Here is something that drives me nuts: watching the media and courts trash companies for selling a “dangerous” product when there is no scientific evidence to back up their allegations. I suppose the most egregious example is the decimation of Dow Corning due to the silicone breast implant debacle that began in the mid 1980’s and lasted through the 1990’s. Now we have the “pink slime” fiasco, which is ongoing.
The Golden Fleece Award was created by Senator William Proxmire to publicize federal spending that he considered wasteful. He gave out these awards from 1975 until 1988, and receiving one was not an honor.
I can still remember the first of the awards in 1975. I was a graduate student at the time, and they made me mad because they were obviously “anti-science” and seemed to have no purpose other than to ridicule projects that had funny-sounding names. I remember thinking, “How would Senator Proxmire know whether a science project had merit or not?”
In the first blog of this two-part series, I made the following points: (1) There is a lot of carbon in the earth, probably left over from the formation of our planet; (2) theoretical calculations indicate that hydrocarbons can be stably formed from methane and C02 at geologically-realistic temperatures and pressures; (3) laboratory experiments at realistic temperatures and pressures show that a range of hydrocarbons can be formed from marble—within an HOUR.
What if petroleum is not a “fossil fuel” after all?
Everyone knows that petroleum comes from plants and animals, converted by millions of years of heat and pressure into a “fossil fuel.” Heck, this is considered standard knowledge by any 6th grader. Right?
In fact, this idea is so dominant we don’t even question it. It originated with the Russian scientist Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov, and dates back to at least 1757.
Although I didn’t mention it by name in my recent 4-part blog series on dietary fat, the so-called “Lipid Hypothesis” is central to any discussion of the relationship between fat and heart disease. The idea behind the Lipid Hypothesis is a pretty simple one: eating saturated fat leads to increased cholesterol in the blood, which in turn causes cardiovascular disease. The Lipid Hypothesis is behind all, or nearly all, dietary recommendations, and almost everything you read about diet in the popular press toes this party line.
I’m winding down here. The previous three blog posts can be summarized as follows:
Synthetic trans fat is “bad,” saturated fats are probably “neutral”, omega-6 fatty acids in abundance are probably “bad,” omega-3 fatty acids are “good,” and the category of polyunsaturated fatty acids is probably meaningless.
I can also add that you should ignore ANY website that purport to make recommendations concerning dietary fat (including this one!).
So far, this series has examined the state of “knowledge” about saturated fats (Part 1) and omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids (Part 2). To recap, my conclusions regarding the scientific consensus on these issues are:
In Part 1 of this series on dietary fat, I arrived at two conclusions that appear to be inconsistent with each other: (1) there is a considerable amount of data indicating that dietary saturated fat may not really be a “bad actor”, and (2) there is also a substantial amount of data indicating that decreasing saturated fats may be beneficial.
There is probably no subject in history that has received more print than “fat.” First, let me say that I’m not going to talk about “fat” à la “obesity”, or “fat” à la “how to get rid of it” via exercise/diet. What I am going to talk about is the science of dietary fat—what we think we may know about different fats and their role in the human diet. In my opinion, the science here is not “settled,” because the weight of evidence supporting one view or another is constantly shifting. Frankly, I’m confused.
There is a very important issue pending before the Supreme Court. It deals specifically with what most of us would think is an obscure issue, yet if the Court rules “the wrong way,” our food security, the fate of the agricultural seed industry, and the future of the biotechnology industry may all be in jeopardy. And who knows, it may even cause a re-look at software piracy.