Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Musings, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism > “Official” Scientific Research about Nutrition is Mostly Fabrication

“Official” Scientific Research about Nutrition is Mostly Fabrication

In the past, I have written more than a few posts about why an increasing number of people no longer believe in the pronouncements of “professionals”, “experts” and “scientists”. As I wrote in some of those posts, a majority of scientific research performed and published today is highly exaggerated, purposefully misrepresented or just plain outright fraud. To make a long story short, all those purported breakthroughs published everyday in both scientific journals and the general media no longer result in any worthwhile improvements in our ability to solve those problems.

There are many reasons why progress in scientific research (as measured by our ability to do useful and hitherto impossible things) has stagnated since the 1970s and 1980s, or why no truly novel and groundbreaking technologies have emerged since the mid-1990s. A good part of the blame can be placed on the infiltration and domination of neoliberal ideology in both public and privately funded research. The current centralized and fickle nature of financial support for researchers also has a negative effect on research. We cannot also forget the effect of perverse incentives on the overall process.

“Scientific” research into nutrition and health is one of the areas where this rot is highly visible- even to the general public, and for good reason. As many of you know, the most embarrassing public failures attributed to medical research (and remembered as such) by the general public concern the many solipsistic, dishonest and often outright fraudulent examples of dietary recommendations pushed by “scientists” and “experts” over the last few decades. In case you have forgotten some of the stunners, let me refresh your memory.

Some of you may might have heard about a pompous and greedy ivy-league creature called Ancel Keys cherry-picked data to show that dietary fats, rather than carbohydrates, was linked to atherosclerotic heart disease. It is also no secret that during the 1960s-1990s, many large corporations marketing carbohydrate based food funded scientific “research” which then “proved” that carbohydrates were “healthy” while fats were “unhealthy”. This was also the era when cigarette manufacturers funded studies which allegedly showed smoking to have no link with an increased risk of lung cancer or emphysema.

In other words, all those “acclaimed” and “objective” scientists in ivy-league league universities were (and are) as corrupt as the proverbial crooked inspector in a third-world country. I could go on and list tons of other cases where dietary guidelines reached after “extensive studies” proved to be worse than useless and were later found out to be based on highly irregular data analysis. For example, average levels of salt-intake have no worthwhile association with blood pressure in most people. And yes.. I am aware that 10-15 % of the population is more sensitive to salt intake than the remaining 85-90%.

My point is that population-wide reduction in levels of smoking, better treatment of hypertension and heart disease have been the principal reasons behind the decrease in mortality and morbidity from cardio- and cerebro- vascular diseases. The effect of these factors is most obvious when you start correlating the chronological decrease in the incidence of these diseases with the introduction of better anti-hypertensive drugs, statins and improved methods and protocols for treating strokes and heart-attacks. Dietary guidelines based on biased “studies, on the other hand, have made people fatter and less healthy that would otherwise be the case.

A recently uncovered example of the inherently fraudulent nature of “official” nutrition research involves uncovering of highly questionable stuff going in the research group of Brian Wansink at Cornell, where he hold an endowed chair. Wansink also just happens to be the former head of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion at the USDA. While I encourage you to read the link in the previous sentence and this one for the long-form version of this story, the short summary is as follows. This “respected ivy-league” professor strongly and often directly encouraged his graduate students to start with a media-friendly headline and then statistically torture data to fit whatever the wanted to publish.

He wanted his graduate students and postdocs to make up scientific “facts” based on manipulated data to justify whatever he thought was fashionable or would result in more grant money and fame. It is especially damning that he casually joked about doing this for many years in email exchanges with his students. The degree of openness and candor he displayed also suggests that doing “research” in this manner was pretty common in this area. Some of you might see this case as an exception, however my experience in research over the years suggests that he was just unlucky enough to get caught. And this brings us the next question- what if his “usual research practices” had never been uncovered?

Well.. if Wansink had never been exposed, he would still be regarded as a highly respected academic with impeccable credentials whose “research” would continue to be published in “respectable” peer-reviewed journals and form the basis of various policies concerning “healthy eating” and “nutrition”. Some of his graduate students would go on to be appointed to the faculty of other universities and keep performing what is basically scientific fraud and be rewarded with tenure, pay raises and fame. The biggest losers in this whole scheme would be all those credulous idiots who kept believing in the “objectivity” of scientific research- especially as it concerns the field of nutrition.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. bignixon
    February 28, 2018 at 10:37 pm

    when it comes to nutrition you have a particular level of idiot. witness the ongoing debates between gary taubes (idiot) vs. alan aragon (bad ass mother fucker). or all the current keto heads.

  2. MikeCA
    March 1, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    There has always been some level of deception by some people doing scientific research. The scientific process requires researchers to publish enough information about their method that other researches can reproduce your study. Now doing research to try to reproduce some other researcher’s result is not glamours and it is harder to get funding.

    Look at what happened with “cold fusion”. In 1989 Fleischmann and Pons claimed to observe nuclear reactions at room temperature that produced excess heat and nuclear by products of fusion. They claimed these results could only be explained by fusion at room temperature. (Nuclear fusion takes place in the core of the sun at very high temperatures and pressures. It also takes place in an H-bomb, but an H-bomb requires a shaped nuclear fission bomb to create high enough temperatures and pressures to trigger the fusion.)

    Prior to cold fusion Fleischmann was considered one of the leading electrochemists.

    You do know that the reaction they allegedly “discovered” has been sporadically reported for over 60 years before them.. right?

    This result was totally unexpected and contradicted everything people believed they knew about nuclear fusion. Hundreds of scientists tried to reproduce the Fleishmann-Pons results. Most could not reproduce the result, but a few groups claimed to reproduce the result. Sceptical scientists finally were able to find errors in the Fleishmann-Pons experiment and discovered that no nuclear byproducts had actually been detected. The few groups that had claimed to reproduce the result, withdrew their finding, some admitting errors in their experiments.

    There are a few privately funded groups that are continuing to do research on cold fusion. They have generally not tried to publish any results in peer reviewed journals.

    Are you aware of something called the Farnsworth Fusor? Desktop fusion has been possible for many decades, it is just that reliable methods to achieve it require far more input energy than they give out.

    In the case of cold fusion the claimed result was so unexpected and, if true, potentially important many groups tried to immediately reproduce it. Research on less important topics that are not as unexpected are less likely to be quickly reviewed the way cold fusion was. Eventually people will review the results.

    Scientist have always made mistakes, either accidentally or deliberately, but the scientific process is self correcting, when political or religious constraints do not exist. I agree that corporate funding of research is a problem.


    Most scientists are frauds with petit bourgeois pretensions..

    • bignixon
      March 2, 2018 at 12:01 am

      what you’re talking about is pure nonsense. the scientific method is a religious belief or at best applies purely to physical experiments. there hasn’t been any self correcting done in the pseudo science fields of aids research or global warming. as we can see now there isn’t any self correcting done in the nutritional field with everyones current irrational fear of sugar.

      • MikeCA
        March 2, 2018 at 12:33 pm

        “…pseudo science fields of aids research or global warming.”

        Are you one of the HIV/AIDS denier? I remember arguing with lots of people who believed this in the 1990s. The South African government under Thabo Mbeki adopted HIV/AIDS denialism based policies discouraging HIV positive people from seeking treatment. This policy was adopted from 2000 to 2008. Later governments repudiated the policy and the estimate is that 300,000 people died in South Africa because of this policy.

        Are you aware that HIV titres associated with severe illness do not kill CD4 T-helper cells by themselves? Long story short, it took about 15-20 years after HIV-1 and -2 were identified for people to figure out that immune reactions towards infected CD4 cells were the cause of their demise in the body.

        In the mid 1980s right after the discover of HIV, there were good reasons to question whether it was the cause of AIDS. Forty years later there is no longer any reason to question the link. In 1987 hospitals in San Francisco were full of gay men dying from pneumonia and rare skin cancers. After treatments for HIV became available, that is not happening any more. The success of antiretroviral medications in treating people with AIDS, settles the question that HIV has some roll in AIDS.

        As for global warming, this is a hopelessly politicized topic. The basic physics of global warming are very simple and very well understood. Predicting what effect the excess energy being stored in the environment will have is more complicated.

        Belief in anthropogenic global warming or climate change (of any worthwhile degree) is a religious-level scam. Repeating lies and bullshit about “basic physics” and “settled science” means nothing. Only simple-minded iditos who seek religious certainty would believe in computational modeling of complex adaptive systems when you do not understand most of the interactions occurring within it.

      • MikeCA
        March 2, 2018 at 7:06 pm

        “Are you aware that HIV titres associated with severe illness do not kill CD4 T-helper cells by themselves? Long story short, it took about 15-20 years after HIV-1 and -2 were identified for people to figure out that immune reactions towards infected CD4 cells were the cause of their demise in the body.”

        I was aware of this, but I view this as part of the details of how HIV causes AIDS. It in no way justifies the HIV/AIDS denialism that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

        “Belief in anthropogenic global warming or climate change (of any worthwhile degree) is a religious-level scam.”

        This is not an argument against global warming. It means you have never looked at any of science behind global warming. You have decided to simply dismiss it as a religion you don’t believe in.

        Scientist studying in the field are gathering data and doing research to test their theories. The critics of global warming mostly just engage in name calling and silly rhetorical arguments. They are not doing research or trying to prove the theory wrong. They have received wisdom that it is a hoax. It is the anti-climate change side that acts far more like a political or religious movement.

        “Only simple-minded iditos who seek religious certainty would believe in computational modeling of complex adaptive systems when you do not understand most of the interactions occurring within it.”

        I understand the simple underlying physics of global warming. As CO2 content of the atmosphere increases, more energy from the sun is stored in the earth and less is radiated back out into space. No knowledgeable person questions this basic physics.

        The uncertainty and models come in when you ask what happens to that extra energy. Most models predict that 95% of the extra energy will be stored in the ocean and only 5% will go into heating the air and land. You are correct that we don’t really understand the interaction of the ocean, air and land well enough predict with certainty where the energy will go and what the result will be.

        This is a chart of average ocean surface temperatures:

        These temperatures have been rising since 1970, but these are only the surface temperatures. There is much less data available for deep ocean temperatures.

        Surface temperatures have been rising and the ocean temperatures have been rising. Now maybe all the excess energy will end being stored in the deep ocean and only modest changes will happen to the Earths climate. Maybe there is some negative feedback mechanism no one has thought of that will reduce the rate extra energy is being stored.

        Global warming scientists predict if we do nothing, in a few hundred years the Antarctica ice sheet will melt and sea levels will rise by 9 feet as a result. You dismiss that prediction as the ravings of a religious fanatic, but in this case the fanatic has data and computer models and all you offer in response is name calling an labelling.

        I know how easy it is to manipulate data to show anything you want.. Anthropogenic “climate change” is secular Catholicism.


    • MikeCA
      March 2, 2018 at 7:17 pm

      “Are you aware of something called the Farnsworth Fusor? Desktop fusion has been possible for many decades, it is just that reliable methods to achieve it require far more input energy than they give out.”

      I was aware of this device. It causes fusion by super heating gases with electricity. It is not cold fusion by any stretch of the imagination.

      “Most scientists are frauds with petit bourgeois pretensions.”

      This is your opinion. Some scientists clearly are frauds and top scientists suffer from no lack of ego, but as I said, science without political or religious interference is self correcting. There are scientist that would love to expose the fraud of top scientists at prestigious institutions and bring them down.

      “Self-correction” is worthless if the time-scale for that occurring exceed a decade.

      • P Ray
        March 3, 2018 at 3:22 am

        The usual “in the end the truth will come out”.
        There’s a problem with that:
        1. There are at least 2 victims in a deception –
        the person who spent their money on a lie,
        the person who lost a sale because the other person spent their money on a lie.

        If the truth comes out when restitution is impossible, that truth is not only pointless but usually has also morphed into the “duh that’s obvious” category.

    • bignixon
      March 3, 2018 at 1:05 am

      so all you have to do to prove hiv causes aids is show me the actual reference that proves it “scientifically”. you didn’t because you can’t because it doesn’t exist. not saying “HIV” doesn’t exist. just that in america it’s different than africa and that the man who “discovered” it says that it can be cured with a proper diet and rest. speaking of discovery, isn’t it odd how HIV happens to show up in hepatitis blood samples from the 1970? odd how no one manifested aids before the 80s. and also it happens to be the only homophobic virus known to exist. it’s so strange how this one disease seems to find people who have horribly compromised immune systems already. so odd.

      as for global warming, since you seem to be so interested, how come you haven’t really looked into it? or maybe you can explain why the earth was much warmer annually back when we didn’t have suvs churning carbon out into the atmosphere.

      also, if anyone’s wondering, I don’t believe the photos from the moon are real. no idea if we actually landed there, but i doubt it. thought i’d just throw that one out there too.

    • MikeCA
      March 3, 2018 at 2:06 pm

      It is very interesting that the HIV/AIDS denialism and global warming denialism have both come up in this thread. I followed and argued with some HIV/AIDS denialists in the 1990s. In the late 1980s the first antiretroviral drug AZT was effective in delaying AIDS. By the mid 1990 there were multi-drug antiretroviral that could surpress HIV and prevent AIDS for long periods of time. The success of these treatment made it clear there was some connection between HIV and AIDS.

      In 1992 several HIV/AIDS denialist founded the magazine Continuum to publish denialism research. The magazine ceased publishing in 2001 after all the editors of the magazine had died from AIDS related conditions.

      The web site AIDSTruth.org is a good source of information on HIV/AIDS denialism. The web site is no longer being maintained, since HIV/AIDS denialism is fading away. Almost all the HIV positive denialists who refused antiretroviral treatment have now died, mostly of AIDS related illnesses.

      The strong linkage between HIV and AIDS was never in serious doubt. The big question was about the mechanism through which HIV infection leads to AIDS. Early RTI-only therapies often had poor and short-term effects on prognosis. The real change in that area came once patients were successfully treated with a combination of RTIs and protease inhibitors. Long story short, it is necessary to reduce HIV loads to almost non-existent levels before it stops killing infected CD4 cells.

      The history of HIV/AIDS denialism is an interesting illustration of how some people can be fooled by misinformation on the Internet. They develop this religious like certainty that the government and scientists are all involved in some huge conspiracy and only they and a small group of followers have seen the truth. In the case of HIV/AIDS denialism, hundreds of thousands of people died because of lack of treatment.

      Global warming denialism has many similarities to HIV/AIDS denialism, but the big difference is that that there are deep pockets who are spending large sums of money to promote global warming scepticism. Combined with the Internet they have fooled far more people and their political contributions have bought off many politicians.

      In 1986 their were real questions about the HIV/AIDS link. By the late 1990s all those question had been answered. Today there are real questions about the accuracy of climate models, but it is clear that temperatures are rising, sea level is rising and glaciers are getting smaller. Denial of that is political or religious received wisdom.

      You do realize that the linkage between HIV and AIDS was determined through hard and adversarial research… right? Also, it was repeatedly demonstrated that a combination of HIV-specific anti-viral drugs could successfully treat AIDS. Now compare that to secret computer models, fudging data to fit predictions to some observations and most importantly- the inability to falsify the theory because its supporters keeps on changing the goalposts.

      • bignixon
        March 3, 2018 at 8:42 pm

        you’re either a troll or just stupid. how can aids be shown to be delayed when there is absolutely no timetable for it’s appearance in your system? how do people die from aids related symptoms but not aids?

        your arguments are all straw man and have nothing to do with actual facts dealing with the topic. odd that you would come to a site like this considering everything it discusses are things you are against.

  3. P Ray
    March 2, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    Good example of fraudulent science in action:
    I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here’s How.

    John Bohannon
    5/27/15 4:23pmFiled to: DEBUNKERY

    Actually management and technology have quite a few of these scams too, they are most appealing for managers or heads of technology departments to seem “advanced” and “highly skilled” – they attend a course for a few days, get a certificate …
    and are then considered more capable than proper university graduates that had to create solutions following a specification.

    • bignixon
      March 3, 2018 at 1:09 am

      fake news on top of fake news. gizmodo writers are bottom of the barrel. everyone and thing in that article is bs. my favorire though is that it implies you can’t eat a chocolate bar every day while also maintaining a low carb diet. what does low carb even mean without the proper context? fucking awful.

      • P Ray
        March 3, 2018 at 3:19 am

        everyone and thing in that article is bs.
        That’s the point of the article: carefully placed money and journalists hungry for a story can spread BS very well.
        The same way Lance Armstrong “won through his own effort”, many Tour de France bike races,
        and Tiger Woods is a “man who believes in family values”, just like McCain.

  4. March 4, 2018 at 6:10 am

    I’ve been PED-free (“no anabolic steroids, no prohormones, no growth hormones, no cutting drugs, no pharmaceutical nor illegal stimulants”) bodybuilding for forty-five years, since I began at age sixteen in 1972. Nutrition is at least as important as training in bodybuilding, so I’ve studied nutrition (which, by the way, is very simple and straightforward when it comes to hypertrophy and reducing bodyfat) and actively observed nutritional trends since about 1973.

    The “dietary fats are bad” nonsense appeared in my early bodybuilding years; I’d already done enough personal research to know it was bullshit. I continued eating my ten whole eggs (among other food) every day for years, pointing out to doctors and friends through the decades that my bodyfat percentage and cholesterol levels remained fine despite having been living on a menu which was claimed unhealthful. I told people that it wasn’t fats but rather it was excess calories and certain food processings which were unhealthful.

    The blatant example of the untrustworthiness of government pronouncements is this: now that it’s officially known the “dietary fats are bad” IS bullshit, the “officials” haven’t come out with any apology for what they previously insisted to the public was “truth”. No statement, “we are so sorry we misinformed you and possibly endangered your health — we were wrong”. Instead, they’ve quietly shifted direction, with a “let’s-ignore-we-ever-said-that, let’s-not-confess-error-lest-we-undermine-our-credibility-and-thereby-undermine-our-control” strategy.

  1. March 10, 2019 at 11:02 am

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