Sunday Humor | Because, Science!
Science: what scientists THINK they do
Get this, folks- it turns out that saturated fat isn't quite as horrible for you as we've all been told to believe it was.

Indeed, the expert consensus that we were told was stamped and ratified by governments around the world turns out to have been based on scientific research so flawed, so full of holes, and so easily debunked, that it's a miracle that we still listen to these people.

Let me demonstrate the scale of the problem with a simple diagram. If you've ever eaten a bowl of cereal at any point in your life, it's a virtual certainty that you've seen this handy-dandy little chart here:

Nowthat you have had a chance to review the food pyramid, let’s see ...
How to gain weight fast

Essentially, the argument for at least the last 40 years has been that the average human should consume huge amounts of carbohydrates every day while minimising oil, fat, and meat intake. At the same time, oils low in saturated fats, such as chemically processed vegetable and corn and sunflower oil, should be used in place of lard, butter, and other natural fats.

The end results after 40 years of pushing this diet down the throats of a gullible population can be seen all around us. Western populations- in non-Scandinavian nations, anyway- are fatter, more prone to heart disease and diabetes, and less healthy overall despite having higher life expectancies than our ancestors.

And yet we continue to believe the "experts". Why? Because... um... well... they have fancy credentials next to their names... and they sound convincing on camera... and... well...

If that's the best we can come up with, we're doomed as a species.

In fact, the scientific evidence that the "experts" pulled out to support the moonbattery embodied by that food pyramid of theirs was so shockingly poor, it's amazing that it even got published.

Fooling All of the People, All of the Time

Image source: Redrawn from Keys et al. Am J Epidemiol 1986;124:903
Lucifer's Graph
As anyone who's been eating Paleo for a while can probably tell you, the basis of today's government-mandated high-carb diet is the Lipid Hypothesis. Probably the most well-known originator of this bit of, er, "research" was a chap named Ancel Keys, who published a landmark work in the field of dietary research known as the Seven Countries Study.

That study purported to show a nice clear positive correlation between the consumption of saturated fat and the incidence of heart disease across test populations in seven countries in four different parts of the world. It was supposedly the most methodologically sound study of its kind ever done.

And if you look at the results of the Keys study above, you would be driven to come to the same conclusion that he did: diets high in saturated fat are strongly correlated with high risk for cardiovascular disease.

Just one slight problem: it was complete Bee Ess.

The Seven Countries study really should have been named the Twenty Two Countries study, because that's actually the number of countries for which Dr. Keys had data. And when the data from those countries are thrown in, guess what happens to that neat little regression analysis:
Er... WHAT correlation???
The trend is still positive, but... the tight correlation disappears. Dafuq???

Actually, it's not that surprising. As it turned out, the Lipid Hypothesis had some serious methodological problems, and at the time that Keys presented his findings, they were roundly ridiculed by other WHO scientists.

In fact, if you look deep into the research- and I mean, really really really deep- you'll find some rather surprising results that didn't get publicised at the time and which might have spared future generations much misfortune.

Among these inconvenient truths (heh) is the finding that Keys himself didn't think that there was much of a causal link between the consumption of a diet high in saturated fat and heart disease:
The evidence—both from experiments and from field surveys—indicates that the cholesterol content, per se, of all natural diets has no significant effect on either the serum cholesterol level or the development of atherosclerosis in man.
So how exactly did a finding that was ridiculed by scientists as being deeply flawed become government-sponsored advice?

... time, a low-fat diet was universally accepted as the only surefire
Oh. Right.

Scientists are Still Human

It's not as if we didn't have a lot of evidence that the high-carb/low-fat diet was a terrible idea. For instance, the data from the multi-generational Framingham study has shown us that:
With one exception there was no discernible association between reported diet intake and serum cholesterol level in the Framingham Diet Study Group. The one exception was a weak negative association between caloric intake and serum cholesterol level in men. [As to] coronary heart disease–was it related prospectively to diet. No relationship was found.
So what did the expert scientists behind the study say in response to their own statistical findings?
Although there is no discernible relationship between reported diet intake and serum cholesterol levels in the Framingham Diet Study group, “it is incorrect to interpret this finding to mean that diet has no connection with blood cholesterol,” Dr. William B. Kannel, director of the Framingham Heart Study has stated.
can’t hear you!
Pictured: eminent scientist without lab coat
It's important to remember here that scientists are still people. They're just as fallible as the rest of us. They're not above twisting the facts to suit their own agendas. There is absolutely no good reason to simply believe whatever a scientist tells you simply because he has a lot of fancy letters after his name and went to school for years to study and refine his craft.

Indeed, if we were to simply believe whatever credentialled "experts" tell us, we would have to believe, without question, that it is possible to create endless economic prosperity simply by borrowing money and spending it ad infinitum, or that near-zero interest rates in the midst of a vast economic depression are exactly what is needed to get back out of it. After all, that's what The Experts tell us! And they have PhDs! In Statistics, and Econometrics, and Economics, and other subjects that might as well say, "I have severe academic penis envy"!

By all means, let us trust science. The scientific method has tremendous power- when used correctly. But do not, for one moment, think that scientists are themselves infallible. Do not mistake the method for the man.

Vox, as usual, has a rather good guide to help us do this. He has basically invented three words to help us distinguish between what science is and what scientists do:
Scientage: the body of transparently obtained testable knowledge

Scientistry: what scientists learn to do at universities 
Scientody: the method of exploring the world, observing, inferring, and testing with experimentation

Never mistake scientody for scientage. The two are never the same.

Otherwise, you'll end up believing all sorts of nonsense. Like, say, that the world really is getting warmer because of human activity- after all, Scientists Say The Science Is Settled!!!

Oh balls...
I leave the last word to a pukka Brit about how scientistry can destroy scientage:
1. Scientist hypothesises novel scare-theory which, if true, will require radical action to prevent the Bad Thing happening. 
2. Government seizes on this theory because “Why not?”. It seems to be becoming a fashionable area of public concern and, hey, new regulation will demonstrate how caring the government is for little financial outlay and with beneficial consequences for the common weal. 
3. Puritans and rent-seekers have a field day. The puritans – like the American Heart Foundation – get to moralise, regulate and prevent people doing what they enjoy. The rent-seekers rush in to make money out of this newly-invented, artificial “low-fat” market which, remember, would probably have never existed without government intervention. 
4. Dissenting scientists are mocked and marginalised. 
5. The consequences turn out not to be beneficial or cost-free. Health problems, far from being resolved, seem to increase. People have been needlessly frightened out of doing things they would have preferred to do (eg put butter on their toast rather than ruddy Flora). Crony-capitalists (the wrong sort of capitalists) have thrived at the expense of the right sort. 
6. Many years later, the ugly truth begins to emerge. But the low fat religion is so heavily embedded in the culture that resistance from the Health Establishment is bitter. And, of course, no heads roll for the decades’ worth of damage inflicted by government regulation and false advice on a population which foolishly trusted the government because government’s don’t pass laws without first doing their due dilligence do they?


  1. I'd guess that it's really Scientody - what scientists learn to do at universities - and not an actual scientific and experimental method with theories, skepticism, and verified data (leading to scientage), that is the problem.


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