The term “fake news” has entered the American lexicon and is rapidly taking on many meanings to many different people. I like this term. It carries a very simple, yet an excruciatingly biting and blunt connotation that breaks through the molds lies and hypocrisy. “Fake News” threatens to undermine the credibility of so many institutions the American public has grown to trust to the point of threatening the collapse of the very foundation on which they rest. Public information has been tuned and veiled by ulterior motives for as long as anyone can remember, but now the public is more aware of it than ever.
But I’m not here to discuss fake news in the trite context of politics, rather I’d like to focus on a bit of fake news that is close to me and my field, a bit that spans a century, and a bit that might be responsible for the loss countless lives. I will be discussing issues where an agenda was put forth in the absence of the expected scientific scrutiny, the opposing views (based on research that did meet a high level of scientific scrutiny) which were buried, and the authors of these views who were personally attacked and professionally destroyed.
Fake news can either be the reporting of falsehoods, or simply just not revising previous reports, when a previously held notion has been proven false or brought into serious doubt. Not reporting is just as bad as reporting erroneous information. Fake news spreads as truth when those who know the real truth allow themselves (researchers, physicians and journalists) to be intimidated by the people and institutions in positions of power and authority. I have written in the past about not trusting conventional wisdom, and the conventional wisdom I was talking about then is the fake news of today.
Nina Teicholz, author of the book The Big Fat Surprise, is a medical journalist whose academic and professional credentials are of the highest caliber, whose book has been highly acclaimed by the very institutions and journals she reveals as being a part of the “Fake News” industry for the past century. The Fake News industry that has cost and continues to cost our nation trillions of dollars in unnecessary healthcare, millions of lives, and countless families left to suffer.
I am not sure Ms. Teicholz would appreciate my characterization of what she reveals as being called fake news, but I am taking license since it is my interpretation. Especially since the public has an aversion for words like “conspiracy” which could also be used to describe much of what is revealed in this book.
The difference here between “fake news” and “conspiracy” however is that the conspiracy is not a top down command and control by a few people controlling a lot of people, as is usually the case. Rather the conspiracy here is an alignment of interests and various forms of power that result in a kind of blinded cabal, where the self interest of those in power are aligned in a way that requires a false narrative to be created and deployed. Each member of the parties involved naturally follow their self interest without having to coordinate their actions. They’re all after the same thing, and thus their individual actions all work toward the same goal.
That being said, I have never read a book on the subject of health and nutrition that has been more researched and referenced than this. Nina has dug through the archives, looked at the original data, and revealed the tragic flaws in the studies that have guided the actions of the NIH (National Institutes of Health), AHA (American Heart Association), and countless other institutions and journals that have been entrusted billions and near trillions of dollars of the taxpayers money, including private donations to causes that were born out of a grieving loss. Read or listen to the first three chapters and you won’t be able to put it down.
The problems seem to be rooted in the fact that when scientists do everything they can to promote and protect their hypothesis (and they are given unlimited resources and power to do so), we wind up with billions of dollars and thousands of brilliant minds running enthusiastically in the wrong direction. No, it is the job of the scientist, who has a hypothesis that could be true, to try with all of their might to disprove that hypothesis.The obligation of a scientist with a hypothesis is to try to disprove that hypothesis. Click To Tweet
For example, in the case of the Diet Heart Hypothesis of Ansel Keys, the opposite was true. The Diet Heart Hypothesis states that fat in our diet contributes to heart disease and early death. Ansel Keys, manipulated science, and destroyed the careers of those who would oppose or shine a light on his fakes news, conventional wisdom, or bad science, whatever you’d like to call it. His fake news made it into the NY Times, Time magazine and the 6 O’clock news for over 50 years. Ansel Keyes cost America and the world decades of lost money and time. When you see someone ordering a salad with grilled chicken breast, or buying 90% lean ground beef or skim milk, you see the ongoing effect this man has had on our lives. You also get to see how it could have been different.
There is one interesting point from the book that I would personally like to shine a light on. This point is by no means going to encompass the scope of this book, but simply illustrates one of many intriguing and eye-opening points made by the author that break down the Diet Heart Hypothesis.
The Native Americans of the Southwestern U.S. were observed by researcher and physician, Ales Hrdlichka, at the turn of the 20th century. He noted that tribes whose diet was predominantly red meat, blood and milk, were, “…spectacularly healthy and lived to a ripe old age.” He noted that the incidence of people living beyond 100 years old was 224 men for every million men, and 254 women for every million women, compared to three women for every million men and six women for every million women among the white American population. Even with errors that were not accounted for, the likelihood that the true numbers were any less dramatic is not likely. Of all the people observed over the age of 90, he did not find one who was senile or helpless.
He was also struck by the nearly complete absence of any chronic or malignant disease in the entire population he observed. No tumors or cancers were observed. There were only two cases of heart disease among 2,000 Native Americans observed, and no evidence of atherosclerosis or any degenerative disease.
Contrast that to today and the white population has 2.5 times more centenarians per million than the Native population. Remember, if you lived to 100 years old in 1899, there is a good chance that medical care and vaccines had nothing to do with your longevity. As a matter of fact, the accepted “Conventional Wisdom” is that the Native population is somehow genetically defective because their incidence of diabetes (the number one contributor to heart disease, dementia and chronic illness), is so far worse than the White, Hispanic and African American populations.
Nina Teicholz points out that reports of this type, coming in from all around the world that refuted the Heart Health Hypothesis, were buried. Research performed by physicians and PhD’s of the highest university pedigree, buried. These researchers were systematically destroyed in the media and more devastatingly, by having their NIH and AHA research grants and funding pulled. They might as well have shot themselves in the head, their contributions to any field were effectively ended.
This book also points out that the word “fat” used to describe obesity has a completely different meaning when it comes to our diet. Yet we only have one word. I tell my patients, “Eating fat does not make you fat!” As a matter of fact I don’t think it’s possible to solve a problem of obesity without dramatically increasing quality fat. When I say quality fat, you might think, unsaturated fat, or vegetable oil, or the like. NO. Nina points out the politics and myths that surround saturated fats and animal fats (the best kind of fat) as well.
This book will get you to question some of the most common dietary and food choices you make for you and your family. You will begin to see that those who are interested in making positive changes to their diet and lifestyle, especially those who actually spend the time, the money and the effort to do so, are the ones that are impacted the most.
Please share this post with your friends and loved ones. Change happens one person at a time, if institutions and industries that are harming us are built on foundations of sand, they deserve to collapse, so that we may build new and more solid institutions we can trust.