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January 25, 2008

Roberts / Taubes

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Seth Roberts, thanks to whose Shangri-La Diet I've been able to lose 10 pounds with the greatest of ease, interviews Gary Taubes, the author of "Good Calories, Bad Calories," an expose of how far wrong our health-tips industry has gone in its love affair with carbs and its demonization of fat.

While the Taubes book strikes me as a major achievement, the interview is a special treat. It offers some things the book doesn't, namely Taubes' reflections about the experience: How he woke up to the fat-and-carbs con, how the establishment has reacted to his work, and how it is that well-meaning "expertise" can turn destructive.

In case I haven't been clear enough about this before: The Gary Taubes book reminds me of "The Painted Word" and "From Bauhaus to Our House," Tom Wolfe's books about postwar American art and architecture. In tone, of course, the two writers are very different. Taubes is earnest, detailed, and scholarly in a popular-magazine way, where Wolfe is a stylist, a flamboyant caricaturist, and a provocateur. But, in substance, these three books are all real eye-openers. (Let's just say that in each case the emperor really does seem to have no clothes.) They're also helpful culture-explainers -- the kind of books you read thinking, "Oh! So that's why ..."

Incidentally: I have enough experience in the culturesphere to be confident that Tom Wolfe was right. But where Gary Taubes and other members of that team go? I don't have the independent knowledge to be anything but hopeful. It's possible that my bullshit-meter is failing me, and that I'm gullibly buying into a lot of craziness. I have no real way of knowing.

Thanks to Dave Lull for the link. Here's Seth Roberts' website; here's Seth's blog. I talked to Tom ("Fat Head") Naughton, who has made a documentary about the carbs-and-fat silliness, here and here.

By the way: Should you really be on statins? Link thanks to Dr. Michael Eades.



posted by Michael at January 25, 2008


You know that in mass markets, 95% is crap. Well, Science is now a mass commodity, a professionalised, institutionalised activity. So, 95% is crap.

Posted by: dearieme on January 26, 2008 3:38 PM

In this morning's NY Times Gary Taubes is asking "What’s Cholesterol Got to Do With It?"

Posted by: Dave Lull on January 27, 2008 9:33 AM

He seems to have a lot of interesting insights into science and how nutritionism is so often bad science.

But his assertion that sucrose is a mixture of fructose and glucose is flat out wrong.


for details.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on January 28, 2008 5:03 AM

Scroll down a bit in this article and it describes sucrose as binding one glucose molecule to one fructose molecule.

Even the sucrose article you reference describes sucrose as "two monosaccharides, α-glucose and fructose, joined by a glycosidic bond".

He may be oversimplifying the chemistry, but he's hardly flat out wrong.

Posted by: Anon on January 28, 2008 11:01 AM

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