- Fat, Carb-Burning Pigs:
Taubes argues that for decades, doctors, the medical establishment, and government agencies encouraged Americans to reduce fat in their diet and increase carbohydrates in order to reduce heart disease. Taubes argues that the evidence for the connection between fat in the diet and heart disease was weak yet the consensus in favor of low-fat diets remained strong. Casual evidence (such as low heart disease rates among populations with little fat in their diet) ignores the possibilities that other factors such as low sugar consumption may explain the relationship. Underlying the conversation is a theme that causation can be difficult to establish in complex systems such as the human body and the economy.
Then, for those vegans out these using government studies for support:
The debate is literally what makes us fat, what causes heart disease, what causes diabetes; and if you are already obese and diabetic–like, let’s take an obese and diabetic mother. And she’s going to give birth to children who are predisposed to be obese and diabetic. What do you want her to do for her kids? Because starving them and getting her kids to run around the track an hour a day is just torturing the kids, and it’s not actually reversing the problem, because the problem isn’t that they eat too much and exercise too little. Those are just the facts. Imagine you could find cancer patients who are bedridden and don’t exercise at all. You are not going to run them around the track because you think sedentary behavior must be the cause of their cancer. You’ve got to give them the right; you have to diagnose the disease correctly; you have to identify the cause correctly; and you have to act. And if the act is getting rid of the carbs that cause the problem, then unfortunately these people are going to have to eat more meat. More animal products. Because when you say you’ve experimented with this low-carb diet, you can’t do that in a vegan, vegetarian diet. You can’t do it in a vegan world. It’s virtually impossible, if not impossible in a vegetarian world. You can drink olive oil all day. Soy. And soy. It’s tough. You are pretty much stuck with animal products. It becomes this ethical issue, this religions issue, this environmental issue. And it’s fundamentally the issue–I argue, let’s get the health right. Like, if somebody knows they are going to doom their kids to a life of obesity and diabetes because they are going to make them vegetarians or vegans, then that’s fine so long as they understand that they are not doing their kids any favors. That’s right.
There’s a lot more here. Taubes has some reported on science topics, too. And, Roberts draws links from diet research to economics. This is a an awesome talk!
- Skidelsky on Keynes: I would have liked this to be less about a Keynesian perspective on contemporary issues than an episode about Keynes. Still, what I found most interesting was the defense of common sense expression over number-crunching in the economics profession.
- Penn State Without Joe Paterno Might be Hurting