Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What Is Unseen (Thanks Bastiat!)

In the article linked above, the author makes a case against saturated fat intake that amounts to an epidemiological conjecture dressed in scientific sheep's clothing.  It also reminds me of one of my favorite economics treatises, "That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Unseen", which is referred to as "The Parable of the Broken Window" or "The Broken Window Fallacy".  I read this thing annually and it is remarkable how relevant it is today, even though it was written over 100 years ago.

In this author's defense of the saturated fat is bad for you conjecture, what is not seen is any evidence an intervention study would provide.  There's a good reason why that author did not reference intervention studies that show saturated fat is bad for you - there are no such studies.

I could repeat my repeated descriptions of why epidemiological studies do not prove anything and don't "show" anything except correlations (IOW, the sun comes up and I wake up - but which caused which?  Epidemiology cannot tell you the answer to that question).  If you are curious, this article tells the story of how epidemiology went wrong at length and in detail:
Taubes - Do We Really Know?

In other words, there's only one thing this article presents - the author's opinion about how to interpret epidemiology and other non-intervention based scientific evidence, and that's great.  The only reason the article is the least bit interesting is the author's claim, in the title, that the saturated fat conjecture is not debatable.  Hopefully that's the editor's doing, and not the author's.  As a "scientist", the author should know debate never ends in science.  All scientific work is subject to debate.  The point of science is to discern what may be true by always looking for the way to disprove the matter at hand.

The effort to disprove never ends.  Everything is always debatable.  If we found an apple that floats in the air, or a situation in which matter cannot be converted to energy and instead simply evaporates to nothing, we'd have to review certain "laws" (laws are those conjectures that have survived every attempt at disproof over a long time by many who try to disprove).  

One needn't be a "scientist" with a PHD to know the reality of the scientific method.  The frustrating thing is how many "scientists" seem to think that opinions of scientists are related to the scientific method.  They are not.  Even if every scientist believed saturated fat is bad for you, that would not mean anything scientifically speaking.

So, what happens when you eat saturated fat?  Will it kill you?  Here's what happened to me.  My body weight dropped over six years from 225 to my current 195.  My cholesterol numbers are the envy of my doctors - trigs 25-75, HDL 60-75, and LDL estimated at 114.  My waist is three inches smaller.  I feel good, sleep well and perform well in my athletic pursuits.  I eat sat fat by the boatload - butter, MCTs, heavy cream in my coffee, sour cream, cream cheese, hard cheeses, and red meat whenever I like.  In other words, every known health marker improved when I ate MORE fat and less carbohydrate.

What happens when you eat high fat and moderate to low carb?  Your body burns saturated fats for fuel, which reduces the saturated fat to water and CO2.  What happens when you eat low fat and high carb?  Tour body makes a saturated fat from the carbs, and blood levels of fats go much higher (measured as triglycerides).  The reverse is also true (and testable by you in your body):  when fat consumption replaces carb consumption, triglycerides go down.  So if you want to raise the levels of fat floating around your veins, by all means, pig out on pizza, whole grains, and especially sugary foods of any kind.

In short, beware the opinion dressed in scientific sheep's clothing.  Until they complete rigorous intervention studies that show mortality reduction via restriction of saturated fat, "they got nothing."

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