Low carbers: critical thinkers and a bulwark against illiteracy

Seattle skyline from the plane window a couple of days ago

Seattle skyline from the plane window as we flew in a couple of days ago

I’ve long thought the critical thinking skills of the majority of Americans have been decaying over time.   More and more people seem to accept whatever they hear from a television commentator or a newspaper reporter without ever considering that whatever they’re hearing may be incorrect.   In many ways we’ve become a nation of sheep, and kind of stupid sheep, at that.   When I ponder on this, I always think of my favorite George Carlin quote:

Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.

Forget for a minute the notion of overall intelligence and think of nutritional intelligence only, then apply Carlin’s reasoning.   Think of someone you know who has what you would consider an average amount of nutritional knowledge, then realize that half of the US population has less nutritional knowledge than that.   And they don’t care.

Whenever I think about George Carlin and my favorite quote of his, I’m always reminded of my next favorite quote:

I do this real moron thing, it’s called thinking, and I’m not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions.

Sadly, in our culture, thinking is becoming more and more of a moron thing.

A reader sent me an opinion piece on the state of American intelligence and critical thinking that I want to share.   There are a couple of paragraphs in this essay that I especially thought hit the mark.

We live in two Americas. One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth. The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and clichés. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection. This divide, more than race, class or gender, more than rural or urban, believer or nonbeliever, red state or blue state, has split the country into radically distinct, unbridgeable and antagonistic entities

The core values of our open society, the ability to think for oneself, to draw independent conclusions, to express dissent when judgment and common sense indicate something is wrong, to be self-critical, to challenge authority, to understand historical facts, to separate truth from lies, to advocate for change and to acknowledge that there are other views, different ways of being, that are morally and socially acceptable, are dying.

I had never been on the website where this piece appeared, so I had no preconceived notions of what the article was going to be about when I started reading it.   As I read it, however, I started suspecting that the writer was from the far right, then I started thinking he was maybe a libertarian.   After reading the piece, I checked the guy out only to discover that he is an avowed socialist. Who would’ve thought it?   At any rate, whatever his own political views, I think he hits pretty close to home with his essay.  The vast majority of people don’t want to think for themselves – they want to be told what to do. And what they want more than anything is to be entertained.    And the more passive the entertainment the better.    How many Americans do you know that, given the choice, wouldn’t rather veg in front of the TV than read a book?    Even an easy, fun-to-read book?  It’s just too much work.  Why learn when it’s so much less difficult and so much more fun to be passively entertained.  It’s so much easier to sit in a comfy chair and let the talking heads do your critical thinking for you.  It is a sad, sad state of affairs.

But, there is hope.    At least among the tribe of low-carb dieters there are some readers.    A lot of readers, in fact.    And most people who do read develop better critical thinking skills than those who don’t.

Before I get to how I know low-carbers are readers, at least as compared to low-fatters, let me digress a little to discuss bestseller lists, a subject near and dear to my heart.  (Especially since, with your help, I hope to be back on one again soon.)

There are countless bestseller lists.  Practically each newspaper has it’s own.   If you make it on to the bestseller list of some rinky dink local paper, you are a bestseller.  I’m not kidding.   When you see the term ‘bestseller’ or bestselling’ applied to an author – as in ‘Bestselling author Dr. Michael Eades’ or ‘the bestselling book Protein Power’ you can figure that Dr. Michael Eades’ book Protein Power made it onto the bestseller list of some small, regional newspaper.  If a book makes it on to the bestseller list of a larger newspaper, one that has a bit of national circulation, then that book is said to be a ‘national bestseller,’ a term frequently used.   I don’t know what makes a paper fall into the ‘national’ category, but they all know in the publishing biz.   The Denver paper, for example, is considered a national paper, so if your book makes it onto the Denver Post, then you are not just a bestseller, you are a national bestseller.

The Big Daddy of all the bestseller lists (at least in the US) is the New York Times bestseller list.  Every author wants to figure a way to weasel onto this list.  Why?  Because all the book stores key off the NY Times list, especially the big chain bookstores.  All the books on the NY Times list get moved to the front of the store and discounted.  Which, of course, increases their visibility and sales.  Which tends to keep them on the list even longer, perpetuating the cycle.  Which is why everyone – including yours truly – wants to make it onto the NY Times bestseller list.  Once there, you stay for a while.  And once there, for ever after your are a New York Times bestselling author.  Not just a bestselling author or a national bestselling author, but a by God New York Times bestselling author.

With all the folderol that goes with the New York Times bestseller list, you would think that it would at least semi-accurately be a measure of how many books of any title are actually sold, but it’s not.  For that you have to go to the USA Today list.  A less prestigious list in terms of what you can say about yourself, but vastly more important in terms of tracking book sales.  Here’s why.

The New York Times list is divided into multiple categories by type of book (fiction vs nonfiction) and by cover (hardcover vs softcover).  Even the softcover category is divided into trade paperback and mass market paperback sections.  (Trade paperbacks are those that are the same size as a hardcover book; mass market paperbacks are the small ones you find on racks that you think of as paperback books.)  The number of categories of books has expanded with the whining of authors wanting to get on the list.  It used to be that there were fiction and nonfiction lists.  All the self-styled ‘serious’ nonfiction authors had to compete with diet book authors (God forbid) and other lesser authors of how-to and self-help books and usually came up short.  The Times caved and started a new category called Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous so that these serious nonfiction authors wouldn’t have to mingle with (or, more importantly for them, compete with) us more low-brow types in the self-help section.  Since there are multiple categories of NY Times bestseller lists, all you can really do is compare books within a given list.  There may be 20 times more of the #4 book in the Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous list sold than the book that is #1 on the nonfiction list, but there is no way to know this.  But you can find this out from the USA Today list.

The USA Today bestseller list published every Thursday lists the top 50 bestselling books based on sales irrespective of category.  If your book is #1 on the USA Today list, that means more copies were sold than any other book.  You want to be on the NY Times list for the prestige but you want to be on the USA Today list because it means you’re selling a whole lot of books.

Last week USA Today published a list of the top selling 150 books of the past 15 years.  Considering that there are several thousand new book titles published each year, the USA Today list represents the bestselling books out of some 50,000 to 75,000 titles published over the past decade and a half.  That’s thousands of different titles.  Some of these titles had small print runs of only a thousand or so copies while others – The Da Vinci Code and the Harry Potter books, for example – had print runs in the millions, making this list represent millions and millions of books sold.

Taking a quick look at the list is enlightening.  Of the 150 bestsellers over the past 15 years, nine of them are diet/nutrition books or six percent.  When you take a look at these specific diet/nutrition titles, a trend emerges.

#2    Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution

#11  The South Beach Diet

#58  Dr. Atkins’ New Carbohydrate Gram Counter

#61  The South Beach Diet Good Fats Good Carbs Guide

#87  You: On a Diet

#121 Sugar Busters!

#129 The Ultimate Weight Solution

#130 Protein Power

#143 The Zone

As you can see from this list, seven out of the nine books are low-carb (or semi-low-carb) books.  The two that aren’t (#87 & #129) were by celebrity authors who were given their starts and shamelessly promoted by Oprah. (Also, as an aside, if you take the time to pull down the Amazon pages of all these books, note which one has the highest star rating. :-) )

The other books on the list had to make it their on their own without Oprah’s help.  And, in fact, with Oprah openly saying that low-carb diets are bad.  I think the fact that there are so many of these books on this list says a lot about low-carb aficionados.  At the very least, it says that low-carbers buy books and they read.  Where are all the low-fat books on this list?  There were a gazillion published over the past 15 years.  Some made the NY Times list.  But where are they now?  Where are Ornish’s ultra-low-fat books?  Not a single mention.  Yet you see him all over the place in the media.  I’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions about what all this means.  But remember, low-carb books outsold The Da Vinci Code and a bunch of the Harry Potter books, all of which were quite the bestsellers.  If you add up all the low-carb books and counted them as one, that book would have been #1 on the list.  Quite an accomplishment for a discredited diet theory, I would say.

Think about all the negative press reports low-carb diets and meat-based diets get, and yet people continue to buy and read low-carb books.  My take is that there are still some thinkers out there who don’t let the media lead them by the nose and who want to take responsibility for their own health and well being.  And I consider it a good sign.  At least when the revolution comes, it will be lead by those who follow low-carb diets because they may be the only thinkers left.

A bit of housekeeping.  MD and I are in the midst of three major projects right now, requiring travel all over the place, and time is at a premium.  I just looked and there are almost a hundred comments undealt with in the queue right now.  I’m going to make my way through them, so don’t despair if you’ve been waiting.  But for the next bit – at least until we get through this crunch time – I’m simply going to post any future comments as they come in.  I don’t have time to answer them individually.  When the time frees up, I’ll probably start back.  But until then, don’t feel slighted if your question just gets posted as it comes in.

(Hat tip to Dave Dixon for the essay at the start of this post)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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72 thoughts on “Low carbers: critical thinkers and a bulwark against illiteracy

  1. Dr. Eades:

    It’s called selective-thinking. Generally people only think in areas that hold their interest. Nutrition isn’t a high interest area even with dieticians and certainly not with doctors. It’s just generally accepted by everyone that dieticians and doctors know best.

    That’s why even though I love trashy-detective novels, my health is an area of great interest to me and I make sure that I know how to make informed decisions on what I need to put into my mouth to remain optimally healthy.

  2. John Taylor Gatto wrote a book called The Underground History of American Education. The basic premise is much what you stated: that critical thinking skills are becoming a lost art, and this was by design (which is his conclusion, not yours). It’s written in essay form, so sources aren’t cited as in a peer reviewed journal, but enough of his sources are mentioned to track them down and draw one’s own conclusions.

    Gatto was a teacher for years and years and discovered the best way to “teach” was to go way, way, way outside of the prescribed curriculum. Underground History is a very well written and fascinating read.

    The entire book is available online here: http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/underground/index.htm

    PS: not associated with Gatto in any way, just love the book.

  3. I love your blog and I have learned much in the ways of reading newspaper accounts of nutrition studies from you. However, I disagree somewhat with the premise of this post. People really aren’t stupid, nor are they sheep (it’s usually some flavor of would-be fascist who refers to humans as herd animals). They’ve been poorly educated by a government they trust and they’re too busy making a living to question absolutely everything they are told by supposed experts. Because of all the noise, most of us just split the difference and end up eating high carb and high fat.
    I’ll lay you odds that vegans and vegetarians are some of the biggest readers in the country. Just like television, it’s what you read that matters, look at the junk that populates the best seller list.
    But I’m picking nits; this blog is one of my daily reads and, along with your books, has helped me understand the science behind my new healthy life style. I really can never thank you enough; don’t ever give up on the sheep.

  4. I think low carb has been quite hit and miss through the past recent years which attributes to its best-seller list becuase of the success/failure people have had with the diet in general. diet diet diet. Theres the problem.

    I know so many people that go on a ‘diet’, low-carb, loose the weight only to put it back on again sometime later. why? becuase these people dont realise low-carb is not a simple quick fix ‘diet’ you can pull everytime your a few lbs up. Its a LIFESTYLE change one has to make forever.

    But all I hear is how people dont want to give up carbs forever. So after they get fat again they point the finger at the low-carb diet and say ‘look, it didnt work’. Then the buy the next diet book on the bestseller list.

    By the way, there is never going to be a low-carb revolution aslong as money and agriculture is big on a governments list of assests.

  5. As always, a great and illuminating post. One of my happiest moments was when my daughter-in-law jokingly complained about my son and his constant reading habit. Oy vey, I am so proud of him and grateful that I always made books an essential part of our lives. As a result, he is rational and logical and brilliant (so I can’t be too bad if I produced such a man).

    Marly

  6. Is this an April fools?
    No Socialist thinks like this. In fact they prey and count on the support of folks who think the opposite of the fine essay you posted.

    Glad to see your post today as I was having withdrawals.

  7. Low carb adherents are better able to think critically because we follow an eating plan that has caused the fog to lift, we can think much more clearly than we did when we tried other, less effective, plans. And now that we can think so much better, we want to absorb even more information, keep up with the latest studies and research.

    And we can appreciate the other things we read that aren’t related to health and nutrition, because we can think better, retain what we read. Whoever said low carbers have cognitive decline wasn’t thinking clearly, probably from eating a low fat diet…..

  8. Hi Doc,
    The value that separates a sample in two parts with the same quantity of elements is the *median*, not the average. Sorry, I had to say that.

    As to discredited New York Times bestseller books, there’s an excellent, much maligned one that deals with this “Two Americas”: “The Bell Curve” by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray. The book flawlessly exposes the intriguing and somewhat dark theory that our society is for the first time dividing itself not by money, class, tribe or race but by groups of similar intelligence. This is the short, stereotyped version of the argument: Intelligence is very much hereditary. Intelligent people marry intelligent people, have intelligent kids and raise them well. Dumb girls are impregnated in their teens by dumb boys, have dumb kids and raise them badly. Repeat. What would you get out of this recipe after a few generations?

    The book is very well researched and full of hard data – it can be sometimes quite boring. I would call it “the dark side of meritocracy”. If your chances for success are more or less random – as it has always more or less been until the 20th century, then that division could not happened. Now that everybody can “be all you can be”, we may end up in dire straits. Huxley’s “Brave New World” and the H. G. Well’s “Time Machine” don’t seem so farfetched after all.

  9. Dr Mike, you do realize that assuming that a socialist shouldn’t be able to write this essay is a logical fallacy? I hope it was just snark on your part.

    This would be like me assuming all Republicans have no critical thinking skills because most of the Republicans of my acquaintance just don’t. Most of the Reps I talk to have made their own way with no college education, whether as salespeople or as business owners. It speaks to the substandard education they received in high school that most, no make that all Reps I have attempted to have a political conversation with end up not being able to stick to the point, and become emotionalistic in their approach to the argument. Forget about understanding the value of doing their own research. Many, being male, see no contradiction between calling themselves self-made men and proudly calling themselves dittoheads of Rush. I haven’t found any Republican that can debate me here in OC, that doesn’t mean that I would assume the same thing would happen in other say, more academic venues in California.

    I went to parochial school and was taught classic critical thinking skills and the rules of debate by sixth grade. The fact that students in so many public high schools are not taught these things at all is a very poor reflection on the value this country places on an educated citizenry.

  10. By the way, my sister who was a very successful saleswoman and a college graduate, was given her own copy of the original “Protein Power” by me when it came out in paperback.

    She told me it was too difficult to read–it had too many facts crammed together. And yes, she’s a Republican–I’ll hold off thinking the difficulty factor and being a Rep are related.

  11. Most the people’s work I read eat paleo / low-carb diets and the quality and meaning of what they say I find unmatched.

  12. Here is an example of uncritical thinking by the authors of book #87
    http://www.oregonlive.com/health/index.ssf/2008/11/you_docs_dont_monkey_with_coco.html

    ++++ excerpt ++++
    Plant-based or not, both of these oils are loaded with saturated fat, and coconut oil is the all-star: It has more saturated fat than pretty much any food out there. How much? A mind-boggling 87 percent. Compare that with 63 percent in butter or 38 percent in a burger, and you get the picture .

    OK, yes, there’s still some scientific debate about whether the type of saturated fat in coconut oil raises cholesterol as much as that found in animal foods, but even if it doesn’t, there’s plenty of proof that saturated fat’s a major health hazard in lots of other ways.

    For one thing, all sat fat speeds up aging. Sat fat doesn’t do pretty things for your memory, either. It decreases a chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is responsible for recall and learning. It also increases inflammation in the brain.

    No surprise, as many studies reveal the ugly secret that if you feast on foods rich in saturated fat you are much more likely to develop dementia. Period, exclamation point. Good head fake, eh?

    But that’s not all: Sat fat predisposes you to, or causes, insulin resistance, which eventually means diabetes and heart disease. Bottom line: Don’t fall for the coconut oil head fake any more than you would (you hope) if you were trying to guard LeBron.

  13. I’d say it’s a safe bet that people willing to go against orthodoxy are more likely to be critical thinkers, whether we’re talking diet or religion.

    Some of your readers (all critical thinkers, of course) may enjoy a film titled “Idiocracy.” As part of a botched military experiment, a soldier with an IQ of 100 wakes up 500 years in the future and discovers that he’s now the most intelligent man on the planet.

    I observed a lack of critical thinking while serving on jury duty a couple of years ago for a robbery/assault case. When deliberations began, it was obvious that eight of the 12 jurors had been swayed by the supposed victim’s sob story. But two of us (not coincidentally both computer programmers) pointed out logical inconsistencies in his testimony that were so large, you could drive a truck through them. Here’s just one: the supposed victim claimed he just happened to be walking around with a large steak knife in his front pocket — no folding blade. Do you know any guy who would do that? Sit down too quickly, and you’ll never produce another child.

    The upshot is that we convinced the eight jurors that the man went looking for a fight (the two men had previous run-ins) and got his butt kicked, then made up the robbery to explain his beat-up face to his wife.

    Without some critical thinkers in the room, a young man would’ve gone to prison for using his fists to defend himself against a guy who went after him with a knife. Scary, isn’t it?

  14. LCforevah,

    I don’t understand what the anti Republican rant from you is for.
    Dr.Eades never even mentions Republicans in this fine post.
    You assume much!

    Keep up the low carb and stay healthy.

  15. There’s a good article by Dr. Thomas Bertonneau entitled “Orality, Literacy, and the Tradition” that addresses one aspect of the point you are making about Americans’ ability to think…or not think. See: http://tinyurl.com/cx65y9

    Here is an excerpt (marked by # signs; in this excerpt Dr. Bertonneau is discussing Plato’s “Protagorus”):

    #####
    Socrates has been arguing with Protagoras about “virtue”: what it is and whether it can be taught. Protagoras claims to teach it; Socrates remarks that he had never thought it teachable. In his speech to prove the teachability of virtue, Protagoras glosses the term in a way that appears inconsistent to Socrates. Pointing this out, Socrates makes Protagoras angry, whereupon Protagoras accuses his opponent of having tricked him into a rhetorical corner. Notice how for Protagoras argument is not a thing in itself, either true or false, but an instrument of manipulation in a struggle for preeminence. As Powell reminds us, “the rhetor gains his power by thinking aloud for his audience, replacing their thoughts with his own.”10No wonder Protagoras is miffed. His attempt to think for his audience has failed. Socrates, declaring further debate useless, rises to leave. The audience, however, wants more, and persuades the debaters to remain. Protagoras now proposes to talk about virtue as it is discussed by the poets. He offers for discussion some relevant lines by Simonides of Chios. The heart of Simonides’s poem consists of two statements:

    [I.] Hard it is on the one hand to become
    A good man truly, hands and feet and mind
    Four square, wrought without blame.
    [II.] Nor do I count as sure the oft-quoted word
    Of Pittacus, though wise indeed he was
    Who spoke it. To be noble, said the sage,
    Is hard.

    Protagoras claims to see a contradiction. Statement one and statement two exclude one another, he argues, for “[f]irst [Simonides] lays it down himself that it is hard for a man to become truly good,” and “then when he is a little further on in the poem he forgets. He finds fault with Pittacus, who said the same thing as he himself did, that it is hard to be noble, and refuses to accept it from him; but in censuring the man who says the same thing as he does, he obviously censures himself.”12Socrates answers that the two statements mesh perfectly well. “To become” and “to be” are not at all the same, he reminds Protagoras. And becoming good moreover requires a difficult struggle for self-mastery, just like any form of training. Once the disciple achieves nobility, however, maintaining it is easy. Along the way Socrates cites his Delphic motto, “Know Thyself.” Protagoras wishes that he had never started the contest.

    In this exchange, Havelock would likely note Protagoras’s highly mimetic deportment, his agitation and gesturing, all symptomatic of the “verbomotor” performance characteristic of the acoustic paideia. Ong would likely observe that the situation is more than vestigially oral: that the contest between Socrates and Protagoras, especially on the Protagoran side, reveals the oral person’s marked competitiveness and his inability to separate himself, as knower, from the thing that is known.
    #####

    It is a long article, but well worth the read!!

  16. Dr. Mike I am a big fan of yours but honestly, I felt like I am being pandered to a bit with this post. And Chris Hedges’ essay, I found to be absurd. First of all, I don’t believe there are over 8 millions Americans who have graduated high school but can’t read… and the most famous person is Mickey Mouse?… according to who… the dog in the photo?

    I do believe technology is carrying us away from a print based world, but it has nothing to do with literacy or the ability to think. And yes, I believe marketization leads to degradation, but it’s often all about the money, isn’t it? If your new book makes the best sellers list, don’t you become part of that new celebrity class of intellectuals he seems to detest, especially if you go on O’Rielly’s or Oprah’s show to promote it?

    “Obama used hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign funds to appeal to and manipulate this (our) illiteracy and irrationalism to his advantage.” Is that quote a historical fact? As an American, I can’t help but take offense to being referred to as stupid and a moron for the last several minutes. And no, I don’t feel excused because I read low carb books. I identify with many Americans that work hard, pay taxes, raise kids, are stressed out and dog tired. Occasionally I just want to be entertained in the most mindless of ways. Have you ever seen the movie Wedding Crashers? I could go on and on but to sum it up, this guy sounds like a pompous, psycho-babble intellectual with more of a generational issue than literacy one and is pissed off because he can’t control the way or rate at which the world is changing. I wasn’t surprised at all to learn that he is a socialist.

  17. Have you seen Barry’s Schwartz’s talk on the Paradox of Choice? I think that could explain a lot in terms of why many people don’t want to think for themselves and would rather slip into the cocoon of abdicating responsibility for their decisions to others:

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice.html

    As the complexity of choice increases, it makes sense that an increasing number of people can’t cope with independent thinking.

  18. Hi Doc,

    Interesting. A quick Google brought up a couple of pages. On one, Australia ranks 7th in the world for reading. The US isn’t even make the list (of 25). 2007 figures.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1571445/World-rankings-for-reading-maths-and-science.html

    Nations ranking higher than Austtralia? Korea, Finland, Canada, NZ!!! Ireland. Und alles.

    We also have a healthy disrespect for authority. It’s called “taking the piss” in our dialect. I think it was Anthony Bourdain who said that Australians have the lowest tollerence for BS in the world?

    Now, how can we help you Seps? we’re doing our best: We’re currently are hold Zac Efron hostage.

    (Classic Aussie shit-stirring remark to a known Republican:) At least you guys now have a Prez that comes froma surfing culture! There’s hope!
    http://www.worldhum.com/images/images2009/obama_shaka_gest_360.jpg

    Michael Richards

  19. Okay, I’m going with this being an April Fools post, as I’m fairly certain both Socrates, Shakespeare and many others in-between wrote similar rants about the people of their time! I highly value your blog and your books and my health is better for it, but I’m thinking somebody peed in your (non)wheaties this morning. I think Carlin’s line was observational, but I sure laughed out loud at his observation. I truly believe that those of us who rely on you and others to help us navigate through life aren’t really stupid.

    I was a low-fat dieter for many years and the books and articles were very convincing, on the surface as much so as your books (I don’t mean that as a slight, but it is very difficult to discern who is right and who is wrong – witness Taubes recounting of the history of low-fat diets – and, oh by the way, most of us have spent a lifetime foolishly listening to our doctors).

    I think I read more and listened to more music when I was an ignorant low-fatter vs. my current low carb diet. But I’m healthier and happier now, so thank you.

  20. Dr. Eades, Bless your heart. You are replying to your comments again… and again…

    My buying habits may have skewed those results. I bought Atkins book retail, but got the original Protein Power at a garage sale for free. :) (OK that was years ago)
    AND I’m a Conservative/Libertarian/Objectivist/Capitalist who thinks that YOU should be profiting immensely for your product. Lots of cognitive dissonance at that one, being that I got your original book for free.

    I “accidentally” saw the Oprah show today- first time ever, I suspect. How awful…She had some weight losers on: Valerie Bertinelli, Marie Osmund, and Star Jones (all ‘celebrities’). One did Nutrisystem, one Jenny Craig, and one bariatric surgery. I was shocked that the bariatric surgery “Jones” did not mention her diet. Aren’t bariatric surgery patients required to eat a low carb diet forever after their surgery? There was no mention of that, except when Oprah asked “can you eat bacon?” or some stupid question; and the response was “I ate sausage this morning”. Wouldn’t it have been informative if she had mentioned that low carb was mandatory after the surgery and for the rest of her life? Wouldn’t it have been informative to mention that, oh by the way, you may achieve these results by following a good quality, whole foods, low carb diet? Sheesh.

    That was my first (and last) view of the Oprah show. :(

    As an aside, our family of four did lots of Dr. McCleary’s exercises this evening after dinner, and we were pleasantly surprised at our cognitive abilities (no competing) at “week zero”. No cognitive impairments, yea! What could be better than getting your kids hyped up on Brain Power?

    Aaron- I agree. No socialist thinks like this.

    A strange thing happened to me today, though. My daughter and I went to the market for some last minute dinner items, and I found some beautiful cucumbers. I picked one up and said “I think we need a new computer”. NOW I’m really worried… is it normal for a 43 year old to make such a horrible mistake??

  21. It’s pretty funny that in a post about critical-thinking, people agree but then proceed to make a statement like “No socialist thinks like this.” I’m not one myself but it’s a pretty good indicator of a lack of critical thinking when someone makes a blanket generalization like that.

    Really? You met every single one?

    Absolute socialism failed miserably because it failed to address human qualities (good and bad) such as greed, ambition and need for freedom… but from the looks of how things are going, absolute capitalism is not doing so well because it only addressed qualities like greed, ambition and freedom but it failed to consider fear, security and social-dependence.

  22. Hey Mike,

    Sorry, but I always get a great deal of amusement at what Americans think is socialism or what it stands for … or what socialists think! – no offence, but now I have to add illiteracy to that list! (If truth be told, all the real socialists I have met, I think without exception, would be at the other end of that scale, and would be the first to promote what they see as informed ‘dissent’ and the ‘challenge of authority’).

    I don’t agree with him anyway! (and who cares what his politics are?)

    Lets face it there has always been an ill educated under class. This has served authority in all it’s guises – both right and leftist governments and of course, organised religion – which I’m sure you will agree is a more frequent tool of the right. But separating people on the basis of whether they read the printed page (as distinct from what they read and where they find it) just makes the author appear a pompous fool.

    I’m sure it wouldn’t have escaped your attention that print media standards are plummeting world wide, so much so that the quality of information in the mainstream press is little better (if at all) than that in what I gather this guy disdainfully calls the the source of a”non-reality-based belief system” … anything non print based? Please. I doubt anyone would claim that just because it is printed it is true, so how is simply reading going to guarantee an ability to distinguish truth from lies? Whilst there may have been a preponderance of those actively seeking a different way to improve their health in your country doing so through low carb books – it doesn’t follow that the rest don’t read – hell, why would they need to buy a book to find out about low fat dieting? It is everywhere they look … yes, even in print … even in the New York Times!;)

    That said, you can always count on this reader – and any help I can offer to boost you up the best selling lists … especially here!! (You might recall I suggested GCBC would sink without a trace in Australia – well I was wrong – in order to sink, something presumably has to be afloat in the first place …)

    Cheers,

    Malcolm

  23. Ah, George Carlin, how I miss him.

    Truthdig has always had fascinating articles by writers of all ideological stripes. I don’t agree with everything I read there but I enjoy it. I’ve read variations of this article over the years and judging by those around me there’s a great deal of truth in it. I recently recommended “Good Calories, Bad Calories” to one of my coworkers. After a week or so I asked her how she’d liked it. “Oh, I couldn’t get into it, it was too technical, I didn’t understand it,” she replied. This is a woman who graduated from a pretty prestigious university but can’t write anything without misspelling at least two words (and not long ones either) and doesn’t seem to know the difference between “they’re,” “their” and “there” since she uses all interchangeably, so maybe I should have known better. I routinely see misspelled words on billboards, signs, and ads, more so than I ever did. Thanks to texting, a whole generation of people can only communicate in acronyms (“OMG stfu u r not rite!”). We’re getting closer to “A Clockwork Orange” every day.

  24. If people refuse to educate themselves, let them remain ignorant and eat cake to paraphrase a certain decapitated queen! Speaking of eating, this article on a fabulous breed of swine that was almost lost to vegetable oil appears in the NYT today. Now I am dying to try it. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/01/dining/01pigs.html?pagewanted=1&em

    I am a repeat lCer of a certain age and this is my second time (but now is a lifestyle I will never leave), so it is going slower but I have to tell you that thanks to my example my younger male employees are now emulating me!! Actions speak louder than words so just let your LC light shine as it were.

  25. as an undereducated person, who runs in the undereducated circles of the working class, i can say from eye witness knowledge that most in circles of intelligent, upper middle class would be shocked at how many people in this county hold down low paying jobs, by the skin of their teeth, and do not know how to read. i’ve met and grown to be friends with a hotel clerk, a cab driver, a fishing pier worker, all who couldnt read. and all had a hard time admitting this to me. how smart they must be to be talented enough to hid this issue for long.

    im an avid reader. i love it. but as long as the masses gobble down sugar and carbs like theres not tomorrow society will continue to need greater and greater amounts of “bread and circuses” to keep them distracted from their own emptiness and cognitive dissonance. just last year before i started low carbing and ITing, i was a cloudy, foggy mess in my brain. looking back i was probably using only 40% of my reasoning complacity, and retaining nothing. my diet changes have given me a truly “reborn” experience in terms of new neural pathways being layed , and in the right direction. thank you dr. eades for all your wonderful observatons and exposes’

  26. I *try* to be a critical reader and thinker, but I’m sure that I’m not always successful. As Nick said above: “but it is very difficult to discern who is right and who is wrong”. For example, this link on Vitamin D that I saw referred to just yesterday from another blog:

    http://bacteriality.com/2007/09/15/vitamind/ which purports to be “The Truth about Vitamin D”. Among the quotes: “In an effort to curb chronic disease, well-intentioned researchers are promoting vitamin D, a substance that, according to recent molecular modeling research, can act as an immunosuppressive steroid….ill-informed recommendations by doctors and researchers, have created a perfect storm of misunderstanding and bad advice…it seems little wonder that vitamin D has become so popular. It’s basically an over-the-counter steroid…Other steroids are commonly known to be immunosuppressive…Doesn’t vitamin D help reverse bone less? No. An increasing number of large, recent studies are demonstrating that this is not the case…Many people who hear about studies on cancer and vitamin D also don’t realize how easy it is for researchers to manipulate statistics in order to demonstrate positive associations.”

    In fact most of what is said totally contradicts what I read about Vitamin D on the low carb/paleo oriented blogs that I follow. Dr. Davis says on his blog: “I will not write again about Dr. Marshall’s theories. No one in the vitamin D field takes him seriously. ” Stephan from the Whole Health Source blog says: “It’s pseudo-science. They believe chronic disease is caused by tiny intracellular bacteria that you can eradicate using vitamin D restriction and low-dose antibiotics.”

    And yet they quote study after study, and even use the same arguments I see here and elsewhere, about scientists manipulating the results of their data to show the benefits of Vitamin D (substitute ‘low carb’ or whatever else you want to show the benefit of) which is not backed up by the actual data.

    And I’m sure there are many in mainstream medicine who say “it’s psuedo-science” or “no one takes X seriously” when they refer to low carbing! Low carb seems to be working well for me. I’m also supplementing with Vitamin D (and a few other supplements). But it’s not always easy for the layperson, even one who is a reader, if the arguments presented are totally outside their own area of knowledge.

    And there are many supremely intelligent folks who, due to having no particular health or weight issues, just don’t give nutrition a second thought. It’s something that comes to mind for many only when they *do* experience problems. And even then I don’t think nutritional answers are widely supported by most physicians. “Take this pill” is the more standard answer.

  27. Aaron, the reason I chose Republicans is because I am surrounded by them in Orange County CA, so I chose the largest group available to me. Unfortunately, the kind of Republican I talk to really isn’t very educated and the lack of critical thinking skills shows.

    My point is, that even as I am surrounded by Republicans who don’t know how to think and formulate opinions for themselves, I would not have made a blanket statement about them as Dr Mike did about the socialist.

    Nick, the fact that you couldn’t tell as a low-fatter that you were being deceived points out that you didn’t have enough training in critical thinking, the protocol for researching books, etc., to take apart the books and articles you were reading. THAT’S the problem!

    Debbie, it’s not difficult when you have been “equipped” with the tools of critical thinking. I used to try to debate politics with a co-worker who graduated high school and went straight to Korea from graduation. I finally realized that when I would tell him that he didn’t to do further research for whatever subject we were talking about, he didn’t understand what I was asking of him. I have since stopped talking politics or anything serious with him because there’s no point when he doesn’t know what is required to be an informed citizen.

  28. It’s been my experience that most people find critical thinking to be a painful and difficult process to be undertaken only in the most extreme circumstances which don’t necessarily even include life and death. The reason for this probably has to do with cognitive dissonance, which is the feeling that the ground is about to come out from under you because all (your) beliefs and fact have to be carefully examined and sometimes the only reason they’re not accepted is a gut (subconscious?) feeling that they’re wrong. I would say that most low carbers have experienced this as they examined the low fat paradigm, found it wanting and decided based on their research and judgement decided that low carb fit the facts better.

  29. So, when did critical thinking peak in the United States? 18th century? 19th century? 1940s? I’m always suspicious when writers complain about intellect today as opposed to some idealized past.

    Also, when some of us bemoan intellectual decline, it’s implicit that the target is a nebulous group of others. Those of us who complain about such things of course except ourselves from this deplorable trend. Obviously, we’re the elite who are perceptive enough to notice this trend, unlike the hoi polloi who ain’t. What I’m saying here, is we must watch out for intellectual snobbery.

    On intellectual trends: the average IQ has been going up about three points per decade for most of the 20th century. Most of the increase has been in the lower half of the range. Since 100 is defined as the average IQ, the tests have to be re-normalized regularly. This means that, on average, people with an IQ under 100 are smarter than they used to be. Check out the so-called “Flynn effect”.

  30. I don’t think you have to give up sugary carbs altogether – just limit their intake to about once every ten days. I’ve lost 50 pounds in the last year – from 245 to 195 – by being strict on very low carb about 90% of time. The key seems to be though not to cheat AT ALL most days and then cheat hard. This way I don’t feel deprived as I can eat all kinds of crap – just not everyday…
    The day after the pig out (usually about 800 calories of ice cream and cookies) I make sure to eat just protein and low cal. It seems that when I eat carbs two days in a row, that’s when the gain tends to be permanent.
    Thanks for the website Dr. Eades!

  31. Rachel Allen, I agree with you. Reading is easier and more enjoyable now.

    But I was a big reader before. I knew there was something wrong with my health when I no longer enjoyed reading. All my checkups were fine, but I didn’t feel right.

    I feel better on the low carb diet. Later I found out that it was gluten that was causing the brain fog (and migraines); I actually handle carbs ok. But I am sticking to low carb for preventative maintenance!

  32. Whether or not people are literate makes a difference in their reasoning abilities, but we must also look at their theory of truth, and whether or not they are objective and cognitively independent.

    Have you read (see http://www.friesian.com/feynman.htm) this lesson from the Dr. Richard Feynman (excerpt marked by the # sign, and a quote in the excerpt marked…with quotation marks):

    #######
    This negative lesson from Feynman’s life can be contrasted here with a very positive one, though it begins with a problem, that he was rather unproductive as a physicist in the period from 1961 to 1967. Had Feynman just run out of ideas, or had something just gone wrong?

    “Feynman had got to know [biologist James] Watson during the sabbatical year that Dick had spent as a ‘graduate student’ in biology. He had an opportunity to renew the acquaintance when he visited Chicago early in 1967, and when they met Watson gave Feynman a copy of the typescript of what was to become his famous book The Double Helix, about his discovery, together with Francis Crick, of the structure of DNA. Feynman read the book straight through, the same day. He had been accompanied on that trip by David Goodstein, then a young physicist just completing his PhD at Caltech, and late that night Feynman collared Goodstein and told him that he had to read Watson’s book — immediately. Goodstein did as he was told, reading through the night while Feynman paced up and down, or sat doodling on a pad of paper. Some time towards dawn, Goodstein looked up and commented to Feynman that the surprising thing was that Watson had been involved in making such a fundamental advance in science, and yet he had been completely out of touch with what everybody else in his field was doing.

    Feynman held up the pad he had been doodling on. In the middle, surrounded by all kinds of scribble, was one word, in capitals: DISREGARD. That, he told Goodstein, was the whole point. That was what he had forgotten, and why he had been making so little progress. The way for researchers like himself and Watson to make a breakthrough was to be ignorant of what everybody else was doing and plough their own furrow. [pp. 185-186]”

    What had gone wrong for Feynman was that he had begun taking too seriously the idea that modern knowledge is a collective enterprise. Just trying to keep up with his field had suppressed his own sources of inspiration, which were in his own solitary questions and examinations. This, indeed, is the fate of most research in most disciplines, to make the smallest, least threatening, possible addition to “current knowledge.” Anything more would be presumptuous, anything more might elicit the fatal “Don’t you know what so-and-so is doing” from a Peer Reviewer, anything more might invite dismissal as some off-the-wall speculation — not serious work.

    So Feynman “stopped trying to keep up with the scientific literature or compete with other theorists at their own game, and went back to his roots, comparing experiment with theory, making guesses that were all his own…” [p. 186]. Thus he became productive again, as he had been when he had just been working things out for himself, before becoming a famous physicist.

    While this is an important lesson for science, it is a supreme lesson for philosophy, where “current knowledge” can be dominated by theories, like Logical Positivism or deconstruction, that are simply incoherent. Trying to keep up with literature like that is a complete waste of time, even if contributions to it earn the praise of reviewers and are snapped up by presitigious journals. To participate in this may prudently recommend itself to the careerist, but it holds little hope of making any real contributions to the progress of philosophy.

    To philosophy they are assigned with their wives and children, and in spite of Petrarch’s povera e nude vai filosofia [“you go poor and nude, philosophy”], they have taken a chance on it. [Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, Vol. 1, E.F.J. Payne translation, Dover, 1858, p.xxvi]

    New ideas do not come from committees, and although this dynamic is so well understood as to be part of folk wisdom, researchers in many areas of science or scholarship are so blinded by their own herd mentality, or collectivist ideology, or rent-seeking behavior, that they commonly act, both for themselves and in judgment of others, in denial of it. Of all the “curious” lessons of Richard Feynman’s life, this is one of the best.
    #######

    Nice. Like Theophrastus Bombastus…

  33. No reply needed.

    “Also, as an aside, if you take the time to pull down the Amazon pages of all these books, note which one has the highest star rating. :-)”

    I always recommend your books, especially for newbies. The 30 Day Low Carb Solution is perfect for someone that just wants to know the plan and how to follow it….and Protein Power LifePlan (soon to be replaced with your new one?) gives such wonderful explainations in simple language. You have a way of writing to people, and giving really simple analogies, etc without sounding like you’re lecturing or “talking down”.

    I’ve also found that people that read 30 Day often go looking for PP, PPLP, Dr Atkins, etc. I also believe (but have no stats to back me up) that the ones that DO read multiple books do better following and sticking to low carb than those that don’t. That’s how I started out…..heard Dr A speak on TV, looked up his site, ordered the book and got started…..when I read the book, a lot was explained. When I read yours, even more…following your blog as well as many others on the internet, I learn more and more. The original PP was my second low carb book, now I have a small collection.

    I do hope you get to have some fun at least on your travels!!

  34. <>

    sha-zam, I think I’m a gonna get busy and write my own best selling low carb book! it can’t be that hard, can it?

    ah, easy west coast early retirement living, here I come!

    Go for it! I’m a big tent kind of guy. The more the merrier.

  35. If we accept this post’s argument or correlation or whatever it is, then young escapists are the mostest criticalest thinkers of all!

    Did you see JK Rowling’s place in the USAToday list? Truly amazing, she must be very happy.

  36. SimonPure, Chris Hedges wasn’t complaining about intellect. He was writing about the lack of development thereof–big difference. I’m surrounded by people who are the epitome of what Chris Hedges describes–people who’s primary source of information are Facebook and other popular sites that tell them what to believe and think.

    We had an employee who we had to let go due to the current crisis. He was ambitious and going to junior college nearby. FOR THE FIRST TIME, he was being introduced to politics by way of a civics course he elected to take.
    He had not been exposed to civics in high school at all. He talked to me about the most basic things having to do with the Constitution and our three branches of government. Not only was this pathetic, it was frightening. If he had not ELECTED to take the course, we would have another completely ignorant citizen on our hands.

    I also screen prospective employees during those times we have been able to hire. The people who come across my desk often have to have the application form explained to them, and no, they are not foreigners or recent high school graduates.

    In short, the lack of education found in everyday Americans is something up close and personal for me. In one way or another I have to deal with it, almost daily.

  37. Regarding “South Beach Diet,” so far I’ve only browsed rather than read his book. I was NOT favorably disposed, as (from what I could tell) it was basically a rehash of the old anti-fat hysteria, especially anti-animal-fat hysteria.

  38. To SimonPure…Great post! You stated what I was thinking.

    Dr. Eades…Can’t wait for the new book in September.

  39. LCforevah, you are absolutely right, I did not have enough (or really any) training in critical thinking. I honestly don’t think many people have had that kind of training and I don’t imagine that is a new trend. Alas, I would certainly have more assets now had I thought more critically before real estate, and most financial instruments became almost completely correlated as they plunged. A lot of people known for significant critical thinking skills got steamrolled by the markets. One of my favorite critical thinkers is Taleb – check out his book – Fooled by Randomness

    I tend to agree with SimonPure above — we tend to romanticize the past and believe things were better than they are now (of course sometimes they are – I’m dead set that all the Jazz Greats are dead or in their 80’s! Why can’t musicians play the way I think they should now?). A person who lacks critical thinking skills may have other very significant strenghts or talents that are quite worthwhile, and actually be quite smart.

    I’m reminded of one world’s first would be bloggers, Herb Caen (a now deceased SF Bay Area icon who is said to have invented three dot jounalism – he was just born too soon). Herb loved San Francisco and particularly loved to cover and, later, be part of the ‘Social’ scene of the wealthy (many who were fortunate to have a parent who probably a great critical thinker so trust fund kids could be socialites instead). He wrote about all the arts, local politics and most of what goes on in the inner circles of high society. In the 1950’s he began to complain that the 40’s were so much better. Then the 50’s were so much better than the 60’s. Then, by god, the 60’s were fabulous compared to the 70’s.

    Actually, pro sports did used to more fun before free agency.

  40. I would invite anyone who believes socialists welcome dissent and challenges to authority to rent a great little documentary titled “Indoctrinate U,” which is about the current intellectual climate on college campuses. It’s also available as a download on Amazon Unbox.

    Meanwhile, I’ve applied critical thinking to the Reader’s Digest nonsense on my blog, http://www.fathead-movie.com

  41. @Michael Gold,
    Great comments. Especially the Greek stuff. Let us never forget how so very far ahead the Greeks were from today’s chattering classes on cable.
    My I bring in another cultural reference, which will be — not surprising to people who have managed to get through my comments — about the Tibetan monastic education. In the Gelug tradition (one of four major sects), young novices begin reciting texts at about 6 or 7 years old. But what is the content of these texts? Scriptures? Religious stories of mircales? Nope.
    Turns out to be entirely (at least for the first couple of years) about training in logic. The first perscribed text is called “Du dra” (“A Short Collection of Terms”) which begins with (my translation):
    “If it is a colour, is it necessarily red? Not neccessarily: it may be blue, for example the [colour of] Buddha Vairochana.”
    And so it goes on and on for folio after folio. All of it is about testing a premise and accepting it or rejecting it entirely on a logical basis.
    Just an example of how our own culture is not superior to others in some aspects. And I bring it up because it will be new information to just about everyone reading this, and we can all do with a broadening of our horizons!
    Michael Richards

  42. “(Classic Aussie shit-stirring remark to a known Republican:) At least you guys now have a Prez that comes from a surfing culture! There’s hope!”

    “Michael Richards”
    <<<<>>>>
    Ha, ha, ha, that’s right. Obama’s from Hawaii originally. Been seen out bodysurfing too!
    http://msnbcmedia2.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/081231-obama-hawaii-9a.widec.jpg

    Of course, Surf City USA, Huntington Beach in SoCal is behind the Orange Curtain. Despite being a surfing culture, I doubt many voted for the new Prez there. So I don’t think there’s anything necessarily laid back about folks from surf cultures. I’ve been run over in the water by local surf punks enough to not assume it’s all peace and love out in the water.

    …more about lack of critical thinking skills… How about the brilliantly informed people who said the new Prez and 1st Lady were “throwing gang signs” at the inauguration when they waved the Hawaiian “Hang Loose” wave at folks? LOL! It’s going to be an interesting four years.

  43. You always think other people are stupid. That’s the template that you use when you see the world.

  44. Low-carbers are critical thinkers almost by definition, and you pretty much need to read a low-carb book (and understand it) to become a low-carber. To become a low-carber you must throw away what you have been told and believe in something almost no one else around you believes.

    Thank you Dr.Edes for making me an even more critical thinker.

  45. Ben Fury, Huntington Beach is where I work and have to screen prospective employees. And yes, many of those blond surfer dudes don’t know how to answer questions or present themselves. I can’t stress this enough–my customers are very diverse, but prospective employees tend to be locals–anglo, if you will. Their general lack of skills is embarrassing.

    Peter, that statement is so broad as to be useless. As a bilingual, bicultural person who understands how people’s personal opinions inform their picture of the world, I approach everyone with no expectations.

    After they open their mouths and it becomes apparent that they can command ideas, then I will formulate an opinion of their intellect. It is often irrelevant how well they command the English language, as I have had many customers with poor English skills nevertheless make themselves well understood.

  46. I want to extrapolate on Michael Richards point. Reality is a tricky thing. Each person’s reality is based on so many things… genetics, environment, economic class, experiences and so on. Each person’s is different. And difference is what is usually misunderstood and criticized.

    I have had the opportunity to live among and befriend many types of people through my life thus far. I have had neighbors than run corporations; others that hunt during hunting season, make maple syrup during syrup season, and haul your garbage and paint your fence the rest of the time to make ends meet; and others who have fallen victim to just about every cliche inner city life can conjure. The one who probably impacted me the most was a black woman who lived in a neighborhood most white people would not dare to drive through. She had been stabbed on two separate occassions by the father of her 4 children, was unmarried and worked hard as a waitress in a nearby Holiday Inn. She often talked to me about her greatest yearning, which was to learn, learn, learn about anything and everything. She wanted to read and absorb everything she could. She felt so passionate about there being a much greater life meant for her, but was helpless to realize it. I remember being surprised at this. I was also surprised to learn her relatives and neighbors told her she was stupid to hang out with a white girl because they said if I were to get drunk I might kill her. We laughed because I had been told the same about the blacks. She seemed as equally surprised to hear that. I think it was at that moment, I realized the danger of perceived reality.

    At the other end of the spectrum I have frequented an isolated place where the people are literate and very wealthy. Business owners had to bring in people from islands, like Jamacia, because the kids of the wealthy people wouldn’t work, so they had no one to serve up the ice cream etc. And if you watch or read the news you know there are plenty of literate people out there that are vile. Their crimes are just of a different nature.

    I guess the moral of the story is that life is all about balance – the yin and the yang. Without it, we could not exist. And just maybe the most highly evolved people are ones with an open mind.

    Sorry for being a bit pollyanna and philosophical. Thanks for bearing with me.

  47. @Ben Fury (again),
    OMG it all ties in! My Tibetan nephew Loden is probably going to go Barrenjoey High next year. His father went through the Tibetan monastic education system all the way to the rank of Geshe (Phd) and a nicer guy you couldn’t hope to meet! It’s all linked!
    Michael

  48. @ katherine,

    LOL I like the next lines as well:

    “…Their writings had a significant influence on my dietary habits. They both died of nutritional deficiencies.”

    But, by golly, he/she is STILL gonna follow that vegan diet!

    umm…okay, then.

  49. I agree. I am amazed, simply amazed at how easily convinced (sounds better then dumb) people seem to be. They believe everything targeted towards them like flies to honey and assume it must be true because “they” wouldn’t lie. Its very sad.

  50. I have a question regarding low-carb dieting: is it possible for people predisposed to hypoglycemia to undertake a low-carb diet? I am attempting the Atkins diet and am struggling with shakiness and cravings and very low blood sugar. Is there any safe route into low-carb dieting for a person with this sort of condition?

    Make sure protein intake is up so that you will have something to convert to glucose. Usually low-carb diets improve hypoglycemia, not make it worse. I would suspect most of your problems are arising from low potassium levels, not low sugar levels. Try potassium supplementation.

  51. @Larry- Jared Diamond seems to be part of the eco-scare crowd IMHO, although I think he occasionally throws a good idea out there. I wrote about one of his bad ones, the Easter Island myth:

    http://normansustainability.org/?p=25

    @Tom- As a “global warming denier” who works at a biological monitoring station at the University of Oklahoma, where I am also a graduate student, I can certainly speak for the poor intellectual climate on college campuses. My views on global warming are consistently viewed as callous and idiotic, and a colleague of mine preparing for general exams that would allow her to become a PhD candidate was told to read the IPCC report on global warming as part of her preparation. She described it as blatant propaganda…and she is a believer. Nice job dissecting the Reader’s Digest garbage by the way…messy work!

    @Karen J- your story about Star Jones on Oprah is telling. I’ve had so many conversations where the other person touts the benefits of a low-carb diet for this or that, and sees a healthy, physically fit person staring them in the face who they just discovered is a low-carber, and still doesn’t make the connection. Usually the phrase “I could never give up carbs” is a part of the conversation. The addiction is strong. Good news though, I have a friend who understood the philosophical underpinnings of the low-carb/paleolithic lifestyle right off the bat and has stuck with it, and he is feeling much healthier, sleeping better and has lost about 10 pounds in a few weeks. Bad news is we like the same girl :)

    @some of the negative comments…really? I mentioned this blog post to a friend and she thought it was pretty interesting that so many low-carb diet books and few others made the top 150. She made one of those wonderful “huh” sounds of surprise, despite the fact that, concerning my diet, she thinks I need to “get over myself”. And if you’re like me, nutrition isn’t the only topic on which you are in the minority to a significant degree, so its good to know that there are a lot of us out there.

  52. Mr. Michael Richards:

    Where are there English translations of the “Du dra” (”A Short Collection of Terms”)? Where could I find out more about Gelug and Tibetan education and texts (esp. logic)?

    I did an Internet search on “du dra,” but did not find anything.

    Interesting. Glad you said something about all that.

  53. Yes, I am a critical thinker, all stemming from my discovery of Protein Power more than 10 years ago.

    My question is off-topic, and if you don’t have time to respond, I’ll understand.

    After hobbling around for several months on a bum knee, I went to the orthopedist. He said maybe a torn menisucus, but nothing showed on the x-ray or MRI. Then I went to physical therepy. He had me step up on an 8″ step, and I went down in agony. “Well, if it wasn’t torn before, it is now.” Grrrrr.

    So, I had arthroscopy. Turns out there are no tears, just some arthritis that he cleaned up.

    I’ve been low-carbing for more than 10 years now (I’m 54 now), and staying away from wheat for the most part. I also weight train, and will be upping my routine as soon as I heal from the surgery.

    Here’s the question.

    What else can I be doing to stop the further advance of the arthritis? Is there anything that I can do to build bone? Supplements? I’m on bio-identical HRT (drops).

    Calcium? Magnesium? Mega doses?

    Any insight you could provide would be helpful.

    Thanks in advance!

    I would make sure to get enough magnesium and especially vitamin D3. You live in Maine where the sunlight is weak, even in the summer. I would add at least 5,000 IU vitamin D3 per day.

  54. As a casual Canadian observer of my neighbours to the south I can say that while Obama’s nowhere near perfect he’s a helluva lot better from a critical thinking point of view than a McCain/Palin ticket. I, as a non-partisan observer, am quite relieved that Sarah Palin will be nowhere near the nuclear launch codes anytime soon. At least the Obamas make it hip to be erudite (mind you, I’m as wary of the bailouts as anyone!)

    I do feel we low carbers seem a little better read overall when it comes to nutrition. We’ve learned to challenge our, and much of society’s preconcieved (and poorly concieved) notions about diet. We use our head, rather than just judging from raw emotion that leads to anthropomorphizing and other missteps in cognition (I should know, I went almost directly from vegetarianism to low-carb.) Perhaps we’re less likely to become Scientologists as well? ; D

  55. Well, don’t be surprised that a socialist would care about whether people are critical thinkers anymore. I think part of Marx’s original point was that it was stupid to treat the proletariat like unthinking animals because they were/are anything but, and have just as much right to the fruits of their labor as anyone else. Too bad that got lost in the shuffle. I don’t think what gets passed off as socialism anymore is usually in any way deserving of the title. (Command economies are an especial joke. Too bad it’s not funny.)

    I will have to respectfully disagree with your inference that one must be a reader to be a critical thinker. Critical thinking is a skill anyone can learn no matter what their primary method of receiving information. We were social animals well before the advent of the written word and you don’t go thousands of years as a social animal if you don’t learn to sort the B.S. from the truth early on.

    I think whatever is wrong with society now runs much more deeply than that. The central problem, as I see it, is that despite our efforts and claims to the contrary, most human beings are concrete thinkers. We are more likely to believe the evidence of our senses, even when those senses are dulled, than we are to believe statements that we perceive as disconnected from reality. So the person who believes he has had a personal experience with God is more likely to be religious, and the person who has had a close brush with death more clearly understands that he is mortal. Before then, reference to either is nothing but empty rhetoric.

    Toss in the fact that as social animals we are always looking to someone else to set the example for how we should behave. I think this is less about small-mindedness or laziness than it is simple instinct, one of the few we have left (or will acknowledge, anyway).

    And some of us have gotten smart enough and learned enough by now to be able to manipulate these things. It’s called “marketing.” And TV has made this easier than ever. Think about it. It’s not just images, it’s moving images. The people in the moving images might as well be in the same room as you. Your hundreds-of-thousands-of-years-old brain, which evolved looking at actual, living, breathing, moving people, has no evolutionary experience with images of living, breathing, moving people on the TV or in a movie. While your intellect may tell you the moving pictures aren’t real, your primitive brain tells you a different story.

    Marketing people know this. That’s how any number of public institutions, from Hollywood to the White House (no matter who’s in it), get away with lying to us. Until a person has experience with being lied to and screwed over, his default assumption about other people is that they are trustworthy, because we couldn’t be social animals if we didn’t first assume the best about one another. Think about who falls for Hollywood and government crap. It’s not the cynics.

    I wouldn’t be so hard on folks who are ignorant. They simply don’t know. God knows that even with everything I have learned I still sometimes wish with all my might that the “experts” were right about something I know they’re wrong about. It can be hard to let go and rely on yourself when people who promised to be there for you disappoint you again and again. I would guess some of these ignorant people are also frightened of the unknown.

  56. Hm, here’s a thought for you. Maybe it seems like more smart people read low-carb books because all that protein and fat makes their brains work better? :)

    Before I started experimenting with low-carb (I’m ashamed to say I haven’t made the switch permanent yet), I would have the most horrific mood swings and brain fog. Once I started it was like being on anti-depressants but without the zombie-ness and I still had my sex drive intact. (TMI, sorry.) The smartest animals by IQ, which I have no idea how they test for it, seem to be carnivores or meat-favoring omnivores. Go figure.

  57. IMNSHO you have to be pretty intelligent to be as stupid as some people. Think about it, whenever you discover a fact, information or evidence you need to parse it against your current collection of stereotypes, soundytes and memes, then when you find it doesn’t mesh with your current preconceptions you need to develop a plausible explanation as to why it is wrong in order to reject it.

    A bit like you do with scentific papers, only in exact reverse.

    Two of the most “intelligent” people I know have hardly any academic qualifications between them. One is a company director (and owner), the other is an artist. Both have the ability to see and respond to the world as it actually is and act accordingly, an uncommon skill nowadays.

    Taubes’ book is called Good Calories Bad Calories in most markets but has been renamed The Diet Delusion in the UK. I wonder how that affects its position on bestseller lists?

  58. I feel a little pandered to as well, but I do think there’s some truth to what you write. I’m another fan of John Taylor Gatto and I enjoy John Holt as well. We are choosing to homeschool our children, not because we have a religious-based opposition to public schools, etc. but because we don’t think that education today produces critical thinkers. I don’t care as much about what facts my children memorize, as much as I care about my children being able to find good, solid sources of information that they can analyze with a critical eye and then discuss and write about the topic.
    My husband is wrapping up a PhD right now in Chemistry. After a few years in industry, he decided to go back and get his doctorate. About 2-3 years ago when he was teaching a sophomore/jr. level undergrad chemistry lab, it was amazing to me that his students would actually hand in lab reports without even including a discussion section. Somehow they couldn’t understand how not bothering (or being capable of?) discussing your results might not warrant an A or B on a lab report. This isn’t even just a gen chem course. It is a chemistry course in a major research institution. Sigh. Are these tomorrow’s future scientists?

  59. For all that we might be critical thinkers, some of us manage to combine that with a hefty dose of superficiality… Some low-carb proponents just don’t look very good (I’m flashing on Mary Enig after seeing “Fat Head”), especially when compared to some of the raw food folks… I agree that low-carb is the way to live – I’ve gone from being a vegan to rendering my own lard – but I not only want to be healthy, I want to look healthy and glowing, too! Do you have any tips from all the individual adaptations to the low-carb way of life that you’ve come across to share with us? Thanks for your wonderful blog!

  60. It was interesting to me to see that they split off diet and advice books from proper, serious non-fiction books. If asked to name the most important books I’ve ever read, in the sense of the ones that changed my life, I’d cite Dr Atkins New Diet Revolution and The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. Obviously the latter would be classed in the “proper” books list yet they’ve been equally influential to me. And to my thinking, not just my body in the Atkins case!

    I wonder if the compilers think diet books are ephemeral, that they’re the latest trendy thing and once they’re off the list they’ll vanish into oblivion when the next big diet comes along? So that even though they sell in millions, they’re soon forgotten.

  61. I just read this article on Science Daily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090407130905.htm

    “Too Much Protein, Eaten Along With Fat, May Lead To Insulin Resistance”

    I understand that they tested rats to see how they responded which obviously would give bogus results, however, along with the “Meat is Deadly” fiasco recently, this study doesn’t really do much for the low-carm community. What’s your view on the study?

    Stu

  62. I’m curious about the article Stu posted as well. Is the key w/ protein/fat not being a problem *not* eating beyond satiety? I have PCOS and respond well to metformin, but am not overweight and don’t technically test positive for insulin resistance. The fat/protein possibly leading to IR still confuses me. I know for me, eating fat/protein definitely makes me feel better, but I want to make sure i’m not increasing my IR.

  63. OK Doc, help me understand this from Stu’s link: if eating a high fat and lots of BCAA (meat) beyond daily needs means increasing IR in rats per this study, then are we humans different from rats in this aspect? When we eat high fat & lots of meat to lose weight, our IR is reduced — right? Is it the overeating of either one or the other that causes this effect? Or is this a rat-only response. I guess what I’m asking is whether you’ve seen any human studies that suggest this or did you observe it in your practice? Like Beth, I’d sure hate to be increasing my liver cell IR as I lose weight.

    I understand that daily exercise helps reduce IR, so I faithfully climb on my exercise bike and pedal away for 30-50 mins every day in 2 sessions (easier since I was laidoff — can I call this a benefit of being laidoff? *G*). I just started r-lipoic acid @ 50 mg/day to see how my gut likes it (goal is 150-300 mg/day)…had a bad reaction several yrs ago but that was to the mixed R and S form. I’ve also been talking benfotiamine (300 mg/day) that following 1st 150 mg dropped my bedtime BG by 30 pts and next morning BG by 18 pts…*sigh* hasn’t repeated since…BUT my mood is improved (being laidoff usually makes me seriously depressed yet I’m not) and my systolic is 12 pts lower.

    I’ve seen it in practice, and it’s in the medical literature. Everything you read about rat studies can’t be applied to humans.

  64. Haven’t read the original paper so I’m hypothesising, but rat chow is usually high carb. So probably what they are doing is adding more protein and more fat to an already high carb diet. This don’t work! See certain similar human research.