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Federal Judge Refuses To Halt Florida's Clean Up Of Voter Rolls | Main | More ObamaCare Speculations, And a Victory Lap from Volokh Conspiracy's Ilya Somin
June 27, 2012

Shock: National Institute For Health Study Finds That Low-Carb Diet Burns The Most Calories

This isn't just a diet story. This is a Narrative Story, a Media Story, and a Corruption of Science Story.

For something like 60 years, it was generally accepted in medicine that carbohydrates caused you to gain weight. That's why grandmothers and mothers would tell you that bread and pasta were fattening.

Then sometime in the sixties (IIRC) someone proposed the fat theory. It's fat intake that makes you fat, and carbohydrates are okay, the theory went.

With almost no science whatsoever to back it, the carbohydrate theory was discarded and the fat theory elevated to Official Medical Science.

As I've noted before, this looks an awful lot like global warming "science." For 100 years, it was uncontroversial that the Medieval Warm Period was very warm indeed. There were lots of data to back it up -- historical records and merchants account books noting that crops were beyond bumper sized, and the prices for basic foodstuffs plunged. (I think this Warm Period also had an enormous historical consequence -- it sparked off the Renaissance, because fewer farmers were needed and the sons of farmers went to cities to become artisans and tradesmen, expanding the pool of people working in what could be termed the Medieval Tech Sector.)

England began producing wine on a commercial level. Wheat was grown in Greenland.

Then, in the mid-eighties, based on a meta-analysis of data which has been proven to be fatally flawed, it was decided, almost overnight, the Medieval Warm Period never existed. Sure, it existed in Europe, where the historical records were ample and incontrovertible; but it was postulated that the rest of the world (were no good records survived) must have been very very cold, to offset Europe's warmth.

And thus the Medieval Warm Period vanished.

Now Michael Mann's flawed "hockey stick" is never cited anymore by the global warmists. They know they can't cite it. They know it will almost always produce a hockey-stick pattern, no matter what data are fed into it; the algorithm is strongly biased to produce a hockety-stick pattern, even if you punch in random data ("red noise").

But even though the Rosetta Stone of their theory was proven to be fraudulent (or, at least, completely wrong), they kept the conclusions it produced, and just began scrambling for other proofs.

Almost overnight, one boring, conventional, non-sexy, non-exciting theory -- a theory which would not produce exciting, sexy new research, but which did have a mountain of evidence supporting it -- was displaced in favor of an exciting, sexy, unconventional, paradigm-shifting one, one which would produce all sorts of sexy scientific novelties but which sadly had little or no evidence to support it.

This can only happen in areas of science which aren't well understood. Only when you're grasping at shadows can the hint of a shadow suddenly excite the scientific community so much that they lose all scientific restraint and giddily rush to embrace Large Conclusions built upon Tiny Evidence.

Human metabolism -- the science of overweight -- is one such area. It would seem like this should be the easiest question in the world to answer; we can run tests all on human beings all the do-dah day and determine the answer conclusively.

But, for various reasons (like the fact that people aren't lab rats, and you can't keep them in cages for a year at a time, and when they go home, they cheat on their diet) the subject eludes a truly dispositive proof.

The science of paleoclimatology is even more resistant to dispositive proofs. After all, people only began rigorously measuring and recording temperatures in the 1880s. Anything before that must be based not on direct measurement but proxies (tree rings, ice cores).

In both cases, the evidence was sketchy, and current theories not rigorously, beyond-all-doubt proven. Which, given the nature of the things, was understandable -- we'll never actually know what the average daytime temperature was in North America on June 26th, 2012 B.C., the way we know the average daytime temperature in North America on June 26th, 2012 AD.

When evidence and data are thin, Narrative and Theory rushes in to take their place. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so too does natural science. Science -- or, I should say, scientists, human beings with human flaws which science isn't actually burdened with -- do not like saying "I don't know." Even when "I don't know" is actually the proper, most scientifically-valid answer.

"I know" is much more satisfying. The funny thing is that we only hear "the science is settled" in the precise cases where it's not settled. No one ever says "the science is settled" as to whether the earth revolves around the sun. It is settled, of course; so no one has to attempt the Appeal to Authority to establish it.

A growing consensus says they know, you know.

So, for 50 years now, the medical establishment and the government have been telling fat people to do the exact opposite thing they should be doing.

They've been telling them to replace fat with carbohydrates. Be healthy -- hey, have eight ounces of orange juice every morning (and ignore the fact that eight ounces of orange juice has just as much sugar as eight ounces of Coca-Cola).

And yet the fat get fatter. But then, the fat are being put on a diet which is inadvertently designed to do just that, make them fatter.

So by all means let's create a new government agency to tell fat people how to make themselves even fatter. And let's all pay for that.

And, though it's not yet suggested, you know this would come within a couple of years -- let's use coercive government force to compel fat people to follow a diet which will make them even fatter.

It's for their own good, you know. And we're from The Government, so we know we're right. And we're so sure we're right, we'll use all of our powers to force you to do what we say.

Even though we're completely wrong.

digg this
posted by Ace at 03:23 PM

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