Modern Scientific Controversies Part 7: The Meat War

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen  —  10  October 2019


The_Meat_WarPrologue:  This is part of  an occasional  series of essays that discusses ongoing scientific controversies, a specific type of which are often referred to in the science press and elsewhere as “Wars” – for instance, one essay covered the “Salt Wars1 and another the “Obesity War” — and one which appears most commonly here at this web site: “The Climate Wars”.    The purpose of the series is to illuminate the similarities and differences involved in these ongoing controversies, as part of the social culture of science in our modern world.

This essay specifically covers the furor over a six-paper body of work that appeared recently in The Annals of Internal Medicine reviewing the evidence used to make public health recommendations for amounts of red and processed meat in the human diet.

In The Meat War, the headlines scream out:

Uproar after research claims red meat poses no health risk  — The Guardian

Should you keep eating red meat? Controversial study says well-known health risks are just bad science — USA Today

Meat’s Bad for You! No, It’s Not! How Experts See Different Things in the Data — NY Times

New “guidelines” say continue red meat consumption habits, but recommendations contradict evidence — The Nutrition Source at Harvard

Scientist Who Discredited Meat Guidelines Didn’t Report Past Food Industry Ties — NY Times

Only one of these headlines is strictly true — the others are all distortions of what the published studies found and what they mean for public health guidelines.  [ Ten Critical Thinking Skills points to the first reader to correctly identify the one that is true. ] This should not surprise you — headlines are written to grab your attention so that you will read the story underneath.  Headlines can  bias the reader before they see a single fact.

What is all this hub-bub about?

Nurtirecs2A group of nutritional scientists and doctors, associated in an organization called NutriRECS,  spent three years looking at public health recommendations on  meat consumption, the kind  which most often appear as diet recommendations like those  pictured below.   Their efforts resulted in a suite of six papers, all published simultaneously in the 1 October 2019 edition of The Annals of Internal Medicine.


“NutriRECS is an independent group with clinical, nutritional and public health content expertise, skilled in the methodology of systematic reviews and practice guidelines who are unencumbered by institutional constraints and conflicts of interest, aiming to produce trustworthy nutritional guideline recommendations based on the values, attitudes and preferences of patients and community members.” — says the NutriRECS About page.  They produce “Nutritional Recommendations and accessible Evidence summaries Composed of Systematic reviews” (thus NutiiRECS). — NutriRECS

Who exactly are they?  A bunch of nutrition-skeptic troublemakers?  No, they are well-respected doctors and scientists from many different countries and institutions:

[ Readers may skip this section, it is included to illustrate that these papers have been written by a large team of doctors and specialists. ]


Dr. Bradley Johnston — director and co-founder of NutriRECS, and is an Associate Professor with the Department of Community Health & Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.

Dr. Pablo Alonso-Coello — co-founder of NutriRECS, the head of the Barcelona GRADE center, and is a health services researcher at the Biomedical Research Institute (Hospital Sant Pau) in Barcelona, Spain.

Dr. Malgorzata (Gosia) Bala — co-founder of NutriRECS, the head of the Cochrane Poland, and the chair of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at the Jagiellonian University Medical College, Cracow, Poland.

Dr. Gordon Guyatt — coined the term “evidence-based medicine”, is a mentor, Clinician-Scientist and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Health Research Methods at McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.

Catherine Marshall —  a Cochrane Consumer located in Wellington, New Zealand.

Dr. Patrick Stover — Vice Chancellor and Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the Texas A&M University System.


Dr. Per Vandvik —  Associate Professor in the Department of Health Management and Health Economics, University of Oslo, Norway

Dr. George Kephart —  Professor, Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University. He is co-founder and former Director of Health Data Nova Scotia.

Dr. Regina El Dib — Assistant Professor at the Institute of Science and Technology, Estadual Paulista University, Brazil, and founder and director of the systematic review unit of the Botucatu Medical School.

Dr. Russell de Souza —  registered dietitian and nutrition epidemiologist.

Dr. Celeste Naude —  registered dietician at the Centre for Evidence-based Health Care at Stellenbosch University, South Africa; and Co-Director of Cochrane Nutrition.

Dr. Lehana Thabane  —   Professor of Biostatistics and Associate Chair of the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact at McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada. He is also the Director of Biostatistics at St Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton.

Dr. Mi Ah Han —  professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine, Chosun University, Republic of Korea. She is a visiting professor with Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact in Hamilton, Canada.

Their work, however,  extends far beyond the bounds of nutritional recommendations.

What were their published findings about meat?

Red and Processed Meat Consumption and Risk for All-Cause Mortality and Cardiometabolic Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Cohort Studies

Conclusion:   The magnitude of association between red and processed meat consumption and all-cause mortality and adverse cardiometabolic outcomes is very small, and the evidence is of low certainty.

Reduction of Red and Processed Meat Intake and Cancer Mortality and Incidence: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Cohort Studies

Conclusion:   The possible absolute effects of red and processed meat consumption on cancer mortality and incidence are very small, and the certainty of evidence is low to very low.

Patterns of Red and Processed Meat Consumption and Risk for Cardiometabolic and Cancer Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Cohort Studies

Conclusion:   Low- or very-low-certainty evidence suggests that dietary patterns with less red and processed meat intake may result in very small reductions in adverse cardiometabolic and cancer outcomes.

Effect of Lower Versus Higher Red Meat Intake on Cardiometabolic and Cancer Outcomes: A Systematic Review of Randomized Trials

Conclusion:   Low- to very-low-certainty evidence suggests that diets restricted in red meat may have little or no effect on major cardiometabolic outcomes and cancer mortality and incidence.

Health-Related Values and Preferences Regarding Meat Consumption: A Mixed-Methods Systematic Review

Conclusion:   Low-certainty evidence suggests that omnivores are attached to meat and are unwilling to change this behavior when faced with potentially undesirable health effects.

Unprocessed Red Meat and Processed Meat Consumption: Dietary Guideline Recommendations From the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium

Recommendations:   The panel suggests that adults continue current unprocessed red meat consumption (weak recommendation, low-certainty evidence). Similarly, the panel suggests adults continue current processed meat consumption (weak recommendation, low-certainty evidence).

How have these results been received?

 “The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other groups have savaged the findings and the journal that published them.”  —  Gina Kolata in the NY Times

Kolata’s description of the reaction could not be more accurate — the attacks on the papers, the journal, and the authors have been just that: savage , as defined as   “lacking the restraints normal to civilized human beings”.  Kolata’s linked article in the NY Times  is sensible, well-rounded, fair and among the most informative of the coverage in the mass media.  Kudos to her.

[ Note that “the journal that published” the studies is  Annals of Internal Medicine which is widely recognized as “one of the most widely cited and influential specialty medical journals in the world” and is published  by the American College of Physicians (ACP) which is the largest medical-specialty organization and second-largest physician group in the United States, after the American Medical Association.  It has 154,000 members. ]

Gina Kolata’s  colleagues at the Health Desk of the NY Times, Tara Parker-Pope and Anahad O’Connor,  were not so restrained:  Scientist Who Discredited Meat Guidelines Didn’t Report Past Food Industry Ties.  They repeat the attacks on one of the authors, Bradley C. Johnston, who has in the past received research funding from “a powerful industry trade group” [ILSI ].  The point is vaguely true, but is a niggle, as the Times’ report admits: : “Although the ILSI-funded study publication falls within the three-year window, he said the money from ILSI arrived in 2015, and he was not required to report it for the meat study disclosure. ‘That money was from 2015 so it was outside of the three year period for disclosing competing interests,’ said Dr. Johnston. ‘I have no [current] relationship with them whatsoever.’”  Continuing, the Times reports that “Dr. Laine  [editor in chief of the Annals of Internal Medicine] noted that people on both sides of the meat issue have conflicts of interest. ‘Many of the people who are criticizing these articles have lots of conflicts of interest they aren’t talking about,’ she said. ‘They do workshops on plant-based diets, do retreats on wellness and write books on plant-based diets. There are conflicts on both sides.’”

[ Note that the ILSI — International Life Sciences Institute  — has been under attack recently on the Health pages of the NY Times  and has responded in their own defence. ]

And in that, Dr. Laine is absolutely right.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group advocating a plant-based diet, [ their web site states that their mission is “dedicated to saving and improving human and animal lives through plant-based diets and ethical and effective scientific research” — kh  ]  on Wednesday filed a petition against the journal with the Federal Trade Commission. Dr. Frank Sacks, past chair of the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee, called the research “fatally flawed.” “ —  NY Times 

 [ The petition is a publicity stunt — the Federal Trade Commission has no authority over journals publishing scientific results — thank heavens! — the FTC can and does regulate advertising.  ]

The most radical attacks come from Dr. Frank Hu, Chair of the Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  The Chan School is a major proponent of plant-based diets and publicly advocates the inclusion of reductions (or elimination) of red meat consumption in public health dietary guidelines.  Hu is one of the signatories of a letter issued by the True Health Initiative, an advocacy group pushing “lifestyle health solutions” and mostly-plant-based diets,  to Annals of Internal Medicine, recommending that they preemptively retract publication of these papers on the basis of grave concerns about the potential for damage to public understanding, and public health.

In addition to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s own critique of the NutriRECS papers,  Hu is quoted in nearly every media article attacking the studies:

Hu said. “But they misuse the data from the Woman’s Health Initiative to say that meat reduction has no effect on cardiovascular disease, cancer or mortality.”

[ This statement is false:  the NutriRECs team did not say that at all.  See the conclusions of the studies earlier in this essay. ]

“But Dr. Hu said Dr. Johnston’s methods were not very objective or rigorous and the tool he employed in his meat and sugar studies could be misused to discredit all sorts of well-established public health warnings, like the link between secondhand smoke and heart disease, air pollution and health problems, physical inactivity and chronic disease, and trans fats and heart disease.”  “Some people may be wondering what his next target will be,” Dr. Hu said. “But I’m concerned about the damage that has already been done to public health recommendations.”– NY Times

[ The “tool” referred to above is the GRADE methodology for “Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation” and has been in development and use for over a decade.  It is featured in a series of articles in BMJ (previously titled the British Medical Journal) here, here, here and here.  It is specifically designed to grade recommendations — such as clinical and public health guidelines. ]

Irresponsible and unethical,” said Dr. Hu, of Harvard, in a commentary published online with his colleagues. Studies of red meat as a health hazard may have been problematic, he said, but the consistency of the conclusions over years gives them credibility.  Nutrition studies, he added, should not be held to the same rigid standards as studies of experimental drugs.” — NY Times

 Nothing new is coming out of the study,” said Dr. Frank Hu, chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “There was no breakthrough. It just confirmed previous findings.” —  USA Today

“Hu, of Harvard, acknowledged the limitations with observational studies – they don’t show causation because a variety of compounding factors like a person’s lifestyle or other dietary choices could be causing the adverse health effects.  … However, when nutrition data is replicated across demographics, age and geography – as was the case with the more than 6 million participants from more than 100 large studies in the Annals’ analyses – it should be taken seriously, Hu said.”  —  USA Today

“The panel’s blanket recommendation that adults should continue their red meat consumption habits is highly irresponsible. We are facing a growing epidemic of diet-related chronic diseases and a climate change crisis, both of which are linked to high meat consumption,” Frank Hu, Chair of the Department of Nutrition, Harvard.”  —  True Health Initiative

“If the same procedure were used to validate secondhand smoking, for example, the evidence would be rated very low or low quality.”  – Dr. Frank Hu, chair of the nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health — PBS

[ “Notably, secondhand smoke, the smoke inhaled from tobacco smoked by other people, creates about as much as risk for cancer and heart disease as red and processed meat — and the underlying studies around secondhand smoke carry just as much uncertainty.” — PBS ]

“That really doesn’t make any sense, right? The most important criteria in science is reproducibility and replication,” Hu said. — PBS

[ Hu is dissembling here — what he is saying is that there are a lot of studies that each find the same small-scale associations (correlations) and mis-identifies that as “reproducibility and replication”.  But, these are cohort diet-recall studies, and thus, according to John Ioannidis:   “These implausible estimates of benefits or risks associated with diet probably reflect almost exclusively the magnitude of the cumulative biases in this type of research, with extensive residual confounding and selective reporting.” ]

And from Hu’s Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s editorial on the studies [maybe written by Hu..]:  “To improve both human health and environmental sustainability, it is important to adopt dietary patterns that are high in healthy plant-based foods and relatively low in red and processed meats.” …. “The panel declared ‘considerations of environmental impact’ out of the scope of their recommendations.     This is a missed opportunity because climate change and environmental degradation have serious effects on human health, and thus is important to consider when making recommendations on diet, even if this is addressed separately from direct effects on individual health.” — source

Of course, Frank Hu is not the only major league doctor in the nutrition field to stage an attack.  One of the oddest attacks comes from Christopher Gardner, a professor at the Stanford Prevention Research Center:

“The new studies also only consider the direct impact of eating meat on someone’s body, which is not the only way meat can affect health: Meat production, particularly beef production, is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change. Emissions and the changing climate are, in turn, major public health threats. So even if eating meat won’t directly cause heart disease in an individual, breathing in air polluted by meat production can. That’s critical to consider when making dietary recommendations, Gardner says.” —

[ Breathing air “polluted by meat production” can cause heart disease?  That’s bit beyond….  I have emailed Dr. Gardner to ask if he has been quoted correctly, but his mail server auto-responds that he is on sabbatical for the rest of the year.  — kh ]

UPDATE and Correction:

Dr. Christopher Gardner, Professor of Medicine, at the Stanford Prevention Research Center,  has emailed a correction to the above “quote” in PopSci as follows:

“The last part of that quote in the second to last sentence doesn’t make sense. I can’t imagine I said that…if I did it was in error.”

Please consider the edit below.

“The new studies also only consider the direct impact of eating meat on someone’s body, which is not the only way meat can affect health: Meat production, particularly beef production, is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change. Emissions and the changing climate are, in turn, major public health threats. So even if eating meat won’t directly cause heart disease in an individual, breathing in air polluted by meat production can the impacts on the environment will likely have adverse effects on human health in the long run (e.g., more fires and extremes in weather, challenges for agriculture). That’s critical to consider when making dietary recommendations, Gardner says.”

This type of thing is quite common when journalists (especially advocate-journalists) quote sources — like all of us, they hear what they want to hear or expect to hear — and then attribute it to a “reliable source”.  Responsible scientists, professors, doctors and researchers are usually very careful with what they say to journalists — but seldom demand to see the final work before publication.   — kh

Why this savage response?

 “ ‘Dr. Johnston said the real problem is that people don’t want to accept findings that contradict long-held views. “People have very strong opinions,” he said. “Scientists should have intellectual curiosity and be open to challenges to their data. Science is about debate, not about digging your heels in.’ “ —  NY Times

Aaron Carroll, long-time science and medicine columnist for the NY Times , wrote an editorial that accompanied the NutriRECs studies in the Annuals of Intern Medicine, lays out the opposing sides in his column in the NY Times



 Expert Judgement and  Evaluation

 We see that this Science War, the Meat Wars, is typical and could be used as a exemplar for the general class.   We have an “establishment” tribe — a group that has controlled the research and imbued the field with their own shared scientific point of view (which could just be the cumulative bias in the field).  This establishment group (individuals, associations, university departments, etc) jealously guards the scientific field and their scientific viewpoint from other viewpoints that might threaten their position of prestige and power.  This is perfectly normal for most endeavors.

These types of controversies only become Science Wars when at least one of the “tribal sides” shifts from simply defending their viewpoint  (their ideas, their recommendations)   with collegial rational discussion and good science to savage attacks on those that might have other opinions that challenge the status quo in the field — attacks on the science, on the persons, on the journals — extending even to efforts to prevent publication (as in the Meat Wars), calling for retraction (several Wars), even personal law suits.

We have seen this in Climate Science in spades.  In the Salt Wars, two bodies of researchers  publish  opposing studies in the journals and establishment groups (like the American Heart Association) denigrate all contrary findings.   In the War on Sugar we have a broad common bias against sugar in nearly all establishment groups in the field of nutrition who fight tooth-and-nail any science findings that do not condemn added sugars in the human diet.  (One of the players in the Meat Wars, Brad Johnston, was a player in the War on Sugar, when he published a industry-funded study on sugar.)

Recently, John P. A. Ioannidis took Nutritional Epidemiology, the basis for recommendation on human diet, to task in a major journal article titled “The Challenge of Reforming Nutritional Epidemiologic Research”  ( I wrote about it here).  His elicited comment on the Meat Wars:

“I would not run any more observational studies,” said Dr. John Ioannidis, a Stanford professor who studies health research and policy. “We have had enough of them. It is extremely unlikely that we are missing a large signal,” referring to a large effect of any particular dietary change on health.”  —  NY Times

 One last quote from another cool-head in the overheated debate:

“Dr. Meir Stampfer, also of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He believes that the data in favor of eating less meat, although imperfect, indicate there are likely to be health benefits. “ . . . .  “Dr. Dennis Bier of Baylor said the studies of meat consumption are so flawed that it is naïve to assume these risk reductions are caused by eating less meat.”   Or maybe, said Dr. Bier, policymakers should try something more straightforward: “When you don’t have the highest-quality evidence, the correct conclusion is ‘maybe.’”  — NY Times (and here)

Bottom Lines and Take-aways:

    1. Honest, well-meaning serious scientists can look at the exact same body of evidence and come to different conclusions, in any field of study.  It is this aspect of science that leads to advances when the scientists act professionally and attempt to use that difference of opinion to further better understanding in their field.  On the other hand, when scientists dig in, take tribal positions and sling calumny and accusations over differences in scientific opinions, they prevent good science from advancing and damage the reputation and public perception of science.
    2. If evidence for a claim or recommendation is scientifically weak there will be more controversy — and there should be. Definitive claims and public policy should not be made on evidence which is acknowledged to be weak or only associational.   We have to learn to be able to say “We don’t really know”  and “There just isn’t enough solid evidence to say…”.   We have to learn to accept “maybe” as the best answer science has to offer at this time.
    3. The problem in the Meat Wars, like many other Science Wars, is that public policy has been set based on weak, iffy, dodgy, associational, hypothetical and otherwise scientifically unreliable evidence.  Those responsible for recommending those public policies react badly when this fact is pointed out.  After all, they cannot rely on the strength of the evidence behind their recommendations to defend themselves.
    4. Human Nutritional Science has been captured by advocates of all sorts of unsupportable ideas based on the current practices of Nutritional Epidemiology, which Ioannidis has pointed out is “intrinsically unreliable”.

    # # # # #

    Author’s Comment:

    Most of my opinions about this topic are contained in my earlier essay on Nutritional Epidemiology.

    In the spirit of Full Disclosure:   my family and I adhere to a religious health code that calls for eating meat sparingly.

    It is my opinion that far too many public policies are based not on solid oak timbers of evidence but on matchstick thin evidence — a fact which is causing a great many problems in society at large.

    The very existence of these Science Wars offends me deeply — as they damage the reputation of Science and prevent Science — our knowledge base about the physical world around us — from advancing and expanding.

    Begin your comments with “Kip..” if speaking to me personally.  If speaking to some other specific commenter, begin with their name/handle, it helps to keep the conversations clear.

    # # # # #


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October 10, 2019 6:12 am

In medicine there is a so-called Law of Perversity that states that the more common a disease, the less we understand its etiology and how to treat it. Will your excellent series have occasion to cover the Cold War, Kip?

Reply to  Brad Keyes
October 10, 2019 6:46 am

Brad ==> If you mean the international Cold War, then, No — I don’t cover politics.

If you mean the Science War over which causes the most human suffering and death, Hot or Cold temperatures, then Maybe … I have written something on it some of the facts on that before: Surprising Results From Study: Moderate Cold Kills More People Than Extreme Heat.

I have not covered the issue yet as a science war.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 9:51 am

Thanks for the link to your other, equally good article, Kip! I wouldn’t have called the result in that headline “surprising,” having spent a bit of time—winter, spring, summer and fall, as the song goes—in doctor’s waiting rooms and ERs (though the moderate versus extreme cold paradox is very interesting). But it’s great to have scientists agreeing with anecdotally obvious reality for a change. And no, until the Climate War[s], I never thought I’d say that.

My own comment was a throwaway pun on the common cold.

Reply to  Brad Keyes
October 10, 2019 7:33 am

Pardon my kafka due to cold

Reply to  icisil
October 10, 2019 9:54 am

I can’t make sense of the kafka allusion, and it’s gradually beginning to bug me

Reply to  Brad Keyes
October 10, 2019 1:07 pm

Cough due to cold. From old cough syrup commercial that was resurrected by Forest Gump. Admittedly, kafka was a bit of a rough pun. If only I had had some coughka syrup.

Reply to  icisil
October 10, 2019 3:01 pm

Admittedly, kafka was a bit of a rough pun.

Well, normally I’d never admit it, but there’s also this:

Reply to  icisil
October 11, 2019 5:29 am

has anyone here seen the movie about Nabokov lecturing English Lit students on Kafka and the kind of insect Samsa turned into? (Nabokov was not only a great writer but a pretty good entomologist.)

Anyone know what it’s called? I can’t relocate it and it’s really starting to… beetle me

Reply to  Brad Keyes
October 11, 2019 3:25 am

Excuse me Brad, I’m a medical man and what please is the ‘Law of Perversity”.

Reply to  Jones
October 11, 2019 5:50 am

Hi Dr Jones

As it was taught to me, the Law of Perversity states just what I explained in my comment. So, for example, we have a simple jab to cure methaemoglobinaemia, which is endemic to a handful of families in Dakota, whereas we’re comparatively powerless against things like the common cold, migraines and male pattern baldness. It’s not a real Law, of course, just a humorous approximation of the universe like Poe’s or Murphy’s. Suffice it to say I don’t think it represents a particularly gaping lacuna in your medical education, so if my explanation wasn’t clear, I wouldn’t worry bout it 🙂

I also suspect it should be called *a* law of perversity, since there are probably other professions/domains with their own versions.

October 10, 2019 6:26 am

…breathing in air polluted by meat Production…Wow!
His title ‘Professor’ must come from e-Bay.

Reply to  NorwegianSceptic
October 10, 2019 6:48 am

NorwegianSceptic ==> I really think he has been mis-quoted by the journalist. He will probably check his email occasionally, and may yet send me a note clearing this up. The startling thing is that a journalist would publish the statement that way instead of clarifying it on the spot — it is ridiculous on its face.

Reply to  NorwegianSceptic
October 10, 2019 7:31 am

The farmer’s wife complained about the smell from the feed lot a couple miles away.
The farmer took a deep breath and said, “Smells like money”.

Dr. Bob
Reply to  Tommyboy
October 10, 2019 9:42 am

Today, with the advent of Bio-Digesters turning Cow Manure into Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), and the massive subsidies provided by both the Renewable Fuels Standard and California Low Carbon Fuels Standard, manure is now more profitable than milk.

Typical RNG from manure receives $15/MMBtu RFS (D-3 RINs) subsidy and $75/MMBtu LCFS subsidies. All for a product that has a market value (Henry Hub) of maybe $2.40/MMBtu.

Yes, that ‘Smells like Money!”

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Dr. Bob
October 10, 2019 3:07 pm

Where there’s muck, there’s brass!

Jim Gorman
Reply to  NorwegianSceptic
October 10, 2019 9:56 am

I was always told that was the smell of MONEY!

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Jim Gorman
October 10, 2019 11:49 am

We live in cattle country.
Often the folks will move a bunch on the county roads.
Then we get to practice our driving skills, weaving along
trying to miss all the poo.
Failing to miss leads to material on the exhaust system
that does NOT smell like money. I was raised in western Pennsylvania,
think Drake’s well and the Oil Creek Valley. Money smell there.
In recent weeks I’ve noticed the mobile slaughter truck out our way.

Reply to  NorwegianSceptic
October 10, 2019 9:57 am

I cring every time I here the words “fatally flawed”. After having read ” More Guns Less Crime” by Trent Lott. Where he writes about how a “scientist” said that about his study in an interview before reading the study. The same guy asked him for a copy which is why he knew he hadn’t read it. So now I get real skeptical of those you use it without immediately stating the exact flaw.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  ironargonaut
October 10, 2019 4:13 pm

More Guns, Less Crime by Dr. John R. Lott Jr., PhD.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
October 10, 2019 6:30 pm

Yes thanks

Reply to  NorwegianSceptic
October 10, 2019 1:20 pm

I believe he’s referring to methane, which everyone who doesn’t know anything claims is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Per molecule, yes, but per volume of atmosphere it is 9 times less potent. Yet the same lie gets repeated over and over what a dire pollutant it is. Which brings to mind Matt Gaetz, the US congressman from Florida, who is co-sponsoring the Super Pollutants Act of 2019 to regulate methane. IMO it is just a backdoor attempt to implement a CO2 endangerment finding equivalent for methane.

Reply to  icisil
October 11, 2019 12:22 am

Matt Gaetz is one of a rare breed of congressmen who actually has a brain. Maybe you need to open up a discussion on the relative importance of methane directly with him.

Reply to  RobR
October 11, 2019 9:57 am

If he was my representative, I probably would.

Sweet Old Bob
October 10, 2019 6:26 am

That is a LOT of bull ! 😉
(pictured )

Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
October 10, 2019 6:50 am

Old Bob ==> Yeah! One hunk o’ meat on the hoof. A real beauty. That bull will not be turned into McD’s hamburgers — he is breeding stock and will “do his duty” for many many years, and then be retired to pasture.

JimH in CA
Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 9:14 am

I run a small cow-calf operation here in northern California. We’re in the Sierra foothills and far enough from the crazy Dem gov’t that we do what we want.
When one of our bulls can’t do what he’s there for, he goes to auction. We can’t afford to pasture non-producing animals. [ A 6 yr old Hereford bull can weigh 2,400 lb and even though he sells for $0.90 per pound, it’s a nice check ].
The steers go to auction as soon as they are weened and we keep some replacement heifers to replace old ‘dry’ cows. [ which usually go to slaughter to become Big Macs ].
We are a 100% pasture raised operation and we slaughter a steer for ourselves directly off pasture, no ‘finishing’. Over the last 20 yrs, we’ve gotten suffiient rain to maintain the pastures, no drought here.
It’s mostly a hobby, but is able to pay the property taxes, plus a little….usually.

As far as the environmental affects and the resources that cattle use, I’d challenge anyone to drink the pond water and eat the grasses and forbs our cattle consume and convert into protein that humans can digest.

Reply to  JimH in CA
October 10, 2019 12:44 pm

JimH ==> Thanks fr the small rancher’s perspective on the Big Bull….he is from another small rancher (Texas I think).

I have never raised cattle, but have had many a goat and sheep on a homesteading scale.

Reply to  JimH in CA
October 10, 2019 5:11 pm

We should all have a set of these.

I just drove through thousands of square miles of I-80 grass pasture. Doesn’t look like widely dispersed cows pose nearly the threat that irrigated circular corn farming does. My feeling is that farmers know way more about what works than city raised politicians. BTW, water is 100% recyclable. It is not scarce nor are a few cows/sq mile undue pressure. If the cows are eliminated from the western prairie the land will produce less food OR there will be a huge surplus of grain and market collapse at the expense of the Oglala aquifer. This experiment was done a few years ago – dust bowl.

Reply to  JimH in CA
October 10, 2019 6:09 pm

I was just on a job outside of Prineville Oregon … cattle appears the highest and best (and likely the only reasonable) use for most of the land around there. Cattle and the occasional timber harvest. There is no measurable environmental cost associated with what most of those guys are doing and how they are doing it.

(… but what people do with old bulls is different for everyone. The 80 some year old gentleman that was packing up his stuff for the move still had the skull from his favorite bull … packed in a in a box with newspaper around it … getting ready to go. I didn’t ask him, but my guess is that he didn’t eat any of it.)

Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
October 10, 2019 6:56 am

Beef to the heels!
And after doing his service, collapsing, fed with bags of a special muesli, to get him back on his hooves again.

Reply to  bonbon
October 10, 2019 7:38 am

bonbon ==> His duty requires a lot of high octane bull fuel…..

Reply to  bonbon
October 10, 2019 1:32 pm

It’s nowhere near as glamorous or risqué as you allude.
Modern cattle breeding rarely involves bring bulls and cows together. That creates far to much of an injury risk.
The vast majority is done by artificial insemination and the bull only gets occasional “happy ending” treatments.
The cows meanwhile are suddenly having “virgin” births.

Mark A Luhman
Reply to  Rocketscientist
October 10, 2019 4:38 pm

Not true in beef operation. Dairy yes, dairy bull are to ornery and not safe to be around.

Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
October 10, 2019 11:36 am

Looks like the bovine equivalent of stretched limo.

October 10, 2019 6:31 am

Typo in the yellow table “Establishsment.”

What about eating dead people and babies then? I assume the dead people will be processed.

Reply to  Scissor
October 10, 2019 6:55 am

Scissor ==> Good eye! PhotoShop doesn’t spell check, and even my professional editor missed that one.

Love readers that read closely, word for word, and spot these errors for me! Thank you — fixed now.

james feltus
Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 15, 2019 1:21 pm

Kip, I love your attitude, and your calm, thankful reaction to correction. Clarity of expression bespeaks clarity of thought, but too many writers seem to not care enough about either, and seem to dread any criticism, even when it’s genuinely meant to merely improve what was written. So, from now on, when I see one of your quite rare mistakes, I’ll let you know.

Fwiw, I don’t usually blame the writers for the horrible writing (not yours, though), so common online; I blame the public “schools”. Whether the instruction method is called “Dolsch”, “look/say”, “sight words”, or whatever, it’s idiotic crap, it’s a crime against the public, and the result is too apparent in what we too often read, particularly online.

Also, online, and other pubs, such as newspapers, nowadays, run on a shoestring budget, and the last hired and first fired are copy editors and proofreaders, unfortunately. It’s good to know that you use an editor, and I might have guessed that; it shows. I’d do proofreading myself, but it seems that not many use them anymore.

james feltus
Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 16, 2019 8:21 pm

Kip, it is quite apparent that you’re a good and careful writer, who puts a lot of effort into saying exactly what he wants to say. I’m actually a better proofreader than I am a writer; all of our brains seem to be programmed to see what we meant to say, rather than what we actually wrote. Many are the times when I’ve read again something that I’ve just written, and skimmed right over my errors, only to notice them after I’ve hit “send”. So, even though I think I could qualify as a proofreader, I probably could use one myself. In fact, it’s often said that anyone who proofreads his own work is an idiot; most everyone needs a fresh set of eyes, and a different brain, to do it right.

In a somewhat related matter, I just clicked away to check the spelling of “programmed”, but when I come back, in any such case, my typing box is no longer under the post I’m replying to, even though what’s in the box hasn’t changed. Some sort of program glitch?

Reply to  Scissor
October 11, 2019 12:42 am

soylent green, of course!

October 10, 2019 6:34 am

genetics environment and the sort of food play more than a small part I reckon
grandparents ate oldfashioned full fat butter meat 2x a day etc worked hard outside manual labour etc
lived to 93 and 91
mum left the rural areas lived worked ate mostly citystyle from the 50s onwards and died at 59
be interesting to see how long I last;-) mum reverted rural for my early yrs then city, now Im rural again for 20+ yrs
absence of takeaway and high local prices for junk food should make the locals slim, however I have to admit fully 50% of my small town inc elders would be overweight

fascinating talk on abc aus radio this evening btw, not as much what but how much you eat
some might find it informative and useful I hope.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
October 10, 2019 6:59 am

oz ==> Thanks for the link. The ABC article says “So why does it work? ” My answer is that it probably doesn’t work at all — confounding factors work in almost all these diet plans and those successful with any particular diet plan are usually successful with ANY diet plan at all.

Alasdair Fairbairn
Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 1:37 pm

Yes. Reckon that if I ran my life on statistics I’d be dead by now.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Alasdair Fairbairn
October 10, 2019 3:11 pm

But only on average….

Jeff in Calgary
Reply to  ozspeaksup
October 10, 2019 10:52 am

I think you have fallen for the “Anecdotal Fallacy”. Talking about our grandparents, how many of their generation died of heart attack, cancer, respiratory disease? I don’t think there was anything particularly magical about their diet.

AGW is not Science
October 10, 2019 6:47 am

Good post, Kip. I share your feelings about the science “wars.” The bottom line being that no “policy” dictating how people live or what people eat should be based on “junk science.” And the vast majority of “nutritional” advice has been just plain bad – just think of all the contradictory crap you’ve heard about what is supposedly “good for you” over the years, and how many 180 degree turns their have been on such “advice.” Butter is “bad” for you – you should eat margarine instead; then they figure out that margarine contains trans fats that contribute to arteriosclerosis – whoops! Butter is actually better for you after all! Eggs are “bad” for you – no, actually they’re GOOD for you! And on and on.

Of course, those screaming like a wounded hound are invoking the “climate crisis” bullshit, the ULTIMATE “junk science,” into this “war.” Every idiot complaining about “emissions” related to domesticated cattle needs to be reminded of the herds of buffalo that were common before we domesticated cattle for meat production. Were the “emissions” from herds of buffalo magically unable to do the same things to “climate” as the “domestic” variety?! I’m sick of pseudo-science being used to push political agendas and limit freedom.

Reply to  AGW is not Science
October 10, 2019 7:02 am

AGW ==> I too have considered the thought of the vast herds of ungulates that have been reduced to almost nothing, and replaced with domesticated species (sheep, goats, cattle). I wonder how the numbers compare — past to present. If you are a clever researcher, maybe you can try and find some estimates?

AGW is not Science
Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 8:20 am

Some quick and dirty “Bison vs. Cattle” – 65 million Bison is the North America estimate; 106 million head of cattle in 2019 (US + Canada); Bison adults weigh in at 3500 pounds each, cattle average about 1400 pounds each.

So in my quick and dirty comparison, pound for pound, there was more “wild” meat roaming North America than there is “domesticated,” in fewer “head.” No, I didn’t look up all the sheep and goats or other “domesticated” meat animal sources, but nor did I quantify all the deer, elk, moose, etc.

And we manage to feed a great deal more humans with today’s domesticated cattle than the Bison supported, so there’s that.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 10:03 am

That great Romantic, Humbert Humbert’s last dream was of aurochs, if we’re to believe the novel.

Reply to  AGW is not Science
October 10, 2019 8:37 am

Yes, in North America, we replaced herds totaling 100 million head of bison with 94 million head of cattle and only 200,000 bison. Of course, the two are so genetically similar that they can interbreed.

I am waiting for some naturalist to rant that by reducing the number of ruminants, we will be reducing natural levels of methane from ruminants to levels not seen in thousands of years, not to mention other environmental impacts that would ensue.

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  AGW is not Science
October 10, 2019 1:35 pm

The difference between bison 200+ years ago and cattle today is that bison grazed in a rotation that took months or longer to go around a full cycle.

Cattle haven’t got that ingrained into their genetic code, so they just eat their favorite grass over and over again.

If you break a pasture in a bunch of paddocks and rotate the cattle through the paddocks you can simulate the way bison migrated around the prairie way back when.

Here’s a paper about how the GHG lifecycle emissions can be negative with “Adaptive multi-paddock grazing”:

Reply to  Greg Freemyer
October 11, 2019 4:04 am

You failed to mention that today’s feedlot (FL) method greatly REDUCES GHG compared to multi-paddock rotation (AMP):

“Total GHG emissions for each finishing scenario are reported in Table 3 and Fig. 1. After accounting for the 31.4% fertilizer offset (the percentage of synthetic fertilizer N that was replaced by land-applied manure) in FL finishing, estimated GHG emissions associated with FL and AMP finishing were 6.09 and 9.62 kg CO2-e kg CW−1, respectively.”

October 10, 2019 6:52 am

“Establishment” ? Funny how that word always pops up.
What could that be, I wonder? A small tightly knit group that has declared war on the entire human species, no less, one steak at a time. Exposure of murderous intent brings savage attack, indeed.
That used to be called Empire, in 99% of 6000 years of history.
When the only global Empire ever, the British Empire, declared war on one of its nearby colonies, A Modest Proposal was the answer.

Now a Stockholm School of Economics professor and researcher Magnus Soderlund reportedly said he believes eating human meat, derived from dead bodies, might be able to help save the human race if only a world society were to awaken the idea.

So time again for a Modest Proposal, which was delivered to AOC of the GND with hilarious effect : “We have to eat babies”.

The lesson of all this is either people look to the Stars, as today with Artemis, or end up on the savage menu.

Reply to  bonbon
October 10, 2019 7:37 am

Bonbon ==> You are aware that the “Eat The Babies” thing was a stunt organized by the Laroche PAC — and very well executed, btw.

The interesting thing is that so many were taken in, expecting such craziness at an AOC event — which was the intended point of the spoof/stunt.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 8:09 am

And the intended point of Jonathan Swift’s Modest Proposal in 1729. AOC et al are heading right back there, so they got the treatment!

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 1:31 pm

If someone dressed as an Orc had stood up and said that we should be eating Hobbits, AOC would have had that same deer-in-the-headlights look that she had.

Dave Streeter
October 10, 2019 6:53 am

Most individulals eat too much and would benefit from eating less, regardless of what they are consuming. A little common sense would probably be a positive for health anyway.

Reply to  Dave Streeter
October 10, 2019 7:05 am

Dave ==> A little common sense goes a long way in almost all fields of study and all human endeavors.

It is probably true that most Americans simply eat too much — out of food-lust or maybe as a cure for the boredom of lives without an over-riding purpose.

Julie near Chicago
Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 11, 2019 5:01 pm

Kip — I’ve often thought that a lot of the overeating (though I don’t know how much there really is) is the result of boredom. And it’s something to keep your hands busy. Also your mouth. I seem myself to need to fidget a lot, and I’ve always wanted to snack while reading or watching TV or a movie. Also, if you’re having a vague sense of “something missing,” food or smokes or booze can be how you decode the urge to indulge in one of these.

Hugh Gunn
October 10, 2019 6:56 am

Dear Kip,

Thank you. You prove without a shadow of doubt what I was taught but don’t always practice “Moderation in all things”
Fortunately I am long married, and the woman of the species is often a better practitioner.

All the best

Reply to  Hugh Gunn
October 10, 2019 7:06 am

Hugh ==> You’re welcome — our wives are very often truly the “better half”.

October 10, 2019 7:02 am

Eat what you damn please, as long as you’re paying for it. But just like your right to swing your fist stops at my chin, your right to the diet of your choice does not extend to dictating what I must eat.

The “experts,” heavily funded by sugar, grain, and veg. oil lobbyists, have brought us an enormous, expensive burden of easily preventable chronic degenerative disease. It’s no secret that the “diabesity” cluster of diseases are virtually ALL caused by overconsumption of modern, processed, denatured carbohydrate products. If people put half as much effort into READING as they do into blood tests and pills, they might have figured this out by now. Instead, we’ve followed the dictates of “experts” right off a cliff.

If your great-grandparents wouldn’t recognize an item as “food,” don’t buy it. If that “food” doesn’t exist in Nature, don’t buy it. A species cannot require what Nature cannot provide. And don’t kid yourself, the “need” for refined starch and sugar is right up there with the “need” for cannabis and crystal meth, and just about as “healthy!”

Reply to  Goldrider
October 10, 2019 7:09 am

Goldrider ==> Yours is one of the most popular viewpoints on modern diets — many of my neighbors agree with you.

AGW is not Science
Reply to  Goldrider
October 10, 2019 7:59 am

Well said, Goldrider – and a perfect illustration of why the loudest whiners on this subject have to invoke the invisible “climate crisis” – it’s not *just* about YOUR health, it’s “for the PLANET!”

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Goldrider
October 10, 2019 10:00 am

Nature doesn’t provide beer either, but I’m not giving it up!

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Paul Penrose
October 10, 2019 3:32 pm

But nature does provide wine. The yeast grows naturally on the grapes.

Proof that [insert deity of choice] truly loves us and wants us to be happy 🙂

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
October 10, 2019 5:52 pm

I would say its the opposite. Said deity wants you to be drink and stupid.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
October 11, 2019 9:33 am

How dare you even imply that wine is an acceptable substitute for beer! /sarc

james feltus
Reply to  Goldrider
October 15, 2019 1:41 pm

“If your great-grandparents wouldn’t recognize an item as “food,” don’t buy it.”
So true, and here’s a related riddle: What did they call “organic farming” before 1950? They called it “farming”.

October 10, 2019 7:07 am

We’re having a special Octoberfest lunch brought into the office today. (The keg is being tapped in Waterloo today) I’m hoping that will include some tasty red meat traditional sausages, along with some cold beer.

Reply to  Greg61
October 10, 2019 7:13 am

Greg ==> what country are you in? USA? My German dairy-farmer ancestors made a lot of interesting and varied sausage-type products in their Wisconsin farmers cooperative. Even in the 1950s, many of them spoke German in their homes (though not in public anymore after the WWII — even though many of the men fought in the US Armed Forces in that conflict).

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 7:21 am

Waterloo Ontario Canada

Reply to  Greg61
October 10, 2019 7:36 am

Greg ==> Happy Oktoberfest! Enjoy — even the forbidden sausages and knockwursts and bratwursts…..

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 8:35 am

Just FYI – The Kitchener Waterloo Octoberfest is supposedly the largest outside of Munich. The City of Kitchener was renamed from Berlin during or shortly after WWI

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 2:48 pm

On my first visit to Germany, not speaking the language, a source of meal confusion was how to tell if the sausage you were buying was to be eaten raw, or required cooking. I am sure my mates and I often got it wrong, but there did not seem to be obvious adverse heath effects. I still worry about the unease of not knowing the right answer. Geoff S

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 8:14 am

It’s time for the Kitchener Octoberfest in Canada. Waterloo, home of Crispin, abuts Kitchener.

D Boss
Reply to  commieBob
October 10, 2019 9:30 am

Ein Prosit!
Yes the region was heavily populated by Germans. As mentioned Kitchener (is a twin city to Waterloo) was Berlin before WW2. Towns around are Baden, Mannheim, New Hamburg, Breslau, etc.
It is the 2nd largest Oktoberfest outside of Munich.

Reply to  Greg61
October 10, 2019 8:16 am

O’Zapft is!

Bit late though?

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Greg61
October 10, 2019 5:53 pm

Actual Oktoberfests are in September.

Mike McHenry
October 10, 2019 7:09 am

When a friend or family member starts pontificating about added sugar I point out that a large potato has more sugar in it than a soda. There is silence and look of disbelief. But since they know I’m a chemist they don’t try to argue with me. Likewise I like to tell vegans that they are on a sugar diet. Plants after all are sugar factories.

Reply to  Mike McHenry
October 10, 2019 7:17 am

Mike Mc ==> Ignorance of human physiology is so rampant that many ascribe to what I call the “balloon body” idea — thinking that the human body is like a balloon “What yo put in the top is what is inside of it now” — instead of the reality which is that the human body is a “tube” (like a worm — which is why we dissect them in Biol 101) which absorbs what it wants from what goes in the top and ejects what it doesn’t want out the other end.

Telling people that sugar is the “gasoline” of the body is met with disbelief…..

Mike McHenry
Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 7:37 am

I also like to tell them about all the natural pestisides plants produce to protect themselves. Great fun being the one eyed man in the land of the blind

Reply to  Mike McHenry
October 10, 2019 8:42 am

Careful. I have come to believe that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man will be declared insane.

Mike McHenry
Reply to  jtom
October 10, 2019 2:46 pm

Or a witch

Pat Frank
Reply to  Mike McHenry
October 10, 2019 10:34 am

Also as a chemist, I share your enjoyment, Mike.

One suspects you’ll also enjoy telling them about all the chlorinated hydrocarbons sea weed release into the air.

Check out Kladi, et al. (2004) Volatile halogenated metabolites from marine red algae Phytochemistry Reviews 3, 337–366.

A Google scholar search will reveal copious publications on natural halocarbons. The amount of natural halocarbons released totally dwarf human production.

Reply to  Mike McHenry
October 10, 2019 1:17 pm

Mike McHenry: A large potato DOES have more sugar in it than a soda, AND enough oxalates to help create a kidney stone if you’re at all susceptible. Take a look at those little beauties under an electron microscope sometime–wooo, SCARY! One fact carefully kept from the populace is all the little nasties plants have evolved with for their naturral defense from insects, fungi, and US: Oxalates, lectins, phytoestrogens, and substances that expressly block the uptake of necessary proteins and minerals. “Plant based” is only “healthy” if you’re a ruminant, and I’m about 3 stomachs short. Vegans, who knows? Maybe they got ’em since they mostly talk like Sheeple! Look for the cloven hoofs . . . 😉

Mike McHenry
Reply to  Goldrider
October 10, 2019 2:45 pm

What I like to remind them is that you share 98% of your DNA with a pig and about 50% with a vegetable. Ergo the vegetable can make a lot of nasties that are toxic to humans

Reply to  Goldrider
October 11, 2019 6:15 pm

Much and Gold: Can you explain how a potato contains more sugar than a can of soda please? Unless you are talking about a ‘diet’ soda, potatoes contain only about 1% sugar, which would be far less than a regular soda. Please explain.

Reply to  Greg
October 12, 2019 6:32 am

Greg ==> Potatoes are almost entirely starches — starches are basically sugars in this sense:

“In humans, dietary starches are composed of glucose units arranged in long chains of polysaccharide called amylose. During digestion, the bonds between glucose molecules are broken by salivary and pancreatic amylase, and result in progressively smaller chains of glucose.” — [ source ]

When one eats a potato, one is basically eating sugar — thus the popularity of french fries — sugar, fat, and salt with a little crunch (if cooked right — there is only one local source of really good fries in my town).

FAT-SALT-SUGAR + CRUNCH is the magic formula for junk food.

Much and Goldrider may have differnent answers — but that my early pre-med uni training (I am not a doctor now, changed course early on….)

Mike McHenry
Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 12, 2019 11:13 am

I might also point out that the potato has a higher glycemic index than cane sugar(sucrose) or HFCS which are typically used as sweetners in non diet sodas Similar things can be said about white bread and pasta

Mike McHenry
Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 12, 2019 12:30 pm

Kip I agree it depends. If you’re a diabetic probably bad. It’s like all nutrition lots of unknowns

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 12, 2019 3:57 pm

Kip and Mike: Thanks for great replies and detailed explanations.

October 10, 2019 7:10 am

The biggest question that came out of this article: have they done a study on the risks of cancer going up after sitting in a room polluted by plant consumption?

Reply to  Rick
October 10, 2019 7:20 am

Rick ==> Plants are know to be full of carcinogens and poisons. Heck, the whole natural world is know to be full of suspected carcinogens and poisons. Figuring out what is safe to eat has taken thousands of years.

Mike McHenry
Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 8:22 am

There is a famous modern example of plant toxins. It was the lenape? potato bred for pest resistance. It was indeed pest resistant, so resistant it made people sick from the high alkaloid levels

Bruce Cobb
October 10, 2019 7:10 am

Back in the early 70’s when dinosaurs still roamed, there was something called a “meat boycott”. I had read “Diet for a Small Planet”, and dabbled in vegetarianism (and even macrobiotics, but only for a short time). So I gave up meat, and found I didn’t miss it all that much. I still ate seafood, and animal products. Later, in the early 80’s I added back some chicken and turkey as a compromise to my wife. I look on the “Meat War” mostly with amusement. People can and will make up their own damn minds about what to eat.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
October 10, 2019 7:23 am

Bruce ==> Ah, yes, one summer in the late 1960s, at uni, my roommates and I spent a slack summer with nothing in the larder other than a 50 pound bag of brown rice — to be supplemented by whatever else we could scrounge up….. lost a lot of weight that summer.

Tom Abbott
October 10, 2019 7:18 am

“Meat’s Bad for You! No, It’s Not! How Experts See Different Things in the Data — NY Times”

That’s my guess as to which headline is the most true.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 10, 2019 7:26 am

Tom Abbott ==> YOU WIN! Ten “Critical Thinking Skills” points to you — only Aaron Carroll stuck to his guns and wrote his own TRUE headline. At many media outlets, even here at WUWT on occasion, EDITORS write the headlines above stories not the articles author(s).

Congratulations! (and Thanks for Reading)

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 8:12 am

Incredible, the NY Slimes actually printed some truth!

Reply to  bonbon
October 10, 2019 8:38 am

bonbon ==> The NY Times does set Editorial Narratives for many of its “desks” (like the Health Desk and the Climate Desk). The NY Times is taking part in the Columbia Journalism Review’s “Climate News cabal” propaganda campaign. (I’ve written about both of these issues here at WUWT).

Even so, respected, well-established journalists there can still write their own stories without too much interference. In the past, Andy Revkin got too far off the reservation and was shifted to the Opinion Page — he was a little too skeptical of CliSci (he has since “reformed” and is now a full-fledged CAGW advocate….no longer at the Times)

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 10, 2019 10:28 am

If we change this headline around a little, then we would have a truthful headline about human-caused climate change:

“Human-caused Climate Change is Bad for You! No, It’s Not! How Experts See Different Things in the Data — NY Times” 🙂

October 10, 2019 7:28 am

Thanks for this. Hunting in groups (strategy & cooperation) and a high-protein meat diet (to fuel brains) are some reasons for our development of big brains. Can’t say everyone nowadays are using them tho……

October 10, 2019 7:34 am

” the tool he employed in his meat and sugar studies could be misused to discredit all sorts of well-established public health warnings, like the link between secondhand smoke and heart disease, air pollution and health problems, physical inactivity and chronic disease, and trans fats and heart disease.”

Sounds like he is saying the science is settled.

The link between second hand smoke and heart disease is weak at best as is anything dealing with trans fats.

Reply to  MarkW
October 10, 2019 7:48 am

Mark ==> Yes, he is stepping on his own tail — the facts are that second-hand smoke, air pollution (at current US levels) and trans-fats harms are only supported by paper-thin evidence — transparently thin evidence.

By invoking the “tobacco” card, he thinks he is free from criticism (no one dares contradict any anti-tobacco claim).

The “inactivity” and chronic disease link is a little better supported — but not for “chronic” disease” but for some specific conditions, many dealing with over-weight/obesity and lack of exercise in general.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 1:25 pm

People aren’t taught the difference between “relative” and “absolute” risk factors; therefore when one of these clowns claims you’re “50% likelier” to die of a heart attack if you eat x, but the actual absolute risk is a 2 instead of 1 in a hundred, the idiot media makes a screaming headline out of it and the doctors parrot the new junk-science dogma.

The truth is that ALL disease prevention that doesn’t involve a pill, product, or procedure is actively suppressed by the AMA, AHA, ADA, and the rest of the alphabet soup. Not to mention that the world over, the BIGGEST “risk factor” is socio-economic. If someone figured out that virtually ALL of the “diseases of civilization” are directly caused by the interplay of genetics with the modern junkfood and plant-based diet unsuited for our species, trillions of dollars would be lost by the medical industries overnight. As it is, you’d do well to buy stock in dialysis chains–they’ll be coming soon, one in every town.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 1:32 pm

You can’t exercise off a crap diet. If there is high circulating glucose and insulin in your blood from a carbohydrate-rich diet, you can run until you s**t or go blind and you will NOT burn a single gram of fat. I laugh when I watch these idiots running themselves into the orthopedic ward, either sucking on sugar “gels” as they go or crawling to the “smoothie” bar after the workout to get about 60 grams of fructose from whatever berries got pureed. Net gain: Probably 400+ calories, all of it stored as fat. Nice going, suckers! But then conspicuous mortification of the flesh always WAS a virtue signal, wasn’t it?

The sad thing is that a basic education in biochemistry, known to any farmer who’s ever fattened livestock, could solve this “diabesity” crisis entirely. This is a self-induced disease of ignorance.
The problem is the “authorities” and “experts” are still preaching the diametric opposite of the advice people need. That’s bloody-minded.

Dr. Deanster
October 10, 2019 7:36 am

The comparison by A Carroll tells the whole story.

Article … eating red meat poses minimal risk to most people .. carry on.

Establishment … red meat is a hazard to health .. AND .. a threats to the “Planet”.

The Planet really couldn’t give a rats ass about red meat.

Reply to  Dr. Deanster
October 10, 2019 8:12 am

Dr. Deanster ==> The Chan School and other plant-based-diet promoters use climate change threats to bolster their position on meat consumption because the real direct evidence for their viewpoint is so very very tenuous. They hope that those opposing meat reduction/elimination won’t fight back for fear of being labelled “climate deniers”. That’s the “Climate Card” , like the “Tobacco Card” — arguments-none-dare-oppose.

Tom Kennedy
October 10, 2019 7:56 am

This article exposes “consensus scientists ” as frauds!

Reply to  Tom Kennedy
October 10, 2019 8:14 am

Tom Kennedy ==> Not really, they are just very stuck in their positions, have career-based vested interests, have different views on “acceptable evidence”, and feel very threatened when others point out the weakness of the evidence underlying their strident claims. Very much like in IPCC-style Climate Science.

October 10, 2019 8:03 am

There’s a lot at steak here for me.

I personally eat approximately 5 times as much meat as the current “recommendations” – the ones they want to cut! – suggest. I’m a carnivore, I’ve always been a carnivore, and I’ve got to the age of 66 without any health issues at all that are traceable to my diet. And of course, my inclination is to believe the new report; if only because the reactions to it so closely parallel the reactions on the rare occasions when someone does some proper science in the climate field.

I eat (lots of) bull, but I’ll never eat bullshit.

Reply to  Neil Lock
October 10, 2019 8:17 am

Neil ==< The Meat War is a classic Science War — established positions fighting a rear-guard battle against a more-rounded, more pragmatic, more realistic truth.

October 10, 2019 8:04 am

For me the main lesson from the papers wasn’t so much their recommendations but rather their assessment of how feeble the evidence is.

It was kind of Dr. Hu to tell me that the evidence against second-hand smoking is still feeble, otherwise I might have erroneously assumed that some decent evidence had emerged in the last decade.

Reply to  dearieme
October 10, 2019 8:20 am

dearieme ==> Yes, interesting that Hu (and others) would expose that other claims of epidemiology are equally weak in evidence. Second-hand smoke, PM2.5, air pollution, etc.

October 10, 2019 8:04 am

I wish these studies could be done without preformed prejudice toward the subject matter, but when you have an agenda, you slant your attitude toward your agenda.

There is PLENTY of archaeological evidence – going back several hundred thousand years, and in some places, even more – that shows that we HOOMANS are apex predators and we eat MEAT. We are, and always have been, omnivorous enough to eat other stuff, too.

But we did NOT evolved as herbivores. WRONG TOOTH STRUCTURE. Herbirvores have front teeth that are capable of breaking plant stems, and some herbivores developed a second stomach over time, to aid digestion. It’s called a rumen, cows have them, and that’s why they spend time lying under trees, gossiping and chewing their cuds.

A plant-based diet for a human does not work because it deprives the organism of needed fats to survive a shortage of foods. I don’t care what those bozos who don’t like meat say. I’m not buying their products.

Reply to  Sara
October 10, 2019 8:29 am

Sara ==> If you haven’t yet, read Ioannidis’ piece on Nutritional Epidemilogy (its fairly short). Great stuff.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 1:13 pm

Thank you. I will attend to it!

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Sara
October 10, 2019 10:14 am

Somewhere along the way we also lost the ability to synthesize certain nutrients in our bodies. Vitamin B12 is one of those. Currently we can only get it in the needed quantities from animal sources. I know someone that went Vegan, mostly to fit in with her preferred peer group I suspect, but didn’t know about B12. She slowly got sick and when she started losing her hair, she saw the doctor, concerned she had cancer. Of course it turned out to be a vitamin B12 deficiency. At first she took supplements, but then discovered that 99% of all supplements you can buy are from animal sources, and those that are not are very expensive. So now she eats meat at least once a week to stay healthy. She just doesn’t tell her friends about it. I don’t know if she realizes they are all most likely doing the same thing.

Reply to  Paul Penrose
October 10, 2019 1:20 pm

Pork (e.g., ham) provides a good source of Vit B12, as does beef, as do other animal sources. You can get it from eggs and milk and milk products. Unless there is a medical reason for avoiding animal protein, refusing to use it is a form of denial. When humans were hunting the marrow in the bones of prey animals was a rich and bountiful source of needed fats (for survival) and vitamins, but it is scorned vegans.

Mike McHenry
October 10, 2019 8:33 am

The only way I see of resolving issue would have to be extreme. An example: hire a large cruise ship (2000 guests) for year( 0ne year may not be enough). Fill it with healthy volunteers. Divide them into 2 groups one plant base diet and other meat. This way you have complete control of the subjects. This is why I think it won’t be resolved to everyones satisfaction.

Reply to  Mike McHenry
October 10, 2019 8:56 am

The research is very challenging. Even in your proposal, you would have the confounding issues of genetics and pre-testing lifestyles – perhaps even pre-natel considerations.

Do the study using identical twin children, each assiged to a different group, and you might begin seeing some real evidence.

But you’re right. Without a clear-cut epidemic involving only meat-eaters, the issue is unlikely to be resolved.

Reply to  jtom
October 10, 2019 9:39 am

I think when you see a small number of people with adverse effects in these studies it’s genetic. That is these people have a genetic predisposition.

Reply to  Mike McHenry
October 10, 2019 1:22 pm

Mike Mc ==> There are restrictions on human experimentation which would rule out such an experiment. Even if done, the results would not show the tiny, maybe-ish harms from red meats and processed meats, which are believed, even by ardent anti-meat believers, to take years and years to show up in such things as increased heart disease and bowl cancer.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 11, 2019 1:39 am

All these human nutrition surveys are unreliable because people do not eat the same diet over their whole lives, and cannot be expected to remember what they were eating at each phase. Comparing against communities with dietary restrictions doesn’t help because they will have other variations to take into consideration.

Some years ago there was a big official Eat Less Red Meat campaign based on a survey and they solemnly announced a specific amount (50g I think) per day was the limit. How, one asks, did they find enough people who could swear to eating up to 50g red meat a day over their lifetimes to come up with that figure?

October 10, 2019 8:36 am

Science is in a bad way because of the replication crisis. One of the people most prominently calling BS on bad science is John P. A. Ioannidis. My favorite quote from his seminal paper:

… for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias.

Many scientists are way too confident in their own abilities and knowledge. Their predictions and prescriptions are no more reliable than those generated by a dart-throwing monkey. Furthermore, there is no penalty if they are wrong time, after time, after time.

Folks who wish to make public pronouncements should have to read, and demonstrate that they have understood, the works of Tetlock and Talib. Expert predictions are garbage. Unless an expert has skin in the game, she is not at all trustworthy. Most bloviating experts should be run off the stage under a hail of rotten tomatoes.

Reply to  commieBob
October 10, 2019 9:20 am

The old adage also applies: Don’t get so close to your position that when your position falls you fall with it

October 10, 2019 8:37 am

There is a bizarre trend in vegans that they have pets. Having the pet is weird enough given there beliefs but then they force the animal to be vegan. I ran across it with a mates new girlfriend who is vegan and has a cat on vegan food … I was like WTF.

Reply to  LdB
October 10, 2019 8:44 am

LdB ==> Yes, that is a weird one — vegan dogs and cats…. even cage-birds need a little animal (insect) protein in their diets for good health — yes all those canaries, budgies, parrots, finches etc should get free choice insects (dried crickets, meal worms, blood worms, etc) and a little suet (animal fat).

My sons put out the fat from deer carcasses for the birds over the winter — and it is popular with all the over-wintering birds here. Of course, one sees birds pecking at road kill, mostly for the fat,all the time.

Reply to  LdB
October 10, 2019 9:05 am

Feeding an animal a diet contrary to its evolution should be deemed animal abuse.

The cat must get a source of taurine found only in meat and dairy products, not in plants. The cat will die, otherwise. If it is being given a supplement, fine, but since taurine supplements are made from meat, fish, and dairy, the whole ‘vegan diet’ becomes a myth (and likely irritates the cat).

Tell your mate to run, his girlfriend is a moron.

Reply to  jtom
October 11, 2019 6:41 am

A gretin.

James P
Reply to  LdB
October 10, 2019 9:37 am

Poor cat!

October 10, 2019 8:43 am

Good read Kip

Skepticism is at the heart of democratic government. Attempts to quash skepticism are at the heart of totalitarian government. The good people of Hong Kong are skeptical of China’s Communist government. Who can blame them.

Those savaging the study’s authors are squealing in panic because their science lacks Kung Fu grip and they do not want that fact publicized. Pride and greed. Pretty certain that those traits have been around for some time.

Reply to  troe
October 10, 2019 8:47 am

troe ==> Thank you. There is nothing new here — just the same behaviors seen in other Science Wars and for the same reasons.

Frank Hu admits over and over to the press that the evidence for dietary meat reduction is weak, but insists on supporting it anyway. Wants his science to be held to a lesser standard . . . . like Climate Science.

Nick Werner
October 10, 2019 8:45 am

Who would trust a cow to turn grass into protein when it could be done by minimum wage workers in giant concrete, steel, and glass factories utilizing the ingredients that go into dog food, and based on some secret proprietary recipe that’s locked away in a safe?

Reply to  Nick Werner
October 10, 2019 8:48 am

Nick ==> BK’s “Impossible Burger”?

October 10, 2019 8:48 am


One of the largest confounding factors in all of this is, of course, genetics. One of my grandfathers did all the “wrong” things. Lots of red meat, fat, butter, sugar, wine, whiskey, cigars (never saw him without one) and these things, along with working in a very polluted factory environment, killed him. He was 100 at the time. And actually they killed him in the hospital doing surgery on a 100 yr old man for flabitis! Like one of my uncles said, the kind of guy you couldn’t kill with a gun! But then, had he lived a “clean” life he might have made it to 120?

Reply to  JimG1
October 10, 2019 3:10 pm

JimG1 ==> Genetics is another thing we know precious little about….but lots of claims are made as if we had adequate knowledge….

October 10, 2019 8:59 am

I see Hu from Harvard writes popular diet books. That is a strong conflict of interest.

October 10, 2019 9:22 am

Mike Mc ==> Yes, the editor of Annals of Internal Medicine points this out as well.

Mark Broderick
October 10, 2019 9:25 am

“Scientist Who Discredited Meat Guidelines Didn’t Report Past Food Industry Ties — NY Times”

True ?

Reply to  Mark Broderick
October 10, 2019 2:09 pm

Mark ==> Only sorta true, and in any case, irrelevant as there are 14 scientists involved in the NutriRECS team.

October 10, 2019 9:40 am

News among the Great Plains farmers is that this weekends Hard freeze is halting the ripening of the late planted soy. Which begs the questions: do we establish a paradigm that depends on the weather when relying on plants for all of our protein. 2. This is the earliest Hard Freeze that I recall, and I am well over 70 years old, so how is global warming myth causing this Hard freeze.
A global warming myth of less than ~1 degree F? Computer controlled process control systems have trouble maintain temperature within +/- 0.5 degrees over a period of a week. History shows that even the Earth can not maintain the “Global” temperature within +/- 1 degree F over the last 5,000 years.

Reply to  Usurbrain
October 10, 2019 1:57 pm

Usurbrain ==> I hope that there aren’t too many farmers hurt by the early freeze! That happens occasionally. Maps for First Freeze for the US show “early October” as the average date for everything north of Colorado.

Don K
October 10, 2019 9:49 am

Kip, Nutrition is indeed the heart of crackpot country.

If you haven’t tried it, try a Google search on “is nutrition a science” Assuming that you get the same results I did (not always the case with Google I believe), there seems to be lots of interesting stuff there.

For example this paper “The Failure to Measure Dietary Intake Engendered a Fictional Discourse on Diet-Disease Relations” The paper seems to cover much the same ground that you have addressed.

Or this paper which has some interesting speculation about the future of nutrition science.

Reply to  Don K
October 10, 2019 2:14 pm

DonK ==> Thanks for the links….I’ll read them up.

October 10, 2019 9:53 am

The utter intractableness demonstrated by the anti-meat “scientist/researches” reminds me of an old legal saying (a bit modified)…”If your data is weak, pound on the theory. If your theory is weak, pound on the data. If your data and theory are weak, pound on the table.”

Reply to  Mandobob
October 10, 2019 3:12 pm

Mandobob ==> The anti-meat advocates turn to environmentalism and CliSci for support because the nutritional science is so very weak. The even pull the “eating animals is cruel” card.

October 10, 2019 10:00 am

Andrew Neil takes on Extinction Rebellion spokesman Zion Light

“all flying would have to come to an end; all cars would have to be confiscated; meat would have to be rationed by the state; and all gas boilers and cookers would have to be removed from every home; Lights did not deny it”

Pat Frank
October 10, 2019 10:18 am

Kip – your various essays have been very enlightening and helpful.

Have you thought of combining them all as chapters in a book?

A single compendium of your several critical analyses would be a very useful reference.

Reply to  Pat Frank
October 10, 2019 2:12 pm

Pat ==> An interesting idea…..flattered by the suggestion.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 11, 2019 8:59 am

If you do it, Kip, and I hope you do, please include an index. 🙂

October 10, 2019 10:40 am

My initial goal was to go to grad school in nutrition. However I was offered a job in a neuroscience lab and went to grad school on the Old Boy plan (It works for women just like for men despite what you may hear). Sometime in my first year, my supervisor noticed that I did not have the right prerecquisites. All that occurred was a bit of tut-tutting. The attitude was ‘If you are capable of a PhD, you can pick up what you need to’. I have kept an eye on Nutrition and am very glad I fell into experimefrntal science.

Kip People are intensely emotional about the food they choose to eat – just consider the response on this site to Lord Moncton’s piece about the low carb diet he was trying. Researchers in the area are also emotionally involved because they have to eat. Thus, human nutritional research is a bit like introspecting for the answer to how you see colour.

Reply to  Fran
October 10, 2019 2:16 pm

Fran ==> Thanks for your professional perspective. One of the six papers from NutriRECS was about how consumers feel about their meat diets — they don’t want to change even if it is “bad” for them.

October 10, 2019 10:45 am

Terrific article and along with the others in your series are spot on. There is a straight-line connection between the science wars, as you suggest, linked by dodgy statistics and an overreaching Establishment defending grants/status/political bias. In the future, your articles will be required reading – thank you for taking the time to research and write them.
In appreciation, I will be eating bratwurst (boiled first in beer followed on the grill to get some carcinogen-rich roasted flavor) on a brown bread roll (heavier than a traditional hotdog bun), topped with coarse Dijon mustard and onions sauteed to softness in bacon fat. Washed down with a pint of Octoberfest.

Reply to  nvw
October 10, 2019 2:20 pm

nvw ==> Sounds like a real meal. I’m for the brats, but not the beer (tee-totalling it).

james feltus
Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 15, 2019 3:18 pm

My psychiatrist strongly recommended 2 Sierra Nevada Pale Ales daily (the fluoride in the water is filtered out, it comes only in glass, and it doesn’t taste as sweet as so many beers now do; many brewers seem to have changed their recipes to suit the tastes of their many sugar addicted customers), “…just to keep your wings level.”. I’m following his advice, with wonderful results, if I must say so myself, and even if some might not agree, but he foolishly went vegan and soon expired.

Walter Sobchak
October 10, 2019 11:38 am

Hu cares what some hazrd from Harvard thinks?

Phil Salmon
October 10, 2019 11:52 am

Johnston the leading epidemiologist in the meat-is-safe meta-study was absolutely correct to base his conclusions primarily on the stronger cohort studies with randomised equivalent experimental groups, rather than the weaker ecological type studies. In many fields such as radiation carcinogenesis the “ecological study” that just looks crossectionally at a large group and looks at statistics of subgroups, is often fatally compromised by confounding factors that are almost impossible to exclude from such scatter-gun studies.

Johnston’s is a masterclass in epidemiology even though – or especially because – the results are politically unpalatable to the ecofascist hard left elite. They’re just going to have to suck it up and like it.

Reply to  Phil Salmon
October 10, 2019 3:17 pm

Phil ==> ScienceDaily was “forced” to add this caveat to their coverage of the McMasters University press release:

“Editor’s Note: In response to these reviews, a number of experts have weighed in on the issues raised in the research. The following is a link from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s The Nutrition Source:
New “guidelines” say continue red meat consumption habits, but recommendations contradict evidence (”

Hu (probably, he’s the most vocal one there) at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health made them link to their own attack article

Phil Salmon
Reply to  Phil Salmon
October 11, 2019 12:28 am

Thanks Kip.
Since Hu is heavily invested in diet politics and has his own book(s) on the subject, this goes beyond conflict of interest into racketeering.
Hu is a common phenomenon in western academia, an unelected kommissar with completely unchallenged power. Essentially a warlord.

October 10, 2019 12:10 pm

I am a sort of living nutrition experiment.

Thirty years or so ago, I was eating tofu, salmon, brown rice, … avoiding butter (eating olive oil or margarine instead), lots of vegetables, … avoiding sugar, … avoiding red meat like a disease, … zero eggs too, … taking nutritional supplements, never eating anything like potato chips or French fires or burgers or hot dogs or sausage or even pork.

Today, I still eat lots of vegetables and fruits, … still eat the salmon, … swore off the brown rice and eat white, instead, … now eat red meat multiple times weekly (including burgers and dogs with everything), … occasionally some potato chips, without any remorse whatsoever. I also bake and eat cakes regularly (not a whole one at once, mind you, but pretty much a slice a day, when they are around). I no longer have my former fear of salt, sugar, butter, eggs — I eat a fair amount of butter daily, in fact (unsalted, by the way). My supplement practice shrank drastically to maybe a multi-vit every other day. I swore off tofu completely — I now consider IT poison. What can I say? — I became a food rebel of my former food self, and I have seen no ill effects due to this particular course of choices.

In effect, I pretty much said “to heck with any one school of nutritional recommendations”, and I just used common sense with a feel for balance, proportion, moderation. Of course, I used to be an ardent believer in human-caused global warming too, and you see what happened to that.

Some people, if they live long enough, wise up. Others unfortunately never do. Rational thinking is an inborn talent. You’ve either got game or you don’t, it seems.

Bruce Cobb
October 10, 2019 12:14 pm

Hu’s on first.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
October 10, 2019 3:18 pm

Bruce ==> Best literary reference today!

Julie near Chicago
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
October 11, 2019 7:29 pm

Excellent. :LOL:

October 10, 2019 12:16 pm

Vegan with artificial supplement. That said, the incredible, edible egg, and a diet of red, green, and blue in moderation.

Reply to  n.n
October 10, 2019 3:20 pm

n.n ==> Gotta admit — you got me wondering with the “blue” — I would know if you said “orange”….

October 10, 2019 12:27 pm

From a blog I write — There are a lot more recommendations that don’t stand scrutiny, ideal weight, sodium intake etc. etc The post does deal with what ideal BMI over 50 actually is

Here’s a link —

Here’s the post —

Eat meat without worry (but you can feel guilty if you want)

From an article in the New York Times 1 October 2019 “In a statement, scientists at Harvard warned that the conclusions “harm the credibility of nutrition science and erode public trust in scientific research” “.

Strong stuff indeed. Are they talking about Trump and the post-truth era?

Not at all. They are talking about a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine saying that the evidence that meat is bad for you is lousy, and not to be relied on.

To which I say, Amen.

— Here’s a link to the actual article — — which the journal claims is freely available.

The authors looked at large numbers articles on the health effects of meat consumption to see if the conclusions that meat was harmful were warranted by a statistical analysis of the study. In most cases they weren’t, or if they were, the evidence was weak.

Naturally there has been a counterattack, saying that one of the authors accepted money from the meat industry. So what. The studies are out there in print. Statistical analysis is statistical analysis, and critics are welcome to perform their own statistical analyses of the papers.

This is far from the only example of dietary advice based more on hope and ideology than anything else. A copy of two old posts (11/18 and 3/15) on the subject appears after the **

“erode public trust in scientific research”

This is exactly what I used to worry about when hysteria about common things causing cancer was at its height. Joe sixpack’s logical conclusion to such things was — what the Hell, if everything causes cancer I might as well smoke.

Here are four things which medicine knows which are very likely to be true 50 years from now

l. Don’t smoke
2. Don’t drink too much (over 2 drinks a day), or too little (no drinks). Study after study has shown that mortality is lowest with 1 – 2 drinks/day
3. Don’t get fat — by this I mean fat (Body Mass Index over 30) not overweight (Body Mass Index over 25). The mortality curve for BMI in this range is pretty flat. So eat whatever you want, it’s the quantities you must control.
4. Get some exercise — walking a few miles a week is incredibly much better than no exercise at all — it’s probably half as good as intense workouts — compared to doing nothing.

Not very sexy but likely to still be true in 50 years.

There is tremendous resistance of researchers to having their conclusions disputed. Another brouhaha concerns how much you should weigh. Over 50 the lowest mortality rates occur with body mass indices (BMIs) between 25 and 30 (which currently is called overweight). A post on the subject appears after the ****BMI


Published 11/18

Eat what you want, no one really knows what a healthy diet is.

All dietary recommendations are based on sand so eat what you want and enjoy your Thanksgiving meal. How can I say this? Just in time for Thanksgiving, the august pages of Science contain the following article entitled “Dietary Fat: From Foe to Friend ?” [ Science vol. 362 pp. 764 – 770 ’18 ]. Think I’m kidding? Here is a verbatim list of NINE current controversies (translation — not settled science) from the article.

1. Do diets with various carbohydrate-to-fat proportions affect body composition (ratio of fat to lean tissue) independently of energy intake? Do they affect energy expenditure independently of body weight?

2. Do ketogenic diets provide metabolic benefits beyond those of moderate carbohydrate restriction? Can they help with prevention or treatment of cardiometabolic disease?

3. What are the optimal amounts of specific fatty acids (saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated) in the context of a very-low-carbohydrate diet?

4. What is the relative importance for cardiovascular disease of the amounts of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides in the blood, or of lipoprotein particle size, for persons on diets with distinct fat-to-carbohydrate ratios? Are other biomarkers of equivalent or greater importance?

5. What are the effects of dietary fat amount and quality across the lifespan on risk of neurodegenerative, pulmonary, and other diseases that have not been well studied?

6. What are the long-term efficacies of diets with different carbohydrate-to-fat proportions in chronic disease prevention and treatment under optimal intervention conditions (designed to maximize dietary compliance)?

7. What behavioral and environmental interventions can maximize long-term dietary compliance?

8. What individual genetic and phenotypic factors predict long-term beneficial outcomes on diets with various fat-to-carbohydrate compositions? Can this knowledge inform personalized nutrition, with translation to prevention and treatment?

9. How does variation in the carbohydrate-to-fat ratio and in sources of dietary fat affect the affordability andenvironmental sustainability of diets?

Then totally ignoring the above controversies — they say they agree on such bromides as

l. With a focus on nutrient quality, good health and low chronic disease risk can be achieved for many people on diets with a broad range of carbohydrate-to-fat ratios.

2. Replacement of saturated fat with naturally occurring unsaturated fats provides health benefits for the general population. Industrially produced trans fats are harmful and should be eliminated. The metabolism of saturated fat may differ on carbohydrate-restricted diets, an issue that requires study.

Basically I think you can eat what you want. Perhaps some day the research needed to base dietary recommendations on solid data will have been done, but that day is not here.

Here is an older post (March 2015) written when the dietary guidelines were changed yet again.

The dietary guidelines have been changed — what are the faithful to believe now ?

While we were in China dietary guidelines shifted. Cholesterol is no longer bad. Shades of Woody Allen and “Sleeper”. It’s life imitating art.

Sleeper is one of the great Woody Allen movies from the 70s. Woody plays Miles Monroe, the owner of (what else?) a health food store who through some medical mishap is frozen in nitrogen and is awakened 200 years later. He finds that scientific research has shown that cigarettes and fats are good for you. A McDonald’s restaurant is shown with a sign “Over 795 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 Served”

Seriously then, should you believe any dietary guidelines? In my opinion you shouldn’t. In particular I’d forget the guidelines for salt intake (unless you actually have high blood pressure in which case you should definitely limit your salt). People have been fighting over salt guidelines for decades, studies have been done and the results have been claimed to support both sides.

So what’s a body to do? Well here are 4 things which are pretty solid (which few docs would disagree with, myself included)

l. Don’t smoke
2. Don’t drink too much (over 2 drinks a day), or too little (no drinks). Study after study has shown that mortality is lowest with 1 – 2 drinks/day
3. Don’t get fat — by this I mean fat (Body Mass Index over 30) not overweight (Body Mass Index over 25 and under 30). The mortality curve for BMI in this range is pretty flat. So eat whatever you want, it’s the quantities you must control.
4. Get some exercise — walking a few miles a week is incredibly much better than no exercise at all — it’s probably half as good as intense workouts — compared to doing nothing.

Not very sexy, but you’re very unlikely to find anyone telling you the opposite 50years from now.

Typical of the crap foisted on the public (vitamin D and fish oil prevents cancer, heart disease and all sorts of horrible things) is it’s refutation once a decent study has been done

A large-scale trial has found no evidence that two popular supplements reduce the risk of cancer or the combined risk for a trio of cardiovascular problems.

JoAnn Manson at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and her colleagues recruited more than 25,000 healthy men and women in their fifties or older for a trial examining the effects of fish oil and vitamin D supplements. Some participants took both, others took only one type and the remaining participants took two placebos.

After an average of 5.3 years in the trial, participants who had taken fish oil had essentially the same likelihood of cancer as people who hadn’t. Compared with the placebo group, the fish-oil group had a lower rate of heart attack but the same rate of total cardiovascular events, a category that included heart attacks, strokes and death from cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin D supplements conferred no clear health benefits against cardiovascular disease or cancer, compared with a placebo.

N. Engl. J. Med. (2018) N. Engl. J. Med. (2018)


Published 3/19

If you are over 50 it’s healthier to be overweight than not

Seriously folks, the lowest mortality rates over 50 occur in people currently defined as overweight. This is not theory, but data based on millions of people (see later).

So how does medicine define who is overweight? By the Body Mass Index (BMI) being over 25 and under 30. Obesity is defined as a BMI over 30.

Saying that someone over 50 with a BMI between 25 and 30 is overweight is true by medical definition, but that doesn’t make being overweight unhealthy (which is of course the implication of the term).

Well medically, you can define words any way you want, but Abraham Lincoln had it right

” How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg?


Saying that a tail is a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

If you’re itching to find out what your BMI is, the following site works for meters and kilograms or pounds, feet and inches —

Here is where you can read the paper summarizing data on nearly 3 million people–

It’s better to read the following article in Nature. It actually includes the mortality curves at different ages which you can inspect at your leisure —

The only thing I don’t like about the BMI vs. mortality diagram, is that it is rather compressed, with data from BMI’s ranging from 15 to 45. So the overweight range (25 – 30) doesn’t take up much space. But look carefully at the overweight range — the curve is pretty flat here regardless of age showing that it really doesn’t matter how overweight you are (as long as you’re not obese, or superskinny).

Naturally this did not sit well people who’d staked their research careers on telling people to lose weight. One study by a Harvard guy removed 900,000 people from the JAMA study. Robert Eckel, an endocrinologist at University of Colorado in Denver made the great comment that “It’s hard to argue with data. We’re scientists. We pay attention to data, we don’t try to un-explain them.”

Now here is an explanation which I’ve not seen elsewhere so it might be original.

The BMI is far from perfect, but to calculate it all you need are two simple measurements that anyone can make — height and weight. It doesn’t rely on what people remember (how much they usually eat, what they weighed in the past. However the calculation of BMI is not a simple ratio of weight divided by height but weight divided by height squared.

People lose height as they age, so the BMI is quite sensitive to it (remember the denominator has height squared). As a high school basketball player my height was 6′ 1”+, (at age 75) it was 6’0″ (God knows what it is now). So even with constant weight my BMI goes up.

It is now time to do the calculation to see what a fairly common shrinkage from 73.5 inches to 72 would to to the BMI (at a constant weight). Surprisingly it is not trivial — (72/73.5) * (72/73.5) = .9596. So the divisor is 4% less meaning the BMI is 4% more, which is almost exactly what the low point on the curve does with each passing decade after 50 ! ! !

Reply to  luysii
October 10, 2019 3:21 pm

luysii ==> Thanks for weighing in [but it might have better as just a link to your post….]

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  luysii
October 10, 2019 10:58 pm

“So how does medicine define who is overweight? By the Body Mass Index (BMI) being over 25 and under 30. Obesity is defined as a BMI over 30”

Here is the difficulty. Someone has decided that statistically, there is an optimum BMI. But, people today have a better range of foods than ever before, so why should be BMI stay constant? While a slim figure and a tint waist were de rigeur in the 1920s, maybe a plump, overweight body is the norm for the 2020s and indices like BMI need to be modernised. Geoff S

james feltus
Reply to  luysii
October 15, 2019 5:20 pm

I too, at age 69, have lost an inch; I’m now 5’8. But I’ve been dissatisfied with BMI in just that respect. What happens as we age is that cartilage dries out a bit, in ankles, knees, hips, and in the spine, so it shrinks. But, our bones, organs, and muscles (assuming that we work out a bit) don’t change much. Also, our fat% doesn’t necessarily have to rise; fi, I’ve lost 66 lbs, or slightly over 1/3 of my former max weight of 193. So, I’ve felt that maybe we should continue using, for BMI calculation, our youthful heights, although I haven’t found any authoritive comment on this. If anyone has, please post it.
Also, and since I read so much on health and nutrition that I can’t tell you where I read it, I read that walking is the only exercise proven to increase longevity, and I think most exercise types have been studied, by now. I walk 2.5 mi daily, but I also do a few isometrics, and some leg stretching/deep fingers and thumbs leg massage. The latter 2 both help keep the muscle fascia from sticking together, as they tend to do, with age. Also, to actually unstick them. I’ve only been doing the stretch/massage for a month, and am amazed at how much more limber my legs feel. I’m now about 8″ from touching nose to knee; a month ago it was 1.5 ft, limited by the tight thigh muscles. I do them standing, with one leg stretched out atop a stool. Always remember to massage upward, in accordance with lymph flow, and so you don’t force veinous blood backward, against the the vein check valves. I suppose it helps that I’m now lean enough to really get in there and feel, grip, move, and manipulate, each muscle/muscle group, but I still feel that this will help anyone. Really…I have a more relaxed, rolling gait now, rather than feeling that with each forward step, I’m having to pull against those tight thigh muscles, which I hadn’t even realized I was doing. My intermittant claudication is much less, and less frequent, too; I can walk farther before it kicks in at all, and I can then recover, with brief rest, faster. Lol…maybe this blog should be renamed, “What’s up with your legs, Dude?” I’ll add that I’m enjoying the conversation hugely.

james feltus
Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 16, 2019 2:00 pm

Kip, I do agree that any exercise is better than just sitting around. I do walk purposefully (limited only by whatever my legs will stand on that particular day) for about half of my walking, and do the other half as a ramble with my 14 yo dog. Since I don’t do much strenuous, intense exercise, I’m quite comfortable with walking every day, as I have no need for recovery from intense exercise. I really do enjoy walking, and it probably helps that I don’t drive. 🙂

I also don’t wear my minus lenses while walking, although I do carry them in my pocket. Doing so has improved my vision over the last 10 yrs, from -3.50 to about -2.00 (I’m about 20/25 with -1.75 lenses). I think that if if I’d known what I now know about how vision works, when I first was prescribed glasses (age 12), I probably wouldn’t even need glasses now.

It’s all about not not using more power than one really needs. Zenni Optical has been the best thing that has happened to me in that regard; their glasses start at $9.95. I have 6 pair, all with different prescriptions, although I do use optimum power for precise or dangerous tasks. One pair is full powered, though (-2.25), for perfect distance vision when I really need it. It often doesn’t really need to be perfect; just a bit underpowered will usually serve.

The eye muscles contract for close vision, and relax for distant. Kids who are prescribed glasses for distance should be instructed to not wear them for reading, where they’re not needed. Wearing them for reading will strain the eye muscles unnecessarily (to overcome the unnecessary lens power, which the young eye/brain system won’t even realize that it’s having to do), and progressively worsen vision, as happens to most who are diagnosed as nearsighted. If the child won’t do that, get the child variable lenses with the prescription on top, for distance, and no power on the bottom, for reading, which will achieve the same benefit. Lol…eye muscles shouldn’t be habitually, and usually, unconsciously, abused, either.

I usually read (which I do a LOT of; I haven’t owned a TV in 15 yrs) at a distance which causes just a LITTLE blur, so as to relax my eye muscles; for perfect focus, all I have to do is move my head forward an inch or 2, or slide the computer closer, or slip on a pair of -.50 or -.75, kept ready to hand. Be kind to your children and grandchildren by explaining all of this to them; they might not thank you, but you’ll be doing them a great service; glasses sucketh mightily.

Phil Salmon
October 10, 2019 1:09 pm

Epidemiology is hard. Statistics are not too hard to gather but the confounding factors and potential sources of error are legion. Thus it is quite easy to use bad – or even just sub-OK – epidemiology to prove anything you want.

A true epidemiologist like Johnston uses the only effective method – the well population matched cohort study with equivalence of age, socioeconomic status etc, and then the method can yield true answers.

But true answers can get you in hot water in today’s toxic environment of the ecofascist hard left inquisition that dominates a servile academia and the pathetic media.

Reply to  Phil Salmon
October 10, 2019 1:41 pm

Epidemiology works if it’s focused on ONE easily controllable factor, like smoking and the results are so spectacular that one can infer a probable causality.

It’s the wrong tool and a waste of money applied to a human lifetime with hundreds of thousands of variable exposure, some of them dietary, many that are not, combined with infinite genetic expressions besides.
All these people are doing is burning money and electricity churning masses of data for garbage relative “risk” factors within the margin of error, producing junk-“science” headlines for BS media.

Exactly like “climate science,” now what a coincidence . . . !

Keep the population ignorant and frightened is the common denominator.

Roger Knights
October 10, 2019 1:23 pm

^Latest red meat study uses best science, not best guesses,” by Nina Techolz, LA Times, 10/9/19, at

Reply to  Roger Knights
October 10, 2019 4:15 pm

Roger ==> Thanks for the link to the LA Times piece….

October 10, 2019 3:32 pm

Republished from Climate Etc.

“We’re closer to saying: we really don’t know,” while past guidelines have generally suggested we fully understand meat’s health effects.”

The issue is whether science is involved in nutrition policy determinations or are advocates for some social well-being belief system are influencing public policy.

The red meat issue is burdened with other social policy issues including climate change.

Ever since the Korean War autopsy findings of “fatty streaks” on soldiers arteries who died of their wounds made the rounds in academic circles. The cholesterol urban myth perpetuated by academics and anti-vivisectionists made its way into changing our way of dietary messaging. Amongst those stories was that cholesterol from animal fats was bad and the US and the world in general should follow the diets of the high altitude vegetarians. It turns out that these pristine people had the same coronary artery disease as anybody else and the researchers were examining only those who survived their heart attacks.

Other data on cholesterol and animal based diets was suppressed for multiple decades until just recently. A large number of heart research medical centers invested heavily in the cholesterol and animal fat is bad meme.

Now, it is hard to imagine but eating meat, red meat is OK, but it is.

In the Annals of Internal Medicine: 1 October 2019 the clinical guidelines is based upon evidence based medicine and is…Continue doing what you have been doing. What a message. The clinics, doctors, and the whole health food industry have been told…never mind.

They are not going down without a fight .

Reply to  RiHo08
October 10, 2019 4:14 pm

RiHo08 ==> I don;t recall seeing this at Climate Etc. Can you supply a link?

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 4:55 pm

Kip Hansen

I hope I have not mislead you. This was my post from:

Is eating beef healthy? [link]

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 10, 2019 5:01 pm

Kip Hansen

I hope I have not mislead you. My comment there.

Week in Review October 5, 2019

Is eating beef healthy? [link]

October 10, 2019 5:30 pm

Common sense alone tells one that we evolved over the past 2 million years, including all the glaciations, with large fauna the primary source of food. Yeah, we’d dig up some nasty tuber or try to eat leaves if it had been a really. lousy. hunting day, but our primary source of calories was the fattiest meat we could kill. This is how we left the herbivorous apes behind, moved out into the steppes and evolved the highest brain/gut ratio of any species we know. That could only occur if evolution chose for us high-energy-density food like meat.

In the glaciations, nothing else would have been available. We also know the Inuit, Masai, Plains Indians etc. ate this diet and thrived on it before the starchy and sugary “foods of civilization” got there. That missionary food brought them the diseases of civilization too, which in those populations previously was not present! This has happened many times, all over the world. (Ref: Weston A. Price, “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.”)

What was conspicuously missing: Modern-bred large, fructose-heavy fruit; any kind of grains; modern-bred crucifer and nightshade vegetables; ANY kind of vegetable oils; ANY kind of flour or processed sugar; high-fructose corn syrup, and thousands of chemical additives we use in processed food for textures, emulsifiers, preservatives, fillers and extenders, etc. Don’t even start on the chemicals we smear on our bodies . . . after having stripped away our naturally protective oils and biome first.

Any ancient food cannot POSSIBLY be the culprit in causing problems that were rare in the population prior to 1920. But maladaptation and intolerance SURELY CAN cause them, and the results are before our eyes.
But very large vested interests depend on most of society never getting “red-pilled” about our evolutionary imperative, and the Agenda 30 gnomes WANT us fat, sick, stupid, crazy, infertile and easily herded.

james feltus
Reply to  Goldrider
October 15, 2019 5:31 pm

“Vegetarian” is an American Indian word, meaning, “lousey hunter”.

Jeff Alberts
October 10, 2019 5:54 pm

” Nutrition studies, he added, should not be held to the same rigid standards as studies of experimental drugs.”

Hmm, where have we heard something like that before?

October 10, 2019 6:41 pm

Hi Kip – Thanks for this. A saw the headlines, but didn’t read any further, assuming it was another nutritional whipsaw. Good to see that the headlines seem to be based on good analyses. You and Jim Steele always have well researched and well written articles on WUWT and I always enjoy them even if I don’t agree completely.

I always wondered why ‘red meat’ was so evil, but I guess that came from fat-phobia. The lean, chewier lamb and beef steaks in my local grocery are labelled ‘heart smart’. I still buy them when on sale because a piece of papaya can make all the difference or they can go into a curry if too chewy.

The former US Senator/Vice President and now Democrat presidential candidate, Joe Biden, is known for many things (braggadocio, plagiarism, racial stereotyping, flip-flopping, political opportunism, etc.) but I was struck by one of his recent alleged gaffes: “We choose truth over facts!” He said this so convincingly (like the eat babies woman at the AOC rally), that I suspect this wasn’t a gaffe – it is what he believes. So, while I do agree with you that two scientists can look at the same body of facts and come to different conclusions, I think there are many people claiming to be scientists who choose truth over facts.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 11, 2019 12:06 pm

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 11, 2019 3:10 pm

Hey – Kip, kev below posted a link. I’ll just note that this quote seems to be Biden plagiarising again. I think Frank Lloyd Wright gets credit for the original: “The truth is more important than the facts.”

One could argue that truth vs facts is part of the empiricist vs rationalist war. The Ray Society, which produced some wonderful natural history books in the 1800s, had a motto along the lines of ‘We want facts, not theory’. Or that is my memory (and possibly not a fact): The Ray Society is still around, but I couldn’t find their motto.

I did find Dorothy Sayers take on it though: “Facts are like cows. If you look them in the face long enough, they generally run away.”

John of Cairns
October 10, 2019 8:51 pm

Thank goodness that’s sorted Meat is so not the reason western hospitals have filled up since the late sixtys. Having watched it happen with bewilderment.The exploding need for cardiologists,psychiatrists,endocrinologists and the rest.Where did autism spectrum come from? Our microbiome is a clue. And what causes its demise,in a word chlorine.The effects from drinking it put greenhouse gases in the shade as a threat to humans.

Pat Frank
Reply to  John of Cairns
October 11, 2019 9:04 am

John, a better guess might be the use of oral antibiotics. They sweep through the microbiome and wreck the bacterial population. Whatever grows back has skewed bacterial demographics.

I have no knowledge of the consequences, but given the emerging understanding of the importance of that population, the possibility seems well worth investigating.

Chlorine won’t do anything. It turns into chloride in the reducing environment of the stomach and is rendered harmless.

Reply to  Pat Frank
October 12, 2019 10:32 am

Pat ==> My microbiome has been developed by traveling to places quite a bit — and eating street food, wild picked fruit, etc. even when knocked down by antibiotics, it seems to grow back in all its glory.

It is known that different locales have different general human microbiomes . . . accompanying different diets, different soil, different endemic e colis, etc.

Studying mircobiomes is getting to be quite a fad — but I am uncertain about how important it is from a Minimal Clinically Important Difference viewpoint. Other than truly pathological microbiomes, I have a feeling that it is being blown out of proportion.

Time will tell.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 12, 2019 6:14 pm

Kip, what do you think of these? I can send you the papers, if you like.

Lewis, et al., (2015) Inflammation, Antibiotics, and Diet as Environmental Stressors of the Gut Microbiome in Pediatric Crohn’s Disease Cell Host & Microbe 18(4) 14, 489-500 here

•Inflammation, antibiotics, and diet independently affect microbiota in Crohn’s disease
•Antibiotics are associated with bacterial dysbiosis and increased fungi
•Dysbiosis decreases with reduction in intestinal inflammation
•Diet has an independent and rapid effect on gut microbiota composition

Abnormal composition of intestinal bacteria—“dysbiosis”—is characteristic of Crohn’s disease.


Suskind, et al. (2015) Fecal Microbial Transplant Effect on Clinical Outcomes and Fecal Microbiome in Active Crohn’s Disease Inflammatory Bowel Diseases 21(3), 556–563, here.

Crohn’s disease (CD) is a chronic idiopathic inflammatory intestinal disorder associated with fecal dysbiosis. Fecal microbial transplant (FMT) is a potential therapeutic option for individuals with CD based on the hypothesis that changing the fecal dysbiosis could promote less intestinal inflammation.

Nine patients, aged 12 to 19 years, with mild-to-moderate symptoms defined by Pediatric Crohn’s Disease Activity (PCDA) [were enrolled].

Based on PCDAI, 7 of 9 patients were in remission at 2 weeks and 5 of 9 patients who did not receive additional medical therapy were in remission at 6 and 12 weeks. No or modest improvement was seen in patients who did not engraft or whose microbiome was most similar to their donor.

This is the first study to demonstrate that FMT for CD may be a possible therapeutic option for CD. Further prospective studies are required to fully assess the safety and efficacy of the FMT in patients with CD.

james feltus
Reply to  John of Cairns
October 15, 2019 6:04 pm

True, but don’t forget Fluoride, which is a neurotoxin and an endocrine disrupter. I use a 4 cartridge filter, including a reverse osmosis cartridge, which removes 85-95% of Fluoride, bringing my local water down to ~ .07 PPM. Reverse Osmosis Revolution is the manufacturer; they’re online. They can be replaced individually; the R.O. cartridge is good for 1-1.5 yrs, iirc, the other 3 are good for 2-3 yrs. My sinktop unit was ~ $100. The brackets, hoses, and fixtures will last longer, and a complete set of replacement filters is less than $100; $53, iirc. They can be bought individually, too, starting with the R.O.; last I knew, that was $33.

October 10, 2019 9:54 pm


I read your post from start to finish, and have to say I cringed every time I read the word “Science”. Nor could I see the “War” . The critical studies you cite are commendable, but they don’t constitute a “war”, or even a battle. And where is the science? The established order is not waging a war either. They’re using their medical credentials to effect massive social engineering via propaganda, pure and simple. I’m no historian, but my impression is that medicine in the West came closer to being science at the end of the 19th, beginning of the 20th century than it has since. Now it’s becoming more and more like a priesthood, wherein collegiality and dogma prevails.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 11, 2019 7:44 pm

“War”, whoever uses the word, implies substantial armies on each side willing and able to sustain a lengthy engagement. Hence the term Blitzkrieg for a war in which one of the parties was able but unwilling (the French), and another willing but unable (the Poles). In the field of science, such long sustained campaigns suggest that neither side has sufficiently compelling data to defeat the other.

I find much more interesting, and disturbing, the situation where the data is clearly against the established view, but is prevented from prevailing for many years (h. pilori as the cause of stomach ulcers, for example), or many decades, as in hormesis vs. the LNT (Linear Non-Threshold) view of ionizing radiation’s, effect on DNA.

These situations are essentially David vs Goliath situations, and one should wonder why? What’s in it for Goliath? Is it sheer vanity? Face saving for all those who have blindly adopted a received position ? Or is it more sinister, the position of the snake oil vendor comfortable in his lucrative trade and unwilling to give it up, humanity be damned.

One of the early researchers in radon’s health effects has called the current “mitigation” campaigns of the WHO, EPA, Health Canada, and others, the greatest scientific scandal of the 20th century. And one that has wasted billions of dollars, and continues to do so.

Yet this is a controversy that just doesn’t make the headlines in any broadcast medium. Is this simply an area where “scientists” and “journalists” dare not go? If so, why?

Inquiry that is hobbled, blinkered and muzzled from the start can’t produce scientific knowledge, just more new clothes for the emperor.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 12, 2019 9:27 pm

not yet Kip, but will do so now. Thanks.

james feltus
Reply to  otropogo
October 15, 2019 6:10 pm

“my impression is that medicine in the West came closer to being science at the end of the 19th, beginning of the 20th century than it has since.”

I agree strongly, although I might make the cutoff nearer mid-century…maybe 1940; there was a lot of good work done in the 30’s.

Rhys Jaggar
October 11, 2019 3:52 am

The actual war is about cutting down virgin forest, bringing in cattle and seeing massive soil erosion result. That is justifiable to express strong concerns about.

There is no justifiable war about keeping cows on well run mixed family-sized farms, nor indeed in cattle preventing desertification in parts of Africa.

The problem with all discourse currently is both sides distorting the facts and expecting ill-informed publics to draw sensible conclusions as a result.

Reply to  Rhys Jaggar
October 12, 2019 10:42 am

Rhys Jaggar ==> They are, of course, quite separate problems — and quite LOCAL problems. In the US, cattle ranching and deforestation are not connected at all — in fact, the demise of many smaller cattle/dairy operations has led to a great deal of re-forestation in the Northeast as pastures are allowed to return to woodland.

It is in developing countries, hungry for exports that bring in foreign capital, that local resources like forests are being cashed in for more valuable resources — at least in a trade sense — like pasture-land for cattle.

Much of the Mid-East was desertified by free-range sheep and goats over the last two millennia.

Robbing these developing countries of their medium of exchange (beef) will only push them back into poverty – perhaps helping them to find a way to produce beef without environmental damage would be a better way to go.

But — it is their decision — as sovereign nations.

Geoff Sherrington
October 11, 2019 3:42 pm

The USA medical science Establishment in the 1970s grabbed the idea that man-made chemicals were causing an increase of cancers that would rapidly reach epidemic proportions. History since then shows they were flat wrong. However, some serious Acts and Regulations they promoted are still on the books and causing massive troubles.
The whole episode now forms the book “The Apocalyptics” by Edith Efron. It is a massive research effort, carefully documented with many original verbatim quotes in its 800 or so pages.
This might be another example of a War for your series. If so, its beauty is its complete description in one reference book. It also describes how the end game played out.
My opinion is that a read of this book is very helpful for understanding the climate change fiasco. It is a close analogue. I reckon that no reader here is complete without having studied it. Geoff S

October 11, 2019 4:31 pm


Great discussion and a lot of good reader input. These Science Wars are not new —

“In 1857, Burton and [John] Speke embarked on a Royal Geographical Society funded expedition to explore inland from the east African coast, with the hope of finding the source of the Nile. It was a difficult trip. When they arrived at Lake Tanganyika, Speke was almost blind and Burton could hardly walk. Speke travelled on alone and discovered Lake Victoria, which he was convinced was the Nile’s source. Burton disagreed and this contributed to a long and bitter public quarrel between the two men which ended in September 1864 when Speke died in a shooting which was either suicide or an accident.” — BBC

A version of the story was made into the movie “Mountains of the Moon“.

Various “authorities” sided with each man and calumny raged.

Science is exacting — but people are emotional, opinionated, desirous of power and authority, over-defensive…all the human ills, and we should not be that surprised to see these faults in scientists — they are just people, like we are.

If scientists could really be that dis-interested, rational self-questioning ideal put forth by the likes of Dick Feynman, we wouldn’t have these messes.

Thanks for reading.

# # # # #

October 11, 2019 7:00 pm

How the vegan movement found a home in the climate movement

Reply to  Chaamjamal
October 12, 2019 6:37 am

Chaamjamal ==> Thanks for the link to the CH4 article. Readers should remember when looking at graphs of atmospheric methane that methane is measure in Parts Per BILLION — not parts per million like CO2.

Mark Smith
October 12, 2019 8:49 pm

Plant-based diet is a diet based on plants- says nothing about what else you eat. I never understand people saying that vegetarianism is political. Veganism yes but vegetarian is neutral.