Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Jul 24, 2018.
Discovery and investigation of unknown natural forces is called Science.
How can something so simple go over your head? Your ego is bruised like a banana
You give me too much credit. I don't even see where you contradict anything I said.
I postponed a response to this, David, because I wanted to wait until I'd had a chance to discuss it in person with somebody close to me who has been working as an Accredited Practising Dietitian for over sixteen years, having graduated from university in 2001 with First Class Honours in a BNutrDiet degree, and one of whose specialties is in helping diabetics with their diets. This dietitian prefers, though, not to be identified or quoted, so the following is my own understanding and any errors in it are on me.
Basically, the view you present is both oversimplified and misleading. The standard dietary advice for diabetics is not and has not been as simplistic as "eat a low fat, high carb diet". For a start, in recommending diets for diabetics, dietitians are more concerned about the way in which energy is released by consumed foods than in whether those foods are high or low in carbohydrates - which is a very broad term anyway. Think, for example, of the advice around glycemic index, and note that that page recommends "moderate amounts of carbohydrate" rather than a "high carb diet".
Also, the claim that diabetes can be "reversed" through diet at all, before even getting into claims that particular diets achieve that, is questionable. Even if the maintenance of certain diets eliminates the need for diabetic medication and returns test results to normal, does this "cure" the underlying disease - the defective insulin mechanism - or does that underlying disease remain, such that symptoms would return were the diet to be abandoned?
In any case, it's worth noting that it is not only advocates of high fat, low carb diets who claim that diabetes can be reversed by deviating from the standard advice, but also advocates of low-fat vegan diets - and these advocates actually have studies to back them up, as outlined in this video:
Tackling diabetes with a bold new dietary approach: Neal Barnard at TEDxFremont
One interesting point out of many from that video is that among the cultures with the lowest incidence of diabetes, carbohydrates are often front-and-centre of their diets: consider, for example, the Japanese, for whom rice is a staple.
By the way, the dietitian with whom I spoke is, shall we say, "less than impressed" by Noakes and the way his claims have stood up to analysis in the nutrition science community, sharing a couple of critical papers with me which I didn't have the patience to read in full - suffice it to say that it seems far from obvious that in the "vicious fight" Noakes deserves to be victorious.
So, if this is as you claim a situation analogous to climate science, then at least this reader is not convinced of the merits of climate change skepticism/denial.
The problem here is analogous to going to the average psychiatrist and asking them if there is any evidence for spiritual practices or life after death. People are locked into the mindset of their profession and everything else is considered voodoo. Yes, there is a war going between two camps on this issue, and it is easy to quote from both sides.
I intend to reply to this in detail, but perhaps in the meantime you should listen to Professor Timothy Noakes:
The discussion is a bit lengthy and too detailed, but if you plough through it, you will see what I mean.
The medical authorities have tried TWICE to get him disqualified from medical practice, and on both occasions they failed.
None of what I discuss regarding corruption of science is off my own bat - it always refers to suitably qualified people who are trying to whistle blow. For example:
The core problem in both of these cases, is that there is a huge row internally, but only one side of the discussion is normally presented to the general public.
You rarely miss an opportunity to spam this talk! The speaker is by your claim "suitably qualified". Oh? What qualifications relevant to climate science does he have? He has a Nobel Prize in physics, yes - but this is a different field than climate science, and the discovery for which he won the prize - "tunnelling phenomena in solids" according to Wikipedia - has no obvious relationship to climate science. He has a degree in mechanical engineering, yes - but again, this is a different field than climate science, and not obviously related to it. He has worked - again, according to Wikipedia - in biophysics, but again, this field has no obvious or direct relation to climate science.
Moreover, at the beginning of his talk he openly admits that he formed his - "horrified" - opinion on global warming after half a day's googling! If that's your idea of a "suitable qualification", then ... I don't know, maybe you need higher standards...?...
This is a pretty systemic problem around here these days.
Do you really think a man with a Nobel Prize in physics wades into a debate like this without great care? Climatology is a specialised form of physics, and he has every right to say what he does, and to debate his views with the mainstream scientists. He is retired, and I think this is the point - very little pressure can be put on him to confirm. I don't know if he is still able to debate by now, but my suspicions are immediately raised when senior people raise objections and are essentially ignored.
As regards the question of dietary advice, there are any number of suitably qualified people trying to make waves:
Here is another article signed by a long list of doctors:
My hunch is that your dietician friend didn't even acknowledge the fact that there really is a big row internally about the current dietary advice. Maybe hiscourse never even exposed him to this divergence of opinion.
I mean Laird, I don't think you accept the standard scientific view of materialism (though I think Silence probably does) - you see how science can seem nearly unanimous and yet be wrong. I don't think the scientific response to the evidence for ψ represents a unique lapse in science, I think these failings are widespread. I mean I don't think either of us want all scientific consciousness researchers to role over and accept Irreducible Mind (say), but wouldn't it be nice if they acknowledged the serious problems in their field, and the weight of evidence that has to be ignored because it is inconsistent with their theory?
I expect that all or at least most of the scientists on both sides of the debate believe that they're taking great care. That's not an argument for any particular scientist on any particular side being correct.
Of course - I'm not arguing otherwise. But without him having a background in the field and given that he formed an initial opinion after only half a day's googling, why should we - as laymen - grant him more credence than scientists who have spent a lifetime studying in the field?
We discussed only the specific claim that you made: that the [implied to be standard] dietary advice given to type-2 diabetics is to eat a "low fat high carb diet" and that in "the row about the best diet for type-2 diabetes [...] the stark truth is that increasing numbers of people are reducing or reversing their own T2 diabetes [...] by eating a high fat low carb diet" and that "those favouring the traditional diet are using any tactic to suppress the facts".
These are strong but, according to my dietitian connection, simplistic and misinformed claims.
My dietitian connection was also already aware of Noakes and the controversy surrounding him in the context of sports nutrition, since my dietitian connection is both a professional sports dietitian as well as a competitive endurance and ultra-endurance athlete. The conclusion my dietitian connection has reached after looking into the controversy is that at best, the clinical evidence Noakes has presented for the benefits of a low carb, high fat diet for athletes is that such a diet doesn't harm their performance. I doubt that many athletes are going to be persuaded to change their diets on that basis.
We didn't discuss at all the general debate around the relationship between dietary intake of (saturated) fat and cholesterol with respect to heart disease and health in general, and it's not a debate that I want to have here because I'm not especially well versed in it - but sure, consensus and standard advice can change over time based on new evidence or reevaluation of existing evidence.
But Accredited Practising Dietitians don't simply stop learning when they finish their course! One of the requirements for continued certification is to "log a minimum of 30 hours per calendar year of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities", and my dietitian connection anyway keeps up with developments in the field and regularly reads new papers.
Materialism isn't a scientific view though, it's a philosophical one, and in most cases scientists who offer philosophical opinions are operating outside of their area of specialty. Where a group of scientists operating within their area of specialty comes to a consensus, though, I generally (at least as a default) tend to accept it over the (especially tendentious and accusatory) claims of outsiders as to suppression of the truth and conspiracy.
Nutrition should be personalized, it's one of the most difficult fields
Anyone who gets a degree in nutrition is deluded. It's too complex a field to gain a degree. There is hardly any studies on the synergistic nature of foods
For example let's say that a new study claims that eggs raise cholesterol. So for breakfast I cook eggs add salt and pepper and add a peppermint tea with some honey and lemon.
Do you know how many chemical reactions are happening in my body if I consume that in one meal? There is no study that contains any information on that
Well the first step in any scientific debate is that the two sides should acknowledge that there is another, potentially valid, alternative point of view.
Alex has often interviewed sceptical academics about these topics, and found that they haven't read any of the literature that they are profess to disagree with.
Well do you really - I mean how does that expectation connect with Alex's experience?
I think you read far too much into that throwaway remark. I don't know whether you listened to the rest of the talk, or thought about what he said, but IMHO he clearly spent a lot of time on preparing that talk. Don't forget he was a high grade scientist, and he knows how hard/impossible it must be to measure the average temperature of the Earth to such absurd precision. This was what struck me (I am not trying to compare myself to him) when first became curious about this subject (previously I had just assumed Global Warming as a fact).
I think both of these subjects illustrate the problems with science which we observe in relation to ψ. Scientists who come to a different point of view are ignored or penalised in various ways. Professor Noakes was subject to two legal attempts to silence him (using a seemingly trumped up charge), but both failed because of the extensive evidence that he gave in response.
Well the whole point is that there is more than one scientific viewpoint about this.
I don't think the position is as clear as that. If materialism is false, and the mind is not wholly contained within the brain, or is not in fact generated by the brain, then that has obvious scientific consequences. Philosophy and science overlap each other to some extent. Also many/most scientists consider philosophy irrelevant to their discipline - even to neuroscience!
1) Laird, if I remember correctly, there is one area of science and medicine there your position is anti-consensus - psychiatry. As far as I know you - as well as I - do NOT agree that:
mental differences are "illnesses" or "disorders" in the strict clinical sense, not different from, say, diabetes;
life-long psychoactive drugging (and, if psychiatrists deem necessary, even electroshock) is the proper way to deal with them;
persons who are "mentally ill" have no insight in their condition and thus need to be subjected to psychiatrists' violence "for their own good".
Yet all of the above statements are the mainstream consensus of psychiatry. And critical psychiatrists, post-psychiatrists and anti-psychiatrists are contrarians who defy this mainstream consensus. And you, as far as I know, is among these contrarians.
2) To a more general degree, you are anti-consensus in the mind-related science disciplines in general - from psychology to cognitive science to neuroscience: don't you forget, your very identification of materialist position as a dubious philosophical one is itself outside of mainstream; for the overwhelming majority of mind scientists believe materialism to be a kind of self-evident axiom lying in the bedrock of any serious science - and, simultaneously, perpetually proven true by it. Any attempt to describe materialism is something open to debate, and to present the scientific evidence against it, puts one outside of the mainstream consensus for sure.
3) Rupert Sheldrake is a plant biologist by his profession; yet he dares to think and criticise across the whole range of the scientific disciplines. For example, take physics: let's recall his statement that the laws of physics may be not fixed forever but rather be changeable. And he makes it as an evidence-based scientific claim, not just some conceptual philosophical postulate. Would you condemn him for transgressing the borders of his original narrow specialisation?
And surely the second step is not to jump straight to the conclusion that the potentially valid alternative point of view is definitely valid and that standard views to the contrary are evidence of suppression of the truth?
Yes... so I expect that you've read the literature that disagrees with your own view - such as, for example, that - which I referenced in an earlier post - by Dr Neil Barnard who has had great success in treating and even "reversing" type-2 diabetes through a wholefood vegan diet: a diet very different from the high fat low carb diet that you claim to be the best treatment for that disease?
In that it seems that, like the skeptics of psi whom Alex interviews, Ivar Giaever as a skeptic of global warming has not read any (or at least very little) of the literature that he professes to disagree with.
It's a very revealing remark.
I did listen to the rest of it, and I noted down every point that he made. I'm not sure though whether I have the patience to research and/or respond to each of them, especially given that I don't have a background in the field.
Sure, just as the presenters of some of the talks debunking parapsychology would clearly have spent a lot of time preparing them.
In a different field. Being an expert in one field doesn't automatically make you an expert in another. A bit of googling isn't going to cut it.
If he does know that, then he made no attempt to explain how he knows it. All he offered was a rhetorical argument from incredulity: (paraphrased) "How could one possibly measure the average temperature of the entire planet over an entire year to a fraction of a degree and get a significant result?! How ridiculous!"
A convincing argument would have involved explaining in technical/statistical/mathematical terms why this is impossible, and the degree of accuracy that we are able to obtain.
Has he even attempted to conduct that analysis? If so, has he published it in a venue where it has been peer-reviewed and is open to criticism by fellow scientists?
It appears not. From what I've read online, as confirmed by skimming the first twenty pages of the results of a Google Scholar search on his name, he hasn't published any climate-related papers.
It is also interesting that in other parts of his talk he describes the Earth's temperature over the past century as being "remarkably stable" (to within a degree Kelvin). How is this possible if the averaging procedure is so inaccurate? Shouldn't we be getting results that are all over the place?
His claim is also pretty insulting to the people who dedicate their lives to working and publishing in this field, don't you think? I mean, to assume that they haven't considered this issue and resolved it satisfactorily?
Great! So, perhaps you can share the missing technical/statistical/mathematical analysis (not that I'd likely have the expertise to assess it anyway, but an argument from personal incredulity isn't convincing), and then explain why the yearly averages over the past century have only varied (gradually increased; the expected direction) by about one degree Kelvin if the averaging procedure is so inaccurate?
Is it? I thought the whole point you were trying to make is that the consensus on certain issues in nutrition and climate science is obviously wrong and that the truth, though actively suppressed, is now coming to light?
Re philosophy and science: I agree with David that there is overlap, and also that philosophy/ideology can colour scientific research. A physicalist/atheist ideology might, for example, discourage investigation into the role that intelligence might have played in the origins and development of life.
Do metaphysical beliefs have any bearing on nutrition science or climate science though? It doesn't seem much like it to me. If anything, ideology seems most relevant to climate change contrarians, some of whom have political or economic reasons to object.
Vortex, thanks for your thoughtful critique!
Yes, you remember correctly. My criticism though has more to do with the framework within which whatever science exists is interpreted than with any genuinely scientific consensus itself, much as in the mind-related science disciplines in general as you point out further on in your post, and I see psychiatry as more of a diagnostic and treatment paradigm with its own ideology than an objective science as such.
I doubt though that I'm as well-read on the subject as you are.
Yes, and I think perspective matters, especially on the nature of mind, don't you think? In a way, this comes down to metaphysics and definitions as much as science: as to what an "illness" or "disorder" really is, whether the word means anything when applied to conscious experiences/behaviour, and, even if it does, whether the somewhat arbitrary diagnostic categorisations of clusters of observed "symptoms" really qualify - no? Even the question of how to interpret any established correlations between biology and these clusters of conscious experiences has a lot to do with metaphysical perspective, not just science, including whether and if so how the direction of causality can be established, especially if one believes in mental and not just physical causation.
Yes. I strongly disagree with that view, but not so much based in science as in matters of perspective such as personal choice, metaphysical intuitions, human rights, and a fair bit of experience as a "patient".
Again, you're right: I strongly disagree with this view. Again, though, it's not so much because of science. How on earth, for example, would you go about demonstrating "scientifically" whether or not a person has "insight"? Is there anybody who claims to have done or be able to do this?
Yes. Very much so. But again: I think a lot of this turns more on perspective - values, ethics, metaphysics, and philosophy - than on science.
That's all very fairly put - and no, I would not condemn but congratulate Rupert Sheldrake for what he's done.
I think those are examples of how a dominant ideology can drive the range of ideas (hypotheses) that are considered (considerable) in a scientific discipline. I don't see how the situation is analogous in nutrition science or climate science though - at least, not for the more specific and technical examples under consideration in this thread.
 At least, not in the contexts raised in this thread: obviously those beliefs would become relevant to such theories as "through the power of our minds or spirits alone we can manufacture our own nutrition without the need to eat at all".
No, because they would not be able to do what is required. They could engage in performing the outer expressions of magic (drop the k - it is supposed to denote the sexual element of magical practice and that is problematic enough) and may satisfy psychological needs, but they will get no effect unless spirits decide to mess with them.
There is a reason 'ritualistic' often means repeated behaviours without effect. Going through the outer forms of a ritual performance deliver nothing. but some folk thinks that's what it is about. Ritual, and magic, are about deeper processes. A Materialist, by definition denies the channels of influence and effect that are necessary to make magic work.
For example, if a materialist insisted that all communication happened by entirely physical means microwave transmission would be problematic to them as it is on the boundary between the physical and the metaphysical. Even so, if a Materialist used a mobile phone (cell phone for Americans) it would work for them because the technology has established its efficacy.
But shift to telepathy that has no technology, and the Materialist's POV would have a negative impact because it removes the expectation of efficacy and reality. So while telepathy would be real the Materialist would be insensible to it. Belief there is no reality to psi absolutely excludes access to experience unless Spirit decides otherwise. Now and then confirmed non-believers go through the trauma of discovery when they go through a radical experience of encountering the paranormal. Its not rare.
I have had paranormal experiences as a kid, so its not weird to me. But I have had close relations with people who have been traumatised by extreme psi events because their starting position was complete denial. I ended up marrying two of them - and only one eventually became a firm believer - and even so it took years for her doubts to subside. Both marriages were disastrous by the way.
I don't know what the rules are. But sometimes it seems that people who are deniers get radical experiences and most times they do not. Its like they have to nut it out by themselves for a time. So I am sympathetic to Materialists. If that's your jam that's what you will use as a basis for thinking until you, or something else, decides otherwise.
My only issue with Materialists and materialism is the insistence that it is the only true way. I have plenty of materialistic friends who say that this is their way for now. We are friends because that's okay with me and my position is cool with them.
Quite clearly there are some spectacularly skilled illusionists. I love Penn&Teller's Fool Us. There are similarly hugely skilled mentalists. But proper magic is a class apart. You can't fake it - there's no point. It works (sometimes) or it doesn't (often for most folk), but it is still real, and way a class apart from any psychology. When you experience the real thing, you know the difference, trust me.
OK now you are missing the point, which was that I pointed out that you tried to distinguish your disbelief in mainstream science re ψ, by arguing that the issue was philosophical not scientific - so I pointed out that the two overlap - in effect you do not think that the fact that the overwhelming majority of scientists dismiss ψ invalidates your belief in the likelihood of ψ.
Regarding the nutrition issue, here is another study of 220000 adults that found roughly what I was claiming - that the official health guidelines are wrong.
No, there is no metaphysical issue at stake here, but there is a powerful practical one. Health services and health charities have been encouraging a diet - particularly on those with diabetes - that would seem inconsistent with actual studies of what happens to people on various diets. However backtracking on the advice - given for decades - could create an almighty row, particularly since the contrary evidence seems to have been around for a long time.
The author of the article is a Doctor (presumably medical or related) and you can look up the qualifications of Prof Salim Yusuf for yourself.
Perhaps we're talking at cross-purposes: how is the consensus of the overwhelming majority of scientists on psi relevant? Isn't the relevant consensus that of those scientists who actually study it: parapsychologists? Those scientists have to take at least an agnostic philosophical position so as not to rule out psi as impossible in the first place: there would be no point in trying to study something which couldn't possibly exist. That's in part where I agree that there's an overlap between philosophy and science.
Similarly, on global warming, why would the consensus amongst outsiders to the field, especially those whose expertise consists in a day or two of googling, be relevant? Surely, the relevant consensus is that of climate scientists, who specialise in studying it?
OK. And here are some other studies that you might want to take into account:
Dietary carbohydrate intake and mortality: a prospective cohort study and meta-analysis.
Published just two weeks ago, this meta-analysis found that (emphasis mine):
"Both high and low percentages of carbohydrate diets were associated with increased mortality, with minimal risk observed at 50-55% carbohydrate intake. Low carbohydrate dietary patterns favouring animal-derived protein and fat sources, from sources such as lamb, beef, pork, and chicken, were associated with higher mortality, whereas those that favoured plant-derived protein and fat intake, from sources such as vegetables, nuts, peanut butter, and whole-grain breads, were associated with lower mortality, suggesting that the source of food notably modifies the association between carbohydrate intake and mortality."
Low-carb diets 'are unsafe and should be avoided'
This is a news article from two days ago regarding a yet to be published study, which reported that (emphasis mostly mine; some of the emphasis in the original removed):
"the analysis using data from the survey found that those who consumed the least amount of carbs were 32 percent more likely to die prematurely from any cause. This was in comparison with participants who ate the most carbs.
Also, low carb consumers were 51 percent more likely to die from coronary heart disease, 50 percent more likely to die from cerebrovascular disease, and 35 percent more likely to die of cancer. The associations were strongest among older, non-obese people.
These results were replicated in the meta-analysis, which found that the overall risk of death from any cause was 15 percent higher in people who consumed the least amount of carbs, the risk of cardiovascular death was 13 percent higher, and that of dying of cancer was 8 percent higher."
Low-carbohydrate diets and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies.
Published in 2013, this meta-analysis concludes that (emphasis mine):
"Low-carbohydrate diets were associated with a significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality".
Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality—a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies.
Published in June 2017, this meta-analysis involved hundreds of thousands of, and for some analyses over a million, subjects in total. It found that (emphasis mine):
"reductions in risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality were observed up to an intake of 800 g/day of fruit and vegetables combined, whereas for total cancer no further reductions in risk were observed above 600 g/day" and that "An estimated 5.6 and 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide in 2013 may be attributable to a fruit and vegetable intake below 500 and 800 g/day, respectively, if the observed associations are causal".
You can find more papers referenced in Joel Kahn's article Is the Low-Carb (animal based) Diet a High Coffin Diet? Two More Nails to Consider, from which I sourced all but the last of the above. Joel, for fairness, also includes three studies which didn't find increased mortality for low-carb diets.
In any case, here's an article from last year responding to the pre-publication noise about the study you referenced. An interesting admission at the start is that (emphasis mine) "Yusuf, speaking at the Cardiology Update 2017 symposium, noted that he was no expert on nutrition".
Kim Williams, MD, is quoted remarking on the study (emphasis mine):
"I have the same concerns that Salim Yusuf actually expresses – this is not randomized data, so it can be hypothesis generating but not prescriptive, particularly because many of his statements conflict with existing scale. Some of these dietary issues may simply be distortion of scale – differences that are too narrow to show a clinical difference. For example, the PURE study had the highest category as >4 servings of vegetables and that was only a small fraction of the population (9,000 out of 150,000)."
David Katz is quoted offering an evidence-based counter-opinion (emphasis mine):
"We know, because it's on prominent display, that when countries with traditionally high-plant, high-carbohydrate, low-saturated-fat and low animal food diets switch to the more 'affluent' pattern of eating more meat, their rates of obesity and chronic disease rise. This is perfectly clear in both India and China."
And (emphasis mine):
"we might ask: well, what happens within a given population, where access to medical care is the same, when diet is changed? We have the answer. Randomized trials including the Lyon Diet Heart Study, PREDIMED, and others have shown, over a span of years and in multiple countries, that shifts to more plant foods, unsaturated oils, and less meat reduce heart disease, other chronic disease, and rates of premature death from all causes."
Finally, which seems appropriate to end on, a sensible and balanced comment from Yoni Freedhof, MD:
"I'm not sure that trading premature and perhaps dogmatic low-fat advice, for premature and perhaps dogmatic high-fat advice is supported by the medical literature to date. Seems to me that the most evidence-based advice around fats would be to try to replace saturated fats with unsaturated, to avoid trans, and that if the choice is between saturated fats and refined carbohydrates, the fats are the better choice."
So, maybe it's not quite so black and white as you're making out? Maybe we shouldn't be too quick to conclude that the truth is being suppressed?
Separate names with a comma.