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The (Low Carb) Truth Is Out There - Tales From The Syndrome X Files - Episode 2

Posted Sep 29 2008 5:54pm

Episode 2:  When The Inmates Run The Asylum, Madness Will Be A Virtue

Today, the head of the medical department where I work sent out a company-wide email announcing the latest efforts in the corporate-sponsored “wellness” initiative.  Classes in nutrition will be given to employees who wish to participate, and prizes will be awarded to those who complete “healthy” eating challenges based on the “new” U.S. government guidelines set up by the FDA.  

I was, of course, compelled to respond to this person and inform him of the error of his ways.  I suggested that if he hadn’t read Gary Taubes’ exposé yet, he should waste no time doing so.  Some small inkling of trepidation nagged at the back of my mind after I’d hit the ’send’ button.  Whose toes was I stepping on here?  I imagined being called to someone’s office to be grilled as to my scientific credentials and what authority I claimed to possess that would allow the audacious questioning of the lords and owners of the land.

But, thinking realistically, I suspect there will be no response, as if one small voice in the darkness cried out and was as noticeable as the brief flitting of a Mayfly’s wings.

The ability to maintain a comfortable lifestyle for one’s self and one’s family is a primary human motivation.  After basic physiological functions, security is the next highest priority in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  Taubes mentions in his book several scientists and researchers who over the last century dared discount the status quo and suffered for it.  If I were in a position that required I disseminate doctrine about what to eat and what not to eat, would I speak what I believed to be the truth once I’d had my eyes opened?  Or would I continue to dispense government-sanctioned misinformation, knowing it will have the opposite intended effect on those who trust me to have their best interests at heart?  How much authority do I have to be able to speak against conventional standards without putting my livelihood in jeopardy?

Fortunately, I’m not in such a position.  But what about my personal physician?  I told him I was reading Good Calories, Bad Calories,   and recommended it to him; he wrote the name down, but whether he will have the time or inclination to read it is another story.  One can hope.  How many recently released reports and how much medical news can one person indulge in and absorb in addition to the time-intensive duties to which they must attend?  (When do they supposedly get all this time to play golf, anyway?)  My feeling is that my doctor may accept my personal choice of nutritional lifestyle, and he may find the book interesting if he gets a chance to read it, but would he start prescribing this lifestyle to his patients?  Would he balk if I told him I wanted to stop taking cholesterol medication?  Would he consider that the administration of medication to reduce cholesterol in many of his patients may not be necessary based simply on common blood test measurements?  What kind of diet is he recommending to his diabetic patients: the now-standard high carbohydrate, low fat diet, or a low carbohydrate diet?  Would he remove all the informational posters now hanging in every one of his client visit rooms that advocates what the government and the medical associations and the pharmaceutical manufacturers say is a healthy diet and replace them with factual information?

The inability to profess one’s personal beliefs in consideration of maintaining one’s security is as wide-ranging as one can imagine.  How many people decline to discuss their personal notions with the majority of those around them who hold different views, particularly those who might have some sway over their security?  How much influence is exerted on what one believes or professes to believe by one’s being part of a group?  A mob may be incited to react in a way that would be inconsistent with how the majority of its members would react on an individual basis.  Strength of numbers has nothing to do with truth or with being right; it has only to do with power. 

As much as I’d like to admonish them, I can’t help but understand the very simple reasons so many of our fellows must necessarily continue on the path they’re walking regardless of what they might hold to be true.  The head of the medical department because, despite his position, he does not have the authority to change company policy from the conventionally accepted and government-sanctioned dogma.  My doctor, who, upon changing some of the ways he practices his profession, might likely be ostracized by his peers, by the hospitals and medical organizations with which he is associated, and by those whose livelihoods depend on him.  The food critic for the local newspaper who has no problem dispensing nutritional information to her readership as long as it doesn’t contradict misguided mainstream notions and who would probably have to find something else to do for a living if she had to write restaurant reviews from the viewpoint most of you reading this have come to accept as the only sane and acceptable one.  The world is an asylum, and while the grand majority of its population are inmates, it is the inmates who are in control at the time.

Common sense tells us it is easier to move in the same direction the river is flowing than to paddle against it.  Convenience, however, means little when we are drifting further downstream from our intended destination and we are approaching a waterfall. 

Filed under: Atkins, Books, Food, Megamas, Mindset, general health | Tagged: diet, Good Calories, low carb, Maslow, Taubes

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