Welcome all seeking refuge from low carb dogma!

“To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact”
~ Charles Darwin (it's evolutionary baybeee!)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Update: Gary Taubes, Email & My Response

I was recently invited by Jimmy Moore to appear on his podcast in response to some of my recent posts on Gary Taubes' most recent lecture and his interview with Jimmy.  This elicited the following email to me from Gary Taubes.  (Aside:  My email is open to anyone who wishes to use it through my profile here).  At his request, I have included it in its entirety here along with my responses.  Taubes' words are in default font, my responses are in green italics.


Hi Carb Sane,
   I hope you don't mind me taking the liberty of e-mailing you. Jimmy Moore told me that you might be going on his show,  which prompted me to try to read a few of your latest blog entries. Occasionally, friends have suggested I read and respond to your critiques (attacks?) , but whenever I try I find them tough going. Your descriptions of what I wrote or said or argued never quite seem to mesh with what I actually wrote or said or argued and your certainty that you are right and that I'm a dishonest sleazeball have made me hesitant to spend time and effort trying to convince you otherwise.

No problem emailing me.  It is better than hearing from you second hand through Fred Hahn for example.  Can you provide me with one example of where I have mischaracterized what you wrote or said??  As to my opinions of you and your motivations they have developed over time reading and listening to you.  Whether or not you feel compelled to convince me otherwise is up to you.  I'm just another blogger on the internet after all.  Critique v. attack is a fine line.  When I discover something that is intellectually dishonest (as I find your omission of glyceroneogenesis in GCBC to be, for example), I'll call it as I see it.   

   In this case, though, you asked me a simple question, to "name names", as you put it, once again implying that even on such a simple subject as this I'm bullshitting the innocent public. So, the "biggest expert in the country" (I hope I didn't phrase it like that, but doing a radio show is a different business than writing, so if I did... sigh) was indeed Richard Hanson. If you look in the acknowledgements of GC,BC you'll see Hanson among those thanked for reading the book and critiquing it in draft. You can e-mail him and ask him, if you'd like, although when I contacted him in March after my NIH lecture, he said he was dealing with cancer and would get back to me shortly. He didn't, and I didn't push it for the obvious reason.

Thank you for naming names.  It seemed odd to me that you so frequently (one could say almost universally) do so in your book and lectures that it came across as odd that you would not do so with the young biophysicist(s) on at least two occasions, and now Hanson.   FWIW, the way you phrased your assessment of Hanson was spot on in my view, we agree!  I just have a hard time believing he would tell you that, circa 2007, your section on G3P was accurate.  

 The two young NIH biophysicists were Kevin Hall and Carson Chow. You can pull up Kevin's papers by searching "Hall kd adipose" in Pubmed. The English guy who agreed with Hall and Chow's take was Keith Frayn at Oxford.

Thanks again for these.  I must say that my suspicions on the "English guy" were wrong.  Hence my thinking of why you might not wish to name him at this point.  Still, you now say you were corrected in 2008.  Why did it take until the most recent lecture to leave out what you knew was obviously wrong from the lectures, and to finally admit you got it wrong in your interview with Jimmy?  Your excuse that you don't have a blog or a platform doesn't pass the smell test.  You've "taken questions" and responded to Dr. Eades' readership before, I've seen him share communications from you on his blog, as have others (e.g. Josef Brandenberg).  If I used a default template I could have had my blog up and running here in 5 minutes, and you know for sure that you would have a hundred followers in a matter of hours.  I'll be looking into Hall and Chow's research to see if it warrants a conclusion that the G3P issue doesn't matter because insulin is such a controlling factor in it all.

  Feel free to ask any further questions. As I suggested to James Krieger in an e-mail exchange a few months ago I'm all for critical assessments of the evidence and my interpretations. And I make this point in the epilogue of GC,BC. It's absolutely necessary. Science doesn't function without it and I wish the establishment would care as much as you do about shooting me down. (Far more pleasing than being ignored, although ideally they would do more intellectually honest job of it than you do.)

Excuse me?  Where have I demonstrated dishonesty - intellectual or otherwise?  I have addressed problems with your theories with evidence.  Where did I go wrong in my analysis of Shai for example?  If it seems like I and others care a lot about "shooting you down" it is because you have a large and loyal following that deserves to know the truth, not separated from more of their money in a desperate search for answers.  To that end I don't think you should be instructing medical professionals in theories when you have neither the background nor the qualifications to do so (again, my opinion).  If you aren't going to volunteer to correct your errors, others will have to raise the noise level.  I see nothing wrong with this.  Actually, in the interest of science, don't you think those of us possessing evidence counter to your theories are obligated to share that?  So again, why the two year lag?  Can you see where that lag alone, aside from the facts, doesn't cast you in a good light?  It seems only when enough evidence was posted demonstrating that not only were you wrong, but you should have known that you were prior to the publication of GCBC, did you finally decide to speak out.

If I can help you criticize my work, and do a better job, I'm happy to help. I just ask that you do a better job of describing correctly what I actually wrote and said and argued.

Again, please provide details specifics of where I have described what you wrote or said inaccurately.  

As it is you're getting a failing grade and the glass house you're living in when you write your critiques seems awfully fragile.

Oh ... was I being graded?  Who is grading me?  LOL.   Please show me the graded exam Sir.  Which critiques are on fragile ground?  SPECIFICALLY.

 Also the ad hominem shit is beneath you and doesn't help your case any. You seem compelled to attack me  for what you perceive as dishonesty and venality (taube$) when scholarly incompetence, time-pressure, stress and the limitations of one admittedly fallible individual would be far more reasonable explanations.

Ooooh ad hominem!  She made an ad hominem!!  Sheesh.  This is a familiar pattern I've seen with others in your circle of friends.  Just saying is all.  I won't waste time distracting from the facts by addressing my occasional speckling of posts with my opinions and speculations on your motivations, etc.  

Since I have your ear, perhaps you can specifically address the issue I raised in Glyceroneogenesis v. Taubes.  That being how you could have still written what you did in light of the fact that the 2003 Reshef paper (Hanson coauthor) was among the references in GCBC, and the content thus known to you well in advance of publication.  

Frankly, I consider financial interests to be a relatively understandable explanation for your behavior relative to your other proposed alternatives.  After all, you have to make a buck right?  Kids, as you mentioned a few times in your latest interview, to put through college.  It is forgivable that you let GCBC go to print with known errors because you had a large advance that was no doubt spent doing all of your research.  The same goes with honest mistakes that may or may not have been compounded by stress and time constraints.  But to not correct the record in the intervening years?
Would you REALLY prefer I charge you with scholarly incompetence?  Actually that would be an explanation had you not hit on at least a few references that already refute many of your theories.   But if you claim this as a defense, what on Earth are you doing lecturing (educating) others?

Your work would be more compelling and would certainly be taken more seriously if you left your presumption of motive -- something you can know nothing about -- out of it.

Perhaps.  I'll let my readers decide.  Seems I'm taken rather seriously just being me.  I think my readers are smart enough in their own right to know that I'm venting/speculating my opinions.  They're free to draw their own conclusions.  Again, is there some explanation for the Reshef/G3P contradiction I'm missing?

It’s as though you’re dedicated here not just to proving that you’re smarter than I am, but that you’re morally superior as well. The first ambition is diminished greatly by the second. You say you fear cyberstalkers in your life, and yet you come across like someone who has devoting their life to stalking me.

Sorry, I'm back now.  I think I have the laughter under control.  Is your ego really that out of control that you are accusing me of devoting my life to stalking you?  Do you have a clue just how silly that sounds?  As of receipt of your email my blog contained 169 posts only 11 of which were tagged GCBC fact check, and a handful specifically addressing your work directly.  (That total count doesn't even include probably at least half that many additional posts lying in my draft bin waiting for finishing touches while I tend to what sparks my interest on a particular day).  I did really start my blog (and continue to post regularly on everything from fatty acid contents of foods to in depth analyses of studies to posting links and abstracts for future reference) to organize and share my research.  Since I'm interested in getting the science right, you've been on my radar screen as a prominent voice who has gotten a lot wrong.  I don't care if anyone thinks you're smarter or I'm smarter or what.  That's just childish.  As for moral superiority?  I make no claims there either.  But I'm sure not the first blogger on the web to express an opinion or to speculate on dishonest behavior when I see it.  

As to my concerns re: cyberstalking these are specific to the nature of personal issues I've shared.  I'm already concerned that you seem to be aware of this concern using that particular term, as I've only ever used it in my emails with Jimmy (re: our upcoming podcast interview).  I don't think Jimmy intended to betray a confidence, but this kind of thing can happen too easily for my comfort.  Frankly, I don't really care if folks on the internet know everything about me so much as I do not want real life acquaintances to know as much about me as I've shared on the personal blog.  I think most of my readers would understand that or at least have no interest in wasting time on malicously pursuing me.  I still share the information in hopes that it might help others who see a bit of me in themselves ... in the hopes that my journy out of binds I've been freed from gives hope that others can gain freedom too.  But, on the internet you never know if there's someone out there with malicious intent, so I maintain anonymity for my own protection.  If anyone reading this feels I'm somehow less credible for it, let them judge for themselves and find another blog to read, perhaps.  There could be no reason other than malice to attempt to "out" me.  It certainly would add nothing of substance to the discussion.  In the end, I'm not selling anyone anything.  I write on a free blog site and nobody needs ever read a word I write.  I could weigh 100 or 800 lbs and eat Pritikin or drink 4L of Coke a day or survive on coconut milk and jerky, and it still doesn't change the serious inconsistencies I've uncovered in your work.   Your work being published for profit and referenced ubiquitously in the LC community as a "definitive" work.   If you're going to present yourself as an expert, you should be prepared to answer to critical reviews of your work.  I'm all ears if/when someone finds an error in my research or interpretations of data.  THAT will lead to constructive discourse.  Not crying "ad hominem" any time someone criticizes your work on the basis of the evidence.  And certainly not accusing your detractors of stalking!  I'm not following you around the country heckling you at lectures or delving into your personal life.  Even if my blog were All GCBC Critique All the Time, that still wouldn't be stalking any more than the various websites that exist solely to pay homage to your book are.  

   Reporting the facts or the strict nature of the disagreement between us would suffice and would actually benefit both your readers and mine. Disagreeing with my interpretation of the facts and the evidence I marshal to support my argument is perfectly valid.

My writing style is what it is.  I think the bulk of my work is reflective of evidence-based arguments.

I might even learn something from your work (although from what I've read so far, I doubt it.)

Just a thought:  When offering advice to others on their writing style, it behooves one to refrain from doing that which they're accusing others of.  If scholarly ineptitude is really your defense, I might suggest you start by reading the various posts I've made under the Insulin Resistance tag so as to correct that flawed theory in your book as well.  Please do report back when you haven't learned a thing.  

Assuming that you know what I was thinking while I wrote and that my motives are less pure than yours, other than from what I  might have stated explicitly in the book, is not necessary and will be counter productive should any serious reader try to follow your arguments.

Again, I'll let my readers decide for themselves the value of the information I present and whether or not sharing my opinion alters its value.  I don't presume to know what you think, I am speculating based on the evidence available to me.   The 2003 reference to Glyceroneogenesis in your book doesn't add up.  And there is more to come as I have discovered some inconsistencies with other references that are even more glaring.  

   I hope this helps.
  All the best,
  Gary Taubes

PS. If you want to post this e-mail, feel free. I just ask that you post the whole thing and not part of it. If you want to keep it private, that's fine with me. I'm CC-ing Jimmy Moore, since it was Jimmy who spurred me to try once again to read your posts.

I think both of you could benefit from reading more of them.


Quick Edit to Add the brief note I sent with the full email:
I've replied with my point by point responses in italics.  I will gladly share your responses in their entirety on my blog, or you can respond in the comments to the post where I've shared this email:

I do look forward to hearing back from you and hope you will address the issues I've raised.



Sanjeev said...

When I first saw the exchanges between Gary Taubes and Dean Ornish I becames a GT fan.

Ornish seemed to me to be pulling any single piece of data out of any study no matter how good or bad.

Then when I discovered ASP, around the time people who were rigorously controlling their Atkins experiments started reporting weight gain, GT's response to me appeared reminiscent of Ornish of old.

GT took it as an abolutely proven, given fact that without insulin one CANNOT store fat and proceeded to deny Atkins dieters could get fat because of ASP.

Again, this happened in the context of people who were rigorous about the diet gaining fat on Atkins. Lex Rooker is one who comes to mind.

It's hearsay and anecdotal but IMHO it's one step above anecdote because of the rigor these folks are employing.

In this context, GT sounds a lot like DO of old.

With the G3P stuff GT's coming back to my original impression of him, but there's still this insulin <-> carbs fantasy which is way over-played, considering all the recent stuff I've learned about insulin from, among others, James Krieger and Carbsane.

Sanjeev said...

sorry - forgot to add one long-standing beef, from way before ASP -

Gary's apparently never heard of doubly labeled water and the poor quality of self-reported obesity studies

CarbSane said...

Your comments reminded me of an exchange GT had with Josef Brandenburg about ASP in June '09

“One thing to keep in mind in all this is the need to explain the observations, not just work with possible mechanisms that can’t explain anything. So one of the observations is weight loss on a high fat diet — the Atkins diet.

“So if ASP was good at sequestering dietary fat away in the fat tissue without carbs being needed, why would people lose weight when they ate an Atkins diet?

I thought to myself at the time, THIS was the well reasoned scientific response one would expect from GT? I had been hearing ad nauseum how brilliant this man was and how many scientific references there were in GCBC. And yet this was his argument? Where's the intellectual curiosity? A cursory literature search on ASP would have likely produced a different response, but I think GT prefers to ignore this one to this day.

But as to his logic above, ummmmmmm, then wouldn't the fact that people lose weight on high carb low fat diets like WW, Nutrisystem, Jenny, Subway sandwiches, Ornish, Pritikin, Slimfast, Medifast, etc. etc. be "evidence" that insulin isn't particularly effective at sequestering fat? Can't have it both ways!!

“Another observation we’re trying to understand, as I point out in lectures, is the obesity in poor populations eating low-fat, high carb diets. So there ASP would be irrelevant. Now if we had obesity in populations eating low-carb, high-fat diets, that would be telling and a reason to invoke ASP, but, as far as I know, no such populations exist.

Few LCHF populations exist period. As to the poor populations exhibiting obesity? Taubes' own favorite Pimas are evidence COUNTER to this assertion. The traditional "sprightly" Pima ate a relatively high carb diet, the modern "poor" Pima have gotten fat on the SAD (high in poor quality fat and carb).

“So maybe ASP plays a role in obesity in rats that are fed high fat diets, but we’re not all that interested in rats.”

So why does he keep using that slide of the genetically altered fat rat in his lectures? Again, can't have it both ways. Either animal models are instructive (and within limits they are) or we're not interested in any information we might get from the studies. Just another example of Taubes' selective use of science.

Miki said...

I am sure that there are flaws in Taubes understanding of the world. It seems to me there are also some flaws in your perception of Taubes on a personal level. It is a pity as it probably prevents a fruitful discussion between the two of you.

CarbSane said...

Miki, this is not about Taubes' "understanding of the world", it is about his understanding about fat metabolism. Keep in mind that he LECTURES (e.g. educates) at institutions of higher learning! Shame on them, frankly.

Also, this isn't about my perception of Taubes. I'm just expressing an opinion, as he has now done of my work. His of me didn't bother me because (a) it come from someone who doesn't know me and (b) his criticisms aren't true. I'm perfectly comfortable letting my postings here speak for themselves. It seems my criticisms did bother GT. This is telling because one has to ask themselves why. I'm just a relatively obscure blogger and I don't know him to offer personal knowledge. That leaves that I hit on some truth. The whole "doth protest too much" thing. Why else would he feel the need to critique my work (a distraction because my work is not the issue here) rather than set the record straight on his (THE issue here)?

Because he doesn't really want to address the inconsistencies in his work despite ample opportunity to do so. I would ask Taubes' ardent supporters to imagine a similar scenario involving Ornish.

As it is, whether he answers me directly, or uses some other venue, the internet floor is WIDE open for GT to explain.

malpaz said...

WOW....JUST WOW....i need to do more reading before i CAN comment!

LynMarie Daye said...

"As to the poor populations exhibiting obesity? Taubes' own favorite Pimas are evidence COUNTER to this assertion. The traditional "sprightly" Pima ate a relatively high carb diet, the modern "poor" Pima have gotten fat on the SAD (high in poor quality fat and carb)."

I wonder how much of this has to do with the amount of micronutrients in the diets. Maybe the obese poverty-stricken people have nutrient-poor diets (lots of refined flour, non-fortified foods, few fruits and/or vegetables) and this leads to obesity. I've seen this idea floating around a lot lately. IMHO, there could be something to it.

CarbSane said...

LynMarie I would tend to agree with you on this, make that strongly agree. For the poor in "rich" countries it really is not rocket science to how they can become obese. It is easy to overeat calorie dense, nutritionally devoid foods (I would add that most crap foods like chips, crackers, cakes and candy are low in protein).

I also think we need to separate out the truly impoverished populations from the "poor". The implication that the poor are undernourished and/or eat less but are getting fatter is not accurate in developed nations. In less developed nations, it is clear that malnourishment in childhood can impact such things as thyroid function, etc. in adulthood. I think the widespread use of infant formulas is part of the problem as well, mostly because diluting the formulas to stretch them deprives the infant of proper nutrition at a critical point.

That it is mostly the women after bearing children that become obese needs to be addressed.

none said...


Just for the laymen that might be reading (i.e. me!) how would you summarize what the biggest point(s) of contention are in the Good Calories / Bad Calories Theory?

I gather that Gary T. hasn't publicly corrected some of his material as soon as evidence to the contrary was presented to him.. but in the end, what are the major bullet points of how GCBC is either wrong, or not supported by evidence?


Joe Def said...

Regarding “the women after bearing children that become obese“ in impoverished countries... During pregnancy, women accumulate fat, but few of us attribute that to gluttony or carbs (i.e., even a pregnant Inuit on nearly zero carb diet accumulates fat, I’m assuming).

So, why attribute their failure to lose weight afterwards to either gluttony or carbs? More likely, something like “To become [or remain, in this case] obese (at least without trying really hard), some key regulatory mechanism needs to be broken.” ( Retaining fat after pregnancy is not uncommon in the USA, too, and good ole (often exported) USA wheat might be a common cause.

In my case, I “grew” 30 lbs over a period of 30 years or 10 calories per day (at 3500 cal/lb). Per you, my gluttonous consumption of an extra one-tenth of a tablespoon of coconut oil made me obese. Per Taubes, my 10 calories of daily fat accumulation was due to carbs, but since healthy traditional diets have carbs varying from ~0% (Inuit) to at least ~87% (Irish), how could I have blown it? Either way, the penalty of improper caloric balance or carb ratio seems very disproportionate to the mistake.

My hypothesis is that my regulatory mechanisms were gradually broken. And it seems plausible that, since both our food supply and dietary advice have changed radically, it was due to eating the recommended (recklessly manufactured) grain centric diet.

Both you and Taubes concede that hormones and broken metabolisms can drive “special situation” obesity, but it seems for “ordinary” obesity, you are stuck on caloric balance and Taubes on carbs. Can’t the reason be hormones and broken metabolisms in all cases of obesity? Even the “obvious” gluttons can simply be slaves to physical addictions ( perhaps created when “innocent” toddlers (e.g, by too much “healthy” juice or “healthy” whole grains).

CarbSane said...

Joe, I'm not sure why you put the words "gluttony and sloth" in my mouth. I believe in calorie balance as a matter of physical law. Comes down to what goes in must come out or it adds to your mass. It is easy to get slightly out of balance in the modern world of instant gratification. I don't really see that the average diet has become any more grain centric as a result of the dietary recommendations. Few people are listening or Coke & Pepsi would be out of business, not selling hand over fist. Fat phobia seems to have changed the nature of fats consumed, but the amount very little (actually it increased slightly in absolute amounts).

Folks can become overweight, as you did, simply by "passively overeating". Indeed it's probably the most insidious way to gain weight because you buy slightly larger clothes in small increments until one day you wake up and look in the mirror and wonder how did I get so fat. Hormones and metabolisms need not be "broken" or "out of whack" for this to happen. We're simply not "wired" to regulate intake so precisely when food is readily available in excess, eaten for social reasons, eaten at planned times, etc. FWIW, I'm coming to the conclusion that the absolute worst dietary advice we've been handed is the whole never skip a meal, most importantly breakfast nonsense.

I'm not so sure I buy into physical addictions to foods, although I do believe it may be possible with liquid sugar. Starches? Not really buying it. I've not seen many "carb addicts" go on a boiled potato binges to satisfy their cravings. I'm sure that will piss a few people off, but as a former binge eater who doesn't even have the desire to overeat let alone stuff my face anymore when I DO eat carbs, it is my belief that most food addictions are psychological, not physiological. Glucose and Fructose are not psychoactive at normal "doses" unlike alcohol and various drugs (legal or otherwise). Alcohol and drugs are mind altering drugs that impair judgment. This is why total abstinence is often the only way to beat an addiction. One drink leads to impaired judgment, etc. One slice of toast or glass of Coke does not impair judgment. The impetus to binge is psychological IMO.

CarbSane said...

@Ben: Welcome to my blog and thanks for your question. I think it might be helpful for me to comment on The 11 Critical Conclusions in GCBC (I'll focus on the obesity related ones). That's a great idea for a post! I'll do that soon.

James Krieger said...

One of the biggest strawmen created by Taubes is his treatment of "positive caloric balance" and "gluttony/sloth" as equivalent, when they are not. One can be in positive caloric balance without being a "glutton" or "sloth." As Carb Sane states, positive caloric balance is a matter of physical law. You cannot gain overall tissue mass without a positive caloric balance.

Quelle said...

As a reader I would say that your style of writing a slandering/demeaning critic (taube$ etc.) isn't perhaps the best method to get Taubes to response again to your arguments. I would have liked to see more back and forth emailing about these matters.

"It’s as though you’re dedicated here not just to proving that you’re smarter than I am, but that you’re morally superior as well. "

I got the same feeling when reading these posts.

Don't get me wrong, I like reading critic to GCBC. It is always a learning experience. but your style just makes you look bad. Especially if you get caught on some matter that you were wrong. Where is the humility?

CarbSane said...

isn't perhaps the best method to get Taubes to response again to your arguments. I would have liked to see more back and forth emailing about these matters.

I think you misunderstand the purpose of this blog. It's not so I can email back and forth with Gary Taubes. He was made aware of my first post questioning his character and motivations (that being Glyceroneogenesis v. Taubes). It was during the composition of that post that I discovered Taubes knew, or should have known that his G3P theory was wrong. This is an open blog, as of this time I don't even moderate my comments, Fred Hahn posted a few here, I'm not sure what the impediment to posting would have been for Taubes. The comments on my blog are a place we can all discuss what I've posted. But, at this point we've got this "open" email exchange. I'll try to keep my questions more specific, but I'm not going to change my style.

As an example, in the Shai post I was playing on words because Taubes' presentation of those results were misleading. I think having to leave the G3P stuff out of his lecture he needed something else to support his hypothesis, the evidence in support of which is unraveling.

He sneered at bloggers in his interview with Jimmy who have an interest in this issue.

It is simply my opinion that Taubes' judgment is clouded by financial interests. He claims otherwise. I report, you decide, I guess.

Thanks for reading Quelle, and welcome to my blog!

James Krieger said...

I don't see how CarbSane's writing style is any more slandering or demeaning than Taubes's style himself. Taubes's writing style can be very demeaning towards scientists. It is often in a very clever and subtle way...but it is still demeaning nonetheless (and Carb Sane has pointed this out numerous times). Thus I think Taubes should follow his own advice of "people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

Sanjeev said...

"isn't perhaps the best method to get Taubes to response again to your arguments"

As a relative told me once, "you catch more flies with honey"

To which I replied:
"thanks for the how-to ...
Next time I want pathogens (dogsh*t from a fly's legs) in my honey I'll remember that."

Sanjeev said...

"Next time I want pathogens (dogsh*t from a fly's legs) in my honey I'll remember that."

I don't remember how I got the parentheses into a spoken sentence. It wasn't the index and middle finger air quote.

CarbSane said...

Aw C'mon James! Don't you know only his critics resort to ad hominem attacks! This is a common tactic amongst his ilk. While he sits on his pedestal, as stated in his book, holding researchers to a rigorous standard. He claims he hopes to be held to the same standard. Only when it is pointed out that his work barely reaches mediocre, he can't take it. I've seen researchers called idiots, accused of being in it for the funding and manipulating their experiments to get a desired result, and probably inundated with nasty emails when their study doesn't yield the desired pro-LC result. It is pretty sickening to me to see this level of loss of objectivity in many LC advocates.

Razwell said...
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Razwell said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CarbSane said...

Razwell, if you wish to contribute constructive comments, even criticizing me, then do so. But this blog is not a platform for your rants against others with whom you have some ax to grind.

Greg said...

I was looking forward to reviewing these critiques of Taubes until I realized that personal attacks were part of them- now I am dreading it.

The mindset that would pretend to know someone else's motivations is often the same as the one that will pretend to know the science at hand.

ericagott said...

I just listened to your interview with Jimmy Moore. While I find your ideas interesting and will follow up with them, I really hated your attacks on Gary Taubes. Not that you disagreed with him, but your personal attacks. He may or may not have the right answers, but he's bringing a lot more attention to the whole low-carb deal, and that's a good thing.

This post of yours with your responses to him? Absolutely over-the-top venom and I am now finding it hard to take you seriously. Quit taking him so personally and just give us the facts that prove GT wrong, ok?

CarbSane said...

Well Erica, you are certainly welcome to your opinion, but I'll continue to write how I write. Seems no amount of facts will sway the true believers though. I didn't attack Taubes in the interview. Welcome to the Asylum.

lolhaha said...

Honestly, my personal opinion on Taubes is that he's a bit of a charlatan, as any other cult figurehead will be. It's just normal human nature; nobody is completely incorruptible. Sooner or later every cult reaches a critical mass of followers and keeping the cult from imploding requires twisting a few facts here and there, and that's what Gary Taubes has done. *Nobody* is incorruptible and everyone will always lean more towards defending their fame and status than towards pure integrity... unless their fame and status are so small that they may be less valuable than crystalline integrity in murky, ill-understood issues.

With all that said, another thing Gary Taubes has done is bring attention to the idea that maybe the governments are wrong and basing 60% of our energy intake on grain-derived carbohydrates is a stupid thing to do. And although his work isn't great, it's FAR better than what the atkins people did (the atkins book was just an insult to a critical mind - DUHUHU look at a this handful of anecdotal cases of morbidly obese who ended up happily obese at 32% body fat with my diet!!). For having done this great good, Mr. Taubes deserves a modicum of respect. Even if he is a sniveling, financially-motivated goblin, if the world listened to what he says we might all be in far better health, imposing far less of a drain on our broken health care system. On a little tangent, you can't really blame insurance companies for their cutthroat profiteering when 70% of the population in their market is a bunch of fatasses eating muffins for breakfast - say hello to the everlasting battle of insurance companies against adverse selection. If people cut down most of those carbohydrates, perhaps insurance companies wouldn't have to resort to macabre strategies to stay profitable, but I digress.

I am not a Taubes or keto/zerocarb fan in the least, as I personally know that any ketogenic or near-ketogenic lifestyle is in direct opposition of the attainment of even modest athletic capabilities (unless you define athleticism purely as long-distance-endurance). However, I hope that my following post, which will contain a mock critique of your own persona, posts, and ideas will serve to show you how anyone who *feels* entitled as an authority is extremely vulnerable to making ludicrous statements and one need not be a profiteering goblin to make the "mistake" of being human. Nor does one need to be maladjusted in any way to have an unsubstantiated opinion.

lolhaha said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lolhaha said...

I hope I made it clear how bitter cynicism can convolute and do all sorts of unfairness to our view on a personality. Keep the cynicism at bay, and see people for what they really are. Every single person in the world is the same: a little monkey trying to validate his opinions and ignoring anything that doesn't irredeemably refute them.

PS: The excessive use of acronyms is extremely irritating and is really one of the main things that makes you come off as someone who seeks to appear more intelligent than the rest (I am so smart because I overuse acronyms just like research papers do!). There is no need for that, especially if you want to actually help people with your writing.

James Krieger said...


I would disagree with your statement that "every single person in the world is...trying to validate his opinions and ignoring anything that doesn't irredeemably refute them." This simply not true; I have seen CarbSane change her mind in the face of new evidence, as have I. In fact, I wrote about a situation where I changed my stance on something in the face of new evidence:

You speak of how cynicism can convolute one's view on a personality, yet you take an overly cynical view of how people form opinions.

Certainly, the evidence indicates that people do have a tendency to seek confirmatory evidence and ignore contradictory evidence; there are plenty of studies to show this. However, this is not true for all people in all situations.

James Krieger said...


One more thing. There is nothing wrong with CarbSane's use of acronyms. What is easier...writing non-esterified fatty acids every time you talk about them, or simply writing NEFA? CarbSane is not using these acronyms to try to make herself appear's more in the interest of brevity and avoiding wordiness.

CarbSane said...

James, I deleted an unhinged comment by lolhaha that got published after these two. The content of that comment was such that I don't take this person seriously so I won't even bother.

At first I thought the acronym thing might be a point, and my response was like yours (and thanks, I've been a bit inundated trying to respond to comments lately) -- it's just takes too darned long to type out everything!

Anyway, lolhaha, please consider a quiet exit from the Asylum so that I don't have to start moderating comments. Thanks.

brethall said...


I am quite disturbed by the lack of professionalism and often downright juvenile behavior in responding to critics displayed here by Taubes and elsewhere by Eades, Campbell, Hahn, Harcombe, Ornish, Barnard, Fuhrman, and many other obviously intelligent and well meaning yet often dogmatic authors. I expect much better from these people. It is especially troublesome yet strangely amusing to me that although the aforementioned authors have often divergent philosophies regarding nutrition (Taubes vs. Campbell), their response to criticism is similar, if not at times identical.

Email exchanges such as that above frankly do more to harm Taubes' credibility in the eyes of many, both those who approach his theories with some skepticism and those who agree with him generally. I do not believe that financial motivation is the key driving factor in this attitude but something far more primitive in that of personal pride. No one wants to be wrong and is rarely fully open to criticism no matter how constructive. Yet a true scientist must be willing and able to withstand and hopefully learn from the criticism in an effort to refine their conclusions.

Thank you for your open minded critiques, and for your ability to think critically despite, or perhaps because of, your belief in the low carb approach. It is refreshing that neither you nor James Krieger has fallen in the the trap of "groupthink."

At any rate, thanks again for the great blog. And thanks for blocking Razwell's predictable rant (I wonder why he has no traffic on his site apart from the morbidly curious?). And thank you as well, James, if you are still around. I wish you both all the best in your endeavors.


Kirsten said...

I've been looking for a serious critique of GC, BC and am really disappointed by yours.

This exchange certainly doesn't show Taubes at his best, but you sound like you're 13 at times. Sarcasm undermines your credibility and any legitimate critique you have.

Everyone has an agenda, whether it's paying the rent or boosting an ego. Taubes has one and so do you.

James Krieger said...


This particular blog post is not meant to be a critique of GCBC. Carb Sane has numerous other blog posts that directly deal with the book and you should look at those.

Sanjeev said...

Kirsten, a thought experiment for you: suppose James Randi swore a blue streak when denouncing the Philipino psychic surgeons. Or Sylvia Browne during the Shawn Hornbeck incident.

would that cast doubt on his message?

For me it doesn't

> Sarcasm undermines your credibility and any
> legitimate critique you have

Maybe if you call it "colourful writing" you could get the message instead of concentrating on the message's form.

A former GF of mine used to dot her "i"'s with hearts. It made me want to decapitate a few teddy bears but I didn't let it detract from her work (poetry and short stories).

Sanjeev said...

new English

sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it

laurie said...

"But this blog is not a platform for your rants against others with whom you have some ax to grind".

Interesting you should say that CarbSane, since my first introduction to you was on Gary Taubes site, and all I saw you doing was exactly that.

It is in very poor taste to use someone ELSES blog as a personal playground for you to argue with THEIR readers....

If you want to enlighten, inform and argue with people, do it on your own site......

James Krieger said...


It appears to me that you have taken CarbSane's quote out of context.

"Razwell", who CarbSane was responding to, has engaged in ridiculous, incoherent, psychotic, all-caps rants against a variety of individuals on the internet, namely myself, Anthony Colpo, Lyle McDonald, and Jamie Hale. He has gone as far as invent multiple aliases (Susan Harmony, RickSantos, etc), and has privately spammed us by email. He has engaged in this behavior for a number of years now, and obviously CarbSane is preventing further such behavior. For more information, see these blog posts:

This is NOT the same behavior as CarbSane, who went on Gary Taubes's blog and challenged his behavior of cherry-picking research and ignoring the vast amount of literature that does not fit with his "alternate hypothesis".

It is in very poor taste to use someone ELSES blog as a personal playground for you to argue with THEIR readers....

So are you saying that the comments in a blog should only be reserved for people who agree with the blogger?

CarbSane said...

Thank you James, I think you summed that up nicely. Laurie, I would add that I posted a small number of posts over at GT's directed towards him that he does not respond to (he has responded to very few posts/questions regardless of whether from "friend" or "foe"). The rest are in response to comments others have made. Am I not entitled to answer?

If James posts a comment here and Razzy comments directly, even nastily so long as it's not totally out of line, I would let it through. But Razzy's rants against these folks are not going to get a platform here.

CarbSane said...

@brett: Thank you & welcome! I do believe my thoughts on GT's financial interests have been misrepresented. I've never said the "he's just in it for the money" in those words, but I do believe that when one is paid in advance to provide a product touting an alternate hypothesis, this financial interest clouds one's judgment.

Taubes has discussed in other interviews that his advance had basically run out in 2007. Had he delved into all of the counter evidence and not come through it would have been an untenable position for him. Still, in the intervening years he seems to have steeled his position - only grudgingly walked back on one of those issues - but he still offers up a "blame someone else" excuse.

I believe in the "thou doth protest too much". When a relatively obscure blogger (at the time) inserts a $ in his name, what was it that prompted Fred Hahn to get so up in arms and alert his buddy Gary who was clearly disturbed by this. I'm by far not the only blogger to be critical of the writings of scientists and such. I can only speculate that I hit a nerve close to the truth.

greg said...

Comment - PART 1

I'm a big fan of healthy debate and differing perspectives. CarbSane - when I first read this post - GT's email interspersed with your comments - I felt your anger was justified, although I disagreed with you including personal attacks in what was otherwise an objective rebuttal to his email.

However, in re-reading it a second time, and just focusing on his email and skipping your comments, I had a different take. To me, this sounds like it's coming from a man who's decided to reach out to someone who's disagreed with him, but is upset by the way these disagreements have been accompanied by personal attacks. He feels like you are misrepresenting his views and is reluctant to debate with you because your style is so aggressive and mean-spirited. This seems pretty reasonable (and accurate) to me. He is not saying he doesn’t want to engage in an active debate (in fact, he invites it), but he makes it clear that he won’t do it in such a discourteous environment.

Your comment on that first paragraph immediately dives into a character attack and an angry request to have him point out at least one instance where you've mis-characterized what he wrote or said. While it would have been helpful (to you) to cite an example, I don’t blame him for adding fuel to the fire. He actually does address your need for specificity by "naming the names" you requested, even providing details about Hanson’s medical condition.

Rather than get into name-calling or debating specific issues, it’s clear his objective was to try and establish a suitable environment for future discussion by giving you advice on how to more effectively engage in meaningful, scientific information exchange. Your arguments are compelling and can stand on their own. Your passion is admirable (and GT appreciates this), but when you let it turn to anger, it impacts people’s perception of your objectivity. But even for those who don’t doubt your objectivity, your vitriol only serves to distract the reader and diminish your persuasiveness. I think Taubes’ tone in this email is consistent with how he writes in GCBC and WWGF – he is encouraging of critical assessment of the evidence and his interpretations. In fact, that seems to be the underlying point of his books – that good science requires persistence in trying to disprove one’s own hypotheses.

greg said...

Comment – Part 2

In retrospect, his email seems very reasonable. He explains why he has been hesitant to respond. He answers a specific request you had (naming Hanson, Hall and Chow). He encourages you to assess his work critically and praises your passion. He explains why your aggression and vitriol are hurting your effectiveness. He provides you with excellent advice for engaging him (and anyone else) in meaningful, respectful debate.
I see only two areas where you might have a reasonable complaint. First, he says you aren’t being as intellectually honest as you ideally could be. He says your critiques are fragile. But this is a logical, objective reaction to his perception that you misrepresent what he has said or wrote. Whether it’s true or not is a different story that can only be cleared up by clarifications that might come about through meaningful debate, and certainly not by name-calling. Second, he speculates as to your motives – that you’re not just trying to prove you’re smarter, but morally superior to him. This contradicts what he says earlier about leaving motive out of it, but in the context of being verbally attacked, I actually think his reaction is significantly muted to what you might expect from the average person (but what I would expect from a respected professional). And of course, this is in stark contrast to the way you’ve chosen to publish his email with your nasty comments interspersed.

CarbSane, I think you have great things to say and can help contribute to a better understanding of nutrition in this country. Just as GT was a much-needed shot in the arm for the LC movement, you can help move it along by being scientific – logical and rigorous, but not combative and unprofessional. You may argue you are only a blogger, but you have the opportunity to rise above name-calling and engage in meaningful debate. Your passion, curiosity and knowledge are so necessary at this early juncture, if only because they contradict the “conventional wisdom” of the “alternative movement.” Please take a deep breath (good motherly advice), withhold judgment and engage professionally with GT. We are all eager to see what we can all learn from such a discussion! Thank you for what you do.

Melchior Meijer said...


Hat tip. Could not agree more. The anger is contra producive. On the other hand, if the 'attacked' men had balls, they should just ignore her insults and politely counter her arguments.

Euphemism said...

Regarding acronyms - I've been browsing through a couple of these posts here and there, and I've been having trouble understanding what the various acronyms mean.

I've also been having trouble understanding some of the implications and terminology on the more research-oriented posts, but that's another matter entirely.

In any case, I was thinking it would be nice to have a post with all the common acronyms that you use, like ELMM and NEFA (what is a non-esterified fatty acid, anyways? There isn't a wikipedia article on it :P) with either a short description of what it usually means in context, or a link to a post of yours where it is already described in detail. For instance, just knowing that ELMM means "Eat Less, Move More" doesn't say much, and even inferring from the context where it is used to indicate a dieting philosophy of some sort, it would still be nice to know what exactly you mean by it when you use the term.

CarbSane said...

Welcome Euphemism! I had a similar request last Fall but the Acronyms post fell by the wayside.

NEFA = non-esterified is another term for FFA = free fatty acid. The circulating/transport form of fats, vs. the acylated or esterified form in which fats are stored as triglycerides also known as triacylglycerols, TAG's.

I've presumed most have heard the ELMM and CICO acronyms. My philosophy is that CICO = calories in / calories out version of the energy balance equation or laws of thermodynamics must hold. However uninteresting some commenters think it is, if someone gains fat they have taken in more than they expended and to lose fat they must expend more than they take in. So how do we get there? We ELMM - and we can just eat less, just move more, or both. The key is how do we go about accomplishing this? The "conventional wisdom" a la The Biggest Loser is deliberate caloric restriction and tons of cardio. I'm saying that LC is a way for many of us to spontaneously eat less - that's how it worked for me for a good long run. Exercise may just make some people hungrier, but studies show this is certainly not true for everyone or even a majority. ELMM will work every time it's tried - the problem is one of consistency. And for some, EL may not be a whole lot and they may actually have to experience a hunger pang here and there. But it will work.

EDMD works for some, works to different extents, doesn't work for others. If eating differently doesn't result in eating less, you're healthier but not thinner.

It seems to me that ELMM detractors think EDMD = eat differently, move differently spontaneously produces the same result.

CarbSane said...

Somehow the last two paragraphs were switched in order.

CarbSane said...


I felt your anger was justified, although I disagreed with you including personal attacks in what was otherwise an objective rebuttal to his email.

Do you mean including his personal attacks? Just wondering …

Where did I personally attack him IN MY EMAIL – other than laughing at the stalking paranoia.

Your comment on that first paragraph immediately dives into a character attack and an angry request to have him point out at least one instance where you've mis-characterized what he wrote or said.

Forgive me but I read the entire email before I composed my response. So when he claims I mischaracterized his statements and accuses me of doing so in a dishonest manner, I think it is fair to ask him to clarify just what it is I’m being accused of. If you go listen to his interviews on the topic, the man is excruciatingly hesitant and parsing words. It’s like you wanna shout “spit it out man” because his demeanor/voice is not forthcoming and straightforward as it should be.

it’s clear his objective was to try and establish a suitable environment for future discussion by giving you advice on how to more effectively engage in meaningful, scientific information exchange.

LOL. By attacking me and talking down to me, you mean?

Taubes is so full of himself apparently that he confuses someone getting his convoluted explanations correct with getting the science correct.

If he wanted to discuss he science he would have simply done so … not waited six months in an interview to dismiss the 2003 Reshef paper that started all of this as just mostly in rats anyway.

Taubes NEVER engages his critics on the science. His biggest critic on Amazon? Oh that guy is still just angry at him over a spat over a girl from college days. James Krieger? He got similar treatment to me. Me? Call me and we’ll talk. Why on Earth would I want to call Gary Taubes? All it would have taken him on his part was to post a reply in the comments to the Glyceroneogenesis post.

But Gary’s smart. He knew that would draw more attention. Better to speak privately where if I said anything he could just accuse me of misrepresenting our conversation.

He is encouraging of critical assessment of the evidence and his interpretations. In fact, that seems to be the underlying point of his books

Are you for real? Any time he is criticized he devolves into distractions rather than address the science. Facts are not his friends, unfortunately.

that good science requires persistence in trying to disprove one’s own hypotheses

Too bad he never extended a finger to do so for his.

I actually think his reaction is significantly muted to what you might expect from the average person (but what I would expect from a respected professional).

No I’d say it is about what one would expect for the response to when someone says something that hits too close to home.

CarbSane said...

I’ll take your comments under advisement. At this point Gary’s behavior during his interview with Jimmy vs. mine should speak volumes. Listen to my interview. Not what Jimmy promoted it as, not how he made it sound like every post of mine calls him names and uses a $ (two posts I think, months ago!) etc. I didn’t smear him. I even hesitated to say he lied on the N&H issue when pressed by Jimmy. You may hear a little exasperation in my voice at that point because in a way I couldn’t even believe Jimmy asked me if I thought Gary lied. Anyway, then go listen to him sneer at confused little old me who can’t even get his convoluted explanations of when he knew the facts right … Jimmy never asked and Gary never answered to the points raised in my interview. He addressed his critics in ad hominem fashion and afterwards engaged his buddies like Naughton to spin this nonsensical stalker crap.

He can’t stand being criticized because the facts are not on his side. He misrepresented Newsholme & Start, Frayn, glyceroneogenesis, de novo lipogenesis. And he now blames the outdated text books he never read for his failings as a researcher.

It wouldn’t matter if I were peaches & cream. Gary Taubes has NO intention of honest debate on the merits of the science. College buddy, Bray, Krieger, me, there are others. He’s especially pissed at me because I had the temerity to dig up those outdated texts and expose his scholarly ineptitude.

greg said...

Part I - I only know bold and italics to differentiate text...

I felt your anger was justified, although I disagreed with you including personal attacks in what was otherwise an objective rebuttal to his email.

Do you mean including his personal attacks? Just wondering …

Where did I personally attack him IN MY EMAIL – other than laughing at the stalking paranoia.

CarbSane – First, let me apologize. I’ve reread the email and you are correct – you don’t include any personal attacks in the email (other than the laughing you mention). So let me reword my statement to better reflect what I perceived during my first read of your post: “(When I first read this post)…I felt your anger was justified, although I disagreed with your aggressive and antagonistic style that distracted from what was otherwise an objective rebuttal to his email.”

When phrased this way and taken in context with the personal attacks that you’ve included on your blog (and he’s clearly read and/or heard about), I think it’s reasonable for him to take your tone as an extension of previous personal attacks. While you are correct in saying you don’t include any specific personal attacks in your response post to his email, your tone strongly suggests a strong disrespect for his personal character – and the fact that you’re not apologizing for or recounting your personal attacks suggests that these thoughts still lurk beneath your tone (I assume you wouldn’t dispute that). Some examples:

1) Snarky – “It is better than hearing from you second hand through Fred Hahn for example”

2) Not quite ALL CAPS, but a similarly confrontational and inappropriate tone – Underlining “one” and punctuating with 2 question marks in “Can you provide me with one example…??” A similar tone is conveyed later “Ooooh ad hominem! She made an ad hominem!! Sheesh.” It simply sounds like something a third-grader would say (if only she knew what “ad hominem” meant).

3) Downright disrespectful – Telling him “I don’t think you should be instructing medical professionals in theories when you have neither the background nor the qualifications to do so (again, in my opinion).” Stating that this is (“merely”, my words) your opinion does not excuse you from the fact that you’ve chosen to express this opinion in this disrespectful manner and context. It is particularly ironic given that you, as a relatively unqualified (I’m guessing due to your stated profession), but certainly knowledgeable blogger (like I said, I think your ideas are excellent and thought-provoking) are trying to get him, the acknowledged expert (whether you like it or not), to pay attention to your ideas. He certainly has a better background and set of qualifications to provide instruction than most laypeople, journalists, and medical professionals who helped start the obesity and disease epidemic. It’s unfortunate that nutrition is so controversial that a journalist can become an “expert”, but that is the situation the medical profession and our government has put us in with poorly designed research and/or unsupported conclusions over the decades (but maybe not as much recently you point out elsewhere in your blog).

greg said...

Part II

Your comment on that first paragraph immediately dives into a character attack and an angry request to have him point out at least one instance where you've mis-characterized what he wrote or said.

Forgive me but I read the entire email before I composed my response. So when he claims I mischaracterized his statements and accuses me of doing so in a dishonest manner, I think it is fair to ask him to clarify just what it is I’m being accused of. If you go listen to his interviews on the topic, the man is excruciatingly hesitant and parsing words. It’s like you wanna shout “spit it out man” because his demeanor/voice is not forthcoming and straightforward as it should be.

I agree with you that it would have been helpful for him to include an example. However, I am pretty sure given your previous character assaults against him that “asking” (I’d say it’s more like “challenging” or “accosting” or “daring” given your tone) him to clarify in the disrespectful way you do isn’t going to get you what you want – a meaningful exchange of ideas and debate. I have never met GT personally, but when you describe his style as excruciatingly hesitant and parsing words, it seems like he’s the type of person who’s more comfortable writing than thinking on his feet and being put on the spot. So you may be interpreting his careful, reserved talking style as him not being forthcoming or straightforward, when in fact it’s just his style.

it’s clear his objective was to try and establish a suitable environment for future discussion by giving you advice on how to more effectively engage in meaningful, scientific information exchange.

LOL. By attacking me and talking down to me, you mean?

I think you are forgetting that the fight didn’t start when he hit you back – it started before that when you started launching personal attacks. You were the first to attack him personally and you chose to do it very disrespectfully, with scathing blog posts laced with profanity, indicting his character and methods. While I sympathize with your frustration in failing to get him to provide answers and/or reconcile his position, that does not justify a personal attack, which ultimately devolves the conversation into counter-productive name-calling and distracts from your very objective – to get him to answer your challenges to his hypotheses and conclusions.

His “attacks” are rebuttals of your attacks and are far less inflammatory and more restrained than yours. Although he does include a couple of profanities himself, they are seemingly out of frustration and not actually referring specifically to you as a person. I still can’t defend his attacks (about your dishonesty), but I can say that this is what happens when the name-calling begins. He feels you are misrepresenting what he says/writes and must think that engaging in a conversation will be counter-productive given your intense disrespect and seeming dislike of him. Why should he reciprocate by including you in the discussion? He’s got nothing to gain by getting into a fight with you, but it seems like he’d be willing to engage with you if you weren’t so hostile.

The fact that he’s even reached out to you and given you reasonable suggestions on how you can better engage him says that he’s at least got some respect for what you have to say. Is it so unreasonable for him to ask that you leave out your vitriol and presumption of motive and just focus on the science? Is it unreasonable for you to simply apologize to him for what you said about him, but not for the fact you disagree with him? This is the type of advice a parent gives their child when they are trying to help them reconcile after a fight with a friend or sibling. It’s psychology 101. I would argue that even if everything you said about GT were true (and it may be), treating him with respect is the only way he’s going to reciprocate.

greg said...

Part III
If he wanted to discuss he science he would have simply done so … not waited six months in an interview to dismiss the 2003 Reshef paper that started all of this as just mostly in rats anyway.

Taubes NEVER engages his critics on the science. His biggest critic on Amazon? Oh that guy is still just angry at him over a spat over a girl from college days. James Krieger? He got similar treatment to me. Me? Call me and we’ll talk. Why on Earth would I want to call Gary Taubes? All it would have taken him on his part was to post a reply in the comments to the Glyceroneogenesis post.

Was this before or after you started your attacks and “fact-check” area of your blog? I honestly don’t know, so have patience with me. It might help me better understand his silence.

He is encouraging of critical assessment of the evidence and his interpretations. In fact, that seems to be the underlying point of his books

Are you for real? Any time he is criticized he devolves into distractions rather than address the science. Facts are not his friends, unfortunately.

that good science requires persistence in trying to disprove one’s own hypotheses

Too bad he never extended a finger to do so for his.

I actually think his reaction is significantly muted to what you might expect from the average person (but what I would expect from a respected professional).

No I’d say it is about what one would expect for the response to when someone says something that hits too close to home.

This may be true, and again, I can sympathize with your frustration if he is not practicing what he preaches (persistent truth-seeking). I can only say that the way you’re handling the situation may feel emotionally satisfying (to vent publicly) but it seems counter-productive to effecting the advancement of intellectual thought and learning.

greg said...

Part IV (last one...)

I will say that even I feel a bit under attack the way you responded to my post. I have no stake in siding with either you or GT – I’m impressed and pleased by how both of you are changing my worldview. I am simply giving my perspective on his email and your response to it. While I do make a mistake (saying that you personally attack him in your email), I apologize earlier in this thread and explain how I still think GT still likely perceives your tone as an extension of previous attacks. I also call out your style as combative and unprofessional – clearly this is my opinion, but I think most would agree with my assessment (though some might think your style is justified). For this, I too feel your wrath: I get a few disrespectful ALL CAPS responses directed at me (“IN MY EMAIL”, “LOL”), and you ask me later “Are you for real?” I point this out because even though I have had no previous interaction with you of significance (one other minor post and response), you have already begun to treat me disrespectfully and attack me personally for making a mistake (which I’ve owned up to, but would still argue is a mistake of technicality not of the implied meaning behind your tone) and for defending Taubes’ statement that he encourages critical assessment of the evidence and his interpretations, which is an underlying theme in his book. While you may think he’s hypocritical and have evidence to support it, that doesn’t justify you asking me in a derogatory tone “Are you for real?” My criticisms were opinions, but they were respectfully conveyed; your criticisms are offensively stated and belittling. I realize you are passionate about this – I’m only saying to harness that passion towards getting your powerful messages heard and listened to rather than resorting to counter-productive name-calling and abrasiveness when someone disagrees with you, challenges you, makes you feel wronged, or is just simply mistaken about something. You can take that as an affront if you like or as the constructive criticism I intend. As you say to your readers, it’s up for you to decide.

I actually wrote this reply 2 days ago, but got too busy at work to post it. In the meantime, I managed to read Seth Godin’s short “book” (he calls it a manifesto) called Poke the Box. I want to include a story from the book that is eerily applicable to what I’ve been trying to communicate thus far. Godin writes of Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician practicing in the 1800s who had the groundbreaking insight that poor hygiene by doctors, particularly lack of handwashing, was the cause of significant disease and death. He devoted his life to spreading this news, but died a failure, unpopular and ineffective. Why did doctors and the medical establishment so completely reject his appeals for better hygiene? First, he never worked to explain the science (not your problem). Second, he was a jerk – he never bothered to persuade or even to be patient. To one doctor, he wrote “You, Herr Professor, have been a partner in this massacre.” To another, “…I declare before God and the world that you are a murderer.” Essentially, he pissed off and disrespected the very people whose minds and behavior he needed to change to make an impact. I hope this sounds familiar by this point. Godin encourages people to poke (essentially initiate and experiment), but be smart about it. Instead of doing what worked, Semmelweis stopped pushing to do what worked to make a difference in the world and never made the impact he could have contributed.

Peace. And again, I thank you for the good work that you do. You’ve got such great ideas, I’m actually keenly interested in seeing you make peace with GT and start a conversation we can all learn from.



greg said...

CarbSane, I posted 4 comments in response to our discussion last night. Did you remove them or was it something that prevents multiple posts from one person in a certain amount of time? I'm wondering if I should post them again or if you don't want me to.

CarbSane said...

Hi greg, thanks for the heads-up. When comments are unmoderated I read them in my Google reader and have to make an effort to check the spam folder Google uses (if ANYONE knows if there's a way to opt out of that I would be grateful! I do not need a spam filter for the odd couple of posts advertising Hoodia!). I published them now and will read in greater depth/respond when I get a chance.

CarbSane said...

p.s. if I remove a comment it will show "this comment removed by administrator" or somesuch. I've had to do that once since turning moderation back off. Let's just hope dear Sue was just experiencing a juvenile moment earning that distinction.

CarbSane said...

Hi Greg,

Please do understand that my email exchange with Gary was 6 months ago. A whole LOT has transpired since then so it's difficult to answer to certain things with the mindset I have now regarding how I reacted then. Also, I had not shared the initial email exchange with Fred Hahn.

I'm not sure which came first - me reading/commenting at James Krieger's Weightology or someone linking to my blog post Glyceroneogenesis v. Taubes but fresh off his Royal Gary Guard duties at James' site, Fred hopped on over here and emailed Gary about my horrible post. So, yes, there are some pointed words there, but I stand by them. Anyone who doesn't realize that the GCBG "franchise" comes with a powerful motivation to maintain this income source is fooling themselves.

At the time I got an email from Fred that included his email exchange with GT where GT offered that I could call him to discuss my post. First this struck me as awful 6th gradish - Janey go ask Peter to ask Johnny if he likes Sally kind of stuff. My email was available to GT at that time, but he couldn't muster a direct outreach? I'm going to contact someone by phone who can't even approach me directly by email?

His ultimate response to Reshef? Oh ... it's mostly irrelavent rat studies anyway. If that's all it was back in June 2010, why not just post that in my comments and be done with it?

I don't have the time to go through everything that has transpired since. Although I will be addressing Jimmy & Gary and the whole interview experience at some point.

Suffice it to say that respect is earned not by default. I "attacked" him professionally, not personally.

I hope you'll keep reading.

At this point I believe I could be as sweet as low carb jicima pie and it wouldn't make a difference. I've not used the $ nor speculated on his motives for a very long time. I didn't explain why I'm a Taubes taunter in my interview because that's not what I am. I don't see what the timing of a blog tag has to do with anything, or are only websites founded to gush over Gary acceptable to use a GT tag?

My apologies in advance if you find my reply insufficient. I haven't the time, nor frankly the desire, to explain myself on this issue anymore. And, I have no plans to change my blogging style anytime soon.

Razwell said...

Explain why eat less move more has not worked for you, CarbSane?

The method does NOT work.

CarbSane said...

When did I ever say it hasn't worked for me? ELMM works every time it is tried. The problem is that most free living humans have a hard time doing it with consistency. Some of that boils down to "dieting is difficult" as Keith Frayn is quoted as saying in GCBC. But Frayn does not say it is impossible. Adaptive mechanisms come into play for sure that make it very difficult to maintain substantial weight loss. But I weigh 10 lbs less now than I did a two years ago. And around 100 lbs less than I did 4 years ago.

Just restricting carbs doesn't work every time it's tried. It only works for those who spontaneously reduce intake as a result.

Anya said...

Listen GT talk about whistle-blowers in this interview :
I was thinking more about you then himself as a whistle-blower.

comrade_stalin said...

Hey carbsane, you said that ELMM worked for you?

You got to be joking right?

Why you are at least 75lb. overweight.

Why would anybody believe your pronouncements as to weight loss?

You have no credibility!

You are a damn failure. That's why you engage in these venomous attacks on those that are successful.

But no matter what you say you are still a pig. Oinc oinc.

I know you'll delete this post because you like to criticize but you cannot take it.

It won't matter. I'm saving a copy of it for the world to see.

Oinc, oinc!

CarbSane said...

Razwell, please seek professional help. Anyone who feels the need to create an ID based on a genocidal tyrant to go on a rant like you just did needs serious intervention. And it's spelled oinK.

sb said...

Finally, a truly sane voice amidst the insanity. You know what really amazes me about Taubes, is that one man, a journalist with a science background in physics(I think) writes a book on nutrition/nutritional research and he is a God above all scrutiny. I am not against challenging our assumptions but really. He criticizes recommendations that he claims were made on flimsy science and then goes on to make his own unfounded conclusions/recommendations, conclusions that many now treat as gospel handed down from the almightly himself.

I'm sorry I have two science based degrees, one in nutrition and one in the clinical sciences and years of personal and professional experience actually applying the science in a meaningful way. Yet somehow, I don't feel that qualifies me to write a book on quantum physics, although I am a huge Stephen Hawking fan. Sorry.

For God's sake, the man is an investigative journalist who makes his money selling books and nothing sells books like controversy and outrageous ideas that challenge what is considered the status quo. Sure, we've been intentionally mislead by all the medical and nutritional/public health guys out there, but Taubes...who has a real financial stake in thie...he's being completely honest. The field of nutrition is highly susceptible to this kind of thing. After all we are always looking for the next smoking gun.

Girl, you got some balls.

The bandwagons I have seen in the past 20 plus years while involved in health and fitness industry is simply mindboggling.

It is one thing to challenge the science we base ideas on, it is another thing to create your own brand of science, where your interpretations aren't subject to the same scrunity you supposedly hold everyone else to. Why should he be the only one who gets to pick and chose what data to evaluate.

Anyone who really follows nutritional research understands just how difficult and imperfect it is...that being said, a number of Taubes' recommendations/conclusions have no legitimate foundaiton in the science.

Of course, he's laughing all the way to the bank...meanwhile people get jerked around yet again, desperate to find that simple solution to their health/fitness problems.

I mean look at where we are now. You know at my sons baseball game the other day, the coach came into the dugout with hotdogs (in the middle of a sporting event), encouraging the boys to eat up because they needed a protein boost....wonder where this is coming from???

That being said, from a scientific perspective, voices like Taube's challenge the scientific community to do better and to be more accountable. That's fine. Had he simply raised those issues and pointed out specific shortcomings in the research/recommendations, fine, but then to make his own recommendations based on what..."his narrow/flimsy interpretation of the science". Kind of like the pot calling the kettle black.

And people take this crap at face value because nothing is more ingrained in us than to challenge the status quo. Is this really getting us any closer to a health lifestyle?
Good for you


CarbSane said...

Why thanks Shaun!

Unknown said...

There is nothing to be gained by being disrespectful and accusatory. There is still much to be learned about this subject and many views; this doesn't mean that someone is setting out to fool the public. GT is talking about weight loss and the resulting numbers for cholesterol, triglycerides etc. There is another factor, and that is health, and too many animal products result in an acidic environment that can also breed diseases like cancer. Simple carbs can and do contribute to setting up a cancerous breeding environment. There has to be a balance. Because one loses weight on a protein/fat diet, doesn't mean one should be eating pounds of bacon, cheese and steaks at every meal. It is more complicated than that. GT also states in his book that working out isn't necessary to lose weight. However, to maintain muscle mass, strong bones and good circulation, it is necessary. He makes no claims that one shouldn't excersise; he's merely stating facts for weight loss.

Whether or not Taubes makes money is of no concern. There are thousands of ideas by different scientists, he is sincere in his beliefs, and to be so defensive shows weakness on your part. Those who get the most irate, are the most insecure.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Yes, I would say Gary gained nothing by being disrespectful and accusatory.

I'll take your analysis to my psychologist next time I see her ;-)

Vanners said...

You kept asking for the readers to decide in your email exchange. Well I have only read this exchange, but you already have me convinced: You are playing the man, not the ball.

You wonder about the delay in making changes in the face of evidence - if this was a self-evident obvious flaw then yeah, but it's not. If I were in GT's shoes I wouldn't upend a book on a dime of evidence - I'd be verifying, establishing a larger base of evidence and re-examining all the knock-on effects to my theory before I touched a thing. To imagine that could be done before an imminent deadline I feel is unreasonable and I wouldn't even add a reference to the discenting study until I was satisfied it wasn't a red herring. I'm sure the sub-atomic physics fraternity didn't start rewriting all their textbooks immediately after the paper on cold fusion was released.

I'd recommend you instead commend him for admitting the new evidence even two years after it surfaced, and focus on facts instead of speculating on character unless you are blogging politics.

As for GT: I'm inclined to believe he wants to inform by the amount of free and low cost information he has published. In the FAT industry where gouging is the norm, his kindle books for well under $10 is a breath of fresh air. As much as I want to knock him to balance the score-card, I just find it difficult to do. About the best I can find is to indicate that in his emails he also dips into unwarranted personal attacks on occasion which somewhat weakens his arguement against you doing it.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Welcome Vanners, your observations are interesting. However, you fail to realize that the references were already used in GCBC. Or should I say misused. He has never definitively and concisely corrected these errors in print, only dropped them from his lectures and WWGF. Some science journalist!

Pranay said...

Wow, i was frankly surprised at Taubes' "moral superiority reply"- I thought he would be more professional. Anyhow, I suppose he was very irritated (not an excuse) since CarbSane's criticisms might have been a little too edgy (her writing style).
Despite that, I think Taubes deserves credit for pointing out the stupidity of the diet-heart hypothesis and how it originated (the first part of GCBC) and some credit for showing how refined carbohydrates are likely contributors of obesity (though I was shocked to find that the Pima were slim on their native, high-carb diets-Taubes should have looked this up and mentioned this to avoid confusion between refined, processed foods and real foods, carbs or not).
I have lost a little respect for Taubes, but not much since I am not sure he deliberately ommitted the information about the Pima, etc. What has he to gain by saying that all carbs are bad rather than saying only refining carbs are bad?

Bruce D said...

From one of your web log posts, "But since acknowledging it would probably require scrapping this entire section of his lecture and derail his money train, he prefers to include a term on a slide in a long lecture and hope nobody notices."

I tend to believe him over you. I trust greed a lot more than I trust self-righteousness. Greed has a lot less ego associated with it than self-righteousness. For a greedy person to reexamine a position, all that is lost is a little money. For a self-righteous person to reexamine a position, what is potentially lost is their self-respect, which is a much more powerful motivator. Besides, a greedy person can usually make just as much or more money by telling the truth. Taube isn't going to lose any money by modifying his position or including more material about gluconeogenesis, even if it did challenge his conclusion. He's still just as good of a writer, and people would pay for the different conclusion just as they did the current one.

But more than that, I've witnessed more than once a situation where someone with an axe to grind grabs all kinds of counterfactuals to a hypothesis and exaggerates their importance in an attempt to discredit the hypothesis. Your weblog seems to fit that description.

I might spend more time reading more of your stuff if you didn't include speculations as to people's motives or psychology. Such attacks make me think you are more interested in exercising self-righteousness than arriving at truth. I respect peer-reviewed journals. They do not contain any speculation as to motives of any opposing views, nor do they contain much normative language (sanctimoniousness or self-righteousness), just the facts.

You want credibility, spare me the self-righteousness. The self-righteousness I tolerate is my own, not yours.

codealpha said...

I didn't know about Taubes until I was researching some recent (and not so recent) studies on the vilification of saturated fat in the diet.

Although the science is still evolving I believe he and others like him are on to something about how fundamentally flawed the basis for the western diet is. I feel that you're on that track too even though you and Taubes have divergent theories about how to deal with it.

For the life of me I don't see why you're so angry at Taubes. You really come across as quite unreasonable and can't blame him for responding the way he did. Perhaps there is a hint of jealousy at your own failure to make it into print?

I found your email juvenile. If I were you I'd take it down because I am now dissuaded from exploring the rest of your blog knowing that somebody so intellectually disappointing and self-righteous is behind it.


Petri Ekholm said...

CarbSane said: "Joe, I'm not sure why you put the words "gluttony and sloth" in my mouth. I believe in calorie balance as a matter of physical law."

Just had to pick this one line out of the comments without dwelling into your articles too much. The fact that you state your belief in calorie balance being a matter of physical law is quite interesting.

You do realize that in a closed system the physical laws would work great! Take x amount of energy and put it in a system that uses y amount of energy and you end up with a z amount of energy.

With the human body this evades common sense in many facets;

1. The form of which x comes in differs and is not homogenous
2. The requirement of y is variable and depends on an array of factors
3. The way in how x is processed in the body, does all energy convert to energy from x consumption?
4. What if z is not an result of x-y but rather the body auto-regulates itself towards an ideal amoung of z when it functions ideally?
5. What causes the body to not function ideally?
6. How much do external forces effect the body's function to process energy intake and its retention? (environment, temperature, humidity, micronutrient availability, macronutrient availability, etc. etc.)

Just to name a few open questions on this hypothesis, sorry LAW, of calories in calories out. If you can formulate the application of that LAW in the human body, please don't hesitate to post it!

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Welcome Petri! Well, thanks for the opportunity to yet again address the many First Law (I didn't elevate it to "law" status!!) strawmen out there.

1.& 3. The form matters, yes, this is why calories in are estimates and averages. However, humans are generally remarkably efficient at extracting energy from our foods. Still selecting less digestible foods is a CICO approach to weight. Once absorbed, yes different fatty acids and amino acids will yield different amounts of energy, but they are all predictable and the cal/g estimated averages tend to hold up very well.

2. Y varies less than 3% per day in terms of basal energy expenditure. Tis true that TDEE is difficult to predict/measure.

4. Z = X - Y ... always! The body autoregulating means either appetite is lower so X is reduced or energy usage is raised ("wasted" as heat) so Y is increased, but Z always equals X - Y.
5. Who cares? OK, that's flippant ... I'm being sarcastic. It is not really relevant except in a very small minority of cases.

6. Again, this makes a very small difference in the scheme of things. But when they do, the body still obeys the law. Either we take in more or less (e.g. consumption and/or absorption) and/or we expend more (mechanical work, tissue building, heat generation, etc.) , and at the end of the day we are still left with Z.

I would refer you to Lyle McDonald's classic:

Nic said...

Just came across this. Have to say, neither GT or Carb-Sane comes out of this email exchange very well.

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