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PETA Embraces Autism Pseudoscience

got-autism-billboardPETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has a history of (as the old saying goes) using science as a drunk uses a lamppost – for support rather than illumination. In that way they are typical of ideological groups. They have an agenda, they are very open about their beliefs, and they marshal whatever arguments they can in order to promote their point of view.

Favoring information that supports our current beliefs is a cognitive bias common to Homo sapiens, but ideology tends to take this simple bias to a new level. It can lead to the systematic distortion or denial of science, and render belief systems immune to logic and evidence.

PETA provides us with a nice example of how having an ideological agenda can motivate an individual or a group to embrace dubious science. In an article currently on their website, and making the rounds in social media (this is repeating a claim from at least 2008, but the current article is undated), the group warns: Got Autism? Learn About the Link Between Dairy Products and the Disease. They claim:

The reason why dairy foods may worsen or even cause autism is being debated. Some suspect that casein harms the brain, while others suggest that the gastrointestinal problems so often caused by dairy products cause distress and thus worsen behavior in autistic children.

Saying that “how” dairy harms the brain is being debated implies “that” dairy harms the brain is accepted and not being debated. This is misleading. It is not accepted that dairy harms the brain or is in any way linked to autism, and the evidence is largely against it.

Gluten-free and casein-free diets for autism have been around for decades. They are based largely on the anecdotal observation that children with autism can experience a worsening in behavior when they consume gluten (a protein in wheat and other grains) or casein (a protein in milk and other dairy products). Parents will sometimes try to place their children on a gluten-free or casein-free diet, and some report improvement in behavior.

Such observations are a reasonable basis for a hypothesis, but not a conclusion. Behavior in children, especially those with the challenge of autism, can be unpredictable. Unpredictable and variable symptoms lend themselves to confirmation bias, with a strong tendency to lead to the anecdotal experience that whatever is being looked for is real. For example, many parents believe that sugar makes their children hyperactive, when this is simply not true.

Such uncontrolled observations need to be confirmed by blinded observations. These studies have been done for both gluten-free and casein-free diets. A 2008 Cochrane review of these studies concluded:

Current evidence for efficacy of these diets is poor. Large scale, good quality randomised controlled trials are needed.

A more recent review from April 2014 came to a similar conclusion:

We observed that the evidence on this topic is currently limited and weak.

The pattern of evidence reveals that the methodologically poor studies, ones that are liable to confirmation bias, show some effect, but the properly blinded studies tend to show no effect. For example, a 2010 study (although small) observed children with autism on a gluten-free and casein-free diet, and then challenged them with either gluten, casein, or placebo in a blinded manner. There was no difference in behavior observed. A recent 2014 study also showed no association between dairy and behavior in autism.

As an aside, when such studies are pointed out, the emotional argument is sometimes made that we are “attacking mothers” or “criticizing parents.” This is a diversion, however. Our only point is that parents are humans and are subject to the same cognitive biases that we are all subject to. Being a parent does not magically render someone immune to bias. We need controlled and blinded observations so that we can differentiate between a real effect and self-deception. When an effect disappears under proper blinding, the most likely conclusion is that the phenomenon is not real but is an artifact of observational bias.

Given current evidence, that is the best conclusion we can come to regarding the effects of gluten and casein on autism. The evidence for any effect on behavior is weak and likely not real. There is also no credible evidence to suggest that casein plays a causal role in autism. The evidence is overwhelming that autism is a genetic disorder. Clinical signs are evident at least by 6 months of age, if not sooner, and there is evidence that the developmental processes leading to autism begin in the womb. Despite this, the PETA article concludes:

It isn’t surprising that dairy products may worsen this disease, considering that milk has already been strongly linked to cancer, Crohn’s disease, and other serious health problems. Anyone who wants to alleviate or avoid the devastating effects of autism should give cow’s milk the boot and switch to healthy vegan alternatives instead.

PETA claims that “milk has already been strongly linked to cancer.” That is their summary of the evidence. Now let’s read the conclusion of a 2011 systematic review of the published evidence:

For most cancers, associations between cancer risk and intake of milk and dairy products have been examined only in a small number of cohort studies, and data are inconsistent or lacking. Meta-analyses of cohort data available to date support an inverse association between milk intake and risk of colorectal and bladder cancer and a positive association between diets high in calcium and risk of prostate cancer.

(This May 2014 systematic review comes to the same conclusion.) So milk, if anything, has a protective effect for colon and bladder cancer, while high calcium diets (not necessarily from dairy, but milk is high in calcium) increase the risk of prostate cancer. For all other cancers the jury is still out. Milk therefore might reduce cancer risk in women, and probably also in men, as long as you limit your total calcium intake.

There is also not a “strong” association with Crohn’s. There is preliminary evidence at best. One study of the incidence of Crohn’s in Japan found an increase in incidence after the introduction of a more Western diet, including meat and dairy, and reduction in rice consumption. There are too many variables here to make any conclusions about dairy specifically. There is also preliminary evidence that a bacterium found in cow’s milk may be linked to Crohn’s. Crohn’s is still a poorly understood disease and there is no clear evidence that dairy is playing a causative role.

It’s not even clear if people with Crohn’s need to limit their dairy intake. There are no blanket recommendations for patients with Crohn’s. A recent study found no association between dairy intake and symptoms, suggesting that there is no need to restrict dairy. Some patients with Crohn’s may also have lactose intolerance, and this can be difficult to diagnose because of the overlap in symptoms, so a lactose-free trial period is often recommended. However, eliminating dairy can cause nutritional deficiencies, such as low calcium, and so this needs to be done with care.

Conclusion

There is no evidence that dairy products cause autism, and the current evidence (while weak) does not support the conclusion that dairy has an adverse effect on behavior in children with autism. Further, dairy has a complex relationship with cancer risk, and is as much a benefit as a potential risk factor. There is also not a strong link between dairy and Crohn’s, although some preliminary evidence warrants follow up.

PETA, however, has launched a campaign warning the public about the association between milk and autism, throwing in claims that it is “strongly” linked to cancer, Crohn’s, and other unnamed diseases.

This is clearly, in my opinion, a campaign of fear mongering based upon a gross distortion of the scientific evidence. The purpose is to advocate for a vegan diet, which fits their ideological agenda. They are likely aware that it is easier to spread fears than to reassure with a careful analysis of the scientific evidence.

Posted in: Epidemiology, Nutrition, Science and Medicine

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478 thoughts on “PETA Embraces Autism Pseudoscience

  1. Earthman says:

    “It isn’t surprising that dairy products may worsen this disease, considering that milk has already been strongly linked to cancer, Crohn’s disease, and other serious health problems.”

    What is the problem that you Americans have with milk. We in Europe get along with it just fine. No problem at all. Is there some huge milk myth going on? Or is it that there is a genetic difference across the Atlantic?

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Really this is PETA‘s problem with milk. Presumably they’d be happier if cows lived naturally, in the wild, and were regularly eaten alive by wolves.

      Also, there are health associations with milk, not all positive. There is some evidence linking milk consumption and type I diabetes for instance. But overall, it’s a good source of nutrients and pretty delicious.

      1. stanmrak says:

        Getting eaten alive by wolves seems more humane to me than the constant abusive treatment these cows get in concentrated feed lots every day of their lives.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Which is why you are in favour of genetic engineering and the use of vat meat to meet human nutritional desires and needs in a humane, environmentally sustainable way, right?

          Or are you one of those douchebags that insists the only way to progress is by forcing the world to adopt your view on things?

          I’m kidding, I already know the answer. And may I point out – these animals are our food. I place far more of a premium on human health and happiness than I do on theirs.

          1. James says:

            “I place far more of a premium on human health and happiness than I do on theirs.”

            So do you have anyway of justifying this that isn’t simply an appeal to a shared prejudice?

            1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              I’m the top predator in nature, so I get to eat pretty much whatever I want. Or specism, take your pick. Humans are more important than cows, I can’t justify this in absolute terms but I’m still quite comfortable with it.

              I’m also quite glad someone else does the killing and butchering, because I’m too squeamish to cut anything’s throat. I realize there are philosophical problems with this, and opens me up to charges of hypocrisy, but I’m fine with that. Animals aren’t people.

              If it makes you feel any better, I would be happier if it were possible to have suffering-free meat. So far, it’s not. But that’s why I support vat meat.

              So I guess what I’m saying is – appeal to shared prejudice.

            2. The Other James says:

              James nearly all life depends some other life for food.
              What make animals more important than plants?

        2. Harriet Hall says:

          Why not work to treat beef cattle humanely instead of rejecting meat? Keep in mind that those cows would never have been born were it not for the meat industry. What if wild cows were all eaten “humanely” by wolves and became extinct? Would PETA approve of that?

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            PETA would never be on board with the humane keeping and slaughtering of cows, and one can see their perspective. Meat genuinely is murder, unless you elect to only eat the legs and non-mandatory organs. You may be nicely, painlessly killing the cow – but you’re still killing it. And now I would guess that many members are indifferent to the logic of the argument by now – they’re against meat consumption because they’re against meat consumption. My guess would be many oppose even suffering (and cow)-free vat meat.

            Interesting thought – cows that grow, and shed, large, meaty tails like lizards. Another dystopian science project from the future I could totally get behind.

            Keep in mind that those cows would never have been born were it not for the meat industry

            This is always an interesting argument to me. Is it better, or worse, to have come into being merely to be killed for meat? Certainly if one is born to a life made up exclusively of suffering, is this a boon? I bet philosophers have something to say.

            1. n brownlee says:

              PETA is nuts, and the organization itself is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of animals: research animals, pets, and domestic meat and fiber animals. And no, this one cannot see their perspective. Meat is not murder, meat is supper. Everything and everyone that lives on this planet lives because some other things die, including plants, and pretending otherwise is absurd. AND “unscientific”.

              You (or anyone) may choose not to eat animal products, and that’s fine with me. I don’t care. But I do not believe – can’t see a way- that manufactured, animal-free “vat meat” will ever be produced more cheaply than animal protein- specifically some kinds of farmed fish and fowl. We produce chicken and fish so cheaply now that, if not for the profit imperative, we could sell it as cheaply as beans.

              1. Windriven says:

                “PETA is nuts”

                The animal lab of at least one research facility in NOLA is accessed through an unmarked metal door and, as I recall, is not even in the same building as the hospital. This, I was told, was because of antivivisectionist nutters who have been known to engage in such peaceful protests as breaking into facilities, turning loose animals that may be infected with christ-knows-what, breaking stuff, throwing red paint around … you know, your standard, peaceful, civil disobedience actions learned at Gandhi’s knee.

                Although I am mildly entertained when they do their models stripping for PETA thing. I think it is the inherent boobs double entendre.

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                I really hope you’re wrong about vat meat (and I think you might be – industrial everything is very good at producing large volumes of products that require little human intervention, including complex biomolecules like drugs). We’ll see, we live in interesting times!

                I still say meat is murder (in the sense of “meat consumption requires an animal to die). It’s murder I’m OK with (but I’d prefer vat meat, of course – sterile, pre-flavoured, with enhanced lipid profiles) but in my mind it is still murder and consuming meat of necessity requires something with a brain pretty close to ours to die. The fact that the easiest way to avoid nutrient deficiency is through meat (i.e. the fact that until recently meat consumption was essentially a necessity) doesn’t change the fact that you’re still killing something, and killing a plant is different from killing an animal (not to mention, you can theoretically only eat part of the plant while the rest goes on living – an option not available in any humane way with animals pending my dystopian science project suggested above).

                I’m of the opinion that Ghandi, douchebag that he was in many ways, was onto something when he said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” I look forward to a technical and scientific solution to the problem of animal cruelty. Decerebrate clones of humans and animals is certainly one of them, vat meat is another.

                In my mind, the future really does look like a retro-future horror movie from the 50s and 60s. All Tesla coils, bubbling beakers and disembodied body parts.

              3. Jesse Townley says:

                I’d like to second William’s comment, but from the perspective of a quarter-century vegetarian. My choice to switch back in 1988 was based on factory farming, not health, and I- like most people in this thread- support humane treatment of animals. I also suspect most people in the US support humane treatment.

                Heck, seeing the explosion of “cage-free eggs” and “grass-fed beef” is really heartening to me. The expansion of vegetarian and vegan options in supermarkets and restaurants is also astounding.

                Like 99.999999% of the vegetarians and vegans I personally know and have met over the decades, I do NOT give a flying **** what others eat. I’ve always thought the defensiveness of omnivores when faced with us vegetarians was funny and way over-done.

                The meat-tri dish (my friend’s nickname for lab-grown meat) seems like a logical, environmentally sane way to go. Let’s push forward that way and start weaning our agriculture off of using so many resources for factory farms and push more diverse crops around the planet!

                Finally, I generally support PETA in many of their campaigns but some- like this one- are chock full of bad strategic choices. I think they’re a necessary part of the animal-rights landscape so that people can position themselves slightly to one side of them & still do things like eliminate animal testing for cosmetics, which is unnecessary and undeniably cruel. (See: organ chips, collagen,

                http://www.care2.com/causes/3-innovations-that-can-help-end-animal-testing.html

                Even this generally skeptical site states that alternatives to animals would be strong complements to using animals.
                http://speakingofresearch.com/extremism-undone/alternatives/

                Personally, I’m most concerned about cosmetics and other consumer product testing, not medical testing. I’d be satisfied if all consumer testing switched over from animals tomorrow and medical testing continued only when there were no useful non-animal options. (Again, I doubt there are many in the US who would disagree)

                PS- I love the SGU!

              4. Quinn says:

                The thing that’s always bugged me about the phrase “meat is murder” is that humans are omnivores, not herbivores. To be fair, you CAN get the nutrients you need from only vegetables, but then you’re murdering helpless plants. On the flip side, would you classify a lion or a dolphin or an eagle as a murderer? Polar bears’ diets consist of roughly 90% meat, but often the same people who want everyone in the world to be a vegan can be found trying to get people to save the polar bears. There’s a bit of a stereotype that PETA values animal lives over those of people, and I’m not convinced it’s entirely untrue.

              5. Greg says:

                I find it somewhat ironic that some vegans decry the cruelty of the industrial meat industry claiming they are opposed because the animals are sentient beings. Guess what? Plants are sentient too and they are also treated very cruelly. Check out the Nature Of Things special titled “Smarty Plants” for some fascinating insight.

              6. Harriet Hall says:

                I know plants can respond to environmental stimuli, but I don’t consider them “sentient” in the same sense that a cow is sentient. If you want to be kind to both animals and plants, the obvious solution would be for us all to stop eating entirely and give the planet back to non-human life forms. But that would be cruelty to one animal species: humans. I’m afraid we’re stuck. No path can completely avoid all cruelty.

              7. Greg says:

                I see your point – I was being somewhat facetious (sp) with my comment. Since you have brought it up how would you define it? As i know it sentience only requires an organism to be aware of and respond to it’s environment and external stimuli. Though very limited, plants possess some intelligence.

            2. Andrey Pavlov says:

              I think that on the topic of sentience there is no right answer. By all accepted definitions and discussions on the matter it simply means having the ability to experience and respond to external stimuli. That is exceedingly broad and really only eliminates inanimate objects like rocks a priori.

              Depending on how one chooses to define “experience and respond” a bacterium could be more sentient than a plant. We all know how they can move, navigate towards food and away from noxious stimuli, turn on and off gene products in response to environmental stimuli, and even communicate with other bacteria in close proximity creating a primitive sort of neural network where the entire colony reacts and grows as a whole (e.g. biofilm).

              However, certain plants grow extremely rapidly and use gravitational, touch, and light based inputs to inform their growth pattern. Venus fly traps have sensory inputs and rapidly respond to tactile sensation. There is a palm tree that can lay down stilt-like roots to physically move itself up to 1 meter per year in order to chase the sun. And there is a tree known as the “walking tree” native to Costa Rica that does something similar in where it will lay down roots on one side and then the roots on the opposite side wither and die as it moves, once again, towards the sun.

              If your metric is that it must have the ability to perceive pain… that still gets sticky. There are people (albeit rarely) born without the ability to feel pain. More relevant, it is obvious that some people perceive pain more acutely or less acutely than others. Unless those people are “more” or “less” sentient, that can’t be the only metric employed. Same goes for the ability to communicate the qualia one experiences, lest we decide profoundly mentally retarded individuals are not sentient.

              The point being that the real reason it is so difficult to draw a line and quantify is because, just like everything else in biology, it is a smooth continuum. Evolution is a smooth continuum with various traits being present, absent, modified, vestigial, etc across all species. Including emergent phenomena like consciousness and sentience.

              So drawing the line at what one chooses to eat and not eat by saying “I won’t eat a sentient creature” is a meaningless statement unless you define what that sentience means to you… and then necessarily recognizing that at least a large part of that is a personal and subjective decision as to what aspect and manifestation of sentience you are choosing to focus on and prioritize. Otherwise you might be inadvertently admitting you would eat a comatose person but not a fish.

              So Dr. Hall was spot on in saying that plants are not sentient like cows. But the implicit statement there is that cows or “more” or “better at” sentience than plants, which requires further explication, IMHO.

              There is nothing wrong with drawing a line somewhere. Personally, I’ve never encountered anything I haven’t been willing to try eating. And only a handful of things I’ve tried I wouldn’t try again. But a rational discussion on the topic should include a recognition that there is no bright line and not be reduced to asserting that a single particular trait, particularly one as nebulous as “sentience,” settles the discussion objectively to all reasonable interlocutors.

              1. Greg says:

                Excellent response, sir. The breadth and depth of your knowledge is very impressive. Thanks for the input.

              2. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Excellent response, sir. The breadth and depth of your knowledge is very impressive. Thanks for the input.

                Thank you for the kind words. Though I am nothing more than a giant nerd with too much time (and no surf) on my hands these days :-D

                In any event, I did not mean my comment to be a definitive anything. Merely an example of how there are always more layers to uncover and at heart a subjective prioritization for all lines drawn. Many are perfectly reasonable, but they simply must be justified rather than asserted by fiat with some catch-all term.

              3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Personally, I’ve never encountered anything I haven’t been willing to try eating. And only a handful of things I’ve tried I wouldn’t try again.

                Where does balut fit into this scheme?

              4. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Where does balut fit into this scheme?

                Haven’t tried it, but I’m willing to. I’d probably bet it would be in the “wouldn’t try again” category. But then again, I’d say the same for Hákarl as well.

                Durian, for example, I rather enjoy. Particularly after it has had a day or so in warm temperatures to ferment a bit.

              5. James says:

                Mr Pavlov this a great response would mind if I would “steal” this response the next I have a conversation with a vegetarian.

              6. Harriet Hall says:

                That’s Dr. Pavlov; he recently graduated.

              7. Andrey Pavlov says:

                @James:

                Mr Pavlov this a great response would mind if I would “steal” this response the next I have a conversation with a vegetarian.

                Thank you for the kind words and of course. I’m glad that you find my ideas on the topic worthy of repeating.

                And Dr. Hall is correct. I am also technically Dr. Pavlov. Though, much like her and others here, I don’t care if you use my title so long as the lack of use is not an intentional slight (which does happen around here, but I think was not at all your intent). Honestly I am still not used to being “Dr. Pavlov” and I would not have corrected you myself. I’m sure I’ll get used to it at some point, but short of intentional insult I honestly don’t care if people do or don’t call me doctor. Ideas should stand on their own merits, regardless of what letters one has after his or her name. It is still nice to have the recognition though, so thank you Dr. Hall.

          2. stanmrak says:

            Good luck on reforming the meat industry… After several of them were videotaped and reported treating animals brutally, did they reform? No – they pushed though a law in several states making it illegal to videotape or photograph operations at any of their ‘farms’, even if you’re standing on a public roadway while doing it. That meat you’re eating was tortured every day for its entire lifetime.

            1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              Nobody says we have to reform the meat industry – I’m talking about replacing it. In an ideal world, genetically modify a plant that grows meat instead of fruit – environmentally friendly and ethical. Or, vat meat.

              Of course, again, we are eating them. There’s really no humane way to eat something, so worrying about their well-being is rather…questionable.

              From the ethical perspective, it’s nice that a clean death leads to better meat – if it was the other way around, I would have slightly more qualms about eating a cow that was tasered.

              And, of course, it’s funny to see someone talking about ethics when they obviously don’t care enough about human health to be honest.

            2. Windriven says:

              “That meat you’re eating was tortured every day for its entire lifetime.”

              Then don’t buy that meat. Seriously. I generally don’t. Not for the same reasons as you. In the first place, I eat much less beef than most people. In the second, my neighbor hand raises some of the best pigs that wallowed in the mud. He feeds them, among other things, loads of apples from his orchard that make his pork as distinctive as the acorn fed, black-footed Spanish hogs that produce exceptional jamon. Each fall four of us kill, butcher and process a few hogs right down to sausage, bacon and head cheese.

              Take some responsibility for what you stuff in your pie hole. You don’t have to butcher your own but find a farmer that you can buy from.

              1. OneOther says:

                That can be easier said than done. On some level, buying any food from any producer is a leap of faith. Plenty of meats labeled “humane” turned out to really not be. Part of this is because the government’s labeling standards aren’t exactly clear and concise. For example, “cage-free” eggs might come from farms that do not cage the hens, but the designation does not require the hens to have any real adequate living space. The conditions, subsequently, can still be quite cruel, although “cage-free” is still marketed as a more humane alternative. It means nothing of the sort, unless the producer goes the extra mile.

                The other prolem for consumers is the issue of corporate inter-dependence. If I am taking the time to support producers who create more humane meat, dairy or egg alternatives, I am likely doing so because I believe in their product as opposed to the more conventional alternative. However, a pretty sizable number of those more humane producers are actually owned, in whole or in part, by the more conventional suppliers. So even when you purchase humane animal products, your dollars may be enriching a supplier who you would never want to enrich otherwise. “They get you coming and going” is a cliche for a reason.

                I don’t think you can argue in favor of personal responsibility – which is an excellent concept in theory – but discount how decidedly un-transparent the food production system in the USA truly is. Personality responsibility works best when people truly have all the information to make choices, but I doubt we’re truly there yet.

              2. quetzalmom says:

                Try a farmers’ market for a source of humanely raised meat. Most of us are small producers who will be happy to share details of our practices.

              3. Windriven says:

                @OneOther

                What you seem to be saying is that you are unwilling to be an ethical consumer unless it is easy. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes you have to go the extra mile and come to know the producers as quetzalmom notes above. Sometimes you have to just make the best judgment you can with the information at hand.

                As to your second point, small is the answer. I know the lady from whom I get eggs. I know my neighbor Jose with whom I butcher hogs. I don’t eat much beef. But I know an ethical rancher Greg, from whom I can buy if I wish. I grow a lot of my own veggies and what I don’t grow I buy at a farmer’s market where I have taken the time to speak with vendors, learn what they consider important, compare that with what I think is important.

                Finally, remember Voltaire: the perfect is the enemy of the very good.

          3. Greg says:

            Cows are a blight on the planet – they consume far too many resources and cause a great deal of excess pollution. Bison are much less needy and their meat is naturally lean. They don’t need shelter and are much less dependent on fresh water. Recently bison ranches have begun to spring up here and there, but we need more of them to bring the prices down – right now a bison cut will cost minimum 2 to 3 times that of an equivalent beef cut.

            1. ndjinn says:

              I like Bison, it’s pretty good. Better than Cape Buffalo and Giraffe. Ostrich is good, as is Red Kangaroo (‘roo is a bit tricky to cook, it’s very rich) and most crocodilians. I have been pushing to farm Manatees for food and to get their numbers back up, but so far no one seems very interested in my plan.

              1. Greg says:

                I’m surprised no one is interested – manatees are the cows of the sea – guess you need to pioneer a sea-ranching industry. If you build it, they will eat…

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                There’s a case to be made that marine animals are superior choices for meat sources because they expend far fewer resources supporting their weight against gravity, and are thus much more efficient in terms of calories-to-growth. If manatees taste like beef (or if we could breed an actual sea cow, or even perhaps keep them penned in aquatic habitats), and get the public to accept them as an alternative to beef, the savings in terms of environmental damage, food costs and land use could be substantial.

                Anyone know what manatee steak tastes like?

              3. MadisonMD says:

                Can you feed hay to manatees? Bovines and other ruminants can digest cellulose, thereby unlocking energy inaccessible to the human food chain. Most animals lack a symbiotic relationship with cellulase-producing bacteria.

              4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Manatees are aquatic herbivores, they survive by eating marine plants like sea weed (they share a common ancestor with elephants). There might be an added advantage here since such plants wouldn’t need to support their weight either.

                Geez, I can’t believe I’m actively exploring the agricultural benefits of manatee farming. I feel a little ashamed.

                But on a somewhat related note – they have nipples. You could milk them. They really are sea cows!

        3. n brownlee says:

          No cow lives “every day of their lives” in a feed lot. That would make beef cost a thousand dollars a pound. Some beef cattle spend the last weeks of their lives in a feed lot. Most do not, but are slaughtered after spending their lives on grass pasturage, supplemented with grain, silage, and/or pellet feeding.

          1. stanmrak says:

            So just a few weeks of torture is OK with you?

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UaN6wZ1cBA

            1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              Fine with me as long as I don’t have to watch it.

              Again, we are eating them. There’s not really an ethical way to do it.

              1. Eldric IV says:

                I disagree that simply because the animal is raised to be killed and eaten disqualifies ethical treatment.

                Inflicting some amount of pain during the lethal act is neither unethical nor torture but needlessly inflicting pain, fear, or other ‘torture’ would be unethical behavior and unbecoming of humanity (and, as you mentioned earlier, it makes the meat taste worse).

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                I’m not saying that because we eat cows, we should be deliberately crueler to them throughout their lifespan. I’m saying that worrying unduly about their happiness throughout their lifespan is a bit ironic since we ultimately end up putting a bolt through their brain then dismembering them and feeding the unusable scraps to other cows. If you eat meat and are concerned about the welfare of an animal, you’ve got a rather substantial hurdle to overcome or handwave away given the fact that it ultimately is killed.

                I realize that cows* are currently subjected to extremely trying conditions, that their lives are rather brutal and short so I can buy ribs for $3 per pound, and that if I were in a position to observe their lives I would probably take much less relish in my weekend BBQ. That’s why I don’t visit cattle ranches or slaughterhouses. That’s also why I support vat meat as a solution and can’t wait for it to be commercially viable.

                *and pigs and chickens, which I actually eat a lot more of vs. cows; I’m not a huge beef fan.

        4. Stephen H says:

          Stanmrak, you haven’t really tried either – have you? There are plenty of cows that are treated damn well thank you very much. On the other hand, if they were left to survive as wild animals I expect they would become extinct very quickly. The modern cow has been bred for a purpose (actually a couple of purposes), and that purpose is NOT survival.

          So try the thought experiment. First comes the hunt. You are in a herd, as cows are very much herd animals. A pack of wolves is spotted by one of the cows in the herd, and all of a sudden it’s stampede time. You know you are running for your life, but you have no idea what you are running from. On the good news side, you only have to be faster than the slowest cow and you’ll be fine. Bad news? Since your calf got taken two days ago, you are now the slowest (he was slower). Still, you run. You’re okay for a while – wolves don’t want to face a stampede. But you know they’re following as you hear the howls.

          Then you see the first, coming at you from the side. He jumps, you kick and hear the crack of ribs – he’ll be dead in a couple of days. But you can’t stop now, there are more wolves. Three of them on your left. You watch them cautiously as you run, aware that you cannot get away and can only hope for a decent fight. suddenly your right hind-leg collapses under your weight, and you fall – breaking another of your limbs in the process. Another wolf had used the distraction to approach from your blind side.

          Now that you are down you are defenseless. The wolf pack closes in for the kill, eager to eat since their last meal – while tender – was not really enough to keep them satiated. As a cow, you don’t even have the horns that the males (who of course have run off to save their own lives) could have used for protection. The wolves know this, and while they approach slowly the first soon dives in, tearing a chunk from your stomach.

          I will leave the following details to your own imagination, but point out that the wolves (or other predator) may not want the whole cow at once. They’ll eat their fill and then wander off, possibly even leaving you alive until the scavengers turn up hours later.

          In other words, cut the bull. Being eaten alive is not a lot of fun, nor is it a quick bite and you’re dead.

          1. Andrey Pavlov says:

            @Stephen H:

            In case you haven’t seen it, during the Frozen Planet series by Attenborough they caught on film a pair of wolves hunting down a herd a bison. If one thinks cows stand even one iota of a chance out in the wild, they are delusional.

            And yes, nature is not kind nor friendly. I absolutely and 100% agree that we should strive to treat out livestock and food animals as humanely as possible. They are, after all, our (distant) cousins in a very literal sense. That is why I refuse to eat Halal meat and KFC. I have seen clear evidence of the brutality of the production process. I also avoid anything labeled “Organic” as best I can for other reasons outlined in other posts here and over at Neurologica. But, barring that, I can’t agree with the argument that living on a farm is worse than being out in the wild, exposed to the elements, infections, natural disasters, and predation.

          2. Kathy says:

            Hyaenas tend to go for the anus first, once they have brought down a buck or buffalo.

        5. Landcruiser says:

          You speak of the US system as if it represents the way the world farms beef. Here, in New Zealand, we farm beef in grass filled fields with a high level of animal welfare, as do many other countries.
          PETA isn’t really for any sort of farming, they’re an ideological organisation, despite the owner and founder being a dog owner. Which she claims is perfectly ethical, basing it on some cultural relativism and historical longevity for this relationship. It’s not a wolf or anything original it’s a Chihuahua, and I don’t think there were any packs of those running in the wild 1000s of years ago. Therefore it’s a bred dog. Hmmm, conflicting ethics PETA.
          So, I keep cows and they come when i call them. They free range but I don’t take their milk. It’s a hassle actually, considering how much my family consumes weighed against the time it would take to milk them. I treat my animals ethically and I eat them when they have lived a peaceful happy life. Despite this, PETE would still disagree. Because they are a no holds barred intolerant group. I don’t care for their advice nor do I seek their approval. They are unreliable and contradictory. If you dislike US beef practices raise your own cow or eat imported New Zealand meat

      2. Chris Sanders says:

        Actually, Although I may be mistaken, I believe the position they take is that PETA would prefer it if cows did not exist at all, as they are a product of artificial selection by humans and not an animal ever found in the wild. While PETA claims to be for animal welfare, in fact, they are not supportive of any domesticated species, and most of the cats and dogs that fall into thier care are destroyed.

    2. stanmrak says:

      White Caucasians and Northern Europeans have fewer problems digesting milk than certain ethnic groups. in america, about 50% of the population are ethnic groups that historically have had more problems being lactose-intolerant.

      Then there’s our paranoia about raw milk (fueled by the dairy industry). In France, raw milk is sold in vending machines on street corners, but in america, raw milk purveyors are targeted by the government as criminals and thrown in jail!

      http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/08/the-latest-raw-milk-raid-an-attack-on-food-freedom/243635/

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        The paranoia about raw milk is mostly based on the fear of serious, sometimes deadly diseases that can be found in raw milk and can kill adults and children. Not to mention the paranoia “fueled by the dietary industry” is more than matched by the unsubstantiated claims that raw milk offers nigh-miraculous health benefits, and is risk-free, qualities that they use to justify higher prices.

        Meanwhile, the approach in the US allows for safe, inexpensive consumption by millions.

        I suppose your perspective on whether the European or American model is the more meritorious depends on many things, at least one of which being whether or not your kid ended up in the hospital or morgue after consuming a product alleged to be “risk-free” by its proponents.

        1. stanmrak says:

          Statistically, raw milk is as safe as, or even safer, than common mass-produced pasteurized milk, (and certainly way more safe than spinach, which is sold everywhere) and is highly regulated in states where it’s legal. Why is no one so paranoid about spinach that they jail people who sell it when there’s an e coli outbreak from it?

          Here’s an example of what they do to people who sell raw milk – even legally! Do they do this to the spinach growers who have poisoned thousands (even unwittingly)?

          James Stewart, the 65-year-old store owner from California, was arrested (a SWAT team invaded his store!) and terrorized for selling raw milk (according to California state law, it’s perfectly legal to sell raw milk: http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com/raw-milk-regulations/state/california). His bail was set at the astonishing level of $1 million. Bail for alleged child rapist and sex pimp Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State University sports coach, was only set at $100,000.
          He was then subjected to extreme torture in an LA County jail. This included food deprivation, sleep deprivation, hypothermia, interrogation, verbal intimidation, involuntary medical testing and even flooding his jail cell with raw human sewage and forced him to clean it out himself.

          1. stanmrak says:

            When you hear that you have a roughly 9 times greater (relative) risk of getting sick from drinking raw milk than pasteurized milk, that might sound scary. And indeed it would be, if we were talking about the absolute risk moving from 5% to 45%.

            But when the absolute risk is extremely small, as it is here, a relative 9-fold increase is rather insignificant. If you have a 0.00011 percent chance of getting sick from drinking pasteurized milk, and a 9.4 times greater risk of getting sick from drinking unpasteurized milk, we’re still talking about a miniscule risk of 0.00106% (one one-thousandth of a percent).

            We let them sell all kinds of other foods that are way more dangerous than raw milk.

            1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              …and if you scale up raw milk to feed as many people as pasteurized milk does, the absolute numbers are different.

              We don’t have to make all other foods perfectly safe before we can make a decision to make milk safe. No proven benefits to raw milk, significant risks. For anyone without an ideological position, it’s a no-brainer. Which is your default state I believe.

              But I’m all for banning spinach, it sucks.

          2. Andrey Pavlov says:

            Stan, please, we all know you don’t have the foggiest about statistics or how they work. Particularly since there is ample evidence that you are pretty much completely wrong.

            Again.

          3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            James Stewart, the 65-year-old store owner from California, was arrested (a SWAT team invaded his store!) and terrorized for selling raw milk (according to California state law, it’s perfectly legal to sell raw milk: http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com/raw-milk-regulations/state/california). His bail was set at the astonishing level of $1 million. Bail for alleged child rapist and sex pimp Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State University sports coach, was only set at $100,000.
            He was then subjected to extreme torture in an LA County jail. This included food deprivation, sleep deprivation, hypothermia, interrogation, verbal intimidation, involuntary medical testing and even flooding his jail cell with raw human sewage and forced him to clean it out himself.

            None of which reduces the risks of raw milk, nor magically makes evidence appear to support health benefits for raw milk consumption. The argument you are making here, aside from “don’t prosecute the poor people who break laws they disagree with”, an interesting stance, seems to be that law enforcement was mean to someone breaking the law, therefore the law is illegitimate. That’s a non sequiter, thank you very much, and doesn’t change the fact that Stewart, well-intentioned that he may have been, still broke the law.

            If a drunk driver doesn’t kill anyone, gets arrested for drunk driving, then is severely beaten while in jail, that doesn’t mean laws against drunk driving should be repealed, it means the police should be investigated and if appropriate, punished.

      2. RedSquid says:

        Are there black Caucasians?

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          I believe this hinges on the perception of whiteness/caucasianness of Arabs and Jews.

          But race categories are inherently problematic no matter what.

        2. Windriven says:

          You’ve never heard of Black Irish???

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Or Black Russians! More than just a cocktail!

            1. CHotel says:

              I feel that, given the context of how this came about, if I were to voice my opinion that White Russians are superior I may sound vaguely racist.

      3. Sawyer says:

        If you can explain to us why it’s a good thing that some French milk vendors have completey editted out half of the 19th century from their own history, we’ll all be very impressed. Until then I’m sticking to the idea that raw milk is idiotic.

      4. Windriven says:

        stan-
        The new, improved, gentler Windriven does not call people idiots – even idiotic people.

        “Then there’s our paranoia about raw milk (fueled by the dairy industry).”

        Bacterial loads of pathogens like e. coli appear in raw milk products here in WA – and I presume elsewhere – with disturbing regularity. Udders and poop chutes are in close proximity to one another. I’ve no doubt that most dairymen pay close attention to udder hygiene and milking equipment sterilization, but sh!t – if you’ll pardon the expression – happens.

        I will take a leap of faith and presume that you wouldn’t handle a cowpie and then feed a two year old without first sanitizing your hands. Why then would you take a chance on transmitting e coli via unpasturized milk? What possible upside could justify the downside risk?

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          What possible upside could justify the downside risk?

          Well, the cure for every possible disease of course! Probably including lactose intolerance.

          There is an argument to be made that in the past, in addition to not being a choice as all milk was raw, that the diet and farming practices allowed for less contaminated milk, and bacterial contaminants that were less distressingly deadly to the human gut. I think grass-fed cows are less susceptible to infection and persistence of the nastier E. coli. So a case could be made that a small, well-tended herd of grass-fed cows whose udders were carefully washed before milking would present significantly less risk than milk from a large herd of cows fed primarily a diet of corn, that relies on pasturization to ensure safety. The risks presented by a “primordial cow” found in a neolithic farm whose sole purpose is providing a single family with milk would be considerably different from the risks of even a cow grown in a 19th century French field whose milk was mixed and sold at a market (let alone the massive operations of contemporary industrial milk farming).

          However, the risk is still reduced, not eliminated, the benefits are still largely spurious, it would be more expensive, and it’s not like Stan is making the case based on its scientific merits.

        2. CHotel says:

          “The new, improved, gentler Windriven does not call people idiots – even idiotic people.”

          I for one prefer the older, angier Windriven.

        3. stanmrak says:

          The alleged risks from raw milk are way over blown. Statistics show:
          Seafood caused 29 times more illnesses than dairy (any type)
          Poultry caused 15 times more illnesses than dairy
          Eggs caused 13 times more illnesses than dairy
          Beef caused 11 times more illnesses than dairy
          Pork caused 8 times more illnesses than dairy
          Produce caused 4 times more more illnesses than dairy

          What this clearly shows is that when it comes to foodborne illness, dairy should be the least of your concerns – whether its raw or pastuerized.

          http://chriskresser.com/raw-milk-reality-is-raw-milk-dangerous

          1. Andrey Pavlov says:

            Leave it to Stan to make a tu quoque argument with food!

            And yes, you are absolutely right – the absolute risk is low. But it is certainly not zero. And when you consider that there are no benefits to raw milk, it becomes an unacceptable risk. And when you further consider the law of large numbers and realize that hundreds of millions of people drink milk then even a tiny absolute risk becomes magnified.

            How prescient of me to comment that you don’t have the foggiest about how stats work or what they mean. Heck, it isn’t even really stats – just simple arithmetic. Let’s try it out.

            Let’s assume your numbers are right and we go from 0.00011% to 0.00106% (and you are already failing at simple math since 0.00011*9.4 = 0.001034, even lower than your bad math). The population of the US is ~314 million. Let’s assume half the population drinks milk 5 times a week. That means 157 million people drink 5 times per week, for a total of 785 million drinks a week and 40.82 billion a year. If we swapped all the pasteurized milk for raw, that would be (using the real math): [(0.001034 - 0.00011)*40.82*10^9]/100 = 377,177 additional cases of foodborne illness per year. For no benefit. From a baseline of 44,902 cases of foodborne illness per year (see how that works? 44,902*9.4 = 422,078 which means the difference is…. 377,177).

            Amazing how one-thousandth of 1% can still be a really big number.

            Stan, you can’t even do simple math let alone bluster your way through stats… all whilst making a tu quoque argument for food. LOL.

            1. Sawyer says:

              “Leave it to Stan to make a tu quoque argument with food!”

              Not only is it the tu quoque argument, but it’s negative evidence against his claim. The reason we know when people are infected from beef or pork is because we use the same damn tools that are used to study milk pathogens. Microscopes, chemical assays, genetic tests, etc – they all rely on the exact same principles whether or not we’re looking for salmonella in muscle tissue or e. coli hanging out on an utter. If they work for meat, they work for milk. There once was this guy named Pasteur that did some work on this, but I don’t want to get bogged down on the 5th grade science.

              Of course about half of stan’s posts boil down to “here’s the very evidence that shows why I’m wrong”. I suppose I should stop letting it bother me, because he is doing an excellent job at debunking his own drivel.

              1. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Oh Sawyer, there are always a million things that Stan offers up for us. As I’m sure you noticed, I hardly ever comment to him. But every once in a while, a certain little thing catches my eye at the right moment. And a tu quoque argument about food just made me laugh.

                That and how he can’t seem to use a calculator, though that was after the fact when I started crunching numbers and – just cuz – I decided to check his. I had a sneaking suspicion it would be wortwhile checking, but was still surprised that he couldn’t seem to simply multiply two numbers together.

            2. stanmrak says:

              Try doing that math with the other food groups and see how much bigger the risk is there. Why are these foods legal?

              And you can’t just assert that there is no benefit to raw milk. You don’t know.

              1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Try doing that math with the other food groups and see how much bigger the risk is there. Why are these foods legal?

                My question is why do we have to reduce the health risks of all other foods before we are justified in acknowledging the health risks of raw milk, and the benefits of pasteurization? I’ve asked it repeatedly, and you just keep going back to the false dilemma of other foods presenting risks. It’s not a false dilemma, we don’t have to choose between safe milk or safe pork. We can have both. Easily and trivially in the case of milk.

                And you can’t just assert that there is no benefit to raw milk. You don’t know.

                The burden of proof rests on the claimant – if there are health benefits to raw milk that justifies the risks, please present evidence of this fact. Because if pasteurization makes milk safer and does not reduce the nutritional benefits of milk in a meaningful way, you’d have to be an idiot to oppose it.

              2. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Try doing that math with the other food groups and see how much bigger the risk is there. Why are these foods legal?

                Still with the tu quoque argument? LOL.

                Raw milk is not a food separate from milk. It is the less safe version of milk. We don’t need to make “milk” illegal any more than we need to make “pork” illegal. We just need to make both safer. Your argument by analogy completely fails, because to be valid you would have to be comparing pork to pork that is not refrigerated during transport. Why is that illegal? Because it needlessly increases the risk associated with consumption; it is the “less safe version” of pork, just like raw milk is the “less safe version” of milk. (or conversely, pasteurized milk is the more safe version and refrigerated pork is the more safe version).

                I am all for making all foods safer. If we can make pork even safer, we should do that. But it has nothing to do with pasteurized vs raw milk.

                And you can’t just assert that there is no benefit to raw milk. You don’t know.

                I didn’t. I linked to actual data. To the best of our knowledge we do know – there is none. And there is zero reason to believe that there is any.

          2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Just think of what we could do to those numbers if we treated all of those foods with food irradiation! Too bad the average idiot consumer is just as wrong about food irradiation as they are about genetic modification!

            Plus, again, merely because raw milk is safer than pork doesn’t mean we can’t make raw milk safer by pasteurizing it – particularly given there are no health benefits to raw milk and no risks to pasteurization.

            1. Greg says:

              I’d like to know more about food irradiation – can you give a summation of it? or provide a resource?

              1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Um…not really, sorry. Food irradiation is the use of radioactive energy to sterilize food products (duh!), and is only used in a large way for spices these days. Scientifically, there is no evidence that it presents significant health risks, and you’re clearly better off eating an irradiated hamburger than you are eating one contaminated with living E. coli. Consumer opposition to food irradiation is it’s usual stupidity – radiation sounds scary, people think the food becomes radioactive, and nutter advocacy groups claim it has unique dangers and “novel molecules” are formed by the process and WHO KNOWS WHAT THEY DO!!!!

                Think GMO, it’s basically the same elements. A novel technology, scientifically no issues, but the public is uninformed and terrified by antiscientific zealots like stan into opposing something they don’t actually know a damned thing about.

                I’m sure there is more to it than that, and the information here comes from a textbook I read probably 15 years ago.

                Here’s a recent review article about poultry, and it turns out a brief scan of the abstract suggests I’m wrong on several points:

                http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23300322

              2. Andrey Pavlov says:

                An interesting article WLU. Seems that the issue is more about flavor and changing the color, both of which are reasonable concerns, but have nothing to do with the actually safety of consumption. What I found interesting is that the irradiations can actually lead to differences in the color of the cooked meat making it harder to tell when it is fully cooked, which itself would be a health risk. No such thing as a free (chicken) lunch.

              3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                I always use a thermometer to check the doneness of meat, visual estimation is far too vague for safety and culinary purposes.

                I wasn’t aware that there were perceptible changes in the flavour, my information (15 years old!) was that they were just “new” molecules. That’s obviously a concern for food, and probably a big reason Big Ag isn’t pushing for it to be used more.

                I have also heard of irradiated eggs that you can safely eat raw, either alone or in eggs benedict or a caesar dressing.

              4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Neat, thanks for that Greg. I’d like to see what the science-based objections to food irradiation are, beyond “funny colour” and “funky taste”. I found some nutter sites that claim the off taste is like “singed hair”, so perhaps this is only something that could be used for ground meats. And, of course, the real purpose of the sites did not seem to be a neutral assessment of the risks and benefits of irradiation, but rather to oppose current factory farming practices (with irradiation demonized because it is a mechanical and technical way of offsetting or reducing the risks of factory farming). I expect vat meat to be opposed for similar spurious reasons.

              5. Greg says:

                I don’t think I’m quite ready for irradiated meat but certainly other foods could benefit from irradiation – I presume it will kill pretty much all pathogens such as e-coli and the like.

              6. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Greg:

                I don’t think I’m quite ready for irradiated meat but certainly other foods could benefit from irradiation – I presume it will kill pretty much all pathogens such as e-coli and the like.

                I’m curious as to why that is. Obviously things like bad taste, texture, whatever are perfectly reasonable to say you don’t like irradiated products. But assuming those are somehow surmounted, would you still be opposed to it?

                Personally, if you could present me a piece of meat that is indistinguishable (or nearly so) in flavor and texture but is irradiated I would be very happy to even pay a bit extra for it. (Though I imagine that if that become possible and widespread it would actually decrease the cost of meat since the shelf life would be extended and transportation costs would decrease as a result).

              7. Homunculus says:

                WilliamLawrence, a good alternative to irradiated eggs is to use egg product, like Egg Beaters. You can get whole egg, egg whites only, or yolk only egg product. Egg product is pasteurized, so you don’t have to worry about salmonella and other contaminants. It’s what nearly every restaurant uses to make things like hollandaise, which often require raw eggs to make. Since restaurants don’t want to risk getting their customers sick from contamination in raw eggs, the vast majority use pasteurized egg product.

              8. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                I’d much rather have access to irradiated eggs (which I currently don’t), as irradiated eggs are single-dose containers. I’ve bought egg beaters before and end up throwing out most of them because I simply don’t use them fast enough.

                Plus, I’m unaware of any health or culinary adverse effects to irradiating eggs. And if I’m being completely honest, I like buying non-organic, genetically modified, irradiated foods on principle, as a middle finger to all the crunchy granola hippies and their unwashed dreadlocks.

              9. Andrey Pavlov says:

                And if I’m being completely honest, I like buying non-organic, genetically modified, irradiated foods on principle, as a middle finger to all the crunchy granola hippies and their unwashed dreadlocks.

                Well I don’t much have an issue with hippies and dreadlocks (I have a few friends who fit that stereotype quite well), but I agree with you entirely. I make it a point to buy the non-organic GMO version of whatever I can. It doesn’t happen often, but I love it when I stand for a solid minute perusing the items in front of me and then finally find the non-organic version and grab it with great satisfaction and the person casually observing me gives a face of surprise. Sadly it has only led to conversation on the topic a couple of times and usually from someone being “helpful” and trying to explain to me why non-organic is so bad for you. When I have the time I relish such conversations.

                Much like how I am a little hopeful in the coming days. Apparently the International Jehovah’s Witness Convention is here in town this weekend (seriously!) and I would love to have a chat over some sparkling water about how Smith and the golden plates can save my soul.

              10. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                The JWs have stopped trying to have conversations at our door these days, now they just drop off propaganda and leave (hooray!)

                It’s a pity, because I really want to try out my counter-pitch:

                “Have you considered atheism? You could sleep in on the weekend.”

            2. n brownlee says:

              I buy organic milk because it’s the only milk readily available to me that IS irradiated. Can’t use the other stuff fast enough.

          3. Calli Arcale says:

            It’s true — raw pork/beef/poultry/etc. is more dangerous than raw milk. Which is why you’re supposed to cook it. That said, the majority of food poisoning cases are due to cross-contamination — in particular, stuff like using the same plate to carry the raw meat to the grill and to carry the cooked meat off again — and undercooking of meat, particularly ground meat.

            I don’t consider this much of a convincing argument that raw anything is safer, quite honestly.

            1. Homunculus says:

              I worked in restaurants for a little under two decades, predominantly as a prep cook, and I’ve always been skeptical of the “physical cross-contamination via handling” being the biggest factor. In y experience, the biggest factor has been improper storage and rotation of goods (new goes in the back, old gets pushed forward).

              I no longer work in the industry due to a bicycle accident that severely crippled my one good wrist (the other has been broken for over a decade and not been fixed due to not enough income and insurance issues), but my last job was a nightmare because one of the cooks would not, ever, rotate containers for transfer. Meaning that they did not put the foodstuff into new, clean containers when the restaurant closed for the night. Shrimp, if rotated, will easily last you two to three days. If not, it will quickly turn into a bacteria bath.

              Anyways, this one guy simply would not do his closing duties. This resulted in several complaints, including and emergency visit from the local health inspector. I told the boss, several times, about the situation, but he never did anything about it.

              IME, the number one cause of food sickness from restaurants is improper storage procedures. A large quantity of cooks, the serious ones that have been doing it for years, are very mindful of these procedures. Unfortunately, most restaurant jobs don’t pay very well and you sometimes get employees that simply don’t care and/or don’t want to learn/know how to do these procedures properly.

              1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                That might work for a restaurant, but for a home cook I would guess that Calli’s viewpoint is probably more relevant. Most home cooks use small enough batches and frequent enough shopping that storage and rotation isn’t an issue.

                But for restaurants, yeah, I could see that being a big thing. You wouldn’t use, for instance, the tray you carried the meat to the grill on for the plating of the final dish. And patrons would expect nicely-cooked (say) shrimp, which often means cooked to just doneness – not cooked to a safe temperature.

    3. Drone says:

      Hi Earthman,

      A brief summary from “The Origins of Lactase Persistence in Europe”:

      “”"Using data on −13,910*T allele frequency and farming arrival dates across Europe, and approximate Bayesian computation to estimate parameters of interest, we infer that the −13,910*T allele first underwent selection among dairying farmers around 7,500 years ago in a region between the central Balkans and central Europe, possibly in association with the dissemination of the Neolithic Linearbandkeramik culture over Central Europe. Furthermore, our results suggest that natural selection favouring a lactase persistence allele was not higher in northern latitudes through an increased requirement for dietary vitamin D. Our results provide a coherent and spatially explicit picture of the coevolution of lactase persistence and dairying in Europe.”"”

      It seems that lactate persistence originated in central Europe and spread. We could safely assume therefore that you have an evolutionary advantage. Approximately 30% of the world population have mutated (x-men style) while the rest, especially in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, have remained lactate intolerant (70%). At least that’s what I’ve read :)

  2. oldmanjenkins says:

    PETA has gone on to become radicalized in their approach to public debate and the dissemination of misinformation. Most people I would wager believe in the ethical treatment of animals. That point has been lost on them (PETA) as they use blatant falsities, scare tactics, emotion, and the like. PETA are fanatics at this point in my opinion. That they (PETA) would latch on to other purveyors of pseudo-scientific just shows their logic “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Mitchell and Webb did a skit on this:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHRDh0TdTkE

    2. n brownlee says:

      PETA is more than fanatical- it has completely lost sight of the “ethical” goal. PETA activists routinely buy or otherwise acquire adoptable pets and kill them – because they “ethically” oppose animal ownership by human, period. It’s not a secret; it’s part of PETA SOP.

  3. I don’t think this is an American thing. Fearing specific foods is common, and the details do vary by culture somewhat (with lots of cross-fertilization). In Europe there is a near hysteria about GMO, less so in the US but growing. Milk is generally accepted in the US, with pockets of fear-mongering, or advocating for raw milk, or organic, or whatever. They are all just different food fetishes.

  4. goodnightirene says:

    I am mostly (I emphasize the mostly, I use small amounts of cheese at times and put half-and-half in my coffee) vegan and it’s a shame that PETA, et al, use it in this way. All the vegans I know are subject to a great deal of pseudoscience, especially dietary. I search for others like myself, who deplore factory farming and appreciate the environmental advantages of a vegan diet without the woo–in vain. The paleo craze has done much to undermine vegetarianism, let alone veganism, but again is based on great gobs of groundless garbage. I know this medical student who eats paleo AND gluten-free! I think he wants to be the next Dr. Oz (gag).

    I make no health claims for my diet other than it helps me to stay within my caloric limits. Also, I really do like beans!

    1. I agree, check out http://scientificvegan.wordpress.com/ to help fight the woo that so many vegans fall for

      1. Chris says:

        Your website has good stuff. Are you familiar with this skeptic vegan:
        http://skepchick.org/2010/07/the-skeptic-next-door-carrie-poppy/ ?

    2. Ken says:

      I’m a vegetarian for ethical reasons, as well. It can be frustrating to be lumped in with the woo believers, or when it’s assumed I agree with PETA. There are plenty of good reasons to be vegetarian (as a healthcare professional, overuse of antibiotics is high on my list, but there’s also factory farming, treatment of animals, etc) that making up these crazy reasons is unnecessary and unproductive.

  5. autistic-adult says:

    I was on a gluten-free casien-free diet to treat my autism and I can confirm that these diets don’t work. In fact, they can impede your ability to deal with people socially, because so many social events involve food. When you have to bring food to every social event, or completely abstain from eating in public, you start to feel even more like a weirdo than you already would. (Also: It didn’t help my gastrointestinal issues or my sensory issues. Epic fail.)

    On another note, I was subjected to most kinds of autism quackery growing up- HBOT, supplements, ridiculously restrictive diets, shots, enemas- and I’d like to write about it here, for posterity?

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      You can’t use anecdotal evidence to deny the efficacy of GFCF diets anymore than you can use it to confirm it – but your experience does align with the scientific research to date, making it a another white swan.

      SBM does accept guest posts, but I don’t know if they do personal narratives or stories:

      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/about-science-based-medicine/submission-guidelines/

      Quackwatch, on the other hand, does accept such submissions, though I don’t know if they have any specific guidelines. Such narratives are also extremely compelling and excellent resources to draw upon when talking to laypeople, so may I encourage you to post it somewhere? I would link to it.

      1. autistic-adult says:

        Ah, yeah. I know no one on here is liable to buy into this quackery, but I’ve found that talking about the … human side of it sometimes helps make people who’d otherwise go all natural-medicine on me think about it. I still haven’t convinced my parents that they’re wrong about this mess, unfortunately, but I’ve given some other people a nudge in the right direction.

        I’ve written up a couple articles about it, but they’re on dailykos. I know the political slant of that site might turn off some potential readers, but there were so many autism mums spreading misinformation on there that I had to write something up.

        I basically wound up doing everything but Lupron and the bleach thing, and I know the naturopath we were going to suggested the Lupron. So… yeah.

        1. lilady says:

          autistic adult:

          I’m encouraging you to submit an article to SBM about bogus autism treatments. Unfortunately, there are parents of autistic children who have inflicted those bogus treatments on autistic kids who are unable to speak out about those painful, invasive, dangerous and not-clinically-proven bogus treatments.

          http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/UCM394800.pdf

      2. Harriet Hall says:

        I think he could offer more than just anecdotal evidence about what doesn’t work. He could give us insight into the experience of being subjected to one quack remedy after another, and could reinforce the message of SBM and possibly help prevent others from what he went through. It might help convince shruggies that CAM is not to be lightly shrugged off as “harmless.” So please, autistic-adult, do submit a guest article. If for some reason we decide not to use it, then you can submit it elsewhere.

    2. JayBee says:

      Autistic-Adult,

      I for one would very much like to see what you have to write.

      We need more stories like yours, especially for those who are more likely to be influenced by anecdotes than science.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        We need more stories like yours, especially for those who are more likely to be influenced by anecdotes than science.

        i.e. all of humanity, including skeptics!

      2. Katamidetroit says:

        I agree. Especially as the stepmom of an autistic young man who cannot advocate for himself in a way you clearly can.

        Also, anecdotally, my stepson never touched dairy as a child, so, according to PETA, he’s not actually autistic. Hurray!

        /snark off

  6. rita says:

    Peta’s policy of cosying up to animal slaughteres in the name of welfare as well as many other failings has turned this promising group into a disaster for those whom they should be defending. Once again, I need to point out that veganism is an ethical philosophy designed to help people live with a minimum amount of damage in the world: it is not a food fad (indeed, diet is a small part) nor an attempt to push junk science. Dairy is one of the industries which causes most harm to animals and the environment, no-one who is serious about the ethical aspects of their life can hold with it. But if dairy is good or bad for humans in any specific way is not for Peta to point out, still less with nonsense. The American Association of Dieticians states that a well planned vegan diet is adeuqte for human health from cradle to grave and may have health benefits: that is the only relevant fact anyone who wishes to to lead an ethical life needs to know.

    1. Andrey Pavlov says:

      @rita:

      Very reasonable. And I have said to my vegan friends the same. However it is undeniable that, for whatever reason(s), veganism is filled with woo, pseudo-science, and bad ideas. I find it almost funny when my vegan friends go on an ethical high ground and then try to convince others to be vegan using junk science. If your ethical high ground is so solid, why resort to any other argumentation? That should be reason enough.

      The American Association of Dieticians states that a well planned vegan diet is adeuqte for human health from cradle to grave and may have health benefits

      That’s the key – and not something that is easy to do, particularly in developing nations or food deserts in developed nations. Nor for the poorest and/or least educated of a society. Not to say we shouldn’t necessarily strive to mitigate these issues and give as many people access and means, but it is important to acknowledge these practical realities.

      A further argument I have made is an evolutionary one – the distinction between animals, plants, species, consciousness, etc is continuous rather than discrete. Any line – even veganism – is completely arbitrary and no matter what one eats it is always related to you, however distantly. Only one vegan friend has acknowledged this argument and stated that thankfully for him, the areas with the most ambiguity are also the ones he finds the least palatable anyways. Which is fair enough, but he is the only one I have ever seen acknowledge these things.

      1. Harriet Hall says:

        Yes, “well-planned” is the key. We continue to see adult vegans with nutritional deficiencies and vegan parents who feed their infants a vegan diet with disastrous consequences.

        1. DevoutCatalyst says:

          Does the “well planned” diet eliminate concerns about shorter stature in children raised vegan ?

          1. Harriet Hall says:

            As far as I know, vegan children whose diet is properly supplemented with nutrients lacking in the vegan diet ought to grow up as tall as children on a healthy omnivorous diet, and taller than omnivorous children who don’t eat a well-balanced nutritious diet.

            1. brewandferment says:

              Do you have any advice links for a friend of mine whose 14 year old daughter recently went vegan? To make matters more concerning, the daughter will be a varsity rower next year. I suggested my friend get a consult with an RD who specializes in working with teens.

              1. Chris says:

                My younger son who is about to graduate from college (yah!) was in band in middle school, and then in marching band in high school. One of the other moms who helped with band trips had a daughter who decided to become vegan while in middle school.

                The first thing they did was to take her to a registered dietician, someone who is actually trained and certified scientifically on nutrition. They were counseled on what consisted of a proper diet, and how to compensate for one or two nutrients. That went well.

                During middle school that young lady was allowed to bring a box and cooler of her special food to band trips. One place in Vancouver, BC did provide a vegan pizza, which many of her friends tried in support of her (um, yeah, not my son — the one who would hide veggies in our house so he did not have to eat them, the same kid who ate his older brother’s art supplies — he had the most colorful contents in his diapers).

                Things became more complicated when in high school she was diagnosed to have celiac, just like her mother. But it did turn out one of the major band moms who went on the band trips was both lactose intolerant and had celiac disease. So they shared both food and support.

                It seemed to work. So good luck to your friend and her daughter!

          2. Andrey Pavlov says:

            To my knowledge Dr. Hall is correct. I don’t have the link handy but there was a study I read not too long ago that shows evidence that most of the height gain from the last century is not due to more food availability but the decrease in childhood infectious diseases.

            1. CHotel says:

              If you do happen to find the link Andrey I’d very much appreciate you sharing it. It would help me out with a few different people…

              1. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Well since you asked so nicely CHotel….

                Here is a link to the primary study in question (PDF) and here is a link to an article discussing the study, plus others that help corroborate it, that is pretty decent.

              2. Andrey Pavlov says:

                I should add that indeed some of the height gain was nutritional, but it seems that this was the minority of the contribution.

              3. CHotel says:

                Much obliged my friend!

              4. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Glad to help when I can!

      2. DW says:

        You should look into Jainism. They carry the arguments of veganism to an even further extreme.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          They also die of pernicious anemia when they live in a country that has a safe water supply, since they were getting all of their B12 from bacteria in streams and rivers.

      3. Eldric IV says:

        Do vegans breastfeed?

        1. Anna says:

          Of course they do.

          1. Calli Arcale says:

            Many do, but it is incorrect to say they all do. For one thing, there actually are vegan formulas available, mainly soy-based, and not everybody who wants to breastfeed will be able to succeed at it. And for whatever reason, they may not want to in the first place, and I think that’s fair. (Full disclosure: I nursed both of my children for over a year, basically until they lost interest.)

            But I remember hearing one particularly tragic story of a young vegan couple who were quite extreme in their approach and also very poorly educated. They didn’t even want the child to get human milk, because that’s still an animal product — it was about more than ethics to them. And they did not consult any experts, and certainly weren’t going to use any commercial formulas, so they invented their own. The child died of severe malnutrition, and the parents were charged with negligent homicide, though I don’t recall how the case ended up.

            They’re by no means characteristic of vegans. But it’s enough to show that there is danger in making broad assumptions.

            1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              What I find depressing is how neatly this aligns with the stereotypes. I mean seriously, all you need is for the mother to be a white lady with dreads.

            2. Anna says:

              It is correct to say that vegans, as a group, breastfeed their children, just as it is correct to say that omnivores, as a group, breastfeed their children. There will always be exceptions, but vegan mothers will have similar reasons to omnivorous mothers for not breastfeeding.

              One anecdote about an uneducated vegan mother who did not breastfeed because she believed her milk was an animal product and therefore unvegan doesn’t say any more about vegans than Jeffrey Dahmer says about omnivores. If that analogy is too extreme, then just insert omnivorous parents who starve their children, or feed them fast food and Twinkies, or whatever. Nutritional ignorance can be found in any group of people.

              Really, I was just responding to what I saw as an obnoxious attempt at a “gotcha,” but which was really just another stale “joke” that is, at best, helping a vegan somewhere to win a round of Defensive Omnivore Bingo.

              1. weing says:

                It’s probably impossible to be a vegan. The breast milk exception is just one example. What does a vegan due when they find half a worm in the apple the are eating? Then there is this from the FDA.

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Weing, that’s my favourite set of regulations, ever :)

                Really, I was just responding to what I saw as an obnoxious attempt at a “gotcha,” but which was really just another stale “joke” that is, at best, helping a vegan somewhere to win a round of Defensive Omnivore Bingo.

                A game about as fun to play as Sanctimonious Vegan Bingo.

      4. Mie says:

        “Any line – even veganism – is completely arbitrary and no matter what one eats it is always related to you, however distantly.”

        … which doesn’t mean that a line cannot or shouldn’t be drawn, right? Less suffering = better option. From a purely ethical point of view, veganism does indeed seem to be superior to any other alternative.

        From a medical point of view, however, there’s no evidence to indicate this.

        1. Andrey Pavlov says:

          … which doesn’t mean that a line cannot or shouldn’t be drawn, right? Less suffering = better option.

          Of course not. See my longer comment here.

          The difficulty becomes in defining what is suffering, how to make it less, and what levels are acceptable. As I said elsewhere I draw a line at Halal meats. That is, in my mind, blatantly unnecessary suffering. I take no issue with slaughter practices that are as quick and hygienic as possible. If vat meat comes around, I’d certainly at a minimum consider replacing some of my meat consumption with it. All of it, if it becomes cheaper and at least roughly as good in taste.

          From a purely ethical point of view, veganism does indeed seem to be superior to any other alternative.

          Only if you don’t take into consideration other means by which said animal may die and only if you consider all animal products – however innocuous – to be adding to suffering.

          For example a deer being shot through the heart by a hunter is arguably dying a less painful death than would have awaited it out in nature.

          A chicken will lay infertile eggs regardless of whether you take them or not. Bees will produce a surplus of honey. Milking a cow – assuming it is done in a conscientious farm – cannot be reasonably considered to make the cow suffer.

          So how can you declare by fiat that veganism is simply more ethical because less suffering = better? We agree on the axiom, but can reasonably disagree on the realities of what that means. Veganism eschews eggs, honey, and milk. Yet given the appropriate circumstances those are completely ethically neutral decisions in terms of suffering. Eating meat can be more ethical in comparison to other options, once again given the correct circumstances.

          Which is precisely my point in saying that all lines are arbitrary and it cannot simply be summed up as “From a purely ethical point of view, veganism does indeed seem to be superior to any other alternative.”

    2. Angora Rabbit says:

      That would be the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly the American Dietetics Association. Sorry for being pedantic; it’s my field. Visit EatRight.org and anyone can download and read their position papers. The papers on vegetarianism are very useful. Note the AND says “vegetarianism” not “veganism.” These are two different practices, although AND doesn’t appear to differentiate. I am very active in animal rescue so work with many. There are vegans for political/moral reasons and vegans for health reasons. What amazes me (as a nutrition professional) are the moral vegans who dislike vegetables and think tater tots are a food group. I hope they are a minority but that has not been my experience.

      And anyone who has been on a family dairy farm knows that the girls are family. You don’t get 17,000 lbs per gal if you treat her like a robot.

      1. Lytrigian says:

        That was why my 4-H leader’s dairy farm was like as a kid, and probably what a great many “organic” dairy farms are like now, but I’m not sure that’s the kind of farm most of our milk comes from these days. According to this: http://www.dairyfarmingtoday.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/economicfactsheet.pdf 74% of dairy farms have fewer than 100 cows, but farms with over 100 cows produce 85% of the milk. The average herd size is 115 cows overall, but I suspect the average herd size if we exclude that 74% is much higher.

        1. n brownlee says:

          That’s what a whole lot of smallish dairy farms are like now, even. Few are “organic” but many are Class B dairies, and are intensely busy small enterprises, family based or not.

          1. Lytrigian says:

            OK, but that doesn’t tell me where most of the milk actually comes from. We have a lot of small farms producing a small amount of milk, and a a smaller number of large farms producing a whole lot of milk. When we’re looking at herd sizes of 1,000-2,000 cows, that’s not a small family farm anymore. It might be family-owned, but milking that many cows twice a day is not a trivial matter and requires a large amount of hired help, with very little individual attention for each cow..

            It seems my gut impression of the change in farm size was correct. More than half our milk comes from farms with more than 500 cows, which constitute just about 4.2% of all dairies. http://www.ers.usda.gov/ersDownloadHandler.ashx?file=/media/430528/err47b_1_.pdf That was as of 2006, so if the trends continued as they had been we now see even more of our milk being produced by these large operations.

            1. Windriven says:

              “milking that many cows twice a day is not a trivial matter and requires a large amount of hired help, with very little individual attention for each cow..”

              Part of the problem is that we spend too little on food in this country – speaking now in percentage of disposable income terms. We have a cornucopia of foods ranging from avocados to legs of lamb to milk and cheese. A century ago we spent roughly 25% on food, today it is about 7.5%.

              The “individual attention for each cow” is part of what got lost along the way. Maximum efficiency demands that. But that doesn’t make it right.

              1. Lytrigian says:

                I hope you didn’t get the impression I thought it was a good thing. I’m just reporting on the present state of affairs.

              2. n brownlee says:

                When I was doing agriculture/horticulture study- I began part time in 1986- we were told that the overriding concern of the FDA and therefore of most food science study in the US was making food production cheap first, and safe second. I have no reason to believe that the FDA has changed.

              3. Windriven says:

                “I hope you didn’t get the impression I thought it was a good thing.”

                I didn’t. I was simply teeing up on your comment to make a point about our tendency to see economic efficiency as the prime directive, sometimes as the sole measure of human achievement. It reminds me of the aphorism about knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

              4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                N brownlee, it irks me that this is not seen as a virtue. I do think that safety should be prioritized, but starvation, which is rarely seen in the first world but still not that far away, needs to be a bigger concern.

              5. Lytrigian says:

                @WLU — On the other hand, modern Americans need spend less of their disposable income on food than any other people in the world, now or at any other time in history, and some are blaming this state of affairs as the primary cause of the obesity epidemic. It was all over the news about a week ago: http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-blame-cheap-food-obesity-20140523-story.html

                I’d be surprised if scarcity were that much of an issue for us. But perhaps this result could be examined by one of the authors here.

              6. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                @Lytrigian

                As far as I know, and I could be totally wrong, US domestic food policy (in addition to placating powerful special interest groups) is heavily geared towards food security – ensuring on a long-term, continuous basis, the ability to feed the majority of its citizens. Much like public health, the wisdom of this policy is seen as lacking – right up until a major incident (i.e. famine) occurs. At least partially inspired by my love of post-apocalyptic literature, I find myself strongly agreeing that the long-term consequences of surplus calories is outweighed by the potential benefits of such a surplus in the face of a worldwide food shortage.

                Such a policy also has the advantage that much more of people’s income can be spent on non-food items, which helps the economy, and low-income groups are better-able to meet their dietary needs (though often using foods are better described as quick and cheap than nutritious). Most Americans haven’t felt the true pinch of hunger or limitations, in large part because of the low cost of food, and I have a hard time objecting to this fact.

                Of course, you would be better off, in my opinion, subsidizing and reducing the cost of real foods, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, meats and milk, versus processed foods, which I assume benefits significantly from government subsidies. But these are hugely complicated issues, polluted by big money, and in a different country (I don’t live in the US). So I can’t claim any particular merit to my observations beyond the fact that “starvation is bad”.

            2. Chris says:

              A book you should read: Growing a Farmer.

              It is about a restaurant owner that buys a farm after not buying a small dairy, then tries to grow and sell veggies… but in the end has a small dairy making mostly cheese. The slight tangent into the raw milk business is quite enlightening.

              I have some of the cheese he made in my fridge. It is the one named after his first cow.

  7. David Gorski says:

    it is not a food fad (indeed, diet is a small part) nor an attempt to push junk science.

    I would not entirely agree about that latter part. I see a lot of vegans pushing junk science. For example:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/simply-raw-making-overcooked-claims-about-raw-food-diets/

  8. jre says:

    What is the problem that you Americans have with milk. We in Europe get along with it just fine.

    Well, you guys were the ones who passed the milk thing on to us. The gene for lactase persistence is dominant, and when the lactase mutation occurs it is preserved, becoming widespread through a population in just a few generations. Americans of European descent typically have any of several varieties of the lactase-persistence gene — which arose independently several times among herding peoples of Northern Europe. So, PETA’s aversion to milk has more in common, metabolically, with Asians or sub-Saharan Africans than it does with European-Americans.
    http://www.nature.com/news/archaeology-the-milk-revolution-1.13471

  9. Greg says:

    off-topic post – sorry for the distraction but i have a medical issue and was hoping one of you good doctors could help out or point me in the right direction. I had ORIF surgery on my right clavicle on April 16th. Yesterdat the x-ray showed it is not mending yet – no callus formation or any noticeable difference from 4wks ago. I’m taking a calcium sup that includes magnesium, phosphorus, boron and vitamin D as well as a multi-vitamin mineral supp and vitamin. I have read silica can also help. My question – is there anything else i can supplement to help or any therapy that might help? I have read the mean average time for healing is 16.8 weeks so perhaps I am being a bit premature, but i want this to heal well and quickly – having my right arm immoblized is really starting to get to me.

    1. fastbuckartist says:

      For healing fractures, nutritional intake of proteins. calcium, zinc, copper, phosphorus and silica, the building blocks for new bone growth formation. I would also add amino-acid Lysine which facilitates deposits of calcium into the new bone. Vitamins C, K and B6 are also necessary. So in short, increase your consumption of a variety of natural organic food, with a focus on protein.

      You also need adequate blood flow to the affected area to carry the minerals to the fracture zone, Take a break from smoking, it interferes with the bone union process. and also abstain from alcoholic drinks

      It takes 2 months for the callus to harden, can take longer if you consume alcohol, or suffer from diabetes, smoke or take anti-inflammatory drugs.

      1. Andrey Pavlov says:

        For healing fractures, nutritional intake of proteins. calcium, zinc, copper, phosphorus and silica, the building blocks for new bone growth formation. I would also add amino-acid Lysine which facilitates deposits of calcium into the new bone. Vitamins C, K and B6 are also necessary. So in short, increase your consumption of a variety of natural organic food, with a focus on protein.

        As usual, FBA is completely off the mark. At least this advice will not lead to any foreseeable harm (save, perhaps, an unnecessary increase in caloric intake). However, as Dr. Hall pointed out, there is evidence that supplementation does nothing useful. This is because in an otherwise healthy person, the amount of resources necessary for healing and callous formation is vastly less than the reserves already on hand and easily replenished by the standard diet. The idea that forming an additional ~10-20cc of bone could somehow deplete your existing ~70kg body of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients is just laughable. But lets look at the specific list for funsies.

        Ca, Zn, Cu, Phos, Si: Already in such abundance in the reserves of your bone and readily mobilized that even if you took in zero with your regular diet a single callous formation would do nothing. Considering that the skeleton makes up roughly 30% of the weight of an average person, that means roughly 21kg of skeleton. Of that, 70% is hydroxyapatite, so 14.7kg, Hydroxyapatite is 40% Ca and 18.5% Phos for 5.9kg and 2.7kg respectively. Zn, Cu, and Si are trace elements used primarily in the enzymes producing the collagen framework and thus not used up much at all in the production of bone. A clavicular fracture, as I said above, can be expected to make a callous roughly 3x3x2cm, but that is rather variable, so one can expect ~18cc of new bone volume (rough estimate and I’m probably being generous). Average physical density of normal human bone is roughly 1.85g/cc which gives us a mass of ~33.3 grams of new bone. Let’s be very generous and call it 50g.

        That means if the new bone formation was taken entirely from existing skeletal reserves and not replaced at all then the average density of the skeleton would decrease by [(21kg - 0.05kg)/21kg]*100 = 0.2% (two-tenths of 1%). And to replace it would require 50g*0.7*0.4 = 14g of Ca and 6.5g of Phos, which would be 42 glasses of milk for the Ca and 28 for the Phos. That’s assuming that the only sources of Ca and Phos are from milk.

        Lysine: Once again, a drop in the bucket compared to normal intake. The recommended daily intake of lysine is 12mg/kg, so 840mg for the average 70kh person. Let’s be extremely generous and say that somehow that little callous formation doubles the required intake (meaning that it takes all the lysine normally needed in a day and uses it for just the callous formation, which is ridiculous of course). How hard is it to get an extra 840mg of lysine? Two eggs contain 1gram and a cup of milk contains 580mg. So an egg an a cup of milk will more than take care of it.

        Vit C, K, and B6: Once again, the same idea as before and I am actually getting a little bored doing the numbers, but I think the point is made.

        You also need adequate blood flow to the affected area to carry the minerals to the fracture zone, Take a break from smoking, it interferes with the bone union process. and also abstain from alcoholic drinks

        It takes 2 months for the callus to harden, can take longer if you consume alcohol, or suffer from diabetes, smoke or take anti-inflammatory drugs.

        That is actually all correct, so at least a couple little pieces of good advice. The effects from each are going to be rather small, but definitely there. And stopping smoking is always good advice no matter what.

        So in short, increase your consumption of a variety of natural organic food, with a focus on protein.

        Who eats unnatural food? What would that be anyways? And organic doesn’t mean diddly except that they use old, less efficient techniques, with plenty of evidence to show that it has absolutely no nutritional benefits over non-organic food. It is nothing but a marketing term to convince you to fork over more money for a sticker on your food.

        And protein? Except for the essential amino acids (which I’ve already demonstrated with lysine are incredibly easy to obtain from just your regular ol’ diet) your body synthesizes them all de novo. So even if there were a need for an increase in protein intake, it would be exceedingly small.

        Which is why the data Dr. Hall linked to shows no benefit from supplementation in callous healing. It’s akin to a homeopathic remedy.

        1. Greg says:

          Wow – thanks for the insight Dr. Pavlov. Surprisingly, or maybe not, at the hospital one of the nurses stated that had i been taking a calcium supp prior to the injury it would be healing faster – obviously this persom is misinformed. I quit smoking 10 years ago and as I hsve been on narcotics for the past 7 weeks, I have mostly abstained from alcohol – i love my rum and coke, so I couldn’t go all this time without having a couple drinks. Thanks again – it’s a comminuted mid-shaft fracture so I guess it’s just a matter of time. The surgeon wants me start physio, but i think i’m going to wait a few weeks as judging by how it feels, i think it is a bit soon to be stressing it.

          1. Andrey Pavlov says:

            My pleasure Greg. I am glad you found it useful.

            And it isn’t so much misinformed as merely not thinking too hard about it. It is rather simple and straightforward thinking: need more bone, bone made of calcium, therefore need more calcium. But one thing we have learned from a few centuries of science is that such straightforward thinking rarely pans out. Thankfully, for the most part, it is just a waste of time rather than actively harmful. But my approach as a physician is to never do or recommend something unless I have a specifically articulated reason for it (and sometimes that reason can be “to assuage my patient’s fears” or “to give my patient something harmless to do” depending on the circumstance).

            As for your fracture – my good friend actually had exactly the same fracture. An orthopedist friend of mine did the ORIF. It took him a number of weeks to heal up. So I wouldn’t stress too much about it.

            Also, congrats on your quitting smoking! An excellent decision and an effort worth celebrating.

            As for the alcohol… meh. Like I said, it is a small effect size and I wouldn’t be overly concerned about it. You wouldn’t really notice or care if your healing took an extra couple of days anyways (even if that could be accurately measured).

            As for the physio – that is indeed a personal decision. I am also not an orthopedist but have had orthopedic surgery once. It seems to me a truism that starting as early as possible is better. You always want to push yourself, even through some discomfort but never actual pain. I pushed myself extremely hard and went from shoulder surgery to surfing in less than 5 months. Even starting out extremely light, but doing something consistently is extremely helpful. Work with your surgeon and your physio – it takes time and effort, but it will pay off in the end.

            Best of luck for a speedy recovery!

        2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Does new bone actually form, will there actually be an increase in overall bone volume? I would have expected the ends to simply fuse together. Also, bar a compound fracture where part of the bone was expelled from the body, I would expect all of the nutrients from the old bone would be broken down and recycled. It’s not like Greg would suddenly piss or crap out a chunk of unmetabolized bone.

          1. Andrey Pavlov says:

            WLU:

            Yes, new bone does form. That is what the callous is and you can feel it as a lump under the skin. And yes, you are correct that the existing bone remains, which does take up some of the volume of the callous, thus even further decreasing the metabolic demands. I was being extremely generous to show how utterly ridiculous the claim that you need extra nutrients to heal a bone is.

          2. Harriet Hall says:

            There is a temporary increase in volume when the callus forms, but then the bone remodels so the end result is a similar volume to pre-fracture.

            1. Andrey Pavlov says:

              Also true Dr. Hall. But it doesn’t always remodel fully and there is usually always at least radiographic evidence of a previous fracture (as you know, of course). It is also my understanding that the clavicle will remodel less since there is less stress involved to trigger and shape the remodeling (as opposed, say, to a femur fracture).

              Either way, the acute and short term needs for additional nutrients is essentially nil and, as you point out, largely reclaimed in the long run anyways.

        3. FastBuckArtist says:

          Andrey, wow! You are totally oblivious at the level of malnutrition in the community. When you get your vseznayka nose out of the biochemistry 201 book and get out to meet some patients in the urban low-income areas, there is epidemic undernutrition in both protein and vitamin, especially in the aged population who are in most need of good bone health,

          On the benefits of protein supplementation, you are simply wrong. Put your calculator down and look up the studies in live humans with fractures showing even small increases in protein intake helping recovery times.

          Increasing protein intake is actually the only thing I recommended, I have no idea why you went ballistic on the vitamins and minerals.

          1. Harriet Hall says:

            That study was in an elderly population and is not applicable to well-nourished people in the general population. Nor does the study showing no benefits for supplements apply to urban low-income populations with poor nutrition.

            1. fastbuckartist says:

              Yes, a well nourished patient does not need supplements. It’s like saying a full tank of gas does not need to be filled with gas!

              Problem is, there is nothing well-nourished about the standard diet that people actually consume in reality. For this undernourished average person, nutritional supplementation is proven to increase post-operative healing and wellbeing.

              Chronic undernutrition is not limited to the elderly. I participate in medical missions to promote integrative holistic medicine in colleges by providing students with a yearly free consultation. A diet of 3 ramen noodles packs a day is very common among students. Living on canned macaroni cheese and cola is considered a smart move to save for an iPhone. One guy was munching on a bag of dried dogfood for a month to meet his car loan repayments. Visible signs of malnutrition are a common sight – muscle wasting, dry peeling skin on hands, edema, broken nails, anemia.

              There are 50 million people on foodstamps, thats the reality of nutrition of a typical patient.

              1. Greg says:

                I place a priority on eating well – as we all know, good nutrition is one of the fundamentals of good health, so my wife and don’t skimp when it comes buying groceries, most of which are fresh vegetables and fruits.

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Hey FBA, did you read the full study? I couldn’t get my hands on it, but I did find this assessment from the University of York. Some interesting facts:

                - mean age was 71.3 years in the intervention group, 72.9 in the control group. In addition to these groups being of different average ages and age ranges, they are quite elderly. So tell me again about what the average patient needs? Because these patients were not

                - compliance was pretty bad, and the median number of supplements taken were 4, for 4 days.

                - the emphasis regarding the supplement was its caloric content, not it’s nutritional content. Neither the abstract nor the digest had anything to say about extra vitamins, the focus was on the increased calories patients took in. In other words – micronutrients were not discussed and this paper basically supports giving patients Twinkies as long as it meant they took in more calories.

                - further to the above point, the average calorie intake was quite low (1,500 and 1,300 calories) – to the point that I would worry about overall nutritional status rather than vitamins and minerals.

                Also, let me draw your attention to these contradictory points you make:

                Problem is, there is nothing well-nourished about the standard diet that people actually consume in reality.

                Chronic undernutrition is not limited to the elderly. I participate in medical missions to promote integrative holistic medicine in colleges by providing students with a yearly free consultation. A diet of 3 ramen noodles packs a day is very common among students.

                I’m not sure how you can consider the elderly and college students eating three packages of ramen per day can be considered anything close to a “standard diet”. Certainly it’s not representative of what the USDA would consider or recommend as a healthy diet. You aren’t making a scientific point here about the need for extra dietary supplements for hospital patients, at best you are making an economic point for better nutritional support to the elderly and students. A point which is irrelevant to the needs of Greg with his broken bone.

                Goddamn but you are a deceptive and/or ignorant fellow.

          2. Andrey Pavlov says:

            Wow FBA!

            You should learn to read beyond abstracts (actually just titles, in this case) and also use relevant sources!

            Food deserts exist. They do not describe the majority of people, nor are they relevant to the topic at hand. They are also not relevant to either of the links you provided, as both are about elderly populations. And once again, malnutrition is not prevalent but is an acknowledged feature in a minority of elderly individuals.

            In a recent survey in hospitalized elderly patients, reduced protein intake was associated with lower femoral neck bone mineral density (BMD) and poor physical performance.

            Is Greg elderly, hospitalized, and malnourished? And from the studies themselves, they noted improvement after protein supplementation… in people with clinical deficiency. This has zero relevance to Greg nor my discussion.

            I won’t even bother to go any further since the studies you cite are entirely irrelevant to anything that has been discussed thus far.

            But thanks for giving me a laugh by trying to prove me “simply wrong” using studies you pulled up as post hoc rationalizations of your ignorant advice based solely on the titles!

            And, of course, the laugh of not even being cogent enough to remember (or just take two second to look at your own writing).

            Increasing protein intake is actually the only thing I recommended, I have no idea why you went ballistic on the vitamins and minerals.

            O RLY???

            For healing fractures, nutritional intake of proteins. calcium, zinc, copper, phosphorus and silica, the building blocks for new bone growth formation. I would also add amino-acid Lysine which facilitates deposits of calcium into the new bone. Vitamins C, K and B6 are also necessary. So in short, increase your consumption of a variety of natural organic food, with a focus on protein.

            Really no idea why I would mention anything else? LOL.

            I can’t fathom how you aren’t embarrassed of yourself.

            1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              I can’t fathom how you aren’t embarrassed of yourself.

              That would require a sense of shame. He’s a homeopath. QED.

            2. fastbuckartist says:

              increase your consumption of a variety of natural organic food, with a focus on protein.

              Haha, so thats what flipped you off, the “natural organic food”?? I forgot that natural is a 4-letter word around here! Dont you eat natural organic food back in mother russia? I remember this fine dairy snack, the tvorozhniki with freshly picked blueberries, gathered in the russian pine forest, it was full of people gathering wild mushrooms and wild berries. Love the pancakes they make for easter too, with black caviar.

              1. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Always good for a chuckle FBA. I like how you focused on the only part that actually let you squirm just a teeny bit.

                For healing fractures, nutritional intake of proteins. calcium, zinc, copper, phosphorus and silica, the building blocks for new bone growth formation. I would also add amino-acid Lysine which facilitates deposits of calcium into the new bone

                Still wondering why I went off on minerals and amino acids?

                And yes, natural is utterly meaningless. But seriously. I would genuinely love to have you explain (or at least give examples of) what is “natural” food vs “unnatural” food. You’ll probably say something like “fresh from the tree” vs “processed” which is also meaningless, since everything is processed, just to different degrees. Unless you’d like to eat an unprocessed, organic, pig. It might squeal and kick you in the face though. And pancakes? Those are “natural”? (They’re called blini in the context you are referring to btw). Harvesting highly selected for grains and processing them into flour then mixing them with other processed things (unless you can show me the all natural butter tree?) and then cooking it…

                So yeah “natural organic food” is a meaningless statement. Mostly so the “organic” part, since it doesn’t mean diddly.

                Thanks for the laughs!

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                “Natural” isn’t a four-letter word, it’s just marketing nonsense. “Natural” doesn’t mean “healthy”; which is healthier, a raw tomato, or a can of tomato sauce? One is just a low-nutrient fruit, the other, far less natural, is packed full of bioavailable lycopene. Fava beans are quite natural, as is favism, which will naturally kill you. Smallpox is quite natural, as is tobacco, in fact both can be considered “organic” in their raw states – so that means according to you they’re healthy, right?

                Science-based medicine heartily endorses the consumption of unprocessed foods, in appropriate amounts, cooked when necessary for health, flavour or to kill pathogens. “Natural” is a meaningless distinction, and by proclaiming it as an inherent virtue you are doing little more than showing your commitment to ideology over science and health.

          3. Windriven says:

            дебил

  10. Greg says:

    off-topic post – sorry for the distraction but i have a medical issue and was hoping one of you good doctors could help out or point me in the right direction. I had ORIF surgery on my right clavicle on April 16th. Yesterdat the x-ray showed it is not mending yet – no callus formation or any noticeable difference from 4wks ago. I’m taking a calcium sup that includes magnesium, phosphorus, boron and vitamin D as well as a multi-vitamin mineral supp and vitamin C. I have read silica can also help. My question – is there anything else i can supplement to help or any therapy that might help? I have read the mean average time for healing is 16.8 weeks so perhaps I am being a bit premature, but i want this to heal well and quickly – having my right arm immoblized is really starting to get to me.

    1. Greg says:

      sorry for the double-post – my computer hung after i hit submit the first time

    2. Harriet Hall says:

      This AAOS page says a good diet is important for bone healing but supplements are not helpful.http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00374
      Keep in mind that the early stages of bone healing do not show up on x-ray. I don’t know whether absence of callus on a 4 wk x-ray is significant. We don’t give personal medical advice here. You should be asking your surgeon, not us. Does he suspect a non-union? I will gladly point you in the right direction: straight back to your surgeon.

      1. Greg says:

        Thanks, Dr. Hall. I don’t see him again for another 6 weeks. The surgeon didn’t say what he expected to see but judgng by his assessment of my x-rays he seemed a bit surprised that there was no difference. Anyhow, thanks again – no need for any further replies.

        1. Harriet Hall says:

          I think you can feel reassured that he was willing to go 6 weeks without reassessing.

  11. Angora Rabbit says:

    That a group that chooses to euthanize perfectly adoptable companion animals in the name of convenience, and then has the gall to tout themselves as “ethical for animals” destroys any lingering vestiges of morality they might have concerning animals. And makes my blood boil. These people spin their beliefs and statements to fit their contorted belief system so fast that they ought to have whiplash. Just search “Peta Kills” to learn more.

    Nothing is ever credible that comes from PETA. Any real animal welfare group is in the trenches (hence my nom) doing the hard and dirty work of rescue and care, not giving lipsyncho to some political agenda that they’re unwilling to back in reality.

    Gosh, should I tell you what I really think about them??

    1. n brownlee says:

      RIGHT ON!

    2. Interrobang says:

      Not to mention that a lot of their campaigns seem as though they should change the name of the org to “People Exploiting T!ts and @ss.” I’m a bit of a speciesist; I think it’s worse to treat women like meat than animals.

      I’m a non-lactase-persistent European-derived person who also managed to get a milk allergy of some sort, so I get all the happy GI symptoms and hives, mucus, wheezing, and that sort of thing. Dairy is definitely off my menu, and I wish it weren’t so ubiquitous in prepared foods… I hate even agreeing with PETA that much, though.

    3. Frederick says:

      Don’t forget their naked women strategy, people don’t get de message, they just remember the naked women. Sometimes I’m under the impression they do it more fir the exhibitionists than really for the animals. And besides that’s unethical treatment of human being. I’m totally against fur, but a naked women spaying red paint on people won’t convince anybody. But reason is not popular in those groups.

  12. GregR says:

    We should use PETA’s “Report a case of Cruelty to Animals” form and report their own story. Spreading this type of disinformation is cruel to the human animal.

  13. Thanks says:

    Thank you for an antidote to the local naturopath whose newspaper column previously suggested a link between milk consumption and autism (she was also worried about french fries). This week she’s on about how “the casein in cow’s milk is designed to be digested by a calf, not humans . . .” As a former bottle-fed baby, I resent that.

  14. Ugh, can we stop giving PETA attention.

    They ruin everything.

    1. Angora Rabbit says:

      Scientific Vegan, can I just say that I love your avatar? :)

    2. Stella B says:

      A lot of the big names in Veganism, like Barnard, Campbell, and Esselstyne are members of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The China Study and the Esselstyne books are pretty well known. What isn’t always understood is that PCRM is a PETA affiliate. When T. Colin Campbell did his “research” for the China Study, it was predetermined what his outcome would be, if someone wants to try to convince me that eating meat is unethical, that’s fine, but don’t give me a bunch of false information about made up health effects.

      1. Ohhhh good point about PCRM… I should make a blog post on Scientific Vegan about that

  15. Destin Keturakis says:

    1: Autism isn’t a disease.
    2: Its cause has been determined to be a formative condition, not an acquired one.
    3: Using fear mongering, psudoscience and paranoia to spread your message is idiotic and harmful. It slows r&d and sensationalizes issues to the point where talking heads like you are given more credence than actual experts in the respective field.

  16. dh says:

    I support PETA’s mission but not the science they marshall. However, in this case, the ends (getting people to go dairy-free to reduce suffering) clearly justifies the means (using junk science and misleading statements). From a strictly utilitarian point of view, the fewer people drink (unnecessary) milk or eat dairy products, the less suffering there will be, as the global dairy industry is notoriously among the worst of abusers of farm livestock today. There are few things more horrific than the life of a dairy cow, and milk consumption is totally unnecessary and readily replaceable. It should be pointed out that cows are extremely intelligent and sentient creatures, and why we feel compelled to exploit, dominate and cause cruelty and suffering to them has always been beyond my comprehension. This is probably explained by the fact that most people have no idea what transpires on a dairy farm, nor where their food actually comes from, or the nature of livestock handling practices.

    1. Windriven says:

      Pardon me dh, but that may have been the most ethically vacuous comment I’ve read in these pages and that includes the serial idiocies of Rodrigues and stanmrak and the pathetic Ferengi-like money-grubbing of FastBuckArtist.

      “[T]he ends (getting people to go dairy-free to reduce suffering) clearly justifies the means (using junk science and misleading statements).”

      Given the suffering of the average wildebeest as it suffocates under the bite of a lioness on its trachea, the fields full of grazing Jerseys and Guernseys that stretch from Pennsylvania to the Oregon coast don’t look particularly dangerous. But maybe that’s just me.

      If you’d like to do something more useful than clutching your pearls* and clucking like a hen, work to improve conditions at some of the mega-dairies that really do stress their herds unnecessarily. But trying to go about this by eliminating dairy consumption is so far beyond quixotic it makes one question not only your sanity but your intelligence.

      *Sorry, David. That image is just too evocative not to steal.

      1. Egstra says:

        really need a like button here

      2. Andrey Pavlov says:

        You do know, Windriven, that more people die as a result of cows than from sharks? They’re a murderous lot, hiding evil behind those cow eyes of theirs.

          1. Andrey Pavlov says:

            LOL. I love that. And I’ve actually had a patient who died from falling out of bed. It was extremely sad – he was only in his late 30′s. Beds are dangerous, mmmkay?

          2. mouse says:

            But it’s very hard to find sheets to fit a shark.

            1. Andrey Pavlov says:

              Sounds like a problem in need of a solution, Mouse!

              1. mouse says:

                Yeah – That’s just the kinda business plan that usually appeals to me: time intensive, unprofitable luxury items*.

                *They will be 500 thread count, hand sown, organic, shark fitting sheets.

              2. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Mouse… I have only one thing to say to you.

              3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Claim that sleeping on a shark cures cancer (because sharks don’t get cancer), offer no proof, and claim Big Pharma is preventing you from knowing about it, and an industry will spring up overnight.

              4. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Claim that sleeping on a shark cures cancer (because sharks don’t get cancer),

                Actually they do!

                And here is a post about the myth.

                But don’t worry. Your plan will still work. Facts never get in the way of selling bullsh!t… I mean CAM… same thing.

              5. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Andrey, I’m a little disappointed you would assume I didn’t know that :)

                Clearly I need to work on my persona of omnipotence personified!

              6. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Andrey, I’m a little disappointed you would assume I didn’t know that :)

                We all miss some things. Plus, handy links for others.

            2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              I’m actually glad you posted it, I’d never read the scienceblogs entry and it was extremely interesting (and depressing).

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      There are few things more horrific than the life of a dairy cow

      1) Proof?

      2) Veal.

      3) Vat meat all the way.

      1. Windriven says:

        “2) Veal.”

        That reminds me, I haven’t made osso bucco in a while. Veal is very difficult to come by here in the PNW. I will tell you without exaggeration that I could more quickly (and perhaps more cheaply) score a gram of cocaine than a pair of fresh veal shanks.

        I come from Eastern European stock (at least half of me does) and veal runs in my veins. Stuffed veal breast, veal chops, roasts, the aforementioned shanks. I feel badly for the little buggers, I do. But that passes when the dinner bell rings.

        1. n brownlee says:

          That’s one thing dairy farms used to supply- veal. All those little bull calves once made veal, almost immediately. Now that the cows are usually artificially inseminated with centrifuged semen, there are very few supernumerary bull calves.

          When I want veal, I just have the supermarket butcher order it for me- takes a day or two. My younger son routinely requests veal and mushroom cobbler (butter and herb crust, 3 kinds mushrooms) instead of birthday cake. Of course, I make both.

          1. Windriven says:

            I’ll try the grocery, Nancy. My butcher tells me he has to order a case and his demand is small so it just isn’t feasible. But if I want a whole case …

    3. Bogeymama says:

      I grew up on a dairy farm. I can tell you that the lives of these cows were far from “horrific”. They were actually quite happy. They had huge pastures to roam most of the year, diets that were tailor-made for them (my Dad had a shorthand of instructions written on their ID boards which we kids would follow so we could feed them), they all had their own names, my Dad kept the barnyard meticulously clean … I spent an awful lot of time out there with them, and they seemed to be quite content. They happily paraded into the milking barn twice a day, each to their own stalls, and munched away on fresh home-grown hay while they were milked. Any cow that was on any sort of medication was milked separately and the milk discarded – I was often responsible for taking the can into the milkhouse to drain. (A milk-tester could show up at random anytime, and often did!) Sometimes it was fed to the barn cats. The propaganda that is out there about the dairy industry is so full of mis-information, it’s obvious few of the critics have actually taken the time to visit an actual dairy farm. Most farmers care about their cows, and care about the milk that is produced.

      1. Calli Arcale says:

        A lot of the propaganda against dairy farms focuses on abuses at slaughterhouses, which is rather an interesting strategy dependent on the public not realizing the difference. Dairy farmers know that contented cows give more and better milk, so they tend to dote on their herds. Even the large mega dairies strive to keep the cattle happy, since it has such an immediate affect on production otherwise.

  17. Jason says:

    I can’t believe this! PETA spreading misinformation? No way. They have never, ever lied about anything to further their agenda. They are one of the most truthful and moral organizations in existence…along with the Roman Catholic church. I just don’t know what to believe anymore. If PETA can’t be trusted, who can?

  18. Birdy says:

    I hate the constant use of adjectives that describe autism as catastrophic. The ‘devastating’ effects of autism?

    My son is not some broken burden. He’s a witty, intelligent, hyper little boy who has social and sensory difficulties. Autism is not some external thing acting on an otherwise ‘normal’ child; it is part of who he is, integral to his personality.

    Anyone using that type of language immediately turns me off anything else they have to say. That sort of autism-is-a-disaster fearmongering is almost always followed by someone trying to make parents throw their reasoning abilities out the window and either buy something or buy into a particular way of viewing the world that suits their agenda.

    The most important thing I ever did to make my life as a parent to an autistic kid easier is to just accept that my son is who he is and my goal is to give him the tools he needs to operate in a world that isn’t built for people with brains like his.

    1. n brownlee says:

      I have two bright, funny, charming autistic nephews- one in my husband’s family, and one in mine. They’re wonderful young men, and we wouldn’t change a thing about them.

  19. Frederick says:

    I’m a animal lover, and I defend animals right. I think that, if we re going to eat them, we should have at least have the decency of treating them right.

    My family was a farmer family when i was younger, 35 Holstein cows, The cows were well treated ( and friendly! ), he sale everything in 1991, in the 90′s the farm were geting bigger more industrial, we couldn’t keep up. Yes there’s some super big industrial farm that need some changes, and consumption of meat should be reduced, not only for animal cruelty, but for environmental concerns. but THAT is the point of it. Advocating for a vegan diet for those reasons, I totally agree and respect that, even thought I not a vegan, I’m a semi-vegetarian if i might say) I eat meat, but I don’t eat Babies, That my limit, if i eat a animal, I want it to at least had a some life, no baby sheep or cows for me ( and I don’t like those meats anyways).

    I never really liked PETA for their extreme way of doing things and exploiting fear and emotion instead of reason. As a animal right advocate is it hard, Same apply to the like of Greenpeace, I really don’t like them despite being a ecologist, they lack reason and science, they sometime sounds exactly like the peoples they fight. Peat do more harm than good for animal, when people see them naked protesters, they just see naked protesters, do you really thinks men get the message from that? autism/cancer fear mongering just worsen their case in my book.

    They want us to stop drinking milk and dairy product, at least those activities don’t kill the animal, and a whole species of animals have been created by us for that purpose. what do We do with them? shot them? Those cows, without any exterior help, give a lot of milk, and NOT milking them is cruel, because their udder ( I just learned a new english word) become full and it they suffer, yes it hurt. There is even farm with milking machine were it is the cows themselves that go inside it when they feel they are ready. I can understant that people don’t want to eat Meat, because you need to kill to have it. But if you get you milk and egg from decent farm, there is not cruelty what so ever, I always buy free range eggs, and during 8 month of the year, One of my friend get 10-12 chick hen, I get nice free range egg for low price!
    And we can’t leave the cows roam free in nature, they are not wild animals, not only will they die, they will disrupt badly the ecosystems.

    Personally i think that synthetically gowned meat should be a good way to go, I mean in the low end cheaper product, meat from real ( and well treated) animals should become a premium product. I pretty sure that Im a near future “lab grown” meat will be advanced enough that most people won’t even notice the difference.

    Anyway Great article Monsieur Novella, thanks

  20. Suri says:

    PETA also says we are herbivores…idiots.

    What I find really disturbing is that gullible folks might actually believe their lies and switch to a vegan diet without really doing their research. Very harmful and dangerous I would say.

    They definitely do more harm than good.

  21. Joseph T. Espinosa says:

    It is most unfortunate to see PeTA resort to very questionable data in an effort to spare animals from suffering and death. We can live perfectly well without causing others to suffer and die for our pleasure, as such behavior is a very ugly and selfish way to be. Animal protectionists would do well to stick with this simple, undeniable thesis rather than grabbing at any argument that seemingly might move people to reduce the suffering and death they cause.

  22. Ronnie Solbakken says:

    If someone killed and ate me for food, I wouldn’t give two shits about it, because I would be dead. All I care about is life and whether I’m able to contribute to the greater whole, or not. If I knew in advance that someone was going to eat me, I’d first wonder why and then argue that I’d be more useful alive. That’s btw, one of the reasons why most humans aren’t cannibals.

    That’s not to say that slaughtering cows is universally a good thing though. Overproduction of cow meat is a problem for the environment (methane production and all the excess meat that is being dumped to balance prices). Additionally, we already have a much healthier meat in fish, and fish needs only minimal herding because they naturally herd themselves (depending on the species).

    Finally, in the future we’ll be able to grow meat ourselves. It’s just too bad that the same people who speak out against Cow farms, also speak out against synthetic foods. They don’t even care about actual facts, when doing so. It’s politicised science in a nutshell.

  23. Hank Nickerson says:

    PETA is not pushing pseudoscience at all. Their position is science based. So, much for this site being “science based”. You would think that the National Dairy Council wrote this article. Meat and dairy products are very unhealthy for you that is a scientific fact. Countless studies show this to be the case. This article does not even mention Casomorphin which is thought to be linked autism. SBM is looking to be a joke as a site.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYGbp_sifHs

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      Dr. Greger, on that video, is not a reliable source of information. See http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/death-as-a-foodborne-illness-curable-by-veganism/

    2. Calli Arcale says:

      PETA’s position is science-based? Do tell. You should be able to provide some evidence, then, since that’s the crux of any science based claim. Are you sure you’re not just saying that because it — pardon the expression — slays your sacred cow?

  24. Hank Nickerson says:

    I also want to point out that dairy products such as milk are tied to cancer as well. It is well established. Here is some helpful information on the links.

    http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/9/1/74

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4TrLFI-VVI

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      Again, a video by Dr. Greger?!
      And a single study saying something that was refuted by a meta-analysis of all the published studies? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18584476
      You’ll have to do better than that if you expect anyone here to pay attention to your claims.

      1. Hank Nickerson says:

        I know the standards are so high here at SBM. Do you have anything better than a ad hominem attack on Dr. Greger? You have not said anything that invalidates the studies that he cites. SBM is a real fraud. For instance Dean Ornish has shown the heart disease can be reversed with diet. Have most cardiologists taken his findings to heart? No they have not. They would rather cut into people because they make the most money that way. More evidence that most surgeons are sociopaths? It is a scientific fact that low fat vegan diets can reverse heart disesase. Are you going to deny it? Or just commit another ad hominem attack on Dr. Ornish?

        Here is doctor Cambell talking about how animal protein causes cancer.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8qIZocna9w

        1. Windriven says:

          “I know the standards are so high here at SBM.”

          Yes, they are.

          Hall: “Again, a video by Dr. Greger?!”
          Nickerson: “Do you have anything better than a ad hominem attack on Dr. Greger?”
          Windriven: “You do not understand the meaning of ad hominem.

          Cutting through lots of blah, blah, blah gets us to:

          “Here is doctor Cambell(sic)* talking about how animal protein causes cancer.”

          I didn’t watch the whole thing. Life is short. But I watched until 8:20. At about 8:00 Campbell notes by way of setting up his thesis that the US is the world’s biggest spender on health care and that Germany spends only 60% as much. He’d like you to associate that with diet. But the German diet is heavy on meat and dairy and German obesity is nearly as rampant as in the US.

          I dunno. Maybe he goes on and cleans up this little mess. I really don’t care. Some guy’s youtube doesn’t buy a lot of credibility. Apparently Campbell has published widely. Pick the stuff you think supports your rant and cite it.

          * If you’re going to cite someone, it is just common courtesy to spell his effing name correctly.

          1. Hank Nickerson says:

            So are you denying the science that shows that high protein diets cause cancer?

            1. Andrey Pavlov says:

              [citation needed] there Hank.

              Living causes cancer. Living requires food. So in that completely useless sense, sure, protein causes cancer. And so does air. And water. And pretty much everything else.

              1. Hank Nickerson says:

                I posted Campbell’s talk on YouTube. Are you going to claim he is wrong? He does cite experiements in animals that show that high protein diets cause cancer. Are you going to deny that the validity of those experiments?

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Are you going to claim he is wrong?

                Yup, he’s probably wrong.

                He does cite experiements in animals that show that high protein diets cause cancer.

                Non-human animals? What kind of animals? How well do studies in these animals map to humans? How much protein? Was it cooked protein, like humans eat, or raw? Was it purified, or as part of a mixed diet? Could a human eat a proportional amount of protein, or would their stomach explode? Do any humans eat the same proportion of protein? Do the proportional amounts match to the dietary recommendations for protein?

                Put another way, could a human even eat like the nonhuman animals did in this study, or is it impossible to do so? And do these findings necessarily map back to the amount of protein that a person would normally eat?

                Because the thing is – lots of substances are neutral or healthy in reasonable amounts, but deadly in large. Consume eight glasses of water per day? Healthy. Consume eighty? Death by hyponatremia and hypokalemia. Take an aspirin per day, healthy. Take 50 – death by GI bleed.

                Consume 70 grams of animal protein per day? Healthy. Consume 700? Death by stomach bursting.

                Are you going to deny that the validity of those experiments?

                Not necessarily, merely pointing out that the artificial conditions of a laboratory study on rats and mice don’t necessarily map to the day-to-day diets and health of humans. Think of it this way – thalidomide in rats? Perfectly safe. Thalidomide in pregnant females? Flipper babies. Thalidomide in cancer patients? Safe and effective chemotherapeutic drug! So caution is always warranted when looking at rat studies – particularly when presented by someone whose conclusion is already drawn before he even cracks open the journal.

                Eating way too much animal protein at the expense of fruits and vegetables appears to be a poor health choice. Eating some animal protein as part of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and whole grains appears to be a tasty and healthy way to get valuable nutrients like protein, B12 and iron.

            2. Windriven says:

              Nope. Not my field of specialty. But I’m certainly not accepting that notion on the basis of a Youtube video.

              1. Hank Nickerson says:

                Are you claiming that Campbell’s credentials do not qualify him to make his claims?

                Are you denying the validity of the experiments that have shown this to be the case?

              2. Harriet Hall says:

                Credentials don’t qualify anyone to make claims; only evidence does. No study is perfect. Different studies commonly reach different conclusions, for many reasons that we have discussed repeatedly here. It is easy to cherry-pick studies that support a pre-conceived opinion, but I provided a link to a meta-analysis of all the literature that showed differently. Did you read that? Have you read what I wrote about Greger’s videos and Campbell’s book “The China Study”? Note: my statement that Greger was not a reliable source of information was a statement of fact based on my analysis of what he had to say. It was not an ad hominem attack on him as a person, only an observation that his information is faulty and incomplete, which I demonstrated in my article.

              3. Windriven says:

                “Are you claiming that Campbell’s credentials do not qualify him to make his claims? ”

                What is with the straw men? When I make claims I generally don’t leave any doubt. I’ll make my claims, you make yours. K?

                Campbell might be a biochemical genius. Or he might be a barking nutter. What part of “NOT MY FIELD OF SPECIALTY” did you not understand?

                “Are you denying the validity of the experiments that have shown this to be the case?”

                See paragraph immediately above.

              4. Hank Nickerson says:

                Rejecting something on the basis of the fact that it comes from a YouTube video is a testament to your intelligence.

              5. Windriven says:

                Accepting something on the basis that YouTube hasn’t taken it down is a testament to your intelligence.

                Intelligent people look for peer-reviewed publications, especially when a subject is outside their own field of expertise. Peer review – at least in theory – suggests that other experts have read the paper and found it worthy of consideration. On the other hand, slack-jawed, jabbering imbeciles cleave to whatever scrap of scribbling resonates with their own prejudices. For instance, this might be a life changer for you. But the coffee is probably optional.

              6. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Rejecting a youtube video as evidence is merely the rational recognition that there is no vetting or quality control process involved in posting a youtube video. Why are you not citing any peer reviewed literature? is Campbell so incompetent as to be unable to find an appropriate outlet?

              7. Hank Nickerson says:

                Harriet you wrote a hit piece on Greger. You have no shame. Greger gives synopsis’ of peer reviewed articles. He is not voicing his opinion. You article also uses faulty data. You trot out the Inuit meme that so many people use to show high protein diets are safe. You quote from a blog as your source. Is that a peer reviewed journal? Moreover the information on the Inuit is notoriously unreliable. They have higher rate of stroke as well. In your hit piece you ask the question, “Are there other studies that came to different conclusions?” Why don’t you follow your own advice? You did not look for studies that came to different conclusions when it came to the Inuit meme did you? Doesn’t that make you a hypocrite Harriet?

              8. Hank Nickerson says:

                WLU,

                Campbell lays out his sources in the YouTube. They are studies that have been published in peer reviewed journals that dogmatically love. In recent years there has been many cases of corruption in peer reviewed journals. They are not as pure as the driven snow. In fact their credibility is in question. We now know that peer reviewed journals can be corrupt. Not listening to Campbell’s speech because it is not in a peer reviewed journal is just deflection on your part.

                http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1994041/

                http://www.sott.net/article/267150-Corruption-in-Science-Whos-afraid-of-peer-review

                http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/threats-to-science-based-medicine-big-pharma-pays-a-publisher-to-produce-a-fake-journal/

                http://www.theguardian.com/science/2011/sep/05/publish-perish-peer-review-science

              9. MadisonMD says:

                In recent years there has been many cases of corruption in peer reviewed journals. They are not as pure as the driven snow.

                Yeah, yeah. We know that you can only find things that are white as snow by following youtube links posted by Hank.

                If I remember correctly, Frank wrote about the purity of Hank’s snow.

              10. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Campbell lays out his sources in the YouTube.

                Why not a peer-reviewed publication

                They are studies that have been published in peer reviewed journals that dogmatically love. In recent years there has been many cases of corruption in peer reviewed journals.

                Of course peer review is imperfect, everything human is. But has Campbell even submitted anything to any journals? Saying “peer review is corrupt” is often little more than an excuse to distract from the fact that someone hasn’t even bothered.

                They are not as pure as the driven snow. In fact their credibility is in question. We now know that peer reviewed journals can be corrupt.

                Sure, peer review can be corrupt. Is there any indication that corruption is a factor in this instance?

                I don’t think anyone here is arguing that there is anything inherently unhealthy about a low animal-protein diet (given adequate iron and supplemental B12), merely that consuming reasonable amounts of animal protein is not an outright health risk.

                Not listening to Campbell’s speech because it is not in a peer reviewed journal is just deflection on your part.

                No, it’s merely a recognition that while peer review may be imperfect quality control, it’s still better than none. Further, peer review gives the chance for genuine experts in a topic to comment, and to refer to any contradictory evidence or flawed analyses, which improves most papers by increasing intellectual honesty. An honest author should recognize shortcomings and contradictions, and use these comments to write a better paper. By avoiding such a process, all you are doing is insulating yourself from criticism.

                http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/threats-to-science-based-medicine-big-pharma-pays-a-publisher-to-produce-a-fake-journal/

                It’s hilarious to me that you so decry sciencebasedmedicine in your comments, but are willing to cite us when it supports your point. Truly there could be no better evidence for the bent of your reasoning process.

        2. weing says:

          “Have most cardiologists taken his findings to heart? No they have not. They would rather cut into people because they make the most money that way.”

          Please get your facts straight so you can at least know what you are talking about. You are not even wrong. Someone’s say so is not science. You do realize that cardiologists are not the same as surgeons? That makes the above statement incomprehensible. You sound as clueless as Obama talking about tonsillectomies.

          1. Hank Nickerson says:

            Are you always this pedantic and anal? Do people find you charming?

            1. Windriven says:

              “Do people find you charming?”

              I find him(?) – if not charming – certainly interesting, engaging and compelling; someone I’d happily have a beer with. But I’d make him buy. It’s a long story. Actually, it’s a really, really, really short story. :-)

              1. Sean Duggan says:

                ^_^ “I’m not anal. I’m pedantic. You see, these are some major differences and I’d like to explain them to you at length…”

            2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              Why are you avoiding Weing’s questions by insulting him?

              I like reading Weing’s comments. I believe s/he is a doctor, and I usually find them to be well-thought-out and insightful, particularly reflecting his/her day to day experience in providing patient care. But I could be mixing him/her up with other contributors, I have a general mental basket of people whose comments I will read with interest and trust, and sometimes I mix them up.

          2. Hank Nickerson says:

            So, are you denying the fact that diet can reverse heart disease? I know you want to address the issue at hand so answer the question.

            1. weing says:

              “So, are you denying the fact that diet can reverse heart disease?”
              Let me put it this way. Not as much as you would like.

            2. Chris says:

              Hmm, I just noticed this. We have been discussing a certain type of heart disease on another thread.

              What evidence do you have that diet can reduce the extra muscle growth in obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy?

            3. Hank Nickerson says:

              Way to answer a direct question. Why are you being so evasive? Could it be that you are wrong?

              1. Chris says:

                Excuse me? I asked you how diet helps with obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy? How more direct can I get?

                What diet reduces the extra muscle growth? Please tell us.

            4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              Diet can reverse heart disease, in some patients, given enough time and often given a dramatic dietary change. Not all patients have that much time, and instead must use medication and surgery. The human body is extremely robust so by the time your heart gets so sick you are experiencing symptoms, normally dietary changes are inadequate.

              It would be great if more people took responsibility for their health by eating a better diet (and exercising, very important), but even this is not adequate to ensure a life free of heart disease. Life and biology are complicated, and people aren’t always willing or able to undertake massive dietary changes. Should we just let them die? Or maybe we give them access to some quite safe medications that allow them to live longer, with better quality of life rather than insisting they don’t get the medicine until they eat all their veggies.

        3. Calli Arcale says:

          YouTube as a source? Oh dear. You have already been roundly eviscerated, but in case you’re wondering why that fails to impress, check out these YouTube videos to get an idea of how rigorous their fact-checking* is:

          Cigar-shaped UFOs surrounding Mars:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nerg6sPn9K8

          Annunaki:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbwglQItO4s

          Rainbows in the sprinklers; must be HAARP:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_c6HsiixFS8

          * I’m being facetious, of course; the only “fact-checking” done by YouTube is detection of overly shaky videos (which YouTube can clean up for you for free) and, in some specific cases, detection of copyright-protected works which a copyright holder has threatened them about. So you can put up a video that claims any damn thing you like, as long as you don’t set it an unlicensed copy of a Michael Jackson song.

          1. Harriet Hall says:

            I tried to explain to Hank Nickerson that I didn’t reject the information in Greger’s and Campbell’s videos just because they were videos. They presented references from the medical literature; I looked up those studies and discovered that they had misrepresented what those studies said and had failed to mention contradictory studies. I offered him an example of a meta-analysis that directly contradicted a study he cited, and I tried to explain about cherry-picking. I tried to explain that my critique of Dr. Greger’s information was not based on an ad hominem fallacy. I fear Hank has naively accepted false claims he has read about and he is not receptive to learning.

            1. Hank Nickerson says:

              Harriet,
              Why is it that you hold people to a standard you do not practice for yourself? In the link on Greger you were shown to be wrong about Inuit. They are not the example of a people that thrived on a high protein diet. These people had heart disease. How come you didn’t look up contradictory evidence on the Inuit? You hold Greger to that standard but do not hold yourself to it.

              1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                My review of the studies cited said that they had atherosclerosis, but given a traditional diet and lifestyle, still died less of ischemic heart disease (possibly dying more from strokes though). So they had the precursors to cardiovascular disease, but these precursors didn’t necessarily lead to death at the same rates.

                Obviously current populations don’t live a traditional lifestyle (sedentary, and snowmobiles have replaced dogsleds) and don’t have a traditional diet (they now buy expensive food shipped in from warmer climes) making the whole question a lot more muddy.

                But do you have pubmed-indexed studies you could cite to justify your points? Reference to the actual literature rather than a distilled summary found on youtube would be helpful.

                Of course, given your abrasive, attacking approach to those who disagree with you, it sounds like you are more interested in sanctimonious intellectual masturbation than having a scientific discussion. And that’s fine – just expect to be mocked.

              2. Harriet Hall says:

                He is fixated on one minor point, the example I gave of the Inuits, because that is the only thing he could find to pick on; he was unable to address my major points, and he is unable or unwilling to understand those major points even after they have been explained to him again here in the comments. There’s no point in asking him for references, because he has already demonstrated his willingness to cherry pick. He cited a single study, and when I provided a link to a meta-analysis that reached the opposite conclusion, he ignored it. He is clearly more interested in attacking us than in discussing the science. Watch out! If you support my arguments he’s likely to accuse you of being an accessory to murder! Other trolls have just been annoying; this one is vicious.

              3. Hank Nickerson says:

                Harriet,

                1. You won’t even admit that you were wrong on the point about the Inuit. Decent people admit when they are wrong. You seem to be incapable of showing the humility it takes to admit you were wrong. From what I have seen on SBM this attitude is the norm. So, much for those high standards. I am still wondering, “How come you didn’t look up contradictory evidence on the Inuit?” You demand that standard from others but do not hold yourself to it.

                2. You are a hypocrite. You want to hold people to standards that you do not hold yourself to. How do I know this? Because you also cherry pick. I read your article on Greger. I also watched his very informative YouTube. He starts out with CVD. He he then quotes from the Harvard Nurses Health Study. I notice that you do not even mention the Harvard Nurses Health Study in your article. In fact you do not even mention the majority of the studies he covers in the video. You know that is called? Cherry Picking!

                “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” -Jesus [I am an atheist but this quote is so appropriate for you.]
                3. I read your “Death by Medicine” article. In it you make the claim, “The biggest cause of death is not medicine, but a failure to use medicine.” The huge problem of this article is that you do provide any any argument from which to draw this conclusion. This is a huge non-sequitur. Now you quote from Gary Null et al who use numbers coming from the CDC and other reputable sources. They claim that “The total number of iatrogenic deaths shown in the following table is 783,936. It’s evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the United States.”

                Now you claim that these numbers are wrong, “Most of their numbers are wrong. They are based on extrapolations. Even when they are more or less accurate they are misleading.” But, you of all people provide no evidence for this claim. Am I just supposed to take your word for it? Also do you remember saying this? “Credentials don’t qualify anyone to make claims; only evidence does.” Well, you are claiming that the numbers are wrong where is your evidence? If you want to conclude, The biggest cause of death is not medicine, but a failure to use medicine.” You have to show that Null’s 783,936 number is false. You just say that it is wrong. Well that is committing the fallacy of Begging the Question or circular reasoning. Finally this looks like yet another case of you holding people to standards you do not hold yourself to.

                Now I could go all day reading the articles on SBM and take them apart. If I taught a first year logic class I would use this site as an exemplar of poor reasoning. My students could go through the articles and spot the fallacies. SBM is more ripe than editorial pages of our vanishing newspapers. SBM is even more horrific because these poor reasoning skills are coming from people in medical community. To paraphrase George Carlin being a doctor is all guess work in a white coat.

                http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/death-by-medicine/

                The link for the Gary Null paper.
                http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCsQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lef.org%2FPDFMaker%2FMakePDF.aspx%3Fa%3D1%26pdf%3D1%26fn%3DLE-PAGEID-111570%26url%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.lef.org%2FHealth-Wellness%2FLECMS%2FPrintVersionMagic.aspx%3FCmsID%3D111570&ei=KSmKU-SWNYmTqgap1oGABw&usg=AFQjCNEAHVT76VRvWJh9wSs69cnyYCygWw&sig2=Hfkbg71tR22aM_266SHxdw&bvm=bv.67720277,d.b2k&cad=rja

              4. weing says:

                “I read your “Death by Medicine” article”
                That paper you linked to is impressive for the number of logical fallacies it contains. Have you tried to find them? You could probably drown in them.

              5. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Hi Hank,

                See, the thing is, Gary Null is a loon. A complete nutter. An AIDS denialist, an antivacciationist, and a man whom amusingly, almost killed himself with his own vitamin D supplement. He’s not a reliable source, and citing him as a source of information is worse than citing Campbell. Like, way, way worse. Campbell at least publishes in scientific journals, Null self-publishes in his own vitamin sales rag. So automatic is his need to defend against the FDA shutting him down is that he places a quack Miranda warning at the bottom of that document you link to.

                Now, speaking of that document – it’s quite long, so I can only spot check. Starting with the reference to adverse drug reactions, he cites two papers – Lazarou and Suh. Lazarou does indeed find upwards of 106,000 ADR (in a study published in 1998). Suh, on the other hand, is a study of one hospital; I assume he used the numbers from Lazarou and the economic costs from Suh to arrive at his total cost of $12B. Of course, he doesn’t answer the question “what is the cost of not treating”, but then again – neither do you.

                Discussing bedsores, I’m not sure where he gets his figure of 115,000 since Barczak gives a figure of approximately 4,000, though perhaps he extrapolated from his sample to national figures. I’m assuming he’s simply multiplying Xaxellis’ costs times this extrapolated number. I would describe this as “naive”, simply multiplying one by the other is questionable.

                For “unnecessary procedures”, he draws upon some truly startling sources – a subcommittee document from 1976 for instance!

                His basic approach seems to be find one figure, find a related dollar cost, multiply them together, assume (or don’t even think of whether) there are no overlaps, and he’s done. Yeah, research is more complicated than that. He’s combining different studies, different years, different decades, and again, never asks the question – what happens if you don’t treat? For instance, he claims bedsores are a significant source of medical error and death. My question is – why are these patients in the hospital in the first place, and why are they so immobile they can’t roll themselves over? Further – what has the medical system done in reaction to these results from more than a decade ago?

                I’m not going to bother going through all the sources, it won’t matter. You’re apparently here to pick a fight and insult people. I’ll point out that Null isn’t a reliable source, that his figures are a mishmash of disconnected studies and numbers crammed together to support an ideology, and leave it at that.

                Now Dr. Hall certainly isn’t perfect, I’ll admit that. But your criticism seems to be “when you made a single observation as a minor contradictory point in your article, you didn’t look up every single citation and discussion ever made to make sure it was the correct point”. Nope, she didn’t. It’s a complicated issue. But really – her main point stands. Inuit, despite a near-100% meat diet, died approximately at the same rates as the near-vegetarian or at least low-meat diet of European peasants – citing raw data from an epidemiological study conducted by Veniaminov in the 19th century. Blog or not, it is the data that matters, and this data doesn’t show the massive death rates one would expect from animal protein being a horrific murdercannon as Campbell predicts. It’s a black swan, and the great thing about black swans is that you just need to show that they exist in order to destroy the idea that all swans are white.

                Now I could go all day reading your criticisms and untangling all the Gish-galloping claims you make. If I taught a first year logic class I couldn’t use your comments as examples of anything but ad hominem attacks. But I’m not going to bother since you won’t listen. You’ve got your idea, and you’re sticking to it, irrespective nuance, logic or good research methodology. All you want to do is make your point and offend as many people as you can in the process. So let me say to you – go fuck yourself, you oik, and I hope they ban your pimply little angry face.

              6. Hank Nickerson says:

                WLU,

                I cannot believe you wrote all of that and still did not deal with the issue at hand. Namely showing that Null’s 783,936 number is false.

              7. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Hi Nick,

                Merely because Null claims it is 783,936 doesn’t mean it’s true. He bases this figure by combining different categories of alleged “medical error”, using figures from wildly different years, extrapolating from diverse sources, and generally “making shit up”. I mean what do you want me to do – look up 152 separate, poorly-footnoted sources to see if every single one is comparable? I can’t even review some of the numbers because the links are dead or the footnotes are to totally unrelated sources.

                Why do you put so much faith in Gary Null’s unpublished, non-peer-reviewed, extrapolated, combined numbers? Particularly given his lack of qualifications and his continuing opposition to medicine in all of its forms? Actually, I know why you put so much faith in Null’s numbers, it’s because they confirm your existing prejudices. You really don’t care what the truth is, or what the nuance might be – for some personal reason you simply want doctors to look, and apparently feel bad. That’s fine, but that doesn’t mean we have to take you seriously (and as long as you keep citing Gary “AIDS doesn’t exist” Null, you won’t be taken seriously).

                Also, what do you think of “bedsores” being considered a form of “death by medicine”?

            2. Hank Nickerson says:

              WLU,

              First of all I agree with you there are a lot things not to like about Null. He is a controversial figure. That said it does not mean his 700K plus number of doctor caused deaths are wrong.

              Second I am not concerned with the dollar cost. I only care about whether or not we can claim doctors are a leading cause of death. Now Null claims that doctors are THE leading cause of death and kill over 700K per year. If that figure is true, then certainly doctors would be the leading cause of death. Harriet did not show that his numbers were wrong. Which is what she needed to do if she was going to show “The biggest cause of death is not medicine, but a failure to use medicine.” She might be right about that but she did not provide any argument in her article showing that to be the case.

              In this thread Harriet made the claim, “Doctors are not a leading cause of death; diseases are.” Well this on its face is false, if we just go by the latest numbers. They show that death by doctor would be the third leading cause of death. Will Harriet admit that she is wrong on this point? Does she have any humility?

              http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/09/20/224507654/how-many-die-from-medical-mistakes-in-u-s-hospitals

              When it comes to Veniaminov in the 19th century. I have not read his book but I have questions. How did they determine cause of death in these cases? Were there autopsies performed? Also it is not like Eskimos in the early 19th century had birth certificates. So, how did he determine their age? All in all I am questioning the validity of the Veniaminov study. Also on the blog he admits that he throws out all of infant mortality figures. How can you then claim they died at the same rates “as the near-vegetarian or at least low-meat diet of European peasants”? When we are throwing out the infant mortality figures? When we found the Inuit mummies they had hardened arteries and cancer. These are things people that adhere to a high protein diet like Atkins and Paleo claim they are not in danger of having.

              http://www.yourdoctorsorders.com/2013/03/mummies-eskimos-with-heart-disease-it-isnt-modern-diets-that-are-the-problem/

              1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                He’s not a “controversial figure”, he’s a vitamin-shilling loon who refuses to admit that there might be any merit to actual medical treatment, who denies the existence of AIDS, the effectiveness of vaccines, and relentlessly promotes massive doses of vitamins that he sells despite almost dying from an overdose of vitamin D.

                That said it does not mean his 700K plus number of doctor caused deaths are wrong.

                Null’s history and penchant for antimedical lunacy certainly makes it questionable that he’s dealing honestly and sensibly with the data. You’re basically taking him at his word, since he hasn’t subjected his little paper to peer review or commentary by actual experts.

                I only care about whether or not we can claim doctors are a leading cause of death. Now Null claims that doctors are THE leading cause of death and kill over 700K per year. If that figure is true, then certainly doctors would be the leading cause of death.

                What to death rates happens if you stop vaccinating? What happens to death rates if you stop treating for cancer? What happens to death rates if you close emergency rooms? What happens if all the people who are in beds long enough to get bed sores are disconnected from all of those machines and IVs? What happens if you don’t correct aortic abdominal aneurysms? What happens if you don’t treat bacterial pneumonia? What happens if you don’t treat acute asthma attacks? What happens if you don’t give patients insulin for type I and type II diabetes? What happens if you don’t give mothers the options of C-sections for breech births? What happens if you don’t offer patients with intractable depression access to antidepressants? Every single one of these interventions have risks, absolutely – but what were the death rates before they existed? Most of human history did not involve access to medical care – what were the life expectancies like?

                Do you really think that all of these diseases magically go away merely because Gary Null, AIDS denialist and lunatic, thinks medicine can be replaced with vitamins (that nearly killed him)? Do you really think he treats medicine fairly and neutrally?

                In this thread Harriet made the claim, “Doctors are not a leading cause of death; diseases are.” Well this on its face is false, if we just go by the latest numbers.

                Really? Do you have a convenient comparison country with a highly urbanized population, obesity, and rampant infectious diseases available for comparison? How on earth do you know what the death rates are for a country with no medical care? Even the poorest country in the world has at least vaccinations for many common diseases, and most parents in poor countries would happily stab you in the face if it meant their children had access to a polio vaccine.

                Diseases aren’t the leading cause of disease because doctors prevent and treat them.

                You appear to misunderstand the use of the Veniaminov study – it was used purely to look at age of death, not cause of death, and those death curves were approximate to those found in European peasants eating a totally different diet (who also had high childhood mortality). Dr. Hall is using them to show that Campbell’s assertion that a diet high in animal fat is inherently more dangerous is incorrect – not that it is magically protective against all diseases. Put another way – if two populations differ hugely in the meat content of their diets, but die at the same rates, doesn’t that indicate that meat consumption is very far from the massive health risk that Campbell demonizes it to be?

                These are things people that adhere to a high protein diet like Atkins and Paleo claim they are not in danger of having.

                Yeah, and Dr. Hall, along with many other contributors, have pointed out that Atkins and Paleo are also over-reaching in their assertion that they know the key to longevity and lifelong health. At no point has Dr. Hall ever claimed that a high-meat diet is cardioprotective or anticarcinogenic in absolute terms. So that’s a straw man.

                And seriously – how can you even pretend Gary Null is a reasonable human being, let alone a reasonable commentor on medical matters?

              2. Harriet Hall says:

                I refuse to engage in an argument about the actual numbers, which is why I didn’t address them in my blog post. Any estimate of deaths caused by doctors is based on definitions and extrapolations and is inherently imprecise. Anyway, asking how many deaths are caused by doctors is asking the wrong question. The questions we should be asking are whether iatrogenic deaths can be reduced (they can, and doctors themselves are working hard to achieve that) and whether the net benefit of medical treatment is positive or negative (anyone who thinks it is negative is out of touch with reality). Gary Null and his ilk love to point out any deficiencies in conventional medicine because they are under the illusion that if they can show that doctors are bad it somehow proves that they themselves are better. It doesn’t.

              3. Hank Nickerson says:

                WLU,
                1. “Really? Do you have a convenient comparison country with a highly urbanized population, obesity, and rampant infectious diseases available for comparison?”

                How is this question even relevant? It’s not. Even if we had the comparison information you want that would not invalidate the studies that show death-by-doctor should rank at least 3rd for cause of death. Harriet is wrong and she won’t admit it. When you have been shown to be wrong and cannot be swayed when confronted with the facts you are really in a delusional place. SBM is looking more like a cult to me. People here cannot even admit their wrong. When it is as clear as day you are wrong. Harriet is now saying this, “I refuse to engage in an argument about the actual numbers.” So, the only evidence now that matters in making the claim that doctors are a leading cause of death in America do not matter! She is wrong and won’t even admit it.

                2. “You appear to misunderstand the use of the Veniaminov study – it was used purely to look at age of death, not cause of death, and those death curves were approximate to those found in European” peasants eating a totally different diet (who also had high childhood mortality).”

                Well, I think you might have missed this but the Veniaminov study is not even referenced in the blog post. He takes it second hand from a book called Cancer, Disease of Civilization [1]. Now I did not read the book but from what is mentioned in the comments section for the book on Amazon apparently the book claims that the Inuit were free from disease [2]. Which is something one might expect given the title of the book. This is why the mummies that have been found are so crucial because it explodes this myth [3]. Now as to whether or not the death curves were approximate to those of the European Peasants. Where is that information? It is not referenced in the blog post and I am not finding that information when I look for it on the net. I can find life-expectancy information on Europeans for the same time period. I have read elsewhere that life-expectancy for I do not have the source the Inuit in this period was 25 years. In 1825 European men had a life-expectancy of about 41 years and women were at about 48. This gives us an average life-expectancy of about 45 years. The Europeans are living about 20 years longer [5]. Then you make this claim,

                “Dr. Hall is using them to show that Campbell’s assertion that a diet high in animal fat is inherently more dangerous is incorrect – not that it is magically protective against all diseases… “if two populations differ hugely in the meat content of their diets, but die at the same rates, doesn’t that indicate that meat consumption is very far from the massive health risk that Campbell demonizes it to be?”

                Well, if the mostly vegetarian Europeans are living 20 years longer than your average Eskimo, then the assertion that meat is more dangerous is not demonizing meat. It’s a fact. So here you are either making things up or lying.

                I will let Harriet speak for herself:
                “Blubber is a staple of the Inuit diet, and it contains large amounts of antioxidants. Atherosclerosis is practically unknown in Greenland. In Uummannaq, Greenland, a population of 3000 residents had no deaths due to CVD in the 1970s. And the average 70 year old Inuit with a traditional diet of whale and seal has arteries as elastic as that of a 20-year old Danish resident.”

                Is this really the case? Well when researchers checked out Greenland in the 2007 this is what they said: “The highest prevalence was observed in the least westernized areas in Greenland. Physical inactivity, low education, dyslipidemia, hypertension and diabetes were associated with CHD.” [4]
                Notice that here the greatest incidence of CHD was in the LEAST westernized areas or the least affected by western diet. So, we cannot claim that the atherosclerosis was due to a change to western diet. We also know that Harriet’s claim that “Atherosclerosis is practically unknown in Greenland.” is false. BTW- are you going to jump on Harriet’s case like you did Null’s for using data from the 70′s? Harriet is wrong about the Inuit and won’t even admit it.

                3. When it comes to Gary Null who cares about him? How does what he believes about AIDS or vaccines relevant to whether or not doctors are a leading cause of death in America? It doesn’t. If the man makes a claim you don’t like attack the claim not the man.

                Sources:
                [1]“I found a a mortality table from the records of a Russian mission in Alaska (compiled by Veniaminov, taken from Cancer, Disease of Civilization), which recorded the ages of death of a traditionally-living Inuit population during the years 1822 to 1836.”
                http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/07/mortality-and-lifespan-of-inuit.html

                [2]“Anthropologist abandons catedra Harvard in 1906 and will research the lives of the Inuit, between them, and find a healthy people, free of cancer and other diseases. And notes as they acquire the eating habits of the white man with refined sugar and wheat, they start getting sick until you see the first case of cancer among them”
                http://www.amazon.com/Cancer-disease-civilization-anthropological-historical/dp/B0007DXZQG

                [3] Mummies & Eskimos with Heart Disease: it isn’t Modern Diets that are the Problem: The People of St. Paul

                http://www.yourdoctorsorders.com/2013/03/mummies-eskimos-with-heart-disease-it-isnt-modern-diets-that-are-the-problem/

                [4] High prevalence of markers of coronary heart disease among Greenland Inuit.
                Jørgensen ME1, Bjerregaard P, Kjaergaard JJ, Borch-Johnsen K.
                Author information
                Abstract
                OBJECTIVE:
                It is a common notion that coronary heart disease (CHD) is rare among the Inuit, possibly due to a high intake of omega-3-fatty acids. The scientific evidence for this is weak and to some extent based on uncertain mortality statistic. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of markers of CHD among Greenland Inuit, and to study associations between markers of CHD and behavioral and biological variables.
                DESIGN:
                We studied prevalence of angina pectoris (AP), self-reported myocardial infarction (MI), and ECG defined MI and ischaemia in a population survey among 1316 Inuit living in Greenland. Blood tests were supplemented by structured interviews, anthropometry, and measurements of blood pressure, and the participants received an oral glucose tolerance test.
                RESULTS:
                The prevalence of symptomatic CHD (AP, self-reported MI) was 7.3% among men and 6.9% among women, and 12.2% and 13.4% of men and women had ischaemic ECG changes. The overall prevalence of CHD (AP+self-reported MI+ECG defined MI) was 10.8% in men and 10.2% in women. The highest prevalence was observed in the least westernized areas in Greenland. Physical inactivity, low education, dyslipidemia, hypertension and diabetes were associated with CHD.
                CONCLUSION:
                The prevalence of markers of CHD was not different from that in Western populations. The Inuit is a population undergoing rapid social and health transitions, with the emergence of cardiovascular risk factors, and there is a need for critical rethinking of cardiovascular epidemiology in this population.

                http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17306273

                [5] Changes in life expectancy in the European Union
                since 1995: similarities and differences between the
                25 EU countries

                http://www.eurohex.eu/pdf/JM_Budapest.pdf

              4. Harriet Hall says:

                “Well, if the mostly vegetarian Europeans are living 20 years longer than your average Eskimo, then the assertion that meat is more dangerous is not demonizing meat. It’s a fact.”

                Fact check: Europeans are not mostly vegetarians. The prevalence of vegetarians in Europe varies by country and ranges from a low of 2% to a high of 10%.

                More facts: Luxembourg has the highest per capita meat consumption of any country at 300 pounds a year; India has the lowest at 7 pounds a year. The life expectancy is 82 in Luxembourg and 70 in India. 31% of Indians are vegetarians.

                Note: It is not legitimate to use statistics like these to conclude anything about the health of vegetarians or the dangers of meat, because so many other lifestyle, environmental, and genetic factors are also different between countries. Correlation is not causation.

              5. Chris says:

                “First of all I agree with you there are a lot things not to like about Null. He is a controversial figure. That said it does not mean his 700K plus number of doctor caused deaths are wrong. ”

                Gary Null almost died from his own vitamin supplement. He was responsible for making that it was made to his specifications. This is not someone whose numbers I would trust.

                It also shows you can’t tell real data from fake data.

              6. Hank Nickerson says:

                WLU,
                1. “Really? Do you have a convenient comparison country with a highly urbanized population, obesity, and rampant infectious diseases available for comparison?”

                How is this question even relevant? It’s not. Even if we had the comparison information you want that would not invalidate the studies that show death-by-doctor should rank at least 3rd for cause of death. Harriet is wrong and she won’t admit it. When you have been shown to be wrong and cannot be swayed when confronted with the facts you are really in a delusional place. SBM is looking more like a cult to me. People here cannot even admit their wrong. When it is as clear as day you are wrong. Harriet is now saying this, “I refuse to engage in an argument about the actual numbers.” So, the only evidence now that matters in making the claim that doctors are a leading cause of death in America do not matter! She is wrong and won’t even admit it.

                2. “You appear to misunderstand the use of the Veniaminov study – it was used purely to look at age of death, not cause of death, and those death curves were approximate to those found in European” peasants eating a totally different diet (who also had high childhood mortality).”

                Well, I think you might have missed this but the Veniaminov study is not even referenced in the blog post. He takes it second hand from a book called Cancer, Disease of Civilization [1]. Now I did not read the book but from what is mentioned in the comments section for the book on Amazon apparently the book claims that the Inuit were free from disease [2]. Which is something one might expect given the title of the book. This is why the mummies that have been found are so crucial because it explodes this myth [3]. Now as to whether or not the death curves were approximate to those of the European Peasants. Where is that information? It is not referenced in the blog post and I am not finding that information when I look for it on the net. I can find life-expectancy information on Europeans for the same time period. I have read elsewhere that life-expectancy for I do not have the source the Inuit in this period was 25 years. In 1825 European men had a life-expectancy of about 41 years and women were at about 48. This gives us an average life-expectancy of about 45 years. The Europeans are living about 20 years longer [5]. Then you make this claim,

                “Dr. Hall is using them to show that Campbell’s assertion that a diet high in animal fat is inherently more dangerous is incorrect – not that it is magically protective against all diseases… “if two populations differ hugely in the meat content of their diets, but die at the same rates, doesn’t that indicate that meat consumption is very far from the massive health risk that Campbell demonizes it to be?”

                Well, if the mostly vegetarian Europeans are living 20 years longer than your average Eskimo, then the assertion that meat is more dangerous is not demonizing meat. It’s a fact. So here you are either making things up or lying.

                I will let Harriet speak for herself:
                “Blubber is a staple of the Inuit diet, and it contains large amounts of antioxidants. Atherosclerosis is practically unknown in Greenland. In Uummannaq, Greenland, a population of 3000 residents had no deaths due to CVD in the 1970s. And the average 70 year old Inuit with a traditional diet of whale and seal has arteries as elastic as that of a 20-year old Danish resident.”

                Is this really the case? Well when researchers checked out Greenland in the 2007 this is what they said: “The highest prevalence was observed in the least westernized areas in Greenland. Physical inactivity, low education, dyslipidemia, hypertension and diabetes were associated with CHD.” [4]
                Notice that here the greatest incidence of CHD was in the LEAST westernized areas or the least affected by western diet. So, we cannot claim that the atherosclerosis was due to a change to western diet. We also know that Harriet’s claim that “Atherosclerosis is practically unknown in Greenland.” is false. BTW- are you going to jump on Harriet’s case like you did Null’s for using data from the 70′s? Harriet is wrong about the Inuit and won’t even admit it.

                3. When it comes to Gary Null who cares about him? How does what he believes about AIDS or vaccines relevant to whether or not doctors are a leading cause of death in America? It doesn’t. If the man makes a claim you don’t like attack the claim not the man.

                Sources:
                [1]“I found a a mortality table from the records of a Russian mission in Alaska (compiled by Veniaminov, taken from Cancer, Disease of Civilization), which recorded the ages of death of a traditionally-living Inuit population during the years 1822 to 1836.”
                http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/07/mortality-and-lifespan-of-inuit.html

                [2]“Anthropologist abandons catedra Harvard in 1906 and will research the lives of the Inuit, between them, and find a healthy people, free of cancer and other diseases. And notes as they acquire the eating habits of the white man with refined sugar and wheat, they start getting sick until you see the first case of cancer among them”
                http://www.amazon.com/Cancer-disease-civilization-anthropological-historical/dp/B0007DXZQG

                [3] Mummies & Eskimos with Heart Disease: it isn’t Modern Diets that are the Problem: The People of St. Paul

                http://www.yourdoctorsorders.com/2013/03/mummies-eskimos-with-heart-disease-it-isnt-modern-diets-that-are-the-problem/

                [4] High prevalence of markers of coronary heart disease among Greenland Inuit.
                Jørgensen ME1, Bjerregaard P, Kjaergaard JJ, Borch-Johnsen K.
                Author information
                Abstract
                OBJECTIVE:
                It is a common notion that coronary heart disease (CHD) is rare among the Inuit, possibly due to a high intake of omega-3-fatty acids. The scientific evidence for this is weak and to some extent based on uncertain mortality statistic. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of markers of CHD among Greenland Inuit, and to study associations between markers of CHD and behavioral and biological variables.
                DESIGN:
                We studied prevalence of angina pectoris (AP), self-reported myocardial infarction (MI), and ECG defined MI and ischaemia in a population survey among 1316 Inuit living in Greenland. Blood tests were supplemented by structured interviews, anthropometry, and measurements of blood pressure, and the participants received an oral glucose tolerance test.
                RESULTS:
                The prevalence of symptomatic CHD (AP, self-reported MI) was 7.3% among men and 6.9% among women, and 12.2% and 13.4% of men and women had ischaemic ECG changes. The overall prevalence of CHD (AP+self-reported MI+ECG defined MI) was 10.8% in men and 10.2% in women. The highest prevalence was observed in the least westernized areas in Greenland. Physical inactivity, low education, dyslipidemia, hypertension and diabetes were associated with CHD.
                CONCLUSION:
                The prevalence of markers of CHD was not different from that in Western populations. The Inuit is a population undergoing rapid social and health transitions, with the emergence of cardiovascular risk factors, and there is a need for critical rethinking of cardiovascular epidemiology in this population.

                http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17306273

                [5] Changes in life expectancy in the European Union
                since 1995: similarities and differences between the
                25 EU countries

                http://www.eurohex.eu/pdf/JM_Budapest.pdf

              7. Hank Nickerson says:

                “Gary Null almost died from his own vitamin supplement. He was responsible for making that it was made to his specifications. This is not someone whose numbers I would trust.
                It also shows you can’t tell real data from fake data.”
                Chris,
                Do you know what an ad hominem argument is? How does whether or not he died from taking vitamins show his numbers are fake? That’s right it doesn’t show his numbers are fake. Null says that he is suing the manufacturer of the vitamin. So, it does not look like the vitamins in question were made to his specifications.

              8. Chris says:

                “Do you know what an ad hominem argument is?”

                Yes, I do. Stating a fact that he almost died from his own supplement is not an ad hominem argument. If I said he that he had a radio program and could not be trusted, that would be an ad hominem argument. Try looking it up.

                What I said was a statement of fact that pointed to his own incompetence, especially since he is making declarations on the fallibility of those who have actually gone to medical school. It was a description.

                “How does whether or not he died from taking vitamins show his numbers are fake?”

                Because it was his own product, which had a thousand times to concentrated! It shows that he cannot make sure that something he sells has any kind of quality control, plus he just isn’t very good with numbers. If he is trying to claim doctors are flawed, then he should look into the mirror and contemplate that his own product put himself and six other people into the hospital.

                You still are having trouble telling reality and fantasy apart. Thinking Gary Null is an expert on anything is pure fantasy. By the way, that is not an ad hominem, it is just a plain descriptive insult.

              9. Hank Nickerson says:

                Chris,

                Are you sure you know what an ad hominem argument is?

                “Yes, I do. Stating a fact that he almost died from his own supplement is not an ad hominem argument. If I said he that he had a radio program and could not be trusted, that would be an ad hominem argument. Try looking it up.”

                Ok lets look up ad hominem argument….

                Here are three links on the defining what an ad hominem argument is.

                http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ad-hominem.html

                http://www.logicallyfallacious.com/index.php/logical-fallacies/10-ad-hominem-abusive

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

                So, I have looked at the definitions and examples of the ad hominem argument. None of the forms given conform to your example of “If I said he that he had a radio program and could not be trusted…” Now maybe I missed something if your can find an example of an ad hominem argument that conforms to your notion of what an ad hominem argument is please show me.

                Now lets go back to the beginning you said this:
                “Gary Null almost died from his own vitamin supplement. He was responsible for making that it was made to his specifications. This is not someone whose numbers I would trust.
                It also shows you can’t tell real data from fake data.”
                Here is the general form of an ad hominem abusive argument, If you just click on the links you will find it there.

                Person 1 is claiming Y.
                Person 1 is a moron.
                Therefore, Y is not true.
                I will now plug in your argument into this form to show you that you are committing an ad hominem abusive argument.

                Gary Null is claiming that medical errors kill 700,000 plus people a year.

                “Gary Null almost died from his own vitamin supplement. He was responsible for making that it was made to his specifications.”

                Therefore, “This is not someone whose numbers I would trust.”

                This is a classic ad hominem argument.

                So you conclude with this:

                “You still are having trouble telling reality and fantasy apart. Thinking Gary Null is an expert on anything is pure fantasy. By the way, that is not an ad hominem, it is just a plain descriptive insult.”

                Please show me where I claim that Gary Null is an expert on anything? This is a classic Strawman argument.
                http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/straw-man.html

                Your statement here is interesting because it has elements of ad hominem abusive and circular reasoning. It appears as though critical thinking and logical thought are not your forte. Please tell me you are not a doctor treating patients with such poor reasoning skills.

              10. Harriet Hall says:

                The ad hominem fallacy appeals to irrelevant information about the person. It attacks a person’s character or personal traits in an attempt to undermine their arguments. When you have seen a consistent pattern of misinformation from a person, it is relevant and eminently reasonable to start questioning everything they say. If your clock consistently gives the wrong time, you would stop consulting it, or you would at least learn to check what it says with a more reliable clock. When I criticized Greger’s video, it was because he had cited references and I had checked those references and found that (1) he had misrepresented them and (2) he had failed to mention references that supported the opposite conclusions. That is not ad hominem, it is fact-checking and rejecting a source of information that has been shown to be unreliable.

              11. Hank Nickerson says:

                “Well, if the mostly vegetarian Europeans are living 20 years longer than your average Eskimo, then the assertion that meat is more dangerous is not demonizing meat. It’s a fact.”
                Fact check: Europeans are not mostly vegetarians. The prevalence of vegetarians in Europe varies by country and ranges from a low of 2% to a high of 10%.
                More facts: Luxembourg has the highest per capita meat consumption of any country at 300 pounds a year; India has the lowest at 7 pounds a year. The life expectancy is 82 in Luxembourg and 70 in India. 31% of Indians are vegetarians.
                Note: It is not legitimate to use statistics like these to conclude anything about the health of vegetarians or the dangers of meat, because so many other lifestyle, environmental, and genetic factors are also different between countries. Correlation is not causation.
                Harriet,

                We are talking about the a specific time period in Europe 1822 to 1836. The history shows that meat eating was rare in Europe for most people until about 1850. For example in France in the 1780′s only 2% of total calories came from meat [1]. So, during this period the if we assume that France is representative of the rest of Europe, then at this point in time the Europeans were mostly vegetarian. Furthermore, if in the 1820′s they were living 20 years longer than the Eskimos, then the mostly vegetarian Europeans were out living the carnivorous Inuit.

                You are correct though. One cannot conclude causation on this basis. The Inuit might not be living as long due to other factors. A better study is the one that was done on the Seventh Day Adventists in California, people in Sardinia and Okinawa. All of these populations have low to no meat intake [4]. So, lower meat intake does correlate with longer life-expectancy. In fact the results seem to show the lower the better. The vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists had the highest life-expectancy of all the groups studied. It would be interesting to see how vegans faired vs dairy product consuming vegetarians. If we think of what’s the healthiest diet just in terms of the associated life-expectancy then vegetarian diet is the healthiest.

                [1]
                http://www.colostate.edu/Dept/GDPE/Distinguished_Ecologists/2006/Smil/Eating%20Meat.pdf

                [2]
                http://www.dnaindia.com/health/report-vegetarians-live-longer-than-meat-eaters-1752616

                [3]
                http://www.ibtimes.com/sardinias-secret-longevity-genetics-diet-lifestyle-754380

                [4]
                http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/print/2005/11/longevity-secrets/buettner-text

              12. Harriet Hall says:

                “We are talking about the a specific time period in Europe ”
                OK, but I gave you an example of countries today where meat eating is NOT correlated with poorer longevity. If meat were dangerous, we would not expect to see that; and if meat and milk were dangerous, we would expect to see a higher prevalence of heart disease and cancer in groups like the Inuit and the Maasai.
                If you understand that correlation doesn’t prove causation, why did you claim that your Inuit statistics were proof that meat is dangerous? And why are you now offering more correlations about Seventh Day Adventists? They don’t prove causation; there could be many confounding factors. Don’t you see that it is cherry-picking to accept the Seventh Day Adventist data and ignore the Luxembourg/India data?

              13. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                How is this question even relevant?

                The question is relevant because you are saying “doctors are the leading/second/third/whatever cause of death” and the point Dr. Hall and I have been making is “if you remove doctors and medicine from the equation, far more people will die of infections, trauma, preventable diseases, untreated cancer, heart attacks, strokes, congenital defects, asthma, etc.”

                To compare death rates without medical error, you need to compare death rates without medicine. The only way to do this is to eliminate medicine itself.

                SBM is looking more like a cult to me.

                That’s funny given your approach to arguments seems to be “cite the worst sources possible then insult people”.

                People here cannot even admit their wrong. When it is as clear as day you are wrong

                Hm…from my perspective, the problem seems to be you are unable to grasp the points made by others. For instance, I had to explain how my (and Dr. Hall’s) points were relevant, and below. Further, you are either willfully, or ignorantly oblivious to the complications involved in the questions being asked, the need for meticulous care in research, the presence of confounds, the importance of black swans, and related material. You come here with the conviction that you are right, and demand respect. Others try to point out some flaws, and you pretty much accuse them of murder.

                But no, you’re right, we’re probably a cult.

                Well, I think you might have missed this but the Veniaminov study is not even referenced in the blog post. He takes it second hand from a book called Cancer, Disease of Civilization [1]. Now I did not read the book but from what is mentioned in the comments section for the book on Amazon apparently the book claims that the Inuit were free from disease

                You seem to keep missing the point that the sole use of Veniaminov’s work is to produce normalized life expectancy and death curves. Not looking at causes of death, simply what percentage of people died at what age blocks, chunked into decades. The rest of the book is irrelevant. Dr. Hall never claimed that the Inuit were “free from disease”, only that they died at approximately the same rates as their European counterparts.

                I have read elsewhere that life-expectancy for I do not have the source the Inuit in this period was 25 years.

                Well, since you haven’t provided a source, we can’t check it than – can we? Because according to Veniaminov their life expectancies were not 25 years.

                Well, if the mostly vegetarian Europeans are living 20 years longer than your average Eskimo, then the assertion that meat is more dangerous is not demonizing meat. It’s a fact. So here you are either making things up or lying.

                See, the thing is – you are making this claim on a source you can’t find or provide, but merely vaguely recall. You should read up on some of the fascinating work done by Elizabeth Loftus on the fallibility of memory. It’s not like a tape recorder, it’s a continually-renewed, context-dependent assemblage of self-justification.

                Now, I’m not saying you are lying, merely that your mind could be deceiving you, as it deceives us all, into justifying our current beliefs. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to assume you are correct and just roll over. I will, however, indulge my monkey* brain and say you’re acting like such a sanctimonious, unlikeable asshole that even if you are right, I kinda don’t give a shit.

                Uummannaq, Greenland, a population of 3000 residents had no deaths due to CVD in the 1970s. [snip] Greenland in the 2007

                May I point out that this is a difference of 40 years? Perhaps things changed.

                this is what they said: “The highest prevalence was observed in the least westernized areas in Greenland. Physical inactivity, low education, dyslipidemia, hypertension and diabetes were associated with CHD.

                “Least Westernized” doesn’t mean “traditional”. A traditional Inuit lifestyle involves huge amounts of exercise, chasing after dogsleds, hauling carcasses for several miles, raw animal flesh and blubber, consuming the intestinal contents for fiber and vitamin C, and more so. One could, in fact, read that statement to say that as populations became more westernized, they exercised more and controlled their blood lipids, diabetes and hypertension better, which unsurprisingly led to fewer CHD deaths. See, when a hunter-gatherer culture shifts to a modern, western culture, there is a period where they abandon traditional food and activities and adopt the worst habits that are shared with the least educated. It’s the opposite of a sweet spot and it’s horrifyingly bad for your health. These Inuit appear to be living in that trough, where they are physically inactive, eat poorly and don’t understand their health well enough to adopt the difficult health behaviours that doctors recommend to their patients.

                But it’s equivocal – you project onto this blank canvass what you want to see. You see people dying because they eat too much meat, I see people dying because they eat and exercise like an impoverished Texan call center employee.

                One might also point to this little segment from the abstract:

                The prevalence of markers of CHD was not different from that in Western populations. The Inuit is a population undergoing rapid social and health transitions, with the emergence of cardiovascular risk factors, and there is a need for critical rethinking of cardiovascular epidemiology in this population.

                Emphasis added – the Inuit in the study were not living a traditional lifestyle, so you can’t use them as an exemplar and comparator of the risks of high meat consumption anymore. You are examining the ancestors of the relevant populace, not the relevant populace.

                When it comes to Gary Null who cares about him?

                I completely agree, Gary Null should be fed into a wood chipper, or at the very least have his vocal cords paralyzed and the tendons in his forearms severed so he can’t communicate.

                How does what he believes about AIDS or vaccines relevant to whether or not doctors are a leading cause of death in America? It doesn’t. If the man makes a claim you don’t like attack the claim not the man.

                Because you are basing the claim that doctors are the leading cause of death in America on his document. And pointing out that he has neither the education nor the mindset to produce an honest document does have a bearing on how seriously we take it.

                I would rather re-read Gilbert Welch’s Overdiagnosed, which is subject to peer review and is published by an actual practicing doctor and researcher – not a vitamin-shilling loon who thinks that AIDS doesn’t exist. Citing Null is like citing whale.to – it just shows you don’t know what a reliable source is.

                *Yes, APE, I KNOW, it’s for comedic effect!

              14. weing says:

                Regarding Ad hominem. I’d like to point out that an Ad hominem argument is no necessarily fallacious. Especially when it’s in response to an appeal to authority.

              15. Hank Nickerson says:

                When I criticized Greger’s video, it was because he had cited references and I had checked those references and found that (1) he had misrepresented them and (2) he had failed to mention references that supported the opposite conclusions. That is not ad hominem, it is fact-checking and rejecting a source of information that has been shown to be unreliable.

                Harriet,

                Did you check all of his references? If you did not, isn’t that cherry picking? Please answer honestly.

              16. Harriet Hall says:

                No, I didn’t check every single reference. That would not be reasonable. I checked enough of them. That is not cherry-picking. Cherry-picking is when you only read sources that agree with you and ignore the rest. What I did was the opposite of cherry-picking. I concentrated on reading the references for statements that I questioned or disagreed with. I gave his evidence a fair chance to convince me that he was right and I was wrong; it didn’t.

              17. Hank Nickerson says:

                http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2013_02_01_archive.html

                The author of this blog totally takes down your article on Greger. It is apparent that you did not even watch the YouTube and you are a liar. You are a straight up liar Harriet. You read the articles he cites? You know you are lying right?

                Quote from the blog…
                As anyone can hear or see, Greger didn’t base his discussion of cardiovascular disease on an article in the Food and Drug Law Journal, as Hall claims.

                So, at this point, I had to wonder, did Hall actually watch this video, or does she just want to mislead anyone reading her blog by inserting another diversion, or what?

                Greger provides the references he used below the video, on the page to which Hall links, as follows:

                Risk Factors for Mortality in the Nurses’ Health Study: A Competing Risks Analysis

                Use of intensive lipid-lowering therapy in patients hospitalized with acute coronary syndrome: An analysis of 65,396 hospitalizations from 344 hospitals participating in Get With The Guidelines (GWTG)

                Shifting from decreasing risk to actually preventing and arresting atherosclerosis.

                It’s the cholesterol, stupid!

                FDA announces safety changes in labeling for some cholesterol-lowering drugs

                FDA Warns on Statin Drugs

                Effect of a single high-fat meal on endothelial function in healthy subjects.

                Effects of a high-fat meal on pulmonary function in healthy subjects.

                Increase in plasma endotoxin concentrations and the expression of Toll-like receptors and suppressor of cytokine signaling-3 in mononuclear cells after a high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal: implications for insulin resistance.

                The capacity of foodstuffs to induce innate immune activation of human monocytes in vitro is dependent on food content of stimulants of Toll-like receptors 2 and 4.

                High fat intake leads to acute postprandial exposure to circulating endotoxin in type 2 diabetic subjects.

                In addition, Hall implies that Esselstyn treated all of his patients with statin drugs, and that he had them consume low-fat dairy products. In fact, Esselstyn only used statins for the few patients who did not achieve a total cholesterol below 150 by diet alone, while some patients were incapable of taking statins and others refused. In the Q&A section of his website, under the heading “Statins–Should I take statins or not?” Esselstyn reports “Clearly some of our most profound successes in arresting and reversing disease were with patients who either refused or were incapable of taking statins.”

                In addition, some fungi (mushrooms and yeasts) produce statins (lovastatin and mevastatin), emphasizing the importance of compounds produced by the “fruits” of plant-like organisms in the correction of cardiovascular disease.

                As for the low-fat dairy products, although Esselstyn initially included them in the foods allowed to his patients, he later asked them not to consume these foods. In the Q&A section of his website, he writes:

                “Egg whites, fat free milk, yogurt – So What is wrong with egg whites, fat free yogurt, skim milk?
                Egg whites, fat free milk and yogurt are ALL animal protein, and animal protein injures the lining of the arteries. Do not eat.”
                Hall declares “It is ludicrous to interpret that [Esselstyn’s] research as showing that a plant-based diet can completely prevent heart attacks…etc.” This constitutes a straw man since Greger didn’t even cite Esselstyn’s research, let alone interpret it as alone sufficient to show that a plant-based diet can “completely prevent” heart attacks.

                Nevertheless, Esselstyn’s peer-reviewed papers reference the body of evidence that supports the idea that a whole foods plant-based diet that lowers total cholesterol to less than 150 mg/dL can prevent almost all of the heart attacks that occur in industrialized nations:

                “However, coronary artery disease is virtually absent in cultures that eat plant-based diets, such as the Tarahumara Indians of northern Mexico,8 the Papua highlanders of New Guinea,9 and the inhabitants of rural China10 and central Africa.11 Hundreds of thousands of rural Chinese go for years without a single documented myocardial infarction.10” [1]

                “Although coronary artery disease is the leading killer of men and women in the USA, it is rarely encountered in cultures that base their nutrition primarily on grains, legumes, lentils, vegetables, and fruit.3,4 In the Framingham study, people with cholesterol levels between 150 and 200 mg/dl accounted for 35% of those with coronary heart disease, but among those with levels . 5, 6

                ” [2]

                Thus, as part of reporting the results of his own clinical study, Esselstyn provided references to other research supporting his protocol and conclusions. As expected in science, Esselstyn took into account a large body of evidence when formulating his hypothesis and experimental design.

                Hall ignores Greger’s reference to Risk Factors for Mortality in the Nurses’ Health Study: A Competing Risks Analysis which, as Greger notes, found that the single factor most strongly linked to heart disease mortality among nurses studied was cholesterol, only found in animal products, while the factor most protective was fiber, found only in plants.

                She also ignores his reference to the 2010 article It’s the cholesterol, stupid! in which William C Roberts, M.D., who has has authored several books on cardiovascular disease, with his colleagues published more than 1,150 articles on cardiovascular disease in medical journals, and serves as editor-in-chief of The American Journal of Cardiology, states that, based on the evidence available, virtually complete prevention of cardiovascular disease requires reduction of total cholesterol to 150 mg/dL, the average level of people who completely avoid or only every occasionally consume dietary animal products, or who host cholesterol-lowering parasites.
                Then she also largely ignores Greger’s presentation of the evidence that the combination of saturated fat and bacterial endotoxins in dietary animal products promotes inflammation involved in cardiovascular disease. She tries to discredit only one of the several studies he cites, Effect of a single high-fat meal on endothelial function in healthy subjects with the remark that “This was a small study of 10 volunteers with no control group.”

                First of all, this is an experimental study, which involved feeding the subjects two different meals at different times, and closely monitoring their vasoreactivity for a time period after the meals, so can only be performed on a small group of people. Does she think that a research team can do this type of study on 100 or 1000 or 10,000 people at a time? Does she have any idea what it would cost in labor, funds and time to perform such a study on even 100, let alone 1000 or 10,000 people? And what would be the point anyway? Does she really think that human biology varies so much among individuals that the results would be markedly different in a larger study?

                Next, she says that this study had no control group. In fact, the abstract of the study states the following:

                “To assess the direct effect of postprandial triglyceride-rich lipoproteins on endothelial function, an early factor in atherogenesis–10 healthy, normocholesterolemic volunteers–were studied before and for 6 hours after single isocaloric high- and low-fat meals (900 calorie; 50 and 0 g fat, respectively).”

                In other words, since all 10 subjects received both treatments at different times, each of the 10 subjects served as his/her own control.

                Some Interesting Claims

                Hall takes Greger to task for his claim that meat-eaters have 2–3 times the risk of dementia compared to vegetarians. Her comment:

                “This claim is based on an old Adventist health study that has not been replicated. It studied two groups: matched and unmatched subjects. The data he cites are from the matched group. There was no difference in incidence of dementia between meat eaters and vegetarians in the unmatched study. Adventists are lacto-ovo-vegetarians who eat milk and eggs. And they are also a rather unique group with other healthy lifestyle practices. So it is disingenuous to claim this study as definitive evidence for veganism.”

                Where to start? First, not all Adventists are lacto-ovo-vegetarians; some Adventists eat nonvegetarian diets, some eat pesco-vegetarian diets, some eat lacto-ovo vegetarian diets, and some eat vegan diets. Researchers like to study the Adventists because, regardless of diet, Adventists all share similar “healthy lifestyle practices” such as avoiding smoking and alcohol, making it easier to trace the effects of diet. In other words, the “other healthy lifestyle practices” that she cites as if to cast doubt on the effect of diet found in this study actually factor out because this study compared meat-eating Adventists to vegetarian Adventists.

                In this study, when vegetarians and meat-eaters were matched for age, sex, and zip code (i.e. similar socio-economic status), meat-eaters had a risk of dementia 2–3 times that of vegetarians. When not matched, they found no difference in dementia incidence. Hall seems to think that the results from the unmatched substudy cast significant doubt on the results from the matched substudy.

                I don’t know why. Since dementia is age-related and may also be related to education and socioeconomic status, not matching subjects for age and zip code could result in comparing the dementia rates of young, college-educated, upper middle class meat-eaters to the dementia rates of elderly vegetetarians who never graduated from high school and had life-long low income. Can you guess which of these two groups would have the higher incidence of dementia? Of course you can. Matching provides protection against confounders that would obscure the effect of the variable under study, which in this case was diet. Hence, I don’t know why Hall seems to think that the unmatched data in this study is even worthy of mention as if it somehow seriously contradicted the matched data.

              18. Harriet Hall says:

                That blog post that you think “takes down my article” doesn’t. It says he never mentioned the Food and Drug Law Journal. He didn’t mention it by name, and I didn’t say he did, but he quoted directly from it. As I said, “He cites a reference showing that “a plant-based diet of primarily whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes can completely prevent heart attacks.” This is a quotation from an article in the Food and Drug Law Journal,” I had to track down the source of his claim and it took some sleuthing on my part to locate it, but I did. It was a secondary source, and the statement is not supported by any credible evidence.

                I DID watch the entire video, and took notes. I am not a liar. This accusation and your accusation that I kill patients are extremely offensive.

                I could answer each of your other objections to my article, but I won’t. I have already wasted far more time on a hateful troll than is warranted. Silly me!

              19. Chris says:

                weing: “Regarding Ad hominem. I’d like to point out that an Ad hominem argument is no necessarily fallacious. Especially when it’s in response to an appeal to authority.”

                Especially when he is taking the word of supplement salesman without question on the fallibility of those with real medical degrees, when that person has a dubious educational background, plus his supplement not only put six people in the hospital but also himself!

                I believe what you are dealing with is someone who has trouble separating reality and fantasy. He reminds me of a certain Thingy who thought toddlers would know better than to wander off the safe sidewalk into the dirt.

              20. Hank Nickerson says:

                You are a straight up liar. Where does he discuss the article you claim he used in the YouTube Harriet? Where is it Harriet? Just admit you are a liar.

                Quote from the blog:
                “I did not remember Greger discussing that article from the Food and Drug Law Journal, nor Esselstyn’s research, at all, in the portion of the “Uprooting” video wherein he discusses cardiovascular disease. I went back to listen a second time to Greger’s presentation. He discusses cardiovascular disease in a segment starting at about 1:10 and ending at about 9:19.”
                http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2013_02_01_archive.html

  25. Hank Nickerson says:

    I know the standards are so high here at SBM. Do you have anything better than a ad hominem attack on Dr. Greger? You have not said anything that invalidates the studies that he cites. SBM is a real fraud. For instance Dean Ornish has shown the heart disease can be reversed with diet. Have most cardiologists taken his findings to heart? No they have not. They would rather cut into people because they make the most money that way. More evidence that most surgeons are sociopaths? It is a scientific fact that low fat vegan diets can reverse heart disesase. Are you going to deny it? Or just commit another ad hominem attack on Dr. Ornish?

    Here is doctor Cambell talking about how animal protein causes cancer.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8qIZocna9w

    1. Mie says:

      To my knowledge, Ornish has published only small observational (no control group, no randomization) studies which have shown that a small, dedicated group of patients can accomplish nice results with intensive lifestyle modifications. In no way are his findings enough to change the current treatment recommendations nor demonstrate anything about surgeons being sociopaths.

      In larger trials such as this

      http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=205916

      Ornish hasn’t fared all that well. And now he’s bashing RCTs.

      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/fighting-against-evidence/

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      For instance Dean Ornish has shown the heart disease can be reversed with diet. Have most cardiologists taken his findings to heart? No they have not. They would rather cut into people because they make the most money that way. More evidence that most surgeons are sociopaths? It is a scientific fact that low fat vegan diets can reverse heart disesase. Are you going to deny it? Or just commit another ad hominem attack on Dr. Ornish?

      See, what you’re missing here is that by the time most cardiologists are cutting into somebody, it’s usually for life-saving reasons. There’s simply no time to change someone’s diet and wait the months it would take for their cholesterol to lower, their atherosclerotic plaques shrink and their risk of sudden death to subside. Are you saying rather than trying to reduce their risk of sudden death, we just let them die instead? That’s a little terrifying.

      Also, while doctors, all of them, recommend dietary changes to versions that are rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and reduced meat and processed food consumption, most patients are reluctant, or merely unwilling, to make such a change. What are doctors supposed to do? Follow patients around and nag? Cook for them? Hold a gun to their heads and threaten their lives unless they eat their broccoli? I’m not normally one for blaming the victims, but in cases like these it seems the problem is the patient being unwilling to follow doctor’s orders, no that doctors are lax in their work. Would you advocate for extreme nanny state interventions like outlawing certain foods, or policing individual diets?

      Don’t you think your blame is a little unwarranted when most patients experiencing near-lethal cardiac events do so because they don’t follow conventional dietary advice?

      Also, are we talking about heart disease or cancer here? Because by conflating the two, it again looks like your interest is in portraying the consumption of animal protein as an inherent evil, and the fact that it allegedly has health consequences is merely an excuse – using science as a drunk man uses a lamp post one could say.

      Would you eat vat meat?

      1. Hank Nickerson says:

        WLU,
        I am definitely in favor, when it is absolutely necessary, of using invasive means to remedy clogged arteries. I have no doubt that it sometimes saves lives. That said I think that lifestyle change should be the first line remedy for heart disease. Because from what I have read bypass surgery is not always successful. Many time five to ten years later those veins also become clogged. So, is this really the best solution.

        I eat fish about twice a month. So, I eat meat. That said I do not think meat is safe or healthy to eat in large amounts. I had a family member die from eating e-coli tainted meat back in the 90′s. I know first hand how corrupt the system is. There were many more people that died from that outbreak in the 90′s that never got any press. There is a lot of contaminated meat out there and it is clear that the FDA is not doing its job and people are dying from it. And, after watching Dr. Greger’s synopsis’s of medical studies I am even more confident that eating meat is not the healthiest choice. I primarily eat meat for B-12. Although I am considering not eating meat altogether and just getting my meat from B-12 supplements.

        As for eating vat meat no I would not eat it because I think that eating meat is not healthy no matter where it comes from and it is made from human shit. Why do you want to eat shit WLU?
        http://www.livescience.com/14669-poop-meat-safety.html
        http://www.medicinenet.com/coronary_artery_bypass_graft/page6.htm

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          That said I think that lifestyle change should be the first line remedy for heart disease.

          So, you agree with every single doctor on the planet then. I’m not sure why you are pretending that a) doctors don’t support lifestyle change and b) it’s doctors’ responsibilities to force patients to adopt a better lifestyle.

          Because from what I have read bypass surgery is not always successful. Many time five to ten years later those veins also become clogged. So, is this really the best solution.

          No shit Sherlock, but lifestyle change also isn’t successful. There are no 100% cures, there is always variability, and lifestyle change is particularly difficult because the benefits are pretty much invisible and decades down the road, but eating an ice cream cake pays off right now.

          You keep presenting lifestyle change as if doctors didn’t know about it, or didn’t promote it, or were themselves universally clinically obese because they weren’t aware of the risks obesity presented. Where did you get this idea?

          I had a family member die from eating e-coli tainted meat back in the 90′s. I know first hand how corrupt the system is.

          Ah, and that’s where the rage comes from then. Good to know.

          There is a lot of contaminated meat out there and it is clear that the FDA is not doing its job and people are dying from it.

          Of course, this is because the FDA is being systematically hamstrung and underfunded, and has been for decades, because it is politically expedient and because “industry will regulate it self” lunatic teapartiers hate governments for some stupid reason. Believe me, the employees of the FDA would love to have the money and resources to deliver fully on their mandate. Do you think they just sit around all day cackling because another kid shat out their insides? The chemists, biologists, epidemiologists and the like are all experts who would love to do their jobs properly. Perhaps you could write your federal representative in support of increasing the resources and teeth of the FDA, rather than raging pointlessly against things no doctors believe.

          As for eating vat meat no I would not eat it because I think that eating meat is not healthy no matter where it comes from and it is made from human shit. Why do you want to eat shit WLU?

          1) Eating meat is not unhealthy no matter the source, that’s your belief but it’s not a fact. Humans evolved to consume an omnivorous diet and can thrive on nearly any diet from vegan-style Jainism to near-carnivore traditional Inuit hunters, but will do much, much better with moderation, fresh foods and scientific medical care. Complete avoidance of meat is in fact a tremendous risk factor for a variety of nutrient deficiencies and consuming a reasonable amount of meat offsets these risks considerably.

          2) Shit meat, which I had never heard of and is actually a pretty awesome way to use up all that sewage waste (I would feed it to pigs though, a great way to reduce waste). The thing is, the substrates excreted in human feces are nutritious, but embedded in a potentially-dangerous matrix of dead and living bacteria. It’s like gold flecks found in a slurry of dirt – valuable, if you can get it out. Right now, it goes into a sewage system and is pure waste. Being able to turn it into something useful is amazing! But I’m talking about in vitro meat produced from animal stem cells, grown in vats (and exercised with velcro – no really).

          So no, I don’t want to eat shit (tangent – have you heard of baby poop sausage?) but one must overcome the disgust one instinctively feels and assess how dangerous something really is. By analogy, vaccination sounds terrifying and dangerous – you’re injecting yourself with a disease! But if you actually understand it, the safety is obvious.

  26. Hank Nickerson says:

    SBM is a real fraud. For instance Dean Ornish has shown the heart disease can be reversed with diet. Have most cardiologists taken his findings to heart? No they have not. They would rather cut into people because they make the most money that way. More evidence that most surgeons are sociopaths? It is a scientific fact that low fat vegan diets can reverse heart disesase. Are you going to deny it? Or just commit another ad hominem attack on Dr. Ornish?

    Here is doctor Cambell talking about how animal protein causes cancer.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8qIZocna9w

    1. MadisonMD says:

      Obvious troll is obvious.

      1. Hank Nickerson says:

        Flunky for Big Pharma it’s obvious.

        1. Chris says:

          Cool. Then you can give us the alternatives to beta blockers (surgery has already been done) for obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

          So what does my kid have to eat to avoid the betablockers for the screwed up electrical wiring for the heart muscles due to his genetic heart condition.

          Come on! You have all the answers, give me some!

          1. Hank Nickerson says:

            Do you think that when most people hear the words heart disease they think of the condition known as obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy?

            1. Chris says:

              Answer a question. You made a claim, I gave you specific type of heart disease. Either explain how diet can replace beta blockers for the abnormal electrical function in HCM, or concede that your declaration “heart disease can be reversed with diet” does not work for all forms of heart disease.

              Does diet also work for Long QT Syndrome?

              1. Hank Nickerson says:

                Scroll down and read you will see I did answer your question now answer mine.

              2. Chris says:

                Can you be more specific? I tried and can’t find anything addressed to me.

                What type of diet deals with the abnormal electrical circuitry of HCM and Long QT? What question did you ask me?

                Post a link to where you answered my question.

                By the way, another genetic condition occurs in my stepmother’s family: a type of hypertension. Before the first diuretics to control blood pressure came to the scene in the 1950s, the average lifespan for most of the family was under age fifty. After the medication to control the blood pressure was available that went up to well over eighty years.

                So are you going to tell us that Ornish has a way to counter genetic hypertension too?

              3. Hank Nickerson says:

                Here since your scroll function does not work I will repost it here.

                “I am not claiming that diet can cure congenital heart disease but it can cure the heart disease caused eating an unhealthy diet. I do notice how no one here wants to deal with the truth Ornish’s case shows about the medical system. He has shown how to cure the most common kind of heart disease and so called science based medicine has not taken heed of the lesson to treat patients. Instead the medical community pushes the big pharma agenda and surgery, when they have scientific evidence that diet can be used to treat this condition. ”

                Doctors are the third leading cause of death in America. Care to share some stories that you know of where a doctor fucked up and killed one of your friends or relatives? And, if doctors are so smart and smug as they act here, then why do they kill so many people?
                http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/09/20/224507654/how-many-die-from-medical-mistakes-in-u-s-hospitals

              4. Harriet Hall says:

                Dr. Ornish has not “cured” heart disease. Read the studies. His program may have decreased the thickness of atherosclerotic plaque, but it did not eliminate it. And science-based medicine DOES strongly recommend lifestyle and diet modifications.

                Doctors are not a leading cause of death; diseases are. Sometimes there are iatrogenic mishaps, but doctors are working hard to identify and minimize them. Doctors save lives and relieve symptoms far more often than they “fuck up and kill patients”(!?) and many of the patients who are harmed by treatments would have died even sooner without treatment. see http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/death-by-medicine/

              5. Hank Nickerson says:

                Harriet,

                Unless you are perfect, you know that you have probably made some bad diagnosis’s during your time in practice and killed some people. So, you have gotten away with malpractice a few times. Hell isn’t that why most military doctors are in the military because there are no malpractice worries? Do you ever think about the people you have killed? Having read your articles you do not come off as person of conscience, so I suspect you do not think of the times when you killed people. Try not to think about it put those people out of your mind. Do not imagine the times you screwed up and killed people. Do no think about it. When your fingers hit the keyboard do not have them in your mind.

                Why am I not surprised that someone that refers to herself as the ‘skepdoc’ denies that the conclusion that doctors are the third leading cause of death? So, I checked out your 2008 article which is pretty pathetic. You do not even address the 1999 Institute of Medicine “To Err Is Human” study. No that would be hard, so instead you go after Gary Null. This a pattern of yours I notice you did the same thing to Greger you attack him and not the studies he cites. Are these the high standards SBM holds itself to?

                Now there have been a number of other studies showing that doctor malpractice kills upwards of 400K people a year. I have provided the links to the studies and the NPR article on the studies that show doctors are the third leading cause of death in America. Do you care to actually address the studies or are you going to create a Strawman and go after Gary Null again.

                P.S. Do not think about those people you killed when your fingers are on the keyboard.

                http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/1999/To-Err-is-Human/To%20Err%20is%20Human%201999%20%20report%20brief.pdf

                http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/09/20/224507654/how-many-die-from-medical-mistakes-in-u-s-hospitals

                https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/781687-john-james-a-new-evidence-based-estimate-of.html#document/p1/a117333

                http://journals.lww.com/journalpatientsafety/Fulltext/2013/09000/A_New,_Evidence_based_Estimate_of_Patient_Harms.2.aspx

              6. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Unless you are perfect, you know that you have probably made some bad diagnosis’s during your time in practice and killed some people. So, you have gotten away with malpractice a few times.

                No. Malpractice requires “instance of negligence or incompetence on the part of a professional.” For negligence harm must be a component and for incompetence the requirement is that the practitioner must act below the standard of the rest of the field of professionals given the circumstances at hand. In other words it recognizes that people aren’t perfect. It would be utterly asinine to create a system in which perfection is the requirement to never commit malpractice. But in your short time here you’ve demonstrated quite handily that asinine is well within your bailiwick.

                So, you have gotten away with malpractice a few times. Hell isn’t that why most military doctors are in the military because there are no malpractice worries? Do you ever think about the people you have killed? Having read your articles you do not come off as person of conscience, so I suspect you do not think of the times when you killed people.

                And that is downright insulting, ugly, and atrocious. Of anyone here Dr. Hall is the least likely to fit that description and you owe her an apology for your incredibly crass behavior. If you are this much of an a$$hole in real life I’m surprised you haven’t gotten the $hit kicked out of you so hard you can still type. More likely though you are cowering behind the distance of the internet to be a troll.

                Here at SBM people are very rarely banned and damned near anything is allowed to be said. For example I can call you a blithering idiot with the class of a diseased mongrel. But vicious personal attacks like that really get my ire up and likely others here as well.

                Put another way, I suggest you check yourself before you wreck yourself.

              7. Harriet Hall says:

                I won’t demean myself by responding to him directly, but I’ll say this for the record:
                1. I know I am not perfect; no one is. I have made mistakes and have learned from them.
                2. I have never killed a patient. I have pronounced patients dead who had been under the care of others, but I can only remember one patient of my own ever dying under my care, and that was an unavoidable ICU death during my internship. If that sounds incredible, keep in mind that as a family physician and flight surgeon I was mainly responsible for young healthy people in the military, and some of the places I was assigned didn’t have inpatient facilities, and I referred the sickest patients to specialists. I delivered around 200 babies and was lucky enough not to see a single stillbirth, neonatal death, or maternal death.
                3. Military doctors can’t be sued by active duty patients, but they can be sued by military dependents, retirees, and others who receive medical care in the military system. Military medical facilities constantly scrutinize the practice of their doctors through Medical Records Review, Risk Management, Quality Assurance, Morbidity and Mortality Committees, and other means. I have never been involved even peripherally in a lawsuit for malpractice and was never suspected of below-standard practice.
                4. Even if being in the military were perfect protection from malpractice suits, I can’t believe anyone would join the military for that reason alone. Certainly not anyone who had any understanding of the constraints, rigors, working hours, sudden deployments, dangers, frustrations, hassles, unnecessary burdensome paperwork, arbitrariness, and regimentation of military life.

              8. Hank Nickerson says:

                Pavlov,

                Are pathologically pedantic? Malpractice has more than just a legal definition. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary malpractice can mean “an injurious, negligent, or improper practice”. Certainly if doctors are the third leading cause of death and they are not doing it on purpose, they fall with in this definition.

                Are all of you doctors perfect here at SBM? I ask this because you all seem to be in denial about doctors and the number of people they kill every year. The research gives estimates in the range of 100 to 400 thousand. That is a lot of people. But of course no doctor here has ever made a fatal error. How about you Pavlov? Are you a doctor? Have you ever killed a patient? Or are you perfect too?

              9. MadisonMD says:

                Only Hank is perfect. In his own mind. To bad he can’t stay in that very small place.

              10. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Hank, you’re not even worth responding to. Certainly not until you apologize to Dr. Hall.

                And yes, I am a physician as well. A newly minted one about to start my residency.

                And we all here very, very acutely realize the reality of medically induced harm. Which Dr. Hall already provided you a reference to a discussion right here about that. The fact that you can’t do anything but repeat the same idiotic tropes tells a lot though.

              11. MadisonMD says:

                You do not even address the 1999 Institute of Medicine “To Err Is Human” study.

                …it was addressed on SBM here, here, and here.

                That’s why they put that “Search” button on the upper right, Hank, you logical genius.

              12. Hank Nickerson says:

                Pavlov,

                You are probably going to kill some people during your residency. Don’t worry… Wait I know you won’t worry because you have no conscience.

                Anyway I responded to Harriet’s posted article. It was in the post that had you filled with faux outrage.

                “Why am I not surprised that someone that refers to herself as the ‘skepdoc’ denies that the conclusion that doctors are the third leading cause of death? So, I checked out your 2008 article which is pretty pathetic. You do not even address the 1999 Institute of Medicine “To Err Is Human” study. No that would be hard, so instead you go after Gary Null. This a pattern of yours I notice you did the same thing to Greger you attack him and not the studies he cites. Are these the high standards SBM holds itself to?
                Now there have been a number of other studies showing that doctor malpractice kills upwards of 400K people a year. I have provided the links to the studies and the NPR article on the studies that show doctors are the third leading cause of death in America. Do you care to actually address the studies or are you going to create a Strawman and go after Gary Null again.”
                Harriet does not even take aim at the studies people like Gary Null uses when he attacks the medical community. She is the one guilty of going after Strawmen. Something does not go from true to false, if Gary Null quotes from a valid study. Harriet never even takes on the studies that show doctors are killing at least a hundred thousand people a year.

                Harriet how come you did not take on these studies? The latest ones were written after your wrote your article. But you do not even mention the 1999 study. This is a classic example of suppressing evidence.

                http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/1999/To-Err-is-Human/To%20Err%20is%20Human%201999%20%20report%20brief.pdf

                http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/09/20/224507654/how-many-die-from-medical-mistakes-in-u-s-hospitals

                https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/781687-john-james-a-new-evidence-based-estimate-of.html#document/p1/a117333

                http://journals.lww.com/journalpatientsafety/Fulltext/2013/09000/A_New,_Evidence_based_Estimate_of_Patient_Harms.2.aspx

              13. MadisonMD says:

                P.S. Do not think about those people you killed when your fingers are on the keyboard.

                Yep, classic trollery. The evidence mounts: Nick is a liar and an asstroll.

              14. Hank Nickerson says:

                MadMD,

                When I used the word ‘you’ in the sentence below was I referring to Harriet or SBM?

                Her piece was written two years before your other referenced posts. So, why didn’t Harriet address the IOM study?

                “You do not even address the 1999 Institute of Medicine “To Err Is Human” study.
                …it was addressed on SBM here, here, and here.
                That’s why they put that “Search” button on the upper right, Hank, you logical genius.”

              15. MadisonMD says:

                But you do not even mention the 1999 study. This is a classic example of suppressing evidence.

                Hank. Your superior logic eludes me. A blog post on Gary Null’s lies does not cite a 1999 consensus statement. Three other blog posts do cite that 1999 article and link to it. This, apparently, constitutes suppressing evidence because you say so. But I just don’t follow you.

                Maybe you could provide a modus ponens to help, ultra-logicman.

              16. Harriet Hall says:

                Yes, my post was not about the true numbers of medical errors and iatrogenic deaths; it was about putting whatever those numbers are into context with the good medicine does, and the ones that would have died anyway.

              17. Windriven says:

                “You are probably going to kill some people during your residency.”

                It is likely that some people will die while under Dr. Pavlov’s care during his residency. It is even possible that someone might die that a different treatment would have saved. Your obvious satisfaction in this realization says very much more about you than about Andrey.

                Pavlov’s patients won’t die because he didn’t make every effort to help them. They won’t die because he slept through a lecture and they won’t die because he chose to watch a soccer match instead of checking their blood gases. Physicians make choices based on the best information they have. Sometimes a choice is the wrong choice, hindsight being 20-20.

                The only real difference that I can see between you and Dr. Pavlov is that everything he does has the potential for life-altering consequences while you Hank, will likely never do anything consequential at all. Dr. Pavlov will touch countless lives, heal innumerable patients, and leave the planet a slightly better than he found it.

                What will you do, jack off while watching videos of dogfights?

              18. Hank Nickerson says:

                MadMD,
                What is Gary Null lying about? I read the article with which Harriet takes issue, please point out to me where he is lying.

                I also read Harriet’s article it makes claims that she does not back up. For example she claims, “Most of their numbers are wrong.” Well, there is the proof that the numbers are wrong? Am I as a reader just supposed to take that on faith? How about showing that to be the case?

                Is this really what passes for legitimate argument here at SBM?

              19. Hank Nickerson says:

                WD,

                Do not pretend to know me. You do not know and will never know how many lives I have touched or not touched. Is your comment more evidence of your superior IQ?

                “People who boast about their I.Q. are losers.” -Stephen Hawking
                http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/12/magazine/12QUESTIONS.html?_r=0

              20. Windriven says:

                Hank, I know everything about you worth knowing.

            2. Andrey Pavlov says:

              Piss off Hank. I, for one, am done with you.

              If WLU has the desire, I’ll enjoy watching him unleash on you.

              Otherwise – and in either case – I’m quite happy if the powers that be decide to ban you.

              1. Windriven says:

                He isn’t worth banning, Andrey. He is his own worst enemy. His mastery of the science is non-existent and his debating skills are … well, they aren’t actually. Like FBA and stan, Nick flails fecklessly, clueless to his own vacuity.

              2. Andrey Pavlov says:

                He is his own worst enemy. His mastery of the science is non-existent and his debating skills are … well, they aren’t actually. Like FBA and stan, Nick flails fecklessly, clueless to his own vacuity.

                On this we agree. I suppose I take it rather… seriously and personally when such viciously ignorant trolls take to the tack of accusing us of not caring about our patients, including the ones that die.

                Because of my chosen field of interest I have had – and will have – a vastly different experience than Dr. Hall. I have spent more time in the ICU than most 2nd year residents have because I put myself there. I once had 8 patients on our service die in a week. I can assure you that was not a fun week. And that is despite the fact that, to the best of my knowledge, we had not made any errors or missed anything important. Even in hindsight we could only speculate on another course of action that might have proved better on one patient, and even then agreed it likely wouldn’t have altered the outcome. People die in the ICU. And they always weigh on me heavily. But what makes it all worthwhile are the ones that live. And what really brings me to my knees has been the two times they didn’t, and the family still hugged me and thanked me for my service specifically, in addition to that of the team as a whole.

                I’m happy to deal with trolls and ideologues. But Hank’s commentary was completely uncalled for, out of left field, and particularly despicable given the target and the company present.

                But thank you for the kind words Windriven.

              3. Hank Nickerson says:

                So, you have killed some people. Do not think about it. Put it out of your mind.

              4. Windriven says:

                “So, you have killed some people”

                You know Hank, you have some pretty weird snakes in your head.

                When an apartment building is on fire and the firemen save 100 people but couldn’t get to 3 others are they murderers too? If yes, why? If no, how is this ethically different from doctors and patients?

                All kidding aside, there is something damaged about the way you process information. I’m sure you don’t recognize it as damaged – but then you wouldn’t, would you? Most counties have mental health services that are low cost or free. Just sayin’.

              5. Hank Nickerson says:

                WD,

                You are classic case of can dish it out but can’t take it. Jesus! Harriet exhibits having more balls than you. But, then again you are a guy that touts his IQ on the internet. Just how insecure of a man are you? Please do not introspect about that I like you just the way you are.

                “People who boast about their I.Q. are losers.” -Stephen Hawking
                http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/12/magazine/12QUESTIONS.html?_r=0

              6. Sawyer says:

                Windriven, Madison, et. al.

                Can you please stop responding to Hank? I often find the goofier comments on here are worth dissecting, but this isn’t one of those cases. His casual accusations of murder demonstrate that he has zero interest in a respectful debate about medicine. I’d put money on autism being caused by space aliens before I would bet on this turning into a fruitful discussion.

              7. Windriven says:

                Ah, Nicky-boy,
                It is a little sad how, when confronted with one of your serial inanities, you never answer but instead run off in a new direction. It is as if you think your cowardice somehow masks your vacuity. Interesting psychology, that.

                Let’s remember little boy that it was you who questioned my intelligence. I simply responded with a fact; understated at that. That is as much bragging as a patient under care dying is murder.

                Snakes. Wriggling and twisting and hissing.

                I’m done with you now. Prattle on if you’d like. Perhaps others will engage you. But you offer nothing remotely of interest to me. Come back when you’ve gotten some education and a prescription for lithium.

              8. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                So, you have killed some people. Do not think about it. Put it out of your mind.

                What an asshole thing to say. I mean seriously – people go into medicine to try to help people, to prevent death. And your go-to comment about them is that because they are human and therefore will inevitably make mistakes, they are murderers? Wow, you are really doing your best impression of a giant, suppurating asshole. I mean seriously, think about it – if you were talking to a woman whose baby had died in childbirth, would you reply “way to go, you killed a baby, you murdering asshole”? Or if you met the driver of a train that someone committed suicide by jumping in front of – would your first statement to them be “how does it feel to be a murderer?” A parent finds out their kid is allergic to peanuts by dying of anaphylactic shock, do you open the conversation with “well, you shouldn’t have given them that peanut butter sandwich, you murderer”?

                Doctors go into their difficult jobs, endure many, many more years of schooling than you do, graduate in debt, are constantly challenged by patients who think google is a substitute for med school, are confronted with desperate, terrified people on a regular basis, and your response is to hammer on them about the inevitable errors and ambiguities of their professions that must haunt them on a regular basis?

                Jesus, do you get invited to a lot of parties? Because again, and I really must emphasize this, you really, really, give every appearance of being the most unpleasant sort of person.

                I realize someone you know died of E. coli, a horrific way to die, but I’m not sure why you are mad at doctors rather than, say, the feedlot, or fast food chain, or slaughterhouse. Perhaps you’re mad at all of them in the desperate attempt to find someone to blame. But if you’re going to keep accusing doctors of being murderers, could you just do it somewhere else?

        2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          I think she (is MadisonMD a she?) is more commenting on the repetitive, abusive and information-free nature of your comments.

          Also, do you have any proof that MadisonMD is employed by a pharmaceutical firm, or are you merely using this as an excuse to discount her opinion?

    2. Frederick says:

      WOW a YOUTUBE video! that’s undeniable proof, no need for serious peer review journal when you have youtube!

      yeah A troll and a really low quality one too.

      1. Hank Nickerson says:

        Not sorry to interrupt the flunky circle jerk AKA SMB. You are really hung up here on the YouTube thing. So, someone can read verbatim from a published study but because they did it on YouTube that invalidates the study? Yeah, you are really a rational actor. In that YouTube Campbell cites all of the studies he uses. So according to your line of logic, if one call what you do logical. If I watch a talk given by Stephen Hawking on the subject of black-holes on YouTube, it is less authoritative than reading one of his published papers in Nature? LOL With your demonstrated reasoning skills it is no wonder doctors are the 3rd leading cause of death in America.

        http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/09/20/224507654/how-many-die-from-medical-mistakes-in-u-s-hospitals

        I am not claiming that diet can cure congenital heart disease but it can cure the heart disease caused eating an unhealthy diet. I do notice how no one here wants to deal with the truth Ornish’s case shows about the medical system. He has shown how to cure the most common kind of heart disease and so called science based medicine has not taken heed of the lesson to treat patients. Instead the medical community pushes the big pharma agenda and surgery, when they have scientific evidence that diet can be used to treat this condition.

        Here is a book for you to read: Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease [Book]

        Ivy Books · Paperback · 638 pages · ISBN 0804110387
        Dr. Dean Ornish is the first clinician to offer documented proof that heart disease can be halted, or even reversed, simply by changing your lifestyle. Based on his internationally acclaimed scientific study, which has now been ongoing for years, Dr. Ornish’s program has yielded amazing results. Participants reduced or discontinued medications; their chest pain diminished or disappeared; they felt more energetic, happy, and calm; they lost weight while eating more; and blockages in coronary arteries were actually reduced. In his breakthrough book, Dr. Ornish presents this and other dramatic evidence and guides you, step-by-step, through the extraordinary Opening Your Heart program, which is winning landmark approval from America’s health insurers. The program takes you beyond the purely physical side of health care to include the psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects so vital to healing. This book represents the best modern medicine has to offer. It can inspire you to open your heart to a longer, better, happier life.

        1. Windriven says:

          Get an education.

          “So, someone can read verbatim from a published study but because they did it on YouTube that invalidates the study?

          You have quite an affinity for straw men, Nick. No one said that. But Campbell did not read the studies in their totality, only bits and pieces. Authors write long papers for a reason. It is very easy to take sections out of a study that without context seem to demonstrate whatever you’d like. We ask for citations so as to read papers in their entirety. The devil is often in the details.

          “If I watch a talk given by Stephen Hawking on the subject of black-holes on YouTube, it is less authoritative than reading one of his published papers in Nature?”

          Yes, that is absolutely true. Hawking’s public appearances are generally geared to broad audiences with limited understanding of the physics involved.

          Think about why so many people pay attention to Hawking. It isn’t because he is a compelling speaker (though his life story is certainly compelling). It is because he has brilliant insights; insights that you don’t have the education to understand. But Hawking’s peers do and they celebrate his insights and, to use your favorite verb, validate them.

          The difference between a schizophrenic babbling on the street corner and Stephen Hawking is that Hawking knows what he’s talking about – even if the general public doesn’t. The general public does not have the requisite education to determine if Hawking’s ideas are sensible or not. But his peers do. And it is their acceptance of his ideas that fill auditoriums with people wanting to hear a ‘dumbed down’ version of his work. Because the reality is …

          1. Hank Nickerson says:

            WD,

            Look you are full of hot air. And you are projecting when it comes to strawmen. I was point out the absurdity of your position not saying that Campbell read verbatim from studies. If you were a little brighter you would have picked up on that. Why is it that people around here do not know how to follow an argument?

            P.S. No one is clicking on your links and you truly are a flunky.

            1. Andrey Pavlov says:

              Yay! A new resident troll!

              WLU… have at it.

              And I prognosticate that the “old Windriven” will be goaded into a spectacular reappearance…..

              1. Hank Nickerson says:

                Doctors are more deadly than guns. They are the third leading cause of death in America. Why do most the doctors here act so smug when in reality they have killed people? Let’s discuss it.

                http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/09/20/224507654/how-many-die-from-medical-mistakes-in-u-s-hospitals

              2. MadisonMD says:

                Why is it that every troll avails himself of the old medical deaths saw? Harriet already answered it above. As befits a troll, Hank does not respond to her link to her thoughtful post assessing this claim. Instead, he just posts the repetitive claim as a non-sequitur to Andrey.

                I once collected the times it’s been used by trolls on this website.. back to 2008. I lamented that we are always getting this class of troll… disruptive with nothing substantive.

                Now we get Hank prove-the-negative ultralogic man Nickerson. Nothing new. Hank, watch out for the resident assholiopath.

              3. Hank Nickerson says:

                MadMD,

                Doctors kill people lots of them. In fact hundreds of thousands died from doctor fuck ups every year. The studies show this to be the case. How many people have you killed? Now you have no doubt saved lives as well. But, how many people have you killed? Do you think of these people or do you put them out of your mind? Please do not think of them when you are typing in your response.

              4. MadisonMD says:

                In fact hundreds of thousands died from doctor fuck ups every year.

                You seem to play fast and loose with your facts. This is not substantiated by the IOM reference that you cite.

                But if you want to avoid this fate, it’s quite simple Hank. Just don’t go to the doctor. Have a heart attack, diabetes, cancer, stroke, lose a leg in a car accident, whatever. Just don’t go to the doctor. Never go to the hospital. You don’t need medical insurance. You’ll be better off, according to your superior logic.

              5. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                When a troll is as vicious and content-free as Hank, I’m more in favour of banning. It poisons the whole experience.

                But if you want to avoid this fate, it’s quite simple Hank. Just don’t go to the doctor. Have a heart attack, diabetes, cancer, stroke, lose a leg in a car accident, whatever. Just don’t go to the doctor. Never go to the hospital. You don’t need medical insurance. You’ll be better off, according to your superior logic.

                Indeed, I wonder if Hank has the courage of his convictions, and would rather bleed out on the street than risk the hideous dangers of medical error.

                As for the repeated “more deaths than guns”, so what? Should we give doctors guns instead of scalpels? Should we do away with medicine? How does your analysis factor in the rising average age of the population, the worsening health due to obesity (which, yes, can be treated with diet; more accurately diets, since many different types of diets are heart-healthy and obesity, whatever the cause, is a substantial contributor)? Do you contend that suddenly doctors just started randomly killing patients instead of helping them? I agree that we should discuss, which would mean you need to actually discuss rather than restricting yourself to condemning.

                Sure, let’s assume the outside figure is accurate and 440,000 people die from medical error every year – what do you think we should do about it?

              6. Hank Nickerson says:

                WLU,

              7. Hank Nickerson says:

                WLU,

                The death by doctor statistics show there is a need to completely reform and overhaul the medical system. That is what must be done.

                You ask:
                “How does your analysis factor in the rising average age of the population, the worsening health due to obesity (which, yes, can be treated with diet; more accurately diets, since many different types of diets are heart-healthy and obesity, whatever the cause, is a substantial contributor)?”

                Well doctors get way too much credit for increased lifespan. I know you guys like to pat yourselves undeservingly on the back for it. But, we all should be patting plumbers and sanitation workers for keeping us healthy. Not living in sewage and trash is what has increased our lifespan. Plumbers and sanitation workers do more to keep us healthy than any of you will ever do and they get no credit for it. They are not lauded for it in the media either. You will never see Marcus Welby Sanitation Worker on television. That said doctors are good for saving people from acute conditions. When it comes to things like obesity doctors have been pretty bad at passing along nutrition advice. Recently in California the CMA prevented passage of a law mandating just a few hours of nutritional schooling for med students. So, it does not appear that doctors are getting the appropriate nutritional training.

                http://www.sewerhistory.org/articles/wh_era/brit_med_journal_contest/Sanitation.pdf
                http://www.medicinekillsmillions.com/articles/medical_history_truth_about_human_lifespan_increase.htm

              8. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                The death by doctor statistics show there is a need to completely reform and overhaul the medical system. That is what must be done.

                My, how incredibly helpful. So…there are problems, and things should change! My word, what an intelligent position to take! Well, we’ll simply change things, and things will get better then, because medical care is just that easy. So, how shall we reform and overhaul the medical system then? Do tell – what do we need to do? What is your solution to reduce medical error? I’m sure you’ve got something more useful to say than mere vague platitudes, right? I mean, being such a font of wisdom and deep experience with the medical care system, surely you’ve got something better to offer than an over-long bumper sticker, right? Because right now, your “solution” is akin to saying “all that fighting in the Middle East is bad, they should stop”, or “we should stop putting carbon into the atmosphere, it’s bad”. Yeah, we really should. Brilliant plan.

                Well doctors get way too much credit for increased lifespan. I know you guys like to pat yourselves undeservingly on the back for it.

                Not a doctor there champ. And if you’re wondering why I’m treating your contributions with increasing irreverence, it’s because your insult-ridden, belittling posts make the monkey* part of my brain view you with increasing disgust.

                But, we all should be patting plumbers and sanitation workers for keeping us healthy. Not living in sewage and trash is what has increased our lifespan.

                And you’re positive that vaccinations eliminating most causes of childhood mortality had nothing to do with it?

                Also note that a significant number of diseases are transmitted through mucous membranes, not via the oral-fecal route. Think smallpox, measles, pertussis, etc. You know where the sewage treatment systems are horrible, the rash omnipresent, but life expectancy continues to climb? India. Know why? Vaccines.

                Yep, sewers are great, vaccines are better. In fact, vaccinate enough people against oral-fecal diseases and all that sewage is gross, but not biohazardous!

                doctors are good for saving people from acute conditions.

                I’m going to have to bring up vaccines again, as well as instructions on handwashing, advice regarding diet and exercise, and public health measures like water fluoridation, iodized salt, and vitamin fortification of foods like folate in grains. All preventive, all brought to you by the medical system, of which doctors contribute through research. Those sewage workers you laud so much – have any of them contributed to the body of work indicating which diseases travel through human waste, or do they just build pipes and unclog them? Important work, hard jobs, little respect – but it’s not like they start their day with a keen understanding of the public health crises they avert. That’s done by a doctor or epidemiologist, sitting in an office, with an MD or PhD, thinking about infectious routes of transmission.

                Incidentally – the guy who removed the handle from the broad street pump. He was a sewage worker, right?

                When it comes to things like obesity doctors have been pretty bad at passing along nutrition advice. Recently in California the CMA prevented passage of a law mandating just a few hours of nutritional schooling for med students. So, it does not appear that doctors are getting the appropriate nutritional training.

                See, it depends on how you define nutrition. If you mean “the micronutrients necessary for a healthy life” (i.e. vitamins and minerals), doctors learn, in far greater detail, not merely what foods contain them, but what they do in the body. So while Gary Null might bleat about the need for megadoses of vitamin D or E or whatever, a doctor will actually understand the molecular pathways through which tocopherol moves in the body, it’s ultimate uses and excretions or metabolism. And for the purposes of the general population, doctors don’t really need special advice to give – eat a broad diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, with reasonable amounts of meats and dairy, and you should have no problem meeting your nutritional requirements on a daily or weekly basis. For people with weird nutritional needs, like PKU, doctors will refer to specialists.

                If you mean macronutrients, i.e. basically obesity, well what more do you want doctors to say than “eat less and exercise”? Again, doctors can’t follow you around all day, or cook for you, or hold a gun to your head to make you put down the doughnut. Patients have a responsibility, and doctors are the ones who repeatedly have to nag patients to accept that responsibility as well as deal with the consequences when a patient ends up weighing 600 pounds after 30 years of two-liter bottles of coke and potato chips for dinner.

                I mean, what else do patients need beyond “eat a varied diet rich in fruits, veggies and whole grains, ideally food you make yourself from fresh ingredients”? Is there some sort of magical advice that exists that doctors can pass along that will somehow make patients follow the kind of basic nutritional advice they can get in a third grade health class? What is that continuing education supposed to teach them – people shouldn’t be fat? I think they know.

                *Yes, ape, I know

            2. Windriven says:

              “If you were a little brighter you would have picked up on that.”

              Bullsh1t. Specifically which instance of your invocation of a straw man was intended satirically or ironically?

              You are among that sorry lot about whom the aphorism was coined that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. More commonly this is called the arrogance of ignorance. Not to put too fine a point on it but little in this world is as simple as your mind.

              Finally, for the little that it is worth, my IQ is +2 SD. If I was a little brighter I’d have difficulty distinguishing you from a coprolite.

              1. Hank Nickerson says:

                WD,

                If you are so smart, how come you do not know what a Strawman is? Yes, it is clear you know the word, but you obviously do not know what it means. If you use the word you should know what it means. You probably do not know what petitio principii (question begging) is either. But, you sure know how to do it. “Specifically which instance of your invocation of a straw man was intended satirically or ironically? ”

                Trotting out the old IQ quintile, you know that IQ is BS right? Or in your case petrified sh*t.
                http://www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273%2812%2900584-3

                http://www.thestar.com/life/2012/12/19/iq_a_myth_study_says.html

              2. Hank Nickerson says:

                WD,

                If you are so smart, how come you do not know what a Strawman is? Yes, it is clear you know the word, but you obviously do not know what it means. If you use the word you should know what it means. You probably do not know what petitio principii (question begging) is either. But, you sure know how to do it. “Specifically which instance of your invocation of a straw man was intended satirically or ironically? ”

                Trotting out the old IQ quintile, you know that IQ is BS right? Or in your case petrified shit.
                http://www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273%2812%2900584-3

                http://www.thestar.com/life/2012/12/19/iq_a_myth_study_says.html

              3. Windriven says:

                Don’t be a twit. I know quite well what a straw man is and I also know that your use of petitio principii in regards to my response is a non sequitur. So how about answering my single, very direct question?

                Specifically which instance of your invocation of a straw man was intended satirically or ironically?

                “you know that IQ is BS right?”

                A careful reading of my comment discloses my prefacing that note with, “for the little that it is worth.” IQ does however correlate reasonably well with other measures of intellectual acuity. So calling IQ measurements ‘BS’ rather overstates the point, no?

                The real sadness is that you clearly do not recognized how outmatched you are here; not speaking so much of myself now as of all the principals and most of the commenters here. Many of these people have spent decades of their lives preparing themselves academically and then applying that preparation to more deeply understand human physiology, nutrition, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, and so forth. This place is teeming with learning opportunities and chock full of intelligent, educated people willing to share a bit of their expertise – just for the asking. It is remarkable when you think about it. So when someone shows up here spraying ignorance and attitude, it is both jarring and offensive; a bit like an ill-mannered toddler throwing a tantrum during a performance of Richard III.

                Madison, I think it was, recognized you outright as a troll. He is, of course, dead on. We have many visitors who come here with differing points of view. But they come respectfully and support their positions with peer reviewed research, not YouTubes and PBS reports. They don’t always leave convinced or convincing, but they’ve furthered the discussion in an intelligent and thought-provoking manner.

                Your appearances here add nothing, leave no mark. And this is the real point of trolling, isn’t it? You have nothing to offer intelligently and you are enraged that those who do recognize your efforts as … lacking. So you bellow and attack and disrupt. Perhaps you suffer intellectual diaper rash. You should look elsewhere for someone to kiss it better. You won’t find them here.

              4. Hank Nickerson says:

                WD,

                You are so ignorant of logic I do not know where to begin. I have already explained that there was no Strawman. There was a reductio ad absurdum. I pointed out that your blanket dismissal of YouTube leads to some absurd consequences that you are forced to hold because of your position. For example if you dismiss everything simply because it is on YouTube, you have to dismiss peer reviewed papers that are read verbatim and published there.

                Throwing something out simply because you do not like the venue in which it is expressed is ignorant. And, that is exactly what you were doing when you dismissed something simply because it was on YouTube. So, you see there was no Strawman. I hope now you know the difference between a reductio ad absurdum and a Strawman now.

                Reasonable people are good listeners. They listen to someone’s views and evaluate them after they are heard. The venue does not matter. What matters is what was said. Campbell gives an academic lecture and gives us all of his sources. It is a valid reference. WD despite what you might think of yourself you are not a reasonable man.

                Next you accuse me of a non-sequitur because I pointed out that your question, “Specifically which instance of your invocation of a straw man was intended satirically or ironically?” is an example of question begging. Well, I was wrong about that. (You see I am not perfect like the doctors here) This is actually a prime example of a plurium interrogationum or the Fallacy of Complex Question. It is also known as the beating your wife fallacy.

                For example if you ask a man, “have you stopped beating your wife?” This is a complex question because it relies on what is assumed to be an acceptable presupposition namely that the man beats his wife. Your question is an example of a Complex Question because it relies on the supposition that I came up with a Strawman argument. Well, I did not. You do not know the difference between a reductio ad absurdum and a Strawman.

                You with your high IQ seemed to have missed that.

                “People who boast about their I.Q. are losers.” -Stephen Hawking
                http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/12/magazine/12QUESTIONS.html?_r=0

                “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt” -Bertrand Russell.
                http://thinkexist.com/quotation/the_trouble_with_the_world_is_that_the_stupid_are/191178.html

                Here is a physics lecture give by a Noble Laureate. It must not be true because it’s on YouTube! LOL

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUR3WgVh-Hc

              5. Lytrigian says:

                *munches popcorn*

              6. Windriven says:

                “You are so ignorant of logic I do not know where to begin.”

                Nonetheless, you did. I am so awed by your brilliance that I couldn’t bear to read beyond that first sentence.

              7. MadisonMD says:

                For example if you dismiss everything simply because it is on YouTube, you have to dismiss peer reviewed papers that are read verbatim and published there.

                Harriet answered this best, here and here. But Hank didn’t pay attention. He keeps going on and on about this pointlessly as if he didn’t read or think about what she said… he keeps knocking the straw out of that man pointlessly. Then he calls Harriet a killer.

                Hank seems to be the kind of fellow who walks into your house, pisses on the carpet, then calls you a murderer. Classy, Hank. Real classy.

                Troll.

              8. weing says:

                ““The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt” -Bertrand Russell.”

                Are you really really sure that Ornish has reversed heart disease and doctors are killing people?

              9. Hank Nickerson says:

                MadMD,

                Did you accidental cause someone’s death today?

              10. Hank Nickerson says:

                weing,

                Russell did not doubt everything. Neither do I.

              11. weing says:

                “Russell did not doubt everything. Neither do I.”
                So that allows you to remain cocksure.

              12. Hank Nickerson says:

                Spoken like someone that does not know how to draw a conclusion. I hope to god you are not treating patients. With demonstrated reasoning most doctors exhibit here it is no wonder doctors are a leading cause of death.

                ““Russell did not doubt everything. Neither do I.”
                So that allows you to remain cocksure.”

              13. Hank Nickerson says:

                “People who boast about their I.Q. are losers.” -Stephen Hawking
                http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/12/magazine/12QUESTIONS.html?_r=0

          2. Greg says:

            The devil is often in the details.

            Pet-peeve here: the saying is actually “God is in the details” – http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/l/ludwig_mies_van_der_rohe.html

            1. Windriven says:

              Except that I wasn’t quoting Mies.

              That variant bit of aphorism isn’t original to me of course. And the meaning is rather different than it would be with god as the subject.

              But thanks for the referral back to the original quote, I’ve used the devil version for so long that I’d forgotten its derivation.

        2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          While both Hawking and Campbell (are we still arguing about Campbell by the way? In all the accusations of murder, the topic seems to have drifted. We may be arguing about medical error now, if so I apologize for losing track) are well-published and respected researchers, they are publishing in rather different fields. Physics and cosmology, while complicated, ultimately rely on far fewer parameters and thus conclusions can be based on mathematics confirmed by relatively simple, if rare, observations. Diet and health meanwhile, are sprawling, devilishly complex entities, with differences in latitude, genetics, nutrients and behaviour introducing variables so complex it is virtually impossible to ever arrive at a conclusion near so certain as that of cosmology.

          Further, the real status of the field is found in the debates within the peer reviewed literature, not within presentations on youtube. While a great way to popularize science, youtube is not the best way to get a sense of the debates, discussions, highlights and dissents of an entire field (bar a recently-filmed panel discussion at a scientific conference). So while the youtube video you watch of Dr. Campbell will certainly give you a sense of what he believes, what it will not get you is an idea of what other people believe, who disagrees with him, and most importantly of all – why they do so. And this is exacerbated when presented at a popular meeting of laypeople (such as, oh, say, a meeting of vegsource.com that explicitly promotes a vegetarian diet), where the presenter is not only unlikely to get any dissenting questions, they are not even expected to offer the kind of balanced, criticism-addressing presentations you might see at a scientific meeting.

          So such a presentation is a great way of getting and portraying a single person’s ideas on a subject, but a terrible way of exploring the true controversies within a scientific field.

          Don’t get me wrong – properly done vegetarianism can be a great way to eat, for ethical, economic, nutritional and environmental reasons. But it’s not the only way to eat, it’s not the only healthy way to eat, and done improperly, it’s not even a safe way to eat. Certainly it’s not an automatic panacea (cheetos, for instance, are vegetarian, but I doubt even you, Hank, would endorse an all-cheeto diet). And by adopting such a rigid stance, such a one-sided presentation of the evidence, and above all by being unwilling to look at dissenting information or listen to dissenting opinions, you aren’t doing anything remotely close to science.

      2. Hank Nickerson says:

        You are really hung up here on the YouTube thing. So, someone can read verbatim from a published study but because they did it on YouTube that invalidates the study? Yeah, you are really a rational actor. In that YouTube Campbell cites all of the studies he uses. So according to your line of logic, if one call what you do logical. If I watch a talk given by Stephen Hawking on the subject of black-holes on YouTube, it is less authoritative than reading one of his published papers in Nature? LOL With your demonstrated reasoning skills it is no wonder doctors are the 3rd leading cause of death in America.

        http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/09/20/224507654/how-many-die-from-medical-mistakes-in-u-s-hospitals

        I am not claiming that diet can cure congenital heart disease but it can cure the heart disease caused eating an unhealthy diet. I do notice how no one here wants to deal with the truth Ornish’s case shows about the medical system. He has shown how to cure the most common kind of heart disease and so called science based medicine has not taken heed of the lesson to treat patients. Instead the medical community pushes the big pharma agenda and surgery, when they have scientific evidence that diet can be used to treat this condition.

        Here is a book for you to read: Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease [Book]

        Ivy Books · Paperback · 638 pages · ISBN 0804110387
        Dr. Dean Ornish is the first clinician to offer documented proof that heart disease can be halted, or even reversed, simply by changing your lifestyle. Based on his internationally acclaimed scientific study, which has now been ongoing for years, Dr. Ornish’s program has yielded amazing results. Participants reduced or discontinued medications; their chest pain diminished or disappeared; they felt more energetic, happy, and calm; they lost weight while eating more; and blockages in coronary arteries were actually reduced. In his breakthrough book, Dr. Ornish presents this and other dramatic evidence and guides you, step-by-step, through the extraordinary Opening Your Heart program, which is winning landmark approval from America’s health insurers. The program takes you beyond the purely physical side of health care to include the psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects so vital to healing. This book represents the best modern medicine has to offer. It can inspire you to open your heart to a longer, better, happier life.

        1. weing says:

          Here is Ornish’s paper that his book is based on. Please read it carefully. Then maybe we can discuss it.

        2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Hi Hank,

          Yes, you have repeatedly posted the NPR story on medical errors. We’ve all seen it. You don’t need to keep linking to it as if it meant you won the argument each time.

          What do you think we should do about it?

          Also, regarding Dean Ornish’s books: who are Ivy Books? What types of books do they publish? It appears to be an imprint of Random House, which is better than self-publishing, but it’s not the Nature publishing group, or PNAS, or another scholarly publisher that would impose some sort of peer review on it. Not a crippling issue, but a minor one – you won’t get a careful scrutiny by an expert or experts who would scrutinize his claims for accuracy.

          Also, assuming that Ornish is right and you can reverse heart disease with his diet – that’s great! Now all you have to do is convince the millions of Americans and obese worldwide to adopt an ultra-low-fat, plant based diet, an stay on it for the rest of their lives. I’m not sure why you’re so outraged by the fact doctors aren’t embracing this diet. In case you haven’t noticed, diet can be suggested by doctors, but it is patients that must adopt and live with it for the rest of their lives. Can doctors be criticized because their patients don’t run to embrace a massive change of lifestyle this would require? Just like the medical errors information you provided, it’s simply unclear what you think should be done with this information. Withhold treatment from everyone who isn’t on an ultra low-fat diet?

          Also, I’m still not sure what this has to do with medical errors.

  27. Spectator says:

    My M.D. (now retired) was a fan of the China study, thus I thought it was not controversial.

    Is the China study refuted by other studies, or is it otherwise uncertain? There is so much noise about diet vs health its difficult to know what is likely to be true, what is probably true and what is pure bosh.

    1. Lytrigian says:

      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-china-study-revisited/ for an article by Harriet on the subject.

      1. Spectator says:

        Thanks, I’ve bookmarked that.

    2. Anna says:

      Even science-based vegans don’t look too kindly upon the China Study: http://www.veganviews.org.uk/127-jacknorris-ginnymessina.html

  28. James says:

    Since people with autism have a higher probability of having digestive problem it makes sense to look at their diet to reduce their discomfort.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24193577

    However it is counter productive to blame dairy/gluten for causing autism.

  29. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Hi Hank,

    So, you cite a couple news articles and studies about medical error. Yep, you’re correct – medical errors are a significant problem, as are iatrogenic infections, antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in hospitals, and any other way an individual can come to harm through contact with the medical system (I’ll be generous here and include getting hit by an ambulance). But some perspective:

    1) You are citing peer reviewed studies, highly critical of the medical system, as evidence of the harm caused by medicine. So what you appear to be providing evidence of, is a system that is highly critical of itself, that regularly and recurrently produces self-evaluations and calls for improvement. So medicine isn’t perfect, but at least it is self-reflective and attempts to improve itself. Also, I thought you couldn’t trust the peer-reviewed literature – why can you trust this?

    2) What is your solution? Cease all medical care? Should doctors never intervene just in case they cause an iatrogenic harm?

    3) You seem to be demanding medicine to be perfect. Well, that would be delightful. It would be amazing to have medical robots who could remove human error from the equation. Do you want all medical efforts to cease until we have such a robot? Can we conduct research on this mythical robot? What if it causes a medical error during the research? I guess your zero-tolerance for medical error means no medical research until we have a perfect robot! Can you see how your demand for absolute safety leads to the complete cessation of all medical care, all medical research, all medicine period? How do you feel about the return of pertussis, and the opportunity for parents to watch their children break ribs, cough until they vomit, and simply asphyxiate to death because, y’know, vaccines could cause an adverse event? Personally I’m against it. And for polio – we could always bring back the iron lung, that would even stimulate the economy a bit! Oh, but you can get a blood clot from that much immobility, so I suppose that’s out.

    4) Your personal attacks. You viciously and personally attack Drs. Hall and Pavlov for allegedly killing patients. Allow me to first point out that this is an assumption on your part, one that you’re making purely on the basis of some sort of highly personal rage you seem to be carrying. Did a relative of yours, or you yourself, suffer iatrogenic harm from medicine? If so, my deepest sympathies, I can’t imagine the pain of losing Mrs. Utridge to a preventable medical error. But your rage and lashing out at Drs. Hall and Pavlov will not bring your loved one back, and kinda makes you look like a giant dick, and expressing rage in this way is a feed-forward mechanism, leading to more rage. And that much anger puts you at risk of not only mental illness, but also heart attacks. Further, it gives people an excuse to discount your arguments as based on emotion rather than reason, and on the basis that you’re so unpleasant that you aren’t worth listening to (after all, people are monkeys*).

    You appear to hate doctors. Like, really, really hate, in a visceral, painful way, hate doctors. You hate them so much, you discount that they could ever do any good at all. I don’t think I, or anyone else, will ever be able to talk you out of this hatred, but by being so obvious and vicious about it, you’re inevitably alienating people and making them tune you out. Now, I already disagree with most of what you say, I think you present a biased, one-sided and ideologically-motivated argument, but on top of that, you present pretty poor-quality, cherry picked data, and you appear oblivious to dissenting information. So I’m going to give you some advice on purely argumentative methodological grounds. Hide your rage. Read both sides of the argument, and try to see the strengths and weaknesses of both – because acknowledging the strengths of your opponents arguments and sources gives you a superficial gloss of fairness that makes your ultimate criticism seem a little more reasonable.

    But mostly I’m going to say – if you’re going to come here, fling offensive and unsubstantiated accusations around and ignore any information or opinions that might in any way contradict your own, please don’t. Please just go away. Nobody here is interested, and given the level of vitriol and personal attacks you keep indulging in, you will inevitably end up banned. Not because SBM contributors quash dissent, but because you are disruptive and add nothing, absolutely nothing of value. You appear to be here purely for your own gratification, id, and rage, and science based medicine is not therapy. Feel free to avoid doctors and medicine, but please don’t come here and tell us all about it. We don’t care, and you make me sad.

    *Yes, I know, apes, but monkeys are funnier.

    1. Hank Nickerson says:

      For the record I do not hate doctors. Growing up as a kid both neighbors on either side of my house were doctors. Their kids I grew up with playing on the same sports teams and went to the same schools. Some of my childhood friends are now doctors. We still keep in touch. That being said I am not in awe of doctors. There is a ton of pro-doctor propaganda in our country. Just about everywhere you look here there are television programs that paint all MD’s in a undeserving good light.

      Having travelled around the world I have noticed that MD worship is unique to the USA. Personally I think it is a very unhealthy point of view to have. I know that in some countries there are proverbs that compare doctors to butchers. I do not think this is too far off. I for one refuse to be intimidated by the acronyms one has at the end of their names.

      I think that the MD’s around here think their shit don’t stink and do not stand up well to being challenged. I think this is because most Americans just defer unthinkingly to their doctors recommendations. They have an “it must be true because a doctor said it mentality”. So doctors in America are basically coddled. They are not used to being challenged. Well I am not that way I question everything. I will not just accept something as true because a doctor said it.

      1. weing says:

        “Well I am not that way I question everything. I will not just accept something as true because a doctor said it.”

        Good for you. Wait. Isn’t Dean Ornish a doctor? How about if some vitamin salesman says it? I do detect a tiny bit of jealousy for the prestige that doctors have. How do you know the good light is undeserving? As to being challenged? It’s obvious you never went through med school, internship, and residency.

      2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        For the record I do not hate doctors. Growing up as a kid both neighbors on either side of my house were doctors.

        Are you sure? Because you sure give the impression you do. Did you open all conversations with your neighbours with “Good morning Dr. Smith, did you murder any patients today?” If not, why not? Why would that behaviour be acceptable here, but not with the kindly Drs. Smith?

        Some of my childhood friends are now doctors. We still keep in touch.

        Do you start your e-mails and phone calls to them by asking how many patients they’ve murdered since you last spoke? You should send some of them links to the comments you’ve made here, and see what they say about it.

        The point I’m trying to get across here is – doctors don’t revel in the patients that die, I would venture most are pained by the memories. Maybe shoving it in their faces, demanding they repent for their accidents (which you appear to be blaming on carelessness, incompetence or indifference, if not deliberate actual murder – if not, why would you be so accusatory?), isn’t the best way to start, or continue, a conversation.

        I mean, what’s the very worst thing you’ve ever done, accidentally or on purpose? If I opened every single post here with “Hey, remember when you ran over that dog? Too bad you didn’t decide to walk to work that day, dog murderer!” or “Hey, remember when you took your nephew to Jack-In-The-Box and they died of E. coli poisoning? I bet you wish you’d stayed home and had pizza for dinner that night, eh?”, do you really think a productive conversation would ensue?

        So maybe tone down the whole “doctors are murderers” thing.

        That being said I am not in awe of doctors.

        Really? I would never have guessed.

        There is a ton of pro-doctor propaganda in our country. Just about everywhere you look here there are television programs that paint all MD’s in a undeserving good light.

        Heh, I suggest you search for “Mehmet Oz” on this site then. Most people here think he’s an asshole. Ditto Joe Mercola and Stanislaw Burzynski. Also no-longer-a-doctor Andrew Wakefield. Doctors who stray beyond proven science are routinely pilloried here, as are quacks who pretend to be doctors, like Robert Young and all naturopaths. Big Pharma is also routinely criticized for their unethical marketing and research approaches.

        Of course, doctors do generally deserve considerable respect. They spend a lot of time in school, work hideously grueling hours eve after they graduate, they put up with a lot of bad press, they have to pay massive insurance premiums, and the respect once accorded for their learning has been eroded steadily. I mean, people pretend Jenny McCarthy is somehow worth listening to and on par with Paul Offit!

        And now we’ve got you, with your ongoing “CONFESS, MURDERER” rant to put up with.

        I for one refuse to be intimidated by the acronyms one has at the end of their names.

        Of course, from the arguments you venture, one can see why this is. Do you know what the Dunning-Kruger effect is? It’s the failure to appreciate one’s ignorance. You seem to think that doctoring is somehow simple, a merely technical act that requires little skill or judgement. One should not be intimidated by qualifications, but contempt for qualifications doesn’t mean you are automatically sufficiently informed to challenge their knowledge and expertise. Do you know what the loop of Henle is? No, don’t go look it up. Do you know what it does? Do you know how the loop of Henle is involved in the processing of endogenous and exogenous substances? A doctor does. They spent a long time learning about it, then putting it into practice. And that’s merely one anatomical structure. Multiply that by several thousand such structures, and you’re merely at the starting point of med school.

        So perhaps doctors do deserve some respect, and rather than starting conversations with “Hello murderer, how do you feel about being a leading cause of death in the United States?” you hold yourself back and ask some questions instead.

        I think that the MD’s around here think their shit don’t stink and do not stand up well to being challenged.

        I think MDs around here don’t like being accused, repeatedly, of murder, and don’t like having to argue with someone who cites Gary “AIDS denialist antivaccination loon” Null as if he were credible.

        If you don’t know enough about Gary Null to know he’s a batshit crazy lunatic, then you really won’t garner much respect here.

        I think this is because most Americans just defer unthinkingly to their doctors recommendations.

        I really wish I knew what your profession was, but I’ll try plumbing as a substitute. So, you are walking down the street, and you see a plumber talking to someone. The plumber says “You sink is clogged because you tried to flush bacon grease down the drain with cold water.” Now you walk up to this dialogue and say “Don’t listen to the plumber. Once I saw a TV show on the sewage system of Ancient Rome and they talked about how slaves would be forced to crawl through the pipes to remove clogs. What you need to do is train a hamster to use tiny tools, and go in there, and scrape out the accumulation of witches milk put there by Christians out to poison the good Roman citizens.”

        Because really, by citing Gary Null – that’s the level of discourse you’re bringing here.

        And regards deferring unthinkingly to a doctor’s recommendations – medicine is complicated. If medicine were easy – it wouldn’t have taken six thousand years to eliminate smallpox. The reason why doctors go to school is because human biology is really, really complicated. Patients should definitely engage with their doctors. Second opinions – valuable, for certain! But to think that you know enough, that you will ever know enough, to debate human health with your doctor, is prime Dunning-Kruger. See, you’ve read Campbell’s book, and Null’s little crazy-talk, and you’ve passed the first stage of Dunning-Kruger. You know just enough to think that human health and doctoring is simple.

        The thing is – there are people who study for decades, solely these topics, who will flat-out state that the ideas are so complicated that even after those decades of study, they are just barely scratching the surface. Take a professor, who does nothing but read research on medical error and design protocols to assess and improve them. When asked if s/he thinks s/he has mastered the topic, s/he will say they’re just starting to grasp the complexities involved.

        But you, having read a 30-page paper written by someone with no academic position, with no qualifications, who conducts no actual research but instead spends his entire day trying to convince people that massive doses of vitamins are a substitute for doctors (and then poisons himself nearly to death on his own vitamins), you now feel qualified to say that medical error isn’t taken seriously enough and all doctors are murderers who should stop being so arrogant.

        See, I actually have a degree relevant to medicine, it could have qualified me for premed if I had really tried. I spend my spare time reading about medicine. I read every single post on this website the day it comes out, comment heavily, read replies, and look up primary and review studies. I have 55,000 edits on wikipedia, a good half of which were on medical topics. Do you know what all of this has lead me to? The realization that I don’t know nearly enough to argue with my doctor. The realization that medicine is incredibly complicated and best left to genuine experts.

        And the realization that proper diet and exercise are vitally important.

        So maybe step back a bit, and don’t pretend that because you’ve read works by two extremists who aren’t taken seriously by real researchers and doctors, that you suddenly understand all the world’s health problems.

        And read Mistakes were made (but not by me).

        1. Hank Nickerson says:

          WLU,

          We do know that they do get hardened arteries in places like Greenland. And, that the occurrence of atherosclerosis was more common in places where the diet was least influenced by Westerners[1]. Since you speak for Harriet, remember she said this…..
          “Blubber is a staple of the Inuit diet, and it contains large amounts of antioxidants. Atherosclerosis is practically unknown in Greenland. In Uummannaq, Greenland, a population of 3000 residents had no deaths due to CVD in the 1970s. And the average 70 year old Inuit with a traditional diet of whale and seal has arteries as elastic as that of a 20-year old Danish resident.”
          When are you going to admit that you were wrong about this? Do you have the humility to admit you are wrong?

          I am still waiting. Are you going to admit you are wrong here?

          [1]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17306273

        2. Hank Nickerson says:

          Because really, by citing Gary Null – that’s the level of discourse you’re bringing here.”

          WLU,

          You are so caught up in your false sense of righteous indignation you do not even bother to get your facts straight. I did not cite Gary Null. Harriet did. She referred me to her article where she thought she had taken him down. I pointed out how she never showed his numbers to be wrong. So, she did not show that Null was wrong at all. SBM the cult that it seemingly is relies on fallacious reasoning to make its arguments. So, once again you are wrong. Do you have the humility to admit your mistakes? You have not admitted you were wrong about the blubber thing. I am thinking humility is not one of your virtues.

          P.S. Since Harriet is the one that brought up Gary Null in her article are you going to attack her for “bringing that level of discourse here”?

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Oh, great then – since you don’t grant any credibility to Gary Null, then there’s no reason to continue discussing him. I suppose you’ll also abandon your claim of doctors being the first/second/third/whatever leading cause of death in the United States then?

            Since that’s cleared up, what are we talking about?

            1. Hank Nickerson says:

              No I won’t because that’s the truth. The numbers show that doctors should be listed as the thrid leading cause of death. In fact they should be listed as such. The fact that they are not listed shows that it is being covered up. Are you claiming that the numbers listed in this article are wrong?

              http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/09/20/224507654/how-many-die-from-medical-mistakes-in-u-s-hospitals

              1. Andrey Pavlov says:

                For Fuck’s sake Hank!

                How many lives to doctors save? How about looking at that number? How much have life expectancies increased since scientific medicine began at the turn of the 20th century?

                Nobody is denying that a lot of people die and are harmed because of medical care. You just can’t seem to get your head out of your ass long enough to realize there is more to it than just that number. Lots of people die and are harmed because vastly more people go to doctors and are helped.

                You are living in a childish dream world where free lunches exist and unicorn farts spawn the ideas in your brain.

                So what is your point about the harms of medicine? Should we just ditch the whole enterprise? Go back to the times of shamans and witch doctors? Before surgery? Should we just get rid of all surgery of all kinds? All drugs? Let’s ditch antibiotics! After all, people die every year from antibiotics – from bad reactions, from kidney damage, etc. So fuck it! Let’s get rid of it all.

                What is your point, Hank? Besides proving what an unpleasant and uncritically thinking asshole you are?

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                The numbers show that doctors should be listed as the thrid leading cause of death. In fact they should be listed as such.

                Gary Null’s numbers? I thought we weren’t talking about him any more because you didn’t believe him.

                The fact that they are not listed shows that it is being covered up.

                So in your world, if someone says something, it’s automatically fact? Weird. In my world, I recognize that people make mistakes, that often numbers are simply estimates, and that trained experts and researchers realize that certainty is elusive.

                Are you claiming that the numbers listed in this article are wrong?

                I’m certainly saying that I’m not an expert (though I appreciate the apparent confidence you place in my opinion), that they are an estimate, that they could be correct, and above all – that they cannot be seen as a reason to abandon all medical care.

                I’ll repeat a question I asked before – so what? What should we do about it? I’ll link to a page the NPR page links to:

                http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm

                Here is a list of the causes of death according to the CDC:
                Heart disease: 597,689
                Cancer: 574,743
                Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 138,080
                Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 129,476
                Accidents (unintentional injuries): 120,859
                Alzheimer’s disease: 83,494
                Diabetes: 69,071
                Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,476
                Influenza and Pneumonia: 50,097
                Intentional self-harm (suicide): 38,364

                Did you notice that nearly all of them are preventable through medical treatment? What do you think the death rates would look like if doctors ceased causing medical errors by ceasing to practice medicine? I’m thinking “higher”.

                Yes, medical errors happen. So what? What is your solution, aside from repeatedly calling doctors “murderers”? Which, I’d like to point out, seems to meet a personal need of “hurting strangers on the internet’s feelings” rather than the slightly more meaningful need of, say, increasing FDA oversight, or reducing medical errors. But hey, at least you got to be mean to some doctors, so good job!

                Also, did you notice this section of the article you cite? “What’s the right number? Nobody knows for sure. There’s never been an actual count of how many patients experience preventable harm. So we’re left with approximations, which are imperfect in part because of inaccuracies in medical records and the reluctance of some providers to report mistakes.”

                Ultimately I’m not sure what you’re trying to prove here aside from, again, just trying to be mean to doctors. Do you make up for it by being nice to accountants?

              3. weing says:

                “No I won’t because that’s the truth.”
                So you know the truth and cannot be wrong? Interesting. The thing is medical errors do occur and people die from them. Doctors die from them too. It behooves all of us to minimize errors. I think we are all for it. What’s your simplistic solution? If you think that, whenever a patient dies, the doctor isn’t second guessing himself/herself as to whether he/she did or didn’t do something to contribute, then you aren’t as close to your doctor friends and neighbors as you think you are.

                On a tangent. I know several doctors that had heart attacks and died while jogging. Did heart disease kill them or did exercise kill them? Death certificate says myocardial infarction.

              4. Windriven says:

                Andrey, William, really? Sawyer and Madison are right. Engaging trolls only encourages them.

                I’m going to suggest again to David that SBM institute a separate comments thread for the trolls and looneys. We can play with them there without destroying the flow of serious discussions in the Comments.

              5. Sawyer says:

                @windriven

                I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – whoever writes a good, evidence-based book on when and when not to engage people on the internet will be a very rich person. Or at least get a free box of cookies from me.

                I feel a compulsion to respond to one troll in particular on this site that I know other people avoid acknowledging. I have no clue if it’s the right thing to do. My general rule is that if I think of something that would NOT be obvious to other casual readers, it might be worth mentioning. When I can see no possible route for productive dialogue, it’s time to pull back. Hanks, excuse me, cranks are usually pretty good at destroying their own arguments with only a few posts.

              6. weing says:

                “The human brain is a complex organ with the wonderful
                power of enabling man to find reasons for continuing to
                believe whatever it is that he wants to believe.”
                — Voltaire

              7. weing says:

                @windriven,
                But doesn’t he now, without a doubt, sound like a foaming at the mouth, raving lunatic?

              8. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Windriven…. some stuff just gets under my skin. But you are correct.

              9. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                I unapologetically love arguing with people, but enough work has been done now that nobody needs to engage with Hank further.

            2. Hank Nickerson says:

              PS. way to answer my question! When are you going to show some humility and admit you are wrong?

              It is hard to believe that I am wrong about doctors not caring about the people they kill when they do not even admit they are wrong. Well the doctors that populate this cult anyway.

              1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                It is hard to believe that I am wrong about doctors not caring about the people they kill when they do not even admit they are wrong. Well the doctors that populate this cult anyway.

                The funny thing for me is that you can’t seem to appreciate that doctors might feel terrible about all of the patients whose death they accidentally contribute to. Or that you conflate doctors being (allegedly) wrong in a blog with medical errors that kill patients.

                But tell you what – I’ll admit I’m wrong and show some humility when you admit you’re a giant fucking asshole who can’t separate his personal feelings from an assessment of scientific evidence.

                Deal?

              2. Hank Nickerson says:

                Since you defend Harriet. Do you care to respond to this blog article that systematically takes her apart? She has been caught lying big time.

                http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2013_02_01_archive.html

                PS I guess you will never admit you’re wrong. You defend proven liars.

          2. Harriet Hall says:

            “she did not show that Null was wrong”

            Yes I did. I showed that his reasoning was faulty. I didn’t prove that his numbers were wrong, but any such numbers are based on definitions and extrapolations and are inherently unreliable. No one can deny that iatrogenic errors occur, but the exact numbers are irrelevant to the points I was making.

            1. Hank Nickerson says:

              The numbers are the only thing that matter. If you want to claim that doctors are not a leading cause of death you have to show the numbers are wrong. How can you claim the doctors are not a leading cause of death, if the numbers are true?

              You claim that people like Null are not credible. Well you are not too credible yourself. You have been caught lying. This blog article totally takes you down. Care to respond to it? Why should anyone trust a liar?

              http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2013_02_01_archive.html

      3. andyo says:

        You seem to have a chip on your shoulder. Also, you realize you just pulled the “I’m not racist, I have black friends” stunt?

  30. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Oops, I just noticed I’d been calling Hank Nickerson “Nick” for a couple of my comments. My apologies, it was an accident rather than a deliberate slight. I’m bad with names, but I will try to correct it in the future.

    1. egstras says:

      With any luck, you won’t have to.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        I don’t mind being polite, but it sure would be nice if he stopped being a giant asshole accusing doctors of being murderers.

  31. Harriet Hall says:

    I have a question for proponents of the vegan diet: if eating meat and/or milk causes heart attacks and cancer, why don’t the Inuit and the Maasai have sky-high rates of those diseases?

    1. Hank Nickerson says:

      Harriet,
      So, you are now backpedaling away from this position:
      “Blubber is a staple of the Inuit diet, and it contains large amounts of antioxidants. Atherosclerosis is practically unknown in Greenland. In Uummannaq, Greenland, a population of 3000 residents had no deaths due to CVD in the 1970s. And the average 70 year old Inuit with a traditional diet of whale and seal has arteries as elastic as that of a 20-year old Danish resident.”

      The sad thing there are not too many of your average Inuit 70 year olds.

      http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/12/18/inuit_life_expectancy_lags_as_rest_of_canada_living_longer.html

      1. weing says:

        “The sad thing there are not too many of your average Inuit 70 year olds.”

        Right under the title of the page you linked to is this:

        “A Statistics Canada study shows Inuit life expectancy still trails that of the rest of the country, with self-inflicted injuries and smoking largely to blame.”

        1. Hank Nickerson says:

          And?

          1. weing says:

            “And?”
            Try drawing a conclusion.

            1. Hank Nickerson says:

              And?

              1. Hank Nickerson says:

                What do you think about when you are at the keyboard?

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Weing is saying that the reason there aren’t many 70-year-old Inuit is because much of the population dies of suicide and smoking-related diseases.

                To that we can add lifestyle diseases, because most now live on junk food and white bread, while sitting in their poorly-ventilated houses built by government grants, drinking enough beer to stay drunk for a week due to alcohol dehydrogenase deficiency, not running around after their sled dogs and hunting with spears and atlatls.

                You can’t compare contemporary Inuit with Inuit from 200 years ago.

              3. Hank Nickerson says:

                Yes, we can compare because we have found mummified Eskimos and guess what they had heart disease.

                http://www.yourdoctorsorders.com/2013/03/mummies-eskimos-with-heart-disease-it-isnt-modern-diets-that-are-the-problem/

              4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Did they die of heart disease?

                Can you link to any comment or blog post that Dr. Hall, or anyone else made, that states or suggests that a diet of mostly animal flesh prevented any and all precursors to heart disease and was a perfect diet that led to a life of endless health and eternal youth? Because that seems to be what you are pretending Dr. Hall sad, and I’d like to check your sources.

              5. Hank Nickerson says:

                Here I will post it again:
                “Blubber is a staple of the Inuit diet, and it contains large amounts of antioxidants. Atherosclerosis is practically unknown in Greenland. In Uummannaq, Greenland, a population of 3000 residents had no deaths due to CVD in the 1970s. And the average 70 year old Inuit with a traditional diet of whale and seal has arteries as elastic as that of a 20-year old Danish resident.”

                When will you admit you are wrong about this? You know you are basically delusional on this issue. Admitting you are wrong is the first step towards recovery.

              6. weing says:

                “When will you admit you are wrong about this?”
                How is she wrong and not the authors of the study?

      2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        The sad thing is Canada’s Aboriginal policy, which forces Inuit and other Aboriginal groups into the worst patches of land in Canada then supplies a series of perverse incentives to keep them there.

        But regarding this – contemporary Inuit do not live a traditional lifestyle, and do not have a traditional diet. It’s a lot of packaged food, refined sugars and grains, non-sea meat, canned and processed foods, etc. So saying there aren’t many 70-year-old Inuit currently says absolutely nothing about Inuit longevity while surviving in a traditional manner.

        1. Hank Nickerson says:

          WLU,
          We do know that they do get hardened arteries in places like Greenland. And, that the occurrence of atherosclerosis was more common in places where the diet was least influenced by Westerners[1]. Since you speak for Harriet, remember she said this…..

          “Blubber is a staple of the Inuit diet, and it contains large amounts of antioxidants. Atherosclerosis is practically unknown in Greenland. In Uummannaq, Greenland, a population of 3000 residents had no deaths due to CVD in the 1970s. And the average 70 year old Inuit with a traditional diet of whale and seal has arteries as elastic as that of a 20-year old Danish resident.”

          When are you going to admit that you were wrong about this? Do you have the humility to admit you are wrong?

          [1]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17306273

          1. weing says:

            “When are you going to admit that you were wrong about this? Do you have the humility to admit you are wrong?”
            I think Dr. Hall was referring to this. What a difference 30+ years makes?

            1. Hank Nickerson says:

              The research was probably sloppy. There is no mention on how they even arrive at the conclusion that CVD is non-existent. Moreover the 500 year old mummies that have been examined show these people had hardened arteries.

              http://www.yourdoctorsorders.com/2013/03/mummies-eskimos-with-heart-disease-it-isnt-modern-diets-that-are-the-problem/

              So, again I ask when is some humility going to be shown here and people admit they are wrong?

              1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                So, again I ask when is some humility going to be shown here and people admit they are wrong?

                Well, you could be the first…

                Also, there is a small, just a tiny difference between showing Inuit mummies had atherosclerosis and showing they mostly died of heart attacks. Nearly everyone has some atherosclerosis, not everyone dies of heart attacks. Nobody here has ever claimed that a diet of 100% whale flesh prevented all disease, or even all precursors to heart attacks. The point was that a high animal flesh diet wasn’t the horrible risk factor and death sentence that Campbell claims it to be. As far as I can tell, that’s the inciting incident being discussed.

                Oh, and doctors being murderous assholes who cackle and slaver over the chance to kill a baby or two. I’m paraphrasing that by the way, but I would also like to make it clear that I’m against it. Yes, doctors deliberately killing babies is a bad thing, and should stop.

              2. weing says:

                “The research was probably sloppy.”

                I agree.

                “So, again I ask when is some humility going to be shown here and people admit they are wrong?”

                Wrong about what? Who is right? That new evidence has come up to show that age is probably more relevant than traditional diets? That our knowledge and recommendations are tentative?

          2. Harriet Hall says:

            Since you keep harping on this, I will gladly admit that I quoted one source and that there is other information that contradicts it. I don’t think the issue has been definitively settled, and frankly, I’m not interested enough to pursue it further. My intention was not to make a thorough investigation of the Inuit, but to present a counter-example that tends to undermine the vegetarian agenda. And there are plenty of other counter-examples, some based on modern controlled studies. And even if there were a clear correlation, correlation doesn’t prove causation. You have picked on one minor detail of my article; you have not shown the kind of pattern of errors I showed for Greger and Campbell.

            1. Hank Nickerson says:

              So, you won’t admit you are wrong? Humility is not your virtue. What do you think about when you are at the keyboard Harriet?

              2. You are a hypocrite. You want to hold people to standards that you do not hold yourself to. How do I know this? Because you also cherry pick. I read your article on Greger. I also watched his very informative YouTube. He starts out with CVD. He he then quotes from the Harvard Nurses Health Study. I notice that you do not even mention the Harvard Nurses Health Study in your article. In fact you do not even mention the majority of the studies he covers in the video. You know that is called? Cherry Picking!

              “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” -Jesus [I am an atheist but this quote is so appropriate for you.]

              1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Hey Hank, SBM accepts guest posts – why not write one? You can write the perfect post, that gathers together all the scientific literature on all types of diets, and we can see how you account for the outcome of every single study, ever. I look forward to it!

                I mean, in your mind is the scientific literature clear and uniform or something? Because for everyone else, it is an enormous mass, an unending firehose of information that is complicated, contradictory, susceptible to multiple interpretations, and ultimately very, very difficult to corral into a single, simple conclusion. Of course, that’s because science attempts to grasp reality, which is itself complicated, contradictory, and in our cases interpreted through instruments and measures that are imperfect and second-hand.

                But sure, pretend it’s simple if that helps you get through the day.

          3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            We do know that they do get hardened arteries in places like Greenland. And, that the occurrence of atherosclerosis was more common in places where the diet was least influenced by Westerners

            As I said above, this “least westernized” area does not appear to be living a traditional lifestyle given “Physical inactivity, low education, dyslipidemia, hypertension and diabetes were associated with CHD.” The traditional lifestyle of the Inuit is extremely grueling, burning on the order of 5-6,000 calories per day given the activity levels required by their traditional hunting including the use of sleds, spears and holes chopped in ice. Inuit that maintain a “traditional” lifestyle of hunting through rifles, snowmobiles and metal boring tools are not living the lifestyle found 200 years ago. Jorgensen do not document a pristine culture unchanged by modern life, they document “a population undergoing rapid social and health transitions”, which they say in their abstract. A 2008 population is not a 1970 population is not an 1870 population. Note, for instance, this article that discusses a pre-Western Inuit population that found less ischemic heart disease. Then there’s this one too.

            Look, this is a massively complicated question, and one that rests in part on historical information that simply doesn’t exist any longer. Rather than insisting you are right because Campbell tells you so, perhaps admit that you believe a low-meat diet is healthy (which seems to be true) and that you like eating this way (which is great – better for the environment too) rather than pretending the science is absolutely settled and you’ve found the secret to eternal youth?

            When are you going to admit that you were wrong about this? Do you have the humility to admit you are wrong?

            I’m going to have the humility to say that I will never know enough to be certain, and I’ll have to live my entire life in that state of ambiguity. And I’m OK with that, thanks. I’m certainly not going to run around calling doctors (or vegans, or Hari Krisnas, or Atkins-followers) murderers because I’m trying to justify my diet and lifestyle changes and/or because a relative of mine died of E. coli infection.

            1. Hank Nickerson says:

              Thank you for demonstrating a complete lack of humility. And you claim I am wrong when I say that people around here claim their shit don’t stink. You are one of the. I feel vindicated by your lack of humilty. I am write about that.

              You still have not addressed the problem of the 500 year old Inuit mummies. They had heart disease. They lived and worked in the pristine environment burning all those calories because they did not have snowmobiles and rifles.

              http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2013nl/apr/fav5.htm

              1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Thank you for demonstrating a complete lack of humility.

                Right back at ya champ!

                I feel vindicated by your lack of humilty. I am write about that.

                I’m surprised you feel anything except unending, throbbing rage. Have you had your blood pressure checked lately? Because you seem primed to blow an aneurysm.

                You still have not addressed the problem of the 500 year old Inuit mummies. They had heart disease. They lived and worked in the pristine environment burning all those calories because they did not have snowmobiles and rifles.

                I have, multiple times. Nobody here, including me, have ever claimed that the Inuit diet and activity perfectly prevented any and all precurors to heart disease. The claim was that the large volume of meat in their diet was not an inevitable cause of early death. You’ve erected a mighty strawman, with apparently a giant, throbbing hardon for hating doctors, and forsooth you are mightily knocking it down – while the rest of us stand around and go “what the fork is he getting so upset about?”

                So again – yes, Inuit had heart disease like all other populations in the world. The point isn’t “Inuit diet prevented all disease”, the point is “Inuit diet didn’t cause the population to die prematurely”.

                Got it? Do you have the humility to admit you’ve been attacking an idea that nobody here has even been defending?

              2. Hank Nickerson says:

                So, you are now denying that you were defending this position?
                “Blubber is a staple of the Inuit diet, and it contains large amounts of antioxidants. Atherosclerosis is practically unknown in Greenland. In Uummannaq, Greenland, a population of 3000 residents had no deaths due to CVD in the 1970s. And the average 70 year old Inuit with a traditional diet of whale and seal has arteries as elastic as that of a 20-year old Danish resident.”

                You are now saying this, “The claim was that the large volume of meat in their diet was not an inevitable cause of early death.”

                People like to accuse people around here of moving the goal posts. Please tell me how you are not guilty of that in this instance?

              3. Frederick says:

                Do you read you own post? Don’t talk about humility, you lack all the humility in the world, don’t tell peoples to be humble when you clearly think “I’m better than everyone here” . The first person who need to be humble is you because your posts all have been clearly addressed with sound arguments ( a thing that you clearly lack too) and science to back it up.

                I don’t even know with I comments this guy. But You all had a lot of patient, He is breaking the troll barrier.

  32. Kevin says:

    Regarding dairy consumption and autism.

    Cerebral folate receptor autoantibodies in autism spectrum disorder.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22230883

    A milk-free diet downregulates folate receptor autoimmunity in cerebral folate deficiency syndrome. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18355335

    1. Patrick says:

      The literature is pretty sparse there with very little followup beyond that group in Belgium. There may be something there, but autism is not purely folate deficiency. I am sure there are some children with a deficiency, but 1 in 60 children? Also, you are pulling separate articles and studies. While you can make educated guesses based on that, that is how you design studies, not make conclusions.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      So the second article just looks at parameters, not functioning. The first article contains this rather critical paragraph:

      This study was not a clinical trial and neither the physicians nor the parents were blinded to treatment. In additional, our controls were not given a placebo; hence, the magnitude of the placebo effect was not taken into account, and we used a subjective parental report rather than objective assessment measures. Double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are required to confirm and expand upon the findings of this case series.

      So no slam-dunk then. Any time you use subjective assessment of improvements in autistic kids, you’ve got problems. Not to mention, the data looks an awful lot like scatter to me. So…maybe. There’s a lot of potential for bias, and the results are at odds with other studies that are more realistic (i.e. actual milk-free diets and challenge trials). It’ll be interesting to see how this develops.

  33. MadisonMD says:

    Don’t feed the troll.

    Hank Nickerson has revealed his purpose here. It is to:
    Refute “pro-doctor propaganda” and “MD worship.” So basically, he has a chip on his shoulder, and unburdens himself of this chip by intellectually dishonest engagement here.

    His methods are:
    (1) Gish Gallop Hank seeks the smallest point in any argument and uses it as a gotcha. On this blog post alone, he has argued with various people about whether Inuit diets were high in animal protein, what constitutes ad hominem, whether Ornish cures heart disease, how many patients are killed by medical mistakes, the meaning of IQ, whether Gary Null is a credible source of information, whether Dr. Greger is a credible source of information, whether youtube is a credible source of information, whether sanitation workers save more lives than doctors. He argues with anybody and everything. The argument itself is his purpose.
    (2) Unsubstantiated personal attacks Hank started out with several posts with the blanket statement that SBM is a fraud. Then he has called Harriet a killer and accused her of suppressing evidence, of lacking humility, of frank dishonesty– even going so far as quoting biblical verses. This is just too much– we all are imperfect, but Harriet has demonstrated herself in these pages, time and again, to be intellectually honest, with a willingness to reconsider her ideas based on facts. Hank has called me a killer and an employee of big pharma. There is no evidence for anyone here being a killer, other than that Harriet, I and a few others here are physicians. I work at an academic medical center and am not employed by pharma.
    (3) Requiring disproof of cherrypicked data. Gary Null’s numbers are different than IOMs, but Hank argues endlessly that we need to provide meticulous disproof of Null’s numbers. He argues to the hilt that placing more value on IOM numbers than Gary Null’s, be placing more value on scientific publications than a youtube video, is ad hominem. In fact, WLU has shown refuting Null is a worthless exercise, Harriet has shown why it doesn’t matter what the numbers are–we need to decrease them. Hank’s solution is to “completely reform and overhaul the medical system,” a vacuous proposal for reasons shown by WLU.
    (4) Beating straw men, repeatedly, as shown here.
    (5) Complete lack of the principle of charity in any argument here.

    Hank has engaged in these tactics before. There he argued about whether the Gallileo Gambit was valid, about whether you can prove a negative, about whether high-dose iv vitamin C was effective, and (when shown it was ineffective), that the evidence was invalid because the high-dose Vitamin C wasn’t given stopped when tumors continued to definitely grow while it was given. There he called various folks sociopaths, that they don’t know logic even with rectal infusion, etc., etc.

    Hank’s purposes are clear. He is not here to increase his knowledge. He is not here to provide illuminating evidence to change our thinking. He is here to unburden himself of his chip, by arguing with everyone here, by demonstrating we are “sociopaths.” He freely admits that he is here to take down doctors a notch or two because he believes we are too admired by society, as depicted on Marcus Welby?! (Is he bitter from being rejected from med school?). In the end, there is much heat, and no light.

    These are actions and effects of a troll, and as Sawyer said a couple dozens posts ago, they do not merit engagement.

    In other words, don’t feed the troll. IMO, this one is sufficiently disruptive to merit banishment.

    1. David Gorski says:

      I apologize that I have been…indisposed…the last couple of days due to a combination of traveling to the ASCO meeting (check out the #ASCO14 hashtag on Twitter) and circumstances that arose after I got here and were beyond my control. I did not notice Mr. Nickerson. However, I have noticed now. His trolling and personal attacks warrant a warning to knock it off. He will only get one warning, and this is it.

      In the meantime, he will now be automatically moderated until he proves that he can behave himself.

      1. Hank Nickerson says:

        Harriet is a straight up liar. Why do you allow her to post here?

        This article systematically takes her apart. Do you care to defend her lies?
        http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2013_02_01_archive.html

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          So Dr. Hall is not mistaken, she’s not making an error, she’s not dealing with a large body of contradictory evidence – she’s a liar. She’s deliberately deceptive to mislead her readers (presumably for fun and profit)?

          Dr. Gorski, do you think you could answer the question “Why do we allow Hank to post here?” with the answer “We don’t”?

          1. Hank Nickerson says:

            Harriet says Greger makes this quote “a plant-based diet of primarily whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes can completely prevent heart attacks.” in his section on CVD. Well where is the quote? She won’t cite the place in the YouTube where he makes that statement. How is that not lying? In fact she claims to be dealing with the studies that Greger uses in his section on CVD. But, she does not cite a single study that he uses. Is that not being deliberately deceptive?

            1. Harriet Hall says:

              I’ll be damned if I’ll watch Greger’s video again to re-locate the statement and explain every detail of how I traced it to the source I cited. I did it once and I’m not about to go to all that effort again just to refute the accusation of a vicious troll. I trust that our readers know by now that I am not a liar, and they have formed an opinion of what you are. Dr. Gorski warned you and you immediately repeated the offense, so you will not be here much longer. How dare you ask him why he “allows” me to post?! I am one of the editors and founders of this blog. You are a guest in our house; we opened our door to you and you immediately elbowed your way past our other guests and proceeded to shit all over our floor.

              1. Hank Nickerson says:

                Harriet,

                You do not have 8 minutes to show you are not lying? The segment in question goes from 1:10 to about 9:19. Greger does not use that article from the Food and Drug Law Journal, nor Esselstyn’s research, at all, in the portion of the “Uprooting” video wherein he discusses cardiovascular disease. I notice that not even your defenders are taking up the cause to defend you on this one. I for one take your refusal to actual give evidence or give the place in the video where you claim he cites “an article in the Food and Drug Law Journal” as a tacit admission that you are lying. So, here is a call out to Harriet’s defenders where in the video does Dr. Greger cite the article in the Food and Drug Law Journal? Will anyone come to her rescue?

              2. Harriet Hall says:

                I refuse to suffer through Greger’s video again, but I used the “find” function on the transcript of the video. Go to http://nutritionfacts.org/video/uprooting-the-leading-causes-of-death/ and click on the word “transcript” in the list below the picture. In the 5th paragraph from the end it reads:

                “A plant-based diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and no meat reversed heart disease, completely prevented deaths from heart disease, and slowed the progression of cancer, and an almost identical diet is promoted by the World Cancer Research Fund to prevent cancer, as based on the largest review of scientific studies to date.”

                This is in quotation marks in the transcript of the video. He is quoting something. I looked for the source of the quotation and found it in the Food and Drug Law Journal on page 291-2 of this article:
                http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2010nl/jul/sc%20herman.indd.pdf

                There, it says “A plant-based diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and no meat reversed heart disease, completely prevented deaths from heart disease, and slowed the progression of cancer, and an almost identical diet is promoted by the WCRF to prevent cancer, as based on the largest review of scientific studies to date.”

                And the Essenstyn studies are cited in the footnotes of that article, as I said.

                Now please explain how this proves I am a liar.

              3. Hank Nickerson says:

                Harriet,

                Well, it is clear by looking at the two quotes below you did not quote Greger at all. I say charitably paraphrase because as you can clearly see in the quotes below you did not quote Greger. And the way you used the paraphrase is very dishonest. You tailor your paraphrase to make it seem like it only deals with Heart disease. The purpose of the quote from the FDLJ was to show that the anti-Cancer diet and the anti-Heart disease diet are exactly the same diet. Next the quote from the FLDJ does not mention ‘heart attacks’ at all. It does mention ‘heart disease’ though. It is also clear from reading the FLDJ paper that they are talking about the kind of heart disease caused by diet. This change or rhetorical slight of hand of yours opens Greger up to logical consequences he would not be open to if you had changed from heart disease to heart attack.

                Changes in diet cannot prevent heart attacks not caused by diet. It cannot for example prevent heart attacks caused by congenital defects. If they had mentioned heart attacks and not heart disease they would be forced to hold the absurd position that diet could prevent heart attack deaths due to congenital defects. You are putting words into Greger’s mouth that he clearly did not say. This is a classic case of a Strawman argument. I do not see how anyone can view your rhetorical slight of hand as anything less than dishonest.

                Even if you had used the quote and not the paraphrase, the way you present it in your article, you would have still completely misrepresented how Greger used the quote from the FDLJ. He is using it in the concluding remarks of his speech to discuss dietary guidelines. He covers the topic of Heart Disease in the beginning nine minutes of his talk. The way your represent the quote in your article you make it seem like it appears in Greger’s speech on heart disease. When it clearly does not appear there. You repeat this meme in the section on Cancer. Greger does not use the paper in his cancer section either.

                You go on in your article to attack a footnote in the FDLJ paper. The problem with this though is that Greger does not present this paper in this part of his talk at all. You make it seem like it does. This is a dishonest move on your part. He does cover eleven different articles in his talk on Heart Disease alone. He covers about the same number of papers in his talk on cancer as well. You do not cover a single one of those papers. Instead you make it seem like he covered the FDLJ paper in those sections and attack that. This is once again you committing a Strawman Fallacy. This is again a dishonest move. No one can reasonably conclude that Greger is giving bad information on Cancer and Heart disease on this basis. Yet, you do Harriet. Moreover Greger uses at least 50 papers in his talk. You only cover 4 in that he actually uses in his talk on the individual diseases. That is less than 10% of the papers he covers in the talk. You conclude on this basis that he is unreliable. This is a Hasty Generalization. Your rhetorical style is highly dishonest. If you are going to conclude that Greger is unreliable, you have to show that it is pathologically the case that he is unreliable. You have come to that conclusion using less than 10% of the papers he covers in the talk. What you give is just not enough to meet that burden. You still owe Greger an apology.

                This is the quote from your article:
                “He cites a reference showing that “a plant-based diet of primarily whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes can completely prevent heart attacks.” This is a quotation from an article in the Food and Drug Law Journal, and the footnotes there only send us to Caldwell Esselstyn’s flawed research.”

                This is the quote from the FDLJ:
                ““A plant-based diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and no meat reversed heart disease, completely prevented deaths from heart disease, and slowed the progression of cancer, and an almost identical diet is promoted by the World Cancer Research Fund to prevent cancer, as based on the largest review of scientific studies to date.”

              4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Hi Hank,

                Just so you know – nobody is interested in reading you torture your previous errors into something you consider to be a fact.

                Nobody’s reading it at all.

              5. Jason says:

                Hank,
                I read your exchange with people here on the board and found it to be very informative. I will get back to that later. I first want to introduce myself I am a grad student pursuing a PhD, I double majored in Philosophy and Biology during undergrad. I am also a parent of an autistic son. I am in the library right now killing time because a class of mine was cancelled at the last minute. Between work, school and my family I do not have the time to comment on such things. So, I thought I would have a little fun. I knew about the SBM website because I followed the back and forth between Dr. Gorski and JB Handley a few years back. Boy did that get nasty. I do not think that vaccines cause autism btw. They actually save lives and it is really horrendous what is happening in with all of the outbreaks of diseases like measles. What I think that people here do not seem to understand is that this is a very emotional issue here for parents with autistic children.

                Some of us are clearly desperate for a solution and uneducated. All I could do is shake my head when I saw JB Handley on television thinking that he was going to cure his son’s autism through chelation. I think Dr. Gorski could have handled his exchange with Handley better. He needs to know that parents are desperate out here and searching for answers. It is hard to accept that your child is never going to have the life you wanted for them. They may never express that they love you back. My wife and I were heartbroken when we got the diagnosis for our son. You actually have to do some grieving when you find out that your child is not going to have a normal life. We just want to have the best for our children and we cannot change what nature has done. It is a very emotional thing for us.

                Hank I think that you have pretty much shown logically that Dr. Hall was wrong in her assessment of Dr. Greger. She is not a philosopher and I think that what you said flew right over her head. The thing about pathology definitely did. You are obviously using pathology in the sense of pathological liar. If Dr. Hall wants to say that nothing Dr. Greger says is true, then she better show that he is pathologically wrong in the way he presents things. You insulted her very rudely about murdering patients that was just wrong on your part. I cannot believe you did not apologize. If you have been banned, they were right in doing so. You might be right but don’t be an asshole about it.

                Now on to Dr. Greger, he doesn’t cover 50 papers in his talk it is more like 100. Even if Dr. Hall wants to fault him on his interpretation of 4 of those papers, that still makes Dr. Greger 96% right. What you Hank have shown I think borrowing from that blog post is that Dr. Hall in certain sections of Dr. Greger’s talk does not even address the papers Dr. Greger used. The blog post also points out that Dr. Hall attributes a quote about hand grenades to Dr. Greger when it is clear that he did not say that. He was himself quoting from a paper. I am sure that these issues have been pointed out to her and she still has not revised her article. That speaks volumes for me about Dr. Hall’s integrity. She should the very at least try to get her facts straight and make corrections accordingly. The fact that the article still says that Dr. Greger claimed something about hand grenades when he did not shows that Dr. Hall does not care about getting her facts straight. I am sure it will be up there for as long as this site is around. Dr. Hall also say repeatedly that correlation is not causation. That really has me scratching my head. That is tobacco science at its finest. Does she really think that tobacco smoking does not cause cancer? If she holds the correlation is not causation view, then she is committed to making such denials. She has obviously crossed over into denialism from skepticism.

                It is also clear that she did not make her case against Dr. Gary Null. Now he is a total raging nutcase and I understand the disdain against him here. But, that does not mean you do not have to make a good case and actually show that he is logically wrong by knocking out the premises of his argument. Also the fact that she thinks a diet of whale blubber is healthy also shows to me at least she has much to be desired for in terms of nutrition education. I wonder since she thinks it is so healthy why not chow down exclusively on whale blubber for a year and blog about here? I would love to read Dr. Hall’s article on that. It has all of those anti-oxidants. It is like drinking a kale smoothie. Will she put the blubber where her mouth is on that?

                Now I want to talk about this article. I am a parent of an autistic child. Anyone who is a parent of an autistic child knows they can be very picky eaters. My son has had the same thing for lunch for years. He is OCD about his food. He does not want to eat anything other than that. If I were to change his food, he might not even eat at all. PETA does not even seem to be aware of the issues that parents with autistic children face. Their outlook is totally unrealistic for most parents. They should try and change their child’s diet and see how far they get. Now PETA does some good things they have definitely raised the consciousness of how badly we treat animals. There are definitely more humane ways to do animal husbandry. The way we slaughter animals can be more humanely done. I know that PETA wants to ban be from having a Sunday roast but they are not stopping me. So, as well meaning as PETA is with their dietary recommendations to curb symptoms of autism. They clearly are not aware of what a parent actually goes through when their child actually has autism. Now I know people that have tried to do what PETA is recommending and they have had success. Their children are not as picky eaters as my son. Every child with autism is different. What PETA recommends is not a blanket solution.

            2. weing says:

              “Harriet says Greger makes this quote “a plant-based diet of primarily whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes can completely prevent heart attacks.” in his section on CVD.”

              Probably a waste of time but Harriet does not say that. This is the relevant section.

              “He cites a reference showing that “a plant-based diet of primarily whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes can completely prevent heart attacks.” This is a quotation from an article in the Food and Drug Law Journal, and the footnotes there only send us to Caldwell Esselstyn’s flawed research. ”

              Now, who is the liar?

              1. Hank Nickerson says:

                Weing,
                This is what Harriet says, “He didn’t mention it by name, and I didn’t say he did, but he quoted directly from it. As I said, “He cites a reference showing that “a plant-based diet of primarily whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes can completely prevent heart attacks.” This is a quotation from an article in the Food and Drug Law Journal,”

                I said this, “Harriet says Greger makes this quote “a plant-based diet of primarily whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes can completely prevent heart attacks.” in his section on CVD.”

                So, now what am I lying about?

              2. weing says:

                “He cites a reference showing that “a plant-based diet of primarily whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes can completely prevent heart attacks.” is not the same as “Harriet says Greger makes this quote “a plant-based diet of primarily whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes can completely prevent heart attacks.””

                That’s how you are lying if you don’t own up that you are wrong on this. But hey, we’re human. We all can make mistakes. This one is not life threatening.

                “This is a quotation from an article in the Food and Drug Law Journal” This statement is true. I checked it out. Don’t just take my word, check it out yourself. The statement about the reference is also correct.

              3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                The funnest debates are about what the meaning of “is” is.

  34. Jim Borgman says:

    Dear Hank,

    In the US, we have a jury system in the court of law. The jury doesn’t have to make the arguments, the attorneys do. The jury looks at the law, the arguments and the evidence presented by the attorneys, weighs it and renders an opinion to the court. The opinion is usually representative of societal norms. Therefore, the court generally follows the opinion of the jury when it renders its judgment.

    I’m on the jury in this blog. In fact, I’m the foreperson in my example. I do not answer to the plaintiff or the defendant nor to their legal representatives. I do not need to defend my opinion to them.

    All that being stated, your charges, arguments and evidence are found wanting.

    In addition, were I a judge, I would have had several of your posts stricken from the record as argumentative or not relevant.

    So, while this isn’t a court of law, your arguments, facts and allegations aren’t convincing to me and other jurors. Go take your case elsewhere. Your case is dismissed.

    1. Jim Borgman says:

      Pardon me,

      The judge in this case would be the owner of the blog. The jury recommends dismissal of the charges. The is also possible contempt of court to be considered by the court.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Hank also conflates “truth” with “science”. Science is about the futile pursuit of truth – scientists seek to arrive at truth, but are keenly aware that they only ever, and will ever, achieve an approximation of truth. The scientific consensus is the closest, firmest and best approximation of truth given what the best-respected experts in a field think of the evidence to date.

          Truth is not established by consensus, but the best conclusion based on the current reading of the evidence base is based on consensus. That leaves a lot of ambiguity to tolerate, and it leaves the scientifically ignorant and arrogant looking for dogma instead, to their detriment.

      1. Andrey Pavlov says:

        It is very difficult to find any philosopher of note who asserts a bare, naive, or pure consensus theory of truth, in other words, a treatment of truth that is based on actual consensus in an actual community without further qualification

        Nobody here argues for that. In fact we argue explicitly against that. There is a difference between pure consensus – which is what the wiki article you are misusing is talking about – versus expert consensus. Which is precisely why rational and educated people like WLU and Windriven will defer to me on most all matters of medicine and I will further defer to Dr. Gorski (as an example).

        The fact that something “is generally agreed” or that “most people believe” something should be viewed critically, asking the question why that factor is considered to matter at all in an argument over truth. He states that the simple fact that a majority believes something to be true is unsatisfactory justification for believing it to be true

        Once again, misusing and completely and totally misunderstanding both wiki articles you are citing. In fact, both of them quite handily argue against your very position and existence here. They clearly state that you should not get a say in these matters. The truth is not a democracy and you are in a place full of relevant experts in a field in which you have no relevant expertise. By the very articles you are citing, if you actually understood them and held them to be true instead of just using them as a crude cudgel in a pitiful attempt to bolster your own position, you should be the one shutting up and asking us to educate you.

    2. This is where the flaws in logic are hidden.

      Modern Medicine has devolved into a “murkiness” that is the twisting together of universal truths-Laws of biology physics and math, presumed truths-being tested and are used as a Law of Nature and personal conclusions-whatever is in your mind, a belief or dogma.

      Thus:
      # Law of biology is why we heal after a cut or why a bone will mend if broken.

      # an antibiotic uses the laws of nature and is helpful to human wellness.

      # a joint replacement is pure dogma and is only accepted because someone forced a belief into society … consensus. There is no scientific evidence that a hunk of metal is more advantageous to a natural joint.

      Most of what you all are debating are related to plain old dogma and unconfirmed observations and concepts.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        First of all, most of what you are saying is unreadable – if there is a coherent thought to be found, I can’t find it.

        Second, regarding this point specifically:

        a joint replacement is pure dogma and is only accepted because someone forced a belief into society … consensus. There is no scientific evidence that a hunk of metal is more advantageous to a natural joint.

        An anecdote – my grandfather had both knees replaced, and went from nearly immobile to someone who could shuffle almost as fast as my normal walking pace. Of course, one can’t rely on anecdotes purely – but one must note logic. If a patient went from “unable to walk” to “being able to walk” because of a joint replacement, it is not “consensus” or “dogma” that magically made them mobile – it is the existence of a pain-free joint.

        One might also note – with your practice, you would never, ever see a patient satisfied with their joint replacement. Your customer base is made up exclusively of those unsatisfied with their treatment to date – your experiences are powerfully informed by a biased sample.

        Anyway, please try to write down clear ideas, that way I can show you where your thinking has gone awry.

  35. MadisonMD says:

    Just to set the record straight about CAD and meat with some evidence. The latest troll made claims and argued about minor points of Eskimo mummies and such. Here is some actual rates of disease comparing vegetarians versus non-vegetarians in meta-analyses:

    According to the most reliable (1999) analysis, vegetarians risk of CAD is 24 +/- 14% lower than non-vegetarians. There is no statistical difference in cerebrovascular disease or death from all causes.

    Of course, this is observational so not proof of cause-effect. (e.g. if there is excess of smoking or screening in one group, this could be the cause, although some included studies seemed to correct for this). Nor can we draw conclusions about milk proteins and CAD.

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      Thank you, MadisonMD! It’s a welcome change to see a note of sanity on this subject along with some actual credible evidence. In my article on the China study I had pointed out several disconfirming studies, including this 2008 meta-analysis http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19166134?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
      It said “Meta-analysis of several prospective studies showed no significant differences in the mortality caused by colorectal, stomach, lung, prostate or breast cancers and stroke between vegetarians and “health-conscious” nonvegetarians. In vegetarians, a decrease of ischemic heart disease mortality [NOT a total absence] was observed probably due to lower total serum cholesterol levels, lower prevalence of obesity and higher consumption of antioxidants. Very probably, an ample consumption of fruits and vegetables and not the exclusion of meat make vegetarians healthful”

      Again, correlation is not proof of causation, but showing a lack of correlation tends to undermine the hypotheses of Greger and Campbell. Their claims certainly go beyond the evidence.

      1. Hank Nickerson says:

        Harriet,
        Given the fact that you lied about Greger using “an article in the Food and Drug Law Journal,” when in fact he did not, do you not owe Dr. Greger an apology?

        1. Harriet Hall says:

          No, dammit, you owe me an apology. Both for calling me a liar and accusing me of killing patients.

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            I would say that you owe him a banning, not an apology. Such unapologetic affront, such deliberate effort to wound, such endless repetition and failure to listen means that the lines of civil discourse have been crossed, peed on, fed to a mule, the resulting feces used to draw a new line, that was subsequently danced upon, barefoot, while shouting Hail Satan!

            While I think FBA, stanmuck and Steve Roddy are irksome pustules, they at least maintain an appearance of civility while forcing their bullheaded stupidity onto the page like a particularly troublesome bowel movement. Not so with Hank, he drops that pretence, then breaks it in half and tries to use the resulting shards to gouge out your tongue. Freedom of speech is all well and good, but this is not the US government and there is no reason to give such discourse a venue. He can go to 4chan if he wants to keep calling people murderers, there’s no reason to entertain him here.

            Tolerance is a virtue but not one that should be without limits.

            1. Frederick says:

              Agreed SSR and stanmark are trolling, but never this much and are funny to read, somehow, but this one, he is painful, you can’t even finish his comments, too long and there’s no point to them.
              Like I said He broke the troll barrier, I don’t know what is the speed require for that, but he his going nowhere fast ( quote for a Green day song)

              1. Name calling (being pissed-off) is an indication that you feel incomplete in your logic. This is a good start to healing and hopefully growth from a life with a narrow view. The truth will set you free but first it’ll piss you off. -BM

                You and this group are misguided and blinded by each other.How are you going to have robust debate if everyone is of the same mindset; “Science medicine will cure all ills”

                Your personal beliefs are ok. But If your personal beliefs leads someone to suffering that is harmful and a conflict with Hippocratic Oath. Free Speech come with some responsibility.

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Name calling (being pissed-off) is an indication that you feel incomplete in your logic. This is a good start to healing and hopefully growth from a life with a narrow view. The truth will set you free but first it’ll piss you off. -BM

                Sometimes it’s frustration over some idiot troll repeating the same stupid nonsense for months, and being too stupid and lazy to even put together an appropriate reference list. See, when you use logic, and facts, and lay out a rational argument, and it’s met with “nuh-uh, my patients are in pain so I don’t need any stinking evidence”, sometimes it’s both therapeutic and accurate to point out your interlocutor is an idiot troll.

                You and this group are misguided and blinded by each other.How are you going to have robust debate if everyone is of the same mindset; “Science medicine will cure all ills”

                How are you ever going to actually help people if you ignore science? How can you not see how biased your sample of patients are? How can you utter the words “robust debate” when your side of the argument is nothing but fallacies and name-calling?

                Your personal beliefs are ok. But If your personal beliefs leads someone to suffering that is harmful and a conflict with Hippocratic Oath. Free Speech come with some responsibility.

                Meanwhile your personal beliefs lead to patients not getting scientifically-proven care (and apparently delusion). And if Hippocrates had used the scientific method rather than the Socratic method, he would have healed a lot more people (and wouldn’t have delayed progress in medicine by a couple thousand years).

                Longevity and child mortality didn’t improve when Hippocrates came up with his oath – longevity and child mortality improved when doctors abandoned dogma (i.e. “it works for my patients”) and started running randomized, controlled trials.

                Your practices sets medicine back hundreds of years. Read a book.

          2. MadisonMD says:

            Agreed. It is definitely demonstrated that Hank was dead wrong in calling Harriet a liar, for two independent reasons here and here. I suppose that makes him a proven liar, or perhaps more charitably, he just erred in making repeated unjust accusations.

            Now his falsehood is established, we get to verify what Hank is:
            (a) A troll will not apologize, despite his prior castigation of others for this alleged infraction.
            (b) An individual who wishes to engage in honest and civil discourse will apologize profusely.
            (c) A coward will disappear.

            Which is it? We shall see shortly.

            1. Harriet Hall says:

              You missed one possibility: (d) An incorrigible clueless true believer who will rationalize like crazy and continue to assert that he is right and I am wrong.

              He has responded with (d). That comment is in moderation, and he has already been warned and has failed to comply, so we would be justified in banning him at this point, but I am going to let his response through and let him hang himself. He says
              (1) I did not quote Greger. [I paraphrased him quoting someone else]
              (2) I tailored my paraphrase to make it look like it only dealt with heart disease [It also dealt with cancer. I didn't include that because I paraphrased it in the section of my article that dealt specifically with heart disease. And I provided a hyperlink so readers could check for themselves.]
              (3) He says I changed “heart disease” to “heart attacks,” calling my change a rhetorical slight of hand that opens Greger up to logical consequences he would not be open to if I had said heart disease. He says it does not refer to other kinds of heart attacks that are not caused by diet but by congenital defects. [I don't think my paraphrase was misleading. They said diet completely prevented deaths from "heart disease," and "heart attacks" are a subset of "heart disease."]
              (4) He makes a big deal of the fact that Greger’s quote was not in the part of the video where he talked about heart disease. I didn’t say it was, but readers might have assumed that from the fact that I covered it in the “heart” section of my article. [What difference does that make? Would Greger's saying it earlier in the video have made it any less objectionable?]
              (5) I mention a footnote in the FDLJ paper, although Greger does not mention it. [I was trying to find the evidence behind the quotation, so naturally I tried to trace it in the FDLJ footnotes. Greger relied on an FDLJ statement that was based on the articles in their footnotes.]
              (6) Greger mentioned 50 papers and I only covered 4. [I gave examples rather than attempting a complete critique of everything he said, which would have made my article too long and too boring.]
              (7) He says my judgment that Greger is an unreliable source of information was a “hasty generalization.” [It was not. But even if I had judged him on 4 papers out of 50, I think it would be reasonable to conclude that his error rate was high enough to call him unreliable. One or two minor errors could be overlooked, but I saw a pattern that undermined his thesis.]
              (8) He said if I am going to call Greger unreliable, I have to show that it is “pathologically the case that he is unreliable.” [Really? Why and how? I don't even know what that means.]
              (9) He asserts that I still owe Greger an apology.

              1. Windriven says:

                Yeah? … nah…

                The murder thing alone, in my humble opinion, is so far over the top, so intentianally incendiary, as to render any suggestion of good faith, no matter how misguided or misplaced, unsupportable. To have made the assertion once, say, for shock value, might be excusable after a credible apology. But to repeat it ad nauseum betrays a simple mind intent on sowing mischief – pretty much a textbook definition of a troll.

                The accusation of lying also is unsupportable but was repeated, often accompanied by slight shifts in position to keep the allegation going. Steve Rodrigues, for instance, is a true believer but he lacks the spitefulness and venom of the true troll.

                Trolls, depending on what you read or who you believe, range from narcissitic psychopaths to Machiavellian sadists. The Slate piece mentioned several statements that some trolls actually agreed with including this:

                “The more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt.”

                True believers are out to convert others to their way of thinking. Trolls are out just to damage, to deface, and often to attack individuals rather than ideas. This, in fact, is my real objection to trolls and their feeding (of which I am serially guilty). They drive interesting and enlightening comment streams off into the weeds.

              2. n brownlee says:

                I don’t get a vote, but I say ban the little shit. Please.

              3. Windriven says:

                “So you are insinuating that the patients who come in with pain and leave feeling better are deluded and are lying to me, the physicians who referred them to me, themselves, their families and friends! ???”

                Steve, sometimes you say stuff that is so stupid that I feel embarassed for you.

                First, I don’t need you to put words in my mouth. I insinuated nothing so whatever inferences you draw are your own. Your “therapies” have no basis in science. They do not cause substantial physiologic changes. They do however have some value as placebos which may cause people to subjectively feel better. This has been covered repeatedly in the pages of SBM and in the broader medical literature. The only possible way for you to not understand this is if you willfully ignore it.

                Subjective perceptions of reality and objective reality sometimes diverge. That does not mean that subjective perceptions are as valid as objective reality or, for that matter, valid in any sense other than the purely subjective.

                It’s nice that you have some patients who feel better after seeing you. but feeling better and being better are demonstrably different things.

            2. MadisonMD says:

              Actually, that’s response (a), Troll.

              He’s just doing this because it seems to rile you and nobody else responds. I couldn’t be bother to read his garbage, and I’d recommend you ignore as well.

              1. Windriven says:

                Quite so, Madison. I always go into these things believing that the commenter holds an honest position, as irrational as it might appear. Sometimes I go a lot farther down the rabbit hole than I should before I recognize that I’m feeding a troll.

                The new, kinder, gentler, Windriven is also going to be more selective too.

            3. A liar? Hmmmm, I have not read the entire thread, but “liar” comes to mind when someone twist the facts into the debate for personal gain.

              Oh, by the way a 99% “true” statement + 1% “untruth” = a Whole lie.

              So in essence most of us are liars. My “incompleteness” is do to uncertainty and hopefully does no one any harm.

              Y’all lies are self-serving and thus doing harm.

              1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                A liar? Hmmmm, I have not read the entire thread, but “liar” comes to mind when someone twist the facts into the debate for personal gain.

                Steve, you keep smearing editors and commentors with the lie that we make some “personal gain” from being here. Where is your proof? Because it really looks like the sad flailings of a man unable to justify his own beliefs. Once again, you are saying that because you can’t identify why your ideas are right or your critics are wrong, that means your critic must be a nefarious false flag operator for Big Pharma. Wrong. You can’t justify your claims because your claims are not based on evidence. This is your personal failing, it’s not someone else’s fault that you can’t be bothered to look up any evidence.

                Y’all lies are self-serving and thus doing harm.

                So says the man who charges his patients for placebos, then gives them financial advice. My word, are you ever a hypocrite.

              2. Calli Arcale says:

                Oh, by the way a 99% “true” statement + 1% “untruth” = a Whole lie.

                That’s an interesting position to take, but I suppose convenient because it allows you to ignore quality of evidence and just treat it all as equal.

                “When people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.” — Isaac Asimov

              3. Andrey Pavlov says:

                “When people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.” — Isaac Asimov

                Love the quote.

                The whole piece it comes from is awesome. And one I have spread around these parts recently and happy to continue doing so.

              4. Windriven says:

                “So in essence most of us are liars. My “incompleteness” is do to uncertainty and hopefully does no one any harm.

                Y’all lies are self-serving and thus doing harm.”

                Un-freaking-believable, Steve. Everyone is a liar but your lies are harmless and our lies are harmful? And we’re the ones whose arguments are self-serving?

                Your “therapies” have absolutely no basis in reality as any scientist understands it. The supposed mechanism on which acupuncture is based doesn’t even rise to the level of silly. Your lies aren’t lies of uncertainty, little edges of doubt, they are huge odorous whoppers.

              5. @Windriven says:
                Your “therapies” have absolutely no basis in reality as any scientist understands it.

                So you are insinuating that the patients who come in with pain and leave feeling better are deluded and are lying to me, the physicians who referred them to me, themselves, their families and friends! ???

                Some SMB blogger are so insensitive to human suffering that they do not believe what a person states!

              6. Isaac Asimov
                He is stating a fact that some humans are inherently wired to believe stubbornly and absolutely.

                I know for a fact that there is a truth in CAMs but I’m not absolute and stubbornly locked into the idea that ALL of Traditional and CAMs are therapeutic.

                YOU guys believe that SBM is absolute, perfect and will save medicine from human biases. Wow that is delusional as per Asimov.

              7. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                So you are insinuating that the patients who come in with pain and leave feeling better are deluded and are lying to me, the physicians who referred them to me, themselves, their families and friends! ???

                Actually yes, and this is a key feature of humans that you don’t understand. Patients will lie to doctors about how much better they feel, to avoid hurting their doctor’s feelings. The placebo effect is real, it is just nonspecific – the brain actually releases the same pain-killing opioids in response to acupuncture as it does to a mother kissing their child’s skinned knee. This has been tested, placebo effects can be blocked by naloxene. But in all these cases, the cause for the pain has not been addressed.

                That’s what you don’t seem to grasp – “placebo” doesn’t mean “stupid”, it means “human” and it means that the brain is capable of temporarily reinterpreting or even overwriting sensations. Including horrible, horrible pain.

                Some SMB blogger are so insensitive to human suffering that they do not believe what a person states!

                Not quite true. SBM contributors would seem to believe that suffering should be addressed, but also believe that lying in order to accomplish this is a bad thing. And further, SBM contributors are keenly aware of some facts about human cognition that you do not seem to be. You seem to believe that humans are inherently honest, are not deceived by their own senses, and can quickly and easily arrive at correct answers. All of this is untrue – see The Invisible Gorilla, Mistakes were Made (but Not by Me), Snake Oil Science and You are Not So Smart. The human brain is so incredibly terrible at even basic memory tasks, it’s amazing we can get to work in the morning, let alone maintain international commerce.

                He is stating a fact that some humans are inherently wired to believe stubbornly and absolutely.

                I’m going to assume you don’t see the irony in your statement.

                I know for a fact that there is a truth in CAMs but I’m not absolute and stubbornly locked into the idea that ALL of Traditional and CAMs are therapeutic.

                Why can’t you prove any of this through reference to the scientific literature? Why do most CAM modalities fail when tested in controlled trials?

                YOU guys believe that SBM is absolute, perfect and will save medicine from human biases. Wow that is delusional as per Asimov.

                Straw man, most here would probably say science is the least-bad method for arriving at tentative truths, but everything else is so catastrophically bad they’re actively harmful to our efforts to understand reality.

                You are the one who appears to believe human cognition, in particular your own cognition, is a perfect and reliable way of arriving at true (and apparently unarguable) facts. Meanwhile, science recognizes that all facts are tentative and subject to revision given appropriate evidence.

              8. Windriven says:

                Sorry for the misplaced response above. It belonged here.

                “So you are insinuating that the patients who come in with pain and leave feeling better are deluded and are lying to me, the physicians who referred them to me, themselves, their families and friends! ???”

                Steve, sometimes you say stuff that is so stupid that I feel embarassed for you.

                First, I don’t need you to put words in my mouth. I insinuated nothing so whatever inferences you draw are your own. Your “therapies” have no basis in science. They do not cause substantial physiologic changes. They do however have some value as placebos which may cause people to subjectively feel better. This has been covered repeatedly in the pages of SBM and in the broader medical literature. The only possible way for you to not understand this is if you willfully ignore it.

                Subjective perceptions of reality and objective reality sometimes diverge. That does not mean that subjective perceptions are as valid as objective reality or, for that matter, valid in any sense other than the purely subjective.

                It’s nice that you have some patients who feel better after seeing you. but feeling better and being better are demonstrably different things.

    2. MadisonMD says:

      That cite seems to reference the EPIC study. The vegan health website provides a summary of this and a few more trials, demonstrating the lack of protective effect of vegetarianism on cancer risk…. (although when they fractured their analysis into additional smaller subsets: pesco, vegan, there was sometimes a p<.05. Significance hunting? Maybe.)

      I thank Dan Hackam for making me aware of this (though he was attempting to argue to the opposite conclusion).

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    1. Yikes says:

      People Eating Tasty Animals: Unbelievably insensitive to humans since 1980

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