“A very steamy dog pile of science”

When people start to go on about “settled science” you should hang onto your wallet. When 98.9 Percent of Nutrition Scientist Got it Wrong.

Scientists are political creatures, just like the rest of humanity. Some of them have books to sell, others are trying to get grant approval. Shading the truth? Cherry picking of data? Color me shocked.

In 1953, Dr. Ancel Keys published the Seven Countries Studies. He collated data from seven countries whose population was known for their high consumption of dietary fats and a high incidence of heart disease and connected the two. Why he didn’t include data from all 22 countries in which data was collected is still not known. Some have speculated that it did not support his hypothesis. He had a book to sell. Only later, when data from all 22 countries were eventually tallied, little to no correlation was found between the consumption of dietary fat and coronary heart disease when a variety of other factors were considered.

Various other studies had similar twists in the data.

3 thoughts on ““A very steamy dog pile of science”

  1. Seven Countries Studies. He collated data from seven countries whose population was known for their high consumption of dietary fats and a high incidence of heart disease and connected the two. Why he didn’t include data from all 22 countries in which data was collected is still not known. There were too many countries in the other 15 that didn’t support his conclusion. Where I come from, that’s called fraud.

    Another aspect of this is “scientists are generally, quiet (if not timid) people and non-confrontational”. From everything I’ve read, Ancel Keys was a sonofabitch and pushed hard on anyone trying to disagree with him. He was a bully in rooms full of quiet people and dominated debate.

    Excellent history in “The Big Fat Surprise” by Nina Teicholz, who went on to found the Nutrition Coalition to try to ensure the USDA dietary guidelines are based on actual science. Example: the whole Mediterranean Diet thing started when the olive oil industry thought Keys was killing their sales. They hosted a conference in a very pretty place (in Italy, IIRC) at a very pretty time of year and provided lavish foods for the attendees. The Mediterranean region covers thousands of miles of coasts from Spain, across southern Europe, down into Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Libya… How much do they have in common?

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    • I don’t know where that idea of the timid scientist came from. I’ve known several that were SOBs, and a few that were hardcore drinkers who loved to have a good time.

      Timid people don’t get things like the Large Hadron Collider built. Or the Tevatron (the previous large collider). Or anything like that.

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