3

votes

Has the lipid hypothesis made you distrustful of scientists?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created February 02, 2011 at 7:43 PM

This question has nothing to do with paleo food or lifestyle but I was watching a programme shown here in the UK about climate change skeptics. The climate skeptics came across as suffering from confirmation bias and cherry picking the data they want. Unfortunately I found it difficult to trust what the legitimate scientists had to say either. After all scientists came up with the low fat is good for you idea in the first place. How do we know who to trust when we don't know enough to trust our own judgement? I am profoundly thankful to Gary Taubes and Loren Cordain, et al for doing the research for me on the subject of diet but how can I protect myself from bad science on other subjects? What do you think?

1f96ce108240f19345c05704c7709dad

(1061)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

I think you should have said, "The climate warmists come across as suffering from confirmation bias and cherry picking the data they want." Believers in AGW are notorious for cherry picking data, and making after the fact "adjustments" that ALWAYS result in higher average "temperatures". Climategate was all about AGW’ers fudging their data, and not letting anyone see it. Look at the AGW'ers who claim all the current snow and cold are caused by, SURPRISE, Global Warming - everything is caused by AGW, to these religious zealots.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 04, 2011
at 10:37 AM

No, I explicitly recommended it as a source of "*basic*" information: a list of the contents of the documents, references to findings of the UK's Select Committee, UK's Information Commissioner, Science Assessment Panel, the internal review by Penn State, the American Meteriological Society, the American Geophysical Union etc. It is *flatly* false that "very few" professional climatologists support AGW, but any review of any of the literature will tell you that. The blog cited isn't of a working climatology researcher, he's an ex weatherman now selling weather gadgets.

1f96ce108240f19345c05704c7709dad

(1061)

on February 04, 2011
at 12:20 AM

My GOOD LORD, David Moss; are you REALLY recommending Wikipedia as a source of REAL INFORMATION? Wikipedia even FIRED the first bozo who was "editing" the article on warming sceptics - he was that far out to lunch; and his replacement is not much better. If you want honest, genuine scientific work, check out wattsupwiththat.com. Anthony Watts is an educated, working climatologist. There are numerous other blogs and web sites that do NOT repeat the party line of AGW. Very few professional climatologists support AGW; and few, if any astrophysists and geologists support it either.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 03, 2011
at 06:58 PM

@Mark, do you mean "a huge scandal" for the individuals, who possibly acted unethically, or a huge scandal for the climate change hypothesis (which it undeniably isn't)? @terrence, "consensus" just means general agreement, there are *lots* of areas of scientific consensus. Anyway, the comments here aren't the place to go through the case, I suggest any-one who's interested just familiarise themselves with the basic facts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climategate#Content_of_the_documents) and draw their own conclusions. Feel free to post your own links of course.

1f96ce108240f19345c05704c7709dad

(1061)

on February 03, 2011
at 05:59 PM

You got it Mark, Climategate was "a huge scandal"; your description of it is spot on. It is massively ANTI-SCIENTIFIC to refer to a "complete scientific consensus". A consensus only happens in political science, or religious theory.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on February 03, 2011
at 02:36 PM

All money is contaminated by politics.

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on February 03, 2011
at 02:13 PM

@David Moss: It is a huge scandal. These weren't any old scientists, but the influential leading lights of AGW. In the emails in question they openly discuss hiding and/or deleting data that undermines their case. They also openly discuss efforts to exclude contrary papers from getting published, which would be unethical. "wildly out of context"? There is NO context in which this behavior is remotely ethical, or consistent with the practice of science. Science demands openness, without which there can be no meaningful peer review.

Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

(13635)

on February 03, 2011
at 01:47 PM

Yup, money is the other contaminate.

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on February 03, 2011
at 01:28 PM

Agreed. But most science seems to come with political baggage since that's where so much of the funding comes from.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 03, 2011
at 09:58 AM

... as evidence against a warming *climate*. I also don't see how the accusations of systemic bias/conspiracy on the part of one field of scientists en mass, via world media and govt stand up, given that it it is completely against the interests of these parties (and against the emotional tendencies of most individuals) to believe this. It seems far more plausible to think that the industries and economic interests that rely on fossil fuels (all of them) combined with extreme wishful thinking, might explain the systemic openness to denialism, despite there being no scientific support for it.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 03, 2011
at 09:53 AM

I don't think that 'ClimateGate' actually constituted a scandal at all and could only be interpreted as such if one was antecedently biased. The quotes commonly cited as scandalous were taken wildly out of context. I also don't see any support for the claim that “warmists” (meaning- virtually all climate scientists) rarely publish their data. I would say that the BBC is notoriously biased towards the sceptic actually. On no other subject where there is such complete scientific consensus do they feel the need to be "balanced" by asking non-scientists to have their say by citing cold *weather*..

1f96ce108240f19345c05704c7709dad

(1061)

on February 03, 2011
at 03:04 AM

jbone - perhaps you should be forgiven, jbone, but there are tons of data set that are NOT available to anyone who might be critical of them. Do you know what climategate is? Have you read the emails? Do you know what "hide the decline" means and why the CRU was so desperate to hide emails, as well as the decline?

034c678bff434ab3781e3f1771018af9

(279)

on February 03, 2011
at 02:22 AM

terrence, forgive me, but what are you talking about? there are TONS of climate datasets available for download on the internet. there are blogs upon blogs by laypeople dedicated to analyzing them.

1f96ce108240f19345c05704c7709dad

(1061)

on February 03, 2011
at 12:59 AM

I will also point out that the BBC is notoriously anti-warming skeptics, and it goes out of its way to misrepresent them and to make them look bad - they even edit what they say to do this. This has made me very distrustful of the BBC than I have been. They are clearly biased, but I think they are dishonest about climate. BTW - real science is NEVER settled, and REAL scientist always publish their data. Warmists seldom, if ever, publish their data.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on February 02, 2011
at 09:04 PM

I'm also disappointed with him actually. He hasn't looked into things like linoleic acid and sources of carbohydrate very much. He portrayed the saturated fat debate in a new light, for which we all owe him, but he didn't look into every angle on obesity.

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8 Answers

6
Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

on February 02, 2011
at 07:58 PM

I'm distrustful of any science that mixes with politics, which I've felt long before learning about the lipid hypothesis. Politics contaminates the scientific method.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on February 03, 2011
at 02:36 PM

All money is contaminated by politics.

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on February 03, 2011
at 01:28 PM

Agreed. But most science seems to come with political baggage since that's where so much of the funding comes from.

Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

(13635)

on February 03, 2011
at 01:47 PM

Yup, money is the other contaminate.

5
1471beca8e3adff4ae2f89d10e5f7acb

on February 02, 2011
at 08:07 PM

I'm much more distrustful of the non-scientists, actually...the ones who read what they want to read into studies--studies that, by and large, are couched in the language of the theoretical rather than the absolute. Bad science happens, but the real problem is the misinterpretation of data by the non-scientists (government, media, etc.)

3
C2502365891cbcc8af2d1cf1d7b0e9fc

(2437)

on February 03, 2011
at 12:22 AM

More distrustful of doctors because of where they might be getting their information from.

3
721c2ae7c48630f3c7578a62773b8276

(500)

on February 02, 2011
at 08:36 PM

Nutritional scientists, maybe. Journalists and magazine editors - most definitely. Gary Taubes is an anomaly, most journalists and writers don't give a crap if what their writing has any truth.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on February 02, 2011
at 09:04 PM

I'm also disappointed with him actually. He hasn't looked into things like linoleic acid and sources of carbohydrate very much. He portrayed the saturated fat debate in a new light, for which we all owe him, but he didn't look into every angle on obesity.

2
034c678bff434ab3781e3f1771018af9

(279)

on February 03, 2011
at 02:27 AM

I'm skeptical of an external reality. I'm skeptical that paleohacks exists. Etc.

Ok, I'm being facetious. I take the OP's point to be that it's hard to know whom to trust when one isn't an expert. It's a real problem. You have to rely on authorities, and majority views aren't always right.

I think the thing to do is to read opposing views and where you don't understand the disagreements, ask questions.

1
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 03, 2011
at 10:35 AM

It's always going to be a problem when the scientific field is homologous to other fields- economic (as is the case in the overwhelming majority of cases) or political (which I won't deny occurs, but less significant, given that the political field is usually highly in hock to the economic field- at least in the developed economies).

I think it's clear that the ideal is having sufficient grasp of the debate to be able to judge for yourself, which is fine in cases like the lipid hypothesis, where the state of the debate is so egregiously bad that it's obvious that the mainstream counter-positions don't even have the beginnings of a reply to certain considerations and just advert to things that display a simple, logic misunderstanding (like citing 'calories in-calories out' as though this were explanatory rather than analytic), but leaves us in an extremely troublesome position otherwise. In any case where we don't have good reason to think that we have a better understanding than the scientists themselves (which is always hard to achieve and which we're always going to be inclined to unduly easily convince ourselves of) then rationally we ought to simply defer to scientific authority. Hence if nutritional scientists were to respond to the sceptical charges laid out before them not with a mantra that can be identified as meaningless a priori or reference to facts that have actually been explicitly disproved time and again or claims which display complete lack of consideration of certain key aspects (like: 'eating low carb makes you [non-pathologically!] insulin resistant') but instead said "No, because [stream of scientific claims that I have no basis for understanding or critiquing]" then I ought rationally to suspect that I (and my cadre of sceptics) am in error. This is particularly unfortunate for us, because it means that most of us, when first presented with scepticism that the mainstream low fat hypothesis was correct probably ought to have responded prima facie with extreme scepticism. Prior to being able to evaluate all the substantive evidence, then there is a strong presumption in favour of the experts working in a particular area being correct and any minority of amateurs you care to name being mistaken. Indeed, even once you have looked at the evidence yourself, then this strong presumption remains, so even if all your first-order consideration of the evidence leads you to think something, if the majority of experts working in the area think otherwise you still have very, very good reason to think that your first order evaluations are wrong. The only reasons why we can reject the lipid hypothesis so easily are, I think, that certain of its claims are clearly either logical mistakes (like the first law of thermodynamics debacle) and because there is a compelling narrative (via Taubes) to explain why in this case, the community of scientists might have systematically biased beliefs in this particular case. It's precisely because this is such a particular case though, that the critique doesn't generalise very well to other scientific fields (which is just as well, because science's overwhelming successes suggest that it's still a fairly reliable guide).

0
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on February 03, 2011
at 06:09 AM

I first became skeptical of scientists when I began working with scientists at UCLA. What I found was that most were more interested in one upping their competition and thus winning more grant money. Not all were unethical, but the way the system is set up, the overall attitude is to beat the other guy. Somewhere in there, the actual quest for truth often gets sidelined. Of course everyone (or many of them) thinks THEY have the truth already, so they have no qualms about their tactics to beat the other guy. And I met a number of quite famous scientists there and some of them were fairly intelligent and overall good people. But some of them were quite AMAZINGLY stupid (as a post) and also jerks. Made me realize just because someone is famous does not mean they have even a reasonable number of brain cells. I suspect it's pretty much the same in every academic field out there. So while I was somewhat surprised at the level of stupidity in much of the field of nutrition, it was actually just more of the same of what I had already seen.

0
Medium avatar

on February 02, 2011
at 08:02 PM

I'm skeptical of all official stories, no matter what the source. Common knowledge is for the commoners.

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