Archive for the “The Food Evangelists” Category

I didn’t write a post last night because the Cubs were in a do-or-die playoff game that ran late. But I did come across an interesting study that speaks volumes about The Anointed and their never-ending plans to (ahem) “help” the rest of us.

It’s been awhile since I’ve explained how The Anointed think and operate, so rather than link back to previous posts, let’s recap.

I borrowed the term The Anointed from author Thomas Sowell, who described them in great detail in his fabulous books Intellectuals and Society and The Vision of The Anointed. As Sowell explains, here’s the pattern we see with these people over and over:

1. The Anointed identify a problem in society. That problem is now The Bad.

2. The Anointed propose a Grand Plan to fix the problem. The Grand Plan nearly always involves spending more of other people’s money and/or restricting more of other people’s freedoms.

3. Because they are so supremely confident in themselves and their ideas, The Anointed don’t believe they should be bothered with having to provide proof or evidence that the Grand Plan will actually work. In fact, they often insist that because the problem is So Bad, we must adopt the Grand Plan RIGHT NOW.

4. Because the problem is The Bad, The Anointed assume their Grand Plan to fix the problem is The Good. Therefore anyone who opposes the Grand Plan isn’t simply opposing a plan; no, he or she is supporting The Bad and opposing The Good. The Anointed take this as proof that anyone who opposes the Grand Plan is either evil or stupid.

5. Because only evil or stupid people would oppose the Grand Plan, The Anointed feel entitled to impose the Grand Plan on others — for their own good, of course.

6. If the Grand Plan fails to solve the problem (which it usually the case) or makes it worse (which is often the case), The Anointed will never, ever, ever admit that the Grand Plan was wrong. Instead, they will insist that 1) the Grand Plan was good, but was undermined by people who are evil or stupid, or 2) the Grand Plan didn’t go far enough … which means we need to do the same thing again, ONLY BIGGER.

So with that in mind, let’s look at the abstract of a study (actually a meta-analysis) with the title A Meta-Analysis to Determine the Impact of Restaurant Menu Labeling on Calories and Nutrients (Ordered or Consumed) in U.S. Adults:

A systematic review and meta-analysis determined the effect of restaurant menu labeling on calories and nutrients chosen in laboratory and away-from-home settings in U.S. adults. Cochrane-based criteria adherent, peer-reviewed study designs conducted and published in the English language from 1950 to 2014 were collected in 2015, analyzed in 2016, and used to evaluate the effect of nutrition labeling on calories and nutrients ordered or consumed. Before and after menu labeling outcomes were used to determine weighted mean differences in calories, saturated fat, total fat, carbohydrate, and sodium ordered/consumed which were pooled across studies using random effects modeling. Stratified analysis for laboratory and away-from-home settings were also completed. Menu labeling resulted in no significant change in reported calories ordered/consumed in studies with full criteria adherence, nor the 14 studies analyzed with ≤1 unmet criteria, nor for change in total ordered carbohydrate, fat, and saturated fat (three studies) or ordered or consumed sodium (four studies). A significant reduction of 115.2 calories ordered/consumed in laboratory settings was determined when analyses were stratified by study setting. Menu labeling away-from-home did not result in change in quantity or quality, specifically for carbohydrates, total fat, saturated fat, or sodium, of calories consumed among U.S. adults.

In other words, the evidence from several studies demonstrates what common sense should have told The Anointed years ago: mandatory listings of calories and other nutrition information on restaurant menus don’t prompt people to eat less (except in a laboratory setting, which is meaningless.) In fact, nothing changes … total calories consumed, total fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sodium, you name it. It’s almost as if when people go to restaurants, they order the foods they like, not the foods The Anointed want them to order.

It’s a perfect example of The Anointed in action.

The Anointed identify a problem in society.

The problem, of course, is the rise in obesity.

The Anointed propose a Grand Plan to fix the problem. The Grand Plan nearly always involves confiscating and spending more of other people’s money and/or restricting more of other people’s freedoms.

Restaurant owners complained that being forced to have every food item on the menu tested for calorie and nutrition counts and then listing them on menus would cost a ton of money (much of which would passed on to consumers.) The Anointed, of course, didn’t care. Spending other people’s money is what they love to do.

Because they are so supremely confident in themselves and their ideas, The Anointed don’t believe they should be bothered with having to provide proof or evidence that the Grand Plan will actually work.

There was never any evidence that forcing people to look at calorie counts would convince them to eat less. If The Anointed wanted to make a case for menu laws, they could have conducted some simple, inexpensive studies.  Put calorie counts on menus at a couple of restaurants and see if people ate less as a result.  But of course, The Anointed can’t be bothered with supplying evidence.  So the menu laws were rammed through.

I predicted back in 2009 that the menu laws The Guy From CSPI and others were demanding wouldn’t make any difference:

Here’s how the politicians and the nutrition-nannies believe those calorie-count menu boards will make us thinner:

  • Fat Customer waddles into McDonald’s, intending to order a Double Quarter Pounder value meal.
  • Fat Customer is confronted with the calorie count, right there on the menu board where he can’t possibly miss it.
  • Fat Customer says to himself, “Oh my gosh! I had no idea there were so many calories in this meal! I’m going to order a Filet-O-Fish and a bottle of water.”
  • Fat Customer is satisfied with this low-calorie meal and, thanks to the menu board, begins eating low-calorie meals at restaurants from this point forward.
  • Fat Customer loses weight, as do millions of other fat customers. The obesity epidemic is solved. Rates of heart disease, cancer, and type II diabetes plummet. Medicare expenditures drop by 50 percent.
  • Millions of formerly-obese citizens march on Washington to express their gratitude. Hallelujah, hallelujah! All praise the wise and wonderful politicians and Kelly Brownell and CSPI for saving us from our ignorance and gluttony!

This fantasy outcome was based on the belief that people are stupid. They go to restaurants, order high-calorie meals they somehow don’t recognize as high-calorie meals, get fatter, yet have no idea why. So by gosh, if we make them look at the calorie counts, they’ll finally realize what they’re doing wrong and eat less.

Nonsense. Here’s more of what I wrote in 2009:

Here’s an even more likely scenario:

  • Fat Customer waddles into McDonald’s, intending to order a Double Quarter Pounder value meal.
  • Fat Customer is confronted with the calorie count, right there on the menu board where he can’t possibly miss it.
  • Fat Customer says to himself, “I don’t give a @#$%. I’m famished, and I want the Double Quarter Pounder value meal.”

The calorie-count menu laws were, of course, imposed on everyone by The Anointed — for their own good.

If the Grand Plan fails to solve the problem (which it usually the case) or makes it worse (which is often the case), The Anointed will never, ever, ever that admit the Grand Plan was wrong. Instead, they will insist that 1) the Grand Plan was good, but was undermined by people who are evil or stupid, or 2) the Grand Plan didn’t go far enough … which means we need to do the same thing again, ONLY BIGGER.

So how will The Anointed do the same thing again, only bigger? Actually, they already have. Originally, they wanted restaurants to post nutrition information where everyone could see it. The restaurants complied, but people didn’t eat less as a result. Faced with this failure, The Anointed of course didn’t conclude that the Grand Plan was based on faulty ideas.

No, instead they decided that people were too lazy and stupid to walk over and look at that big nutrition poster on the wall before ordering a meal. So by gosh, we need to put the information right on the restaurant menu, where people can’t possibly miss it.

As the recent study shows, that didn’t work either. So we wasted a lot of time, effort, and other people’s money on a Grand Plan that didn’t make a dent in the obesity problem.

You’d think The Anointed would give up at this point. Maybe, but I doubt it. I think it’s more likely they’ll wait for more favorable political conditions, then propose new regulations requiring every restaurant to employ an on-site nutritionist. If you dare to order a meal full of saturated fat and sodium, the nutritionist will be required to stride up to your table and lecture you on your bad choices.

Yeah, I know … that sounds crazy. But we’re talking about The Anointed here. They are often wrong, but never in doubt – and no matter how many times they fail to control what we want and what we do, they never, ever stop trying.

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I have to admit, I’ll kind of miss The Guy From CSPI. It’s rare that someone pretending to promote science is such a goofball that he becomes a parody of himself. Life will be a little less entertaining without him declaring that fettucine alfredo is a Heart Attack on Plate! and a Hardee’s Thickburger is a Heart Attack on a Bun! (I’ve eaten both without so much as a chest pain afterwards.)

But alas, he’s apparently strapping on his Birkenstocks, putting a carrot in his mouth, and walking off into the sunset, according to a fawning NPR article online. Let’s take a look.

If you are the kind of person who picks up a box of food in the store and studies the label to see how much sugar or salt is in it, you can thank a man named Michael Jacobson.

Those labels with nutritional facts are a part of Jacobson’s legacy, one of his many victories in a four-decade-long battle against “junk food.” He has also had a hand in halting the marketing of many sugar-filled foods to children, reducing salt levels in packaged foods, and banning transfats. Next week, he’s stepping down, after 46 years, as president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, D.C.

Hmmm, perhaps the reporter should do a little research before crediting The Guy From CSPI with banning trans fats. Dr. Mary Enig was warning about trans fats back when CSPI was actively promoting them as a safe alternative to “dangerous” animal fats. For her efforts, CSPI attempted to trash her reputation. In fact, it’s largely because of The Guy From CSPI that trans fats become so ubiquitous in the food supply.

And it wasn’t just fried foods that became laden with trans fats thanks to The Guy From CSPI. If you’re my age or older, you may remember the big scare over tropical oils – coconut oil being one of them. Here’s how that played out.

As for salt … ugh. Take a look at the CSPI-provided picture that accompanies the article:

Yup, The Guy From CSPI thinks the physiological need for salt is just 200 mg. per day, so he spent decades trying to harass food companies into selling low-salt foods.

Trouble is, a ton of research has demonstrated that 1) restricting salt doesn’t prevent high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, and 2) going too low on salt might actually be dangerous for many people. So once again, The Guy From CSPI is kind of like a well-meaning but incompetent paramedic who rushes in to save people, but believes poking holes in their hearts is a good idea.

Anyway, back to the fawning article:

Jacobson is a paradoxical character. When he’s quoted in a news story, he typically sounds ferocious.… He is a food activist who doesn’t really love food.

And I think that has rather a lot to do with it. If you don’t like food, it probably seems like no big deal to remove all the flavor – the fats, the salt, etc. And hey, if it’s no big deal for you, then it shouldn’t be a big deal for anyone.  So why not leverage the coercive power of government to try to make people eat (ahem) “better” … for their own good, of course. Why not take the pleasure of ordering a restaurant meal by forcing people to look at calorie-counts on menus, whether they want to see them or not?

Of course, that didn’t work out so well. Exactly as I predicted at the time, forcing customers to be confronted with calorie counts didn’t prompt them to eat less in restaurants – because when people buy a double-whopper-whatever and big order of fries, they already know it’s a high-calorie meal.

The Guy From CSPI eventually had to admit that people’s eating habits aren’t going to change because of government-mandated finger-wagging, as the article notes:

After 40 years of trying to change America’s food habits, Jacobson has come to terms with the fact that those habits change very slowly, if at all. Nutrition labels, for instance, “haven’t generated as much change as we hoped.”

That’s because people have this crazy habit of eating foods they like.

“One of the saddest things is fruits and vegetables. Despite all the free publicity that fruits and vegetables get, requirements in school food programs, farmers markets everywhere, fruit and vegetable consumption has not increased in 20 years.”

That’s because people have this crazy habit of eating foods they like.

Despite all that, he’s optimistic. “When I think back to supermarkets when I got into the food biz in the early 1970s, you couldn’t find whole wheat bread, you couldn’t find brown rice, you couldn’t find yogurt,” he says. “There have been such huge changes! I think our culture clearly is moving in a much healthier direction. And industry will follow. Industry is following.”

Yes, industry is responding to consumer demand for healthier foods. Our local grocery store is stocking more full-fat dairy products and now sells potato chips cooked in coconut oil – which of course would give The Guy From CSPI fits.

That’s the lesson he never learned: we don’t eat foods he thinks are bad because the evil corporations produce them. Corporations produce those foods because we buy them. It’s consumers who control the market, not the manufacturers.

Yup, I’ll kind of miss seeing The Guy From CSPI flail around and attack food companies and fail to grasp basic economics … along with several principles of basic science.

See you, CSPI Guy.

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A reader thought I might get a kick out of this photo:

Fake tuna fish.  Boy, that sounds awesome … especially if you look up the ingredients:

Pea protein, pea starch, water, olive oil, potato starch, sea salt, seaweed powder, organic agave nectar, organic apple cider vinegar, konjac powder, ginger.

How the heck does this stuff end up tasting like tuna?! I asked myself.  According to the Amazon reviews (which average two out of five stars), it doesn’t.  Here are some quotes:

One of the worst vegan products I’ve ever tried. It looks smells and tastes like cat food. It’s utterly disgusting and even the thought makes me want to vomit.

Dog food. This was seriously the worst product I’ve tried since becoming a vegan. Looks like dog food, smells like dog food, tastes like…I don’t know.

This stuff is awful, so oily and salty, and the smell… Couldn’t even finish my lunch.

Okay, it’s oily, it stinks, and it tastes like something you’d feed a dog or a cat.  But it’s plant-based, so it will save your life!  I know that, because the apostles of the Church of the Holy Plant-Based Diet are always telling us as much.

In fact, while organizing all my blog ideas, study links, study papers, etc., into Microsoft OneNote recently, I came across a Nutrition Update for Physicians that promotes the Holy Plant-Based Diet.  I think it’s a fine example of how the Holy Plant-Based Diet produces miraculous improvements in health, so let’s take a look:

Despite the strong body of evidence favoring plant-based diets, including studies showing a willingness of the general public to embrace them, many physicians are not stressing the importance of plant-based diets as a first-line treatment for chronic illnesses. This could be because of a lack of awareness of these diets or a lack of patient education resources.

Or it could be because the physicians have gotten a whiff of Vegan Toona.

National dietary guidelines for active living and healthful eating are available at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov.

Well, if they’re pushing MyPlate as a guide, we already know what great experts we’re dealing with.

The goal of this article is to review the evidence supporting plant-based diets and to provide a guideline for presenting them to patients.

Here’s how I’d suggest you present plant-based diets to patients: give them a free can of Vegan Toona.

We start with a case study …

A 63-year-old man with a history of hypertension presented to his primary care physician with complaints of fatigue, nausea, and muscle cramps. The result of a random blood glucose test was 524 mg/dL, and HbA1C was 11.1%. Type 2 diabetes was diagnosed. His total cholesterol was 283 mg/dL, blood pressure was 132/66 mmHg, and body mass index (BMI) was 25 kg/m2. He was taking lisinopril, 40 mg daily; hydrochlorothiazide, 50 mg daily; amlodipine, 5 mg daily; and atorvastatin, 20 mg daily.

A glucose reading of 524?!!  Okay, this poor guy was a mess.  He was a type II diabetic with screamingly high blood sugar.  (And for the internet cowboys who insist insulin resistance is caused by getting fat, please note that his BMI was only 25.)

But of course, eating meat doesn’t cause high blood sugar.  So how did switching to the Holy Plant-Based Diet help this guy with his diabetes?  Here’s how:

He was prescribed metformin, 1000 mg twice daily; glipizide, 5 mg daily; and 10 units of neutral protamine Hagedom insulin at bedtime.

The first order of business was insulin and other drugs that lower blood sugar.  Makes sense, given the screamingly high glucose reading. But what about that plant-based diet that was responsible for all the magic?

His physician also prescribed a low-sodium, plant-based diet that excluded all animal products and refined sugars and limited bread, rice, potatoes, and tortillas to a single daily serving. He was advised to consume unlimited non-starchy vegetables, legumes, and beans, in addition to up to 2 ounces of nuts and seeds daily.

Let’s read that one more time with a slight edit and some emphasis added:

His physician also prescribed a low-sodium, plant-based diet that EXCLUDED REFINED SUGARS AND LIMITED BREAD, RICE, POTATOES, AND TORTILLAS TO A SINGLE DAILY SERVING.

Now wait just a @#$%ing second!  You’re presenting a miracle performed by the Holy Plant-Based Diet, and part of the protocol was to limit bread, rice, potatoes and tortillas to one serving per day?  THOSE ARE PLANT FOODS!  If it’s the meat and eggs that were turning this poor old dude into a diabetic, why the flippity flip was he told to cut out sugar and bread?

Back to the article:

Over a 16-week period, significant improvement in biometric outcome measures was observed. He was completely weaned off of amlodipine, hydrochlorothiazide, glipizide, and neutral protamine Hagedorn insulin. Follow-up blood pressure remained below 125/60 mmHg, HbA1C improved to 6.3%, and total cholesterol improved to 138 mg/dL.

The presented case is a dramatic example of the effect a plant-based diet can have on biometric outcomes like blood pressure, diabetes, and lipid profile.

Yes, indeedy.  In this paper, ladies and gentlemen, we present the case of a guy whose blood sugar was totally whacked.  He was told to cut out meat and eggs, even though they don’t raise blood sugar more than a smidge.  He was also told to limit bread, rice, potatoes, tortillas and other plant foods that jack up blood sugar to a single serving per day.  And looky there, his glucose level plummeted – which proves how wondrous the Holy Plant-Based Diet can be.

Head. Bang. On. Desk.

This is, of course, the bait-and-switch the plant-based apostles pull all the time.  I call it the Ornish Two-Step.  Take people eating total crap diets full of processed sugar and starch, get them to eat whole foods while cutting out all the processed sugars and starches – oh, and meat and eggs, too – and when their health improves, claim you’ve just made a solid case for eliminating meat and eggs.

The improvement in blood pressure observed over a 4-month period with few medications is also rarely encountered in clinical practice and is likely related to a low-sodium diet and the avoidance of red meat.

Uh, no.  In clinical studies, reducing sodium intake has failed rather spectacularly as a treatment for high blood pressure.  And as for red meat causing high blood pressure, here’s the conclusion from a recent meta-analysis at Purdue University:

Consuming red meat in amounts above what is typically recommended does not affect short-term cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as blood pressure and blood cholesterol.

However, several studies have demonstrated that a high sugar intake will raise blood pressure.  So remind me: wasn’t the guy in this case study told to eliminate sugar from his diet?  And isn’t sugar a plant food?

If people want to adopt plant-based diets for ethical reasons, fine, I don’t care.  But I do care when apostles of the Church of the Holy Plant-Based Diet blame meat and eggs for the sins committed by sugar and other processed carbohydrates.  Part of the reason it annoys me so much is that it’s clear the apostles KNOW it’s the processed carbs doing the damage. They toss meat and eggs in the same basket as sugar and white bread simply because they don’t want people to eat meat.

If the apostles really and truly believed animal foods are the primary drivers of disease, they’d conduct studies where the only change in a crappy diet is to substitute tofu for meat.  And they’d encourage physicians to offer counseling to patients that goes something like this:

“Well, I’m afraid your labs are awful.  Your blood sugar is through the roof and you’re obviously a type II diabetic.  We need to switch you to a plant-based diet.”

“Wait, Doc, you mean no more meat and eggs?”

“That’s right.”

“Bummer.  But I can still eat Pop-Tarts for breakfast, right?”

“Of course.  Pop-Tarts are made from wheat, sugar, soybean oil, dried berries and corn syrup.  Those are all plant foods, so they won’t hurt you.”

“Hostess Ho-Ho’s okay for lunch?”

“Sugar, wheat flour, corn syrup, and hydrogenated palm oil.  No animal ingredients, so they’re fine.”

“Awesome.  But what about dinner?  My wife likes to make casseroles.”

“No problem.  The makers of Vegan Toona say it makes a terrific ‘toona’ casserole.”

 

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Isn’t it nice to wake up in the morning and learn that sanity can still prevail — even when government committees are involved?

Tim Noakes, the victim of an inquisition triggered by an idiot dietician, was found not guilty of unprofessional conduct yesterday.  Here are some quotes from a report by News24 in South Africa:

Professor Tim Noakes has been found not guilty of misconduct, a professional conduct committee found on Friday.

That’s the good news.  Excellent news, in fact.  The bad news is that Noakes was dragged before a committee in the first place.  Read on to see just how ridiculous this entire episode was.

Noakes – whose book The Real Meal Revolution promotes a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet – was charged with giving unconventional medical advice via Twitter two years ago after he advised a breastfeeding mother to wean her baby onto LCHF.

Charged with giving unconventional advice … riiiight, because the conventional dietary advice handed down since the 1970s has done such a bang-up job of improving people’s health worldwide.

The independent committee made its finding following a protracted hearing into a complaint by the former president of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa, Claire Julsing-Strydom. She had complained about Noakes giving advice relating to his LCHF diet on Twitter to a mother.

And why did Julsing-Strydom (the idiot dietitian) feel the need to bring charges?  Was Noakes going around giving unsolicited, unconventional advice?  Was he sneaking into people’s homes and feeding their kids an “unconventional” diet when the parents weren’t looking?

The mother’s tweet read: “@ProfTimNoakes @SalCreed is LCHF eating ok for breastfeeding mums? Worried about all the dairy + cauliflower = wind for babies?? [sic]” Noakes advised her to wean her child onto LCHF foods, which he described as “real” foods.

His tweet read: “Baby doesn’t eat the dairy and cauliflower. Just very healthy high-fat breast milk. Key is to ween [sic] baby onto LCHF.”

So there’s the basis for the witch hunt:  a mother SPECIFICALLY ASKED NOAKES FOR ADVICE on Twitter, and he replied.  His reply went against the arterycloggingsaturatedfat! and hearthealthywholegrains! nonsense promoted by the Axis of Incompetence, so one of its members decided she’d try to ruin his life and his career.

Earlier in the hearing, which started in 2015, witnesses for the HPCSA said a consultation was required before any advice could be given or diagnosis made.

A mother asks Noakes for advice online, and he’s supposed to tell her sorry, we need to have a consultation in my office?  And what the @#$% kind of diagnosis is required in this situation?  The mom didn’t say her baby had a strange rash and ask for an online prescription.  She asked a question about diet … and since she asked Noakes, it means she obviously respects his opinion on the matter.

Noakes questioned why Leenstra, who ostensibly could have suffered harm, did not lay the charge. He argued he did not give advice on breastfeeding, but on weaning.

BINGO!!  The mother who asked for advice didn’t complain.  A dietitian who had nothing to do with the situation complained.  This is, of course, what The Anointed are all about: restricting other people’s speech and freedoms — for their own good, of course.

Noakes alleged that Julsing-Strydom’s complaint was not centred on breastfeeding, but on the diet he advocates in his book, of which she did not approve.

Of course that was the basis of her complaint.

The HPCSA argues that Noakes gave unconventional and unscientific advice, and was unprofessional in his conduct for dispensing the advice via social media.

You want to see unscientific advice? Look no further than arterycloggingsaturatedfat! and hearthealthywholegrains!

As for giving advice via social media being unprofessional … does any sane person believe Julsing-Strydom and the other dietary fascists would have gone after a doctor who advised the mother to wean her baby on hearthealthywholegrains?

Out of curiosity, I just checked Twitter to see if The American Heart Association tweets dietary advice.  Yup.  I guess somebody needs to drag them before a committee for engaging in unprofessional conduct … you know, giving out advice online without a proper consultation and all that.

Two international witnesses testified in his defence – diet and health researcher Dr Zoe Harcombe from London, and investigative journalist Nina Teicholz from New York, who is the author of The Big Fat Surprise, which “explains the politics, personalities, and history of how we came to believe that dietary fat is bad for health”.

And bless you both, ladies.

Professor Willie Pienaar, a psychiatrist and part-time bioethicist, during the hearing said that doctors cannot give expert advice without consultation. He argued that Noakes had the opportunity to refer the mother to a general practitioner, and pointed out that he didn’t ask the age or health status of the baby.

“Professor Noakes, what foods should I feed my baby?”

“I’m sorry, Mom, I’ll have to refer you to a general practitioner who will give advice I believe with all my heart and soul is completely wrong.”

He said his main concern was that Noakes had given specialist advice via social media and that consultation was key to giving the correct diagnosis.

Again, exactly what kind of diagnosis is required when a mother asks for general dietary advice? What diagnosis does the American Heart Association make before going online and telling people to replace butter with corn and canola oil?

Expert witness Professor Este Vorster, a former president of the Nutrition Society of SA, said Noakes could not give convincing evidence that his was the optimal diet for lactating mothers.

The Anointed can’t give convincing evidence that vegetable oils and grains are the optimal diet.  But they’ll keep pushing them and occasionally conduct a witch-hunt when a prominent doctor dares to disagree.  Thank goodness The Anointed lost this round.  Let’s hope they lose many, many more.

In the meantime, let’s celebrate the decision — even though there never should have been a trial in the first place — and applaud Tim Noakes for having the backbone to stand up to these bullies.

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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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