Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Fat Fiasco's Lesson Applied to Any Scientific Consensus

Up until his death, Dr. Adkins experienced harassment and derision from his peers for his scientifically valid argument that fat was good for you, but excessive carbohydrates were not. I've written more than once about butter and fat in general. I hate to brag, but I was in the dissenting (and correct) minority about fat. But really, anyone who read the research, which seemed to be only chiropractic nutritionists and a few doctors and the rare clinical nutritionist who didn't march lock-step with the AMA, knew the truth all along.

So I was going to write up a long commentary about the triumph of reason (finally) that graces the pages of yesterday's New York Times about why trusting the "consensus" of scientists on anything besides gravity is dangerous, when I went over and read Pierre LeGrand. He noticed the Fat Fiasco's implications immediately:

It is certain that the New York Times does not see the irony of this article about the fallacies regarding the effects of fat in our diet, in the face of its continued panic mongering regarding Global Warming. But the article positively bristles with arguments against the idiocy of the lemmings worrying about Global Warming. HT Instapundit For instance:

The scientists, despite their impressive credentials, were accused of bias because some of them had done research financed by the food industry. And so the informational cascade morphed into what the economist Timur Kuran calls a reputational cascade, in which it becomes a career risk for dissidents to question the popular wisdom.
"Global Warming is caused by man" is popular wisdom today and has about as much evidence supporting it as the no-fat diet did in the '70s. That won't stop anyone, though. Scientists are as human as Britney Spears and care as much about their "rep", or they care enough to be "popular" and "in" with the press and whomever gives them funding--usually other scientists caving to peer pressure. It's ridiculous.

It's ridiculous because governmental policy is driven by this sham science. Money is to be made. Frito Lay and Coca Cola have made out like bandits. People have mistakenly believed that it's more dangerous to have buttered corn and a steak than a Coke and chips and people have been sorely mistaken. The rise of diabetes can be attributed to fat-free diets. The lowering of fertility is linked to insufficient fat to make enough hormones, that's why dudes on Lipitor no longer get erections. They don't have enough fat in their system to make enough hormones. Instead, they are impotent and flabby and hardly enjoying life. Oh, and there's no evidence that the fat-busting drugs reduce heart disease or attacks at all, but it's "conventional wisdom".

So, the government will make decisions about Global Warming based on the "consensus" of scientists. Who will, no doubt, be wrong. Again. The second ice age didn't hit in the '70s and the world isn't going to turn into Hades anytime soon either, but that doesn't mean that freaked out scientists won't make life-changing recommendations that will punish the world's economy and generally make people miserable, guilty and live a crappy life.

The new church lady wears a white coat and goggles. She's the scientist spouting from I Expert 1:1 and speaking with all the authority of a televangelist. Oh, and she wants your money, too. Government and private grants go to the scientists who convince the most people that the world will end without their special brand of salvation--it just needs to be studied more, and then we'll all know for sure.

Beware the expert. This new religion is far more odious than anything attributed to God. We're supposed to trust a very fallible human when we worship science and by extension Gaia.

UPDATE: The Anchoress calls the experts the "shouldists". She is tripping today on muscle relaxants and is all stream of consciousness and numbed out vibe and hilarious. I'd love to take her drinking, man. Though, she's Irish and I'm Scottish and there'd be a lot o' drinkin' being done before the numbness wised us up. Muscle relaxants are faster and keep one conscious enough to blog streams of consciousness. Got that? Anyway, she says:
I hate to tell anyone they should do anything. I have always, always hated the language of the shouldists. You know the shouldists. They’re the ones who should all over you. They love to say “every person in America should think this way or feel that way or be concerned about thus and such.” So here I find myself becoming a shouldist, and that is a damnably sad and unforgivable thing but sometimes maybe a should needs saying. I personally think every American should be concerned with her press - the great and remarkable treasure of her free press - which is being subsumed by advocates and partisans who do not seriously question anyone whom they do not hate, and who therefore betray the public trust (and themselves) and leave the whole nation wide open for something which by the prickling of my thumbs something wicked this way comes. And I’m not even talking about Hillary although some of you likely think I am.
The Shouldists. Science is full of them. Just ignore them. You'll have more fun.


Anonymous said...

Scientists are as human as Britney Spears and care as much about their "rep", or they care enough to be "popular" and "in" with the press and whomever gives them funding...

Doc, you have to say "popular" in that trademark squeal of Quinn, the brain-dead mattress-back sister from MTV's Daria:

(Squeeling) "OOOOOO! POP-ULAR!"

Beware the expert. This new religion is far more odious than anything attributed to God. We're supposed to trust a very fallible human when we worship science and by extension Gaia.

Ah, yes, Mother Gaia. AKA Ceres, Demeter, Coatlicue, Kali-Durga, Bloody Ishtar, Asherah of the High Places, and other incarnations too many to count. Goddess of Earth who cannot look up and see the cosmos. Goddess of Nature which can bless you with harvest one minute, then kill us all with drought or tornadoes or earthquakes or famines or plagues the next, like an unpredictably abusive alcoholic parent.

After 2000 years with "that evil Patriarchal Sky God on the cross", we've forgotten what the Old Gods of Earth and Nature were really like.

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