Bias and Diet


Stuart Buck at Overcoming Bias looks at the overarching theme of bias in Gary Taubes’ book Good Calories, Bad Calories [published as The Diet Delusion in the UK], “a book of some 600 pages (nearly 70 of which are the bibliography). …

“Why is Taubes so interested in bias?  For several decades, it has been the conventional wisdom that dietary fat (and especially saturated fat) contributes to obesity, heart disease, and cancer.  Judging from Taubes’ exhaustive research — indeed, I’d be surprised if any other book examined bias within a particular scientific field in such detail — the conventional wisdom was based on unreliable and slender evidence that, once established and institutionalized in government funding, set a pattern of confirmation bias by which further research was judged (or ignored).”

Examples follow, including that dietary researchers ignored or suppressed “studies showing that diet, cholesterol, and heart disease were not even correlated … or even that low cholesterol raises other risks of death.”

Taubes’ contention, by the way, is that heart disease and other “diseases of civilization” are more likely caused by high triglyceride levels, which are elevated by eating refined carbohydrates.

In a January 2008 interview with the Telegraph, he admits “that he himself might be biased: ‘What are the chances of writing an article that says the entire medical establishment is wrong, and them going, “Good point, thank you, Gary. Can we give you an award?” When people challenge the establishment, 99.9 per cent of the time they are wrong. If I was writing about me, I’d begin from the assumption that I am both wrong and a quack.’ … ‘I have a friend who says that, if I’m wrong, I will have to live in Argentina with all the other mass murderers.”

(Is that a real cat in the photo??)


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