI coverage in your policy.

It was stupid that my health insurance covered the two or three doctor office visits for the ear infections we knew The Sons were each going to get each year when they were toddlers. Same for the bottle of pick stuff we’d pick up at the pharmacy after each visit.

But it’s insane that insurance would pay for insulin for the 90% of people who could avoid the pharmacy if they’d stop blasting their system with sugar in all its forms. Same with all those other diseases of civilization driving a quarter of our spending. We’re making it convenient and cheaper for people to engage in behavior that’s harming them.

Add in the USDA budget with its massive grain subsidies and the SNAP (food stamp) program, and it’s like after adding the DUI coverage, we then pass out free booze to the people with the worst driving records.

So what about this — I say we should remove mandated coverage of all of those lifestyle diseases – Type II diabetes, blood pressure, non-emergency heart disease treatment, etc.

Companies would be free to make them available, but they’d be add-on items to a base policy and they’d also be rateable. I’m not interested in preventing someone from purchasing diabetes “treatment” coverage with their insurance, but I don’t want to be forced to “chip in.”

Rateable means they could adjust the premium, for example, based on a periodic A1C, fasting insulin, or some other marker to account for the risk and behavior of the policy owner. Behavior instantly gets coupled to economic consequences.

So people could pay higher premiums for diabetes treatment coverage, pay out of their own pocket for drugs and medical attention, or eat more veggies and fat and cut back on the sugar. I predict immediate, dramatic changes.

I don’t see why we couldn’t reduce medical spending by half a trillion dollars, plus another $100 billion a year by driving a stake through the USDA’s heart.  Putting money aside for just a moment, can you begin to imagine the quality of life improvements people would get?

Of course, I do see why we can’t. Politics. Money. Bureaucracy. Power. The usual suspects. But that doesn’t mean it’s not technically possible or the right thing to do.

It also doesn’t mean that you can’t get started, or step up your game so that you can limit your interaction with the medical system as much as possible. Just because you have to sacrifice them your money doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your health, too!

Cheers,

The Older Brother

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While I’ve been busy trying to finish the book and make serious progress on the film (which I’m supposed to show on the low-carb cruise in just 10 weeks), my inbox been piling up.  So here are some interesting items.

Why Arctic natives are getting fat

Here are some quotes from an article in the Siberian Times with the provocative title First-ever cases of obesity in Arctic peoples as noodles replace traditional diet:

Subtle changes in traditional lifestyle of native ethnic groups in the Yamalo-Nenets region have brought the first-ever cases of obesity. Until now, fatness has not existed in these population groups, but scientists say there has been a marked change.

Alexey Titovsky, regional director for science and innovation, said: ‘It never happened before that the small local indigenous peoples of the north suffered from obesity. It is a nonsensical modern problem. Now even a predisposition to obesity is being noticed.’

And what’s driving this unfortunate development?

Changes have seen the intake of venison and river fish cut by half, he said. ‘Over the past few years the diet has changed considerably, and people living in the tundra started eating so-called chemically processed products.’

Well, it sounds to me as if the natives are eating less red meat.  According to the experts at various government health organizations, that means they’re getting healthier.

Researcher Dr Andrey Lobanov says nomadic herders nowadays often buy instant noodles in villages on their pasture routes and this has led to  ‘dramatic changes to the rations of the people living in the tundra’.

Wait … are these whole-grain noodles?  Because if they are, according to the experts at various government health organizations, that means the Arctic natives are getting healthier.

‘The problem is that carbohydrates do not contain the necessary micro elements which help survival in Arctic conditions,’ he said. ‘The seasonal diet has also changed – the periods when they do not eat traditional food and replace it with carbohydrates has become longer.’

No, no, no!  Carbohydrates don’t make people fat.  I’ve heard that from countless internet cowboys.  If these people are getting fat for the first time in their culture’s history, it’s because they’ve become weak-willed and started eating too much. And they’re probably not exercising enough.  Maybe some of them should become contestants on The Biggest Loser and learn how to stay healthy through long sessions of tortuous exercise.

Biggest Loser trainer has a heart attack

As I replied to The Older Brother when he sent me a link to this story, if I were still a Catholic, I’d have to go to confession because of my reaction.  Here are some quotes from Yahoo news.

Fitness trainer and host of NBC’s “Biggest Loser” Bob Harper says he is recovering from a serious heart attack that left him unconscious for two days.

During which time he was on a very-low-calorie diet and lost some weight.

Harper tells TMZ he was working out in a gym in New York City this month when he collapsed. He says a doctor who also was in the gym performed CPR on him.

Jillian Michaels was spotted in the background saying, “I’m happy he had a heart attack.  He doesn’t work hard enough.”

The 51-year-old Harper, whose mother died from a heart attack, says he spent eight days in a New York hospital and has not yet been cleared to fly home to Los Angeles.

Harper has been a fixture on all 17 seasons of “The Biggest Loser.” He served as a trainer on the show from 2004 to 2015. He took over as host of the reality weight loss program last year.

Perhaps because the public grew tired of watching Jillian Michaels say she was happy when she drove contestants into throwing up during exercise sessions.

How Breaking Bad star dropped the pounds

I admire Bryan Cranston because of his amazing range as an actor.  Subtle humor in Seinfeld as Dr. Tim Whatley.  Slapstick humor as the father in Malcolm in the Middle.  And then … wow … the dramatic chops he put on display during six seasons of Breaking Bad.

Some years ago, Chareva and I attended a charity event featuring several big-name comedians … Robin Williams, Paula Poundstone and Jonathan Winters, to name a few.  Cranston was the emcee, and he was a stitch.  Very charming and very quick-witted.

Anyway, here are some quotes from an online article explaining how Cranston lost weight to make the chemotherapy treatments in Breaking Bad believable:

Howard Stern interviewed Bryan Cranston on March 4, 2014 and asked him how he lost weight so quickly for his role as Walter White on Breaking Bad.

HS: When you had chemo and was getting sick playing the part of Walter White, in order to go through rapid weight loss you deliberately didn’t eat for 10 days? True or false?

BC: False.

HS: How’d you lose all that weight?

BC: No carbohydrates. I just took out all the carbohydrates.

HS: How much weight did you drop?

BC: 16 pounds, in ten days.

HS: Painful?

BC: No. The first three days are really hard, ’cause your body’s changing and craving sugar and wants, you know, and then you deprive it of the sugar and it starts burning fat.

No, no, no.  That can’t be right.  People don’t lose weight by giving up carbohydrates.  If Cranston lost weight, it just means he finally had the willpower to eat less and consume fewer calories than he burned.

Obesity blame and politics

Speaking of willpower, do Republicans and Democrats have different opinions on whether getting fat is about willpower?  Apparently they do, at least to some degree.  Here are some quotes from a EurekaAlert article:

People’s political leanings and their own weight shape opinions on obesity-related public policies, according to a new study by two University of Kansas researchers.

Actually, Republicans — no matter how much they weigh — believe eating and lifestyle habits cause obesity, the research found.

But among Democrats there is more of a dividing line, said Mark Joslyn, a KU professor of political science. Those who identify themselves as overweight are more likely to believe genetic factors cause obesity.

I’m not a Republican or a Democrat, so I guess I’m allowed to say it’s both.

Of course genetics figures into it.  There’s a reason some people never gain or lose weight despite eating whatever and whenever they choose.  That’s how their bodies are programmed.  It’s genetics.  But among those of us not so genetically blessed, it’s largely about what kinds of foods we eat.  Genetics loads the gun, diet pulls the trigger.

Would you like actual chicken in your chicken sandwich?

When I order chicken at a fast-food restaurant, I kind of expect most of it to be made from chicken.  That seems to be the case for many chains, but not for one.  Here are some quotes from a CBC (Canada) article online:

A DNA analysis of the poultry in several popular grilled chicken sandwiches and wraps found at least one fast food restaurant isn’t serving up nearly as much of the key ingredient as people may think.

An unadulterated piece of chicken from the store should come in at 100 per cent chicken DNA.  Seasoning, marinating or processing meat would bring that number down, so fast food samples seasoned for taste wouldn’t be expected to hit that 100 per cent target.

So researchers bought some fast food and tested the DNA of the chicken meals.  Here are the typical results:

    A&W Chicken Grill Deluxe averaged 89.4 per cent chicken DNA
    McDonald’s Country Chicken – Grilled averaged 84.9 per cent chicken DNA
    Tim Hortons Chipotle Chicken Grilled Wrap averaged 86.5 per cent chicken DNA
    Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich averaged 88.5 per cent chicken DNA

And now for the big exception:

Subway’s results were such an outlier that the team decided to test them again, biopsying five new oven roasted chicken pieces, and five new orders of chicken strips.

Those results were averaged: the oven roasted chicken scored 53.6 per cent chicken DNA, and the chicken strips were found to have just 42.8 per cent chicken DNA.

So what the @#$% is taking the place of half the chicken in the chicken?

The majority of the remaining DNA? Soy.

Yummy.  But at least their sandwiches are low in fat.  And as we all know, that low-fat movement has done wonders for the nation’s health, especially among the younger generation …

More young people getting colorectal cancer

Obesity is on the rise among young people.  Diabetes is on the rise among young people.  And now there’s this startling development, as reported in The New York Times:

Cancers of the colon and rectum have been declining in older adults in recent decades and have always been considered rare in young people. But scientists are reporting a sharp rise in colorectal cancers in adults as young as their 20s and 30s, an ominous trend.

The vast majority of colorectal cancers are still found in older people, with nearly 90 percent of all cases diagnosed in people over 50. But a new study from the American Cancer Society that analyzed cancer incidence by birth year found that colorectal cancer rates, which had dropped steadily for people born between 1890 and 1950, have been increasing for every generation born since 1950. Experts aren’t sure why.

Well, maybe we can guess.  Let’s see … every generation born since 1950.  I was born in 1958.  By the time I was 20, we were all being told saturated fat and cholesterol will kill us, while grains will make us healthy.  Grain consumption rose sharply for the next 35 years or so and has only recently started declining.  During the same period, food manufacturers added more sugar to foods to hide the fact that many low-fat foods taste like cardboard unless you make them sweeter.

Most colorectal cancers are considered a disease of aging, so any increase in young adults, especially when rates of the disease are on the wane in older people, is both baffling and worrisome, experts say.

By the way, red meat consumption dropped rather dramatically during the same period when colon cancer rose sharply among young people.  Don’t the vegetrollians always tell us red meat causes colon cancer?

You can’t buy Kerrygold butter in Wisconsin

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it at least twice:  when politicians rush in to “protect” the public from some supposed hazard, it’s rarely about protecting the public.  It’s almost always about some protecting some established business or industry.  Here’s an example from a Chicago Tribune article:

When Wisconsin resident Julie Rider shops for groceries, there’s one item she can’t legally buy at her local market — or at any stores in her state.

Because of a decades-old state law, Rider’s favorite butter — Kerrygold, imported from Ireland — isn’t allowed on Wisconsin store shelves.

The law, requiring butter sold in Wisconsin to be graded for taste, texture and color through a federal or state system, effectively bans butter produced outside the U.S., as well as many artisanal butters that also aren’t rated.

This means some residents of the Dairy State have to drive across the border into Illinois just to buy their favorite butter.

Whether Wisconsin’s law was intended as market protection for the state’s dairy industry or is simply a means to ensure quality, Rider, for one, thinks it’s “crazy.”

Oh, I’m sure the law was passed to protect the public after thousands of cheese-heads became violently ill as the result of eating imported butter.

People might not have noticed if butter weren’t making such a comeback.  But it is.

Though the rule has been on the books since the 1950s, it is churning new controversy at a time when butter consumption is on the rise in America as it’s increasingly thought to be healthier than margarine. Butter made from grass-fed cows, such as Kerrygold, is a staple in some diets and for the “bulletproof coffee” movement, where such butter is mixed with coffee and MCT oil for purported — but debated — weight-loss benefits.

A spokesman for the company that sells and markets Kerrygold in the U.S. and Canada, Evanston-based Ornua Foods North America, released a statement confirming it’s “currently working with the Wisconsin authorities on a solution.”

Well, thank goodness the government authorities are working on a solution.  Perhaps they’ll nickname it something like “If you like your butter, you can keep your butter.”

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Hey Fat Heads,

Happy New Year!

Thought I’d sneak into the Big Chair for a couple of quick items.

The big news is that the Fat Head Kids book is getting close enough that Tom sent a script to The Middle Son and The Youngest Son so they can start prepping to help with voice work for the DVD version. He included a preview copy of the book so they can relate to what they’ll be voice acting.

Naturally, I had to sneak a peek and I can say that it’s more than worth the wait. Just terrific.

In my completely unbiased opinion, of course.

Next, this isn’t in the breaking news category, but I thought my fellow Fat Heads might enjoy it. We’ve got a good-natured banter going with The Youngest Son’s fiancée about what grandson 2 will be eating as he starts the move from formula to people food. (This guy:)

I keep saying he’s going to be eating only eggs, chicken livers and steak (with some lard and bacon fat) before he’s one; future DIL threatens to feed him tofu.

Anyway, after being impressed with Jason Fung’s Obesity Code and his follow up book (with Jimmy Moore) The Complete Guide to Fasting, I got interested in fasting, especially after my annual Thanksgiving through New Year’s gluttony. I’ve done a couple of 24-hour fasts, a 36-hour last week, and am 36 hours into a two-day (maybe 60 hours) fast right now.

So last night, I was putting a coffee mug in the microwave, prompting the following:

DIL:   What’s that – are you having some tea?

Older Brother:   No, I’m having a cup of beef broth.

Youngest Son (to DIL):   See that? – even Dad’s water has meat in it!

Cheers!

The Older Brother

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In the previous three posts, we looked at why The Anointed aren’t big fans of free speech or the wide-open discussion and debate free speech enables:

1.   They believe they are very, very smart.
2.   They believe the rest of us aren’t very, very smart and are therefore easily fooled and led astray.

In comments, a reader posted a link to an excellent blog post by Charles Hugh Smith that makes the same point:

Perhaps what has failed here is the narrative that everything fails and falls apart if it isn’t centrally managed and curated, a narrative that inevitably leads to censorship under the guise of “protecting you, the easily confused sheep, from these nasty wolves.”

Censorship then enables another, much more well-organized and centralized pack of wolves (the ruling elites) to prey on the obedient sheep at their leisure, without fear of any disruptive dissenting narratives.

What the ruling political elites and their mainstream media shills fear is a wide-open, chaotic and very Darwinian competition of concepts and ideas.

I’ve got to start reading his blog.  Sounds like my kinda guy.

Whether The Anointed like it or not, that chaotic and very Darwinian competition of concepts and ideas is happening.  Thanks to the internet and social media, the information gatekeepers have lost control of the gates.  The rest of us are now communicating directly with each other.  The results haven’t been good for The Anointed, as Nassim Nicholas Taleb pointed out in his essay The Intellectual Yet Idiot (his term for The Anointed):

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.

… 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.

My, my, my … with the great unwashed masses rebelling and trusting their own instincts, or their grandmothers, or each other, or bloggers and podcasters whose ideas and advice they’ve found useful, how are The Anointed supposed to protect people against their own stupidity?  (As you may recall, The Anointed believe anyone who defies them must be stupid, or evil, or perhaps both.)

One way or another, The Anointed believe they must coerce people who disagree with them into shutting the hell up.  As we saw in our last post, demanding retractions of critiques and opinions they don’t like is one favorite tactic.

Another favorite tactic is to personally attack the messenger, as opposed to arguing against what the messenger has to say.  That’s where the “anyone who disagrees with us must be evil” attitude shows itself.  Yelling “racist!” over disagreements that have nothing to do with race is certainly near the top of The Official Anointed Playbook.  So are comments like this, uttered by our ol’ buddy Dr. David Katz while responding to the Nina Teicholz critique of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines:

The report does take into account sustainability, something that the committee noted was not traditionally in their purview. “Ms. Teicholz seems inclined to ignore that altogether; perhaps she does not care whether there is anything for the next generation to eat or drink, but I suspect most of us do,” Katz noted.

Got that?  If Teicholz argues that the guidelines aren’t based on good science, well then by gosh, it means she doesn’t care if our kids and grandkids end up starving and dying of thirst – a looming disaster the U.S. Dietary Guidelines would of course prevent.  Gee, she must be a terrible, terrible person.  Best not listen to anything she has to say.

When demands for retractions and personal attacks fail, there’s always the final option: bring the rebellious naysayer up on charges.  Initiate some kind of prosecution, preferably one with the threat of real punishment attached.

As you probably recall, a state board threatened to prosecute blogger Steve Cooksey for promoting a low-carb, paleo diet for diabetics on his Diabetes Warrior blog.  Here are some quotes from a Carolina Journal article about that incident:

The North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is threatening to send a blogger to jail for recounting publicly his battle against diabetes and encouraging others to follow his lifestyle.

Chapter 90, Article 25 of the North Carolina General Statutes makes it a misdemeanor to “practice dietetics or nutrition” without a license. According to the law, “practicing” nutrition includes “assessing the nutritional needs of individuals and groups” and “providing nutrition counseling.”

Hmmm, certainly sounds like a case of The Anointed feeling threatened by a wide-open, chaotic and very Darwinian competition of concepts and ideas.  After all, there are plenty of bloggers and health professionals in the world promoting the low-fat diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association.  Are they afraid people will try Cooksey’s advice and discover it actually works?  Yes, I think that’s part of it.

In South Africa, The Health Professions Council of SA brought Professor Tim Noakes up on charges for a tweet – that’s right, A TWEET! — in which he advised a young mother (in response to her question) to wean her baby onto high-fat, real foods.  The sane response there would have been to send out tweets and press releases explaining why HPCSA disagrees with Noakes.  But we can’t expect The Anointed to behave sanely when there’s a risk ordinary people might come to believe their advice is wrong.

Meanwhile, in the land down under, The Anointed initiated another prosecution.  Here are some quotes from ABC in Australia:

Gary Fettke is an orthopaedic surgeon and an advocate of a low carbohydrate diet.

He said he became passionate about nutrition after amputating limbs of diabetic patients whose diets were a big part of the problem.

“What I’ve been advocating for some years is cutting sugar down, particularly all the refined sugars in the diet,” he said.

“Over time that’s evolved, and it’s evolved to what I call low carb, healthy fat.

“It’s just eating lots of vegetables, pasture-fed meat and the right amount of oil in the form of things like nuts, avocado, cheese, olive oil and fish.”

Geez, that sounds really, really dangerous.  Humans never would have survived and evolved on a wacky diet like that.

According to Dr Fettke, an anonymous complaint from a dietician at the hospital sparked an investigation by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

Two and a half years later the watchdog found he was working outside his scope of practise and was not qualified to give specific nutritional advice, and he was ordered to stop speaking about the low carbohydrate, high fat diet.

“The committee does not accept that your medicine studies of themselves provide sufficient education or training to justify you providing specific advice or recommendations to patients or the public about nutrition and diet, such as the LCHF lifestyle concept,” it read.

Now, stop and wrap your head around that last statement.  Dr. Fettke isn’t qualified to give nutrition advice because he’s just a doctor?  Have you EVER heard of a doctor who recommends a low-fat diet with lots of healthywholegrains! being prosecuted anywhere in the world?  Of course not.  Dr. Fettke summed it up nicely himself:

“You go to your cardiologist and he tells you what to eat, you go to a neurosurgeon and he tells you what to eat, gastroenterologist and all of them, by definition, don’t have a major training in nutrition and yet they’re all giving advice.  You cannot push a way of eating onto a person. All I’ve ever done is told patients that there is a choice, that there is an option that’s out there.”

Ahh, but The Anointed don’t want the great unwashed masses to know about options.  That could lead to a wide-open, chaotic and very Darwinian competition of concepts and ideas – which would of course be very, very bad.  No, The Anointed much prefer something like this:

AHPRA has released a statement reaffirming that it expects medical practitioners to provide appropriate dietary advice to patients.

And “appropriate” means whatever The Anointed say it is.

That’s why we can never stop fighting these arrogant morons.

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In part one, we looked at why The Anointed don’t like wide-open discussion and debate:

1.  They believe they are very, very smart.
2.  They believe the rest of us aren’t very, very smart and are therefore easily fooled and led astray.

In part two, we quoted from an essay by Dr. David Katz that proves the points made in part one.  Social media is endangering our health by allowing everyone to shout health advice into an echo chamber, ya see — and once the inferior brains of ordinary folks are filled with bad information, there’s no room left for good information.

Okay, that’s not exactly how Katz put it, but pretty close.  Here’s the exact quote:

Misinformation is far more pernicious than ignorance. Ignorance is that proverbial empty vessel; a knowledgeable health professional can fill it. But it’s hard to fill a cup that already runneth over- and that’s the scenario that misinformation creates.

If I’d begged The Anointed to please provide an example of how they believe they’re very, very smart and the rest of us aren’t, they couldn’t have provided a better one.  I’m guessing Katz doesn’t limit his reading for fear his big ol’ brain will reach full capacity and become incapable of absorbing and evaluating new information.  No, that’s only a risk for the rest of us.

He’s an egomaniac, but at least Katz plans to battle what he considers bad information with what he considers good information — provided by the usual gang of goofs who’ve been trying for decades to convince everyone that animal foods will kill us, while grains and soy will save us.  He calls his gang of goofs The True Health Initiative, and apparently their mission is to rush out and fill inferior brains with advice Katz likes before advice he doesn’t like occupies all the available space.

Other members of The Anointed aren’t willing to risk having their advice bounce off a brain that already runneth over with advice they don’t like.  The only way to prevent that disaster, of course, is to shut down people who argue that The Anointed are wrong.  Let’s look at a recent example.

Back in September 2015, the British Medical Journal published a report titled The scientific report guiding the US dietary guidelines: is it scientific? The report was written by Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise.  The upshot of the article:  uh, no, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines aren’t based on good science.  You can read the BMJ piece online, but here are some quotes from a Newsweek article on the report:

A new report published in BMJ on Wednesday suggests the latest U.S. dietary guidelines up for review are not based on sufficient and up-to-date scientific research of crucial topics, such as saturated fats and low-carbohydrate diets, and may even be fraught with industry biases.

The last time the committee members drew up guidelines—in 2010—they used the Nutrition Evidence Library that was established by the USDA, which provides systematic analyses of research on various nutrition subjects, such as sodium and sugar intake. But the committee that worked on the 2015 guidelines didn’t use that system for more than 70 percent of the topics, including some of the most controversial, according to Nina Teicholz, a New York City–based journalist and author of The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, who wrote the BMJ report.

In the report, the committee states that there is a “strong” association between saturated fat consumption and heart disease. However, Teicholz says, the review of the science behind saturated fat consumption didn’t include research from the last five years, including several notable papers that don’t demonstrate a link between high saturated fat consumption and increased risk for heart attack and stroke.

She says the committee’s review of different kinds of diets—including low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean-style, healthy vegetarian—is also deeply flawed. In the BMJ report, Teicholz says that in some instances, the committee based their conclusions on limited research or poorly designed studies, such as a single clinical trial of 180 people with metabolic syndrome, which found the Mediterranean diet was most effective for weight loss.

Okay, you get the idea. Teicholz pointed out what she considers several flaws how the Dietary Guidelines Committee came up with their recommendations.  And since her report was published in the BMJ, it carries some weight.  After all, doctors read the thing.

Naturally, The Anointed weren’t happy.  Here’s what our buddy Dr. David Katz had to say, as quoted in MedPageToday online:

“The DGAC report is excellent, and represents both the weight of evidence, and global consensus among experts,” Katz wrote.

“The notion that the opinion of one journalist with a book to sell is any way a suitable counterpoint to the conclusions of a diverse, multidisciplinary, independent group of scientists who reviewed evidence for the better part of 2 years and relied upon knowledge and judgment cultivated over decades is nearly surreal,” Katz added. “It is a disservice to the readership in both cases.”

I’m almost starting to like Katz.  Whenever I need an example of how The Anointed think, he delivers.  Notice what his (ahem) “argument” boils down to:  THE LITTLE PEOPLE AREN’T QUALIFIED TO QUESTION US, SO NOBODY SHOULD BE LISTENING TO THEM!

The BMJ report is just the “opinion” of one journalist, ya see.  Weird thing is, I could have sworn Teicholz cited a whole lot of facts in her critique of the dietary guidelines, not just opinions.  That’s why BMJ was persuaded to publish the report.  And while The Anointed would love for us all to be swayed by impressive-sounding credentials (conferred by The Anointed themselves, of course), the truth of a statement does not depend on who utters it.  Facts are facts – and that’s a fact.

But when facts – or even opinions – are embarrassing to The Anointed, some of them just can’t resist the urge to stifle the opposing voices.  Enter the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  (Those of you who’ve seen Fat Head are free to yell “This is a job for THE GUY FROM CSPI!”)

Soon after the Teicholz report appeared, CSPI demanded that BMJ retract it.  Now, stop and think about that.  Katz insisted Teicholz was expressing her opinion in the BMJ article.  If that’s true, it means The Guy From CSPI was demanding the BMJ stifle an opinion.  Well, that’s just awesome.  We The Anointed hereby declare a ban on opinions we don’t like.

But if it’s not an opinion piece, then any dispute comes down to facts.  If The Guy From CSPI believes the dietary guidelines are correct, he is of course free to argue in favor of them.  If he believes Teicholz doesn’t have facts and logic behind her arguments, the proper response is to reply with facts and logic to dispute her arguments.

But then, we’re talking about CSPI here – the organization that threatened to boycott a nutrition conference unless Teicholz was disinvited.  So obviously The Guy From CSPI isn’t a fan of defending his arguments in a debate.  He’d rather just prevent people who disagree with him from being heard.  So he demanded a retraction of the BMJ report, and attempted to apply pressure by having 100 members of The Anointed sign a petition.

Now for the good news, in case you haven’t already heard:  After weighing the evidence (including reports by two independent reviewers), BMJ announced that it stands by the Teicholz report and will not retract it.  Here’s part of the announcement by the editor of BMJ:

We stand by Teicholz’s article with its important critique of the advisory committee’s processes for reviewing the evidence, and we echo her conclusion: ‘Given the ever increasing toll of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and the failure of existing strategies to make inroads in fighting these diseases, there is an urgent need to provide nutritional advice based on sound science.’

Neither Teicholz nor The BMJ are new to criticism. Healthcare is rife with controversy and the field of nutrition more so than many, characterised as it is by much weak science, polarised opinion, and powerful commercial interests.

Weak science?  You betcha.  Polarized opinion?  Of course.  When so-called experts promote nonsense based on weak science, opinions should become polarized.  That’s why The Anointed are so big on creating consensus: if opinions are polarized, it means people are daring to question them and (egads!) perhaps even insisting they’re wrong.  They want those people to shut up.

More on that in the next post.


Addendum:

A reader pointed out that Dr. David Katz was among the 180 anti-fat warriors (not 100) who signed the CSPI demand for a retraction, which means he’s an even bigger jackass than I thought — and that’s saying something.  Remember, he described the Teicholz report in BMJ as “the opinion of one journalist with a book to sell.”  That means he, along with The Guy From CSPI and the other anti-fat warriors, was demanding BMJ retract an opinion.

So here’s what this boils down to:  Teicholz wrote a report saying U.S. dietary guidelines — which still promote anti-saturated-fat hysteria  — aren’t based on rigorous science.  Then the same group of goofs who’ve been pushing anti-saturated-fat hysteria decades demanded BMJ pull her critique.  This isn’t about protecting public health.  It’s about protecting their own reputations and interests.

And speaking of having something to sell, Dr. Katz has written several books promoting a low-fat diet (I don’t if he compared his writing in those books to Dickens or Milton), and of course he has a financial interest in NuVal, a system for ranking the healthiness of foods according to his own opinions.  So the Teicholz piece was a threat to his own bottom line.

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