Monday, April 18, 2016
Food correctness: Nutrition researchers are undermining science with censorship
The censoring food scientists below demonstrate that they are food faddists and not scientists at all. The faddist has beliefs that he is invested in and which must be defended. A scientist just wants to find what the truth is. As far as I can see there is no such thing as a "healthy" diet. Many people remain healthy on quite extreme diets. So I have no dog in the fight below
In the past couple of years, debate about attacks on free speech has focused on university campuses and the willingness to prevent the discussion of certain ideas. Certain ideas are offensive, we are told, and the feelings of students need to be protected. Far from university being a home for the unencumbered exchange of ideas, anything outside a narrow mainstream is now regarded as verboten.
But things are just as bad within academia itself, particularly at the point where research and policy meet. This has long been the case in the highly politicised world of climate science, but a recent incident involving nutrition science and policy shows that the notion of catastrophic manmade climate change is not the only issue regarded as too important to be debated.
Nina Teicholz is the author of The Big Fat Surprise (read spiked’s review), which argues against the idea that eating fat, particularly saturated fat, is a major cause of heart disease and other illnesses. Teicholz argues that the claim that eating fat is killing us was promoted aggressively by a handful of researchers who lobbied and bullied their way on to a range of policymaking committees until ‘fat is bad’ became official policy and unquestioned orthodoxy. In reality, there has long been plenty of evidence that eating fat is not a problem, and Teicholz argues that the effect of fat’s demonisation has been to push our diets towards an excess of carbohydrate, which she believes is the true culprit in the rise of obesity and diabetes.
Given that this view is a significant challenge to mainstream thinking, it would be valuable for it to be widely discussed. That’s the way science is supposed to work – existing ideas are challenged and either refined or overthrown as new evidence and thinking emerges. Yet those in the nutrition-research establishment, who vehemently disagree with Teicholz, have preferred to close down debate rather than challenge her ideas.
The latest example of this came at the National Food Policy Conference in Washington, DC last week. Teicholz was due to speak on a panel titled ‘Turning nutrition science into policy’. She was planning on criticising the revamped 2015 Dietary Guidelines for America (DGA) for ignoring recent evidence that calls into question previous advice. As she told me by email, in her view, ‘the guidelines themselves, by shifting consumption from fat to carbs, actually played a role in causing the obesity/diabetes epidemics’.
But rather than having the debate out in public, she was no-platformed by the other speakers. ‘I was told that all three members of the panel refused to participate with me’, she said. The conference organisers, who had previously been keen to have her speak, disinvited her a couple of weeks beforehand and replaced her with Maureen Storey, president and CEO of the Alliance for Potato Research and Education – hardly someone who would argue that carbohydrate is a cause of health problems.
Who gets invited to speak at a conference or write in a publication is not a free-speech issue in itself. Event organisers and editors have every right to decide what kind of discussions or articles they want. But disinviting someone under pressure from their critics, and simply for holding views they have already expressed in public and were the basis of the original invitation, is worrying. The organisers should have held their nerve and let Teicholz speak, even if her fellow panellists refused to join her.
As Teicholz tells me: ‘In nutrition science, the mainstream has been very reluctant to embrace debate on issues of fat and carbs. Alternative points of view are not represented in conferences and very little in most of the mainstream press.’ Indeed, she says, those who are open to debate are bullied into pulling back, making it difficult for those researching low-carb diets to get published.
This was not the first time Teicholz had been on the receiving end of censorship. After the DGAs were announced in 2015, she wrote a long article for the British Medical Journal (BMJ) criticising both the content of the guidelines and the manner in which they were prepared. After an exchange of responses (all on the BMJ website), the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a high-profile lobby group, organised a letter demanding that the BMJ retract the original article. Rather than encouraging the widest possible debate about Teicholz’s theory, the CSPI and others, including leading researchers at Harvard and Yale, seemed more interested in suppressing it.
There is a clear public interest in trying to understand why obesity rates spiked upwards from the early Eighties onwards, and why there has been a rapid rise in the diagnosis and prevalence of type-2 diabetes. The orthodox view is that we live in an ‘obesogenic’ environment, combining easy access to the wrong food pushed by profit-obsessed corporations with fewer opportunities for meaningful exercise. Teicholz argues that it is the shift in our eating habits, driven by official advice, that is to blame. That’s an interesting idea and one that deserves discussion and scrutiny.
Of course, Teicholz might be wrong, but by shutting down debate, we don’t get the chance to decide for ourselves. The nutrition-science establishment has decided to protect us from such dangerous thinking, lest we foolishly eat the wrong things or – heaven forbid – start to question their authority. This closing of ranks and shutting of minds in the highest echelons of academia and policymaking is as dangerous as the current shenanigans of censorious students.
A new low in feminist imbecility: They think that sexually transmitted infections are to be proud of
It’s Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Awareness Month, and what better way to promote awareness than... being loud and proud by sharing "I have an STI" with the public?
This liberal trend hasn’t hit the media just yet. Silly me for thinking STI Awareness Month (I wasn’t aware there was such a thing) would have something to do with the education of STI’s and prevention. Instead, we have feisty feminists claiming "victimhood" because they have an STI and are tired of the "stigma" surrounding it. Welcome to the strange-pride generation.
In light of STI Awareness Month, some feminists took to issuing a Twitter hashtag campaign #ShoutYourStatus, where women can declare they have an STI because…courage or something. Yes, there’s actually an entire page devoted to "…the amazing reason women are telling the world they have STIs." The #ShoutYourStatus campaign was a creation of writer Ella Dawson, along with social work student Kayla Axelrod, freelance writer Britni de la Cretaz, and writer/activist Lachrista Greco Their goal is to promote a more open conversation about living with STIs.
In a recent interview with Revelist, an online publication that "media publication delivering quality content to millennial women," de la Cretaz stated, "The truth of the matter is, many people are living, and living happily, as STI+ people… "Being able to be publicly open about my status as someone with genital herpes is a privilege and I want to use that privilege to help other people feel less alone." She even tweeted the following:
That’s news to me – there are more people that have STI’s than don’t? I did a quick Google search on "how many people have STI’s" and it shows the answer to be in the millions, so it’s safe to say de la Cretaz has no idea what the heck she’s talking about.
As Robert Stacy McCain points out on his blog, The Other McCain, "Britni de la Cretaz is a recovering alcoholic who has described substance abuse as a way women 'cope with the weight of living in a white supremacist cisheteropatriarchy.' De la Cretaz has argued that sexually transmitted diseases 'should be destigmatized' because people infected with these diseases suffer 'discrimination . . . fueled by harmful stereotypes . . . rooted in misinformation and scare tactics.' De la Cretaz says the 'myth' that women with sexually transmitted diseases are promiscuous involves 'sex-shaming and a whole lot of misogyny'.
Even more outrageous than women giving Twitter a shout out that they have an STI, is the fact that there’s a woman going around teaching 7th graders that her STI didn’t keep her from having a "fulfilling sex life" and actually made her sex life "healthier and more satisfying than before." That woman’s name is Emily DePasse, a graduate of Salisbury University where she majored in Gender and Sexuality Studies -- of course she did. McCain writes:
DePasse designed her own sex education curriculum, after she said the opportunity to teach the class "fell into my lap…" and "kicked off" her celebration of STI Awareness Month by talking about her "herpes story" with her students. She reflected: "Teaching sex ed this week has taught me that it really, really, REALLY needs to happen over the course of childhood."
DePasse apparently got her assignment to teach sex to seventh-graders at Baltimore Friends School through an internship with "If I Knew," which describes itself on Facebook as a "prevention education project of Jewish Community Services" in Baltimore.
What prevention? There’s no teaching of prevention when there are women like DePasse and her feminist posse who advocate that having an STI is like wearing a red badge of courage, but in reality, it’s the equivalent to wearing the scarlet letter.
Germs Greer under fire for her transgender comments
Controversial feminist and author Germaine Greer has come under fire after she suggested people who identify as transgender have no way of 'knowing' they have been born the incorrect sex.
The host of ABC's Q&A Tony Jones, interrupted Greer to question why she continued to 'dig herself a hole' after she said men who feel 'uncomfortable in the masculine system' do not necessarily belong 'at the other end of the spectrum'.
'If you're a 50-year-old truck driver who's had four children with a wife and you've decided the whole time you've been a woman, I think you're probably wrong,' she said on the program on Monday night.
Greer then went on to suggest the achievements of transgender woman Caitlyn Jenner makes the 'rest of the female population of the world feel slightly wry.'
Jenner was named one of Glamour magazine's 25 Women of the Year in 2015 and Greer accused the former Olympian of 'wanting the limelight' her other family members were enjoying.
'Women are constantly being told that they are not satisfactory as women, that other people make better women than they do,' Greer said on the program.
'The woman of the year may be Caitlin Jenner which makes the rest of the female population of the world feel slightly wry.
'I don't believe that a man who has lived for 40 years as a man and had children with a woman and enjoyed the services - the unpaid services - of a wife, that he then decides that the whole time he's been a woman
'You believed you were a woman but you married another woman. That wasn't fair, was it?'
Tasmanian Labor Senator Lisa Singh and Jones interrupted Greer to ask her view on individuals who know they have been born the wrong sex.
The 77-year-old shot back by saying Australia has a problem with the word 'know' as a transgender person cannot 'know what the other sex is'.
'At the beginning of your answer I thought you were digging yourself out of the hole and now I wonder if you've just shovelled it back in,' Jones said.
The panel - which included retired psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple, Liberal MP Sharman Stone and Aria award winner Joseph Tawadros - then went on to discuss the European Commission's ruling sex assignment surgery on newborn babies was deemed unethical.
Greer agreed with the ruling, claiming a baby should be 'left without interference' until they could make a decision about which gender to align with.
Jones suggested Greer's argument was flawed and asked if a child is deemed to be a boy by his parent's and decides to transition later in life, whether she believed it should be allowed.
'No, I'm not saying that at all. That not what I said,' Greer responded.
Social media erupted following Greer's comments with many labelling her as 'transphobic'.
'Germaine Greer is not a true feminist. A true feminist cares about the rights of all women, not just cisgender women,' one woman wrote.
'Someone please tell Germaine that it's 2016. My gender is not up for you to decide Germaine,' another said.
UK: 72% of struck off doctors are from overseas
Nearly three-quarters of doctors struck off the medical register in Britain are foreign, according to shocking figures uncovered in a Mail on Sunday investigation.
Medics who trained overseas have been banned from practising for a series of shocking blunders and misdemeanours.
Cases include an Indian GP who ran an immigration scam from his surgery, a Ghanaian neurosurgeon who pretended he had removed a patient’s brain tumour, and a Malaysian doctor who used 007-style watches to secretly film intimate examinations with his female patients.
The revelations come just a week after it emerged health bosses want to lure 400 trainee GPs here from India, to help ease short-staffing in the NHS.
Last night Julie Manning, chief executive of think-tank 2020 Health, said: ‘The NHS has thrived on many international doctors coming to work in the UK – but the public needs reassuring they are all truly fit to practise in the first place.’
Figures obtained by The Mail on Sunday via the Freedom of Information Act reveal that 460 doctors were struck off from January 2010 to December 2015. Of those 330 (72 per cent) trained abroad, and 130 in the UK (28 per cent). Foreign-trained doctors now make up a third of NHS doctors.
Indian GP Bhajanehatti Lakshminarayana, 71, was struck off after being caught abusing his position to help refugees and asylum seekers stay in Britain – for cash. He charged them £80 a time to write letters containing false information supporting immigration applications.
Brain surgeon Dr Emmanuel Kingsley Labram, 61, from Ghana, repeatedly told a woman he had removed a tumour during an operation at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary when he had not.
He actually only extracted four small fragments for biopsy. He hid the truth for two years. She only found out the tumour was still in her head after she went private – and was told it was inoperable.
Malaysian GP Davinder Jeet Bains used a ‘Spy Watch’ to covertly video consultations with female patients, some of whom he sexually violated while pretending to examine them. He is currently serving a ten-year jail sentence for offences against 27 women, aged 14 to 51.
Sudan-trained Dr Ashraf Kamal Elnazir, 55, swindled Kensington neighbour Gabriella Adler-Jensen out of £820,000. The widow was ‘in poor mental and physical health’ but he manipulated her so she bestowed ‘virtually the entirety of her estate’ on him. He was struck off in 2013 for ‘disgraceful misconduct’, but never convicted of a criminal offence.
Other cases involve appalling incompetence. Italian-trained GP Dr Alex Ihekwoaba Chimezie was struck off after he failed to spot heavily pregnant Donna Hunt, 22, had pneumonia and sent her home with paracetamol.
Three days later, she was rushed into hospital. Doctors performed an emergency caesarean and saved the baby – but Miss Hunt died the next day.
Of the foreign trained doctors who were struck off, by far the largest contingent came from India, followed by Pakistan and Nigeria.
Dr Ramesh Mehta, president of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, admitted ‘there is a problem’ with the high strike-off rate among foreign doctors. But he claimed racism played a part.
Complaints about ethnic minority doctors tended to get ‘escalated and formalised’ very quickly, he said, while complaints about white British doctors were more often dealt with by ‘sitting down and sorting it out’.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: ‘International medical graduates make a huge contribution to healthcare in the UK and the overwhelming majority provide safe and compassionate care.
‘But we do recognise that doctors from overseas can find it difficult to adapt to practising here. ‘We expect employers to support doctors from overseas and to make sure they are familiar with local policies, procedures and customs.’
Strong women don’t need to whine about sexists calling us ‘totty’
["Totty" is British slang for a good-looking person, usually a woman: From "Tot". Similar to the American "Babe"]
At a glitzy party recently, I was making small-talk with a group of Westminster types when somebody pinched my bum. Surprised, I swivelled round to identify the offender and saw the grinning face of Sir Alan Duncan MP, one-time Tory minister of state, now knight of the realm.
As everyone in political circles knows, Sir Alan is gay and happily committed to his other half in a civil partnership, so there was no suggestion that his cheeky gesture was a come-on.
Nonetheless, it prompted some entertaining banter among fellow guests about the interaction between politicians and female journalists, and the unwritten rules of the game.
‘I can’t get away with anything like that these days,’ was the rueful response of a Cabinet minister who witnessed the incident. He was right to exercise caution, for as the unfortunate MP who dared to describe political reporter Isabel Hardman as ‘totty’ this week has found, not all female journalists take flirtatious behaviour in good part.
Like Hardman, I thought carefully before wading into this debate. I have the greatest respect for her as a journalist and commentator, and am loathe to criticise a colleague, particularly another woman. There are precious few of us ladies in the lobby (the club of officially accredited political journalists based at the Houses of Parliament) and we should stick together.
That said, I was amazed by the way Hardman handled the incident and fear she may come to regret it.
Hardman, who is assistant editor of the Spectator magazine, took the drastic decision to complain to party whips after an unnamed MP remarked that he wanted to ‘talk to the totty’ after bumping into her near the Houses of Parliament. (She has since received a private apology from the unnamed individual, who is described as being ‘of the older generation’.)
On social media, she said she had decided to take a stand on behalf of other women in the parliamentary lobby. It is a sensitive matter, so I am treading carefully but, in this case, she certainly does not speak for me: I do not think she should have complained to whips, over what seems to have been a trivial incident.
The interaction between MPs and political journalists at Westminster is governed by a plethora of unwritten rules, the simplest and most serious of which is that casual conversational exchange is ‘off the record’. If MPs cannot take this for granted and relax with journalists, the whole system (which serves politicians and the media extremely well) is undermined.
She had many other recourses to deal with the MP in question. For a start, she could have taken him to task herself. I have no doubt he would have been mortified and would never make the same mistake again.
Perhaps she felt this would be too embarrassing (though in my experience, it is perfectly possible to get such messages across with charm). If so, she could have dropped him a line, or given him a call, making it plain that she felt his comment was inappropriate.
The Westminster grapevine would have been an even more effective tool. She could simply have put it about that the old git had offended her and it would have quickly got back to him.
Instead, she did the equivalent of running to teacher to tell tales. The MP concerned was hauled before the whips for a dressing down and, as a result, in the corridors of power, there has been more than a little muttering.
If Hardman wanted to send out a wider message, it certainly worked. The trouble is, at best, her reaction looks humourless. At worst, it looks attention-seeking and I know she is not like that.
Of course, I don’t condone sexism in the workplace or anywhere else. In theory, Hardman certainly has the moral high ground. I can quite see why, with her intelligence she bristled at being described as ‘totty’.
As she has not divulged any other details of the exchange, we do not know the tone in which the remark was made. If it was meant lasciviously or dismissively, of course it would be insulting.
Having had numerous such experiences over the years, I strongly suspect that the ‘culprit’ was being mildly, if clumsily, flirty. Westminster is full of old buffers who fancy their chances - indeed, another political journalist, Julia Hartley-Brewer, said yesterday that a Tory MP who is now a ‘senior member of the Cabinet’ repeatedly put his hand on her knee during dinner some years ago.
My guess is the MP meant it as a light-hearted compliment to Hardman, rather than a slight to her impressive professional credentials. There is a case to be argued that she should have been pleased. After all, he expressed the inclination to talk to her, over and above whoever else was there.
As journalists, our business is information-gathering. If a handful of male MPs are a little more forthcoming because we wear skirts, who are we to complain? I am not for a minute suggesting female political journalists flaunt themselves for the sake of a story - though it has been known.
Years ago, a Telegraph journalist (who has long since moved on to other things) used to make a point of being scantily-clad and positioning herself in the middle of the lobby (an area of the Commons restricted to MPs and journalists) where male MPs would ‘queue’ to talk to her.
The lobby is a competitive environment and she used her gender to her advantage. It happens every day in workplaces up and down the country. What’s the big deal?
What surprises me most is that Isabel Hardman is a well-established political journalist, with nothing to prove. Had the remark been directed at a new kid on the block, I could have understood the fuss. Surely she is too clever a writer to be offended by a flippant comment from some old fart?
The sadness is that male MPs will be a little more guarded next time they talk to her and, no doubt, to the rest of us. That’s the last thing we journalists want.
I don’t suppose anyone will call her ‘totty’ again but if they do, I suggest she smiles sweetly, issues a cutting rebuke and remembers that when it comes to interactions between politicians and journalists, one way or another, we usually have the last laugh.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.