I’ve been working on a new Protein Power site with a whole new level of functionality for this blog. I keep thinking it is going to be finished any day, and I keep getting held off for one reason or another. Since I keep thinking it’s going to be finished, I’ve held off posting anything since I wanted to post on the new, updated site.

But I came across a morsel of irony so delicious that I want to go ahead and offer it up for your enjoyment, even if I have to do it on this old, crotchety site.
Art Caplan
As I’ve mentioned often, Medscape is an online site for physicians.** I subscribe by email and get about a dozen posts a week. These are broken out by specialty, and since I subscribe to several, I get the latest mainstream info on cardiology, gastroenterology, family practice, endocrinology, diabetology and internal medicine. (Sadly—but actually not so surprisingly—there is no Medscape for nutrition.) I usually stick these in a file and rapidly sort of cyber flip through them when I’ve got a few minutes to spare. I just came across one sent back in May that set my teeth on edge.

Then I did a little research and came up with the delicious irony.

The guy pictured above, Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., is the Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor and head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City. He gave a video presentation on Medscape titled It’s Not Genes: People Are Fat Because They Eat Too Much.

The gist of his talk is that people are overweight because they succumb to gluttony. He arrived at this conclusion, he says, after reading a paper published in the British Medical Journal correlating the geographic distribution of fast food outlets to obesity.

The basic idea, presented with a plethora of graphs and scientific sounding gibberish, is that clusters of fast food purveyors are making the people living in the surrounding areas obese. The authors of the article fall victim to the false causality fallacy. And Dr. Caplan falls right along with them.

Not only does he fall victim to this nonsense, a whole lot of other people do, too. When I last checked the comments on this video post, there were over 400, most of whom agreed with the sentiments of the video.

Since I run with a more enlightened crowd, it’s difficult for me to believe this lack of any level of understanding is as widespread as it obviously is. But I know there are many physicians out there who think this way, too.

And there are many people out there who, like Dr. Caplan, apparently don’t have the critical thinking skills to see beyond the false causality presented in the medical paper that so influenced him. It would probably be more correct to say ‘people who don’t exercise their critical thinking skills’ rather than people who don’t have them.

We can all pretty much think critically, if we put our minds to it and make an exercise of it. And we don’t even have to peruse medical journals to find people who should know better using faulty logic to make their points.

Let me show you just one quick example I’ve run across recently using false causality to show you what I mean.
Kirsten Powers, a journalist who is a Democrat, but who usually isn’t really a partisan (i.e., she is capable of seeing both sides of an issue), wrote an article for USA Today about the conservative case against the death penalty. Most people would think conservatives would be all for the death penalty, which is why this article was written. It’s kind of a man bites dog story.

(Just in case you’re wondering, I’m a fiscal conservative, but I am strongly against the death penalty. Why? Because I like to think I’m consistent in my thinking. Most conservatives – I’m no exception – feel like the government is basically incompetent and screws up many more things than it fixes. But most conservatives are pro death penalty. Which, to my way of thinking, is totally inconsistent. Why trust the ‘just’ taking of a human life to a group of people you think are mainly bumblers and incompetents and can’t even be trusted to get your license plate fees assessed correctly? Plus, I have an additional reason. I know someone, unjustly convicted of murder, who spent 18 years on death row before being released.)

In her article, Ms. Powers writes the following paragraph referring to Marc Hyden, the advocacy coordinator for a conservative group against the death penalty:

He rejected claims by death penalty supporters that it’s a deterrent to crime. [Here’s where she goes off the rails.] He’s right. According to FBI data, the South accounts for more than 80% of U.S. executions but has the highest murder rate in the country.

Let’s think this through.

Why are people executed? In almost all cases, for being convicted (rightfully or wrongfully) of committing murder. So, if according to FBI data (which we assume are valid), the South has the country’s highest murder rate, it would seem reasonable to assume it would also have the highest arrest and conviction rate for murder, and, therefore, the highest execution rate in the country. It says nothing about a deterrent effect one way or another given the data presented.

I have several more I’ve recently come across, but I don’t want the comment section in this post to degenerate into a political debate, so I’ll leave those. (Be assured that these assaults on logic are not the province of any one side of the political spectrum.) The point is, these logical fallacies appear all the time, and people of all stripes use them to make their points. You’ve got to be on guard because if you’re not thinking critically, you’ll fall victim.

Take a look at Dr. Caplan’s video: [Unfortunately, the link to Dr. Caplan’s video is no longer functional.  Here is the transcript and a link to Medscape.

It’s Not Genes: People Are Fat Because They Eat Too Much

Hi. I am Art Caplan, from the Division of Medical Ethics at the New York University Langone Medical Center in New York.

Why are your patients fat? Why are people fat generally? Struggling with weight is a problem. I personally have done better with it lately, but it is a challenge. We all know we are in the middle of an obesity epidemic in the United States. Indeed, worldwide obesity is an increasing problem.

If you look at the medical literature, the answer is clear. The problem is in our genes. Again and again, in media reports and in articles that catch the attention of editors at the most prominent medical journals, the answer to why we are all fat is that we have bad genes.

Think about it. You go to a cocktail party. You are chatting with people and you start talking about weight. The person says, “I’m one of those high metabolizers (or low metabolizers),” hinting that there is a genetic or biological basis for their size. Or people will say to me, “I must have inherited bad genes. I just can’t seem to keep weight off.”

We love the genetic explanation. That is why it was so interesting to see a paper recently in the British Medical Journal[1] that looked in a very different, but I believe a more fertile, direction for understanding the obesity problem.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge conducted a very simple study. They wanted to know how many fast-food outlets are in Cambridgeshire, the county that includes Cambridge and the university. They also looked at where people commuted to work, and whether there was any association between going by these fast-food places and obesity and diabetes.

Bad Food, Not Bad Genes

Guess what they found? If you put a bucket of fried chicken out every half-mile along the route people take to work and back, they are fatter. There is a correlation between fast-food outlets and being diabetic or being fat.

The point is this: Genes certainly play a role in how people handle food, but if you live in a culture that overwhelms you with opportunities to eat junk food and fatty food, even the best genes can easily be overwhelmed.

We are that kind of country, too. We promote eating more food. I took a ride recently from Moosic, Pennsylvania, to Wilkes-Barre. Having read this article, I decided to count how many fast-food places I could see from the road in a relatively rural area. The distance was 13 miles. I counted 19 kings, arches, colonels, and so on. Fast food is ubiquitous. Bad food opportunities are everywhere.

If we are going to get a handle on the obesity epidemic, then we need to stop saying, “All you have to do is control your diet, and somehow manage the responsibility that your genes gave you.” Telling people they have a genetic basis for obesity is kind of an excuse, or an easy way out.

We also must begin to say, “Hey, those places you drive past, those places that are advertising and marketing? They are dangerous for you. You might want to avoid them.” I think we have to ask people and patients, “How often do you go? How often are you eating there? Do you realize that even if a place has a salad on the menu, if you get 3 Big Macs and French fries, it does not matter that a salad is on the menu?”

We must start taking more seriously the dangers that are out in the environment. We also should think about telling our patients that a lot of fast-food promotion and fast-food presence is leading to some of the problems that their kids have.

Maybe a better philosophy is to make it a special treat to go to one of these outlets, rather than going simply because you have run out of ideas about what to do in terms of getting a quick and easy meal. It may be quick. It may be easy. But as this study showed, it is dangerous.

Let us not point the finger of blame at our genes or say, hey, exercise some self-control [without providing some kind of support]. Let us realize that in a world in which temptation is put out all around us, that is a problem we have to discuss with patients too.

Is your blood boiling? Isn’t it comforting to know that at least someone, somewhere categorically knows the solution to the obesity problem? Even though other equally learned people fiercely debate why it is that people get fat.

Maybe, though, Dr. Caplan is a lot smarter than all the rest of us. According to his Wikipedia entry, he is the author or editor of thirty-two books and over 600 papers in peer-reviewed journals of medicine, science, philosophy and health policy.

Not only that, according to the same source, he

is the recipient of many awards and honors including the McGovern Medal of the American Medical Writers Association and the Franklin Award from the City of Philadelphia. He was a person of the Year 2001 from USA Today, one of the fifty most influential people in American health care by Modern Health Care magazine, one of the ten most influential people in America in biotechnology by the National Journal and one of the ten most influential people in the ethics of biotechnology by the editors of Nature Biotechnology. He holds seven honorary degrees from colleges and medical schools. Discover magazine in December, 2008 named him one of the ten most influential people in science. In 2014 he was given the public service award of the National Science Board/National Science Foundation.

As I say, I’m sure Dr. Caplan is a very smart guy. But even smart guys don’t look so smart when they stray into areas about which they know very little. And when in the thickets of strange science, they, like everyone else, can become entangled in various logical fallacies.

If we simplify his video monologue, here is how it plays out. Dr. Caplan reads a medical article, filled with a lot of scientific looking graphs and diagrams, arguing that many obese people live near fast food restaurants and drawing the conclusion that the fast food outlets cause the obesity. Dr. Caplan is perhaps predisposed to this point of view anyway (which is just a guess on my part since I have no idea what goes on in Dr. Caplan’s brain), so he decides to check it out.

As Yogi Berra is alleged to have said, “You can see a lot just by looking.” So Dr. Caplan takes a look along a road he’s driving and finds a total of 19 fast food outlets. He decides that the paper is true, fast food outlets do lure people into eating too much and cause obesity.

I would argue that John Lennon’s take on it would be more apropos: “Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.”

As I know from bitter experience, operating a restaurant is an expensive operation. My experience, thank God, was on a small scale, so it didn’t totally bankrupt me, but came damn close. Unlike me, site location experts for giant chain restaurants don’t just drive around aimlessly and all of a sudden say, Hey, this looks like a great place to put a McDonald’s. These giant outfits spend millions of dollars in demographic research to make sure they put their outlets in locations where there are plenty of customers.

They find the overweight people, then plant their stores in the middle of them.

If Dr. Caplan saw 19 fast food outlets on his drive, then I can guarantee you the site developers for those 19 restaurants – even of the 19th one that went in – had determined there were enough customers in the area to keep the cash registers ching ching chinging.

Even if fast food outlets did cause obesity instead of simply supporting it, anyone who has seen Tom Naughton’s brilliant movie Fat Head knows making the appropriate selections – even at a McDonald’s – can help your weight-loss efforts, not hinder them.

Now for the delicious irony…

I was searching for Dr. Caplan’s video on YouTube, so I wouldn’t have to rely on my own limited abilities to record it from Medscape. And during my search, I discovered that Dr. Caplan is quite the bon vivant and lover of good food (actually, he sounds like just the kind of guy I would like to hang out with). And I mean good food in the fast food, truck stop, diner sense of down home, comfort food (read: high carb, high fat, high everything). In fact, Dr. Caplan narrates what appears to be a TV show, doing reviews of these kinds of greasy spoons. Interestingly, this hobby of Dr. Caplan’s somehow got left out of his Wikipedia entry.

Take a look. And bear in mind while watching, this is the same guy who is exhorting you in the video above not to fall prey to the ads for fast foods lest you succumb to their siren’s song and explode into obesity overnight. If someone wrote this as fiction, no one would believe it.

If you search YouTube for Art Caplan, you’ll find a bunch more.

If you would like to learn more about all the logical fallacies we can all fall prey to, give The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli a look. It’s an easy to read, fun book with a few pages devoted to each fallacy. Nassim Nicholas Taleb goaded Dobelli, his Swiss novelist friend, into writing the book, so it’s much better written and a lot more enjoyable than most books written by logicians.

**Although Medscape is a service targeting physicians, you can get a free subscription whether you’re a doc or not.  Just go to Medscape and sign on as a guest.


  1. Welcome back, old friend. Some of us were suffering withdrawal.
    You’ve really narrowed in on an issue that endlessly confounds and frustrates me. I would be okay if only, shall we say, less intelligent people did not exercise critical thinking skills effectively. Or had less incentive to try, having had bad results in the past. But that is just not the case. I consider many of my friends and colleagues to be exceptionally intelligent individuals… this is not completely an accident, I thoroughly enjoy (and for some reason which I cannot explain, am not intimidated by) engaging individuals whom I consider far more intelligent than me in discussion. A good friend of mine is a brilliant physician who is a fiscal liberal. No matter how many times I explain Hauser’s Law (which basically shows that no matter how much you change the marginal income tax rate, GDP remains at roughly 19%), he doesn’t get it. But, as you say, I don’t really think it’s that he doesn’t get it, I think it’s just easier not to get it because it meshes better with his philosophy. Cognitive dissonance, perhaps, plays a very strong role here and in what you discuss, I suspect. I, on the other hand, am constantly open to being convinced otherwise even regarding topics on which I have very strong views. I’m a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. But 20 years ago, I was a social conservative. I’ve changed –genuinely — some of my views because I think and constantly reevaluate why it is I believe what I believe and why I do what it is that I do. I question myself daily and while changes are slow, they do happen over time. Are smarter people simply more stubborn than others because they are more confident in their views? Is it, simply, as you say, easier just to go with the flow. Hey, if the old adage declares an apple a day to be exceptionally healthy, it certainly is very easy just to believe that ignorantly, rather than do the research required to disprove it. And, certainly, our society being bombarded with misinformation (as you write about extensively in PP) about food, for example, for the past 60 years or so is a barrier to entry that does prevent even non-lazy people to coming to discover the truth of PP. I happened upon it by accident. In 1999, when I began working at my first job out of law school, the entire firm was reading your book and talking not just about the fact that the diet was working for them, but WHY the diet was working and how the science of it and all of the health benefits are actually true. I still remember my first reaction — anathema! Beef? Eggs? Fat? No, no, no. But my coworkers insisted. Showed me paragraphs. Showed me the amount and kinds of food they were eating. Showed me their loose pants. So, I read. I tested. I ate different. I lost weight. My blood numbers improved. Then I read other books just to compare PP’s science to the “science” of Dean Ornish others. And, I was convinced for life.
    But what about all the others in my office…largely intelligent attorneys and paralegals? Within 2 years all of them were off the diet completely. Pretzels and soda and potato chips were back in the office kitchen and snack room. In fact, the office provided it all to us for free (making my life very hard!). These were the very same people who were boasting to me about not simply the diet working, but the science of it. They already exercised critical thinking skills and drank the Kool-Aid. So, it’s not that they were too lazy to do it. They knew. And they STILL went back. It amazed me. So, I think there is something else at work here, perhaps several things, and it would certainly make a fascinating article or book itself. One thing that struck me is that I was the only one to compare your science in PP to all the other low fat and low cal arguments. I researched it thoroughly. I watched debates. I thought about it. I challenged otherwise brilliant nutritionally-ignorant doctors (including my own uncle) with YOUR science who were never able to answer basic questions for me about why they recommend certain diets when the science proves this and this and this which is contrary. I think had I not had an open mind about Dean Ornish and other low cal low-fatters and had I not gone that extra step to convince myself, I may have fallen back into the trap that my colleagues did. God knows, i do still slip up nowadays, but unlike others I know better. I know I have to get back to the right way of eating. I’ve seen many PP believers just conveniently forget that and somehow — almost by misleading societal osmosis — convince themselves that their low carb beliefs (that already WORKED for them), was so long ago that it was just a dream. After all, it is true, society keeps telling us, everywhere, that this is healthy and that is healthy, when these things are almost never healthy. Commercials, packaging, citing nutritional information that is misleading….everything, everywhere, all the time. It’s hard to think critically against a tidal wave of social stigma. After all, all these packages and all these commercials and all these restaurants are telling you and I and any other low carb disciples that we are wrong. Dozens of times a day. Every day. So, we may know we are right, but we may eventually be too tired to think critically ALL THE TIME, and eventually that may truly take a toll on people who are smarter than that and who can think critically.
    But sometimes, it really is as simple as you say. My mom has suffered from severe reflux for many years. I have been desperately trying to get her onto a low carb diet PROMISING her that it is the cure (40mg of Omeprazole was not even doing the trick for her, after a while). Two weeks ago, after all of these years, and all of these days of my “accidentally” leaving one of your books on her kitchen counter, she did it! She went low carb. Shocker: she reported to me on Saturday that she has been reflux free on no medication at all, for the first time in years. Her next sentence? “But I need chocolate and muffins. I can’t give that up.
    Sorry for the rambling. Your post just really struck a chord with me. I can’t tell you how much of my life is dedicated to getting people (mostly my students) to think critically. I tell them all the time that I do not care if they walk out of my class not recalling a single topic on which I’ve lectured, but I would be devastated if they walked out of my course not knowing how to think critically.
    I should really edit this insanely long post, but I need sleep.
    My best to you and MD!

    1. Good to hear from you, Jeff. And glad to learn that your mother – at least temporarily – has gotten rid of her reflux. Her response is not unusual. But she has to make a choice: muffins and meds or no muffins and no reflux. Unfortunately, most people ultimately choose the first.
      Interesting you brought up Hauser’s law. I’ve been thinking about that lately, and I’m not sure it’s completely valid. I think it is in a large sense in that the more the government takes, the less likely people are to a) increase their income and/or b) to report their income. But if you really think about Hauser’s law (in critical thinking terms), there are some flaws.
      First, if there is no tax whatsoever, the government collects nothing irrespective of how much money is earned. If you tax all earnings at a 100 percent tax rate, the government will (ultimately) collect nothing because no one will work. So, you’ve got the situation in which a 0% tax rate brings in no government revenues and a 100% tax rate brings in no government revenues.
      If the government sets the tax rate at 0.5% irrespective of earnings, government revenues go up a little, but not a whole lot as compared to the 0% tax rate. Same if the tax rate drops from 100% to 99.5%. Maybe there is someone, somewhere willing to work to be able to keep 0.5% of his earnings, but government revenues will still be low.
      As you keep moving away from either extreme, government revenues continue to increase. At some point, given the psychological makeup of the group being taxed, you’ll hit the percentage of taxation that brings in the maximal government revenue. Maybe that’s around 19.5% – I don’t know. But just in thinking about it, I can tell you that Hauser’s law can’t hold at all tax rates.
      This is a fun subject to bat around.

        1. You are correct, Onlooker from Troy. Dr. Eades IS describing the laffer curve and apparently isn’t even aware of it. The fact that tax rates historically are 19% of GDP is Hausers law.
          Not that Eades would ever admit he’s wrong. If you really want to laugh (or cry), ask his thoughts on climate change.. lol

      1. Have You Gone Senile ?
        ‘First, if there is no tax whatsoever, the government collects nothing irrespective of how much money is earned.
        If you tax all earnings at a 100 percent tax rate, the government will (ultimately) collect nothing because no one will work.
        So, you’ve got the situation in which a 0% tax rate brings in no government revenues and a 100% tax rate brings in no government revenues.’
        If the government sets the tax rate at 0.5% irrespective of earnings, government revenues go up a little, but not a whole lot as compared to the 0% tax rate.
        Same if the tax rate drops from 100% to 99.5%. Maybe there is someone, somewhere willing to work to be able to keep 0.5% of his earnings, but government revenues will still be low.
        As you keep moving away from either extreme, government revenues continue to increase. At some point, given the psychological makeup of the group being taxed, you’ll hit the percentage of taxation that brings in the maximal government revenue.
        Maybe that’s around 19.5% – I don’t know. But just in thinking about it, I can tell you that Hauser’s law can’t hold at all tax rates.
        Your an idiot – rapped in idiot lettuce leaves – rapped in an idiot bun –
        The rich can afford to be taxed more and the poor need it – the poor will still be poor and the rich will still rich –
        You just can’t stand the idea of sharing an extra 10% of your wealth –
        Well – try living on a fixed income of 800.00 dollars a month for a while and tell me how that works out for you –
        But it’s not just the poor who sufer – it’s the middle class also – who for some insane reason believe your don’t tax the rich crap –
        People like you should have all your wealth taken away – and try living like the poor scum you despise –

        1. No, YOU’RE an idiot. Look it up.
          $800 mo? Sounds like you should get a second job.
          And poor people don’t sufer, they SUFFER.
          The rich will still rich OR get RICHER!! How ’bout that????
          My dear Mr. Johnson, people like you should have their keyboards taken away – and forced to sleep with a dictionary.
          Great article, Dr.

    2. The great thing about a low carb diet is that you can still have your chocolate and your muffins. Check out the great recipes at such blogs as AllDayIDreamAboutFood and MariaMindBodyHealth. Chocolate is naturally low carb, it’s the milk and sugar mixed with it that’s bad. Use ingredients like almond and coconut flour, erythritol and stevia, and you get to enjoy your goodies, within reason, and still enjoy good health.
      The perfect diet may be fat, protein and green leafy veggies, but it doesn’t do any good if people don’t stick to it. These goodies make it easy to stick with it.

    3. Jeff, it is easy to make own LC truffles from baking chocolate and Atkins mufffines from ground nuts, eggs and baking poweder. I am blessed with an absence of a sweet tooth, but I guess the people who value their sweets a lot would be better off eating LC cakes and candies than consuming the real staff.

    4. Kudos to you, Jeff. Keep up the good fight.
      Although I had not the grades nor funds when I was a young man, my dream was to become a college professor whose goal would be to take young minds just out of high school and, unlike my shameful college contemporaries who are of retirement age today, to teach them HOW to think, not WHAT to think, a la Bill Ayers and his ilk.
      Alas, that never happened on my life’s odyssey. And the world is suffering as you see it today and it’s all the more frustrating because people EVERYWHERE in all walks of life do not now and never have used their critical thinking skills even in the most important aspects of their everyday lives.
      As a result they do not choose their mates properly, do not choose satisfactory careers, do not raise their children with any regard to the benefit of society, do not listen critically to the pablum which is spoon-fed to them in the form of news or entertainment (virtually the same these days)……pay no attention to the politicians they vote for repeatedly, pay little attention to the foods they eat and feed their families.
      Critical thinking is practically nonexistent in our society today, from lawyers to college professors to the common man. And I fear for our society because of that. All this talk of break-the-bank Obamacare which we can’t afford–how much of our bloated “healthcare” industry would not even be necessary today if Dr Eades’ guidelines had been closely followed even 20 years ago? Let alone 50 years ago.
      As an aside, I have some issues with the good doctor’s strong opinions on the death penalty and could easily go on a rant about that and the detrimental effects on a society which never uses it. But that’s perhaps for another time.

    1. I wasn’t aware of this. I’ll add it the link you provided to the recommendation. I need to see what Dobelli has to say about it. Problem is, I can’t do any of this for a bit. Part of the problem I’m having with this blog right now, is that I can’t make changes or everything disappears. There is a long explanation, but the short one is that I have to go through a bunch of steps to make a simple correction. I’m sure a few other issues will arise (typos, for example), and when I’ve got a handful, I’ll go back in and make all the corrections. This is why I’m working so desperately to get the new blog redesign finished. I’m tired of having to go through all this every time I want to make even the smallest correction.

      1. I’m currently reading Fooled by Randomness and it’s a great book. Nassim Taleb is clear on his perspective but some people may not comprehend the moderate technical language and the sarcasm of Taleb. If you think Dobelli’s book is concise and explains everything well enough, I wouldnt mind reading it.
        Oh, and by the way…After seeing Dining with Art Caplan, I’m very serious in continuing with my fasting protocol.
        Great Post Mike. As always!

        1. I liked Fooled by Randomness much better than I did The Black Swan.
          Dobelli’s book is concise and explains things very well. I highly recommend it. Another commenter informed me that Taleb has accused Dobelli of plagiarizing him. It was news to me, so I checked it out as well as I could online. Looks like a real cat fight.
          Here is what Taleb has to say and here is Dobelli’s side of things.
          Irrespective of who should get credit for what, the book is clearly written, easy to read, contains a lot of information, and is heavily noted in the back. Plus Dobelli has a book change log he keeps online so that additions or corrections are posted for all to see.

  2. I would say that, judging from the two photographs of him here, Dr. Caplan does indeed know a thing or two about being overweight. 🙂

  3. Wow, just wow. How can we take anything this guy says seriously after the restaurant review in which his belly shares the counter with his meal?

  4. It’s been pointed out that McDonalds is not in the fast food business. Rather, they’re in the real estate investment business. Look at typical freestanding McDonald’s locations — initially inexpensive to acquire but in the path of business growth, with consequently rapidly increasing value as real estate. Care to guess who owns, frex, our local franchise’s real property? I just looked it up:
    I suspect this is true of most fast-food chains that franchise the business but own the real estate under it.

  5. Come on, Dr. Eades, just admit you’re a libertarian (which I believe you’ve done before). 🙂
    This man, Caplan, is a classic case of confirmation bias and probably several other critical thinking errors. You just know that he’s intelligent enough to see this basic fallacy he’s fallen for. So something else is at play; maybe even some psychology related to his upbringing. I don’t know.
    Whatever the reason, it’s rampant in our world, as you’ve pointed out. Keep at it, the world needs better thinking.

  6. Surprised that Dr. Caplan can swallow anything with his forked tongue, or is it just the river of denial syndrome. I call chutzpah!

  7. I like this guy! (You can’t help but like someone who reviews food like he does and yet shouldn’t! 😉 )
    To be fair to him, he only states there’s a correlation between fast food outlets and obesity, diabetes etc and equally goes onto mention our “food culture” overwhelming our innate ability to handle overeating.

    1. I like the guy, too. As I said in the post, he would be fun to hang out with.
      I think he goes a little further, however, than simply stating there is a correlation. He at least strongly implies some causality.

      1. And maybe he’d be the first to admit that he’s overweight because he enjoys his food. Nothing wrong with that. He’s not claiming to be uber-healthy is he?

  8. I ordered the book (and one more by Dobelli) before I saw the plagiarism accusation as no comments had been posted whilst I was typing mine. Amazon’s just too efficient to now cancel…

    1. I hate it if it is plagiarized because it’s a handy little book that briefly describes a ton of logical fallacies.

  9. I have a developing mental model of knowing which is Data -> Information -> Knowledge -> Wisdom. We’re inundated with data and information, but little knowledge and less wisdom because they require critical thinking and experience.
    … And humility in recognizing the limits of one’s knowledge and expertise: Dr. Caplan… Hint, hint.

  10. It is difficult and annoying to read the blog I get via email because of the spacing mostly of punctuation I think. Is there a way to fix this?

    1. I’m certainly hoping the new theme will solve this problem (along with about a million others). That’s the problem with a custom them such as the one I have. As WordPress updates, the theme really doesn’t and all sorts of problems begin to appear.

  11. >But even smart guys don’t look so smart when they stray into areas about which they know very little.–
    This part is what bugs me about Dr Karl – he’s like the Aussie version of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, but more generalised to basically every facet of science. He’s recently been rated the 9th Most Trusted Person In Australia, which is mostly great because he’s usually full of sense with his vision of science and inspires many others to seek out answers, the answers he provides to questions that he’s not sure of – “I don’t know”, and then asks listeners to chime in with answers or links to research.
    However when it comes to nutrition and health, he just rattles off the same nonsense you’ll hear anywhere, being very fond of Pollanisms. Overall not terrible, but it’s clearly an area he’s done no research in, so when asked about food he’s all about “Not too much. Mostly plants.” and avoiding too much saturated fat and meat and cholesterol and blah blah. This is one of those times I wish he’d say “I don’t know, but I’ll find out”, instead of regurgitating what sounds right according to TV ads and ideology books.
    Longer version of the rant here:
    –> http://ashsimmonds.com/2013/11/21/why-we-need-dr-karl-to-actually-research-nutrition-science-rather-than-dole-out-ideology/
    This Caplan guy seems to enjoy his meals at least, I can’t say that chicken-bread thing didn’t look delicious.

  12. Dr Caplan is describing himself LOL No wonder he hides his paunch in the Medscape video – the other one gives it all away !
    Oh I do hope you get the new ‘Protein Power’ out soon. If you have to self publish what would be the timescale ?

    1. I have no idea on the timescale, but whatever it is, it will be faster than a mainstream publisher. The only thing the mainstream publisher has that a self-published book doesn’t is a deadline. Which worries me, since I work better to deadlines.

      1. You should check out Amazon’s publishing arm. I’m guessing they’d jump at the chance to get an updated Protein Power book out. On a faster schedule too.

        1. There would be all kinds of copyright issues since we would probably still use some of the content in Protein Power. It would be worth at least a look, though. Thanks.

  13. A repeat of a June 3 comment: Do not let your publisher kill a God-Given Gift for any reason. We need your knowledge and judgment. (we now add “uncensored.”)
    Self publishing gives you complete control – and there are lots of people out there to help with the details. We urge you to be independent.
    Happy PP2 (or Whatever2)

    1. I know, I know. I’ve had some experience in self publishing (not with my own books, but with others), so I know how it works. We’ve just got to figure which way we’re going to go and go.

  14. If necessary you might take a page from the video game publishers and sell copies in advance. This is something that this old grandpa never does with immortal corporations but for you it would be an honor.

  15. I don’t get it. If someone wanted to overeat, couldn’t they do it at home as easily as in a fast food joint? More easily, in fact?

  16. Honest to god, I will never understand why fat guys pose as experts on weight loss, diet, obesity and nutrition. Nor will I understand how they get air time and are depicted as experts.
    I mean, just look at ’em!
    Some sort of weird collusion occurs between Fat ‘Expert’ and Willfully Blind Public.
    Solution: great advice I once received from a bodybuilder: do what works instead of all the other stuff.
    So far, so good. Just turned 59, 34″ waist, 8% bf, and it’s not because I listen to fat boys dictate my diet.
    Oh, and have been low carb for decades.

  17. If you don’t already subscribe, I highly recommend this month’s edition of National Geographic. They are starting an 8 month series on Food in America and starting with the issue of food insecurity. The article points out that people with the most food insecurity tend to be more likely to be obese, because they rely on inexpensive processed food and fast food for a variety of reasons (lack of cooking skills, lack of easy access to fresh groceries, lack of time). Again, correlation, not causation, but the article recognizes it’s the cheap grain-based foods and oils which contribute to the problem, not fat in general.

  18. How does Dr. Caplan explain the fact that I can only eat 1200 calories per day and 20 grams of carbs or I gain weight? OH, WAIT, I GET IT-
    I eat too much.

  19. This reminds me of a review comment I saw on a dog nutrition book earlier today. The reviewer commented that dogs don’t need ANY carbohydrates, unlike humans, and then proceeded to list a healthy dog diet – protein, fat, bones, etc.
    It’s funny how people can see the truth when it comes to dogs, but not to themselves.

  20. Agree Caplan’s fast food / gluttony /obesity logic is bogus.
    Here’s a different point.
    Referring to Nina Teicholz, “Big Fat Surprise”, starting around page 272 …. as you previously pointed out … good grief look what the fast food places are cooking with now.
    If proximity to fast food restaurants is data that can be accessed, and if fast food restaurants have been more or less coerced into using truly toxic cooking methods, perhaps now is a good time to construct a proper forward looking hypothesis about expect medical consequences – and then test the hypothesis. If the specific toxic substances remain in the body, for once we would not be limited to the usual epidemiological hocus pocus.

  21. While I certainly agree that there’s no causality involved in this obesity/fast food issue, there IS a certain correlation that’s intriguing to me.
    I spent my life as an obese person until about 6 years ago when thanks to low carb and calorie control I lost close to 200 lbs and have maintained my loss for the past 4 years.
    However, having been so obese for so long, I am interested in this issue because I recall that I was an ‘impulsive eater,’ as I’m sure many overweight people are. And I’d leave work and be starving, not only because I ate little during the day to function best at work, but the sudden alleviation of work stress stoked my appetite, too. And as I drove home, I passed practically every fast-food chain in existence. I regularly stopped and ordered far too much food, mindlessly eating in the car as I drove home.
    Of course, fast food is designed to be addictive, so when I finally got home, I just continued eating into the night.
    The prevalence of fast food may not be ‘causing’ obesity, but it certainly is contributing to its maintenance in our society because it is so ‘easy’ and convenient to overeat.

  22. Life is short and science eternal. When I was in my late 50’s I was still quite lean and mean. I was quite arrogant in my thinking too, “It’s so simple, why don’t these “educated” fools get it?” Now in my 70’s I experience a quite different context to diet and exercise. If I stay in deep ketosis (as measured by urine sticks) then, as previously in my life, no fat accumulates at any caloric intake but unless I fast for a couple of days at a time regularly and often no fat is removed. Exercise is limited now by longer recovery and fasting is harder to restart for reasons I don’t have a psychological or academic handle on.
    My wife is a polio survivor with only one leg working and healthy. She had a deep vein thrombosis in the polio leg many long years ago. Athletic exercise is very much out of the question for her as she is obese and quite crippled. Her polio leg swells painfully if she stays too long upright. Long singing sessions seem to supply her with adequate exercise. She loves bread and pasta and I have given up the life long struggle to talk her out of it. Yet even she has had good results with a calorie reduction diet over the last two years.
    Correlations may be clues that can’t be placed *logically* in the puzzle (except in the correlators imagination) but actual variable isolating experiments will never isolate *all* of the variables. I am not so sure of myself anymore. That is why I continue to read this blog and it’s responses. Keep reading and writing Eades, please.

    1. Glad to know the ketogenic diet still works at 70+ yo.
      It’s funny how as we age, we accumulate the wisdom to recognize how much we really don’t know. Makes me embarrassed to think of many pronouncements I made with full certitude in my youth.

  23. Any idea on the update on ordering products. I’m unable to order directly since I’ve changed address and email. My old info shows up and am unable to change it. I’ve left two messages for advice including a request for a phone number to call. But there is no response.

    1. I’ll check on it ASAP and have someone get back to you. Sorry for the trouble. I’ve got to get the new site up.

  24. Any idea on the update on ordering products. I’m unable to order directly since I’ve changed address and email.

  25. I don’t understand. Are you saying fast food doesn’t cause obesity?
    I saw “Fat Head” and enjoyed it, but he was doing a movie, of course he had the willpower to prove his point. Most people don’t have that willpower and willpower is a finite resource.
    Ultimately, advertising is coercion in the aggregate. It works. Simple as that. Speaking of these smart corporations that make sure there’s a market for their store before they open it–these same corporations probably can estimate pretty-well their return on advertising dollars spent. That’s effectively coercion to me (again, on the aggregate).
    The campaign against cigarettes would not have been half as effective if we had not taken away their advertising power. To me, big marketing is mostly lies anyway and has very few upsides for society for any product…
    I’m really just more interested in if you think the changing of our food supply into marketed garbage really has little to do with the obesity epidemic?

    1. You wrote:

      To me, big marketing is mostly lies anyway and has very few upsides for society for any product…

      Which I’ve got to say, is spoken like a true academic with no experience in the world of business.
      I’ve owned a watch that I absolutely love for about 15 years now. It is a Ulysse Nardin UTC Michelangelo 30. It does everything for me that I need a watch to do. It can go back and forth between time zones with a few clicks (I don’t have to reset it every time I travel), it has a large date, so I can read it without reading glasses, and it has a 24 hour clock on it so no matter what I am, I can tell what time it is my home time zone. Plus it’s a handsome watch to look at and has increased in value since I purchased it.
      I almost never frequent jewelry shops, and since I was happy with the watch I had been wearing for the 10 years before, I wouldn’t have looked at watches had I gone into a jewelry store for some other reason. I became aware of the existence of this watch because I saw an ad for it. Ulysse Nardin marketed it’s product, and I bought hook, line and sinker. And have been proud I did so since.
      I never understand why people are so down on marketing. It’s simply the way companies make people aware of their products.
      Just like Tom Naughton demonstrated in Fat Head, no one made him go into a McDonald’s.
      The problem isn’t with the marketing, the problem is the lack of critical thinking ability of the populace. No one with good sense gets sucked into something just because it’s marketed to them. And if they do (as I have been on occasion), it should be a learning experience.
      The desire to limit marketing because people are too stupid not to fall for it is, in my view, a dangerous road to take.
      And, in answer to your question, I don’t particularly think the marketing of fast food has driven the obesity epidemic. If anything has driven the obesity epidemic, it is the decreased price of food in general. I don’t have the stats in front of me, but last I read about it, 50 years ago the average family spent something like 25 percent of its non-housing budget on food. Now it’s way below 10 percent. More and more people are eating out, and when you eat out, you lose control over what goes in your food. It’s been my experience that most restaurants use crappy fats – even the non-fast-food ones – that most people wouldn’t use at home. That’s just one factor. I think the obesity epidemic is more complex than simply pointing the finger at the marketing of fast foods.

      1. I point my finger at the lazy populace which doesn’t want to invest time into preparing healthy food or invest money in purchasing higher quality food. As knowledge spreads about the importance of these things, there is some shift but it is slow, and many have no interest in change even given the knowledge.

  26. Caplan, smartest amongst the smartests, a big-time bioethicist, author of hundreds of papers and books wrote: ‘No, you do not have to be thin to be fit to be a great doctor or even the nation’s No. 1 doctor. Just as in sports, the best coaches are rarely those who were the best players.’
    His eat-less-burn-more paradigm absolutely does not apply to such eminent experts like himself. Follow his words and not his deeds. Besides, he’s obviously healthy, as confirmed by his nimbly climbs , w/ his girthy backside wobbling, the steps of Bob’s Diner(youtube) to chow down.
    The paradigm only applies to us ordinary people like the rest of us.

    1. LOL! I suggest we respond to this sense of entitlement by sending him lovely bras for his moobs. Cuz’ they’re larger than mine, it seems,
      and I’m usually considered, um, well-endowed. 😉 He may need to update his sense of, well, rackage. 😉 Not to be cruel. But he needs an

  27. Hi, Dr. Eades!
    I liked this article very much, but the first video by Dr. Caplan is now missing. I hope yo can fix it.
    Thanks so much for all the great articles!

    1. I just checked. Both videos work fine. The first picture you see of Dr. Caplan isn’t a video – it’s a screenshot of him. The first actual video is down the page a bit.

  28. PLEASE give us a rewrite of Protein Power even if you have to self-publish. One thing that has helped me tremendously with lowcarbing was the advice I got from the book Life Without Bread. I always keep low starch veggies as freebies. It’s quite annoying to count veggies: weighing, measuring, blah, blah. I just keep them as freebies. Never any problem. I only count high starch veg, milk, yogurt, nuts, grains, fruits. The less counting the better. If you can give us a new plan with minimal counting: AWESOME.
    Also, looking forward to your new website.

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