Jason Louv, A Strange Mix of Scientism and Magick |385|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Jul 24, 2018.

  1. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Yes, his way of talking suggests someone trying to pull a fast one.

    upload_2018-9-4_20-24-48.png
    Norway, Sweden and Mexico are certainly way off the supposed line - not just France, and the whole graph is better described as a scatter except that there don't seem to any countries with very low fat consumption and high CVD. Also, CVD has declined steadily in many countries

    upload_2018-9-4_20-59-40.png


    Incidentally, here is Zoë's take on Dr Greber:

    http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2018/01/food-to-help-you-live-longer/

    For me, every potential scientific scandal has to have certain features:

    1) There have to be at least some respected professionals in the field calling foul.

    2) There is generally a reluctance to debate the orthodox viewpoint with the mavericks - which can extend to not inviting such people to speak at conferences etc. Greber vs Harcombe would be absolutely fascinating, and I think I know who would refuse the opportunity!

    3) The orthodox viewpoint becomes progressively more convoluted over time, and leaves some curious questions in its wake. For example, if it was impossible to pick up the relationship between CVD and fat consumption from dietary studies, why were these ever performed? Remember, these studies are extremely expensive, and it would seem a lot have been done for no purpose! The original theory re cholesterol was that total cholesterol was what counted, but over time this morphed into LDL/HDL.


    4) The controversy is fairly well hidden - for example I had no idea about all this until my statin problems. I read this book, and became somewhat gobsmacked:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Great-Cholesterol-Malcolm-Kendrick/dp/1844546101

    I'd recommend this book to get a better feel of the whole issue, and the mountains of referenced papers and studies that back it up. Kendrick is a British GP with a special interest in heart disease and T2 diabetes.

    5) Often we see the boundaries between scientific disciplines used to exclude well informed critics. Thus a very prominent physicist is dismissed because he isn't an expert in climatology, or a prominent cardiologist is dismissed because he isn't a nutritionist, or indeed that a professor of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine isn't qualified to speak about nutrition!

    David
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
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  2. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Well I guess I'd like to debate the point that science really is broken in this area, and I would claim, a number of other areas. It isn't rocket science, awkward facts get in the way of lucrative contracts and can cause huge embarrassment. Imagine what would happen if they simply admitted that saturated fat and salt can be eaten easily in the amounts people would normally like to consume them. Indeed, there does seem to have been some attempt to do just that in 2015:

    https://www.newswise.com/articles/a...rong-evidence-based-dietary-guidelines-report
    (My added emphasis)

    David
     
  3. Laird

    Laird Member

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    David, you write that you would "like to debate the point that science really is broken in this area", but that is what we have been debating from the start, at least from my perspective. It's one big reason why I pulled you up in the first place. Even more important though in my view is the debate over the outcomes of "high fat low carb" versus "high carb low fat" diets - and I am not just referring to health. Even more important are the ethical and environmental implications of those diets. A "high fat low carb" diet is essentially one that relies on animal products.[1] In my view, this diet is bankrupt in all three ways: ethically, environmentally, and health-wise.

    Zoë Harcombe argues that the overall weight of evidence against saturated fats was and is lacking, however, other academics disagree, and there nevertheless is strong evidence to support the current dietary guidelines, which recommend minimising saturated fat. We've covered the Seven Countries Study already to some extent; other supportive analyses are detailed in:

    1. The 2016 paper, Association of Specific Dietary Fats With Total and Cause-Specific Mortality. "This cohort study investigated 83,349 women from the Nurses' Health Study (July 1, 1980, to June 30, 2012) and 42,884 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (February 1, 1986, to January 31, 2012) who were free of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and types 1 and 2 diabetes at baseline." It found that "Replacing 5% of energy from saturated fats with equivalent energy from PUFA and MUFA was associated with estimated reductions in total mortality of 27% (HR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.70-0.77) and 13% (HR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.82-0.93), respectively". The 2017 review report prepared by the Sax Institute for the National Heart Foundation of Australia suggests of this study that "Although this data comes from only two cohorts combined, the updating of dietary information every four years adds a lot of weight to the findings, which are probably more reliable than larger meta-analyses combining weaker studies."
    2. The 2009 paper, Major types of dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease: a pooled analysis of 11 cohort studies, which, similarly, found that "For a 5% lower energy intake from SFAs and a concomitant higher energy intake from PUFAs, there was a significant inverse association between PUFAs and risk of coronary events (hazard ratio: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.77, 0.97); the hazard ratio for coronary deaths was 0.74 (95% CI: 0.61, 0.89)" and which concludes that "replacing SFAs with PUFAs rather than MUFAs or carbohydrates prevents CHD over a wide range of intakes" (and yes, this is a finding with respect to CVD not all-cause mortality).
    3. The 2015 Cochrane Systematic Review, Reduction in saturated fat intake for cardiovascular disease the findings of which were "suggestive of a small but potentially important reduction in cardiovascular risk on reduction of saturated fat intake" (and again: yes, this is a finding with respect to CVD not all-cause mortality).

    Zoë Harcombe acknowledges the latter paper in the slides for her talk, but I couldn't find mention of the former two - perhaps I simply didn't look hard enough, but more likely, this is not so much an example of dysfunctional science as of a deliberate avoidance of studies that don't support a predetermined view.

    David, switching back to butter in the interests of health is not a good idea - but in any case health is the least of the issues. Far more relevant are the gross ethical problems with dairy, which, honestly, render the whole debate about any human health (dis)advantages irrelevant. Please do look at that link. We have an obligation to consider the full implications of our consumer choices.

    In the meantime, a few comments on recent posts:

    Re Dr Greger's manner of speech: perhaps this is simply a matter of taste, because I appreciate his style of verbal presentation. Along similar lines, some people with whom I've shared Joanna Newsom's music find her voice annoying; I find it delightful and entrancing!

    Is Dr Greger selling something? In a way, isn't everybody who advocates for a particular diet, including Zoë Harcombe? When it comes to strictly financial compensation, however, Dr Greger is, it appears to me, on the up and up. And, for what it's worth, Zoë Harcombe was selling diet books before conducting the meta-analytic studies to which she refers in her talk, for which a correction was published...

    Re Dr Harcombe's take on Dr Greger ("Greger" with a "G" in the middle, not a "B", by the way): yes, it would have been appropriate for his Daily Mail article to have made clear the need on a vegan diet for B12 supplementation, and the likelihood that supplementing with D and DHA/EPA would be beneficial - but in his other output he makes all of this very clear. Re the apparent deficits in other nutrients: firstly, most of those deficits are due to the energy deficit - Dr Greger didn't say "eat this and only this", but "eat at least this", which Dr Harcombe at least acknowledges - and, secondly, for those concerned about nutrient deficits, a precautionary multivitamin can allay those concerns anyway.

    Re the graphs: I'm not really sure from where you sourced them and what you want us to take from them, David.

    I don't have much to say re your list of points pertaining to scientific scandals except for three and five. Starting with three:

    A good question, and I asked something similar when sharing Dr Greger's video in the first place. I don't speak for him, but here are a few possibilities:

    1. The paper to which he referred concludes with this (emphasis mine): "A corollary of the mathematical model here presented is that a correlation close to zero would likely be observed between diet and coronary heart disease incidence. For another disease in which diet is a cause agent, a prospective incidence study following a cross-sectional assessment of diet would presumably be valuable. An appropriate design for demonstrating or refuting diet and coronary heart disease incidence is a dietary change experiment." Thus, according to the paper, cross-sectional dietary studies are presumably valuable in studying health outcomes other than coronary heart disease.
    2. Perhaps those who conducted these studies were:
      1. Unaware or otherwise skeptical of this paper, or,
      2. Aware that a correlation was unlikely to be found, but attempted to find one anyway in the hope that the statistical power just happened to be high enough.

    I'm genuinely puzzled by this, David: doesn't this totally cut both ways - and worse - and wouldn't you as a highly intelligent person have realised this? I mean, isn't it effectively by definition the case in supposed "corruptions of consensus" (if I might put it like that) that far more experts are dismissed by "skeptics" such as yourself than are dismissed by "defenders of the status quo"? Aren't you in effect dismissing many very prominent climate scientists who are experts in climatology?!

    Also, I'm not sure whether in your final sentence you're referring to my own take on Professors Yusuf and Noakes, but if you are, I want to make clear (again) that I don't simply "dismiss" them. I've simply questioned the consistency of their claims/findings with those of others - others whom in some cases I believe are much more credible.

    And, hey, if we want to refer to the opinions of prominent cardiologists, then how about Dr Joel Kahn, MD (to whom I've referred in an earlier post)? "Dr Kahn is an Interpreventional Cardiologist, Clinical Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine, Founder of the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity in Michigan, and a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Michigan’s prestigious Inteflex program (a 6-year undergraduate / graduate program that developed doctors fresh out of high school). He’s authored hundreds of articles on heart disease, is a frequent lecturer on heart disease and its prevention, has performed thousands of cardiac procedures, and is the owner of GreenSpace Café in Ferndale and Royal Oak Michigan".

    Here's Dr Kahn's view on cholesterol: Why a Low LDL-Cholesterol Still Matters a Lot For Your Health: New Science to Know. Unfortunately, the links in that article are broken, so the original research is - for the moment - inaccessible. In any case, here's how his article starts:

    You should definitely check out the videocast linked to above (at the start of the description of Dr Kahn). Here it is as an embedded video for your convenience. The whole thing is very worth watching / listening to as a contextualisation of the diet wars and the common ground in those wars, but if you're especially interested in the debate about saturated fat, then simply watch/listen between (approximately) 1:12:30 and 1:28:00:



    For the animals.

    Laird

    [1] Although it is possible to eat a high-fat vegan diet.
     
  4. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Well for example, I know a GP who has butter in his home (not margarine) for his family. Most of the people I have quoted were doctors, and I'd guess all of them and their families use butter too.

    Clearly if you don't believe there is a problem with conventional advice, the person to debate it with might be Zoe Harcomb. The number one thing I hope I have demonstrated, is that there are a large number of very qualified people calling foul on the current diet advice.

    The problem is, academic papers aren't always what they seem. For example, I showed you awhile back the evidence that purported to show that rats fed a high fat diet got more CVD, but Prof Feynman (bizarre coincidence, but he is real) pointed out that they used a strain of rat that had been bred for to create problems coping with a high fat diet! To use such a rat to demonstrate the problem is completely dishonest (maybe you missed that point earlier on). Think about that issue - why would they use an atypical rat as an analogy to the human condition?

    Doesn't that remind you of Wiseman? When faced with RS's evidence of canine telepathy, which remained when he repeated the experiments, he changed the protocol to one that obviously would not work, and claimed that he could not replicate RS's work! Nobody in the science community (to my knowledge) called him out for that, it is just the way chunks of science work nowadays

    Well those studies are hugely expensive, and Greger is effectively saying that all that money, spent over decades was completely wasted! Furthermore, I doubt if his point is generally accepted, because I expect there will be more such studies in the future. This reminds me of the experts who claim that parts of the brain can go on doing stuff long after cardiac arrest. If they are serious, one has to ask whether this concept is generally accepted, or just pulled out of the hat to try to dismiss NDE's.

    David
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
  5. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I'd like to see a video where these issues are debated by experts on both sides of the debate - that is when you see the truth. The only example I know is from a vastly different field - Darwin's theory - and the contrast was very revealing:



    David
     
  6. Laird

    Laird Member

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    That's not especially meaningful given that there is an even larger number of very qualified people defending the current dietary advice...

    It could look like that when you quote only the second point that I made, and even then ignore its import. That's just not a meaningful response, and it's not even what Dr Greger is saying.

    I guess you didn't watch the video (which I embedded for your convenience. No, that's OK. No thanks necessary. Happy to oblige). Joel Kahn refers in it to a debate he's already had with a (couple of?) HFLC proponent(s). I'm pretty sure he'd debate Zoë Harcombe, and I know who my money would be on...

    But look, let's cut to the chase. You're all for intuition, right? You hear about global warming and your immediate thought is: wait, what? How on earth could an average temperature over the entire planet over an entire year be accurate to within a degree? That's just intuitively implausible!

    OK. Great. So, let's apply that intuition to diet and cardiovascular disease. I look at a picture of a hunk of saturated (animal) fat...

    [​IMG]

    ...and then I look at a picture of an artery with severe atherosclerosis (basically, heart disease)..

    [​IMG]

    ...and I say to myself: David wants me to believe that guzzling down on the first has no connection with the second. You know, chow down that suet; don't worry about atherosclerosis. No connection. Nothing to see here. Move right along.

    Ooookay. Uh huh.

    What does your intuition tell you?
     
  7. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    That isn't the right way to think about these things. The fact that some cardiologists feel strongly enough about this issue tells us a lot. They are putting their career's at risk by whistle blowing, whereas the others are putting themselves at no risk by simply mouthing the status quo.
    I don't suppose you read every link of mine either. I'd rather have a simple debate with one of the heavyweights.
    Well fats don't stay as fats in the body, they are broken down into glycerine and fatty acids. Arteries are not blocked by globs of fat, analogous to urban sewers, they are blocked by blood clots that containing some cholesterol.
    Well it isn't unguided intuition, the older temperature measurements were taken with quite crude thermometers - accurate to 1 C or maybe 0.5 C, and they were taken for weather forecasting - nobody cared much about fractions of a degree. The housing of the thermometers is also critical if you want higher precision - for example the weathering of paint can raise the measurements appreciably. On top of that, many measurements were made at locations that have become urbanised and thus become substantially warmer (the so called Urban Heat Island Effect, which is then adjusted by a computer - the details of which are not (I think) even publicly available. Some weather stations aren't even active any more and the temperatures are estimated by computer! I'd call that process pure wishful thinking, and a playground for those who like to fiddle with a mass of parameters until they get the 'right' answer.

    By comparison, even the melting points of organic chemicals (a very useful measurement) are rarely reported to more than 1 decimal point, even though the measurements are made in a lab under controlled conditions:

    http://www.kayelaby.npl.co.uk/chemistry/3_3/3_3.html

    Ivar Giaever also scoffed at those claims, and since his prize related to superconductivity, I expect he knows a thing or two about temperature measurements.

    David
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
  8. Laird

    Laird Member

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    David, my sense is that this debate has run its course, or at least that it's not all that productive for at least me to continue. I thank you for persevering through what have been at times some fairly strongly worded posts on my part.

    In winding down, here are a couple of resources from those on "my side of the fence" of these two issues - cholesterol and climate dissent. I haven't watched everything these guys have put out, but what I have watched has been informative.

    Re climate dissent:

    Climate change explained, and the myths - a YouTube video series by "potholer54".

    Re cholesterol dissent:

    The PLANTPOSITIVE site and associated YouTube video series (with transcripts).

    Finally, in relation to our disagreement over expertise/qualifications, I leave you with this video from potholer54:

    9. Climate Change - Meet the Scientists

     
  9. Vortex

    Vortex Member

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    Laird, may I ask you: what is your (current) opinion on

    1) GMOs,

    2) (over)vaccination,

    3) cold fusion / LENR?

    Are you (closer to) mainstream or fringe concerning each of these 3 areas of intense controversy?
     
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  10. Vortex

    Vortex Member

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    If I judged somrthing simply on the basis of my own personal direct experience, I would probably be pro-global warming: in the European part of Russia, where I live, during the 32 years of my life

    1) it became MUCH warmer - now I often can start my swimming in the natural water pools in May and end in September (earlier, the swimming season was from June to August), and severe frosts in winter that I recall from my childhood almost never happen anymore;

    2) the number of extreme and dangerous weather events also increased considerably, and the new ones seem to appear - this year we had hurricanes which I cannot recall seeing ever before... two videos, one from my city and another from the several ones:





    Yet, my social and intellectual knowledge prevents me from doing that.

    I know of all the colds and snowfalls in the other parts of the world, about the apparent ongoing pause in the global temperature rise. I'm aware of the Medieval Warm Period and paleoclimatological climate changes that are apparently not corellated with the greenhouse gases levels in the atmosphere.

    I'm also informed about the enourmous stakes put in this issue and the beliefs that depend on its veracity (or the absence of it). About the whirlpool of conflicting political, economic, social and cultural pressures and biases that hinder the objectivity in the climate science area. I know that one's position on this issue, curiously, is very often (even if not necessarily!) tightly entwined with one's ideological persuations and communal / organisational affiliations.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2018
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  11. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Hey Vortex,

    Sure.

    Something like "skeptical though somewhat agnostic/ambivalent". I feel that this is playing God and has all sorts of potentially unknown/unknowable dangers - metaphysically as well as biologically. But (1) I'm not very well-read on the subject and (2) I'm open to the possibility that I'm wrong and that mine is a Luddite view which is hindering the evolution of our planet (especially when genetic engineering is extended to our own species). In any case, I strongly believe that consumers have the right to an informed choice: labelling of GMOs should, in my view, be mandatory (do you agree? And if so, how would you square such regulation with what I understand to be your anarchist/libertarian perspective?).

    Pretty sure I've posted about this fairly recently in response to another member but can't find the post. Anyhow, my view is that whether or not to vaccinate oneself or one's children is a personal choice in which the State should not intervene. I personally reject the entry of needles into my own body, and am supportive of those who feel similarly.

    Am poorly read on this subject but from what little I've gleaned: it seems that there's some basis for optimism here.

    Much closer to fringe.

    How about you?
     
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  12. Laird

    Laird Member

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    OK, but are you also aware that climate scientists don't claim that greenhouse gasses are the only driver of climate change anyway? Though I have not yet found the stamina to respond point-by-point to the video of Ivar Giaever which David posted, this is one of the fallacies in it.

    In it he claims (based on my notes, hopefully paraphrasing him accurately): "The temperature only increased by about a single degree (~0.8) Kelvin from 1898 - 1998. In that time, atmospheric CO2 concentration has increased by 72 ppm from 295 ppm to 367 ppm. Since 1998 the CO2 concentration has increased another 36 ppm to 403 ppm whilst the temperature has remained stable. Therefore CO2 doesn't cause the temp to rise".

    But (even assuming that the temperature has remained stable, which I don't think is correct) that's a non sequitur, because, as I've just said, none of the "proponent" scientists claims that CO2 is the only driver of climate. Their models seem to account for this (though admittedly I lack the expertise to validate this for myself).

    I encourage you to check out the video series by "potholer54" to which I linked above because early on he covers this point.
     
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  13. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Um, doesn't that make thee scandal worse - we could spend billions on decarbonising our economy and the temperature rise, which is all but negligible might not even stop!
    That is a fair summary - but remember the climate scientists had to attribute the observed slight temperature rise to CO2 to get the scam started in the first place! Doesn't it make you wonder why we are spending so much on decarbonisation rather than on saving the rain forests?
    They are half admitting what a lot of people have realised already - the CO2 does not drive temperature rise - even though their computer models predict a rise. These models are endlessly tuned, and there was a slight rise in temperatures in the 80s and 90s, but now temperatures have more or less levelled off - so now temperatures are reported like horse races, "third hottest ever" etc - concealing the fact that there isn't any appreciable (statistically significant) temperature rise right now. Back in the 90s and for a while afterwards, they used to linearly extrapolate those temperature rises out to infinity!

    The greenhouse effect may or may not be real, but to make any predictions you need to allow for a whole series of feedback effects (positive and negative), for example extra heat would pick up moisture from the sea, creating more clouds, which then reflect more heat away from the ground - producing a negative feedback. Given the facts about Venus, I seriously question if the greenhouse effect is real at all. It certainly does not power real greenhouses, where the walls and roof prevent heat convection taking place, not re-radiation! I once even found an admission of this point somewhere buried in the pro-AGW stuff on the internet.

    The real point is, that the temperature rises were used to justify their models (which were tuned to fit the observed rises) so now, if they claim other things might contribute to temperature rise (maybe things that work in the opposite direction) they lose the supposed validation to their model! The same temperature rises used to be explained as a rebound effect from the last ice age - which was rather comforting, because the real climate danger will come from the next ice age!

    BTW, If governments were really concerned about 'climate change' they would stop all jet aircraft, refuse to buy goods from third world countries that use fossil fuels, cut back on the endless military expenditure with its gas guzzling vehicles, etc.

    Don't get me wrong, I think there are serious threats to the environment. Uncontrolled human population growth is eating up habitats for other creatures, the rain forests are being destroyed as never before, and the ever present risk of nuclear war. There are also real pollution problems (not CO2). 'Climate change' may be popular in some political circles, simply as a distraction from all those threats. It is also hugely lucrative for electricity companies, and of course, the poor are denied cheap electricity - but who cares about them?

    David
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018
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