Susan Allport’s The Queen of Fats is the best introduction to omega-3 fatty acids and their importance that I know of. I learned a lot from it (and interviewed the author ). This is why its errors are interesting; they shed light on the big nutritional misconceptions of our time (as Weston Price, the subject of yesterday’s post , did in a different way). Joel Kauffman, a chemist, made a list:
You can see from the numbering I’ve omitted some of them; for the full list, contact Dr. Kauffman at kauffman at bee dot net . For more on health misconceptions, read his book Malignant Medical Myths , Infinity Publ., West Conshohocken, PA, 2006. ISBN 0-7414-2909-8 326 pp. $24.95.
Science, especially health science, is so important yet it is remarkably hard to learn about. Part of the problem seems to be that those who can write well (such as journalists) don’t understand the science and those who understand the science (such as scientists) can’t write well. (Another part of the problem, as Veblen pointed out, is that among academics to write clearly is low status, to write mumbo-jumbo is high status.) This is why I like Leonard Mlodinow ’s work so much; he writes well and understands the science.
But don’t misunderstand this post. The Queen of Fats is an excellent book. The most impressive and hopeful thing about it is that it was written by a non-scientist — in other words, that a non-scientist was able to figure out that the common neglect of omega-3 fats was seriously wrong. (Omega-3 fats receive almost no attention in Eat Drink and Be Healthy by Walter Willett et al. for example. There is no RDA for them.) I like to think it’s some sort of turning point that non-scientists have become able to grasp how wrong the health establishment can be; another example is Taubes’s Good Calories, Bad Calories .
More . The list of errors unfortunately omitted some general comments: