The ORI Speech

      183 Comments on The ORI Speech

First I’d like to thank The Older Brother for taking over the Fat Head chair while I was in Washington, D.C.  (You’ll be hearing from him again in May when I’m on the low-carb cruise.)  I received a record number of emails about Harvard’s latest “Meat Kills!” study just before I left town, so I was pleased The Older Brother gave it a worthy whack and pointed readers to Denise Minger’s slice-and-dice.  Gary Taubes also took the study apart and made the remaining points I would have made (and then some), so I won’t bother weighing in on that one.  Bottom line:  it’s another worthless observational study.  Enjoy your steak and burgers.

Now, about that speech I gave in Washington …

The good news is that I received some very positive feedback from the five people who saw it.  The bad news is that five people saw it.  (I’m not counting Dr. Richard Feinman or Dr. Wendy Pogozelski, who were presenters in our group.)  So it wasn’t exactly my version of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

I spent hours writing the speech, more hours making slides, still more hours memorizing (I can’t stand reading a speech from a script), had myself all geared up to handle any hostile questions afterwards, flew 650 miles to do battle, and ended up talking mostly to empty chairs.  It felt a bit like training for a fight and then stepping into the ring, only to find the opposing fighter’s corner empty.

Nonetheless, here’s the speech.  In the first half-hour after I posted it to YouTube, more people had already seen it online than saw it in person.

The Office of Research Integrity conference (titled Quest for Research Excellence) wasn’t a nutrition conference; it was conference dealing with research issues in a number of disciplines, with multiple presentations being delivered simultaneously.  Apparently nutrition wasn’t the hot topic among the attendees.  Too bad.  In Dr. Feinman’s presentations, he offered several examples of research that was definitely not excellent.  Dr. Wendy Pogozelski, a colleague of Dr. Feinman’s at State University of New York, also gave an interesting presentation about childhood obesity and how the current dietary guidelines aren’t helping (to put it mildly).

Aside from their presentations, the second-most interesting part of the whole trip for me was standing in line at Reagan International airport in front of two older women with the thickest New Jersey accents I’ve ever heard.  They had just dropped off a rental cah and were heading back to Joysey.  Either one of them (going by voice, at least) could have been Bugs Bunny’s grandmother.  I kept wanting to turn around and ask if they made a wrong toyn at Albukoyke.

The most interesting part of the trip was finding myself in a bit of mini-debate with Dr. Feinman over dinner on Thursday night.  We’re both convinced people are getting sick and dying younger than necessary thanks to lousy dietary advice from the USDA and other organizations that promote the usual low-fat nonsense.  He believes we need to focus on convincing the federal government to re-evaluate the science and, by extension, the dietary advice.  I believe the USDA is basically a division of Monsanto, Cargill and ADM, and always will be.  I don’t expect the federal government to ever stop promoting a high-carbohydrate diet based on wheat and other grains, so my goal is to convince people to stop listening to the USDA.

One of us is right.  So perhaps the only logical strategy is to wage this war on both fronts.  That was the point of going to Washington to pick a fight.  I hope it’s more of a fight next time.


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183 thoughts on “The ORI Speech

  1. FrankG

    Many thanks Tom! Bravo! I will make sure that as many folks as I can influence see this.

    As someone who has been battling obesity and diabetes for a couple of decades, I was ready to stand up and applaud as soon as I heard >> The reason we have a crisis in health and nutrition, is that: people who are battling obesity and diabetes are being told to make the same losing bet over and over again… and they’re tired of losing, and they’re starting to lose faith in the people telling them to make that bet… people with credentials, who are essentially saying “trust us, according to our research the guy didn’t actually jump…” <<

    Let’s hope more and more people lose faith in those experts.

  2. TonyNZ

    Great again, Tom.

    I liked the subtlety by which you made the cartoon doctor handing out the advice much more rotund than the patient.

    That was my artist wife’s doing. Sneaky, isn’t she?

  3. shutchings

    Do you know where we can view the presentations by Drs. Pogozelski and Feinman?

    They weren’t recorded.

  4. Peggy Cihocki

    Great speech, Tom. I shared it on my FB page. Only a few of my friends belong to “the choir”, so I’m hoping at least a few of my friends and family that do not checked it out. I’m with the others that hope it goes viral!

  5. shutchings

    Oops … forgot to tell you great job too! I’m sending the link to your presentation to my daughter in college. She recently had two friends tell her that their nutrition teacher said coconut oil is the worst fat of all (my daughter uses coconut oil all the time per her mother’s instructions). So I appreciate your work!

    So one of the best fats of all is being labeled as one of the worst by college nutrition instructors. Boy, we have a long way to go.

  6. Katy

    First the people will stop listening to the USDA. THEN maybe the USDA will wonder what happened? I think I read that the Hostess company was struggling and was going to file bankruptcy. A number of bagel places around here have closed.

    Signs of progress.

  7. FrankG

    BTW… I don’t mid admitting that I *did* stand up an applaud at the end of the presentation Tom — even if I was alone in my apartment — it was very well done!

    What is the sound of one hand clapping … ?

  8. Be

    I loved…no, I LOVED this speech. I got to watch you say to “them”everything I want to tell them – only you were cool and funny about it. And you are right about how we are going to solve this. It isn’t by getting “our gang” in power. As John Ikerd explains in Fresh (the movie), “it just happens, one person at a time, one farmer, one consumer at a time.”

    5 people? Only one makes a difference. And the reality is that THOUSANDS of us have seen it and we will pass it on to TENS and HUNDREDS of thousands. One person at a time! Eventually, millions.

    Well done – we are all proud.

    Thank you. I wish more of “them” had been in the room, but so it goes.

  9. Erik

    A few points:

    * There were only 13 people at The Last Supper, yet that evening’s discussion became pretty influential after it went viral.

    * Michael Crichton delivered some devastating refutations of Anthropogenic Climate Change Theory, yet he was constantly belittled by his critics as being “just a journalist”. Yet, Al Gore was given an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, a Webby and a Nobel Peace Prize, not derided as “just a politician”.

    * When I read “A Short History Of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson, a pattern became apparent. Some poor schlub would discover a scientific truth, be mocked and derided by his peers, and die in obscurity and poverty. Then a while later, some other person would latch on to their work and become rich and famous for their “discovery”. I’m not sure what best course of action would be for the quixotic truth-seeker, but it’s probably best to be aware of the pattern.

    I hope not to die on obscurity, but I loved Bryson’s book.

  10. Trish

    Great speech, knocked it out of the park. I’m seeing links all over the place so again, behold the power of the internet.

    But a nitpick–not about the speech, but about the second most interesting thing. What you refer to as a New Jersey accent is actually a New York accent. Travel away from the New York metro area and you’ll find that natives of the state do not have that accent, which is why many of us roll our eyes when we’re asked where we’re from and the first thing that comes out when we tell someone is “Oh! JOISEY!” which no self-respecting Jerseyite would ever be caught saying. Personally I blame “The Sopranos” and “Jersey Shore”–of which only one “cast member” is an actual Jersey native and doesn’t have THAT accent–for perpetrating the stereotype.

    /Trish, proudly waving the flag for her native land that gave the world electricity, Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen. She does, however, apologize for Bon Jovi.

    I see your point. The Chicago accent is distinct from what you’ll hear in the rest of Illinois.

  11. Michael Venini

    Tom,

    Awesome presentation! More and more I’m trying to change what I eat and get away from un-natrual foods.

    Two quick questions.

    1. Is there any advice you can give to help me convince, my parents and my wife of how to accept a more natural way of eating. I think they think I’m crazy.

    2. Why do you think only 5 people showed up?

    Thanks,

    Mike

    1. Not sure, other than to give them a copy of Mark Sisson’s book “The Primal Blueprint” and hope they read it.
    2. There were multiple presentations going on during each time slot, lots of different subjects. Apparently the Crisis in Nutrition subject wasn’t a big draw.

  12. Lynda

    *Standing Ovation*… absolutely fantastic Tom. That was great from beginning to end. You put in a lot of work and it shows in a totally polished speech.

  13. LCNana

    Great presentation, Tom. Hubby has the hockey game on, but low, and I know he had one ear tuned in to your talk – I had that baby cranked! Well organized, professional delivery, excellent content – oh, and nice suit!!

    I don’t expect to compete with hockey, but thanks.

  14. Susan T

    Great speech … passing it on. Hopefully the people who need to see this will see it on social media. When people get educated and demand changes, only then will we see change in Washington.

  15. Joe Lindley

    Great Talk! This is the first time I’ve seen the USDA and ADA confronted at the same time – and long overdue. As one of the complainers to the ADA’s magazine article you mentioned, it was great for me to see that brought up as well. You might have had a small audience initially, but that has got to be changing fast!!!

  16. Graybull

    You are absolutely right…….in my way of thinking. Trying to get USDA (or other government agencies) to use sound science……is a big waste of time and effort. The only way change will happen is from the bottom up. You and others are winning one mind at a time……making good progress. When critical mass is reached…..established institutions will find a way to adapt your efforts as their own.

    My feelings exactly. The change will bubble up from the bottom, not come down from the top.

  17. FrankG

    Well I posted it on 3 Diabetes forums not an hour ago (two this side of the pond and one in the UK)… the posts have already been viewed 156 times (no guarantee they all watched the video though) while YouTube is currently showing 997 Views!

    Oh and at least one FaceBook “like” so far form a friend in the UK — this message is universal 😉

    Let’s get this thing viral people! Lets rely on the wisdom of crowds

  18. Anna

    Hi Tom. Everything that you said was of course known to me, yet I must admire how succintly you made your case and organized the evidence. It was great! But most of all I want to thank you for going to bat for us. I have exactly the same convictions but I don’t have your voice. Your trip may have been a letdown but I implore you to keep going. WIthout advocates like you, there is no hope at all.

    It would have been nice to have more people in the room, but I figured I’d upload it to YouTube and see what happens.

  19. Jewels

    Thank goodness for the internet. Thirty years ago, it might have been disheartening to face such a small room, but today your speech will reach thousands (i think) and multiply from there. My entire family has been positively impacted because of the knowledge you put out. Bravo!

  20. LeonRover

    Congratulations Tom.

    This was an excellent speech and presentation.

    I did laugh out loud at the joke as it happened.

    I guess those guys were in an Irish bar and drinking Guinness ?

    I hope at least SOME of those “powers that be” listen.

    If they were in an Irish bar, I hope they were drinking Guinness.

  21. Bob Johnston

    Excellent presentation… I enjoyed it from beginning to end. Hopefully my friends on Facebook will enjoy it as much as I did.

    The government and its useless agencies are utterly corrupt and will never change. Fortunately one has the option of always doing the exact opposite of whatever it is they recommend.

    That’s the wise move.

  22. jake3_14

    A link to this page is now on lowcarb.ca and MDA. I’ll post it to my FB wall, so all 19 of my FB friends know about it.

  23. Scott Bennett

    Fantastic presentation Tom. That was probably the most coherent and well put together speech given in D.C. since the Reagan years. While it sucks that “only 9 people” sat through your speech, those 9 folks are much better for it. I will be passing this post along through “my network” of friends and family as well. If you ever get the chance to give a presentation here in Tennessee, please let us know. Surely someone in a department of MTSU, U of T, APSU, or others would love to have you come shed some light and truth into some young Nutrition/Health majors. Thanks for all you do and I’ll look forward to hearing about a speech here in the home state.

    I’d be happy to make the trip to MTSU. I believe that’s about a 40-minute drive.

  24. Peggy Cihocki

    Great speech, Tom. I shared it on my FB page. Only a few of my friends belong to “the choir”, so I’m hoping at least a few of my friends and family that do not checked it out. I’m with the others that hope it goes viral!

  25. Be

    I loved…no, I LOVED this speech. I got to watch you say to “them”everything I want to tell them – only you were cool and funny about it. And you are right about how we are going to solve this. It isn’t by getting “our gang” in power. As John Ikerd explains in Fresh (the movie), “it just happens, one person at a time, one farmer, one consumer at a time.”

    5 people? Only one makes a difference. And the reality is that THOUSANDS of us have seen it and we will pass it on to TENS and HUNDREDS of thousands. One person at a time! Eventually, millions.

    Well done – we are all proud.

    Thank you. I wish more of “them” had been in the room, but so it goes.

  26. Erik

    A few points:

    * There were only 13 people at The Last Supper, yet that evening’s discussion became pretty influential after it went viral.

    * Michael Crichton delivered some devastating refutations of Anthropogenic Climate Change Theory, yet he was constantly belittled by his critics as being “just a journalist”. Yet, Al Gore was given an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, a Webby and a Nobel Peace Prize, not derided as “just a politician”.

    * When I read “A Short History Of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson, a pattern became apparent. Some poor schlub would discover a scientific truth, be mocked and derided by his peers, and die in obscurity and poverty. Then a while later, some other person would latch on to their work and become rich and famous for their “discovery”. I’m not sure what best course of action would be for the quixotic truth-seeker, but it’s probably best to be aware of the pattern.

    I hope not to die on obscurity, but I loved Bryson’s book.

  27. LCNana

    Great presentation, Tom. Hubby has the hockey game on, but low, and I know he had one ear tuned in to your talk – I had that baby cranked! Well organized, professional delivery, excellent content – oh, and nice suit!!

    I don’t expect to compete with hockey, but thanks.

  28. Susan T

    Great speech … passing it on. Hopefully the people who need to see this will see it on social media. When people get educated and demand changes, only then will we see change in Washington.

  29. Ray Kelley

    Gonna post this to my FB wall as well. That’s how we’re gonna counteract all the propaganda out there, ultimately, is peer to peer communication. They can snub you in DC, but the internet puts the power of communication back where it belongs: in the hands of the people.

    “Well they’ve got a fight.”

    “Damned right they do.”

    Exactly.

  30. Martin Levac

    Hi Tom, great speech. Pity so few attended, but you can count me as one internet attendee.

    At the end of the speech, you said some things need to stop. I disagree. I see it as a great debate. When one side quits, the other side wins by default. We don’t want to win like this. We want to win properly. And for us to do this, the other side must not retire quietly. A victory by default does not validate anything we say.

    The effect of competition on the quality of our arguments is also very important. Without an opposite side, we wouldn’t need any argument, we wouldn’t need to make any effort to win. Competition breeds excellence, and it keeps our arguments in check. Without the opposite side, we could say anything we wanted even if it wasn’t actually true, and still win. In fact, that’s exactly what happened with the low fat advice. Competition was silenced or non-existent, victory was automatic. We only just realized this now, and your speech shows just how we did it.

    It’s a bit like science really. A competition between two opposing hypotheses. Low fat vs low carb. Calories vs hormones. Observation vs experiment.

    I lied. I actually agree with you, some things must stop. But we must do it just like you explained in your speech. It’s a great debate where two sides argue, the establishment, the people. I put my money on the people.

    I’m betting on the Wisdom of Crowds.

  31. Ray Kelley

    Gonna post this to my FB wall as well. That’s how we’re gonna counteract all the propaganda out there, ultimately, is peer to peer communication. They can snub you in DC, but the internet puts the power of communication back where it belongs: in the hands of the people.

    “Well they’ve got a fight.”

    “Damned right they do.”

    Exactly.

  32. Soul

    I remember my father telling the story of when he testified before a Congressional hearing. When he first showed up few people were there. It appeared he was pretty much going to be alone, other than his friend that arranged things and a few Congressmen. Then the FDA commissioner made an appearance. Suddenly the room became packed full of people interested in what was to be said. And when the commissioner left, once again crickets could be heard.

    At this point have not listened to the speech, but will do so soon. Great that you gave it a try. I’m in the camp that it is unlikely that the USDA and other organizations will change their dietary advice. They have few reasons to take the lead. I imagine if for some reason Americans in mass changed their views on what healthy foods are, and acted on that, it will be long afterwards that the USDA changed their dietary recommendations.

    I guess politically if there is anything that somewhat interests me it is the rise of mormon influence in politics. Not sure how much the rise is! But when we worked in the health food industry people that practiced the mormon faith were some of the most open to healthy eating ideas and supplements.

    I think we’re more likely to convince people to ignore the USDA. Unfortunately, schools aren’t allowed to ignore them, so perhaps that battle will really begin if enough parents realize the schools are being ordered to feed their kids junk.

  33. Elenor

    BRAVO!! Finally got to listen/watch!! (Yeah, you should sell this one on disk too — easy to ‘loan’ format, you know?)

    Beautifully done!

    I’m not sure if there’s much of a market for a 20-minute speech.

  34. Marc Sitkin

    Great speech Tom-

    You should make the rounds of the health insurance companies with it. I recently got a newsletter from mine (United Healthcare) focusing on diabetes. They were kind enough to include a recipe for corn pudding (low fat of course). I’m sure this is something all diabetics should add to their meal plan.

    Corn pudding? Oh, my …

  35. Lorraine Winninhoff

    Not only informative but funny! As soon as I was done seeing it I posted the link to my friends and family thanks again for making this topic so clear, concise and in your case fun to watch.You are changing peoples lives,you have helped to change my life. Thank you.

  36. Justin B

    Thank you Tom, for putting the time and effort into recording and editing this together. I know from personal experience that it takes a lot more time than people would imagine.

  37. Kenny

    Loved the speech, Tom. Smart and funny and engaging. The Wisdom of Crowds connection is brilliant.

    The speech is also saddening and maddening at the “incalculable damage” that has been done as written about by Gary Taubes in the Author’s Note of Why We Get Fat:

    “…obesity research lost its way after the Second World War…. It has since resisted all attempts to correct it. As a result, the individuals
    involved in this research have not only wasted decades of time, effort, and money but have done incalculable damage along the way. Their beliefs have remained impervious to an ever-growing body of evidence that refutes them while being embraced by public-health authorities and translated into precisely the wrong advice about what to eat and, more important, what not to eat if we want to maintain a healthy weight and live a long and healthy life.”

    Gary nailed it.

  38. Martin Levac

    Hi Tom, great speech. Pity so few attended, but you can count me as one internet attendee.

    At the end of the speech, you said some things need to stop. I disagree. I see it as a great debate. When one side quits, the other side wins by default. We don’t want to win like this. We want to win properly. And for us to do this, the other side must not retire quietly. A victory by default does not validate anything we say.

    The effect of competition on the quality of our arguments is also very important. Without an opposite side, we wouldn’t need any argument, we wouldn’t need to make any effort to win. Competition breeds excellence, and it keeps our arguments in check. Without the opposite side, we could say anything we wanted even if it wasn’t actually true, and still win. In fact, that’s exactly what happened with the low fat advice. Competition was silenced or non-existent, victory was automatic. We only just realized this now, and your speech shows just how we did it.

    It’s a bit like science really. A competition between two opposing hypotheses. Low fat vs low carb. Calories vs hormones. Observation vs experiment.

    I lied. I actually agree with you, some things must stop. But we must do it just like you explained in your speech. It’s a great debate where two sides argue, the establishment, the people. I put my money on the people.

    I’m betting on the Wisdom of Crowds.

  39. Soul

    I remember my father telling the story of when he testified before a Congressional hearing. When he first showed up few people were there. It appeared he was pretty much going to be alone, other than his friend that arranged things and a few Congressmen. Then the FDA commissioner made an appearance. Suddenly the room became packed full of people interested in what was to be said. And when the commissioner left, once again crickets could be heard.

    At this point have not listened to the speech, but will do so soon. Great that you gave it a try. I’m in the camp that it is unlikely that the USDA and other organizations will change their dietary advice. They have few reasons to take the lead. I imagine if for some reason Americans in mass changed their views on what healthy foods are, and acted on that, it will be long afterwards that the USDA changed their dietary recommendations.

    I guess politically if there is anything that somewhat interests me it is the rise of mormon influence in politics. Not sure how much the rise is! But when we worked in the health food industry people that practiced the mormon faith were some of the most open to healthy eating ideas and supplements.

    I think we’re more likely to convince people to ignore the USDA. Unfortunately, schools aren’t allowed to ignore them, so perhaps that battle will really begin if enough parents realize the schools are being ordered to feed their kids junk.

  40. Ghost

    Hey Tom!

    I thought your speech was fantastic, and it’s always wonderful to hear you talk. I hope there were a few good take-aways in the room, and people are beginning to understand why we’re refusing to listen to our doctors anymore. I haven’t been to the doctor for anything but a sprained ankle in….a long time! They’ve proven to me for years and years that it’s just not worth it.

    Thanks for being one of the good guys, and the General in the march against bad nutritional science! Now if we could just get more funny ways to get the message across! (A lot of the nutrition books that I’ve been reading are fairly dry, and are for people like me who are willing to tear into it with abandon.)

    Any chance of a Fat Head book? ^o^

    There’s a very good chance of a Fat head book. It’s on our to-do list. It will be directed at parents and kids, with lots of cartoon-type explanations of the science, as in Fat Head.

  41. Elenor

    BRAVO!! Finally got to listen/watch!! (Yeah, you should sell this one on disk too — easy to ‘loan’ format, you know?)

    Beautifully done!

    I’m not sure if there’s much of a market for a 20-minute speech.

  42. Marc Sitkin

    Great speech Tom-

    You should make the rounds of the health insurance companies with it. I recently got a newsletter from mine (United Healthcare) focusing on diabetes. They were kind enough to include a recipe for corn pudding (low fat of course). I’m sure this is something all diabetics should add to their meal plan.

    Corn pudding? Oh, my …

  43. eddie watts

    my wife and I watched this within minute of it being on youtube, the speech was great and i shared it on my FB as soon as i had watched it.

  44. Lorraine Winninhoff

    Not only informative but funny! As soon as I was done seeing it I posted the link to my friends and family thanks again for making this topic so clear, concise and in your case fun to watch.You are changing peoples lives,you have helped to change my life. Thank you.

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