Sacred Cow Disease

linked to a CNN article about a long-term study of a low-fat diet that did not show the expected health benefits. In contrast to the study's authors I do not find this especially surprising. But the reason for studies such as this is to find the way things really work, not just the way we think things work.

What I do find surprising is that attitude evidenced by Dr. Manson, one of the study's authors. She says, “[the results] are somewhat disappointing. We would have liked this dietary intervention to have a major impact on health.” Manson appears to have gone seriously awry with her motivations. Science is not about validating her theory; science is about determining the facts. Science requires objective analysis of the results. Manson and her fellow researchers should not be disappointed that the data does not support their theory. Rather they should be excited that the data gives insight into the reality of the situation.

From the remainder of the article it seems that the researchers have already accepted a solution and are in search of facts to support it. The article offers weaseling from the researchers like claims that the women did not cut enough fat out of their diet and that the study did not account for different kinds of fat. If the theory is that A is correlated to B and the data shows little correlation, the data does not support the theory. Such claims by the researchers are like saying that if adding boogers to silicon wafers has little effect on their yield we should add even more boogers to see if that will have a better effect.

I think what has happened is that the researchers are true believers in the religion of Fat Is Evil. (Apparently not only the creationists let belief pollute their science.) The obsession with being lean seems to have led many, not just the researchers, to conclude that if fat in the body is evil, then so must be fat in the food. Instead of advocating healthy moderation, this religion demands abstinance. Of course a diet consisting solely of fried foods is unhealthy. But so is a diet consisting solely of uncooked fruits and vegetables.

Being healthy is much more than restricting the fat in our diets. Being healthy is about eating, moving, laughing, living, and loving well.

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