From The News …

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Interesting items from my inbox and elsewhere …

Why people hate vegans, part something or other.

I understand (sort of) when vegan militants protest outside a steakhouse. But I didn’t expect them to choose this target, as reported in the U.K. Guardian:

For a full week, a big black banner was posted from a sidewalk in Berkeley, California. “OCCUPY WHOLE FOODS”, it declared in large, white block letters.

Yup, they’re going after Whole Foods — a store that was founded by a vegan and carries a wide variety of vegan products. But of course, radical vegans aren’t satisfied with a store selling what they want. The store also has to STOP selling what the rest of us want. Fortunately, the occupation didn’t last long.

Just days before a weeklong protest scheduled for late September, in which the activists had planned to call attention to alleged animal welfare violations by suppliers to Whole Foods’ parent company, Amazon, the Berkeley store filed a restraining order.

“We are not allowed to even step foot in the parking lot right now,” said Cassie King, a DxE organizer. “We can’t go inside the store and ask our questions.”

Why, that’s an outrage! They can’t go into the store to ask questions?! How are they supposed to satisfy their curiosity? What if they want to know who won the Crimean War, and a passing customer happens to have the answer?  Although I suspect before being banned, they did more than just stand around and ask questions.

DxE’s in-store tactics range from chanting and singing about animal rights to more extreme tactics: splattering eggs with fake blood, acting out scenes of animal slaughter (with members representing the animals) and displaying graphic photos and videos in meat and dairy aisles.

Dear nut-jobs: you have a right to protest. You don’t have a right to protest on other people’s property and damage merchandise.

Whole Foods’ website describes rigorous welfare standards for all of its animal products, and the company has implemented a rating system to inform customers’ purchasing decisions.

But the DxE co-founder, Wayne Hsiung, claims his organization is being silenced for exposing violations of the company’s standards.

Dear nut-jobs: you have a right to protest. But if companies demand you protest somewhere other than on their property, you are not being “silenced.” Your right to free speech does not require other people to provide you with an audience or a forum. If people want to hear your message, they’ll find you. If they’re not interested, they won’t. That, of course, is why the vegans are upset.

When asked, a few different groups of people eating lunch outside the store didn’t seem to notice – or care – about what was happening beyond their parked cars. Without access to the inside of the store, it was harder for the demonstrators to get attention.

In other words, people were choosing to ignore them. Zealots can’t stand being ignored.

Why people hate vegans, part— no, wait. We like these people.

Here’s a nice case of vegans changing their minds, as reported in Forbes:

But, where certain choices work for some they may not work for others and could possibly even result in serious health complications. Katie Forrest and her husband Taylor Collins experienced the latter outcome firsthand.

After suffering a variety of unidentifiable health issues that baffled their doctors, this former vegan couple known for competing in endurance cycling races and triathlons, had a complete 360-degree revelation where they embarked on a high-protein paleo diet that miraculously resolved their health issues.

I wouldn’t call it a miracle. I’d call it biology at work. But anyway …

“Katie and I have always done things ‘all or nothing’ on our journey to optimal wellness. In college you learn that meat isn’t great for the environment and that was the public discourse at the moment. We opted into a vegetarian diet and Katie began getting very ill. Her body was disintegrating and she suffered from serious knee inflammation. She had exploratory knee surgery in her 20’s and all of the doctors were telling her she would need a knee replacement and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the rest of her life. Can you imagine? We then decided to go raw vegan and things got worse. We had nothing to lose making the pivot to meat”.

So what happened after they starting eat meat again?

“We went in fully committed and our bodies recovered. We went through a lot of trial and error with finding what we liked. We boiled a steak and that wasn’t any good. Then we found bacon. Ultimately, the paleo diet was the prescription for healing my body. Within four days my stomach issues went away and in fourteen days my knee was healed”.

But wait, it gets even better.

Their collective epiphany and new found vitality led them to launch EPIC Provisions, an Austin-based meat snack company that specializes in making nutrient-dense whole food protein snacks from farmers that engage in regenerative farming practices, in 2013.

From vegans to owners of a company that sells meat snacks. There’s hope for the world.

Now that’s a dumb criminal, part one.

For reasons only he can explain, a man engaged in perhaps the most ridiculous heist ever, as reported in the New York Post:

A Georgia man is accused of stealing 150 pounds of waffle mix from a former employer and flipping it to a syrupy stream of buyers.

Peachtree City police spokeswoman Lt. Odilia Bergh told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday that 33-year-old Brandon Lee Nelson is charged with burglary.

I think they should slap on a charge of “malicious intent to induce diabetes.”

Police say Nelson drove to his former employer’s storage facility in August and stole five boxes of Golden Malted waffle batter. Bergh says Nelson then covertly sold it to buyers who contacted him about the stolen dough.

Dialog you’ll never hear on a TV detective show:  “Psst!  Are you the guy who can hook me up with the waffle dough?  How much?  Okay, but we need to test the purity first.  I got a waffle iron in the truck.”

Bergh says Nelson later was identified on surveillance video of the theft and arrested this month.

If you’re stupid enough to 1) steal waffle mix and 2) not ask yourself if perhaps there’s a surveillance camera nearby, you deserve to go to The Big House. Or better yet, The Waffle House.

Now that’s a dumb criminal, part two.

WJLA News recently reported a crime that should make people re-think the health benefits of the Holy Plant-Based Diet:

A man accused of rubbing produce on his buttocks at a grocery store in Northern Virginia was arrested Saturday.

I’ve had some hard-to-reach itches in my day, but there are limits to what I consider acceptable scratching.

The Manassas City Police Department said the suspect pulled his pants down, grabbed a nearby item and rubbed his buttocks with the produce at the Giant grocery store at 10100 Dumfries Road. A loss prevention employee relayed what they had seen to authorities and subsequently destroyed multiple pallets of produce.

The store had to destroy multiple pallets of produce? I hope the vegan zealots don’t read this story. Next thing you know, they’ll be invading Whole Foods and rubbing pork chops on their butts.  Then they’ll ask questions.

Michael Dwayne Johnson, 27, of Manassas, told WJLA’s Tim Barber in an exclusive interview that he never actually rubbed any produce on his bottom. He also says he never pulled down his pants. Johnson claims it was just a practical joke for a YouTube video.

This guy needs to be punished … not so much for the crime, but for being stupid enough to think posting it on YouTube would be a good idea. It’s one level of stupid to be caught on a surveillance camera. It’s quite another to provide the footage yourself.

I know we don’t allow corporal punishment in this country, but I think he should be ordered to drop his pants and endure a hard spanking with a bunch of celery. And the punishment should be posted on YouTube.

Scientists are freakin’ liars.

I’ve had a few people accuse me of going over the top when I said “Scientists are freakin’ liars” in my Science For Smart People speech. An article in the New York Post suggests I wasn’t exaggerating:

A prominent Cornell University food researcher resigned after an investigation found he committed academic misconduct, including misreporting data, the school announced Thursday.

Brian Wansink has been removed from all teaching and research positions and will retire at the end of the school year next June, Cornell said in a statement.

Misrepresenting data? With that kind of cavalier attitude towards science, perhaps he should work on the U.S. Dietary guidelines.

Wansink had previously helped update the US dietary guidelines and is known for his research on consumer behavior, which has been widely cited including in articles by The Associated Press.

Oops. Too late.

Thursday’s announcement comes a day after six more of Wansink’s papers were retracted. The most recent retractions included a 2005 paper that said people eat more when served in large bowls and a 2013 article that said grocery shoppers buy food with more calories when they’re hungry.

Ahh, yes, the “people will eat less if they use smaller plates and bowls” idea. I remember that one. I also remember thinking it sounded like b.s.

Ivan Oransky, a co-founder of Retraction Watch who teaches medical journalism at New York University, says Wansink appears to have engaged in a practice in which researchers cherry-pick data points to get their work published.

In other words, scientists are freakin’ liars.

Scientists are freakin’ liars, and it’s hilarious when they do it on purpose to expose bad science.

Back in April, I wrote a post comparing the drivel produced in academic (ahem) “disciplines” such as feminist and gender studies to the universe of Dr. Who:

I follow @RealPeerReview on Twitter. Whoever he or she is (if he and she aren’t offensive labels), he or she has access to a gazillion academic papers and regularly posts abstracts to demonstrate what passes for scholarship in today’s universities. The most amusing examples are produced by (ahem) “scholars ” in sort-of-science departments like gender studies.

… The Dr. Who universe, despite all its richness, complexity, and internal logic, is fiction. It’s all been made up.

Same goes for the universe produced in the imaginations of gender-studies scholars. It’s a rich and complex universe with lots of terms and rules, but it’s all been made up. It’s fiction. Let’s call it the Dr. Hooey universe. The main difference is that when fans of Dr. Who write about the Dr. Who universe, they don’t usually come across like morons attempting to sound intelligent.

Turns out some scholars were also concerned about the nonsense that passes for scholarship in these fields … so they highlighted their concerns by getting some ridiculous (and completely fictional) papers published in peer-reviewed journals. You can read the long article here, but this YouTube video sums up the story nicely:

Here are few choice quotes from the article:

Something has gone wrong in the university—especially in certain fields within the humanities. Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields, and their scholars increasingly bully students, administrators, and other departments into adhering to their worldview. This worldview is not scientific, and it is not rigorous.

While our papers are all outlandish or intentionally broken in significant ways, it is important to recognize that they blend in almost perfectly with others in the disciplines under our consideration.

No kidding. Gobbledygook tends to look very much like similar gobbledygook.

What we just described is not knowledge production; it’s sophistry. That is, it’s a forgery of knowledge that should not be mistaken for the real thing. The biggest difference between us and the scholarship we are studying by emulation is that we know we made things up.

In case you didn’t watch the video, here’s a description of the kinds of “research” the pranksters managed to slip past those oh-so-scientific peer reviewers:

Many papers advocated highly dubious ethics including training men like dogs (“Dog Park”), punishing white male college students for historical slavery by asking them to sit in silence in the floor in chains during class and to be expected to learn from the discomfort (“Progressive Stack”), celebrating morbid obesity as a healthy life-choice (“Fat Bodybuilding”), treating privately conducted masturbation as a form of sexual violence against women (“Masturbation”), and programming superintelligent AI with irrational and ideological nonsense before letting it rule the world (“Feminist AI”).

There was also considerable silliness including claiming to have tactfully inspected the genitals of slightly fewer than 10,000 dogs whilst interrogating owners as to their sexuality (“Dog Park”), becoming seemingly mystified about why heterosexual men are attracted to women (“Hooters”), insisting there is something to be learned about feminism by having four guys watch thousands of hours of hardcore pornography over the course of a year while repeatedly taking the Gender and Science Implicit Associations Test (“Porn”), expressing confusion over why people are more concerned about the genitalia others have when considering having sex with them (“CisNorm”), and recommending men anally self-penetrate in order to become less transphobic, more feminist, and more concerned about the horrors of rape culture (“Dildos”). None of this, except that Helen Wilson recorded one “dog rape per hour” at urban dog parks in Portland, Oregon, raised so much as a single reviewer eyebrow, so far as their reports show.

None of the silly papers they got published have anything to do with nutrition, so I’ll explain why I wanted to highlight what these brilliant pranksters pulled off: supposed scientists in universities shouldn’t be allowed to just make up what science means. But that’s exactly what many of them are doing:

For grievance studies scholars, science itself and the scientific method are deeply problematic, if not outright racist and sexist, and need to be remade to forward grievance-based identitarian politics over the impartial pursuit of truth. These same issues are also extended to the “Western” philosophical tradition which they find problematic because it favors reason to emotion, rigor to solipsism, and logic to revelation.

As a result, radical constructivists tend to believe science and reason must be dismantled to let “other ways of knowing” have equal validation as knowledge-producing enterprises.

If I’ve said once, I’ve said it at least twice. An objectivist thinks like this: if it’s true, I’ll believe it. A subjectivist thinks like this: if I believe it, it’s true. The “scholars” these pranksters set out to bust are the worst kinds of subjectivists. If they want 5 + 5 to equal 11 and you point out that math says otherwise, they’ll just decide that math is a white-male-colonial-privileged-part-of-the-patriarchy-social-construct or whatever and go on with their “other ways of knowing.”

In other words, they don’t the rules of science applied to their supposed sciences. If we allow that kind of loony-tunes thinking to go unchecked in universities, good luck producing college graduates who can actually think critically.

I mentioned before that I follow @RealPeerReview on Twitter because he or she highlights nonsense that passes for scholarly work. Unfortunately, not knowing it was all a prank intended to highlight shoddy scholarship, @RealPeerReview busted the pranksters on one of their papers. That cut the prank short. They had intended to try to publish 20 ridiculous papers, but had to stop at seven.  Well, it was fun while it lasted.




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38 thoughts on “From The News …

  1. Alex

    “We boiled a steak and that wasn’t any good.”

    Hey Mabel! Fire up the pot of water! I brought us home some steaks for dinner!

    1. Joshua

      I hate to criticize people who are generally doing good in the world, but maybe that’s why I’ve never found an Epic bar I really liked?

  2. Jeff

    Drives me nuts that “Brian Wansink has been removed from all teaching and research positions and will retire at the end of the school year next June, Cornell said in a statement.”

    So, be horrible at your job, make things up, get to keep your job & paycheck (instead of being fired immediately), all while having no real responsibility until you retire, and presumably keeping your retirement money. (I am assuming it’s a state paid pension.) I picked the wrong field for a career!

    And I can’t tell if it’s June 2018 or June 2019. “Next June” sounds like 2019; I hope I’m wrong.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Yup. That’s a criticism Taleb levels against academics in “Skin in the Game.”

    2. Walter

      And he did real damage. People will be told to use smaller plates to lose weight for decades if not centuries. Once an idea gets picked up it tends to stick around, like the belief that vegan foods have B12 without fortification. The was a test that reported B12 in such foods, that was later found to have been picking up not quite B12 but interfered with true B12.

    3. Firebird7478

      Everytime I read the name “Wansink” I have to re-read it. My eyes play tricks on me. I think it reads “Wanker”.

    4. Matt

      Because the Cornell press release was dated Sept. 20, 2018 (follow the links), it must mean June next year. And you’re right, I’m sure he’ll be paid in full all the while, then get a pension bigger than probably any of us here make while actually working.

  3. Peterkins

    I wonder if any of those academics who want to remake science would fly in an aircraft designed by someone who used “other ways of knowing” about aerodynamics.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Heh-heh … well, that’s the distinction Sowell makes between intellectuals and people who work in practical jobs requiring high intelligence. If an engineer designs a bridge and the bridge falls down, nobody will care how eloquently he can defend his design. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.

    2. Walter

      No doubt some would with a clever defense and stress on the gender bias of modern science why not?

  4. Lori Miller

    “We’re being silenced!” they cried in interviews, articles and videos all over the internet. That phrase grinds my gears. No, soyboys, we heard your arguments, disagreed with them, and moved along. That’s usually what happens when cranks take their protests off campus–apparently even in Berkeley.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      It’s almost as if we live in an age where some people think if you don’t blindly believe everything they say, it means you’re “not listening!”

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Good grief. If these people think they’re helping the cause, they are sorely mistaken.

  5. Walter

    Veganism is an ideology that is simple, elegant and incorrect.

    As Ms. Keith says, any satisfaction or any other emotion you have is brought to you by a protein. These proteins are found mainly in animal products.

    So I suppose they try to compensate by rage to feel something.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      One of the best lines from her book: “What separates me from vegetarians isn’t ethics or commitment. It’s information.”

      These doofuses don’t realize growing and harvesting their food requires killing animals.

      1. Firebird7478

        Those doofuses also don’t realize that not killing animals will cause overgrowth of the animal population. Can’t wait until they go out to their garden and find most of it consumed by the very animals they were trying to save.

      2. Walter

        And grass farming raised beef minimizes active human killing of animals. Grazing in fact preserves the life of the grass and other graze.

        Industrial annual agriculture requires killing everything. Ms. Keith does a great description of this in _The Vegan Myth_. She was trying to save the slugs, but realized that moving them out of her garden just meant that either they would die or they would displace other slugs. In general animals are at the carrying level of their environment.

      1. chris c

        It,s a strange thing about “calories” – on occasion, mainly when eating out with friends or relatives I will eat too many “calories”. What happens next? It takes that much longer until I get hungry and have to eat again.

        Of course if too many of those “calories” are carbs, all bets are off. Funny how that works.

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          Yup. I recall a study demonstrating that over the course of a week, most people have a remarkably consistent calorie intake. Big meals are followed by smaller meals and vice versa. It’s almost as if appetite is regulated — wacky idea, eh?

        2. Patrick Schlüter

          250 gr of sawdust. Only 1000 kcal, no fat, all natural, full of fiber. The perfect “official recommendation” food.

          1. chris c

            Washed down with some diesel. As the inimitable J Stanton wrote

            Birdseed and diesel fuel are NOT food groups

            If you put it in a truck andf the truck starts IT IS NOT FOOD

        3. Firebird7478

          For me, eating out is more about salt content than calories. Sure, I am eating a lot, but I feel salt bloat that keeps me from eating. I spend more time drinking water at that point.

  6. W

    At least they were attacking someone their own size this time.

    OTOH, if they attack small food establishments they give free publicity.

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