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posted by janrinok on Wednesday February 04 2015, @03:51PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the I'll-never-close-my-eyes-again dept.

Scott Adams of Dilbert fame writes on his blog that science's biggest fail of all time is 'everything about diet and fitness':

I used to think fatty food made you fat. Now it seems the opposite is true. Eating lots of peanuts, avocados, and cheese, for example, probably decreases your appetite and keeps you thin. I used to think vitamins had been thoroughly studied for their health trade-offs. They haven’t. The reason you take one multivitamin pill a day is marketing, not science. I used to think the U.S. food pyramid was good science. In the past it was not, and I assume it is not now. I used to think drinking one glass of alcohol a day is good for health, but now I think that idea is probably just a correlation found in studies.

According to Adams, the direct problem of science is that it has been collectively steering an entire generation toward obesity, diabetes, and coronary problems. But the indirect problem might be worse: It is hard to trust science because it has a credibility issue that it earned. "I think science has earned its lack of credibility with the public. If you kick me in the balls for 20-years, how do you expect me to close my eyes and trust you?"

Related Stories

Another Climate Data Scandal 79 comments

The Telegraph reports "The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever"

From the article:

"When future generations look back on the global-warming scare of the past 30 years, nothing will shock them more than the extent to which the official temperature records – on which the entire panic ultimately rested – were systematically “adjusted” to show the Earth as having warmed much more than the actual data justified."

It seems that the norm in science may well be to cherry pick the results, but the story points to evidence that some climate data may have been falsified to fit the theory.

Sure, it's clickbait, but we've recently discussed cases where science and scientific consensus has gotten it so very wrong. Can we trust the science if we can't trust the data?

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by karmawhore on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:12PM

    by karmawhore (1635) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:12PM (#141169)
    What an odd rant. You can't say something like "there was a general belief that science had studied stuff when in fact it had not." "Science" isn't this guy down the street who has funny ideas about "stuff." Adams does mention consensus toward the end of the article, but after reading all the other bizarre proclamations about my pal Science, it still comes off like he's talking about a room full of guys in lab coats who are discussing things and coming to an agreement.
    --
    =kw= lurkin' to please
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by mhajicek on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:15PM

      by mhajicek (51) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:15PM (#141173)

      I think a bigger problem is the people in government who decide they know what's best for everyone and tell them what to do, what to eat and drink, etc.

      • (Score: 3, Disagree) by opinionated_science on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:54PM

        by opinionated_science (4031) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:54PM (#141199)

        His point is perhaps that it is a complex problem that has been over simplified to the point it is just noise.

        The vast number of medical conditions are not "controlled" for diet. It is not just quality/quantity of food that is in dispute or the toxic additives (HFCS), but the pure politically motivated misinformation by the government agencies. Not intentionally perhaps, but suspiciously doesn't conflict with the Food industry's need to sell more every year. The magic pill does not exist, at least not in a medically sane manner. We all eat too much for our lifestyles - unless you are a farmer or Amish, the dietary advice is hopelessly out of date.

        It is, however, very simple. Diet and exercise have to be in balance. This balance is yours and yours alone to manage. It is made *harder* because not all food is similarly nutritious, or portioned or even available. There is variation in body type, sure, but not 300%. 10-20% is reasonable.

        Education, as in most things is the single most effective treatment for opulent malnutrition.

        Perhaps Scott Adams is just saying what is obvious to those who have the time and faculty to think about why the world they see is as it is?

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Thexalon on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:02PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:02PM (#141206)

        Why is that a big problem? It's not like anyone from the government is actually stopping you from eating a steady diet of Pop Tarts, Doritos, TV dinners, and ice cream washed down with Coke and Bud Light if that's what you want to do. Even when New York banned selling 64 oz sodas, it was perfectly legal to buy two 32 oz sodas instead.

        Most of the government efforts are about either (A) making sure you know what's in your food so you can make an informed choice if you so desire, (B) propaganda telling you to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and such rather than the swill I mentioned in the first paragraph, and (C) making it easier to buy fresh fruits and vegetables somewhere vaguely near where you live if you want to, e.g. setting up farmers' markets in cities.

        --
        The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
        • (Score: 5, Interesting) by VLM on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:18PM

          by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:18PM (#141211)

          (C) making it easier to buy fresh fruits and vegetables somewhere vaguely near where you live if you want to, e.g. setting up farmers' markets in cities

          "They" ruined ours by hipsterizing and now the prices are higher than the nearby food stores. Annoys me greatly. Back when I was a crazy hippie for shopping at the farm market I got great deals, but now I can get the same food, cheaper, at the supermarket. "But the farmers market is so cool and everyone loves it!" I miss the days when the farmers mkt sucked. Can't wait for them to return.

          Back when stall rental was zero dollars and 1st come 1st serve I got great deals. Now the city forces signed stall rental agreements for $4K for a season, WTF the .gov takes your first $160 per day for the privilege of not shutting you down (they don't do much else). And people wonder why the farmers mkt costs more than the food store.

          They had this weird in-between era where marked spaces weren't free but they made vendors keep their parking meters full. That seems very fair, but no, they had to get greedy.

          • (Score: 0, Disagree) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:43PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:43PM (#141217)

            "They" ruined ours by hipsterizing and now the prices are higher than the nearby food stores. Annoys me greatly. Back when I was a crazy hippie for shopping at the farm market I got great deals, but now I can get the same food, cheaper, at the supermarket.

            That's just the free market at work. Demand skyrocketed for "organic" food but supply didn't, so prices rose; demand lowered for "processed" foods but supply didn't, so prices fell.

            There is no "them" at fault, just capitalism working as designed.

            • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:51PM

              by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:51PM (#141223)

              Demand skyrocketed for "organic" food but supply didn't

              Supply of the same products from most of the same farms at the local health food / organic store is for all intents and purposes infinite 16hrs/7days-a-week

              I will say its cool to see the same label on a carton of radishes that I'd see at the food store as at the farm mkt and meet the local dude who grows my radishes, at least my in season radishes. Its not worth paying more at the farm mkt than at the food store, but it is cool.

              That's just the free market at work.

              Yeah man, nothings freer than the government deciding who gets to sell what where when IF they approve your application, and charging 100x normal parking rates to screw over certain sections of the population they feel it would be fun to screw over, because F them eat the rich they got money we takes it, but thats OK its all part of central government control of food prices by proxy, because the food stores didn't want competition, so pay the mayor's campaign fund to "fix" the market in their favor by BS fees. Pass the weed dude I need another hit of freeeeeeedumbbb

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @06:08PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @06:08PM (#141238)

                Yeah man, nothings freer than the government deciding who gets to sell what where when IF they approve your application

                I must say, I'm a fan of having a guarantee that the foods I purchase will for 99.9%-sure be free of anything that could make me sick or kill me. Sure, a few stuff covered with e-coli or mad cow prions or whatnot gets through every now and then, but without some kind of oversight you'd be playing russian roulette every time you went to the store. Without that oversight, all those "tainted" meats and vegetables could be sold by anyone at any time.

                As for the rest of your complaints, as I said, just capitalism working as designed, which underscores the need for oversight, laws, and regulations.

                • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:12PM

                  by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:12PM (#141274)

                  but without some kind of oversight

                  The problem is, back on topic, they're not doing any of that. I can buy a flat of "WTF Organic Farms Inc" radishes in season at the local health food store for $4 or at the farmers market for $5, same farm, same packaging, same cardboard crate, same food (assuming one isn't getting fraudulent radishes?) if and only if the mayors office approves your application for one of the limited number of farmers mkt stalls, which I'm sure a little campaign donation will fix. I'm not really seeing any public health benefit to making sure the mayor gets his campaign contributions.

                  Likewise the reason the .gov charges an insane fee to park a farm truck in that spot on saturday mornings vs any other time, is because the local food stores (and not so local food stores) paid the mayor to make the farm mkt more expensive than their stores, you need election money and we happen to have some, meanwhile maybe you should boost the stall rental fee a little, like from $0 to thousands.

                • (Score: 3, Informative) by hemocyanin on Wednesday February 04 2015, @09:13PM

                  by hemocyanin (186) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 04 2015, @09:13PM (#141313) Journal

                  I'm a fan of having a guarantee that the foods I purchase will for 99.9%-sure be free of anything that could make me sick or kill me.

                  That isn't what the city is doing. The city is just charging for stall space and that's no guarantee of quality.

                  --
                  Pronouns: I/You/My (ex: He is a jerk: I is a jerk; It's him: It's you; His ideas suck: My ideas suck)
                • (Score: 2) by pnkwarhall on Wednesday February 04 2015, @09:49PM

                  by pnkwarhall (4558) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @09:49PM (#141324)

                  You only need "government oversight" to protect you from tainted food if you
                  a) Don't know where your food really comes from
                  b) Don't communicate with your neighbors/community about quality of food stuffs/sources
                  ....of course, most Americans fall into both of these categories, so it looks like the oversight/protection is necessary.

                  I'd suggest researching the history of pasturization, which runs perfectly in lockstep with the history of the (US) Industrial Revolution. Nobody was worried about or severely affected by bad -- read "diseased" -- milk until it started to be mass-produced, with all the negatives that come along with that.

                  --
                  Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
                • (Score: 2) by Jeremiah Cornelius on Thursday February 05 2015, @04:50PM

                  by Jeremiah Cornelius (2785) on Thursday February 05 2015, @04:50PM (#141558) Journal

                  capitalism working as designed

                  Yes. Your intelligent designer at his best.

                  --
                  You're betting on the pantomime horse...
          • (Score: 5, Interesting) by jdccdevel on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:34PM

            by jdccdevel (1329) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:34PM (#141281) Journal

            I don't know how much longer the farmers market is going to be necessary. With online e-commerce, it will be easy to buy direct from the farmer without a market at all.

            My wife and I did something similar last summer. We bought a bunch of beef from a organic farmer, all organized before the cow was even slaughtered.

            We arranged to meet them somewhere convenient to pick it up. Simple, effective, and no middle man.

            I would be very surprised if that doesn't start happening more and more in the next few years, as locally grown food starts to catch on more and farmers markets become more commercial.

            • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday February 04 2015, @10:31PM

              by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 04 2015, @10:31PM (#141339)

              Yup don't even need full ecommerce, our beef supplier is a friend of the family thru my sister-in-law, never knew I was very tenuously related to an organic beef rancher but thru the magic of social media to coordinate the process, here I am buying half cows and sticking them in my freezer much as you do.

              I imagine it varies by state but I pay the rancher for a cow and he delivers it to a "full service" butcher shop / meat processor and a couple days later my wife and SIL take a road trip to the butcher shop and come home with hundreds of pounds of frozen meat, after she pays the butcher separately for his work.

              Another fun thing to google for is "community supported agriculture" or CSA. I have a desire to sign up but never quite make it. The business model all the CSAs use around here is getting friendly organic food stores to use them as dropoff points, on the assumption that bags of vegetables will ruin their produce sales but boost the sales of everything else. Which is probably true.

              In decades to come I imagine some kind of marketplace will develop for CSAs and craigslist traders and who knows what else.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:38PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:38PM (#141216)

        They often feel its quite justified since its their "God" telling "everyone" how they should live. And if the individuals are cherry-picking or interpreting it differently than others, well, thats just because "God" is telling them the right interpretation.

        I really despise the people continually working to change my country into a theocracy.

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:23PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:23PM (#141178)
      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by sjames on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:21PM

        by sjames (2882) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:21PM (#141276) Journal

        It points to the problem, but wait, there's more!

        A study found that eggs have a lot of cholesterol and concluded eggs are bad for you. Problem 1, that conclusion was well over-stated since they had no evidence that cholesterol in food = cholesterol in blood. All they had was a reasonable but wrong conjecture. That one is on science (or at least a couple practitioners of it. Then the media uncritically shouted it from the rooftops. Next up, the medical profession as a whole accepted it at face value and uncritically parroted the conclusion. Then the nutritionists uncritically parroted the prevailing opinion of the medical community. Then various food processors only too happily came up with low cholesterol food-like products and carpet bombed us with ads all pointing back to nutritionists and the medical community as the basis of their claims.

        Not to worry, there's more blame to go around! How about all those schools with 'science' classes that didn't teach their students enough to understand that some skepticism was called for in all of that? I had a few really good teachers who DID but apparently most did not. Finally the various health related government agencies who had no clue about it but felt they should say something in order to remain relevant so they parroted the medical community.

        As for the rest of the scientific community, nobody took a few moments to remind everyone that nobody in that bandwagon was actually a scientist (though a few play one on TV) and none of them have any idea what they're talking about.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by hubie on Wednesday February 04 2015, @10:11PM

          by hubie (1068) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @10:11PM (#141333) Journal

          As for the rest of the scientific community, nobody took a few moments to remind everyone that nobody in that bandwagon was actually a scientist

          If it were only that easy. Scientists speak out all the time about stuff and they are routinely ignored or marginalized by the media and public in general. That kind of stuff is uninteresting. You have 99% of the scientific community jumping up and down and waiving their hands about climate change, and it's a non-story unless you want to sell some sort of scandalous angle to it. Or consider oat bran. In the late 80's there was a study that showed oat bran lowered your bad cholesterol. What happened was exactly what is shown in that Ph.D. comics [phdcomics.com] someone else posted. Imagine, a wonder food that you can eat that lowers your cholesterol (or, if it was today: lower your risk of heart attack by eating this one special food). It got whipped into a media frenzy and food producers sprinkled it on everything and shoved oat bran products on the market. All perspective was lost. Eventually the market got over-saturated with oat bran products and claims which triggered a backlash. When it was eventually showed that it wasn't just oat bran, but fiber in general, that spawned another media frenzy about how it is all a lie and it turns into a good old fashioned media witch hunt (you got these egg-head scientist types, the interests of the big evil corporations, etc. all sorts of juicy story stuff to tell). The takeaway for Scott Adams, at least for this case, is that science lied to him.

          I disagree pretty strongly with Adams on this. The lion's share of the fault falls on us, fed by the media. Next to clothing fashion, food and diets have to be the second in line for likelihood of turning into a raging fad. Most of us don't eat healthy, or we're guilty because we don't think we eat healthy. Most of us believe we are fat and out of shape, and we're afraid of dying. The way to fix almost all of those issues is to eat a decent diet and get your exercise. But decent diets are boring and exercise is hard work. However, this fella over here says he lost a lot of weight eating a bunch of grapefruit, and this other fella over there says that not only can you eat all the butter and bacon you want, it is actually good for you! Maybe they try to base it on some study, but it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if the medical profession by and large says, no, I don't think you should eat that much bacon. People don't want to hear that, all they want to know is if they eat a bunch of grapefruit, the pounds will magically melt away (or their arteries will clear up, or whatever). It's all or nothing. And when people find out that this diet doesn't work for them, they sell their cow to the next guy with a bag of magic beans.

          • (Score: 3, Informative) by sjames on Wednesday February 04 2015, @11:07PM

            by sjames (2882) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @11:07PM (#141346) Journal

            You're letting a lot of frauds off the hook and blaming the least qualified people, all based on one line of what I wrote. This is me calling Mr. sound bite out for bad reporting :-)

            What of the doctors who jump on the bandwagon? They do have the necessary education to make the judgement call, but there they are on the bandwagon. The nutritionists? It';s their entire job description to know better!

            What would we do with a tax accountant who told his clients "Yes, it's totally OK to deduct the cost of your daily starbucks as a medical expense!".

            That's a lot of people who are EXPECTED to know better but don't. The rest of the people are completely in the right to stop trusting them as a whole. Clearly they aren't up to the job. They certainly are presented as scientists (or at least well educated in science so they can act as it's spokesmen).

            Why do you think it is that people ignore the doctor who says "I don't think you should eat that much bacon"? It's because the diet he recommended last time tasted like sweetened cardboard and turned out to be a leading cause of type 2 diabetes. The bacon guy's diet probably isn't a good idea but at least that one doesn't make you miserable until the preventable disease shows up.

            You are probably expecting too much if you expect the average person to see right through the bad studies written up to snow a peer review (successfully). Effectively, you demand that the average man on the street be a better scientist than a peer review panel.

            • (Score: 1, Redundant) by hubie on Wednesday February 04 2015, @11:47PM

              by hubie (1068) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @11:47PM (#141359) Journal

              I"m not asking people to study and see through medical studies, I'm asking them to realize there is no magic bullet easy way out. It is the same thing your grandfather has been saying, and his grandfather too, about the need to put in the work, there are no easy answers, if it looks too good to be true, etc. I'm also not expecting people will follow common sense, because, at least when it comes to health, it doesn't happen. There are a variety of reasons people don't get enough exercise, don't eat well, etc., and really everyone knows that they need to eat right and exercise, but they're willing time and time again to take a shot at the next person that comes along that tells them they don't need to put in the effort, all they need to do is to take a pill, or eat a food, or whatever. We fool ourselves, and I think we also don't really expect it to work, but, what if it does? Maybe, just maybe, I don't need to go to the gym three times a week, I'll give this a try.

              I think this is the reason that people ignore sensible advice from anyone, whether it is from doctors or anyone else. It is the same thing you see in politics. People listen and believe first to what they want to believe. Who are you going to vote for, the guy who says we need to roll up our sleeves and make sacrifices, or the guy who says you don't need to make sacrifices and in fact, I'll cut your taxes to boot? The guy who says you need to get off your ass and get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise in a day, or the guy who says you just need to take this pill and make no changes to your current lifestyle?

              I don't know much about nutritionists, but I feel very comfortable saying that most doctors are going to recommend the best thing for the majority of their patients to do is eat well and exercise. They don't push fad diets unless either they have a stake in the game, or their patient is insisting on something that goes beyond eating well and exercising. There's plenty of blame to cast on this topic, but I still feel the bulk of it falls on us. When they sprinkle a few grams of oat bran on a Twinkie, if you feed the hype machine by snarfing down a box of them thinking you can somehow do it guilt-free, then it is hard to lay the blame elsewhere. If these things weren't chased with such fervor and the message taken in moderation, that would be one thing, but when it comes to health topics people don't act very rationally.

              • (Score: 3, Informative) by sjames on Thursday February 05 2015, @03:14AM

                by sjames (2882) on Thursday February 05 2015, @03:14AM (#141408) Journal

                How are these people supposed to know what constitutes eating right when their doctor and their nutritionist keep jumping on every kooky bandwagon? Who is supposed to tell them what is 'right'? Their health teacher from back in high school who is also on the bandwagon (and is probably a PE teacher, not a medical professional or nutritionist)? Certainly they weren't born knowing what to eat.

                Clearly they need to look to some other source to know what might constitute eating right. That's what Adams is saying.

                They are now ignoring doctors because the advice they got from their doctor turned out to NOT be sensible at all.

                • (Score: 1, Redundant) by etherscythe on Thursday February 05 2015, @09:03PM

                  by etherscythe (937) on Thursday February 05 2015, @09:03PM (#141648) Journal

                  We all need to be responsible for ourselves. What I mean is, nobody gets more out of your life than you do, and any of your life choices can be guided by common knowledge, but you need to know your limitations and, specifically, how your body uniquely responds to different foods, medications, and exercise. So, whether any particular technique or diet or product is good for you needs to be viewed through the lens of your life experience. If a nutritionist knows what your diet needs to be better than you do without even knowing your lifestyle - you're doing it wrong.

                  So, yes, vegetables are good for you for obvious reasons, but don't eat the ones you're allergic to, and select for the ones with the proportion of vitamins you need. Don't use margarine, because that stuff is NOT healthier for you than butter... unless it is, because of a dairy intolerance, or whatever else. Pay attention, and apply the scientific knowledge which applies to your situation.

                  The only problem is that people don't want to think, don't want to do the work of keeping track of these things, they want someone else to do their thinking for them. And so the media carries the power to give the official record of the state of science, 30 seconds at a time.

                  --
                  "Fake News: anything reported outside of my own personally chosen echo chamber"
                  • (Score: 2) by sjames on Thursday February 05 2015, @09:45PM

                    by sjames (2882) on Thursday February 05 2015, @09:45PM (#141657) Journal

                    Again, styep 1 is to tune out the advertisers, government agencies, doctors and nutritionists. That leaves Grandma I guess.

      • (Score: 2) by The Archon V2.0 on Wednesday February 04 2015, @09:10PM

        by The Archon V2.0 (3887) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @09:10PM (#141312)

        Perhaps now is time to link a comic from a different series.

        http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1174 [phdcomics.com]

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by MrGuy on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:58PM

      by MrGuy (1007) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:58PM (#141228)

      Adams isn't taking aim at one-off individuals or "fringe" findings (i.e "eating a pound of chocolate a day is good for you!" says a study funded by Hershey's). He is making a point of scientific CONSENSUS.

      Not all people (or even all scientists) will agree on every single point. However, we (as a society) tend to have an expectation that the widely held belief of a significant majority of scientists in a general field is right. The consensus (especially a STRONG consensus) of experts is taken as "very likely true."

      And (as he points out) the history of the scientific consensus (at least when related to diet) has been not just wrong, but BADLY wrong for decades. Virtually every established physician, dietician, or nutritionist 25 years ago would have told you fats were bad and should be avoided. They would have told you that salt was highly dangerous because it caused high blood pressure. They would have told you that carbs were the base of the food pyramid.

      And the current consensus is that they were all wrong. Not one individual. Not some collection of guys off in the corner. If you, Joe Average Citizen, had consulted the best minds in the industry and asked them "can you tell me what is the most nutritious way to eat is?" they would have told you, yes, we DO know the best way to eat! We have studies and mechanisms and journal articles, and they all tell us that you should eat thusly. And they would have told you something that we now believe was drastically incorrect.

      You could have surveyed all the recognized experts in the field, and gotten maybe 90% consensus on most of their recommendations. This isn't one person's fault - it's a VERY LARGE number of people's fault. It's (to use Adams' shorthand) science's fault. His point is that it's NOT a conspiracy of some wingnuts, but a fault in what we think of as "science" itself (i.e. as a testable, experiment driven, humble, results-agnostic field concerned only with uncovering truth). Or, at least, that people's trust in "the consensus of reasonable scientists" is misplaced.

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @06:19PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @06:19PM (#141244)

        Virtually every established physician, dietician, or nutritionist 25 years ago would have told you

        And where are the scientists in your list?

        • (Score: 2) by Tramii on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:42PM

          by Tramii (920) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:42PM (#141284)

          Well there's the problem. We should be asking archaeologists, geologists and mathematicians about what to eat!

          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by maxwell demon on Wednesday February 04 2015, @11:02PM

            by maxwell demon (1608) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @11:02PM (#141344) Journal

            What about medical researchers (not the same as physicians!) and biologists?

            --
            The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06 2015, @05:33PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06 2015, @05:33PM (#141909)
              Most of them are specialists and so they won't give you any useful dietary advice. They'll give you useful advice for stuff they're expert on.

              Up until recently the rest of their advice would likely have been the same shit that everyone else got wrong.

              The nutritionists, etc were supposed to be digesting all the research done by the researchers and coming up with advice that's not shit.

              By the same logic in this thread we shouldn't be trusting doctors for medical advice since they aren't scientists, and we should somehow instead take the time to be experts in the field. And sadly it actually is true in too many cases. Many doctors often don't have the time and energy left to keep up with the best and latest research.

              To me it shows there is a problem with the system. The research is out there, but nobody is doing a good job of curating it and making it known to those who need to know.
              • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Friday February 06 2015, @07:01PM

                by maxwell demon (1608) on Friday February 06 2015, @07:01PM (#141945) Journal

                By the same logic in this thread we shouldn't be trusting doctors for medical advice since they aren't scientists

                No. Rather by the same logic we shouldn't blame science when the doctor fails to do his job properly. You've apparently forgotten what this thread was about.

                --
                The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05 2015, @06:56AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05 2015, @06:56AM (#141430)
          So who is supposed to be giving nutritional advice? Shift the blame about all you want but there's no denying the system has failed. There's very little actual advancement if some scientist is right about something important but practically the whole world doesn't know it for decades.

          Secondly most scientists are specialists. So most of them would have got their nutrition/diet advice from the same sources: "physician, dietician, or nutritionist", crap studies, etc, and thus they'd either be telling people the same thing, or they won't be commenting.

          Even those who bother to look at the science can see that a lot of science work is crap done by
          a) scientists who are paid by someone with an agenda (who'll only publish the stuff they want)
          b) scientists who need to "publish or perish", in which case they publish incomplete crap often, instead of one far more conclusive study (which would never get the funding or time anyway).

          Nowadays a lot of low hanging fruit is gone, so you're more likely to need more funding and time in order to actually do a good quality study. Instead of a few very good studies, you get thousands of half complete crap (and a dozen meta analysis will be done on different subsets producing different conclusions).
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05 2015, @01:22PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05 2015, @01:22PM (#141481)

            Shift the blame about all you want but there's no denying the system has failed.

            Yes, but the system that failed is not the science system. It's the medical system.

            Blaming science for that is like blaming mathematics for the Intel Pentium FDIV bug.

      • (Score: 2) by kebes on Thursday February 05 2015, @06:10PM

        by kebes (1505) on Thursday February 05 2015, @06:10PM (#141581)
        I essentially agree with you, but...

        And (as he points out) the history of the scientific consensus (at least when related to diet) has been not just wrong, but BADLY wrong for decades. Virtually every established physician, dietician, or nutritionist 25 years ago would have told you fats were bad and should be avoided. ...

        I would like to point out that medical doctors, physicians, dieticians, and nutritionists are not scientists. (I'm trying not to commit a no true Scotsman [wikipedia.org] fallacy...) I think if you compared the consensus among those health-professionals to the consensus among scientists studying health, you would have found them to be quite different. In particular, even if they agreed on certain (ultimately erroneous) conclusion, scientists will tend to have a much better understanding of uncertainties, error-bars, shortcomings of studies, etc. In other words, scientists are almost always pointing out how one should not over-interpret a given result... only to have the media over-interpret the result and turn it into a simplified (and now incorrect) sound-bite. (For many of the examples cited in the rant, if you go back to an article from that time-period, you would find it painting a very different story from the media headlines.)

        To me, Scott Adams' rant highlights the age-old problem of science communication. The problem is that we have different groups operating:
        1. Scientists who do research
        2. Professionals who use/apply the results of science (medical doctors, etc.)
        3. The media, who report on science
        4. The public, who want a simple answer

        There is a filtration process, with the information getting progressively warped down the chain. The information is both becoming simplified (and thus becoming slightly wrong), while the inherent uncertainties and limitations are being dropped (and thus making the information highly misleading). The end result is that the public thinks there is a certain scientific consensus, when in fact there is not.

        So, I agree with Scott Adams' rant in the sense that I find the majority of science is mis-reported in the media, and even misunderstood by professionals. Doctors, for instance, are mostly not scientific in the way they do their work (so-much-so that we need to have a label--evidence-based medicine [wikipedia.org]--for the case where doctors actually try to apply science to their work); and I would not count their advice as representing scientific consensus. I'm not saying doctors are bad at their jobs. Their advice is, on average, better than doing nothing. However, their heuristics about health are not usually representative of the consensus among research-scientists.

        I'm not saying scientists are perfect. They make plenty of mistakes. The scientific consensus has been wrong on many occasions, and certainly issues of biology and medicine are extremely complex. So, by all means apply scepticism to the scientific consensus. However, we should also be aware that the apparent scientific consensus is very different from the 'real' scientific consensus (i.e. the opinions of research-scientists). We can't fix the problem until we understand its origin.

        • (Score: 2) by MrGuy on Thursday February 05 2015, @06:19PM

          by MrGuy (1007) on Thursday February 05 2015, @06:19PM (#141587)

          I think if you compared the consensus among those health-professionals to the consensus among scientists studying health, you would have found them to be quite different. (snip)(For many of the examples cited in the rant, if you go back to an article from that time-period, you would find it painting a very different story from the media headlines.)

          Citation needed.

          • (Score: 2) by kebes on Thursday February 05 2015, @07:16PM

            by kebes (1505) on Thursday February 05 2015, @07:16PM (#141611)

            Citation needed.

            Fair enough; but where are Scott Adams' citations?

            For many of the things the rant quotes, the "proof" that he's wrong is actually the fact that no one can point to a scientific study making the claim. E.g.: - The whole "8 glasses of water a day" didn't come [snopes.com] from a scientific study.
            - The various incarnations of the US food guides were not based purely on input from scientists, but rather have a long history of being co-opted by special interest groups [harvard.edu].
            - The rant even notes "The reason you take one multivitamin pill a day is marketing, not science." I.e.: it was not the scientific consensus arguing for their relevance (see, e.g., this [nih.gov] for the scientific consensus: they usually won't do much good).

            As for supporting my contention that scientific studies are cautious and tend to acknowledge limitations (especially compared to the media)... well, you can pick up just about any scientific medical journal. Here's an example, related to the rant's discussion of fatty acids making people fat: In Dietary Approaches to Obesity [soylentnews.org], the authors note: "...the optimal diet composition quality for weight loss is far from known. The major controversy seems to be between choosing low-fat or low-carbohydrate diets, with additional debates on the importance of the glycemic index and the amounts of dairy products and calcium. It is evident from many large, randomized trials that the "best diet" that can suit everyone has yet to be identified. The different options for low-calorie diets should be prescribed on an individual basis..."

            Here's another example [bmj.com], related to alcohol consumption, from 14 years ago (presumably within the time-period decried by the rant?), noting: "...the effect of “moderate” alcohol consumption on overall health remains controversial" and "Genetic factors modify the effect of alcohol consumption on risk of CHD, resulting in population variability in the amount of benefit achieved from alcohol consumption" and then detailing the details about drinking patterns, gender, etc. This is quite different from the simplistic "alcohol good for health" Adams states.

            More examples could be found, but actually Adams' rant is so vague and un-sourced that it's difficult to provide specific counter-evidence. He does not provide evidence that the scientific community was confidently supporting the take-home-messages he lists.

            • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Saturday February 07 2015, @01:02PM

              by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Saturday February 07 2015, @01:02PM (#142204) Homepage
              > E.g.: - The whole "8 glasses of water a day" didn't come from a scientific study.

              With a link to http://www.snopes.com/medical/myths/8glasses.asp

              Which contains the quote "Back in 1945 the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council stated that adults should take in about 2.5 liters of water per day (which is roughly the equivalent of eight glasses of water)"

              And the NRC are "To meet the government's urgent need for an independent adviser on scientific matters, President Lincoln signed a congressional charter forming the National Academy of Sciences in 1863 to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science." As science began to play an ever-increasing role in national priorities and public life, the National Academy of Sciences eventually expanded to include the National Research Council in 1916, the National Academy of Engineering in 1964, and the Institute of Medicine in 1970."

              I'm sorry, but that confirms that scientists did say you need an intake equivalent to 8 glasses of water rather than denying it. (However, the rest of the sentence that I partially quoted does contain the most important part of their payload.)
              --
              I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by sjames on Wednesday February 04 2015, @06:32PM

      by sjames (2882) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @06:32PM (#141253) Journal

      It really isn't that hard to understand what he is saying. He's talking about government agencies, the AMA and practically all of it's members, school health classes, nutritionists, and on and on (that is, authority figures) claiming their 'facts' are backed up by science making all these claims and not one actual university researcher piping up with a '"not so fast".

      In other words, you're supposed to be able to trust your doctor to not spout junk when it comes to health and fitness.

      • (Score: 4, Touché) by pnkwarhall on Wednesday February 04 2015, @09:57PM

        by pnkwarhall (4558) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @09:57PM (#141329)

        I trust doctors' opinions or perspectives on health about as far as I can throw 'em. Why someone who's focus is on disease and injury give me a unbiased and realistic perspective on health and wellness? When the general stereotype of doctors is that they fix "problems" by throwing pills at them, it's probably not a good source of information about what else I should put in my body on a regular basis.

        For some reason, this attitude is not respected by the majority of folks.

        --
        Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by sjames on Wednesday February 04 2015, @11:13PM

          by sjames (2882) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @11:13PM (#141348) Journal

          That's probably because most people don't see how severely the profession has decayed in the last few decades.

    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Thursday February 05 2015, @04:53PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Thursday February 05 2015, @04:53PM (#141559) Homepage Journal

      His rant about vitamins was dead wrong; CBS News was talking about a new, large study that said that most Americans do not, in fact, get all their needed vitamins. No citrus or tomatoes at all? You'll probably get scurvy. No dairy at all? You won't get enough calcium.

      Burgers, fries, doritos, and pizza do not have all the nutrients you need.

      I was glad when they did that study a few decades ago that said butter was bad for you because it makes you fat. I've always been thin and the price of butter dropped like a rock after that study, and I was pretty poor at the time.

      The reason people don't "trust" science is that they don't understand it or how it works, and incredibly few folks have any grasp of statistics at all.

      My great uncle started smoking at age 12, stopped at 82 and died at 92. That doesn't mean that smoking is a good idea, it means that there are variables (and he got lucky). Not everyone is in the median in any study.

      If nobody in your family has ever had a heart attack, you have no reason whatever to worry about a heart attack; eat all the greasy pork you want. All of your grandparents died of heart failure in their sixties? You damned well better watch your diet.

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:18PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:18PM (#141175)

    If you kick me in the balls for 20-years, how do you expect me to close my eyes and trust you?

    I merely expect anyone that disagrees to present a viable alternative that isn't in direct contradiction of empirical evidence. Did anyone present evidence that showed fatty foods make people fat? If so, are you rejecting that based on experience eating fatty foods and not becoming fat (empirical evidence), alternative theories (certain _types_ of fatty foods make people fat, see, here's my evidence) or because you don't like the conclusion (Duh, nu uh!)?

    It's that point. Viable alternative, that _agrees_ with all the gathered empirical evidence. If we have to throw out the whole of the scientific knowledge base, your alternative must be able to fill all affected areas at least as well. We've gotten here because we've made predictions based on the data we had. Those predictions turned out to be incorrect, we revise, based on the new data that we have. If you're sitting there saying, "Nuh uh!" then you're not providing any new data, not advancing any understanding, and in general doing nothing but holding us back.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:33PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:33PM (#141184)

      I merely expect anyone that disagrees to present a viable alternative that isn't in direct contradiction of empirical evidence. Did anyone present evidence that showed fatty foods make people fat? If so, are you rejecting that based on experience eating fatty foods and not becoming fat (empirical evidence), alternative theories (certain _types_ of fatty foods make people fat, see, here's my evidence) or because you don't like the conclusion (Duh, nu uh!)?

      When this story was posted to slashdot, someone linked this interesting article:
      http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303678404579533760760481486 [wsj.com]

      Basically, it says that someone did present evidence that fatty foods make people fat (well, cause heart disease), but that the study was flawed. He cherry-picked the countries studied, etc...
      And, then he got a job at the American Heart Association, and convinced the government to recommend that everyone cut back on fatty foods...

      The alternative theory seems to be that carbs make people fat.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by bob_super on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:49PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:49PM (#141197)

        The scientific consensus is that too much food intake compared to the amount spent is making people fat. Also, a balanced diet is most likely better for us omnivores.

        You can find outliers for/against any claim that a specific diet mix is good or bad. Those eating 100% fat or 100% carbs are not likely to stay around too long to keep objecting, though.

        /science

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by VLM on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:59PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:59PM (#141205)

      Did anyone present evidence that showed fatty foods make people fat?

      Three problems:

      1) We is animals. I don't mean in the "Animal Farm" book sense, although thats certainly true, but we're closer to livestock like piggies than to, say, oak trees, or trilobites. If there's one thing (successful) farmers know how to do, its fatten up livestock. And nothing works better than pumping them full of grains aka carbs. Magically thats not supposed to apply to humans, because its so uncomfortable to think of ourselves as "walking monkeys" or whatever. But rest assured, if it fattens a pig, it'll fatten us up just as well.

      2) Evolve to survive a somewhat meat heavy omnivorous diet for uncountable generations, shove full of refined sugar, WTF you think is about to happen? Oh but we've evolved such that the "right people" will get rich if we believe a dietary fairy tale instead, and besides we never evolved, the earth is only 6000 years old you silly scientists

      3) My mom has had a couple generations of cats eat nothing but meow mix and water. So you can make certain conclusions about meow mix and cat lifetimes (none have ever died younger than 18 yrs means she'd doing something right, even if its not the meow mix...) The problem is we've got fatties living off a diet of supersized chocolate shakes and triple bacon cheezeburgers and jumbo fries... now is the greasy meat killing them (very unlikely given what our ancestors thrived on), or the 150 grams of sugar in that shake (unavailable until about 150 yrs ago, probably not good for you), or the pure carb two pounds of french fries (not in my genetic heritage). If we could just run a scientific experiment lasting about 100 years with the participants eating nothing but different cans of "ensure" for their entire lives, we'd get somewhere...

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @06:02PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @06:02PM (#141231)

        now is the greasy meat killing them (very unlikely given what our ancestors thrived on)

        Cooking something on an improvised spit, where the fat can drip off after melting, is nowhere near the same as cooking something in such a way that it not only soaks in its own fat, but gets smothered with even more. The difference in cooking method (allowing fat to drip off vs. cooking it in the fat, where it stays smothered in it) no doubt affectws the amount of fat taken in. Cooking meats on a George Foreman Grill [wikipedia.org] would be a lot closer to what our ancestors thrived on than the grease-soaked crap you get from cooking on a flat-bottomed cooking surface.

        • (Score: 2) by tynin on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:06PM

          by tynin (2013) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:06PM (#141268) Journal

          I think about the only thing I cook that sometimes gets this way is ground beef. But even then when the fat is rendered, you just pour it off before adding in whatever comes next. Beef fat, at least from burger meat really isn't that flavorful anyhow. Anything that goes in the oven, does so on a wire cooking rack. But with meats I rarely cook inside, as I favor cooking on the grill. It is hard to beat the flavor charcoal adds. I only just recently learned you can cook directly on the coals [youtube.com]... it is worth trying.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Wednesday February 04 2015, @10:52PM

          by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 04 2015, @10:52PM (#141343)

          You have a valid point AC, but the fundamental problem is if demonization of fast food is a given, and the options are one thing my skinny ancestors have eaten for about a million years plus or minus some admitted minor technique differences, and the other two options are off the wall never eaten by my ancestors more than a century ago my stomach asking WTF is this weird semi-edible highly profitable chemical waste... its probably not the meat.

          As a general rule, if, given a time machine, you grabbed a biologically identical ancestor 10000 years ago and gave them a plate of dinner, if they wouldn't even recognize it as food you're probably screwing up. On the other hand I think my ancestors would love my beef and veg grilled kabobs, my steaks, my salads with a side of grilled chicken, or my fruit plate deserts. They'd flip their shit for my fruit plates. They'd probably understand and like my stir fries although a little freaked about complicated technique and weird sauces. On the other hand give them some pop tarts, pizza rolls, and doritos and I'm not sure they could identify those items as food. Because they're not, not really. At least not food for humans.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05 2015, @11:48PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05 2015, @11:48PM (#141678)

            I don't think I would be able to find a biologically identical ancestor from 10000 years ago. For one, I believe lactose tolerence developed more recently than that, there could be quite a few more biological differences too.

  • (Score: 3, Troll) by c0lo on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:21PM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:21PM (#141176) Journal
    I feel an irresistible urge to kick Adams in the balls... even if just only once... please?

    You may accuse me of bringing in a "true Scotsman" into the picture (or is it true Scotts-man), but since when diet is science?

    Wasn't it clear that diets are mostly based on statistic correlation (mumble-mumble causation)? And that one can consider the only experiment done to validate the hypothesis is this entire 20-years of "marketing preaching" fat-is-bad and vitamins-are-good-thus-more-vitamins-are-better? (letting aside that some excess vitamins can cause real problems [wikipedia.org]).

    For God sake, did chemistry lie when it allowed [wikipedia.org] Adams to eat better? Was physics wrong when it developed the device [wikipedia.org] which, after technological progress (also based [wikipedia.org] on science), allowed Adams to spew this nonsense over the nets?

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 5, Disagree) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:51PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:51PM (#141222) Journal
      This is diet science that hasn't changed in 30 years:

      Calories In < Calories Used = Weight Loss

      All the pop science that turns out to be wrong are attempts to shortcut this very simple ratio.
      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @09:02PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @09:02PM (#141311)

        Of course, that's not true at all, since there's no way to measure how much energy can actually be extracted by the body/gut microbiome. Also proven that it changes depending on time of day.

        Science!

        • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday February 06 2015, @03:19AM

          by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 06 2015, @03:19AM (#141707) Journal

          Of course, that's not true at all, since there's no way to measure how much energy can actually be extracted by the body/gut microbiome.

          And of course, that's totally irrelevant for the truth value of his inequality. The inequality is correct no matter if you manage or not to measure how much your body transforms in energy and how much is lost to your gut bugs.
          If you do "calories out" larger than "calories in" you'll be guaranteed to lose weight (even if you are just a bunch of atoms undergoing nuclear fusion or fission)

          --
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 4, Informative) by PapayaSF on Thursday February 05 2015, @03:44AM

        by PapayaSF (1183) on Thursday February 05 2015, @03:44AM (#141415)

        Except there's good evidence that this is not true. All calories are not equal: fat, protein and carbs are different. Your body is not a furnace that burns things for their raw energy content. (Which is how calories are measured: according to a calorimeter, coal has lots of calories, but your body would not agree.)

        One example is alcohol. There's evidence that the calories in wine and liquor do not cause the weight gain that the equivalent amount of calories of beer will do, and there's some evidence that alcohol consumption can cause weight loss in women. The "diet science" you are quoting is just the sort of thing Adams is talking about.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05 2015, @08:41AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05 2015, @08:41AM (#141441)

        You and the people who agree with you slam so hard into your own ignorance it makes me winch, it really isn't pretty. Glad I'm not you.

    • (Score: 2) by WillR on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:11PM

      by WillR (2012) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:11PM (#141272)

      since when diet is science?

      Thank you. There's no controlled experimentation going on in nutrition - nobody is taking a population of humans and feeding a random sample of them food X, or denying them food Y and measuring what happens. It's all based on administering surveys, and then trying to tease out a statistically significant correlation between some disease and people who say they think they ate 5% more fat or carbs than the average.

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday February 06 2015, @03:22AM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 06 2015, @03:22AM (#141709) Journal
      (common guys. I really want to see a +5 Troll)
      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:24PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:24PM (#141179)

    The main problem of science is that people confuse the results of science (and things which they get told were the results of science while they aren't) with science.

    Science is not facts. Real science is a method to gain knowledge. Science is not about what is, but about how you can find out whether your assumptions are wrong.

    "There's butter in your fridge" is not science. "If the substance in your fridge that you believe to be butter doesn't pass the following tests, it isn't butter." is science.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:36PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:36PM (#141187)

    In the part of his Farewell Address that's never quoted, after his comments on the Military-Industrial Complex.. even though he was just as prescient about the Science-Political Complex:

    http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/ike.htm [mu.edu]

    "In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

    Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

    The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by moondrake on Wednesday February 04 2015, @11:36PM

      by moondrake (2658) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @11:36PM (#141356)

      I do not live in the US, but I am a scientist. I get a bit uneasy when I read this. What exactly is his point here?

      Things that are mentioned:
      - science becomes more costly, and the government is paying for that (which he seems to be implying is bad).
      I do not think any scientist wants to do costly research. It is just that a fancy project proposal with expensive machines looks good. This may sound crazy but as soon as you propose to do something simple, nobody seems interested. Well, that and it is obviously nice to dream about what you could do if you had the money. But the current system (that is made by politicians) exactly rewards this kind of high-profile, lots of $$$ to few people, projects. It is not something that science is doing, it is what "the people" are pushing.

      - a government contract becomes a substitute for curiosity
      ..what are you smoking dude...Curiosity does not feed a family. In the past, scientist got a nice, well paid, permanent job and good social standing. Currently, they have to make do with short temporary contracts and move all over the world. I know nobody who is doing science for the shitty contracts. Those people leave to industry. You need the shitty contract just because you love your curiosity too much.

      -domination of scholars by employment (what does that even mean?) and power of money.
      Yes, we are soo dominated. Know any billionaire academics (that made their money using this Federal employment contracts you speak off)?

      -public policy becoming a captive of a scientific elite
      Compared to it being captive of ruthless capitalists? This would be a blessing.

      All in all, I do not think he had anything insightful to say here...

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by VLM on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:41PM

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:41PM (#141189)

    That dude's hilarious sometimes, but this is an epic fail.

    So the National Association of Turd in a Jar Manufacturers pays off their hired politicians to "fix" the government dietary guidelines to include their product (what a huge surprise our largest donor makes the healthiest food!), then hires some acting school dropout who's only scientific achievement was to fail "rocks for jocks" in college to wear a lab coat and describe himself as a scientist in TV commercials telling Judge Judy watchers that the .gov says their product is healthier than mother's milk and more american than apple pie. Meanwhile they fund 50 real studies with a wink and a nudge to starving grad students that they're really like a certain result, and finally some ethically agonized starving grad student earns his pizza money by extending the error bars to maybe include the paid for conclusion, and that one out of fifty studies gets press released to hell and back and the grad students gets some blackjack and hookers, assuming they actually pay up (never trust a crook...).

    Then this dude comes along and says the problem with the above scenario is ... wait for it ... "scientists". What a load of BS. It might be that his satire is getting a little too biting for the average moron.... nah, he just sucks today. Draw me some ISO9000 cartoons and all will be forgiven.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by acid andy on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:46PM

      by acid andy (1683) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:46PM (#141218) Homepage Journal

      I'd also love to see more biting send-ups of ISO9000 and similar standards. They seem to manufacture years of work from thin air, whilst getting in the way of real work; a sort of industry sponsored red tape factory.

      --
      Where did that thought come from? And that one? What about this one? Woah, man...
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:44PM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:44PM (#141192) Homepage Journal

    Every time a study is ever published that announced a correllation of this with that, vast numbers of slashbots shout from the rooftops that "CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION!"

    Look man: Jesus Christ, Siddartha Gautama and Homer all knew very well that correlation is not causation.

    While we are looking for causation, we must start somewhere. One of the places we start is by identifying the correlations. Consider that today's chemistry got started when alchemists looked into how to turn lead into gold.

    The "somewhere" that we start is by identifying the correlations. Puzzling over why those correlations exist often yields insight into the true causes.

    It happens all the time that two phenomena that are correlated are actually caused by a third phenomenon. For example I read just a few minutes ago that it's not actually the case that drinking a lot of water promotes weight loss. I advance the conjecture that the correlation between water consumption and weight loss is due to vigorous exercise - athletes tend to drink a lot of water you see.

    --
    Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by c0lo on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:58PM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:58PM (#141204) Journal

      For example I read just a few minutes ago that it's not actually the case that drinking a lot of water promotes weight loss. I advance the conjecture that the correlation between water consumption and weight loss is due to vigorous exercise - athletes tend to drink a lot of water you see.

      I like better the example of sleeping with the shoes on causes headaches [wikipedia.org] or "atmospheric CO2 causes obesity".

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:49PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:49PM (#141219)

        The Wikipedia article gives the impression that there is always an underlying causality for a correlation, even if it is a causality from a third factor (all examples are explained with a third factor that causes both). However there are correlations which are not even related that way. One example of the "correlation is causation" fallacy was used in a statistics course on German TV: A correlation between birth rates and numbers of storks in a certain state of Germany, "proving" the claim that the stork brings the babies. There's no common cause I can see that explains the correlation (which was not just "the storks go down, and so do the birth rates" but also contained "at that one year, the stork population went up again, and so did the birth rates").

        Sometimes correlation is just coincidence.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @06:37PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @06:37PM (#141255)

          I think I read your example of the storks & babies in Box, Hunter & Hunter - Statistics for Experimenters. A classic.

        • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:04PM

          by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:04PM (#141266) Journal

          The Wikipedia article gives the impression that there is always an underlying causality for a correlation, even if it is a causality from a third factor (all examples are explained with a third factor that causes both). However there are correlations which are not even related that way.

          While you are right there are pure coincidental correlations, the Wikipedia article does not say there's always a cause for a correlation; read it in full.

          I just linked to a specific section of Wikipedia article because the post I was responding examined the case of "correlations caused by a 3rd factor" and I only said I like better 2 of the examples the Wiki article cited in the section dedicated to correlations caused by a 3rd common causal variable (which is only one of the many article section)

          --
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05 2015, @10:56AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05 2015, @10:56AM (#141455)

            the Wikipedia article does not say there's always a cause for a correlation

            Please re-read what I wrote. I didn't claim that the Wikipedia article says it. I said that the Wikipedia article gives the impression.

            Of the large section of examples, which make up the bulk of the article, not only does the "common cause" subsection take the largest space, but this is the complete table of contents of the Wikipedia article:

            1 Usage
            2 General pattern
            3 Examples of illogically inferring causation from correlation
                    3.1 B causes A (reverse causation)
                    3.2 A causes B and B causes A (bidirectional causation)
                    3.3 Third factor C (the common-causal variable) causes both A and B
            4 Determining causation
                    4.1 In academia
                    4.2 Causality construed from counterfactual states
                    4.3 Causality predicted by an extrapolation of trends
            5 Use of correlation as scientific evidence
            6 See also
            7 References
                    7.1 Bibliography
            8 External links

            You see, there examples of illogical inferring causation from correlation is only cases where there indeed a causation as root of the correlation, just that the real causation is different from the wrongly inferred one in those examples.

            But yes, the article does indeed say that a correlation can be a coincidence. In exactly three sentences of the 27kB article.

    • (Score: 4, Touché) by VLM on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:36PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:36PM (#141215)

      Sadly, I suspect the only source of exercise for the average american is getting up out of the lay-z-boy to take a leak, so you can argue the cause and effect but the net result must be caloric output and resulting weight loss. Not only that but I do it standing up unlike those sitters so I burn even more calories by standing a few minutes instead of sitting in the lay-z-boy. Not to mention the obvious weightlifting workout of suspending and precision aiming, er, at least kinda generally aiming, such a bulky, long, heavy piece of anatomy. I also refill my water bottle a couple times a day. Supposedly 100 cal/mile is about right for walking, so if I walk 500 feet round trip at work (weird, but true) and either bathroom or water bottle refill about once an hour, thats about a hundred extra calories a day compared to the clowns who pee in the potted plants. And WTF is up with that? Anyway I'm a freaking Olympian compared to some couch potatoes, all because I drink lots a water.

      Also biological processes tend to burn plenty of energy and theres more biochem going on that you'd think. I'm guessing you got about a pound of kidneys, and the rest of your body, unless otherwise messed with, burns about 2000 calories per 200 pounds or 10 calories per pound per day so figure if I work my kidneys twice as hard as some kind of desert camel of a non-water drinker, I'll burn at least 10 calories more per day, or about a pound of fat per year. Compared to the average american who probably gains about that much a month, not bad, not bad at all.

      • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Wednesday February 04 2015, @06:31PM

        by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 04 2015, @06:31PM (#141252) Homepage Journal

        Some of the problems have to do with capitalist culture.

        Consider that the reason the US has the First Amendment separation of church and state is not because we are officially atheist, as I understand is the case in France, but because the early colonies were settled by a bunch of religious crazies.

        We have the separation of church and state so all the various varieties of, uh, "Christians" don't slaughter each other.

        It's quite common for religions to have quite specific dietary rules. My father often pointed out to me that kosher food made a whole lot of sense when one did not understand food-borne diseases: anything that will kill a pig will kill a human, as our anatomies are so similar.

        Quite commonly american food is made by big businesses. It's been quite a long time since we had many family farms; now it's far more common for farms to be owned by large businesses; for example my uncle - quite a wealthy man - was the VP of Accounting for Boswell Cotton Corporation.

        A lot of what the US government tells us to eat, is a combination of what some religion says we should eat, and what some business would profit by were we to eat it.

        Finally, I have a close friend who is a nutritionist. She's not a dietician - she's a research biologist who studies nutrition in a laboratory, with electron microscopes, chemicals and the like. She tells me that nutrition is quite a lot more complex than most people realize.

        But we have the problem that were we to educate young people one what true, proper nutrition really is, they'd likely not understand it, and would not know how to feed their children.

        Have a look at the nutrition information on a bottle of soymilk. I regard it as quite nutritious, however according to the label, it has very little nutrition.

        Dark chocolate is clinically demonstrated to be good for your heart. The discovery of that led to Mars Chocolate funding the research required to figure how to make candy bars that retained the beneficial cocoa flavonoids. Have a look at http://www.cocoapro.com/ [cocoapro.com]

        --
        Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:00PM

          by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:00PM (#141264)

          Have a look at the nutrition information on a bottle of soymilk. I regard it as quite nutritious, however according to the label, it has very little nutrition.

          From a paleo interpretation, unless you arrived on a spaceship, no one in your evolutionary ancestry ever any thing that utterly weird. If its safe, its accidentally safe, and if its nutritious, its accidentally nutritious. It may very well be safe and nutritious, however unlikely it sounds based on random luck. The best I can say for it is observationally it doesn't kill people as fast as hemlockmilk would kill em. Its a good example of "some business would profit by were we to eat it.", little other is known about it for sure.

          Chocolate is at least as weird of a product, but if you keep consumption levels down to flavoring or treat or supplement, it can't hurt much even if it is bad. I ate probably a quarter cup of corn syrup in the form of a pecan pie slice last christmas, thats cool, the problem with hfcs isn't that it exists, but that the average american eats about 30-40 pounds per year. As long as I keep it to a couple spoonfuls per year, its not going to be able to kill me... probably. Beer's an even better analogy, a six pack lasts me like six months, there's no way that level of intake can kill me or even screw up my diet, but those folks who drink 12 to 24 beers a day don't have long to live, generally.

          One interesting way to work on diets might be to list a years intake by mass or calorie and only worry about the big stuff.

          • (Score: 1) by MuadDib on Wednesday February 04 2015, @08:55PM

            by MuadDib (4439) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @08:55PM (#141308)

            Many other cultures have been eating soy products, especially tofu, for centuries if not millennia.

            • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday February 04 2015, @10:05PM

              by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 04 2015, @10:05PM (#141332)

              And thats the problem, that being extremely evolutionarily recent.

              Compare to something like the changes due to fire/cooking which are just kinda getting completely figured out / solved in the teeth and intestine lengths and ratios, and thats orders of magnitude longer ago than soy cultivation. Its pretty recent. Apparently the wisdom tooth thing still hasn't been evolutionarily figured out WRT cooked food jaw shape.

              And thats before getting into the legendary dietary differences between humans from different geographic areas, most of humanity genetically can't deal very well with dairy products, and others have highly varying responses to ethanol metabolism.

              One interesting point of concern is soy allergy is one of the top ten or so most common food allergies, something like 6 to 8 percent of the population has an antibody response at one point or another, one level or another. Here's an interesting article:

              http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/5/1213S.full [nutrition.org]

              Calling something food when you know it'll make maybe 7% of the population sick to one level or another is kind of weird. Its right up there with Olestra. Obviously its regional, anyone in asia who gets sick from soy died of starvation millennia ago, the survivors can handle it. Kind of like all my ancestors figured out the whole lactose digestion thing or starved before having kids, so unlike them I can handle dairy much better than they can.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Phoenix666 on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:55PM

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @04:55PM (#141200) Journal

    He's lashing out at the mixed messages that make it out to the general public, with a special emphasis in his post on what authorities, scientific and otherwise, have told people about diet and exercise. I would rather second his nomination on that score. Take sweeteners for example. Thirty-forty years ago it was that sugar is the devil, so let's use saccharine. Whoops. That's a carcinogen. Aspartame, that's the ticket! Oops, it turns to formaldehyde in your stomach. Sugar isn't bad, it's over-processed sugar that's bad. So use raw sugar instead. Nope, causing too much diabetes. Splenda! Agave syrup? Stevia? No, no, what you should use is coconut sugar, er, nope, monkfruit sugar. And don't even get me started on high-fructose corn syrup.

    Mix in all the other constantly shifting sands of diet and health advice (running is good! no, running is bad--too hard on your joints), and it's small wonder people start to tune out. I have. Sadly, my wife has not and whipsaws our pantry after a new study comes out every two months; I am sure many of us have non-ignorable people in our households who do likewise.

    Maybe in the end the important thing is to track your health, eat what makes you physically feel good, make sure your blood sugar, cholesterol, thyroid, heart rate, blood oxygenation, flexibility, strength are all within scientifically established healthy ranges, and call it a day. Maybe a fitbit or something like that can help you track it, who knows. But doing stuff like that seems more scientific, in the truest sense of the term, than taking blanket advice from authorities who might or might not have conducted a good study, or who might be taking a payoff to say what they're saying, or who don't have the foggiest idea what the best diet is for *you*.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday February 04 2015, @06:06PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 04 2015, @06:06PM (#141235)

      Maybe a fitbit or something like that can help you track it

      It does an excellent job of that. I'm at 2114 steps today, of course its pretty early in the day. Its got two problems:

      1) Track to perfection, but it only takes a couple months until the weekly email may as well go to the spam folder. I ran into the same problem with runkeeper, I was tracking all my urban and backwoods hikes, and eventually I'm busy and stressed and I "only have time to hike, or to runkeeper the hike, but not both" well forget tracking then I'm just going hiking. Metrics that won't be acted on are worthless.

      2) Don't work so well after a washer/dryer cycle. Haven't killed mine yet but its only a matter of time based on what my wife's done to hers and what I've heard. I ran it thru the wash last year and its still running ... for now. The key seems to be an immediate dryer cycle to dry out before electrolytic corrosion sets in. Any other response including the "vat of uncooked rice" trick seems to result, per online gossip, in a dead fitbit.

      I like the idea of "spend money get health" but it doesn't exactly work like that, at least as implemented, and there's lots of competitors with that marketing message. Probably should have just spent the money on new tires for my old bike.

    • (Score: 2) by MozeeToby on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:27PM

      by MozeeToby (1118) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @07:27PM (#141278)

      Aspartame produces less formaldehyde than fruit juices, it really is a non-issue. There's never been a real study showing a connection between aspartame and anything other than migraines.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by CirclesInSand on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:08PM

    by CirclesInSand (2899) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @05:08PM (#141208)

    I prefer to see the evidence, or a sequence of links leading to the evidence, of any claim. There is a tendency for people to believe that "scientists" (or any other kind of specialist) are people who give conclusions. I prefer people who present arguments.

    Even if I don't personally have to the time check the data, the fact that the evidence is made public to be checked is essential for me to even consider a person's position.

    An example is global warming. Lots of claims are made, but rarely is the data (which could be bittorrent demanding gigabytes) or the source code to the climate models made public. Anyone who says "trust me" on any part of their presentation is immediately blacklisted for my part.

    Every part of an argument has to be up for audit.

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @06:03PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04 2015, @06:03PM (#141232)

      Every part of an argument has to be up for audit.

      You just made an argument, so let's audit it.

      Lots of claims are made, but rarely is the data (which could be bittorrent demanding gigabytes) or the source code to the climate models made public.

      This is a claim. Please show me the underlying data. What was the research method you used to determine the fraction of cases where the data was made public/not made public? What is the actual percentage you got (with error estimate, if appropriate)? What are the possible sources of errors (esp. systematic errors) in your estimation?

  • (Score: 2) by digitalaudiorock on Wednesday February 04 2015, @08:26PM

    by digitalaudiorock (688) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @08:26PM (#141296)

    The reason you take one multivitamin pill a day is marketing, not science.

    I'm sorry, but I really don't get why there's such a controversy about taking multi-vitamins. Virtually nobody I've ever known has a diet where they can be sure they're actually getting the minimum amounts of certain nutrients. It really is just about impossible. Unless everything we know about nutrition is all total bullshit, how can taking a multi-vitamin not be a good thing?

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by MrGuy on Wednesday February 04 2015, @08:51PM

      by MrGuy (1007) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @08:51PM (#141304)

      It's not a question of it being a BAD thing. It's a question of whether it in fact is a GOOD thing.

      Multiple long-term studies [annals.org] have found essentially zero long-term health or survivability benefits from daily multivitamin usage compared to people who don't take them.

      While the theory around multivitamins is good, and your point of "how could they NOT be doing something?" is an intuitive one, the numbers don't bear out them having any significant health benefits over taking a daily placebo.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05 2015, @10:38AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05 2015, @10:38AM (#141453)

      It can be not a good thing as in wasting your money.

      And what are the nutrients of which it is about impossible to get enough?

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by wonkey_monkey on Wednesday February 04 2015, @08:52PM

    by wonkey_monkey (279) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @08:52PM (#141305) Homepage

    Eating lots of peanuts, avocados, and cheese, for example, probably decreases your appetite and keeps you thin.

    Woah, hold up there. Eating some of those things might help in the way he suggests, but eating lots (his word) certainly won't.

    --
    systemd is Roko's Basilisk
    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Wednesday February 04 2015, @11:16PM

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @11:16PM (#141349) Journal

      Well, I'm pretty sure that eating lots of those things decreases your appetite (just as eating a lot of basically anything does; it's called satiation).

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 1) by Fauxlosopher on Wednesday February 04 2015, @11:58PM

      by Fauxlosopher (4804) on Wednesday February 04 2015, @11:58PM (#141360) Journal

      At least some humans' appetites can be dramatically changed by eating "lots" of high-fat foods such as nuts, cheese, fatty fish, and other animal fats (don't trim that roast!), while avoiding processed carbs and foods with high starch content.

      I always figured I'd die fat and happy, since I couldn't imagine relying on willpower to resist pizza indefinitely. However, my digestive system's ecosystem changed after approximately two weeks of radically altering what I ate, away from cold cereals, fruits, crackers, beans, and potatos and to bacon, eggs, cheese, fatty meats (beef, pork, chicken, fish), seeds, nuts, lettuce, broccoli, and SMALL amounts of fruit so I don't develop scurvy. Willpower is no longer needed. I drool over the tought of simple salads now, instead of tubs of raw cookie dough or bags of Doritos. To avoid ketosis [wikipedia.org], I make sure I consume 50-100 grams of non-vegetable carbohydrates a day, usually in the form of dark chocolate or fruit.

      So, in my own experience, the claim you seem to find unbelievable is true: eating, say, four ounces of nuts as the main course of a meal after your gut bacteria has acclimated to such input DOES comparitively decrease felt hunger levels versus snacking all day on a box of carb-loaded dry cereal.

      • (Score: 2) by wonkey_monkey on Thursday February 05 2015, @01:08PM

        by wonkey_monkey (279) on Thursday February 05 2015, @01:08PM (#141478) Homepage

        Don't get me wrong, I wasn't dismissing the general claim - just the writer's use of the word "lots," when in fact what you should try to eat is "the right amount" of those things, as you seem to have found.

        eating, say, four ounces of nuts

        Tell someone with an eating disorder that they can eat "lots" of something and it'll help them lose weight, and they won't stop at four ounces.

        --
        systemd is Roko's Basilisk
        • (Score: 1) by Fauxlosopher on Thursday February 05 2015, @06:37PM

          by Fauxlosopher (4804) on Thursday February 05 2015, @06:37PM (#141595) Journal

          After the two week acclimation period, I've found that I can eat as much or as many high-fat foods as I want, including nuts. The notable change from past eating habits is that after a relatively small amount (2-6 ounces), I feel satiated. Satiation is a new experience for me, as I basically lived on processed carbs all my life up until a few years ago. Rather than being forced to stop eating because my stomach was nearing physical capacity, my subconcious brain now informs me after comparitively small portions that there is no need to eat any more right now, which effectively removes my motivation to continue eating. In other words, after using willpower to change my eating habits for a short time, willpower is no longer needed for portion control: "as much as I want" has become "the right amount".

          Biochemists have apparently made the claim that the typical "food pyramid" diet suppresses the human body's ability to detect when it is satiated. My anecdotal experience appears to indicate this is true. The only source I can remember and find a link to that touches on this is a video of a presentation entitled "Sugar: The Bitter Truth [youtube.com]".

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Appalbarry on Thursday February 05 2015, @02:46AM

    by Appalbarry (66) on Thursday February 05 2015, @02:46AM (#141401) Journal

    The problem obviously isn't science, which overall, and over time, comes up with a pretty good record.

    The problem is the kind of sensational and sloppy reporting and commentary that you see on-line and in media, and the charlatans [doctoroz.com] that present pure hoohaw as "science."

    Fortunately, scientists have been studying the former! [plos.org]

    Highly recommend "Obesity Panacea", [plos.org] where we learn stuff like:

    When fat is lost, it is mostly exhaled as carbon dioxide (84%), with the remainder (16%) being excreted as water.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05 2015, @01:35PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05 2015, @01:35PM (#141487)

      When fat is lost, it is mostly exhaled as carbon dioxide

      So losing weight accelerates global warming! We must stop those dangerous diet eaters! Think of the climate! :-)