Wellness Journeys, the website representing an educational charity is “science based.” Yes, it’s also informal, and if that detracts from the science, too fricken bad. There are bullshit websites everywhere that document their papers with endless footnotes (all formatted exactly as I once taught college students to format footnotes). There’s an old saying: If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your bullshit. At this site, we call out bullshit. And, because your author/journalist/editor is a combat veteran, I get to use the words I want to use. I’ve paid my dues. When it’s bullshit, I call bullshit.
I have loved the Weston Price Foundation® for years. I have quoted their papers often. Mary Enig was the top lipid (fats) genius in the world, and Sally Fallon’s dietary recommendations and research have always been top shelf stuff. Then there’s old Weston himself, whom we have discussed on numerous occasions and in numerous newsletters.
All that being said, we (I) have decided not to renew our membership, and here is why:
I received an article from them in my email that was a critique on a book. It was done by one of the big wigs (staff member in charge of education services) by the name of Tim Boyd. It was pretty darn good, and quite like our work here where we often call “bullshit” on people, their theories, or their work.
I am reprinting his essay for educational purposes, thus claiming “fair use.”
How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease
By Michael Greger, MD, FACLM
This New York Times bestseller follows a popular formula for persuasion. First, you need a title that gets people’s attention. Next, it helps to have an author with a good chunk of the alphabet after his name. Letters like MD and PhD are especially good. That means you are looking at the name of an expert, and experts are never wrong. Finally, you need lots of references. This book has all that covered—seven letters after the author’s name and over a hundred pages of references. This formula doesn’t guarantee success, but it can work and obviously did this time.
Greger presents us with chapter after chapter of advice on how not to die from all the chronic ailments that plague modern civilization. Each chapter is riddled with references, yet in the first chapter (which tells us how not to die from heart disease), Greger makes the claim that statin drug benefits outweigh the risks for those with high risk—without any references.
The key point in each chapter is that a plant-based diet is the secret to survival. I would never argue with an expert who has so many studies backing him up, would I? Well, I’ve developed this nasty habit of noncompliance with the popular mentality, so yes I would. How could I do that? Who do I think I am?
I don’t have to be anybody but someone who pays attention. I have seen many experts claim many different, incompatible things. They can’t all be right, some of them must be wrong. Being an expert carries no guarantee of correctness. Having lots of references doesn’t guarantee anything either.
One big name the author refers to more than once is Pritikin, who came up with a diet to prevent or even cure heart disease. That sounds great, but what Greger neglects to mention is that this diet did not help Pritikin himself with leukemia. You have to look at the whole picture, not just the convenient part of it.
Many of the studies referred to take place in a lab, in a test tube or petri dish. While some interesting information might come of such a study, a test tube or dish is not a good simulator of the human body. When isolated proteins or other nutrients are exposed to isolated human or animal tissue, I don’t care what happens. Nothing has been proven about what is good nutrition and what is not. Studies on actual human beings, not test tubes, are better, but even a study lasting several years is short term. And studies comparing McDonald’s high-fat meals to McDonald’s lowfat meals should be dropped in the trash where they belong.
Studies done on factory food may do a very good job of proving factory food is not good for you, but that is not really news and proves nothing about properly produced organic food. There is at least one reference to information from the American Dietetic Association, which is funded by industry, including the likes of Coca-Cola. Studies funded by the factory food industry are not science, they are marketing.
In an apparent attempt to scare us all away from chicken, we are told that the number one food source of arsenic for preschool children is chicken. That may be true as far as it goes, but it leaves out an important detail. Why is chicken so high in arsenic? Because at least until recently, the industry deliberately added arsenic to chicken feed as a preservative.
Any studies—whether lab studies or short-term studies—done outside of the context of what has worked to keep different cultures around the world healthy for generations (like the research done by Weston A. Price) add up to one big nothing-burger. Thumbs DOWN.
About that same time, I received an email from the foundation with the subject: Help stop a bad vaccine bill in the Washington Legislature.
Our Stand on Vaccines
We must first reveal where we stand on this touchy issue, because, again, we are science based and without science, opinion about medical procedures is empty and meaningless.
We are neutral on this issue. We know there are problems, and we know vaccines have saved lives. The entire subject of vaccinations truly fascinates yours truly, me. It is one subject on which we’ve read everything to come down the pike. We know about the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) and the $4 billion dollars paid out in vaccine injury compensation. We know there are problems. We’ve published stuff on how Wakefield was attacked. We also know that his research did find problems with the MMR and we published his conclusion that they should be given separately to avoid the problems his research team found when they were given together in one injection. And finally we published how the courts (in England) eventually (2012) overturned the General Medical Council’s finding and returned medical licenses to those on Wakefield’s team who had had theirs revoked, stating that there was “inadequate reasoning” to pronounce these researchers quacks and frauds and anything else the British press wanted to call them; that they performed their study and published it in good faith with no intent to do harm or defraud the public.
I can be neutral in this battle because I do not have children. I do, however, have animals, and I do vaccinate them, but I also check their titers, which indicate whether or not the animals need them. However, the rabies vaccination is required every three years by law.
To sum it up, we know:
- there are problems with vaccines
- that there are problems with vaccine science because outcomes are influenced by profits
- that vaccines save lives
Thus we feel that we must remain neutral in this debate and report the “science,” not the fear mongering or simply repeat the industry’s talking points when they stand to make billions of dollars.
Back to the email we received
It wanted people to fight mandatory vaccination laws. It made it clear that to vaccinate or to not vaccinate should be a choice. It produced a lot of evidence of the problems with vaccines. But it also did something that Tim Boyd, in his essay above, railed against.
“Having lots of references doesn’t guarantee anything either.”
Among the list of nine talking points, here was one: Here is a list of 157 studies supporting vaccines/autism causation. https://www.scribd.com/doc/220807175/157-Research-Papers-Supporting-the-Vaccine-Autism-Link
Like a good journalist, I went to that link and read every study. It took me two days to finish. And then I wrote the following email to Tim Boyd, asking for clarification:
Re: Your paper, “How Not to Die By Michael Greger”
Loved the article, probably because you and I seem to think alike.
I’m a journalist with a background in a variety of the sciences and I am somewhat of a critic of science and the vast array of conflicts that affect outcomes.
I loved best your line about “over a hundred pages of references,” because I’ve often found that references are there to bludgeon the reader over the head rather than supply actual support for the author’s thesis.
However, shortly after I read your article, your organization sent out a piece that did exactly what you were taking a pot shot at.
The email came with the subject: Help stop a bad vaccine bill in the Washington Legislature.
As I glanced over it, I found a link after the line: “On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that vaccines do not cause autism.” [This was a mistake on your author’s part; this line was actually from another email from Weston Price. Sorry, got them confused.]
Followed by: 157 Research Papers ‘Supporting’ the Vaccine/Autism Link
I followed the link and began reading, and while reading, your piece kept coming back to me: “Many of the studies referred to take place in a lab, in a test tube or petri dish. While some interesting information might come of such a study, a test tube or dish is not a good simulator of the human body. When isolated proteins or other nutrients are exposed to isolated human or animal tissue, I don’t care what happens.”
Allow me to list out some things I found in these 157 papers:
- most of them were not about vaccines
- and many weren’t about autism
- some were animal trials (hard to prove autism in animals)
- some were opinion pieces, while others were non-research papers
- some were abstracts that have yet to be published
- some were on mercury even though thimerosal has been removed from all but one vaccine (that I know of)
- many studies were in vitro
- and then after following the links to the actual studies, I discovered that a few had been retracted.
I’m going to stop here. Now I’m wondering about your organization. I’ve always loved Enig’s and Fallon’s work, but now I’m questioning your organization’s dedication to scientific method.
Any feedback would be helpful.
They were guilty of exactly the stuff Boyd was calling out, so, as you can see, I wrote to Boyd himself.
We got no response.
This is called hypocrisy, and beyond that, it’s bad science. To reference a huge number ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-SEVEN, because huge numbers are impressive is not science.
Thus, we are not renewing. And from now on, when we do reference anything at their site, we will double check to find the actual science behind their presentations.