Rose drew attention to this yesterday:
Over 65? Eat butter and cakes to keep you healthy: Latest dietary advice for pensioners
MILLIONS of old aged pensioners can stave off malnutrition this winter by eating full-fat foods such as cakes and biscuits, experts say. Contrary to official guidelines, the over-65s have been urged to stock up on sugar-laden goodies, use cream instead of milk, fry instead of grill and throw slabs of butter into their scrambled eggs.
It was the words “Contrary to official guidelines” that jumped out of that for me. It meant that one bunch of nutritional experts were disagreeing with another bunch of nutritional experts. And in this particular case it was the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition disagreeing with Public Health England.
Isn’t that just like the Global Warming scare? One bunch of them are saying that the Earth is warming, and another bunch are saying that it’s cooling, and a third bunch is saying that it’s both warming and cooling. And they all have shouting matches, calling each other “denialists”, and worse.
Who do you believe?
It’s the same when nutritional advice changes from one decade to the next, with the same people saying one thing one year, and something else the next. Do you believe what they were saying in 1990, or what they were saying in 2010?
I think that in such circumstances people just stop believing experts. After all, if experts disagree with each other, doesn’t that mean that some of them aren’t really experts? After all, if 10 people give 10 different answers to the same question (e.g. what is 23 x 77 / 12?), doesn’t that mean that at least 9 of them don’t know what they’re talking about (assuming one of them got the answer right, and there’s only one right answer)?
And how do you tell who the real experts are, that have the right answers? Are they the ones who look like Albert Einstein? Or are they the ones who look like geography teachers? Or are they the ones in military uniforms? Or are they the ones with lots of letters after their names (like B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D., FRS, and so on)? Or are they the one who are well-known TV celebrities (like Bill Nye “The Science Guy”)? Or will they be the ones with matching cufflinks and patent leather shoes?
But if 9 out of 10 experts don’t know what they’re talking about, doesn’t that mean that there’s a 90% likelihood that any so-called “expert” won’t really know what he’s on about? And doesn’t that mean that there’s a 90% chance that any guy who claims to be an expert – including a real expert – will turn out not to be? So you shouldn’t trust real experts either?
In fact, how do you tell whether there are any real experts at all?
And in fact, given that we have no complete knowledge of anything, and all our sciences are in process of change and development and improvement, might we not say that the real experts who really do know what they are talking about have yet to make their appearance, and can’t be expected before the year 2763 or thereabouts?
For myself, when I’m faced with conundrums of this sort, I usually believe whatever it was that I always used to believe, rather than what any so-called expert is now telling me I should believe. Or else I set out to become an expert myself. That’s to say that I try to find out what 23 x 77 / 12 is using my own poor mathematical skills. I might not get the right answer, but it will be my answer, and I will know how I arrived at it.
And that’s why I’m forever building computer models of orbiting asteroids or melting ice sheets and stuff. I always set out to try to figure things out for myself. Because I never believe experts. And that’s why I keep the words of Richard Feynman in the right margin of my blog. Science only gets done when somebody stops believing the experts, and starts to think for themselves.
You want my advice on nutrition? Ignore the experts. Eat what you like. You’ve got several hundred million years of evolutionary development that will tell you what to eat. Use the hard-wired ability that cats and dogs and birds use all the time. They usually seem to know what to eat and what not to.
But I’m not an expert on nutrition, so you shouldn’t take my advice.
And if I was an expert on nutrition, you shouldn’t take my advice either.