Bloggingheads Community

Bloggingheads Community (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/index.php)
-   Diavlog comments (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=9)
-   -   Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson) (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=6757)

Bloggingheads 05-21-2011 02:51 AM

Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 

Starwatcher162536 05-21-2011 02:55 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Ah, a Science Saturday again. Cool cool. I don't know about others, but I was considering leaving Bloggingheads if we didn't get another one of these in another few weeks. Unfortunately for my productivity (and perhaps Bloggingheads comment sections!) it looks like I will continue to be wasting time here. :/

Starwatcher162536 05-21-2011 03:24 AM

Mayan stuff
 
It's always struck me strange that the ending of the Mayan calendar has become associated with Apocalypse predictions. Is there some other reason on the periphery that this ending of the calender has for some these apocalyptic implications, such as Mayan religious prophecies? I mean, I'm staring at a calendar on my wall right now that ends this coming December 31...

Parallax 05-21-2011 07:59 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Horgan's criticism of Taubes is very flimsy and disappointing.

First he finds the diet gross, which has no bearing on its scientific value. Next "I eat lots of carbs and I am skinny" is no argument, as a science journalist he should know better. Finally if I recall correctly in the Horgan-Taubes diavlog, Taubes said that the situation with carbs was similar to smoking in the sense that a number of smokers will never get lung cancer, does it mean that smoking never causes lung cancer? Same logic applies here: a number of people might drink 2 liters of Coke a day and not get fat. It does not mean that obesity is not explained by higher carbohydrate intake.

badhatharry 05-21-2011 10:12 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 209907)
Ah, a Science Saturday again. Cool cool. I don't know about others, but I was considering leaving Bloggingheads if we didn't get another one of these in another few weeks. Unfortunately for my productivity (and perhaps Bloggingheads comment sections!) it looks like I will continue to be wasting time here. :/

Science Saturday: rapture predictions, doomsday scenarios, diets, whether science is about persuasion and to wrap it all up...God.

Bring on the climate change debate!!

badhatharry 05-21-2011 10:13 AM

Re: Mayan stuff
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 209910)
It's always struck me strange that the ending of the Mayan calendar has become associated with Apocalypse predictions. Is there some other reason on the periphery that this ending of the calender has for some these apocalyptic implications, such as Mayan religious prophecies?

They ran out of paper.

Olavus 05-21-2011 11:48 AM

Re: Mayan stuff
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 209910)
It's always struck me strange that the ending of the Mayan calendar has become associated with Apocalypse predictions. Is there some other reason on the periphery that this ending of the calender has for some these apocalyptic implications, such as Mayan religious prophecies? I mean, I'm staring at a calendar on my wall right now that ends this coming December 31...

Maybe an off-by-one error? Patience folks. ;-)

2012 phenomenon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_phenomenon

Ocean 05-21-2011 01:01 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
These two are such nice people! It's always great to have them back, whether one agrees or not.

The rupture has been called off.

bjkeefe 05-21-2011 03:15 PM

Oh, yes.
 
I'm stealing that, too, George.

bjkeefe 05-21-2011 03:25 PM

It's not just ...
 
... you who feels this way, George. Many of us are on the edge of our seats.

SkepticDoc 05-21-2011 06:09 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Let's drink to that, from Rachel Madow:

Equal parts:

gin
fresh lime juice
maraschino liqueur (Rachel recommends Luxardo brand)
green Chartreuse

Shake well with ice for longer than you think you need to, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/0..._n_865110.html

sugarkang 05-21-2011 08:31 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Haha. George Johnson on UPCs tattooed on our person, "Of course, they'd be totally convenient!"

I don't understand why we can't just do everything biometrically. Conspiracy theorists have nothing to fear. You can stand in the CASH line.

bjkeefe 05-21-2011 08:40 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 209995)
Haha. George Johnson on UPCs tattooed on our person, "Of course, they'd be totally convenient!"

I don't understand why we can't just do everything biometrically. Conspiracy theorists have nothing to fear. You can stand in the CASH line.

Says the guy commenting under a pseudonym.

bjkeefe 05-21-2011 09:20 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 209936)
Science Saturday: rapture predictions, doomsday scenarios, diets, whether science is about persuasion and to wrap it all up...God.

Bring on the climate change debate!!

Bring on the list of 50 rational critics!

badhatharry 05-21-2011 09:24 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 209995)
Haha. George Johnson on UPCs tattooed on our person, "Of course, they'd be totally convenient!"

I don't understand why we can't just do everything biometrically. Conspiracy theorists have nothing to fear. You can stand in the CASH line.

666

testostyrannical 05-21-2011 09:55 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Occasionalists believe in that miracles are possible, Deists don't. This is a big difference.

testostyrannical 05-21-2011 10:04 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
This is Science Saturday. If you want a climate change debate to soothe your political biases, maybe you should petition for one in the Values Added section.

TwinSwords 05-21-2011 10:44 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by testostyrannical (Post 210010)
This is Science Saturday. If you want a climate change debate to soothe your political biases, maybe you should petition for one in the Values Added section.

Wingnut Wednesday?

bjkeefe 05-22-2011 12:25 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 210001)
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 209936)
Science Saturday: rapture predictions, doomsday scenarios, diets, whether science is about persuasion and to wrap it all up...God.

Bring on the climate change debate!!

Bring on the list of 50 rational critics!

Actually, I should not have let that business about "debate" go unchallenged. Because there is no debate, not in any meaningful sense.

I mean, when even Fred Hiatt's editorial page concedes ...

Quote:

“CLIMATE CHANGE is occurring, is very likely caused by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.”

So says — in response to a request from Congress — the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, the country’s preeminent institution chartered to provide scientific advice to lawmakers.

In a report titled “America’s Climate Choices,” a panel of scientific and policy experts also concludes that the risks of inaction far outweigh the risks or disadvantages of action. And the most sensible and urgently needed action, the panel says, is to put a rising price on carbon emissions, by means of a tax or cap-and-trade system. That would encourage innovation, research and a gradual shift away from the use of energy sources (oil, gas and coal) that are endangering the world.

None of this should come as a surprise. None of this is news. But it is newsworthy, sadly, because the Republican Party, and therefore the U.S. government, have moved so far from reality and responsibility in their approach to climate change.

Seizing on inevitable points of uncertainty in something as complex as climate science, and on misreported pseudo-scandals among a few scientists, Republican members of Congress, presidential candidates and other leaders pretend that the dangers of climate change are hypothetical and unproven and the causes uncertain.

Not so, says the National Research Council. “Although the scientific process is always open to new ideas and results, the fundamental causes and consequences of climate change have been established by many years of scientific research, are supported by many different lines of evidence, and have stood firm in the face of careful examination, repeated testing, and the rigorous evaluation of alternative theories and explanation.”

Climate-change deniers, in other words, are willfully ignorant, lost in wishful thinking, cynical or some combination of the three. And their recalcitrance is dangerous, the report makes clear, because the longer the nation waits to respond to climate change, the more catastrophic the planetary damage is likely to be — and the more drastic the needed response.
Read that last paragraph out loud a few times, and then read the rest.

(h/t: @ClimateDebate)

T.G.G.P 05-22-2011 07:24 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
I hope George Johnson's book includes Paul Ewald's theory that cancer is caused by infectious disease.

I recommend Armarium Magnum on the dark ages.

peterz 05-22-2011 07:24 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
John may not have offered a very logical response to Taube's diet, but for anyone interested there is evidence in the form of peer reveiwed research that high glucose and elevated IGF-1 are associated with increased cancer risk. IGF-1 is often increased by high protein diets which are common in the United States...on the flip side diets which contain a lot of polyphenols are health enhancing - this means eating fruits, berries, nuts, vegitables, and consuming teas and beer and wine in moderation and keeping juices down to a few ounces a day....the bacon, eggs, chicken etc. that Taubes consumes in quanity is insane for the long run.....

Google Scholar and the NIH PubMed sites are good places to check research including diet and cancer links....


http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl...=2005&as_vis=0

badhatharry 05-22-2011 08:46 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by testostyrannical (Post 210010)
This is Science Saturday. If you want a climate change debate to soothe your political biases, maybe you should petition for one in the Values Added section.

So sorry, for a moment I forgot the science was settled.

bjkeefe 05-22-2011 09:01 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 210103)
So sorry, for a moment I forgot the science was settled.

See that you remember from now on.

Quote:

Quote:

[...]

Climate-change deniers, in other words, are willfully ignorant, lost in wishful thinking, cynical or some combination of the three. And their recalcitrance is dangerous, the report makes clear, because the longer the nation waits to respond to climate change, the more catastrophic the planetary damage is likely to be — and the more drastic the needed response.


Simon Willard 05-22-2011 10:09 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 210105)
See that you remember from now on.

Quote:

the longer the nation waits to respond to climate change, the more catastrophic the planetary damage is likely to be — and the more drastic the needed response.
I'm actually not as sure about this logic as those of you who see it as tautology. That's because people are involved, and people's reactions are not always in linear proportion to the evidence.

A more vigorous response will wait until a time when people actually notice the effects of AGW, whereas if the early response it taken, it may be something silly and half-hearted with no meaningful effect (like banning the tungsten filament?) allowing politicians to pat each other on the back and say, "we solved that issue".

But this is off-topic. We'll discuss again on the next BH episode of AGW.

Richard from Amherst 05-22-2011 10:11 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
I believe you have it right, There clearly is enough data to confirm climate change and to conclude that it is in part of anthropogenic climate change.

Just exactly how climate change will develop and how detrimental it will be is what is open to debate along with what if anything Homo sapian sapin is able and willing to do about it.

The only thing that I can see that will actually help lessen the impact of our species on the planet and maintain an acceptable level of civilization is a substantial reduction in the human population. Preferably by attrition and a substantially sub replacement birth rate.

Given the largely misogynistic, deism addled, population of this planet I have virtually no hope that self regulated population control through non reproduction has much hope of success.

There is a popular article in the June 2011 issue of National Geographic that quotes Carl Haub's work on the issue:

It indicates the current human population is at around 7 billion with an annual birth rate of 140 million and an annual death rate of 57 million. It doesn't take a mathematical genius to see that the hairless monkeys (humans) are fornicating the world into environmental collapse and natural resource depletion.

Now if we as a species could voluntarily reduce our population growth rate to say 25% of replacement for a few decades or better yet centuries we might have have a chance of reducing the human population could all be highly educated, well fed and all have health care and live live on a verdant, environmentally healthy, peaceful and civilized world.

That my friend is the challenge and the aspect of the so called "climate debate" that nobody wants to face up to. People would rather believe in a fictional loving personal deity that will save them because they "believe" and rapture them up to an equally fictional heaven.

Not to worry though the planet will very likely eventually self correct the problem with our extinction as a species. It's sort of sad isn't it.

bjkeefe 05-22-2011 10:55 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Simon Willard (Post 210121)
Quote:

the longer the nation waits to respond to climate change, the more catastrophic the planetary damage is likely to be — and the more drastic the needed response.
I'm actually not as sure about this logic as those of you who see it as tautology.

I do not see it as a tautology. I see it as the consensus prediction after several decades of research by those best qualified to say.

Quote:

That's because people are involved, and people's reactions are not always in linear proportion to the evidence.
No argument there.

Quote:

A more vigorous response will wait until a time when people actually notice the effects of AGW, whereas if the early response it taken, it may be something silly and half-hearted with no meaningful effect (like banning the tungsten filament?) allowing politicians to pat each other on the back and say, "we solved that issue".
As I understand it, the response of the Earth's climate to changes in what is dumped into the atmosphere has quite a lag. Even so extreme a step as reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 0 would not, for example, cause the temperature increase to stop for quite a few years. Therefore, I don't think we have the luxury of waiting until things get "bad enough."

I am against waiting until we can "notice the effects of AGW" for three additional reasons. First, how are we to decide when we are noticing? To the mind of many researchers, evidence is already abundant on this front; e.g., ice cap melting, glacier melting, reduced snow packs, changing migration patterns, changing lines demarcating species habitation, rising sea level, etc. To the mind of a lot of other people, these things are not conclusive. Many people tend not to believe something has changed if it's not obvious, rapid, and right in their front yard. There are, as well, rich and powerful forces at work to help sustain those feelings of doubt.

Second, there is at least some reason to believe that the change won't be a smooth and linear process, but that increased instabilities could cause sudden dramatic events.

Third, if we wait until some point where it becomes near-consensus in the general population and political class that "Okay, yeah, AGW is happening, I can see the effects," we are going to be susceptible to panic-driven "solutions." This will be especially likely if some of the signs of change are catastrophic.

Due to these reasons, I think it is best to start as soon as possible, and to do all of the easy things right away. Especially since most or all of them have benefits in other regards besides mitigating AGW. I'm not sure why people are so hysterical about incandescent light bulbs -- I suspect it's become a shibboleth, much like wingnuts waving around tire pressure gauges a few years back -- but this strikes me as one of those easy things to do: switch to CFLs and other more energy-efficient lamps, and not only do you take a step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, you also immediately start saving money on your monthly electricity bill. If most everyone in your town does it, then maybe the local power plant doesn't have to expand capacity, and certainly, it doesn't need to burn as much coal or gas or whatever it burns to make electricity.

I think the hysteria over light bulbs helps illustrate why I am highly dubious about waiting until things get worse. We all could have been switching to CFLs starting years ago -- I certainly did, without any pain. But instead it has become a mark of RealConservatism or non-RINOism or whatever to be pig-headed about this, and so the delay is causing other people to say, "Well, voluntary didn't work. Maybe it's time to try mandatory." Multiply this by some very large number, and that's what you will see, over and over again, if we drag our feet on taking steps we already know how to take.

Quote:

But this is off-topic. We'll discuss again on the next BH episode of AGW.
Okay.

bjkeefe 05-23-2011 12:06 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Richard from Amherst (Post 210123)
I believe you have it right, There clearly is enough data to confirm climate change and to conclude that it is in part of anthropogenic climate change.

Just exactly how climate change will develop and how detrimental it will be is what is open to debate along with what if anything Homo sapian sapin is able and willing to do about it.

The only thing that I can see that will actually help lessen the impact of our species on the planet and maintain an acceptable level of civilization is a substantial reduction in the human population. Preferably by attrition and a substantially sub replacement birth rate. [...]

Sometimes I think that. Mostly, though, I think it's not going to happen any time soon, so we ought to do what we can do in other ways. I am reasonably confident that we can get a handle on AGW through a combination of reduced use, increased efficiencies, and new technology, and I don't see any reason not to give these our best shot.

[Added] Of course, all this discussion could soon be rendered moot.

;^)

badhatharry 05-23-2011 12:17 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Simon Willard (Post 210121)
A more vigorous response will wait until a time when people actually notice the effects of AGW,

yeah, waiting might be a good strategy.

bjkeefe 05-23-2011 12:33 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 210136)
yeah, waiting might be a good strategy.

A site that calls itself "An Honest Climate Debate" really shouldn't have that nonsense about ZOMG SCIENTISTS USED TO THINK WE WERE ABOUT TO ENTER ANOTHER ICE AGE!!!1! right at the top of the site. That was a five-minute wonder from four decades ago that was almost entirely media hype. We have been over and over this.

Really, is that the best you can do, badhat?

And was that one of your "50 rational critics?"

==========

[Added] For anyone who wants a refresher, see, for example, RealClimate, Climate Progress, or Nature. All three of those are heavily sourced.

For a lighter read, see, for example, USA Today. Here's how it starts:

Quote:

Study debunks 'global cooling' concern of '70s

The supposed "global cooling" consensus among scientists in the 1970s — frequently offered by global-warming skeptics as proof that climatologists can't make up their minds — is a myth, according to a survey of the scientific literature of the era.

The '70s was an unusually cold decade. Newsweek, Time, The New York Times and National Geographic published articles at the time speculating on the causes of the unusual cold and about the possibility of a new ice age.

But Thomas Peterson of the National Climatic Data Center surveyed dozens of peer-reviewed scientific articles from 1965 to 1979 and found that only seven supported global cooling, while 44 predicted warming. Peterson says 20 others were neutral in their assessments of climate trends.

The study reports, "There was no scientific consensus in the 1970s that the Earth was headed into an imminent ice age.

"A review of the literature suggests that, to the contrary, greenhouse warming even then dominated scientists' thinking about the most important forces shaping Earth's climate on human time scales."

Richard from Amherst 05-23-2011 07:21 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Brendan:

Agreed: We should by all means give controlling Anthropogenic Climate Change our best shot.

I was feeling particularly pessimistic when I replied to your comment. I happen to be lucky enough to be friends with a prominent climate scientist. Our discussions about the climate situation are none to cheery or optimistic.

He is greatly concerned about world population negating our ability to address anthropogenic climate change, but does not speak out on the subject because his colleagues caution him (no doubt wisely) that he will only bring down a rain of ad hominem attacks on himself if he does speak.

Happily most of our conversation are neither so weighty or pessimistic being about University politics, flowers, gardening the merits of small tractors and keeping the white tail deer from decimating his wife's efforts to build an English garden.

bjkeefe 05-23-2011 07:35 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Richard from Amherst (Post 210148)
Brendan:

Agreed: We should by all means give controlling Anthropogenic Climate Change our best shot.

I was feeling particularly pessimistic when I replied to your comment. I happen to be lucky enough to be friends with a prominent climate scientist. Our discussions about the climate situation are none to cheery or optimistic.

I have heard this from a number of people, that climate scientists are considerably more gloomy in private conversations than they are in public.

Quote:

He is greatly concerned about world population negating our ability to address anthropogenic climate change, but does not speak out on the subject because his colleagues caution him (no doubt wisely) that he will only bring down a rain of ad hominem attacks on himself if he does speak.
I can imagine.

Quote:

Happily most of our conversation are neither so weighty or pessimistic being about University politics, flowers, gardening the merits of small tractors and keeping the white tail deer from decimating his wife's efforts to build an English garden.
I myself find discussions of looming global apocalypse less of a bummer than discussions of University politics, but I suppose reasonable people can disagree.

In seriousness, though, I have become less fretful about human population growth than I used to be because it now seems clear that we know a very successful way to put the brakes on it: increase opportunities for education for women. This may not get us to negative population growth as fast as you and I would like, but at least I no longer feel like we're on a runaway train that no one has any idea how to stop.

willmybasilgrow 05-23-2011 07:56 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
The stronger response to Taubes that was intended, to me, came off as a big garbled confused mess.

The way I look at Taubes is that there is no way I could ever follow the low or no carbs. (Unless I became diabetic) I am mindful of it, it's a guide, somewhat, but sometimes, I have to have a piece of GF bread. Or GF fries. And rice. I think the fact that Taubes wrote about the sugar doctor in San Fran is a bit of a signal that he's open to refining his work. I too have cut back on sugary drinks. That is an easier thing to do; low-hanging fruit so to speak.

But all in all, I did not witness much of a scientific critique of Taubes, mostly it was a lot of talking from the gut, perceptions, intuitions, etc.. which is fine. Just not scientific.

But I know what he means: who's snowing who...?

miceelf 05-23-2011 08:51 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
I undertand your pessimism, but in the third world, where the birth rates are the highest, as it encounters modernity, birth rates DO go down. Whether they will get below replacement rates or not, remains to be seen, but a birth rate of 4 is clearly better than a birth rate of (say) 8.

Aside from the benefits in terms of earth as a viable habitat for humans and everyone else, reducing birth rates is also a really good thing socially.

badhatharry 05-23-2011 09:29 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 210136)
yeah, waiting might be a good strategy.

But while you're waiting, keep your opinions about the science to yourself. What you think can hurt you.

AemJeff 05-23-2011 09:41 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 210162)
But while you're waiting, keep your opinions about the science to yourself. What you think can hurt you.

Just try to understand the scientific process before you express opinions about the products of that process. And remember to follow the money. The significance of the role of Exxon's money on this debate is derived from the plans detailed in this memo:

http://www.nrdc.org/media/docs/020403.pdf

stephanie 05-23-2011 12:00 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Parallax (Post 209925)
Horgan's criticism of Taubes is very flimsy and disappointing.

First he finds the diet gross, which has no bearing on its scientific value. Next "I eat lots of carbs and I am skinny" is no argument, as a science journalist he should know better.

This isn't an accurate summary of his criticism, however. It's more related to the topic they were actually talking about when Taubes came up -- what motivates people to feel that arguments are wrong and thus to look closely or critically at the reasoning and evidence used? To try and take it apart?

Horgan's actual criticism of Taubes (which I agree with) is that overgeneralizing to all carbs are bad and all fat is good based on the evidence is as faulty as the all fat is dangerous or makes you fat arguments (which haven't been dominant for ages, from what I can tell, so Taubes seems to me to be arguing somewhat against a strawman). In any case, Horgan wasn't directly focused on his argument against Taubes (I'll read the magazine article referenced), but why he started out skeptical despite Taubes' evidence and his respect for Taubes.

stephanie 05-23-2011 12:02 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
I was happy to see John and George back, and this diavlog was fun, as expected. Glad to hear John's comments on the comments to the Taubes diavlog, too.

miceelf 05-23-2011 12:17 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Is "all fat is good" what Taubes was arguing? I thought it was more along the lines of "fat is generally irrelevant". As well, taubes also seemed to be arguing that some carbs are worse than others.

agree on the larger point- good to see these two together again.

stephanie 05-23-2011 12:55 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by miceelf (Post 210186)
Is "all fat is good" what Taubes was arguing? I thought it was more along the lines of "fat is generally irrelevant". As well, taubes also seemed to be arguing that some carbs are worse than others.

agree on the larger point- good to see these two together again.

His position is more correctly "all fat is fine," I think, but if you then proceed to recommend a diet that's high in all kinds of fat, I'm not sure there's a meaningful difference. (To be fair, I don't currently recall whether Taubes does accept that some kinds of fat are worse than others -- it seems to me that he may have agreed with this, as it fits into his argument somewhat, in that people used to warn against, say, butter, in favor of replacements that are now believed to be worse.)

For the record, I think the arguments against the anti-fat folks are to a certain extent a strawman, as I think nutritionist types are less likely to push low fat these days, and certainly it's not the normal weight loss approach recommended. That doesn't mean it might not be relevant for some (just as some minority of people respond to lowering cholesterol, even while cholesterol is recommended against probably more broadly than it needs to be). I also haven't seen Taubes address the protein excess argument, although that definitely doesn't mean he hasn't.

In any case, I also agree that Taubes thinks that some carbs (sugar, specifically) are worse than others, but Horgan's point, which I think is a fair one, is that he nevertheless does take a generally anti-carb POV. (He's not saying avoid sugar or soda or cake alone, arguments that one who is generally pro the nutritution mainstream or anti-Atkins would tend to agree with. He's saying that carbs are bad and the nutritional mainstream completely off the mark.) Horgan's point (one I agree with) is that that's too much a blanket position. Just because the evidence against sugar or simple carbs is strong (whether as a matter of balance or actual toxicity) doesn't mean that a diet low in carbs is better.* To come to that conclusion, as Taubes seems to, requires a lot of conclusion jumping (and my impression, though I haven't finished his book yet, is that Taubes is better at taking apart the studies he disagrees with than looking critically at the ones that support conclusions he wishes to agree with or instinctively feels are right). This fits in well with the broader point Horgan was making here.

*Indeed, based on Horgan's description of the diet, Taubes does a pretty old-school Atkins thing, and doesn't even promote vegetables.

stephanie 05-23-2011 01:12 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Ready for the Rapture (John Horgan & George Johnson)
 
An additional point is that with the food wars, there are other reasons besides evidence alone (as Horgan mentions) that people tend to be critical of certain kinds of theories while less critical of others, and taste or how appealing a particular diet seems -- the things that motivated him, along with evidence that just seems to stack up too neatly -- are such things.

I'd say there are some other huge ones, though. For example, I think there's a bit of a puritanical assumption that underlies the mainstream views that Taubes is reacting to -- an idea that bacon and butter can't be good for you, whereas vegetables must be. (Ideas that I agree with somewhat -- veggies are good and butter requires moderation, at least -- for what I think are good reasons too.)

Related to this is the too magical or convenient take -- when people insist that eh, it's not how much you eat or eating your favorites that are problematic. I think we all know the skepticism that automatically gets invoked by get rich schemes or the dietary equivalent.

There are a lot of other preexisting attitudes that play into the food theories people probably end up naturally biased toward or against, though. Many who end up more in the Taubes camp are inclined to buy into some kind of older/more natural is better theory (the appeal of the paleo stuff). There's some element of this that pro-vegetable and fruits, anti packaged foods people probably fall into too (I admit that my outlook is biased in such a way, even as the paleo stuff seems unappealing).

Then there's the vegetarianism/veganism is more healthy view, which I suspect starts often with views about how to eat that aren't really about health but move into a health justification too. (I get this one too.)

Then, of course, there's personal experience (if you lose weight or get more healthy eating in a particular way, you might become a convert with all that entails -- you can see a little of this in Taubes too). And the related idea that if I have a food sensitivity that must be reflected more broadly in the population (beyond what diagnoses might indicate). I think this is behind at least some degree of the anti carb (anti gluten) and anti milk and soy ideas. (Note, I'm not saying that any of these are inherently irrational, but that I think that the fervor which people have about them despite conflicting or uncertain evidence tends to relate often to matters outside the evidence, and then biases what evidence they see as full of holes and what seems convincing.)

You could go on and on, but this is why I thought John's broader point was interesting, about what causes people to be more or less critical. I didn't see him as trying to lay out an argument against Taubes, but referencing the fact that he had done so elsewhere and discussing why he might have been motivated to.


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 05:16 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.