Super-Quick China Study Update (Changed 7/22)

22 07 2010

Alert, alert! Breaking news for anyone following the China Study Saga!

Update 7/22: Reader Ned Kock of “Health Correlator” performed a multivariate analysis on the data for colorectal cancer, animal protein, cholesterol, plant protein, and schistosomiasis from the China Study. Check his blog to read what he discovered. (Any other readers who’ve done something similar, please post and let us know what you’ve found as well.)

In other news:

If you haven’t seen it yet, Campbell has expanded his original response to my critique and posted it in two places:

  1. On his website TColinCampbell.org, where it’s available for download as a Word document, and
  2. On CampbellCoalition.com, where it’s in HTML format and you can contribute comments and questions.

Word has it that Campbell himself will be replying to at least some of the comments on Campbell Coalition, so this would be a wonderful opportunity for anyone with questions for him to engage in dialogue. Correction 7/22: Campbell has closed this discussion to comments with the following remark:

Based on the response received thus far, we have determined that our prior idea of a reasoned and civil discourse, with participation by Dr. Campbell, is not feasible and have decided to discontinue this discussion thread.

Bummer. Well, if you want to carry a non-reasoned and un-civil discourse, feel free to do it here. First Amendment FTW!

If you submitted comments that weren’t accepted on the Campbell Coalition website, Dave Dixon has created a special entry on his blog “Spark of Reason” where you can post them and still get your voice heard.

Campbell’s longer rebuttal has also been featured on Vegsource.com, in which the editors kindly wrote:

Previously we at VegSource had looked at some of Ms. Minger’s anti-Campbell rhetoric.  One thing we were struck by early on was the fact that Ms. Minger apparently removes comments on her blog from scientific researchers who point out the flaws in her reasoning and in her understanding of accepted research methods.

Huh. All scientific researchers who had their comments removed, please say “aye.” The one and only comment I’ve deleted thus far was one I wrote, although (as I’ve mentioned several times now) some comments do get snagged in the spam or “awaiting approval’” queue, especially if they have links–in which case they don’t show up right away.  I apologize if this has happened to you, but you’re welcome to comment here even if you disagree. Dissenting voices FTW!

Update 7/22: Looks like they edited the above to be marginally nicer but still woefully inaccurate. And, as per tradition, they took a moment to lambaste the Weston A. Price Foundation—’cause really, what China Study article would be complete without randomly evoking something completely irrelevant to the discussion? Non-sequiturs FTW!

I have (another) response to Campbell underway, so for those of you waiting for the wheat post, it just got pushed back farther in the waiting line. Many apologies. Contrary to some circulating hypotheses, I really am just one person, with limited capacity to type and crank out blog entries. When I finish rearing my army of bovine ninja babies, I’ll enslave them and outsource my research and data entry tasks, but that’s a ways off yet.

Carry on.

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130 responses

22 07 2010
Tuck

I commend your even-handed approach, but I have to say that at this point reading Campbell’s evasions isn’t worth my time. (Although I’m a masochist, so I’ll probably do it anyway. :) )

I do look forward to your further data-mining of the china study research, clearly it has a lot to teach us, you’ve done a great job of demonstrating that.

Like you, I can’t eat wheat, so whatever you find there is largely of academic interest to me, personally, although a great service to the greater community.

But what would be really fascinating is if you came up with a list of conclusions that you think can fairly be drawn from the China data, in an objective fashion.

Thanks again for all the hard work.

22 07 2010
Bette

You are such a hoot and have such a way with words. I think if we lived nearby we would talk and laugh about words forever…..how intriguing this all is!
Rawk on Ms. Denise Minger alias bovine ninja babies!

22 07 2010
CPM

In regards to the “deleted comment”, it is kind of sad that Campbell chose to use random hearsay from an anonymous internet source without making any effort to verify it. The “Find” feature of his browser would have revealed that the supposed deleted comment is still there.

(I am guessing maybe the person that thought thier post was deleted originally posted from work, saw the comment listed but did not notice the “awaiting moderation” statement, then checked again from home or another computer and the comment did not show up at all so assumed it was deleted. You can see your own comments even if they are still under moderation as long as you look from the same computer you posted from. If you look from a different computer, you won’t see any of the comments awaiting moderation.)

22 07 2010
guille

jaja
oh dear, so early and already making enemies and fighting in the break, bad girl! bad girl!

yet, was to be expected, as mentioned already , its a very closed community , a shame, anyway keep on the good work
love your posts

22 07 2010
logar

Wow… Campbell sure has it in for the Weston Price Foundation. It’s almost comical- like they’re his arch-nemeses or something. Lex Luthor to his Superman.

And again, he misses your point. Folks, I wouldn’t expect much out of Campbell, unfortunately. No evidence that wheat flour is linked to CVD? Not even enough to justify testing the hypothesis? I think not.

22 07 2010
Michael

I think the WAPF reaction is because Chris Masterjohn injected such a deep wound the first time around, and he can’t quite get over that a 23 year old young man really stuck it to him.

Which is really funny because now, 5 years later, a 23 year old young woman is doing the same thing. She is taking the stake that Masterjohn inserted and driving it all the through. :-)

Forget about Campbell and his own personal response. He is not going to give up his lifetime vesting in a position just because of the work of a 23 year old non-credentialed woman. The value of Denise’s work is for the rest of the community, academic and otherwise.

22 07 2010
Michael

“driving it all the way through his twitching corpse, academically speaking.” – sorry for the typo.

22 07 2010
Steve

Now I am Mad

Campbell:

“Before proceeding further, however, I would like to make a general comment about my approach in responding to Denise. I believe Denise is a very intelligent person, and I can see how she might reach the conclusions she did; this is easy to do for someone without extensive scientific research experience. Having said this, there are fundamental flaws in her reasoning, and it is these flaws that I will address in this paper. Some might wonder, “Why didn’t he go through her laundry list of claims and address each one in the same order?” The answer is simple: these claims are derived from the same faulty reasoning, so it is this underlying problem that I will address. I do in fact illustrate this point by addressing one of her claims regarding wheat, and the reader can assume that one could go through a similar exercise with all her claims…

Denise makes a point concerning a highly significant (but unadjusted) univariate correlation between wheat flour consumption and two cardiovascular diseases plus a couple other diseases. In doing so, she infers that wheat flour causes these cardiovascular diseases. She also makes the point that “none of these correlations appear to be tangled with any risk-heightening variables, either.” And further, she implies that I ignored this potentially important correlation, perhaps intentionally, because of my alleged bias against meat. I use this particular example here because others who very much dislike my views have pointed out on the Internet that this example cited by Denise represents evidence of my lack of integrity…

Not only does Denise misrepresent and misunderstand the rationale for the science in The China Study, her choice of words do not facilitate what she hopes to achieve. Her overall message, often embellished with adjectives and subjective remarks, appeals to some questionable characters sympathetic to or subservient to the Weston A Price Foundation, a farm lobbying group whose advocates and apologists have accused me of being a “fraud”, a “liar”, a “buffoon” and (earlier) an associate of a “terrorist” organization. I doubt that this is what she wanted to achieve. These individuals, for much too long, have been carelessly using or even ignoring science to further their own interests, such as advocating for the use of a very high fat, high protein diet mostly consistent with the diet that has caused us so much difficulty.”

Wow again attacking Denise again instead of her analysis of the China Study.

Campbell do you have no shame?

22 07 2010
Rational Reader

How is it that Campbell leans so hard on his own scientific authority, yet the implications of his work are ignored by his own peers and make no impact on health policy?

It would surely be newsworthy if his book had led even 30% of epidemiologists and nutritional biochemists to drastically reduce their intake of animal protein. It has had no such effect, and that is the ultimate peer review.

22 07 2010
Steve

Yep

22 07 2010
anon

I get the impression that a big part of the motivation behind the “Campbell Coalition” site is the fact (revealed there) that the son had been preparing to launch a TCC-blessed line of food products.

So Denise’s analysis could not have come at a more unfortunate time for them.

22 07 2010
kat

ha! I’d love to see his supporters’ reaction if they do launch a food product line…might even push some of them into rethinking their allegiance. Then again, after seeing their reaction thus far, it’s doubtful.

22 07 2010
Greg

Campbell has a long and well-documented history of relying on ad hominem attacks and rumor/innuendo when discussing his critics. Actually, it seems to find its way into all discussion of his critics, and often makes up the majority of the content – do a little web-scouring and you’ll see it, from his much-discussed dismissal of Chris Masterjohn, to various discussion threads, even videos of talks he’s given. I’d love to see that change but I don’t see it happening, unfortunately.

22 07 2010
Greg

(And again with his war on adjectives! What gives?)

22 07 2010
Greg

Sorry to post again, but I just read the excerpt of Campbell’s reponse quoted above again, and especially the third paragraph…Campbell is just so insulting and dismissive. I think “buffoon” is actually a pretty polite term in response to some of what he’s slung around. And again, I’m not at all talking about his research (leave that to those better-qualified), I’m talking about his complete lack of ability to rationally discuss someone’s articulately-stated questioning of his work. I really can’t believe I am again, even without really trying to, coming across him on the web accusing yet another thoughtful and intelligent person of “misunderstanding” his work, and ascribing to them nefarious motives. The stuff about the Weston Price organization (never mind how over-the-top his characterizations of them are!) and how he basically says that for anyone to take issue with anything he’s written is to automatically be doing their bidding is just asinine. This guy is, at least at this point, a complete crank.

22 07 2010
anand srivastava

I have added the following comment to the site. Hope it gets approved by the moderator.

Unfortunately, The China Study book does not say, which data was taken from where to come to such and such conclusion.

Dr. Campbell here has chosen to attack the correlation of Wheat, which actually comes from his data. Denise has not even tried to remove any confounding parameters yet. I am not sure what Dr. Campbell will prove from that.

I would have loved to see a complete analysis (and I mean a real analysis not hand waving), how he came to the conclusion that Animal protein is bad.
Saying that Animal Fat/Protein is associated with high cholesterol and high colesterol is associated with heart disease does not make any sense to me.

Obviously we know why Animal Fat/Protein is associated with increased cholesterol, it provides the raw materials to make more cholesterol. Unless you have the raw material how can the body make it.

We also know that Cholesterol is associated with heart disease. But we do not know whether this is cause or effect. I would think, because it is an element that is created by the body, it must be an effect to whatever is happening to the body. We already know that cholesterol is used by the body in the upkeep of arteries. It is used for cleaning the arteries, to remove junk. Obviously if you are having more cholesterol, its obvious that you are accumulating more junk. We don’t know why we are accumulating more junk. Could it be because of sugar, or maybe refined oils. We don’t know.

But yes there is an association between high cholesterol and heart disease, but this does not imply, that heart disease is being caused by cholesterol. On the contrary, I would think that people with higher cholesterol will be able to handle heart disease situations better.

The question is can Dr. Campbell show research with raw data, that shows a direct association between animal fat/protein and heart diesease. We would need the raw data and the mechanism he used to verify that he has used the proper methodology. We actually don’t believe in appeal to authority, and like to verify everything ourselves. Even the best researchers make mistakes . After all Einstein himself called the addition of the dark energy component to his equations as his biggest blunder, and accepted it.

I hope he has done this kind of analysis, and was not basing everything on the casein research. I don’t think generalising a known problematic protein (of a neolithic food) with all the other animal proteins, makes sense. In addition the research used an isolated casein source. I do think that a whole food is more than its constituents, otherwise mother’s milk rich in casein would be poison to children.

22 07 2010
Maxwell

I score this round in favor of TCC.

22 07 2010
el-bo

really ??? campbell still hasn’t noticed that things have moved on…while he expands on his first ‘rebuttal’, denise is preparing her 3rd response

campbell is 2 rounds behind :o)

22 07 2010
kat

Ugh! Read. Comprehend. Think. Nothing he said in his reply refutes what Denise ACTUALLY WROTE. She doesn’t come to the conclusion that wheat causes heart disease, she asked WHY Campbell didn’t address it or analyze it further. Sweet jebus people, use your brains.

Also, according to your comments on a previous post, TCC did not meet ANY of the requirements you, Maxwell, said were necessary for a adequate reply. It’s clear from his response he didn’t even flippin’ read (or understand) her critique, and acted like a big jerk to boot. If you would stop being such a fanboi you might learn something.

22 07 2010
Dave Dixon

We’re keeping score? Very scientific.

22 07 2010
Maxwell

The reasons I score this round in favor of TCC:

- TCC explains his methodology/approach, particularly the importance he places on biological plausibility. How many here have dug in and learned more about the epidemiology approach pioneered by Bradford Hill since reading TCC’s response?

- TCC demonstrates how easy it is to discredit another person with statistics and insinuations (his wheat example).

- TCC points to a nice list of journal articles where serious students can learn more about how he and his team analyzed the China Project data and what they saw (or thought they saw). How many here have followed these leads?

- TCC keeps his argument from authority to a minimum and is quite kind and respectful of Denise despite her pugilistic tendencies.

- TCC encouraged Denise to continue her studies into the China Project data, go through the peer-review process, and formally publish her work. Why not?

I’m beginning to feel like this is becoming the Church of Denise. I love her too, but is Denise really the only person digging in and making up her own mind here?

One thing I’ve been curious about from the start: When Denise started digging into the China Project raw data and seeing things that didn’t make sense to her, why didn’t she contact TCC and ask him to explain what she was missing?

That would have been my approach at this age (31), although at 23 I’d probably have done the exact same thing as Denise and come out swinging.

Denise’s case against TCC would have more credibility with me if she had made every attempt to understand TCC’s work and engage with him and his colleagues before attempting to publicly debunk their work. In Denise’s defense, I understand she didn’t anticipate this level of attention and interest.

I remain a big fan of both Denise and TCC. I think a reminder is due that Denise and TCC agree on quite a bit when it comes to nutrition.

Reminder: TCC doesn’t advocate the diet advocated by the folks at 30bananas.

Reminder: Denise doesn’t herself ingest the diet advocated by most raw foodists, paleo diet enthusiasts, or Weston A Price Foundation victims.

23 07 2010
kat

- TCC explains his methodology/approach, particularly the importance he places on biological plausibility. How many here have dug in and learned more about the epidemiology approach pioneered by Bradford Hill since reading TCC’s response?

I’ll admit, I did not. His approach, however, does not excuse his blasting people for using shoddy statistics while doing the same.

- TCC demonstrates how easy it is to discredit another person with statistics and insinuations (his wheat example).

TCC discredits himself with the wheat example by not addressing it in the book! He admits it’s statistically significant, but concentrates on things like protein consumption biomarkers and low vegetable intake instead. Why isn’t he addressing all the information?? Oh wait, he did address wheat in another paper but chose not to implicate any plant food in the book.

- TCC points to a nice list of journal articles where serious students can learn more about how he and his team analyzed the China Project data and what they saw (or thought they saw). How many here have followed these leads?

Well I just did. I know I’m no expert, but here what I got out of it.

From the abstract “Additional ecological evidence: lipids and breast cancer mortality among women aged 55 and over in China.” The paper concludes with “This finding provides only modest support for the possibility of a diet-breast cancer link.” Wow, that’s convincing. Also, the abstract doesn’t indicate whether they are animal or vegetable fats, but that might be a limitation of the data.

Also from an abstract: “Thermogenesis, low-protein diets, and decreased development of AFB1-induced preneoplastic foci in rat liver.“ This paper discusses reduced tumor growth in rats (exposed to aflatoxin) eating a low-protein diet. Using casein. Conclusion: These results suggest that GGT+ foci development occurs when a “critical level”; (approx 12%) of dietary protein intake is reached. Inhibition of foci development at lower levels of protein intake is associated with several indicators of increased thermogenesis.” Would the results be different if the whole food product was used? That was Denise’s unanswered question.

In “Non-association of aflatoxin with primary liver cancer in a cross-sectional ecologic survey in the People’s Republic of China,” Campbell rules out aflatoxin, certain dietary factors, and alcohol consumption and zeroes in on the association between liver cancer and cholesterol. Denise posted: “Another abnormal blood test, high serum cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia), is seen in up to 10% of patients from Africa with liver cancer. The high cholesterol occurs because the liver cancer cells are not able to turn off (inhibit) their production of cholesterol. (Normal cells are able to turn off their production of cholesterol.),” taken from medicinenet .com. So this is a chicken-or-the-egg type question, yes?

We’ve already been through the fiber/colon cancer debacle, with Campbell saying nothing to address Denise’s concerns.

She also aired her criticisms of the Affluent-Poverty disease paper, again with no response.

- TCC keeps his argument from authority to a minimum and is quite kind and respectful of Denise despite her pugilistic tendencies.

TCC was restrained, compared to what I’ve seen of him responding to critics. I think we have different definitions of “kind” and “respectful.” It would have been respectful for him to actually read her post.

- TCC encouraged Denise to continue her studies into the China Project data, go through the peer-review process, and formally publish her work. Why not?

I agree. That doesn’t mean we can’t take seriously anything she says until that point.

-I’m beginning to feel like this is becoming the Church of Denise. I love her too, but is Denise really the only person digging in and making up her own mind here?

I see what you’re saying, but (speaking for myself) part of the frustration comes from people with drive-by comments who haven’t actually read what she had to say. Like really read it, with an open mind. Yes it’s a critique of someone who is greatly respected in the veg*an community, and if I were someone who based my dietary choices on what he recommends my instinct would be to protect. But to be able to accurately defend a position, you have to be able to look at what’s being presented and think critically. That’s all she’s asking for.

23 07 2010
kat

One would think, also, Maxwell, that closing off discussion would indicate someone isn’t on very solid ground. Sure, there are a lot of people ready to come out swinging, but if he really had the science behind him what is he afraid of? I don’t buy the “I don’t have time” argument, either. For someone that has as much time in the nutrition field as he does, I would think that defending his life’s work would be worth the effort. Especially since his new coalition is eager to spread the word…what better way to do it than to prove his critics wrong in an open forum?

23 07 2010
CPM

Hi Maxwell,

The ‘Church of Denise’ is a pretty funny comment when most of Campbell’s supporters are the ones who look to his every word for guidance. A fair number of scientifically and rationally minded people are here using their own minds to debate the Campbell followers, but most of the Campbell followers are simply parroting his remarks about Denise’s age, Campbell’s credentials, and the Weston Price devils who secretly wrote the papers for Denise.

Campbell’s book was directed at a lay audience. They should be entitled to judge it for themselves without having to bow at the altar of Campbell and accept his every law without question, and they should not be berated for lack of credentials when he specifically wrote a book for people without credentials. He is not the only scientist to ever write a book on nutrition or the only one to publish a peer-reviewed paper. Scientifically speaking, he is not Nutrition God.

23 07 2010
CPM

Hi Maxwell,

One more thing concerning ‘Church of Denise’ – it was Campbell’s site who quickly shut down open discussion after 3 or 4 comments. No dissenters allowed.

23 07 2010
Maxwell

Kat,

I applaud you for digging into the journal references TCC provided. You’ve made a lot of good points. You’re clearly wildly smart and awesome like Denise.

Maxwell

25 07 2010
LeonRover

I had a look at some of Campbell’s papers and it does seem that a large number of his studies concern casein as a tumour promoter when it comprises more than 5% of the diet protein. He also found that wheat gluten behaved similarly to casein when lysine was added but not otherwise.

These observations form the basis of his hypothesis by which animal protein is cancer promoting once a few cancer cells have begun to proliferate, while incomplete vegetable protein acts as an inhibitor.

As Chris Masterson observed, a stretch.

I say that Campbell violates the empirical principle embodied in Occam’s Razor by introducing an inference well beyond the data and labeling it “biological plausibility”.

Not one of his colleagues listed in the years of research support this unjustified claim.

Plausibility is a trait of con artists or politicians and should never be applied to science.

22 07 2010
el-bo

oh i see…..selling products, are we ???!!!! hahahahaha

i wonder if they’ll make the same concession to compromising the quality of ingredients in their foods as they did in their haste to release the book. if they are happy to accept a book name that they hated (and now we find to be almost totally irrelevant to the text within) and the cutting of 300 pages of the relevant stuff, we can only wonder

22 07 2010
anand srivastava

Posted on http://campbellcoalition.com/?cat=9
Hopefully it gets accepted.

Unfortunately, The China Study book does not say, which data was taken from where to come to such and such conclusion.

Dr. Campbell here has chosen to attack the correlation of Wheat, which actually comes from his data. Denise has not even tried to remove any confounding parameters yet. I am not sure what Dr. Campbell will prove from that.

I would have loved to see a complete analysis (and I mean a real analysis not hand waving), how he came to the conclusion that Animal protein is bad.
Saying that Animal Fat/Protein is associated with high cholesterol and high colesterol is associated with heart disease does not make any sense to me.

Obviously we know why Animal Fat/Protein is associated with increased cholesterol, it provides the raw materials to make more cholesterol. Unless you have the raw material how can the body make it.

We also know that Cholesterol is associated with heart disease. But we do not know whether this is cause or effect. I would think, because it is an element that is created by the body, it must be an effect to whatever is happening to the body. We already know that cholesterol is used by the body in the upkeep of arteries. It is used for cleaning the arteries, to remove junk. Obviously if you are having more cholesterol, its obvious that you are accumulating more junk. We don’t know why we are accumulating more junk. Could it be because of sugar, or maybe refined oils. We don’t know.

But yes there is an association between high cholesterol and heart disease, but this does not imply, that heart disease is being caused by cholesterol. On the contrary, I would think that people with higher cholesterol will be able to handle heart disease situations better.

The question is can Dr. Campbell show research with raw data, that shows a direct association between animal fat/protein and heart diesease. We would need the raw data and the mechanism he used to verify that he has used the proper methodology. We actually don’t believe in appeal to authority, and like to verify everything ourselves. Even the best researchers make mistakes . After all Einstein himself called the addition of the dark energy component to his equations as his biggest blunder, and accepted it.

I hope he has done this kind of analysis, and was not basing everything on the casein research. I don’t think generalising a known problematic protein (of a neolithic food) with all the other animal proteins, makes sense. In addition the research used an isolated casein source. I do think that a whole food is more than its constituents, otherwise mother’s milk rich in casein would be poison to children.

22 07 2010
Ned Kock

When you look at the data from different angles, it is not surprising that some conclusions surface. The point that is often missed is that even the most sophisticated data analysis results need to pass the tests of: (a) common sense; and (b) fit with past empirical research; and (c) fit with theory.

I did a multivariate analysis on the data that Denise provided in the previous post (from the China Study). See the post below if you are interested. Two things are clear to me: (i) without careful interpretation of the results, conclusions may be very misleading; and (ii) the dataset is unique and likely will be very useful in future research, and we have to thank Dr. Campbell and his collaborators for collecting and compiling it.

http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.com/2010/07/china-study-again-multivariate-analysis.html

The dataset yields results that make sense, at least in my mind, if analyzed with a open and critical mindset.

Denise did that. Her main points regarding interpretation are, and will likely continue, being vindicated.

22 07 2010
Rational Reader

Fantastic post, Ned. The graphs are superb.

22 07 2010
neisy

Ned, thanks a ton for taking the time to do this! I plan on putting up the data sets for all the analyses I ran as well, so eventually others can test my claims using their own methods.

I added a link to your blog in this update.
:)

22 07 2010
Martin Levac

Actually, if the data had to also fit the theory before it could fully be validated, it would often be rejected just for that. Instead, the data that doesn’t fit the theory should be looked at even more closely because that’s how new data emerges, that’s how new theory is formulated, that’s how science and the pursuit of truth advances. Indeed, what Denise found out is precisely that kind of data: It doesn’t fit the Campbell theory aka meat is bad but plants is good. So a new theory must be formulated to explain these awkward facts. It’s just unfortunate for Campbell and his gang that the new theory is in direct opposition to his old theory.

23 07 2010
Ned Kock

Exactly, if fit with existing theory is poor, new theory needs to be developed or the existing theory needs to be revised. Then you have a better fit. That’s how media naturalness theory was developed, because the data didn’t fit an influential theory (media richness theory):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_naturalness_theory

Good point though. You cannot discard data just because it doesn’t fit existing theory.

22 07 2010
meatnpotatoesforlife

Campbell is in serious need of a hug. What I’m mostly interested in, at this point, is whether your bovine ninja babies will be raised vegan ? I hope you’re not planning on teaching them the proper use of adjectives, adverbs, gerunds or the dreaded dangling participle.

Jokes aside, I don’t know why Campbell conveniently lumps all his critics as WAPF groupies. You’ve really done an outstanding job in making the scientific jargon accessible to the lay public. Please consider writing a book a la Gary Taubes but with cutesy colloquialisms.

22 07 2010
CPM

They weaseled out and closed the comment thread.

22 07 2010
CPM

At the CampbellCoalition website, Campbell makes some final comments in the closed discussion thread and says that he has “no further time for engaging in this kind of reductionist and misguided debate.”

22 07 2010
Karn Griffen

Don’t waste your time on Campbell, there is no win there. Your response should be “Please Explain Tuoli?”, and leave it at that.

Please give us the Wheat! :)

Also, in your spare time could you deconstruct the Ancel Keyes data? :) :)

Thanks!

22 07 2010
Rational Reader

I posted the following in the comment thread after Campbell announced he was quitting this debate. It has not been approved by moderators yet:

Dr. Campbell, please don’t let the snide comments drive you away from the discussion. Nutrition is a subject a lot of people are passionate about and I think everyone (except a very small number of participants) just wants to obtain a better understanding.

If one compares Chapter 1 of The China Study with your recent response to Minger, it appears that you have back-pedaled significantly from the claims in the book. And, though the book has been on best seller lists for several years, it has failed to influence health policy in the slightest. Wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect a professional organization of scientists (such as the sort of people who peer reviewed much of your work) to adopt an official recommendation to health policymakers based on your work?

The explanation you nudge us toward is that there is a fairly elaborate conspiracy led by the Westin A Price foundation to discredit your work… While this may be true, it is hard to believe that the scientific academy that has verified your work is also so deeply compromised by Westin’s followers that it is unable to do its moral duty to make truthful recommendations to policymakers.

Many of your readers responded to the unlikely journey you undertook in your life, and we want so badly to see you win this debate. It is not time to quit just yet.

I’ve observed various university job talks in the discipline of economics and nobody gets hurt feelings if they are called out for using weak (or less than optimal) statistical methods. I encourage you to strive to have a thicker skin and to proceed in this debate with confidence if the truth is on your side.

22 07 2010
Dave Dixon

I see lots of people are posting their non-approved comments from Campbell’s site. You can also drop them here at my blog:

http://sparkofreason.blogspot.com/2010/07/what-t-colin-campbell-didnt-want-you-to.html

22 07 2010
neisy

Hey Dave, I added a link in this post to your entry. Too bad the comments on Campbell Coalition got shut down so soon—it could’ve been a pretty lucrative discussion.

22 07 2010
Dave Dixon

Hi Neisy. Thanks for the link. I agree, such discussion would have been great. Honestly, one of the reasons I left science is the relative rarity of open discourse vs. dogmatic arguments. The few times I was able to actually get others to engage in discussion, it always led to deeper insights for all involved. And isn’t that the point of science?

22 07 2010
John

I just want to chime in. Nowdays it has become fashion to call oneself or what He/ she does scientific or science based. It’s hard to say who is really interested in Science and who isn’t. Just my opinion, I’m not being critical of anyone in particular and statement applies to all.

22 07 2010
Dave Dixon

But I think you would agree that whatever you’re going to call “science”, it should be based on the free exchange of information, right? An unwillingness to communicate openly indicates an unwillingness to change views based on new evidence.

22 07 2010
Dave Dixon

In any event, science doesn’t exist outside of human activity. We (humanity as a whole) define what it is and isn’t. So deciding who and who isn’t “interested in Science” is a pretty straightforward activity. Just check the dictionary.

22 07 2010
Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn

Here are the two comments that I posted. They are currently both visible to me and marked as “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” when I view the site:

July 22, 2010 at 6:25 am
The critical comment on Ms. Minger’s blog by an epidemiologist named “rayna”, which begins with “Your analysis is completely OVER-SIMPLIFIED.” is still there: http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/07/07/the-china-study-fact-or-fallac/#comment-423

July 22, 2010 at 7:14 am
Dr. Campbell:

Ms. Minger in http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/07/07/the-china-study-fact-or-fallac/ stated that the China Study data showed “a +67 correlation” between wheat consumption and coronary heart disease. You say here that this is a univariate correlation which doesn’t take into account other potentially important factors such as green vegetable consumption, serum levels of monounsaturated fats, serum levels of urea, and body weight.

My question is: when you do a multivariate correlation analysis which takes into account those other four factors in addition to wheat consumption and heart disease, then what are the resulting numbers? What is the correlation between wheat consumption and heart disease in that multivariate analysis?

Thank you for taking the time to respond to Ms. Minger’s analysis. I believe this is an important conversation that will turn out to have historic consequences.

Regards,

Zooko Wilcox-O’Hearn

I copied the HTML of the site as it was presented to me and uploaded it here: http://tahoe-lafs.org/~zooko/Denise%20Minger%20Reply%20%20%20Campbell%20Coalition.html

I was modestly proud of my second comment for focussing in on the only quantitative thing that Dr. Campbell had written in his post. I had hoped that by asking a question that was a direct response to something that he had written and that wasn’t too broad that I could elicit a response. Bummer.

22 07 2010
healthycritique

Impressive. Nice analysis and DAGs. However, I’d like to know what kind of regression model he used – linear regression? If so, it would be important to check that your outcome variable is normally distributed (this is separate from using a nonparametric method to determine the variance and p-values for the beta coefficients).

Are there other factors that could be included in the DAG? Probably.

This is just one analysis for one disease, and points to the strong confounding effect of schistosomiasis. However, is schistosomiasis really a big issue in the North America?? Not really: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/schistosomiasis/factsht_schistosomiasis.htm#whereoccurs

So, in a model that is generalizable to the US/Canadian population, the DAG shouldn’t include schistosomiasis. This is precisely one of the points Campbell makes in his response to Denise’s original analysis – context is important!

BTW, which data was used? Oxford data or hand-keyed data from the monograph? If Ms. Minger is to remain open about her methods, then she should probably start using the data that is freely available to all, so that comparable analyses can be repeated by anyone.

22 07 2010
Dave Dixon

“So, in a model that is generalizable to the US/Canadian population, the DAG shouldn’t include schistosomiasis. This is precisely one of the points Campbell makes in his response to Denise’s original analysis – context is important!”

How do propose to generalize data taken from the Chinese population to the US/Canadian population? Isn’t that like tasting an apple and then “generalizing” about the taste of an orange? Simply ignoring schistosomiasis isn’t going to cut it. I think you’d have to do a marginalization, including conditional dependencies of other distributions (e.g. serum cholesterol) and schistosomiasis.

22 07 2010
healthycritique

That was part of my point, sorry it wasn’t clearer: we might not be able to generalize to the US/Canadian population based on the China survey data alone. But “The China Study” wasn’t just based on the survey data.

You’re right, we absolutely can’t ignore schistosomiasis, especially in this dataset, as Ned’s analysis made evident.

I do think the analysis excluded a potentially important confounder – fiber. Perhaps one might also want to include wheat based on Ms. Minger’s findings. So, while the analysis was quite well done, and the proposed causal pathways nicely laid out in DAG form, I think the model can still be improved upon (as with many things in epidemiologic research).

BTW, I thought Ms. Minger had already performed multiple regression analyses and chosen not to post them? So why is someone else repeating her analyses and posting them instead? It would be best to see these results from Ms. Minger herself.

22 07 2010
Dave

“It would be best to see these results from Ms. Minger herself.”

Why? Same information, same math, should get the same result. If they don’t get the same answers from the same data, they’re not answering the same question.

22 07 2010
22 07 2010
healthycritique

Yes, yes. But these are different than the 1983 data on the Oxford site as she later commented. (I even checked her spreadsheet against the Oxford data – cholesterol is exactly the same, but animal and plant protein differ.) Also, given the large difference in rates, i suspect the rates Ms. Minger uses are cumulative rates rather than age-adjusted rates as in the Oxford data.

23 07 2010
CPM

Hi healthycritique,

Maybe I am missing something, but I don’t understand your argument concerning schistosomiasis. Denise isn’t drawing any conclusions from the China data; her article is just a critique. She is just showing that Campbell’s use of simple univariate correlations could be misleading, and she used schistosomiasis as an example of a confounding factor that Campbell ignored. As far as I am aware, when this was discussed there was no context of applying this data to North America; Campbell was just discussing the associations he found within the China data.

To a degree, this just seems to be going around in circles. Denise’s purpose was to point out problems in Campbell’s data analysis, and various people have jumped in and attacked her for not doing a more thorough analysis herself and placed the onus on her to do peer-reviewed epidimiology before she has the right to point out that Campbell did not mention some very important potential confounding factors in his own analysis. These same people feel fine and dandy that Campbell himself did not do any of the steps they are demanding of Denise (or they are under the mistaken belief that he has).

22 07 2010
Grace

Hi Denise,

I haven’t been reading through all the comments, so I don’t know if anyone has suggested this yet – but – your analysis of so called “main stream” nutritional info brings to mind Gary Taubes, who recently published a book as well. I wonder what you think of his work, and if he’s actually looking at things with a critical eye or coming at it with a bias (albeit the minority one).

I also find hilarious that TCC says in his critique something to the effect of “every doctor knows and loves a whole foods, plant-based diet and will tell you so” when both Taubes and Dr. Mike Eades (and surely others, but I’m not in the loop enough to know who they are) tell countless stories of patients (in the case of Dr. Mike) and native populations (Taubes) who have fared better on wheat/plant reduced diets. Go figure. The other opinion does exist, who wouldda thunk it?

In any case, I’m all about the rogue-blogger, study-busting thing you’ve got going, it’s wonderful to read. I hate reading books, blogs, news articles etc., that accept authority unquestioningly while thinking themselves unbiased.

Best,
Grace

22 07 2010
Dave

Though they don’t admit it, most people think themselves “unbiased” when they agree with those around them.

All people are “biased” to some extent. It’s part of the human condition, and recognition of this is why we have a “scientific method”. If we all were able to flawlessly draw inferences from data we wouldn’t need a scientific method, statistics, etc. The key is recognizing that you almost certainly have some bias, seeking what information in your brain drives that bias, updating based on new information etc. In other words, strive for the ideal, but understand that you will rarely (if ever) be able to attain it, if only due to limitations in human capability.

That applies to everybody else besides me, of course. I’m NEVER biased ;-)

23 07 2010
damaged justice

Taubes has stated more than once that he began research Good Calories, Bad Calories pretty much believing what everyone else did, with no preconceived notions, and that everything he discovered was a pretty big surprise. Of course anyone can claim this is a lie, and it then devolves into a neverending game of he said, she said.

Regarding other doctors disagreeing with Campbell and conventional wisdom, you can find quite a few at the Nutrition and Metabolism Society:

http://www.nmsociety.org/

and the more recently founded American Society of Evolutionary Medicine:

http://www.evmedsociety.com/

23 07 2010
Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn

(Drifting off topic, but Taubes is one of my heroes.)

> Taubes has stated more than once that he began research Good Calories, Bad Calories pretty much believing what everyone else did,

That’s not precisely right. By then he had lost excess weight on the Atkins diet, and he had already written articles for Science and for the New York Times Magazine in which he concluded that the effect of dietary fat on heart disease, if any, was small [1].

However, it is true (and this is one of the reasons that he is one of my heroes) that when he did research he allowed the research to change his mind. He went into research for the NYTM article thinking that High Fructose Corn Syrup was probably the cause of the obesity epidemic and came out of believing otherwise. He went into the research for “Good Calories Bad Calories” thinking that caloric balance must be a primary cause of obesity and exercise must be useful for combatting obesity, and came out believing neither of those things [2].

[1] http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/diet/interviews/taubes.html
[2] http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2008/01/04/interview-with-gary-taubes-part-3/

23 07 2010
Nena Niessen

Dr Campbell has done an amazing job with the China Study exposing the dangerous of consuming animal products.

Just answer me one question , how long does meat stay in your body before is eliminated, and how long does vegetables take before they come out. I work at a cancer clinic and see the results of poor diet. kids as little as 5 years old already with cancer. Once the patient is switch to a plant base diet Miracles they get better!!!

I myself I’m a cancer survivor. I grow up in farm in Nicaragua My mother force me to eat meat not realizing the damage she was causing me. I had asthma, constipation , depression , parasites. And many other illness associated with meat and dairy. First time I had cancer was 17 and later at 27. I made the switch to plant base diet and my world change .

Meat causes inflammation, constipation , retardation, meat has not fiber. How can this be good.

If the number and chart are not right who cares the bottom line is plant base diet is best for any one who is looking for good health . I think that some times we complicate thing. Specially when it comes to food!!!.
Even in the bible talks about a plant base diet. The test of the food if you care to look is on the book of Daniel.

23 07 2010
Steve

Well do not think Denise of all people is telling us to eat nothing but meat. Do you?

23 07 2010
CPM

Hi Nena,

Some people believe in a scientific approach and some do not. That is fine.

If you are going to claim to follow science though then you need to be able to back up your claims. All Denise is doing here is questioning Campbell’s claims. People do it all the time in science. In real science though, you are not supposed to start talking about Weston Price boogeymen whenever someone questions your findings.

23 07 2010
anand srivastava

I see it has caused a lot of damage to your brain ;-).

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

We are talking science here, not religion.

If you want to show that meat causes inflammation, then maybe you can start by telling what you mean by inflammation. How cortisol and eicosanoids influence it, etc. Anyway we are not talking how meat effects us.

We are simply talking about data here. If you can show how this data shows that meat causes any of the diseases for which we have data, please be our guest.

23 07 2010
Sue

Meat causes retardation??? How?

23 07 2010
David

I agree with the earlier poster that Campbell wins this round. His basic point is that when it comes to nutrition, it’s generally impossible to draw conclusions from any one study, not to mention any one correlation. Conclusions come from interpreting large amounts of diverse and often conflicting evidence. His interpretation based on the totality of the evidence and his experience is that a plant-based diet is superior. Not really much to argue with.

23 07 2010
Steve

So Campbell wins by not explaining his data? Really?

23 07 2010
anand srivastava

He actually did win by picking up his marbles and running home ;-).

23 07 2010
anand srivastava

I agree he has won, he picked up his marbles and went home. He does not want to play this abusive game of talking sense.

23 07 2010
Dave

Not much to argue with? The problem here is that Campbell wants you to accept his conclusion unconditionally. Were he to spell out his case in detail, it would be a different story. Unconditional belief is the definition of religion. In science our belief is always conditioned on the evidence, and it is incumbent on the scientists to make clear the connections supporting their beliefs. Campbell fails, absolutely and utterly, by refusing to answer even basic questions.

23 07 2010
CPM

Hi David,

The totality of evidence is not what was being directly addressed at this point. It is Campbell’s use of individual pieces of the puzzle that is being questioned, which may have broader implications towards the formulation of his hypothesis. You can’t just brush these details under the rug and say that there is no point questioning his arguments because of his scientific experience.

This is especially true because his hypothesis is not well accepted within the scientific community. Using his reasoning, the scientific community should not pay any attention to any of his arguments because their combined totality of evidence and experience dwarfs his. But this is science, and if he has good evidence then it needs to be explored. He should take the opportunity to argue his evidence every chance he gets.

What Campbell is doing anymore is not science. He has realized that there is just too much contradictory evidence to ever convince the scientific community of his hypothesis. Instead he has decided to peddle his hypothesis to the general public where he can resort to appeals to authority. But his authority in the scientific world is actually limited on this matter; his is a minority opinion within the scientific community.

23 07 2010
Maxwell

I’ve learned quite a bit during the course of this debate and found it quite fascinating. Lots of smart people here with interesting things to share.

But I’ve learned very little about nutrition.

I think that’s why TCC is putting in the earplugs. I disagree with his decision to leave the debate. But I suspect his decision is based on a feeling that (A) his life’s work speaks for itself if people are truly interested in reading and understanding the journal papers he’s published and (B) many participants here seem more interested in discrediting him than in actually figuring out what works for people in our increasingly obese, sick world.

I love Denise’s approach to nutrition (as conveyed through her non-campbell related posts). I think her diet sounds very healthy. I think she’s probably right when she says there’s not one perfect diet for everyone.

TCC has devoted this stage of his career to helping people make dramatic improvements to their health through radical dietary change. The results people are getting on the diet he recommends are impressive. They’re reversing heart disease, avoiding or curing type 2 diabetes, losing lots of uncomfortable weight, and more.

I think TCC and Denise and many of the Docs he’s pointed to (such as Esselstyn, Klaper, McDougall, Ornish, etc.) would all agree that some amount of animal products in the diet are probably just fine.

My preliminary conclusion is that TCC’s methods are sound and his intentions are honorable. I hope TCC can be persuaded to stay in the debate long enough to write a more comprehensive defense of his methods and papers.

The criticism emerging here is still very much a work in progress. Maybe TCC’s best strategy is to walk away for a few months, allow Denise to fully build her case, and then come back and systematically dismantle her argument point-by-point. I do agree that’s necessary and should be a fun exercise for TCC.

Maxwell

23 07 2010
anon

Maxwell, you are a blindfolded play-by-play announcer, talking into a banana you’ve mistaken for a microphone.

23 07 2010
kat

Maxwell,

I don’t think that anyone questions that getting people off of the standard American diet will improve health, so yes, people on the SAD taking his advice probably do experience better health. I won’t deny that Denise’s critique strengthened my bias towards animal product consumption (I’m definitely a WAPF “victim,” as you say, although I don’t agree with everything they recommend). I too would like to see TCC defend his work against Denise’s claims. It’s not likely to change my dietary habits but who knows, plus we could all learn something in the process.

“many participants here seem more interested in discrediting him than in actually figuring out what works for people in our increasingly obese, sick world.”

“I think she’s probably right when she says there’s not one perfect diet for everyone.”

Part of the problem is that certain individuals insist there IS one perfect diet for everyone. I think that is one reason some may be trying to discredit him. The perception is that he doesn’t allow for much wiggle room in his idea of the “perfect diet,” nor is he really interested in “what works for people” unless it’s what he recommends. Honestly, it’s not just TCC that is guilty of this, but he has less convincing science to back him up.

23 07 2010
kat

Maxwell,

One last thing, re: “But I’ve learned very little about nutrition.” Without a doubt, Denise’s purpose wasn’t to teach anyone about nutrition. It was about not blindly following someone’s word when choosing your nutritional path, showing how “experts” can manipulate data (and people), and questioning authority (as she eloquently explained in her first response). I think the biggest misconception about her posts was that she was trying to prove a certain diet was superior or somehow justify (gasp!) eating animal products.

23 07 2010
Rick

Your shameless attempts to direct people to your blog with your “contrarian” view are becoming tiresome.

23 07 2010
Maxwell

Not my intent at all.

23 07 2010
Dave

@Maxwell,

If you want to learn something about nutrition, ask a question. Unlike Dr. Campbell, I’ll be happy to answer along with the limitations in that answer, or even just say “I don’t know”. I’ll bet there are several others in this discussion with the same attitude.

There’s a big difference between just throwing up your hands and saying “it’s too complicated” and laying out what you know, what you don’t know, and coming up some ideas for bridging the gaps.

23 07 2010
anon

Rick nailed it. He’s just trolling to drop links and build traffic to his blog.

But where Denise has talent, he only has narcissism.

4 09 2010
moksha

ditto anon below…

4 09 2010
moksha

oops – now it’s above – yes – this fellow maxwell is a smoothie fer sure – hey max – go for politics- right up your alley – cause you’re clearly not really interested in the subject at hand–

23 07 2010
Sharon

Well done Dr Campbell what an excellent rebuttal! The thing I like about Campbell is his how gracious and professional he is. Campbell doesn’t attack his critics – just easily and swiftly exposes their shortcomings. You lot should be ashamed of yourselves, personal attacks are a sign of a weak defence but hey I guess that’s all you’re left with.
Carry on.

23 07 2010
Rick

Surely this is a sarcastic comment. Campbell is the king of the ad hominem. I guess you missed this part of his initial “rebuttal:”

‘I find it very puzzling that someone with virtually no training in this science can do such a lengthy and detailed analysis in their supposedly spare time. I know how agricultural lobbying organizations do it–like the Weston A Price Foundation with many chapters around the country and untold amounts of financial resources. Someone takes the lead in doing a draft of an article, then has access to a large number of commentators to check out the details, technical and literal, of the drafts as they are produced.’

23 07 2010
anand srivastava

Denise, I hope you would stop wasting time with responding to Dr. Campbell, seeing that he has no intention of engaging in any technical debate. Life is too short for that, and you have enormous data to crunch ;-).

We would really love to see your treatment of wheat data, asap :-).

23 07 2010
Dave

Yeah, but poking irrational scientists and making the squeak is such fun :-)

23 07 2010
Sue

Yeh, don’t worry yourself with Campbell or his supporters that have decided to put on blinders. I can’t believe they think Campbell has won. Its laughable how people kid themselves. As far as I’m concerned Denise is way ahead.

23 07 2010
Bushrat

I just posted this over at Ned Kock’s blog:

“Great analysis. I found similar results when I did the analysis in JMP.

I redid the analysis without including the counties who don’t have schisomatosis data. I also redid the analysis on just the counties where schisomatosis was 0.

Another thing I did was removed counties who may have a disproportionate affect on the data. The 27th county (I used the numbers not the county names) has a very high rate of schisomatosis infection.

There is also a vegetarian county and a near carnivorous county. I think when I tested for Cook’s D influence another two counties came up as disproprionately influential. I redid all the analysis excluding those counties (one or some at a time then all together). This was for my personal interest and I didn’t save the results. I removed certain counties because I thought they may be skewing the data set and I was curious what I’d find and felt like being as thorough as possible.

If you want I could redo it all again. “

23 07 2010
Bushrat

Damn it. I spelt schistosomiasis wrong every time.

23 07 2010
Alex

Obviously, you don’t have the proper credentials to spell it correctly.

24 07 2010
Maxwell

I can’t resist stepping up to the banana and putting on my blindfold one more time… ;-)

I want to make sure all comers take the time to read TCC’s “Last post” published here: http://campbellcoalition.com/?p=142

Campbell gives Denise and her followers a bit of a spanking.

One final note before I get chased out of town by the congregation:

Denise’s approach leading up to her posts attacking TCC and The China Study is deeply troubling to me. If she were truly interested in understanding The China Project I think she would have contacted TCC when things didn’t add up for her based on her preliminary analyses. Picture yourself in her shoes. You start crunching some numbers and you see what you believe are glaringly obvious errors in another person’s work. Wouldn’t you try to get a hold of the person and ask him/her to explain what you were missing?

Instead she concluded TCC must be a buffoon and a liar and proceeded to attempt to publicly debunk him.

Imagine how different Denise’s posts would be if she had contacted TCC from the start, engaged with him, and come to truly understand his methods and process before deciding she objected to them.

Her posts would explain where she and TCC have genuine differences of opinion in the way they approach the data. Maybe she’d be taking specific exception to some of the ways he corrected the raw data. Maybe she’d be explaining a difference of opinion she has with TCC about the biological plausibility of a certain something he included in his model.

But instead we see an argument from Denise that is akin to a novice mathematician refuting the published, peer-reviewed work of a great mathematician by holding up what the novice claims is a series of errors in basic addition!

The crowd of supporters cheer and jeer. They understand addition. The great mathematician isn’t so great after all! What a buffoon!!

Of course then the great mathematician takes a few minutes to explain, he wasn’t doing basic addition. He was doing something a bit more complicated. Which is why Cornell had hired him. And why NIH had funded him. And why so many journals had published him. And why so many other scientists had collaborated with him. What he was doing wouldn’t be too difficult for the novice to understand. But, it would require a significant amount of time and effort and study.

But this was time and effort the novice (and the crowd) didn’t have to spend. So they kept pointing to more and more errors in basic arithmetic!!! They demanded an explanation!!! They asked him questions about geometry, calculus, trigonometry, and long division. Very, very, very long division! Why wasn’t he answering!!! They grew more vocal! He must be hiding from them!

By this time all the great mathematician could do was shrug his shoulders and say, “Would it really be worth spending a few months trying to teach these goons high school math?”

Probably not.

And that brings us to TCC’s “Last post”. He’s frustrated. Understandably so. And Denise owes him a big apology for an approach that wasn’t designed to help Denise (or anyone else) understand.

Last post of Dr. Campbell:

The casein studies, as I have already said many times, were not undertaken to test the hypothesis that casein causes cancer. Our interests at that time were 1) to investigate the effect of protein (kind unspecified) on experimental cancer and 2) to confirm (or deny) the findings of the Indian researchers. We not only confirmed those findings, we broke new ground – especially in the construction of biological principles – that should apply to a broad spectrum of conditions. Eventually, the carcinogenic effect of casein was proven to be so substantial that it eventually begged the question of whether it applied to other proteins.

Thus, we tested a couple of plant proteins to test the hypothesis that the protein effect on cancer was primarily a function of its amino acid composition. Both of the plant-based proteins sharply differed from casein by not promoting cancer development and, further, the effect was related to the ‘completeness’ of the protein. This research, done in depth and published extensively, showed that casein was the most relevant chemical carcinogen ever identified.

At this point I knew, of course, that relative completeness (i.e., with respect to amino acid composition) is a hallmark of animal-based protein effects in many other systems. A large number of proteins – plant and animal – have been tested over the years for a variety of responses and animal-based proteins consistently outrank plant-based proteins, because of their ‘completeness’, thus giving them the rather silly reputation of being ‘high quality.’ One study during the 1980s by K.K. Carroll showed that when a large number of proteins (including fish protein) were tested for their ability to affect serum cholesterol, ALL animal proteins (including fish proteins) outranked ALL plant proteins – no overlap – in their ability to induce higher cholesterol levels.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of experiments during the 1930s-1960s showed that, except for gluten, all animal proteins outranked all plant proteins in their so-called biological value (i.e., amino acid composition). Also, all animal-based proteins, when fed to lab animals or to young monogastric farm animals promoted a higher rate of body growth than plant proteins, based on a concept of protein efficiency ratio (PER) that, incidentally, was used to justify the bizarre use of ‘tankage’ for cow feed – ‘feeding cows to cows’ (I know this well because we did it on our dairy farm and, later I taught it as a teaching assistant in a ‘Feeds and Feeding’ course early in my teaching career – now the same justification is applied to the feeding of chicken manure to cows).

Moreover, when human subjects are switched from their usual diets relatively rich in animal-based protein to soy protein, serum cholesterol is consistently and markedly decreased. We now have evidence that a change like this leads to an increase in circulating insulin-like growth factor (IGF) that stimulates cell replication – we documented increased liver cell growth in 1972 and later showed in 1997 that it was related to an increase in IGF that paralleled increased cancer growth. Way back in 1941, it was clearly shown that casein, when compared to soy protein in experimental rabbit studies of atherosclerosis, dramatically increased both serum cholesterol and atherogenesis (forerunner to atherosclerosis and heart disease).

On your question concerning my views on wheat flour and heart disease – and your disparaging inference that I may have published a “flawed” paper, you overlook my comment after the short ‘conversation’ in my response when I said, “Incidentally, aside from Denise’s claiming there were no confounding factors [for the wheat flour, heart disease correlation], I might have taken her seriously when she posed a possible effect of wheat flour on heart disease, because it may be possible to gather prior evidence that could be considered as supporting the opposite point of view.” This is exactly what I had in mind and there is no need for you to make such a snide remark if you pay attention to what I had written. I am open to the idea that there could be ill effects from wheat flour, particularly in a refined state, but exploration of such an idea requires reasoned discussion about biological plausibility and prior evidence, and this is not the approach you seem to be taking.

Before closing, I want to let you know that I have no further time for engaging in this kind of reductionist and misguided debate. You belie your own claim that you are an objective commentator when you repeatedly and derisively comment about the possibility that I commit “sins of omission’” and “distort” data. As a result, you inflame the passions of would-be scientists who love to hear things about their bad habits. You now have acquired some very strange bed fellows. You highlight your views by citing a univariate correlation of wheat flour correlation with heart disease as an example of one of my “sins of omission”, while omitting correlations that contradict your supposition. Your example then gets cited on the Internet to prove that I am a buffoon or fraud. You go on to a second example of a ‘sin of omission’ by chiding me for not including the data of one county (Tuoli) that you suspect was a sleight of hand on my part – when I had clearly explained elsewhere why these data from this county reflected food consumption for a festive occasion (as during the survey) instead of the usual food patterns over a course of a year, an unreconcilable difference.

And to the broader audience, I am recommending that this discussion thread, originally intended for a civil discourse is clearly becoming anything but (based on the large number of comments and questions received thus far). I had hoped to have had a civil discourse, but this is difficult when the questions come from uncivil people. I also don’t have time to answer superficial questions of others like ‘what is the detailed mechanism of protein induction of high cholesterol levels’ – that easily could become an entire but relatively useless dissertation when the “mechanism” most decidedly is a symphony of mechanisms, as I explained in our book. At this point, the far more important observation is the dramatic increase in serum cholesterol.

One last comment – science is not about examining an hypothesis to its absolute conclusion, only to end up with a highly reductionist finding having little relevance for the human condition. Science is about observing the natural order of things to an extent that begins to indicate a pattern. In the process, the scientist should state clearly his or her biases then try hard to be objective. My bias was my personal and professional preference to find that dairy and other animal-based foods, the food of my youth and most of my adult life, represented the best that can be obtained for good health. Our experimental findings clearly showed that I was wrong. Now, I am finding this experience is extending to a large number of the readers of our book, as it had to the patients of my physician colleagues. And this is the reason that the book has proven so popular, even without any kind of organized PR support.

24 07 2010
neisy

Hey Maxwell,

I appreciate your comments. As far as I’m concerned, you’re welcome to post here as much as you like. I would honestly rather have critical thinkers challenge me than have blind supporters automatically accept what I say. That’s the whole point, after all — not settling for someone else’s interpretation, not confusing authority with infallibility, not retiring your skepticism just because something aligns with what you want to be true.

Often, the best way to prove yourself right is to first try proving yourself wrong. If you can’t do that, you know you’ve got something solid. For that reason, I sincerely value the constructive criticism I’ve received, as it will ultimately either A) help me identify weaknesses in my argument and strengthen them, or B) turn out to be erroneous and thus bolster my analysis of Campbell’s methodology. I’m going to make all the data I used publicly available (hopefully within a week or so) so that any other number-crunchers, including ones who feel more qualified to work with sophisticated statistical techniques, can replicate my findings for themselves.

“Instead she concluded TCC must be a buffoon and a liar and proceeded to attempt to publicly debunk him.”

For the record, I’ve never called or even considered Campbell to be a “buffoon” or a liar. In fact, I deeply admire his commitment and accomplishments as researcher, and have emailed him privately to tell him as much. If he’s ever up in my neck of the woods, he’s got an open offer for a free lunch, on me. :)

Nonetheless, if you’ve seen Campbell’s responses to previous critics or his contributions to that large thread on Amazon.com earlier this year, you might understand why engaging in an email dialogue (as you proposed) would probably be futile.

Again, I want my blog to be an open platform for any and all voices, so you’re definitely free to express your opinion as frequently and loquaciously as you desire. You’ve got my stamp of approval.

With respect,
Denise

24 07 2010
neisy

Also: If you were in any way offended or put off by my colloquialisms in the earlier posts, please stick around for the next one. I’m working on an entirely formal/academic response to Campbell that will be devoid of any vestige of personality. (Woohoo, dry and soulless writing!)

24 07 2010
Maxwell

Thanks for your kindness and grace Denise.

I hope you continue down this path until it’s abundantly clear whether or not TCC’s work is fundamentally flawed. If you end up winning the debate I will be your loudest supporter.

I hope you’re able to rally support from some of TCC’s former team members, colleagues, counterparts, etc.. If he’s wrong they must know it (or at least be able to see it when you show it to them).

Perhaps when you’re finished with your analysis and have done your own peer-review process you could compile a list of your specific grievances.

I hope TCC can be persuaded to address each and every one of your grievances.

Maxwell

24 07 2010
Dave

Indeed. “Spanking” is at the heart of the scientific method. Was it not Socrates who said “Spank, and thou shalt receive wisdom?”

24 07 2010
CPM

Hi Maxwell,

There are thousands upon thousands of scientists out there that have credentials, but they are all ultimately human. Why give such reverence to this particular scientist? That is not how science works.

He is no longer doing science anyways; he is peddling his hypothesis to the general public because there is so much good evidence contradicting his hypothesis that he knows that he could never convince the scientific community at large.

He can impress the general public with his credentials and his footnotes, but the scientifically-minded general public (let alone the scientific community) has problems with the way he reached his hypothesis. In his final words on the subject, bringing up rabbit and atherosclerosis studies from 1941 for example does not help his arguments at all with scientifically-minded people. He is not doing science; he his “lawyering” the data to convince the general public to stop eating meat.

I know you do not see it this way, but mostly it is the scientifically and rationally minded people that have problems with Campbell here. Most of his supporters that have been vocal here and at other sites really don’t understand what science is really all about or what Campbell is really saying but assume he is right because he has credentials and footnotes. Many of the people that have come here to attack Denise have not even read what she wrote or have displayed some serious issues with reading comprehension.

Much of the “logic” behind many of Campbell’s responses (leaving out Weston Price boogeymen and other errata) can be broken down something like this:

1 – It is biologically plausible that cholesterol is associated with CVD, colorectal cancer, etc…

2 – Campbell’s scientific experience tells him that cholesterol is bad

3 – Therefore using #1 and #2 Campbell is allowed to use simple univariate correlations that do not account for confounding factors such as schistosomiasis when making his argument that cholesterol is bad.

4 – Campbell is also allowed to use simple univariate correlations that work with #1 and #2 even when his own multivariate regression shows no association (in the case of CVD for example)

5 – Since Denise is not experienced enough, she cannot properly utilize #1 and #2 and therefore is no position to question his use of simple univariate correlations in #3

6 – Worrying about #3 is reductionist nonsense when discussing Campbell’s work anyway, (but of course when discussing other people’s critique of Campbell’s work they must account for confounders and perform multivariate regression then publish in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.)

7 – #2 trumps everything else, and there is no room for debate

Ultimately, his argument always comes down to: Campbell’s hypothesis is correct, so everything that contradicts it must be flawed.

He is using his own hypothesis to judge science. It is the same thing that a Creationist does.

24 07 2010
kat

CPM,

I now realize, from this post, that Maxwell is not really interested in science. His math story spoke volumes to that, along with his opinion that Denise owes anyone an apology and his insinuation that she can’t be taken seriously without peer-review. I won’t be responding to him again. I guess I should have realized this when he called TCC “kind and respectful.” /sigh. For me, this has become an exercise in futility.

Kat

p.s. I concur with your logic breakdown. :)

24 07 2010
kat

from his last post, rather.

24 07 2010
CPM

Just as a follow-up to my previous comment:

There is an example of some the things I mentioned in my previous comment in an article at the Campbell Coalition website titled “How Science Misleads” written by Campbell – http://campbellcoalition.com/?p=113

It shows that there is good evidence constantly being published that contradicts Campbell’s hypothesis, and that the “credentialed” scientific community is willing to accept this evidence for the moment. One study does not mean that Campbell’s hypothesis is wrong, but it does show his problems in trying to convince other scientists.

This article also shows how Campbell tends to invoke his own hypothesis to criticize the science.

24 07 2010
kat

Campbell: “we must set aside our prejudices and other concerns to seek the truth, no matter where it leads.”

heh.

24 07 2010
Maxwell

CPM,

Strong post. I would love to see Campbell respond to you here.

I remain open to the idea that one or more of Denise’s objections to TCC’s work may be legit and helpful to my own understanding of nutrition.

I will be impressed if Denise narrows her criticism (possibly even conceding some points to TCC based on his responses).

24 07 2010
Dave

Hi Maxwell. It was a great idea to put Dr. Campbell’s last post here. That way he cannot go back and edit his words, as he did previously on his own site, if/when he ever realizes how damaging this sort of behavior is to his credibility.

Did you still want to learn about nutrition? I don’t think you took me up on my offer to answer any questions you might have. I apologize if you posted one and I missed it, lots of traffic here.

24 07 2010
Maxwell

Dave,

Thanks for this offer. I do have some open questions about nutrition.

I don’t want to take the discussion off topic, but I have been enjoying your blog (great comments section there too).

I share your interest in understanding the health effects of getting a large portion of one’s calories in the form of starch (from traditional staple foods like wheat, potatoes, rice, maize, and cassava).

I’m anxiously awaiting Denise’s post on wheat.

24 07 2010
Dave

Hi Maxwell. If you don’t want to take the discussion off topic, please bring your questions over to my blog. Looking forward to hearing from you!

25 07 2010
Chris Masterjohn

Hi Maxwell,

In reading Dr. Campbell’s post, I see references to abundant studies comparing casein or other single animal proteins to singular plant proteins. Soy protein will always be relatively deficient in methionine and wheat protein will always be relatively deficient in lysine. Vegetarians will always either 1) eat a mix of plant proteins that, in combination, are just as complete as animal proteins or 2) suffer from all of the problems that come with amino acid deficiency. Thus, experiments substituting soy protein OR wheat protein for animal protein have no biological releavance. A study substituting mixed plant proteins supplying the complete array of amino acids (which Dr. Campbell states in his book is achieved on a normal vegetarian diet when addressing the issue of amino acid deficiency) would be biologically relevant. Dr. Campbell already published such a study and he showed that when lysine was provided with wheat protein — as it would have been if the experiment had used, say, a mix of soy and wheat proteins — wheat protein was just as effective as casein in promoting cancer.

Dr. Campbell’s experimental research was not flawed in this respect. Rather, his conclusion that a vegetarian diet will have the effects of a complete protein by preventing amino acid deficiencies but have the effects of a singular incomplete protein by not promoting cancer is flawed.

Chris

29 07 2010
anand srivastava

Read a wonderful mail by Tom Naughton, a comedian ;-). It just makes so much sense here.

To: Mr. George DiPaolo
Director, Studio I.T.
Walt Disney Pictures & Television
Burbank, CA

From: Tom Naughton
Franklin, TN

Dear George –

I regret to inform you that after some serious soul-searching, I no longer feel it would be ethical for me to continue writing software for Walt Disney Pictures & Television, or for any other company. I know I recently reported being about 75% finished with the updated version of the DVD Trailer Management System, which was true (actually, it’s closer to 85% as of today), but for the good of the company, you should delete all my code files from the SourceSafe database and hire a real programmer to begin the project from scratch. You should also get rid of all the other systems I’ve programmed for Disney over the years, as it’s highly unlikely any of them actually work.

Bear in mind, I’m not quitting in reaction to anything you’ve done. You’re a fine project manager. The soul-searching began after several people posted notes on my Fat Head blog and YouTube channel, pointing out that I’m “just a comedian” wtihout a degree in nutrition or any other health science, and therefore I have no business critiquing studies or challenging conventional health and dietary guidelines — especially any nutrition advice handed down by doctors, who spend several years learning to prescribe drugs.

Obviously, these critics are correct. For several decades now, I’ve made the mistake of thinking that since my college education consisted of reading books and academic papers and listening to lectures, I could become educated in other fields by reading books and academic papers and listening to lectures. So once I started doing research for Fat Head and became fascinated with nutrition science, I began reading like crazy. I ordered dozens of books and downloaded more articles and research papers than I can count. I listened to online lectures by MDs and PhDs, and sometimes even attended in person.

But it was all for nothing. As one of my critics informed me, reading books and research papers on my own doesn’t count as an education since I wasn’t supervised by professors who could correct the errors in my thinking. I must admit I see the point, even though I had a few professors in college whose errors in thinking were so profound, some of us wondered how they’d made it through graduate school. But they did, and that’s what really matters.

Which bring me back to the programming work: honestly, George, what the hell were thinking when you hired me as a software contractor? Programming large, complicated database systems with dozens of end-users (or hundreds, in the case of the DVD Trailer sytem) requires an awful lot of high-level skill and knowledge. And yet you gave me those assignments in spite of the fact that I made it perfectly clear I never took a single programming class. If you’ll recall our first interview, you asked me specifically about my education in computer science, and I replied that I’d bought some books and taught myself how to write software programs.

So while I apologize for my role in all of this, you’re the one who works for Disney, and you’re the one who kept calling me every other year or so with another big assignment. You’re the one who let me program two of those systems in languages I’d never seen before, telling me to just order some books and get up to speed. (God only knows how messed up those programs are.) And you’re the one who offered to set me up with a remote computer at the studio so I could continue taking on assignments after moving to Tenneessee. So now that we know my programming work is illegitimate, you have to accept your share of the blame.

If it’s any consolation, you’re by no means the only one paying the price for my lack of formal training. I need to notify at least 25 law firms that they must immediately cease using my trademark and patent tracking software. Worse, several pharmaceutical companies must now replace the hugely expensive clinical-trial management system sold to them by a company that hired me to build it. Man, were they fooled … they told me I was the fourth programmer they hired, but the only one they kept. One of the owners even said, “I don’t get it. The last guy had a degree in computer science and every Microsoft certification you can name, but he didn’t have a @#$%ing clue how to build a decent system.” I have no choice now except to urge that company to dump my work, re-hire the guy with the degree, and rebuild the whole thing.

The really frustrating part of all this for me is that I’m not even “just a comedian” now. I never took a class in standup comedy either, so I can’t even go back to working the clubs and cruise ships. Since my degree is in journalism, I’m stuck with hoping a newspaper or magazine somewhere is interested in hiring a 51-year-old rookie reporter.

Anyway, I’m sorry for the inconvenience. I was really looking forward to showing you the new features I added to the DVD Trailer Management System.

Best,
Tom

p.s. – If there any electric light bulbs in your office, I suggest getting rid of them before they explode and start a fire. Thomas Edison only attended school for four months, and his instructor described him as “addled.”

24 07 2010
Sharon

Maxwell your whole post is fantastic! I hope people take the time to read this.

“Denise’s approach leading up to her posts attacking TCC and The China Study is deeply troubling to me. If she were truly interested in understanding The China Project I think she would have contacted TCC when things didn’t add up for her based on her preliminary analyses. Picture yourself in her shoes. You start crunching some numbers and you see what you believe are glaringly obvious errors in another person’s work. Wouldn’t you try to get a hold of the person and ask him/her to explain what you were missing?

Instead she concluded TCC must be a buffoon and a liar and proceeded to attempt to publicly debunk him.

Imagine how different Denise’s posts would be if she had contacted TCC from the start, engaged with him, and come to truly understand his methods and process before deciding she objected to them.”

Thank you Maxwell my thoughts exactly!

24 07 2010
VtDoc

Given the lack of interest in engaging in the debate on its merits even now–when there’s a pretty large degree of interest–I really doubt he’d have fully participated in working with a young nonscientist who contacted him. His level of condescention and dismissiveness seems likely to have been even greater in that circumstance.

But regardless, I don’t see how that complaint is at all relevant. However the issue was raised, the merits need to be addressed. This complaint clearly focuses on the concern for TCC’s feelings, or how he is being perceived by others, rather than on the science in question.

Since Denise didn’t “ask him … to explain what (she) was missing,” then, and since the comment implies TCC would be gracious enough to respond in good faith, perhaps he could fill in the gaps now. That’s really the point, isn’t it? Instead of hand-waving about her lack of correcting for confounders, he could indicate where the appropriate informstion could be found.

So far, I haven’t seen an indication of what factors have been included/excluded as relevant in his analysis. The corected correlations may indeed be logically, theoretically, or even statistically more compelling, but without knowing what they are, it’s hard to know. His argument that he was going to include more of this info in his book, but couldn’t due to space constraints may be true. If so, just point to where the info can be found.

However, the bottom line is that it is just epidemiologic data at the root of all this. It can’t prove anything on its own. But if the same dataset can be shown to support one hypothesis and also its opposite, then it really falls back to the experimental evidence, theory, etc to help with interpretation. However, logic would dictate that the side with the most straightforward path is more likely to be true, than the other. That is, if you need to make the “meat = bad” interpretation by means of an intermediary (cholesterol), when the “meat = not bad” interpretation is made via a direct connection, then the rest of the underlying science had better strongly support jumping through that hoop, and it doesn’t.

24 07 2010
Sue

“I would honestly rather have critical thinkers challenge me than have blind supporters automatically accept what I say. ”

I don’t think you have blind supporters.
Denise did not attack TCC.

24 07 2010
mark

Maxwell,

Good post. I think analogy of mathematician you gave is a powerful one. I can see how that might apply here.

The crowd of supporters cheer and jeer. They understand addition. The great mathematician isn’t so great after all! What a buffoon!!

I agree from the get go, Denise started on the attacking note instead of trying to understand how Dr TCC arrived at his conclusions.

24 07 2010
Dave

Why does it matter whether or not “Denise started on the attacking note”? Is this a scientific discussion or afternoon tea? All people here (and at campbellcoalition.com) have asked is for clarification. Dr. Campbell should have the courage of his convictions, including the guts to say “I don’t know” in answer to a clearly posed question, as opposed to “I also don’t have time to answer superficial questions of others like ‘what is the detailed mechanism of protein induction of high cholesterol levels’”.

24 07 2010
Maxwell

Denise’s approach matters.

If you start with the hypothesis that TCC is a liar and a buffoon (as Denise apparently did after reading his responses to previous critics and his posts on the Amazon discussion board) you are likely to find examples that support this hypothesis (confirmation bias). A great example of this is the spotlight Denise focused on TCC’s “omission” of the Tuoli data. Must have seemed like such a big juicy piece of fruit to hold out for all to see!

Turns out Campbell has a very good explanation of why the data wasn’t included.

Slam dunk for Campbell.

I grant you, Campbell’s formal response isn’t a laundry list addressing each point of Denise’s attack (as many of us would like). But it is a pretty resounding series of slam dunks.

Why give Campbell so many slam dunks? Why set one’s self up for that kind of rebuttal?

Why not work on the data privately for a few months with an open mind and help from TCC and/or others in the field?

If you only had time to skim Campbell’s formal response the first time, perhaps you’ll enjoy another look at it: http://campbellcoalition.com/?p=142

24 07 2010
CPM

Hi Maxwell,

We must go back again to reading comprehension. Did you not read Denise’s response to Campbell’s supposed “slamdunk” concerning Tuoli? Campbell himself said the 3-day data could not be trusted, and Denise asked then why did Campbell use it repeatedly for the counties other than Tuoli?

Her critique has been about Campbell’s poor interpretation of the data, and here Campbell freely admits to using untrustworthy 3-day data when it suits him. Slamdunk?

It is really kind of a pointless discussion when Campbell’s supporters declare victory everytime he opens his mouth without realizing what is being said.

24 07 2010
Dave

I have had time to read Dr. Campbell’s full response. While entertaining, it basically contained no new information (new to me, at least). You seem to have gotten more from it than did I.

The hypothesis under question here is not whether Dr. Campbell “is a liar and a buffoon”. My question cast no aspersions on Dr. Campbell’s character. It was a perfectly valid scientific question, addressing the evidential support for his hypothesis. He chose not to answer, claiming he had “no time”, although he seemed to have plenty of time to explain why he wouldn’t be providing an answer. Indeed, the whole thing seems to have aroused considerable emotion; I had the odds at about 95% he would get angry and bail on the discussion, and 5% that I would get a reasonable answer (which includes “I don’t know”). My questions were intentionally designed to elicit either a rational or emotional response, in order to gain insight into whether Dr. Campbell actually has evidential support for his hypotheses, or if it was dogmatic belief. Challenging dogma generally results in anger. Challenging rational beliefs generally results in the production of evidence supporting those beliefs.

Whether or not Denise actually “attacked” Dr. Campbell, at the worst that “attack” would have been nothing but words. Like I tell my children: sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you. There is no benefit to an emotional response to a verbal attack – anger clouds the mind, and leads to irrational behavior.

24 07 2010
Maxwell

CPM,

Denise and her supporters (who as far as I can tell haven’t objected to a single thing she’s said or done) can raise little objections like, “Well, if the 3-day data isn’t reliable in one county it must not be reliable in all counties”.

But that isn’t necessarily true. The reason Campbell and team chose not to include the Tuoli data is that the 3-day data didn’t match the questionnaire on frequency of meat consumption. It was the mismatch of the two in the county of Tuoli that raised the red flags. A deeper investigation revealed the Tuoli in fact “migrate for part of the year to valleys, where they consume more vegetables and fruits”). Ok, so for the Tuoli, the 3-day survey doesn’t help us understand what they actually eat all year. This is no reason to throw out all 3-day data across all counties.

Are you seriously suggesting it is?

And now an open question for supporters of Denise: Has TCC successfully defended himself on any of the points Denise has raised? Can we at least admit she was wrong in calling Tuoli a “sin of omission”? Has Denise made any mistakes in this process?

My feeling is that Denise is likely to concede some points to Campbell. I think this will help move the debate toward what may actually be a point of difference in philosophy or opinion rather than what we have now which is each side claiming the other side has made a series of foolish mistakes.

24 07 2010
Dave

I would seriously suggest that all of the China Study data be thrown out. Food questionnaires are notoriously biased, and three days of observation is pretty thin. Even the best observational studies provide rather little evidence. I think if you read carefully, you will find the Denise’s core point is that you can’t draw any particularly solid conclusions from this data. There just isn’t much information there.

“I think this will help move the debate toward what may actually be a point of difference in philosophy or opinion rather than what we have now which is each side claiming the other side has made a series of foolish mistakes.”

Scientific inference is not a matter of philosophy or opinion. It’s mathematics. Math is right or wrong. Two people starting with the same information should reach the same conclusion, if both are behaving rationally. The key is making sure you and I have the same starting information. I have asked Dr. Campbell to share his information repeatedly, and have yet to get anything other than evasion or excuses.

24 07 2010
neisy

Maxwell (and others):

Campbell’s Tuoli comment only tore down a straw man. I never said there was anything remarkable about their meat consumption (by American standards, even the flawed data wasn’t all that high), but rather, that their dairy intake was worth noting. Hence why I titled my post on the Tuoli, “China’s Mysterious Milk Drinkers.”

Dairy consumption for the Tuoli is evidenced not only by the 3-day diet survey, but also by the frequency questionnaire, which Campbell seems to find accurate. The questionnaire shows they drink milk an average of 330 days per year (up to 350 days for one of the townships surveyed).

Also, Campbell’s statement that the Tuoli migrate seasonally and eat more fruit and vegetables is contradicted by his own data — the frequency questionnaire still shows they only eat vegetables twice per year, and fruit less than once per year on average. This type of diet (dairy-based with minimal vegetation) isn’t all that uncommon in northwest China and some areas of Mongolia.

24 07 2010
Greg

Interesting logic from TCC:

“Before closing, I want to let you know that I have no further time for engaging in this kind of reductionist and misguided debate. You belie your own claim that you are an objective commentator when you repeatedly and derisively comment about the possibility that I commit “sins of omission’” and “distort” data. As a result, you inflame the passions of would-be scientists who love to hear things about their bad habits. You now have acquired some very strange bed fellows.”

One can’t objectively examine TCC’s work and come to the conclusion that he commits “sins of omisson” or distorts data? Is the only correct objective conclusion to support every finding he makes?

If you come to these conclusions it is your responsibility if you “inflame the passions of would-be scientists who love to hear things about their bad habits”? I would think that the science has to be separate from whatever reactions people have to it. But anyway, is that meant to say non-credentialed people are playing at science to justify their bad habit of not eating solely plant material, or was that meant to reference “bad habits” as in poorly-conducted science? Kind of confusing there.

And the last part about the strange bedfellows…I guess that means that TCC is responsible for all the supporters he has who gather online and post non-critical support of his ideas and throw in ideas like that meat rots in your body, etc. Since he’s attracted those bedfellows he must be responsible for what they say and that reflects on his work, right? Let’s dismiss his work because of what people on the whatever-number-of-bananas say in support! But wait, that would be ridiculous.

24 07 2010
Greg

Also, Denise never called Campbell a buffoon. TCC likes to pretend people insult him in such a manner when they don’t, as a way to set up a straw man. To him it seems that to point out perceived problems with his analysis is to insult him, rather than to behave how people conducting science should behave and closely/critically examine evidence and his analysis of that evidence. If she’d opened with “This idiot has no idea what he’s talking about” then sure, she’s being insulting. But to simply question some of his conclusions is doing nothing but respecting him and his desire to conduct science as rigorously as possible.

He seems to me to want to only have his science examined by the peer-review process, and yet he decided to publish a mass-market book, one co-authored by his son, who at the time was somewhere around Denise and Chris Masterjohn’s ages, and whose bio on his own website mainly talked about acting classes and a non-formal interest in nutrition…not that there’s anything wrong with either, but we’re talking about a commercial book here written by a scientist and his layman son, not a document submitted to a professional journal. I mentioned this to Campbell before and he got rather insulted and talked about how his son’s role wasn’t to analyze the science…but my point is that the book “The China Study” is a mass-market book that’s had layman involvement throughout its history, even pre-publication. It seems odd to ask everyone to treat it as something other than that.

The correct model according to Campbell seems to be to just take in what he says without question, because no one is qualified to think critically about science except those with his credentials. As a thinking human being, I can immediately see a huge problem with that.

24 07 2010
Rational Reader

This has been (and continues to be) a fascinating discussion. I am in the camp of people who think TCC should get a much thicker skin and should enjoy defending his own work, even to a lay audience of skeptics.

Kudos to Denise for her critical reading of The China Study and for her willingness to treat her curiosity as something worth investigating.

I don’t know what the score is (I am very much looking forward to Denise’s next post) but I think it’s fair to say that curious and rational readers everywhere are the winners in this discussion.

The only buffoon is the person who gives up on the intellect of the layperson.

24 07 2010
Khrystyna

I haven’t been this well entertained online in years so thanks Denise, I hope you go down in nutrition history! Kx

25 07 2010
Ned Kock

Hi Denise and fellow readers:

Following one of Denise’s suggestions, I removed the counties where there were cases of schistosomiasis infection, and did a separate analysis:

http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.com/2010/07/china-study-one-more-time-are-raw-plant.html

I don’t know what you’ll think of it, but the analysis itself and the results are consistent with comments by several readers such as Zooko, healthycritique, Dave, Rick, Chris, Maxwell; just to name a few.

The title is “The China Study one more time: Are raw plant foods giving people cancer?”. Maybe I am extrapolating too much, but I think that the results of this new analysis show that many of the readers commenting here are on the right track, even if they appear to have opposing views on the surface.

Of course, no single analysis based on a small dataset will reveal the entire truth about something as complex as human health.

Many thanks again to Dr. Campbell and his colleagues for collecting and compiling the China Study data; and to Denise for making the data available in easily downloadable format and for doing some superb analyses.

Let me also address one issue in this comment: Is Dr. Campbell a liar? I doubt it very much. Here is why:

The software that I used (WarpPLS) checks for data problems that are indicative of fabrication. None comes up. In fact, the data looks very, very good. (I analyzed a lot of data in the past.) Good, genuine data usually is not very uniform, contains outliers (which can tell us a lot), and is somewhat messy. That is what we get from the China Study data; at least the small pieces I looked at.

If Dr. Campbell intended to deceive other researchers, why would he make it available to all, as it is, without any fabrication? What he did was to interpret the data based on what he believed. No surprise here. Einstein also interpreted quantum mechanics data (which he was partly involved in collecting) based on what he believed, and made the case that it was wrong. I don’t recall reading about people calling Einstein “an idiot fool” and “a liar” for that.

We cannot forget that we have the China Study data because Dr. Campbell and his colleagues collected and compiled it.

25 07 2010
neisy

Hey Ned

Awesome job! I was working with linear regressions for this data set (as was Campbell, as far as I know, for the cholesterol/colorectal cancer correlation — he did not employ U-curves, as his hypothesis was that as cholesterol increases, so does disease, even starting at the lowest levels). If this is a more accurate way to model it I will gladly revise my post.

What were your results using this method for A) the full data set and B) the schistosomiasis-infected group?

(I’ll post this on your site as well.)

Interesting how your data still shows an inverse correlation with animal protein itself and colorectal cancer, which continues to contradict what Campbell claims about animal food consumption increasing disease.

Also, I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of Campbell — I don’t consider him a ‘liar’ and I hope others don’t draw that conclusion from what I’ve written. But I do believe, as my next post will exhaustively demonstrate, that his animal food/disease hypothesis is not supported by any of the biological models he draws from, nor from the China Study data he cites.

Thanks for taking the time to work on this and share your results, Ned!

Denise

25 07 2010
Ned Kock

I haven’t done an analysis on the schisto cases only yet. I would be very surprised if the main results were different from the ones for the whole dataset, because of the schisto’s disproportionately strong effect. That is on this post, the one you linked earlier:

http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.com/2010/07/china-study-again-multivariate-analysis.html

Also, I personally don’t consider very good practice to delete data from datasets that are already small in order to explore further effects. The small sample size may lead to interpretation problems. I did this here only because the schisto effect was way too strong in the whole dataset.

I hope more people will do their own analyses on the original data, like we have been doing. Then the discussion will move away from X or Y are saying this, to something more like “the data” is saying this.

As for multiple linear analyses, it is good to have them. They are not that bad. The problem with them is that most relationships in natural and behavioral phenomena are nonlinear, with U curves (straight or inverted) being particularly common.

When I say U curves I mean the whole curves or sections of them. Sections of U curves would model other types of functions such as hyperbolic decay and logarithmic functions.

Finally, you have never attacked him personally. Neither has Chris. In fact, not many readers commenting here have. But in some other places people have been more vociferous and personal.

Campbell did make personal attacks; that has been a mistake on his part. He probably misdirected them by lumping people together who are not actually associated. Still, in my view he deserves kudos for the great data.

Doing something wrong just because someone else’s is doing it is not a very good justification.

The attacks to seem to create more drama and excitement though!

25 07 2010
Greg

Ned – did someone call anyone “an idiot fool” or “liar”? Are you referring to a different discussion? I’m questioning my reading comprehension skills at the moment!

Also, I don’t mean to attack Campbell in my posts, and I don’t feel that I am. I just am offended by what I feel are unfair and distracting debate tactics and want to point them out when I see them, regardless of who uses them. I don’t understand why Campbell’s reactions don’t just stick to the issues at hand and the science, and it troubles me to see repeated mentions of age, credentials, the Weston Price boogeyman, etc. And anyway, as far as credentials, it’s not like Denise invented autodidactism:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autodidacticism#Scientists.2C_historians.2C_and_educators

By the way, the first time I knew much of anything of Campbell was reading his posts and interacting with him on a long Amazon.com discussion about low carb, and I had no preconceived notions about him whatsoever before that. So, admittedly most of what I know about him is based on what he’s said publicly on the internet. I would assume his writings for publication are less inflammatory, but since I’ve seen patterns, I want to point them out when appropriate, especially when there seem to be a lot of people who either don’t or refuse to notice.

25 07 2010
Greg

(By the way, Ned, I’m working my way through your blog and finding it good reading…thanks for that!)

28 07 2010
Jay

Denise and others, thanks for the great internet food fight.

6 08 2010
Linda

Denise, what is “FTW”?

6 08 2010
neisy

It’s internet slang meaning “for the win.” :) This explains it a little better: http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/blogchatinstantmessaging/f/whatisFTW.htm

4 09 2010
moksha

… oh dear – i thought it was ” fhat the wuck”….. (embarrassed in the corner…)

15 09 2010
2010 Sos Trigonometry

[...] Super-Quick China Study Update (Changed 7/22) « Raw Food SOS … Ms. Minger in //rawfoodsos.com/2010/07/07/the-china-study-fact-or-fallac/ stated that the China Study data showed “a +67 correlation” between wheat consumption and coronary heart disease. They asked him questions about geometry, calculus, trigonometry and long division. Very, very, very long division! Why wasn't he answering! They grew more vocal! He must be hiding from them! By this time all the great mathematician could do was shrug his shoulders and say, [...]

15 11 2010
22 11 2010
neisy

Hi Karen,

My reply to Campbell’s response is here:

http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/08/06/final-china-study-response-html/

8 10 2011
viagra

viagra…

[...]Super-Quick China Study Update (Changed 7/22) « Raw Food SOS: Troubleshooting on the Raw Food Diet[...]…

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