The Arrow #110
Greetings from Hot Springs, Arkansas.
I’m here as a driver for my wife, who hates to drive in the rain. It poured from the time we left Dallas till we got here last night and checked in. Our Apple guidance system continuously warned us that we were headed into severe flood conditions. I was about half worried we would be washed away. Most of the rivers we crossed were way, way over their banks and roaring close to bridge level.
She has a book promo gig for her two novels set in Caddo Bend, a fictional town close to Hot Springs where she grew up. I’ll be planted here in the hotel finishing this newsletter while she swans around with her fans. In case you don’t know about these novels—both of which she wrote (she’s working on the 3rd)—while waiting for me to get off the stick and start working with her on Protein Power 2.0, here they are: Caddo Bend and Eye of the Storm.
The first one of these books involves a flood on the Caddo River, a beautiful river that runs through the area and is a mecca for canoeists from all over the place. We crossed the Caddo last night, and it was definitely flooded. Brown and raging. Not a place you would want to float right now.
At least it’s sunny today, so the drive back will be a lot better.
This past week is what could be called a week of bombshell stories.
Seymour Hirsch published an article a couple of days ago providing substantial evidence that the US blew up the NordStream pipeline. Earlier in the week, the Columbia Journalism Review (which is by no stretch a conservative publication) published a four part series titled “The Press Versus the President.” This long (~24,000 words) piece details how the mainstream media totally abdicated its responsibility in coverage of what turned out to be the Russian hoax. And Anthony Fauci, America’s favorite doctor, published a paper in the prestigious journal Cell basically refuting just about everything he pontificated on during the pandemic.
I’ll go over these in a bit more detail later, but now I want to turn to the most important release this past week. My presentation from LowcarbUSA was posted.
It was just posted a few days ago, and it’s already up to over 51,000 views, which ain’t bad for a technical video.
I’m not going to go through it today. I’ll give those who haven’t seen it a chance to watch it without my commentary. Next week I will delve into it and explain a little more, based on some of the many questions I’ve received.
I have one serious and valid criticism, which I’ll go over next week as well. It isn’t a criticism of the material, but instead a criticism of how the material might be misinterpreted or misused.
I sent the video to a few very smart people whose opinions I value. I heard back from one—the guy who made the above critique—but not from the others. I’m hoping to have heard from them within a few days. I’ll reveal their criticisms next week, assuming I get them by then.
What I’ve done in this talk is to present the real reason people lose more weight on a low-carb diet than they do on low-fat diets of the same number of calories. It kind of kills the theory of those who believe it’s all about calories. The calories in versus calories out (CICO) folks.
Once you’ve watched, let me know in the comments what you think. Especially if you spot a flaw in my thesis.
The Arrow Goes Paid
I’m sure most of you noticed that last week that The Arrow converted to a paid model. Many of you signed up and subscribed. To those who did, I thank you very much. I plan to keep much of the material free, but put some behind a paywall. When that happens, you’ll be notified.
Again, thanks so much to those of you who plunked down your credit cards. I really appreciate it.
Opinions on Russia, Ukraine, China…Take Your Pick
There is an old adage (at least as old as the internet is) that says if you want to find out the answer to something on the internet, don’t ask the question you want answered. No one will answer it. Instead just state your opinion as fact. If you’re wrong, ten thousand people will leap to their keyboards to set you straight.
Duty Calls sums it up in one of my all-time favorite cartoons.
As you know if you’ve been a reader for the past couple of weeks, I’m enamored with a geopolitical analyst named Peter Zeihan. I read his book, which I loved and recommended highly. I’ve signed up for his newsletter, which I get almost daily. And I’ve watched a dozen or so of his videos. Based on the acknowledgments in his book, he has a fairly sizable staff at his command to help him root through all the worldwide data to try to make sense out of it.
I’ve posted a couple of his videos in previous newsletters. And I’ve received a lot of heat in both the comments and via email from people who have a different world view than does Peter Zeihan. They are all telling me Zeihan is wrong and [insert name of their favorite expert] is right, and that I’ve been following a false prophet.
Let me be clear in case anyone wonders. I am not an expert in geopolitics, so I probably shouldn’t have been opining on it. Which I really wasn’t—I was simply presenting an opinion (Zeihan’s) I thought was reasonable based on the limited amount of knowledge I did have. With a lot of emphasis on the word limited.
I’m going to take a few minutes and provide you with a variety of videos, sent to me by various readers, of people who have disparate opinions on what’s going on.
First, I’ll start out with a short one I received today from Peter Zeihan on the war in Ukraine.
Before I get to the video, let me give you a brief overview of Zeihan’s worldview.
At the end of WWII, the US was the only major country in the world that still had a decent economy. The rest of the world had been devastated by the war. In the Spring of 1945, the United States was the only superpower in existence and could basically call the shots globally. There was some pushback from the USSR, but it was mainly saber rattling.
The US guarded the seas and allowed shipping worldwide to go unmolested, which opened up all kinds of trade. The US provided protection to all of Western Europe against depredations by the USSR and its satellite communist countries. Since Europe didn’t have to spend much money on a military, it spent money on socialistic programs for its citizens. The US footed the bill for much of the rebuilding in Europe. So, again, governments there could lavish more socialistic benefits on their respective citizens.
All this globalization continued through the presidency of Bill Clinton. After that, all presidents, except for maybe Bush, Sr.—in Zeihan’s view—have become more and more populist. They’ve turned the US more inward and have started to spend more and more money on the US, and less and less patrolling the seas and financing foreign militaries. Remember how aghast Europe was when Trump asked them to pay their share of NATO expenses. If NATO benefits anyone, it benefits the Europeans. It doesn’t really benefit the US, and the US totes most of the note for it.
All of Zeihan’s predictions arise from his view on what happens when the US completely walks away from financing the world and guarding the seas. If the US doesn’t quit, I suppose all bets are off.
Here is the video I received this morning in which Zeihan discusses where he thinks the Russia-Ukraine conflict is going.
Below is a video sent to me by a reader. It’s the perspective on Zeihan by a guy I had never heard of.
The guy has an interesting take on why Zeihan shouldn’t be believed. Or should be taken with a huge grain of salt at the very least. He says Zeihan is a consultant to major corporations and even government agencies, all of which pay him huge sums to predict the future for them, so they’ll know better how to prepare for it and allocate their assets. The guy says there is nothing wrong with that, but Zeihan should be up front and tell everyone his biases, which, so this guy says, Zeihan does not. He says Zeihan’s bias is that he tells these corporations and government agencies what they want to hear, so they’ll continue to pay him the big bucks.
Hmmm. I would think he would tell them what he believes to be the truth or the most likely outcome rather than what “they want to hear.” I don’t imagine consultants who provide bad information in an effort to collect a fee last long as major consultants. I wouldn’t want to go to a doctor who tells me I’m cancer-free (which is, of course, what I would like to hear) when in fact I’m not. I wouldn’t go back.
I think this guy is trying to build his own business off of Zeihan’s popularity. At the time I put up the Zeihan video above, it had been out for 7 hours and had already received over 75,000 views. The guy above’s video has been out for 5 months and has gotten 15,000 views. He even admits in an accompanying video that the video above has gotten him more subscribers than any other video he’s ever done. And he, refreshingly, tells the viewers what his bias is. He wants to hoover as much money as he can out of your wallet and into his own.
Below is a video by a guy who apparently lives in Ukraine. He has a similar, yet different, take to Zeihan’s.
This guy’s name is Gonzalo Lira. This video has been up for 6 days and has over 112,000 views, so his reach is vastly wider than the guy’s above. I have no idea what his expertise is, but he creates a lot of videos.
He uses different language than Zeihan. Whereas Zeihan says we—in the US —have financed Europe, Lira calls the various European countries vassal states of the US. Which is a more pejorative way of saying the same thing. Lira thinks Russia is about ready to crush Ukraine. Zeihan thinks the war will last a long time and that maybe Ukraine can hold Putin’s forces off, but at the risk of a nuclear confrontation.
Just as I was finishing today’s Arrow, I get a text with a link to an article discussing all the spy equipment found on the Chinese so-called weather balloon that was shot down. Of course the link was to a right-wing political site, so we’ll need to see if what it says is confirmed. Interestingly, Gonzalo Lira just came out with a video about this balloon, saying, hey, it’s just a weather balloon. Nothing sinister. This happens all the time. He may have developed a credibility problem if the right wing site is correct.
Finally, Zeihan thinks that China, due to its rapidly aging demographics, huge debt levels, inability to obtain technology other than by stealing it, and a host of other factors will collapse within ten years.
One of my favorite economists, Arnold Kling, disagrees.
Zeihan’s view of the world often implicitly assumes L-shaped isoquants. But in the real world, substitution happens. That means that slow-moving processes, like demographic shifts can be accommodated.
You can click the link above to read about L-shaped isoquants, which I didn’t know what were till I read it.
Kling also turned me on to Michael Fritzell.
Fritzell, whom I had never heard of, has, I think, lived in Asia for years and provides advice to those wishing to invest there. So, he, too, I suppose is a consultant.
Geopolitics expert Peter Zeihan has a colourful personality. But during his recent appearance on the Joe Rogan show, he made several arguments that I found hard to swallow.
For example, Zeihan claimed that China will have around 10 years before its economy collapses. Weak demographics, rising labor costs, and increased isolation from the rest of the world all form part of the picture. However, Zeihan also discussed a potential invasion of Taiwan. In such a scenario, US sanctions would then hurt China to such an extent that they would cause de-industrialization and famine.
As someone who has made a living analyzing Chinese equities and China’s economy for the past 15 years, I find Zeihan’s remarks to be, well, off the mark. They don’t paint a realistic picture of the country and where it’s going.
To start, I don’t believe that weak demographics will necessarily lead to a “collapse” of any kind. All that will happen is that economic growth will decelerate as the working-age population shrinks. But it’s going to be a gradual, drawn-out process. And on a per capita basis, the country may well become richer.
His article, from which the above excerpt was drawn, explains in detail why his opinion differs from Zeihan’s.
If you would prefer a video version, here is an interview with Fritzell.
For what it’s worth, this video has been up for a week so far and has only 662 views.
Last week I posted an interview with Col. Doug Macgregor, whom many people have recommended. His interview has been out for two weeks and has garnered over 197,000 views. Col. Macgregor believes Russia is just a few months away from completely defeating Ukraine.
My point in going through all this is to show how many varied “expert” opinions there are out there. And I’m sure those above are just the so-called tip of the iceberg of all those available. Which confirms what I’ve written about previously. And what Martin Gurri wrote about long before I even thought about it in his book Revolt of the Public. The news used to be whatever the NY Times, the Washington Post, NBC, CBS, ABC, and the legacy media in general wanted us to “know.” With the advent of the internet, we can all get whatever “news” we want to consume. The control gates have been breached. Now the news is a product.
I think I’ve written about this before in The Arrow, but it bears repeating. I have a friend who was an investigative journalist for years. He worked at the Wall Street Journal for about a decade and was on the short list for a Pulitzer prize for one of the stories he broke. I met him 25 years ago when he was giving a seminar on how to deal with the press. We hobnobbed a bit after the seminar and ended up becoming friends.
When he started the seminar, he asked everyone to take out a piece of paper and write down their definition of news. What is news? Define it. He gave us all a couple of minutes to write down our definition, then he collected all the papers and read them aloud. All of them—including mine, as I recall—were variants of basically the same thing. News is the reporting of events of importance to the readers or viewers.
After reading all of them, he dramatically crumpled all the papers and threw them in the trash. He told us we were all wrong. Not a single one of us had gotten the correct answer.
The correct answer is: News is what the providers of the news want us to hear or see. The news providers are the gatekeepers.
This seminar took place in the early days of the internet. The major news outlets were just starting to go online. The news then was pretty much what the news had always been. But it was starting to change.
Now people can get the news they want, not the news that any specific provider wants to provide. And now the providers have to dance to the tune of the readers or watchers or listeners, or they will go somewhere else to get the news they want to hear. The entire model of “news” proving has changed.
It used to be that both left-leaning and right-leaning newspapers were only leaners. They didn’t go all the way to the far left or far right; they stayed just to one side of the middle. Why? Because that was the biggest demographic and it got them the most readers. Since newspapers were supported by advertising revenue, and the greater the circulation of a given newspaper, the higher the ad rates.
Then the internet came along, and people could more easily ignore ads. As ad revenue fell, the newspapers turned from an ad-based model of revenue to a subscription model. But when they did that, the people who subscribed wanted to read the news they wanted to read. So the news became a product.
The confirmation bias is one of the, if not the, strongest bias out there. Once we develop a belief in something, irrespective of how we developed said belief, we end up looking for things that confirm it. And we tend to scoff at or ignore things that de-confirm it.
If, for example, we are believers in the mRNA vaccines for Covid because we have a set of political beliefs that these vaccines really are safe and effective, then we look for information confirming those beliefs. If we see Fauci or Jill Biden telling us we need to get vaccinated, we do so. If they tell us those who are unvaxxed are a threat, we avoid them. If someone sends us an article showing the vaccines aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, we say this is just all right-wing, fascist bullshit and don’t read it. And it invariably comes from the Epoch Times or some other conservative publication, so we know we are right to ignore it.
The same thing happens with just about any issue that has a political element to it. Which is what I’ve always found strange about the Covid vaccines. How could a vaccine be politicized? Especially this one. It was developed by the Trump team and mandated by the Biden team.
I’m probably as poor as everyone else in combating the confirmation bias in general. Once you believe something, you believe anything uncritically that confirms your belief. And you reject anything that doesn’t. I’m no different, but I try my damndest to fight it in the medical/scientific literature. The vast body of literature is full of studies showing everything. It’s easy to find a paper supporting almost any position you want to take. It’s much more difficult to go through the paper to make sure the study was done correctly and the data wasn’t fudged. Even then you don’t know. It could just be a fluke.
When people read a paper that disagrees with their view, they tend to tear it to pieces trying to prove it false. When it agrees with them, they simply accept it uncritically. I try my absolute best to not simply accept any paper that agrees with me uncritically. But it is extremely difficult to do so.
As with all the videos above… there is something there for everyone. Whatever your already developed opinion on anything, you can find a video and an expert to confirm it.
It then all comes down to evaluating the experts. And if you’re not an expert, that’s tough to do.
Even for Harvard professor Steven Pinker, who writes about how to
acquire a more sophisticated understanding. It’s certainly not by each of us exercising our inner genius. It’s by trusting legitimate expertise: scientists, journalists, historians, government record-keepers, and responsible, fact-checked authors. After all, few of us can really justify our beliefs by ourselves, including the true ones. Surveys have shown that creationists and climate change deniers are, on average, no less scientifically literate than believers (many of whom attribute warming to the ozone hole, toxic waste dumps, or plastic straws in the ocean). The difference is political tribalism: the farther to the right, the more denial.
Ah, spoken by a true man of the left. Does that mean the more to the left, the less denial? And, by extension, blind acceptance of whatever those the left considers “experts” have to say? Apparently so as evidenced by his next paragraph.
For my part, I’ve been vaccinated against Covid five times, but my understanding of how the vaccines work extends little deeper than “Something something mRNA antibodies immune system.” I basically trust the people in the white coats who say they work. Flaky beliefs, in contrast, persist in people who don’t trust the public health establishment—who see it as just another faction, one that competes against their trusted preachers, politicians, and celebrities. In other words, we all have to trust authorities; the difference between believers who are probably right and those who are almost certainly wrong is that the authorities the first group listens to engage in practices and belong to institutions that are explicitly designed to sift truths from falsehoods. [My bold]
Again, if the extent of Pinker’s knowledge about the Covid vaccines is “something, something, mRNA antibodies, immune system,” and all he does is rely on the “experts,” how does he know upon which experts to rely?
His piece above was published on Jan 9, which was after a bunch of the Twitter dumps showing that the government leaned on Twitter to suspend the accounts of and/or shadow ban full professors of Pinker’s own university and others equally as prestigious who were warning people about the vaccines.
It just goes to show it’s all political and tribal. Which Pinker admits. He just doesn’t believe it applies to him. Only to those on the right.
Show me someone who has ever worn a pussy hat, and I can tell you that person’s stance on Climate Change, the death penalty, immigration, critical race theory, and a host of other ideas. I’m sure the same can be said of those who proudly wear MAGA hats.
Columbia Journalism Review
A little over a week ago, Jeff Girth published a four part series in the Columbia Journalism Review, not a bastion of conservatism, that’s for sure, about the legacy media’s failure in its coverage of the Russian hoax. It’s roughly 24,000 words, which is a little less than half of a standard hardback book in terms of length. I have not read the whole thing. In fact, I haven’t even read half of it. But what I have read is a devastating indictment of the legacy media. They completely failed in their duty as a free press. Mainly because of what I wrote about above. It was a case of both their bias and their worry about losing subscribers.
I can’t comment fully on the piece, because I haven’t read it through. But what I have read gives me a lot of insight on Trump’s behavior.
Early in the article, Gerth writes
Before the 2016 election, most Americans trusted the traditional media and the trend was positive, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. The phrase “fake news” was limited to a few reporters and a newly organized social media watchdog. The idea that the media were “enemies of the American people” was voiced only once, just before the election on an obscure podcast, and not by Trump, according to a Nexis search.
Today, the US media has the lowest credibility—26 percent—among forty-six nations, according to a 2022 study by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. In 2021, 83 percent of Americans saw “fake news” as a “problem,” and 56 percent—mostly Republicans and independents—agreed that the media were “truly the enemy of the American people,” according to Rasmussen Reports.
He then moves on to his interviews with Trump:
During my interview with Trump, he appeared tired as he sat behind his desk. He wore golf attire and his signature red MAGA hat, having just finished eighteen holes. But his energy and level of engagement kicked in when it came to questions about perceived enemies, mainly Mueller and the media.
He made clear that in the early weeks of 2017, after initially hoping to “get along” with the press, he found himself inundated by a wave of Russia-related stories. He then realized that surviving, if not combating, the media was an integral part of his job.
“I realized early on I had two jobs,” he said. “The first was to run the country, and the second was survival. I had to survive: the stories were unbelievably fake.”
I don’t think anyone but the most rabid Trump haters now believes he conspired with Russia to steal the election from Hillary. After more than two years of intensive investigation, the Mueller committee, all of whom wanted desperately to find something on Trump and who had all the resources of the Department of Justice at their disposal, couldn’t muster any evidence that he or anyone in his campaign had conspired with Russia or Putin. Had there been even the tiniest shred of information, even a whiff of perfidy on anyone in Trump’s campaign, they would have been all over it. In the end, it all died with a whimper with Mueller himself only hinting that there might have been obstruction of justice in Trump’s constant harping on it. But it didn’t really reach the level to where it mattered. There was no Russian involvement. Even the inspector general appointed by Obama concurred. In fact, he pointed out that it was the FBI that had violated the law. A handful of FBI agents were fired and one admitted to a crime.
Now, forget any hatred you might have of Trump, try to put yourself in his position. He was a total fish out of water. In his business life, if people didn’t do as he asked, he could fire them. After Jan 20, 2017 he became both the leader of the free world and shackled by the bureaucracy at the same time.
He knew he hadn’t conspired with Russia, so he knew the thing was a total cock up. Yet there was Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the intelligence committee, who had access to classified information, commenting sagely on all the talk shows that he had seen the documentation and Trump truly was conspiring with Russia. And Trump knew it was a lie.
And the constant barrage of the legacy media putting forth their hired former intelligence agents all saying it was well known that Trump was in cahoots with Putin. And all the while, the Donald knew it was all a lie.
Imagine that happened to you. And you were helpless to do anything about it. And after many bad experiences—because politics is a dirty, dirty game—you have no idea who you can trust. Would you be a little pissed off?
I certainly would.
So Trump considered the legacy media his enemy, because he knew they were taking sides against him. And so he attacked them as relentlessly as they attacked him. Had there been the usual post-inauguration honeymoon with the press that most presidents have been granted, maybe Trump’s behavior would have been different. But there wasn’t. His own justice department turned on him, and the press didn’t investigate. Had the justice department gone after Obama, the press would have been all over it. Not so with Trump. With Trump, they were complicit.
In this whole affair, the actions of a supposedly free press were disgusting. Even if you hate Trump to the ends of your toenails, you should understand this.
You should take the time to read this long piece, as I am planning on doing once The Arrow is put to bed.
Politically, things are always in flux. What seems like a good idea at the time, often ends up coming back to bite you. Just ask the Dems on the Supreme Court justices Trump put in place. That was the fault of Harry Reid (RIP), who, for expedient’s sake, initiated the nuclear option to approve judges. Or ask the aforementioned Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, and Ilhan Omar, all of whom lost their committee assignments. Which used to be unheard of until the Democrats did it to Marjorie Taylor Greene. Now it will probably be par for the course whenever the opposing party takes over the House.
Did Team Biden Blow Up the Nord Stream Pipeline?
According to Seymour Hersh, who for years has had high-level intelligence contacts, they did.
Last June, the Navy divers, operating under the cover of a widely publicized mid-summer NATO exercise known as BALTOPS 22, planted the remotely triggered explosives that, three months later, destroyed three of the four Nord Stream pipelines, according to a source with direct knowledge of the operational planning.
Two of the pipelines, which were known collectively as Nord Stream 1, had been providing Germany and much of Western Europe with cheap Russian natural gas for more than a decade. A second pair of pipelines, called Nord Stream 2, had been built but were not yet operational. Now, with Russian troops massing on the Ukrainian border and the bloodiest war in Europe since 1945 looming, President Joseph Biden saw the pipelines as a vehicle for Vladimir Putin to weaponize natural gas for his political and territorial ambitions.
Asked for comment, Adrienne Watson, a White House spokesperson, said in an email, “This is false and complete fiction.” Tammy Thorp, a spokesperson for the Central Intelligence Agency, similarly wrote: “This claim is completely and utterly false.”
Biden’s decision to sabotage the pipelines came after more than nine months of highly secret back and forth debate inside Washington’s national security community about how to best achieve that goal. For much of that time, the issue was not whether to do the mission, but how to get it done with no overt clue as to who was responsible.
Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing all boils down to how you feel about Russia. In the old days, say 40 years ago, the GOP would have rejoiced about an opportunity to damage the USSR, and the Democrats would have cautioned against it. Now it’s just the opposite, although Ted Cruz and other neocons are all on board. In view of the discussions above about Zeihan and the guy who called Western European countries vassals of the US, the section below by Hersh is interesting.
From its earliest days, Nord Stream 1 was seen by Washington and its anti-Russian NATO partners as a threat to western dominance. The holding company behind it, Nord Stream AG, was incorporated in Switzerland in 2005 in partnership with Gazprom, a publicly traded Russian company producing enormous profits for shareholders which is dominated by oligarchs known to be in the thrall of Putin. Gazprom controlled 51 percent of the company, with four European energy firms—one in France, one in the Netherlands and two in Germany—sharing the remaining 49 percent of stock, and having the right to control downstream sales of the inexpensive natural gas to local distributors in Germany and Western Europe. Gazprom’s profits were shared with the Russian government, and state gas and oil revenues were estimated in some years to amount to as much as 45 percent of Russia’s annual budget.
America’s political fears were real: Putin would now have an additional and much-needed major source of income, and Germany and the rest of Western Europe would become addicted to low-cost natural gas supplied by Russia—while diminishing European reliance on America. In fact, that’s exactly what happened. Many Germans saw Nord Stream 1 as part of the deliverance of former Chancellor Willy Brandt’s famed Ostpolitik theory, which would enable postwar Germany to rehabilitate itself and other European nations destroyed in World War II by, among other initiatives, utilizing cheap Russian gas to fuel a prosperous Western European market and trading economy.
Nord Stream 1 was dangerous enough, in the view of NATO and Washington, but Nord Stream 2, whose construction was completed in September of 2021, would, if approved by German regulators, double the amount of cheap gas that would be available to Germany and Western Europe. The second pipeline also would provide enough gas for more than 50 percent of Germany’s annual consumption. Tensions were constantly escalating between Russia and NATO, backed by the aggressive foreign policy of the Biden Administration.
Sounds like vassal states to me. At least from the current administration’s perspective. How dare Germany make a decision in its own best interest with out the approval of the US. Last I heard, Germany was a sovereign nation.
If the US disapproves of Germany’s behavior, instead of doing something destructive, why didn’t we just withdraw from NATO and leave the Europeans to pay for it themselves.? That would have brought other European nations to bear on Germany and Germany itself might have had second thoughts, given the increased amounts they would have to have paid to keep NATO afloat.
And, to top it off, this administration that is toying with the idea of getting rid of gas stoves due to Climate Change creates the largest release of material into the atmosphere in history.
The Fauci Paper on Vaccines
I’m glad this paper came out. But I think everyone is looking at it the wrong way.
According to Scott Atlas, Fauci isn’t given much to reading the scientific literature. I doubt Fauci played much, if any, role in the writing of this paper.
Here’s how you decipher who is involved with a particular paper. Look at the list of authors. If there are many, then the person listed last is whose lab the work was done in. In academia, people move up the ladder until they have their own laboratories. When they do, then they have graduate students and post docs and other lower ranking PhDs working in their labs. All these people are working on different experiments, all of which have something to do with the work of the main academic running the lab. When the paper is published, the person whose lab it is is always listed last.
Usually the person who does most of the work is listed first. Then folks are listed in order of how much they contributed with the head of the lab listed last. It doesn’t always work this way in terms of how the people at the lower levels are listed, but generally the person in whose lab the work is done is always listed last.
This why many people have 30-year careers in academia and have 1,000 papers with their name on them on their CVs (curriculum vitae, the academic equivalent of a business resumé). It takes a lot of work to produce a paper, and it would be impossible to generate 1,000 publications in a career if you didn’t have a lot of underlings working for you cranking out papers with your name on them.
When there are just a few authors on a paper, it becomes a little bit harder to parse. Sometimes the person who did all the work is the same person who heads the lab. In which case his or her name may be first.
Articles that become famous are usually referenced by the first name on the article, so depending upon the perceived future importance of the paper, that goes into the calculus.
But typically the first author does the work and the head of the lab gets tacked onto the paper. I suspect that’s what happened with this paper.
If you do a search for Anthony Fauci on PubMed, as I just did, you’ll find that his name is on 1,065 papers. There is no way in hell Anthony Fauci did 1,065 experiments and wrote all those papers. His name is on them because he’s been around forever and is the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
If you look up the other two authors, which you can here, you’ll find that both of them work at the NIAID. I’m sure they stuck Fauci’s name on it as he was the head dog there.
I doubt Fauci has ever read the paper.
Especially since it contradicts just about everything he said during the pandemic.
Igor Chudov wrote a terrific review of the paper if you want to see how off it is from Fauci’s pandemic edicts.
And here is a link to the bad cat that contains a very short video of Fauci back when he was honest or didn’t have a monetary interest or both.
Fasting Versus Cutting Carbs
Last week I mentioned a seminal paper showing how it is the reduction in carbohydrate intake that brings about the benefits from fasting.
The paper, written by Samual Klein and Robert Wolfe, was published in 1992. In this case, Wolfe, whose name is last, was deeply involved in the experiment. I was in a conference where Wolfe described the experiment before the study was published. Here is a Sci-Hub link to the paper. (Sci-Hub has been kind of hinky as of late. If the link doesn’t work, let me know, and I’ll throw the paper up on my Dropbox.)
On another note, Robert Wolfe, who has done some remarkable research has now moved to the University of Arkansas, my medical school alma mater. He is in Fayetteville, and the next time I go there, I’m going to arrange a meeting with him. In another seminal paper, he showed the Randle Cycle operates in the opposite way that Randle himself thought it ran. Great paper. But that’s for another day.
Here was the problem Klein and Wolfe wanted to investigate in this study.
Adipose tissue is the body’s battery. Humans eat irregularly and almost always consume more calories than can immediately be used for the energy of life; the excess is stored to be used later. When later comes, whether it is a few hours or a few days, the body accesses the stored fuel to maintain its activities. All this has been known for ages, but no one really knew what the signals were for the release of fat.
Since the maintenance of a steady flow of fuel is crucial during fasting, the proper regulation of lipolysis, the release of fat from adipose tissue, is essential to survival. But what regulates lipolysis during fasting? Is it simply the decrease in caloric intake? A decline in blood glucose? Falling insulin levels? A burst of glucagon? An increase in epinephrine? All these phenomena occur, but which ones drive the metabolic response to fasting? Do they all work in concert? Or do just one or two drive the response? These are the questions Klein and Wolfe set out to answer.
Years before Klein and Wolfe, another researcher named Walter Bloom wondered about some of the same issues. He performed a study in the late 1950s on nine subjects who were fasting under hospital conditions . He found these subjects lost weight at greater rates than their decreased energy intake would account for, and they did so easily and without significant side effects. A few years later, Bloom and Gordon Azar evaluated subjects on extremely low-carbohydrate diets and found them to have lost the same amount of weight as those who were fasting in Bloom’s previous study.
Bloom suggested the metabolic changes seen in fasting were brought about not by the reduction in food intake in general but by the reduction in carbohydrate intake. He noted the subjects in the extremely low-carb diet study became fatigued, whereas those in the earlier fasting study did not. But — and this is a crucial point — those in the low-carb study were normal weight, and those in the fasting study were overweight, having plenty of their own body fat to draw on to supplement their calorie needs. The latter study was also done decades before anyone had determined that a period of low-carb adaptation is required.
Klein and Wolfe had determined in an earlier study that maintaining normal blood sugar via low-dose glucose infusion did not prevent the increased lipolysis seen in fasting, so lowering glucose wasn’t the trigger. They designed a study to try to pinpoint the factor, or factors, responsible for the metabolic findings in fasting.
They recruited five healthy, normal-weight, male subjects with an average age of 24 to participate. The subjects were to serve as their own controls in a randomized crossover fashion in two study protocols separated by a three-week washout period. In other words, each subject underwent one arm of the study, then took a break and came back three weeks later for the second part.
The subjects checked into the lab and underwent an overnight (12-hour) fast. In the morning they had blood samples taken and IVs started for isotope infusion and arterial blood sampling.
After this 12-hour fast, one group was randomized to continue fasting for the next 72 hours (84 hours total), while the other group underwent a continuous infusion of Intralipid, a commercial lipid (i.e., fat) emulsion, at a rate calculated to maintain their measured resting metabolic rate. Intralipid is a mixture of basically soybean oil with a bit of egg yolk thrown in used for IV feeding of those who have GI tract damage and can’t even tolerate a feeding tube. The amount of Intralipid infused during the 72 hour period was calculated to match the metabolic rate of the individual involved. So no overfeeding or underfeeding.
So, one group fasted for 84 hours. The initial 12 hour fast, then three days more. The other group fasted for the first 12 hours, then got the Intralipid for the next three days. Three weeks later, they all did it again, but the groups switched. The ones who fasted in the first experiment got the Intralipid for three days in the second.
What did Klein and Wolfe find when they compared the two groups after the 84 hour experiment?
Think about it for a second before you read on. One group had zero food for 84 hours, while the other group fasted for 12 hours then had enough IV fat to mimic consuming an all-fat diet for 72 hours that matched their metabolic rate. Do you think there would be a difference in lab values between the two?
You would at least think there would be a difference in labwork between the start of the fast and the end of the 72 hour total fast in the fasting group.
And indeed there was.
As you might expect, when subjects fasted, their glucose levels fell along with their insulin levels. Free fatty acid levels went up and ketone levels increased markedly. All the changes you see during a fast or starvation.
But what was unexpected was that those who got the Inralipid had the same changes. And that was a big surprise.
If you take a look at the changes starting at the top, you can see that glucose levels decreased by essentially the same amount in both groups. Same with free fatty acids. Triglycerides went up in the group getting Intralipid, but they were getting IV triglycerides, so that would be expected.
Acetoacetate and B-hydroxybutyrate, both ketone bodies, increased in similar fashion. Insulin levels fell to the same degree in both groups. And epinephrine and norepinephrine showed similar changes.
What about weight loss? It would stand to reason—especially after watching my presentation above—that those on the pure fast would lose more weight, and they did.
Klein and Wolfe estimated the insensible water loss. I’m not sure these figures are correct given the mass balance equation calculations. But it really doesn’t matter in this case.
Both groups lost about the same amount of nitrogen, which you would expect since Intralipid contains no protein. This nitrogen loss means that essentially the same amount of protein was converted to glucose via gluconeogenesis in both the fasted and Intralipid subjects. In gluconeogenesis, the liver strips the nitrogen from the amino acid backbone. The nitrogen is released in the urine while the AA backbone is converted to glucose.
Klein and Wolfe wrote
Providing resting energy requirements as intravenous lipid during a S-day period of oral food restriction did not prevent the normal changes in plasma substrates, plasma hormones, nitrogen excretion, and whole body lipolytic rates that occur during complete fasting. These results demonstrate that restriction of dietary carbohydrate, not the general absence of energy intake itself, is of fundamental importance in the adaptive response to short-term fasting.
In the present study, the concentration of ketone bodies increased -2O-fold after 3 days of fasting, regardless of whether intravenous lipids were given during the fasting period. These results suggest that, in the control study, the metabolic events responsible for increased ketone body production, presumably increased fatty acid delivery to the liver, decreased insulin levels, and increased glucagon levels were also present in the lipid study. Our data, therefore, underscore the importance of carbohydrate intake in regulating ketone body production. In fact, ketone body formation may be more sensitive to carbohydrate intake than are the other metabolic alterations associated with fasting. [My bold]
And they concluded
In summary, the present study underscores the importance of carbohydrate intake for normal fuel homeostasis. Our results demonstrate that carbohydrate restriction, not the presence of a negative energy balance, is responsible for initiating the metabolic response to fasting. [My bold]
They based their conclusions on a couple of other studies they had done in which they had given 50-60 g of glucose IV to fasting subjects. Doing so had prevented the rise in ketone body production, while keeping insulin low, and maintaining the rate of breakdown of body fat.
They, however, drew completely different conclusions from their data than I did. They saw the shutting down of ketosis as a positive, because they thought it an aberration brought into effect by fasting. They thought it a win to prevent ketosis while maintaining low insulin levels.
They believed that carbohydrates were required for “normal fuel homeostasis” (see bolded above).
“Normal,” perhaps, in today’s world of plentiful high-carb food, but humans didn’t evolve in such a world, so, in my view, the finding in the subjects at the end of the three-day lipid infusion would seem to be more “normal” and in keeping with how humans evolved over millennia. Other than the last few thousand years after the advent of agriculture, humans, in most of Europe at least, existed for thousands of years primarily in a carnivorous environment, absent the copious amounts of carbohydrate available today. The carbohydrate they could gather was seasonal, so their diet was closer to the lipid-infusion arm of the study. The high-carbohydrate diet most of the Western world follows today would have been highly abnormal during most of our species’ time on Earth
That was my takeaway from the study.
I can’t tell you how glad I was to see this pre-publication presentation by Dr. Wolfe. At the time, both MD and I were treating many, many patients with low-carb diets. Which, of course, were high-fat diets. At that particular point in history, the low-fat diet reigned supreme in the minds of doctors and nutritionists everywhere. This study was the one that allowed us to overcome that little niggling fear that we might not be on the right path.
Video of the Week
Want to see how quickly and horribly a low-carb diet guru ages? It’s not pretty.
I was looking for something on YouTube a couple of days ago and came across this.
The subject in the video below has been taking care of patients using low-carb diets for a long, long time. He, himself, has been on a low-carb diet most of the time for almost 40 years. You can see the results.
The first photo in the video below—the before photo—was taken about 20 years ago. At the time, the subject hated it, because he thought it made him look old. But look at him now. What the ravages of his diet have brought him to in just 20 or so years. And fat to boot. The poor bastard deserves our pity, not our scorn.
This will give me nightmares for weeks.
That’s about it for this today.
Keep in good cheer, and I’ll see you next Thursday.
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As always a lesson in wisdom. One moment you lament that the Euros aren't properly supporting US militarism, the way the Brits kept the seas open. OTOH the Germans are like frogs in hot water and nobody's keeping score. I do appreciate your mention of Fritzell, whom I had forgotten about. I'll trade you the Col MacGregor card, whom you shall come to appreciate :-) Zulauf is a paid billionaire's zombie, like Zeihan. Your great gift was the idea and verity of neolithic diets, IMHO, whereas I am a philosopher looking at the species' role (Humanism) - our long views can be useful - to lift up our eyes unto the hills. And get some peace. ;-)
I thought your video was extremely thought provoking. Enough that I am thinking about how I can use that information in my own journey. One question I had was -- in the intro you talked about the Minnesota Starvation Study and compared it to a keto/low carb study where both studies the people were eating the same calories, but the keto people did well and the starvation study people, well, starved. Thinking only about the weight of nutrients provided as you talked about and the equivalent calories- wouldn't it be expected that the keto people would be the ones losing more weight? I think the difference is that in the starvation study, from my understanding, they actually kept lowering the calories to force the people to continue to losing weight and from your description of the keto study, it was purely the eater's discretion how much they ate-- but would be interested in your thoughts.