Update II: Gary Taubes email/blog exchange

WOW, just realized how long this is!  Sorry!!

OK folks.  I've waited a couple of days here to see if I would get another email from GT before posting an update on our exchange.  No further emails, so here's the scoop dear readers.

In response to some of my recent posts, GT initiated an email exchange with me.  I don't really participate in private email exchanges over science stuff unless there's an understanding that I can share what is discussed.  Why?  Because anything of some utility to me, would be of no utility to others if I can't share it.  Then I'm left in the precarious situation of deciding what content/info I may wish to share on my blog.    It's highly wasteful of my time to respond separately in private and public venues, so I would rather use my time more wisely.

At the end of his initial email, GT stated that I could share the email so long as I did so in full.  I took this to mean that GT was interested in "open sharing", but preferred the whole exchange be shared rather than excerpts so that there would be no possibility of me distorting what he said or him being misunderstood.   One indignant reader even chastised me for naming names in a separate post prior to publishing the entire email with my responses here.  In the end, I honored that request even though in doing so I posted GT's personal attacks on me in the process.  I also emailed a copy of the blog post to GT so he wouldn't have to even visit my blog if he didn't want to.

GT emailed me in response a couple of days after that post.   He challenged me on only one issue in my email/point-by-point response, that being the timing of when he came to know his G3P theory was wrong.   There was a lot of superfluous detail about a recent move, other work obligations, etc. that I didn't think were relevant to the discussion and the inconsistencies.  So I condensed that portion of the email down to a timeline and sent him an advance copy to make sure he didn't feel my editing changed or mischaracterized anything he had said.

In response to that, he said that this was why he had wanted to discuss my Glyceroneogenesis v. Taubes post on the telephone and that he wasn't comfortable with public sharing private emails.  Hmmmm... can you say "rule change" anyone?

I would not have bothered to even respond to his first email without the permission to be able to share the content.  That is the purpose of this blog after all. To share.  I hope we can discuss this stuff here in the comments for everyone to read.  Taubes wants to read my blog and discuss it in private.  First he only wanted me to share his email if I did so in full, now he says he doesn't want me to share them even in redacted form.   I would prefer he post in the comments and save everyone a lot of time.

I'll be blunt.  I feel this tactic of his is an attempt to silence me.  By taking the discussion to email he wants to dictate what parts of the discussion I can write about.  Sorry, not falling for that crap.    When I challenged him on this he said I was free to share the conclusions of our exchange.  What does that mean?  I don't see how the consolidated email I was planning to share wasn't mostly doing just that.  So if that wasn't OK with him, then would I have to run every "conclusions" blog post past him to make sure I don't violate some nebulous rules about what is and isn't important?  What is and isn't suitable?   Not falling for it.  I will not cede editorial control of this blog to Gary Taubes because he can't handle criticism.

This is why I prefer public discourse on such topics.  And this is why I will not correspond further with GT unless I can share anything he writes. I have offered him "the floor" here at my blog to answer my and many of your questions, but he doesn't seem interested in publicly discussing the science.  He seems more interested in trying to convince me where I'm wrong about him or his version of science than addressing any of my posts citing evidence that he is wrong.

In my opinion, I think he knows that such public discussion can only hurt sales of his upcoming rehash of the same old same old.

Of all the points raised by me in my response, GT sought only to address one in his first reply -- that of my  interpretation of the timeline of his knowledge of glyceroneogenesis' contribution to G3P in his mea culpa interview with Jimmy Moore.    I'll take GT on his word that the timeline he provided is accurate, but I think anyone listening to that interview (~42 min mark) might find themselves equally "confused" on the "facts".    I would hardly call my interpretation dishonest, an attack he made in his initial email, in thinking he knew since 2008.

Here's his timeline:

2/19/2010 NIH lecture:  Met with Kevin Hall and Carson Chow (the young biophysicists)  who brought up problems with G3P section in the Q&A period.

Email exchange and conversations ensued

3/7/10 Spoke with Gunther Boden at Temple, but "he couldn't really resolve the dispute at that level of detail we were working."

3/8/10 Spoke with Keith Frayn (the English guy)

4/1/10 Moved family cross country.  GT describes how busy he was with other lectures and moving issues (living in a rental temporarily, etc.).

4/15/10  This is verbatim from the email:  "At the Swedish Hospital  lecture, I addressed the problems with g-3-p and said that my previous understanding had changed. (I don't remember exactly how I dealt with it, only that the slides I used were screwed up. You can see it on-line and maybe have.")

6/14/10 Date of Interview with Jimmy, again verbatim:  "I took the opportunity to set the record straight. So it was effectively three months between the time I knew that what I had written in GCBC was wrong (although I still have doubts about the details, but so be it...) and the time I acknowledged it publicly.

This doesn't clear up any number of other lingering questions as to why he didn't know this sooner, but also  related to the 2003 Reshef paper cited as a reference in GCBC.  I specifically asked about Reshef, AGAIN, in a follow-up email.  It was ignored.   There's more to come on this issue that demonstrates that Taubes should have known he was wrong about his G3P theory while researching GCBC.  His dietary carb is required for fat accumulation schtick in the lectures was not just an innocent "skewing".

GT prefers to distract from the issue attacking my blogging style, and, now, some high minded desire to show me how I'm wrong under the cloak of private email exchanges.   If I'm wrong about fat metabolism, I see no utility in getting "educated" by someone with a significantly inferior education and background in this topic.  Why others, and institutes of higher learning continue to view this guy as some sort of expert in this field mystifies me.

It has been 4 months and counting since GT was made aware of his Reshef problem from this blog, and he has failed to address it.  Clock's still ticking.  (Maybe I'm the only one to have noticed this or brought it to his attention, but I've got to think he's been called on this somewhere, somehow before - IOW that clock is likely reading more than four months).  While we wait on a Reshef explanation (I'm not holding my breath), I have a few more, science/fact, and your presentation of same, questions for you Mr. Taubes, and you are welcome to avail yourself of my blog to convey your knowledge to the public.   On my terms.  Any future emails will be shared in full (I will redact personal attacks at my discretion) and responded to publicly on this blog.

Here goes:

1.  Do YOU feel you portrayed the "state of the science" of glyceroneogenesis accurately (whether it be circa 2007 while writing the book, or 2005-2007 v. 2008?)  in your interview with Jimmy?  Do you think it jives with the various and several papers coming from Hanson's prolific research group (and others)?

2.  Did you consider any revisions of the G3P section for the release of the paperback version of GCBC in September 2008?  

3.  How does this corrected error now "make the case for carbohydrate restriction even more compelling"?  (Your words from Jimmy's interview)

4.  Do you intend to repeat your analysis of Shai in your next lecture in light of the fact that the actual data counter your carb theory when you include that third group in the study in the analysis?

5.  What is your current understanding of ASP and why do you not include this in your lectures if it doesn't refute your insulin theory?  How can ASP not be included in any discussion of fat metabolism, sequestration and accumulation?

6.  Have you researched your version of the progression of insulin resistance, and/or are you aware that there is a plethora of scientific literature predating GCBC indicating your presentation was wrong?

I don't expect a response from GT to these questions, but I thought I would put them out there anyway.


Mike said…
Fantastically thorough analysis, Carbsane! The silence is ear-splitting. It's too bad his followers don't appear to care much for scientific accountability.

FYI - GT has a blog now so I guess he'll be able to set the record straight (holds breath).
Mike said…
Here's the link to GT's blog - hope you can read Latin?! http://www.garytaubes.com/2010/09/hello-world/

I guess now he can tell us all that he cleared up his errors - he just did it it Latin, lol...
CarbSane said…
If you want to have some fun, put it through Google translate ;) (translate.google.com)
Todd said…

I hope the debate can remain civil without name calling. Are you aware of these slides about your blog posted on YouTube by somebody named "reddup":

I know that you feel strongly about keeping the argument on a scientific basis and avoiding ad hominem attacks. So I hope you can influence "reddup" to remove those slides, or otherwise add a comment on the YouTube post indicating that you dissociate yourself from that sort of name calling. Otherwise it might give the impression that you favor that sort thing, lest your opponents use it to discredit you as having an ax to grind against Mr. Taubes.

Keep up the good work.

CarbSane said…
Yes, I'm aware of those slides. For the record, I've been accused over on Jimmy's forum of being reddup. I am not, not do I know this person. He/she did this independently. His/her words not mine.

I took quite a bit of flack for spelling GT's name with the $ and expressing my opinions of his motives. I suppose that's fair enough, but at some point aren't we all entitled to do so? Taubes certainly doesn't hold his tongue when expressing his disdain of the scientific establishment, mocking them, etc.

What started out as discovering theories that just sounded off has progressed to the point where I've exposed out and out lies by Mr. Taubes. That is a strong word and I do not use it lightly. But when a text says "there's no evidence for X" and includes a list of evidences against "X", yet Taubes continues to say "X" to this day, what else would one call that?

Also, if Taubes showed any desire in actually addressing the problems with his science rather than distracting from the issues by focusing on writing styles, one might be inclined to give him more of the benefit of the doubt. But he pretty much shut off dialog and we'll see if he answers to any of this in the question I left on his blog.

That his followers (admirers?) are willing to ignore so many flaws and continue to give him a pass in the name of some cause is no reason I have to bite my tongue. Still, I have done so of late here in the hopes of removing one last excuse of Taubes' for not addressing the science.

But, reddup is equally allowed to use their own words and way. AFAIC, the more who get the truth the better, so I have no intention of asking someone else to remove their content from the internet. And I'll just take a pass on commenting on my opinion of reddup's conclusions.