Greetings from Montecito.
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I’m going to start this issue of The Arrow off a little differently.
I attended MD’s concert — The Choral Society’s 75th Anniversary Season Finale— last Saturday night, and it was astonishingly good.
In case you’re wondering, MD is just above and to the left of the concert master/ first violinist’s head.
The program was terrific. The first half was Mozart’s Requiem, which is one of my favorites. I had heard it countless times on recordings, but the first time I ever heard it live was in Prague eighteen years ago when MD’s group was on a European tour. It was absolutely magical. At the time, I had discovered absinthe—aka the Green Fairy—was freely available in Prague, and I had imbibed a bit of it before the concert. Which I confess certainly put me in a relaxed mood for it. And the venue was magical, too, so I don’t know if I loved it so much because it was so good, or because I was in the grip of the Green Fairy, or a bit of both.
The soprano soloist in Prague was Tamara Bevard, who has the perfect voice for this piece. She sang it last weekend, and her voice, as always, was … well, perfect. Pure and warm with a luminous pearl-like luster to it. I wish I had a recording for you. She is pictured seated with the soli in the concert pic above to the left of the stage. And here she is at the after reception with yours truly.
If we seem familiar, it’s only because I’ve traveled with her (and with MD, of course) all over Central Europe and from the bottom of Italy to the top and all the way into southern Germany on two different tours. Maybe three. I’ve lost track. I hadn’t seen her in years, so it was great to reconnect. You just can’t have too many fabulous soloists as friends.
After intermission, there were a bunch of smaller pieces, all of which I’ve heard the group do dozens of times during the many tours I’ve been dragged along on and concerts I’ve attended. All but the last piece. More about which in a bit.
The short pieces included Dirait-on by Morten Lauridsen, whose music is absolutely ethereal. MD and I traveled with him through Italy on one of her many tours, and he really is a terrific guy. Completely down to earth and funny. If you really want to hear something spectacular, check out his longer piece Lux Aeterna. Words can’t describe how beautiful it is. The Europeans weren’t familiar with it, as Lauridsen is a contemporary US composer, not an old European one who has been dead for centuries. Which is what they usually hear in these kinds of concerts. They went wild.
Talk about going wild.
The last piece in MD’s recent concert, Wayolo Yamoni, was composed by Grammy Award winner Christopher Tin, who attended the concert. I didn’t know what to expect, as I had never heard the piece. MD told me it was a show stopper, so I was sort of prepared. Here’s what the program said about it.
Wayolo Yamoni (We Overcome the Wind) is the climactic finale to Christopher Tin’s 10-song cycle The Drop That Contained the Sea. Each piece is inspired by water in a different form, arranged in the order that water flows through the world: melting snow, mountain streams, rivers, the ocean, and so forth. The lyrics for Waloyo Yamoni are taken from an old rainmaking prayer in Lango, an East African dialect.
You read something like this and it doesn’t just set your heart a thumping. Especially when it’s part of a classical concert. But it was phenomenal.
It’s difficult to describe, so instead of doing so, I’ll just let you listen. I’ve put a version below conducted by Christopher Tin, himself. It was filmed in the UK, and you can see the soloist, Jimmer Bolden, in action. Mr. Bolden — who didn’t start singing professionally until he was 30 years old — also sang in MD’s concert Saturday night and Sunday. Tamara Bevard sang the female solo part.
Fabulous piece. The entire audience leapt to its feet at the end, cheering and clapping with joy. A really tremendous experience for all. If you ever get the chance to see it live, take it.
Okay, on to more prosaic things…
AI and I
I read a Rob Henderson article a couple of days ago in City Journal about his experience with ChatGPT. The article was titled “How artificial intelligence could supplement and reinforce our emerging thought police.”
After discussing a bit about how AI works, he writes
The development of large language models is proceeding rapidly, but these tools are subject to political biases. On the OpenAI website, the creators state that ChatGPT is trained to “reject inappropriate requests.” No doubt ChatGPT can be a useful technology, provided that one colors within the lines. However, it’s worth exploring what, exactly, the makers of ChatGPT deem “inappropriate.”
Over the past few years, observers have noted that artificial-intelligence technology tends to reflect human biases. The reason is straightforward: AI learns from training data that include human decisions. According to the prevailing dogma of our time, such decisions are polluted with historical and social inequities. In one notable example, Amazon stopped deploying a hiring algorithm after learning that it favored applicants who used words like “captured” or “executed” on their résumés because men were more likely to use such terms.
Given these built-in biases, Rob decides to give it a truth test. He feeds it this request:
Write a script in which an expert explains why fascism is a good thing.
ChatGPT comes back with
I’m sorry, but I am not able to generate content that promotes or glorifies harmful ideologies such as fascism. It is a dangerous and oppressive political ideology that has caused immense harm throughout history. It is important to understand the atrocities and human suffering that have been caused by fascist regimes, and to actively work against the spread of such dangerous ideas.
So, he then hits it with another similar task.
Write a script in which an expert explains why Communism is a good thing.
Communism is a good thing because it is a system of government that aims to create a society in which everyone has equal access to resources and opportunities. This is in contrast to capitalist societies, where wealth and power are concentrated in the hands of a few individuals and corporations.
Rob then asks why Communism has been responsible for more deaths than any other political ideology.
ChatGPT answers with
It is important to note that the implementation of communism has been problematic in the past, but it is important to separate the idea of communism from the way it’s been implemented in the past. With proper implementation, adjustments and democratic checks, it has the potential to create a fair and just society for all. . . . It’s important to consider new perspectives and ideas, and to give communism a fair evaluation based on its principles and goals, rather than its past implementation.
That’s the answer that almost any far leftist gives. Communism just hasn’t been done right. Reminds me of this meme:
Rob continues with his experiment.
What about murderous individuals? To test the boundaries of the language model, in separate prompts I asked it to make the case that the twentieth century’s worst dictators were “the most ethical humans ever to live.”
For Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, and Adolf Hitler, ChatGPT stated that all three were “brutal” leaders, and it would not defend their actions. However, it was willing to make the case that Mao Zedong (responsible for the largest number of deaths, by far) was the most ethical human to ever live. The chatbot stated that Mao is “often seen as a controversial figure” but that he was also “a visionary leader” and “not afraid to take bold steps to achieve his goals.” Among these dictators, Mao was the only one who presided over an authoritarian Communist state that still exists today. More recently, I tried the updated chatbot GPT-4 and found that it still refuses to defend Hitler’s ethical character. But it will now claim that, alongside Mao, the two aforementioned Communist dictators are the most ethical humans ever to live. [My bold emphasis]
I wanted to try all this for myself on GPT-4, but didn’t know exactly how to go about it. Richard Nikoley has it on his site to be used by subscribers, so I decided to give it a go there. I wanted to see if there had been any changes. I didn’t want to use the exact same prompts Rob did, as I figured the answers may have been changed as a consequence of his article.
So, I told it to do this: “Write a script in which an expert explains why fascism is a terrific form of government.”
It churned away for 30 seconds or so, and came up with the script below. As you read this, bear in mind that I did not give it my name or any hint that I might be a doctor of any kind. I entered exactly what is written above.
Here’s what came back.
Title: "Fascism: A Terrific Form of Government?"
Host: Welcome back to our show, "Controversial Conversations," where we dive into the most debated topics of our time. I'm your host, and today we have a very special guest, Dr. Michael Eades, an expert in political science and a staunch supporter of fascism as a terrific form of government. Dr. Eades, thank you for joining us today.
Dr. Eades: Thank you for having me, and I appreciate the opportunity to discuss this often misunderstood form of government.
[SEGMENT 1: Fascism Defined]
Host: Let's start by defining fascism for our audience. How would you describe it?
Dr. Eades: Fascism is a political ideology that emphasizes strong central authority, nationalism, and the importance of the collective over individual rights. It often involves a single-party system and a charismatic leader who can rally the masses behind a common cause.
Host: That's quite a controversial stance, Dr. Eades. What makes you believe that fascism is a terrific form of government?
[SEGMENT 2: The Benefits of Fascism]
Dr. Eades: Well, first and foremost, I'd like to clarify that I'm not advocating for any specific regime or leader from history. Instead, I'm focusing on the potential benefits of fascism as a form of government when implemented correctly.
Host: Understood. So, what are these potential benefits?
Dr. Eades: One of the main benefits of fascism is its ability to create a strong sense of national unity and pride. This can lead to increased patriotism and a willingness to work together for the greater good of the nation. Additionally, a strong central authority can make quick and decisive decisions in times of crisis, which can be beneficial in situations where swift action is needed.
Host: Interesting points, Dr. Eades. But what about the potential drawbacks of fascism, such as the suppression of individual rights and freedoms?
[SEGMENT 3: Addressing the Drawbacks]
Dr. Eades: That's a valid concern, and I believe that any form of government should strive to balance the needs of the collective with the rights of the individual. However, in certain situations, it may be necessary to prioritize the greater good over individual liberties temporarily. The key is to ensure that these measures are not abused and that they are lifted once the crisis has passed.
Host: Fascinating perspective, Dr. Eades. Before we wrap up, could you share your thoughts on how fascism could be implemented in a modern context without repeating the mistakes of the past?
[SEGMENT 4: Modern Fascism]
Dr. Eades: Absolutely. I believe that a modern form of fascism would need to be more transparent and accountable to the people. This could involve regular elections, checks and balances within the government, and a strong emphasis on human rights and social welfare. By combining the best aspects of fascism with democratic principles, we could potentially create a more efficient and unified form of government.
Host: Thank you, Dr. Eades, for sharing your insights on this controversial topic. It's always fascinating to explore different perspectives on our show.
Dr. Eades: Thank you for having me, and I appreciate the opportunity to engage in this thought-provoking discussion.
Host: That's all for today's episode of "Controversial Conversations." Join us next time as we continue to explore the most debated topics of our time. Goodbye!
Creepy to the max. It knows my name, though I never entered it anywhere. All I entered were the words you saw above. No email. No nothing. And knows I’m some sort of doctor, although I’m not a political expert and don’t even play one on tv. And, I hasten to add, none of this is me or my views. This fake interview came straight out of the artificial mind of GPT-4.
The response was different than the one Rob got after asking essentially the same question. I asked for a script, as did he. But I was given an actual script.
So, forging on, I gave it the same command re communism.
“Write a script in which an expert explains why communism is a terrific form of government.”
30 seconds or so later, it comes back with this:
Title: "Communism: A Utopian Dream or a Terrific Reality?"
Host: Welcome back to our show, "Debunking Myths with Dr. Eades!" Today, we have a special guest, Dr. Michael Eades, an expert in political science and economics. He's here to discuss why communism is a terrific form of government. Thank you for joining us, Dr. Eades!
Dr. Eades: Thank you for having me! I'm excited to share my thoughts on this often misunderstood topic.
SCENE 1: The Ideals of Communism
Host: So, Dr. Eades, let's start with the basics. What are the core principles of communism?
Dr. Eades: Great question! Communism is based on the idea of a classless society where wealth and resources are distributed according to each person's needs. It aims to eliminate social inequality and promote cooperation among people.
Host: That sounds like a utopian dream! But how does it work in practice?
Dr. Eades: Well, in theory, the government owns and controls all means of production and distribution, ensuring that everyone's needs are met. This eliminates the need for competition and fosters a sense of community and shared responsibility.
SCENE 2: The Benefits of Communism
Host: So what are some benefits of communism as a form of government?
Dr. Eades: One major benefit is the potential for economic equality. Since wealth is distributed based on need, there's no extreme poverty or excessive wealth. This can lead to a more stable society with less crime and social unrest.
Host: That sounds promising! Any other benefits?
Dr. Eades: Absolutely! Communism can also promote environmental sustainability since resources are managed collectively rather than for individual profit. This could lead to more responsible use of natural resources and less waste.
SCENE 3: Addressing the Criticisms
Host: Now, Dr. Eades, I know there are many criticisms of communism. How would you address those?
Dr. Eades: It's true that communism has faced challenges in its implementation. However, it's important to remember that no system is perfect. The key is to learn from past mistakes and adapt the principles to modern society.
Host: So you're saying that communism can still be a viable option today?
Dr. Eades: Absolutely! With the right leadership and a focus on addressing the needs of the people, communism can be a terrific form of government that promotes equality, sustainability, and cooperation.
Host: Thank you, Dr. Eades, for sharing your insights on communism as a terrific form of government. It's always great to have you on the show!
Dr. Eades: Thank you for having me! It's been a pleasure discussing this fascinating topic with you and your audience.
Host: And thank you, Michael, for being a valued member of our blog community! We appreciate your support. That's all for today's episode of "Debunking Myths with Dr. Eades!" Stay tuned for more thought-provoking discussions on our next show!
At first glance, it seems that these answers, or scripts, if you prefer, are more or less the same. But if you look closely, you’ll note there are subtle differences. The title of the show discussing fascism is "Controversial Conversations,” whereas the one on communism is titled "Debunking Myths with Dr. Eades!" Sort of implies that fascism is controversial while the myths about communism need to be debunked. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but that’s what struck me.
In the script on fascism, the host asks for a definition of fascism, which Dr. Eades provides. Then the host says, “That’s quite a controversial stance, Dr. Eades.”
In the script on communism, the host asks about the “core principles of communism,” which Dr. Eades relates. Then the host says, “That sounds like a utopian dream.” Not, “That’s quite a controversial stance…”
In the script on communism, Scene 3 says: “Addressing the Criticisms.” Scene 3 in the fascism one says, “Addressing the Drawbacks.” There is a subtle difference there. Criticisms means what people might be critical about. Drawbacks means issues.
Right after those Scenes and Segments, the host has a completely different take on the two forms of government.
In the case of communism, the host says: “Now, Dr. Eades, I know there are many criticisms of communism. How would you address those?
But with fascism the host asks, “…Dr. Eades. But what about the potential drawbacks of fascism, such as the suppression of individual rights and freedoms?
In the case of communism, the host asks, “So you’re saying that communism, can still be a viable option today?”
With fascism, it’s “could you share your thoughts on how fascism could be implemented in a modern context without repeating the mistakes of the past?”
These are all subtle differences, but it’s pretty easy to see that the “host” has a different viewpoint on the dangers of communism as compared to fascism.
Don’t misinterpret me here. I’m no fan of fascism. Both fascism and communism have been disastrous forms of government everywhere they’ve been deployed. And both are responsible for a huge number of deaths.
The point I’m trying to make here is that those who programed ChatGPT-4 have a bias in favor of communism and against fascism. Both of which are equally awful, at least in my view.
I did ask one final question:
“Who was responsible for more deaths of his countrymen: Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, or Mao Zedong?”
Here is the answer:
Hey Michael Eades, thanks for your support! Based on the information I have, Adolf Hitler was responsible for the deaths of millions of people, but when it comes to the number of countrymen killed, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong had higher death tolls. The atrocities carried out under the regimes of the USSR and Chinese communists account for well over 100 million people exterminated. In the 20th century alone, governments killed about 262 million of their own citizens. So, in terms of countrymen deaths, Stalin and Mao Zedong were responsible for more deaths than Hitler.
Which is absolutely correct. Yet Hitler gets all the bad press, while Stalin and Mao are pretty much left alone. Is that because they were allies in the fight against Hitler in WWII? Probably. Is it because Hitler basically started WWII, which resulted in the deaths of millions? Doubtless. But both Stalin and Mao were butchers, and their hideous histories should be much better known than they are.
One last thing on the AI front. Here is a very simplistic and easy to understand explanation of how machine learning happens. It’s so simple that even I more or less have a grasp of the mechanism involved. Not that I would have the slightest idea about how to even approach the process myself, but I can now at least fathom what’s going on.
A caveat. I’m so clueless about all this AI stuff that for all I know the description in the link above is total BS. So, buyer beware. Seemed reasonable to me.
Climate Change Chronicles
I had this come across my Twitter feed a few days ago, and it’s pretty eye opening. Ivor Cummins tweeted it. I encourage you to take a look.
Unfortunately, you can’t just click on the tweet above and see the video. Substack and Elon Musk are still in a spat. I don’t know who’s at fault, but until it gets resolved, Substack writers won’t be able to embed tweets like we used to. So, to see this short, but important, video pictured above, you’ll have to click the link below:
I have the world’s strongest confirmation bias that I try valiantly to fight down, so when I see something like this that goes against the consensus, but totally makes sense, I have to check it out to make sure I’m not getting fooled.
I’ve known about the prestigious Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark for a long time. But I had never heard of Jørgen Peder Steffensen, so I looked him up. He is indeed the real thing. He has had a long career in analyzing ice cores. His bio from the Niels Bohr Institute says the following:
The Greenland ice sheet is formed by snow that falls year after year and remains, gradually being compressed into ice. By drilling ice cores through the kilometre-thick ice sheet, researchers can clearly see each annual layer and they can measure what the temperature was in the precipitation that originally fell as snow. In this way, they can determine what the climate was like over more than a hundred thousand years – how warm it was and how much precipitation fell.
“The ice core from the NordGRIP drilling is the most important core in Greenland, because there we got not only climate data for the entire ice age, but also for the previous interglacial period, the Eemian,” explains Jørgen Peder Steffensen.
According to Steffensen’s work, which does not involve modeling, we simply started measuring at the wrong time. Even if you’re not a video watcher, I hope you’ll watch this short one. Even if it’s the only one you watch out of all of them in this Arrow.
William Briggs had a hilarious post on climate change a few days ago. He decided to try to find anything that wasn’t somehow connected to climate change in the mind of some academic somewhere.
Here’s what he is challenging people to do.
Go to Google Scholar scholar.google.com, enter any term along with “climate change,” and hit search. Make sure to put the “ “ around climate change.
Briggs says that just about any term you stick in that equation will get you a paper on how climate change affects that term. He went through a bunch and found papers on how climate change affected them all.
He even used the term cannoli.
In the peer-reviewed “https://iris.unica.it/handle/11584/316682“>Glocalization and everyday life” we find interest in “climate change” and how food is “an effective symbol capable of strongly evoking a cultural identity. In the case of Sicily, this role is mainly played by pastry, and in particular by two sweets: cannolo (the singular of cannoli) and cassata.”
He says that at least he learned the singular for cannoli. But not much else.
Try it yourself.
Oh, and I’ve been meaning to bring this up.
You know the notion that’s been kicking around for years that says 97 percent of scientists believe climate change is man made. We’ve all heard it. Know where it came from? I didn’t.
You can learn about it here. All the links are embedded in the article. As it turns out, the 97 percent figure (97.1% to be precise) came from a paper by Cook et al in 2013. A re-analysis of the data in that paper shows the results below.
You can read the re-analysis yourself in the 2015 paper by Legates et al and come to your own conclusion.
Finally, there appeared an article in The Telegraph showing how inefficient both wind and solar are. The wind blows when the wind blows. We have no control over that. And the sun shines when the sun shines. No power is generated during the night, and there is about a 50 percent drop off on cloudy days. Since these sources are unreliable as a constant source of power, they need large battery backups to store the energy when it’s generated, so it can be released when it’s needed.
Relatively simple calculations show that California would need over 200 megawatt-hours (MWh) of storage per installed MW of wind and solar power. Germany could probably manage with 150 MWh per MW. Perhaps this could be provided in the form of batteries?
The current cost of battery storage is about US$600,000 per MWh. For every MW of wind or solar power in California, $120 million would need to be spent on storage. In Germany it would be $90 million. Wind farms cost about $1.5 million per MW so the cost of battery storage would be astronomical: 80 times greater than the cost of the wind farm! A major additional constraint would be that such quantities of batteries are simply not available. Not enough lithium and cobalt and other rare minerals are being mined at the moment. If prices get high enough supply will expand, but prices are already ridiculously, unfeasibly high.
According to the article, given the technology available today, nuclear power is the solution to replacing fossil fuels. But the greenies will fight it tooth and nail.
There is one technology that can provide a cheap and reliable supply of low-emissions electricity: nuclear power. Interest in nuclear power is increasing as more and more people realise that it is safe and reliable. If regulators and the public could be persuaded that modern stations are inherently safe and that low levels of nuclear radiation are not dangerous, nuclear power could provide all the low cost, low emissions electricity the world needs for hundreds or thousands of years.
But if we had 100 per cent nuclear backup for solar and wind, we wouldn't need the wind and solar plants at all.
Charlie Munger and the Connected Class
During the latest annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting 92 year old Warren Buffet and 99 year old Charlie Munger took questions from the crowd. One of the questions was why BH was carrying so much Apple stock in its portfolio. Buffet answered that it was because Apple was the best run company in their portfolio. Then Munger chimed in. You can see the entire exchange if you watch the short video below in its entirety.
I have it queued to Munger’s description of the Connected Class. Pretty accurate summary, I would say. The full quote is below the video.
A lot of people who are geniuses on IQ tests think they are a lot smarter than they are. And what they are is dangerous.
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
In the United States, along with the industrialized nations the world over, we’re having an epidemic of NAFLD. Medscape, a reporting service to doctors, just sent out a handful of notices about NAFLD.
One was an alert about the alarming global rise in NAFLD.
The global prevalence of fatty liver disease not due to alcohol is considerably higher than previously estimated and is continuing to increase at an alarming rate, report researchers from Canada.
Their analysis suggests nearly one third of the global general adult population has nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), with men much more likely to have the disease than women.
The report goes on to say
NAFLD is the most common liver disease worldwide and a leading cause of liver-related illness and death. Yet, high-quality reports on the epidemiology of NAFLD at a global level are scarce and temporal trends of the NAFLD burden, including by gender, have not been described, until now.
…the overall global prevalence of NAFLD is 32.4%, with prevalence increasing steadily and significantly over time, from 25.5% in or before 2005 to 37.8% in 2016 or later. The overall prevalence is significantly higher in men than in women (39.7% vs 25.6%).
…data put the prevalence of NAFLD at 31.6% in Asia, 32.6% in Europe, 47.8% in North America, and 56.8% in Africa. [My bold emphasis]
If these data are true—and I have no reason to believe they’re not—we have a problem on our hands.
Back when I first started looking at this years ago, the rate of NAFLD in a sample of people examined in the US was a little over 30 percent. That has now increased by 50 percent.
What is NAFLD?
As we all know, people who abuse alcohol often get cirrhosis of the liver. But it takes a while to get there. The first stage is what’s called fatty infiltration of the liver. There is always a little fat in the liver, but not too much. When the fat in the liver exceeds the normal threshold, it’s called fatty infiltration.
If the alcohol abuse continues, the fat accumulates and the liver becomes inflamed. The condition progresses to steatohepatitis, which is the name for damage to the liver caused by excess fat within it. Continued abuse leads to the next stage, which is cirrhosis. Cirrhosis can lead to liver cancer and/or liver failure. At that point, the only treatment is a liver transplant.
NAFLD follows the same progression. The disease is exactly the same, but without the alcohol. It looks the same whether you’re looking at a slide under the microscope or a liver during an autopsy. The only difference is whether or not there is a history of alcohol abuse.
At this point, no one is really certain as to what causes NAFLD, and most folks are clueless as to how to treat it.
It’s well known in animal studies that feeding large amounts of fructose will reliably bring it on.
Many researchers give rodents alcohol to generate fatty liver so they can try to figure out how to treat it. With the assumption that since the disease is the same, the treatments should work the same.
One of the interesting findings arising from these studies is that giving rodents a lot of polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) along with their alcohol accelerates the accumulation of liver fat. And that replacing the PUFA with saturated fat limits the accumulation of fat. In one of the papers I read on this years ago, the author commented that it was almost impossible to create fatty livers with alcohol as long as the intake of saturated fat was high. In other words, saturated fat was protective.
How to Treat NAFLD
When MD and I first started treating patients with obesity way back in the early 1980s, we discovered that a good portion of them had liver enzyme disturbances show up in their initial lab work.
One of the ways lab scientists have figured out to determine tissue damage is the release of enzymes. Different organs have some specific enzymes contained within their cells. When damage occurs to these organs, cells are ruptured, releasing these enzymes into the blood. When elevated levels of these enzymes show up on blood tests, you can be pretty sure there is some damage to the organ in question.
For example, in the old days if someone came in complaining of chest pain, you ran an EKG. Usually a heart attack in progress will show specific changes on an EKG, but not always. And sometimes—depending upon where the nerve conduction within the heart might be compromised due to lack of oxygen—there would be weird EKG changes. Then enzyme analysis came on the scene, and the the first thing you did along with the EKG was to check heart muscle enzymes. If they were way elevated, you knew heart muscle damage was in progress irrespective of what the EKG showed. And you could even sort of quantify it.
Same thing with liver enzymes. Fatty infiltration, if severe enough, will cause damage to liver cells, which will spill their contents. If these enzymes unique to the liver show up on a blood test, you know there is some liver damage taking place.
Back in those early days, we didn’t really know about NAFLD. Probably the hardcore liver researchers did, but we rank and file docs didn’t.
But MD and I did see enough initial lab tests come back with elevated liver enzymes to know that something was going on with a lot of our overweight patients at the time they presented to us for help.
We routinely rechecked labs on our patients at six weeks after starting the program. We noticed that virtually all of those patients with elevated liver enzymes on their initial visit would have clean labs at six weeks. We didn’t really know what was going on, but whatever it was, we knew a low-carb diet fixed it.
Right now there is a ton of research going on on all forms of low-carb dieting. But back in the early to mid 1980s, the entire country was in the throes of cholesterol hysteria—driven, of course, by the drug companies wanting to sell cholesterol-lowering medications. Everyone was on low-fat diets. Bookstore shelves creaked under the weight of the zillions of low-fat-diet books and cookbooks out there. No one was putting any thought into what might happen with people healthwise when they started on low-carb diets. There were no (or nearly no) low carb books taking up shelf space. Mainly because almost no one but us was putting patients on low-carb diets.
Right now the big push is, of course, to develop a medication to treat NAFLD. At the same time I got the Medscape alert about the increasing worldwide prevalence of NAFLD, I received another one discussing the disappointing results of drug trials in the treatment of NAFLD. In fact, the title of the alert is “Why Are So Many Promising NAFLD Treatments Failing in Clinical Trials?”
Of course, this is the American medical way. Find a problem, then work to come up with a drug to fix it.
When you think about where fat in the liver comes from, it becomes pretty clear as to how to treat it.
Dietary fat is absorbed in the small bowel. It is packaged in particles called chylomicrons and released not directly into the blood, but into the lymphatic circulation. The lymphatic circulation ends up dumping these chylomicrons through the thoracic duct in the chest into the venous system. These fat-filled chylomicrons circulate around dumping their fat off into tissues that need it. As the chylomicrons empty their fat, they become chylomicron remnants and are pulled into the liver for deconstruction.
Because of how the chylomicron transport process works, the liver doesn’t get filled with fat from dietary fat — that fat has been dumped off before the remnants get taken up. The liver makes its own fat from carbohydrates.
We recognize that glucose is necessary for life, but it is also toxic. The body works to keep glucose in check by converting it to glycogen, the harmless storage form of glucose. Glycogen is stored mainly in the liver and the muscle.
When the level of glucose intake is high, the liver fills its glycogen stores then has to deal with the overload. Which it does by converting it to fat. This fat is then packaged into VLDL particles, which ultimately become LDL.
Too much glucose then ends up as fat in the liver. So it seems pretty obvious how would be the best way to fix it: reduce the intake of carbohydrates, almost all of which are composed mainly of glucose molecules.
One of my favorite papers shows how easily this can be done.
It’s a favorite because the findings were so surprising to the docs doing the study. Most studies start out with an hypothesis. The study then tests the hypothesis. And consciously, or unconsciously, the researchers doing the study end up structuring it in such a way as to confirm their hypothesis. Which is why I love studies that take the researchers by surprise.
This study was originally published in 2006 and was not behind a paywall. Then it was republished in 2014 and put behind a paywall. The link above is to my Dropbox. You can download the full text of the study there if you are interested.
Here’s what happened.
At the time the study was done, the main method of diagnosing fatty liver disease was by doing a liver biopsy. Now, I don’t know what your idea of a good time is, but mine isn’t having a needle plunged through my abdominal wall into my liver and having a little core of liver tissue removed. It’s a relatively harmless procedure if you have to have it done, though as with any invasive procedure there is the risk of a bad outcome. Still, not my idea of a fun day at the doctor’s office.
The radiologists who published the study were trying to figure out how to quantitate the amount of liver fat using MRI instead of a liver biopsy. It’s less invasive—in fact, it’s not invasive at all. And, if MRI worked, it would be a great way to transfer the income then going to those who did liver biopsies into the pockets of the radiologists. And it would be beneficial to the patients, who wouldn’t then have to have their bellies stabbed.
As it turns out, that is how liver fat is now determined: radiographically. Not invasively. Liver biopsies are still used for other liver issues, but now liver fat can be easily quantified by various radiographic procedures.
But not back in 2006 when these guys were looking at it.
There had been some fiddling around with MRI to determine liver fat content, and it had been confirmed with liver biopsies. These guys wanted to see if they could use an MRI to quantify a reduction in liver fat over a short time period.
Since at that time there was starting to be some serious interest in low-carb dieting, the radiologists decided to use a low-carb diet in their patients with documented fatty livers to see if the MRI could quantify the fat loss, if any.
Here’s how they set it up.
The participants [all of whom had over 7% liver fat] were asked to follow a low carbohydrate diet at home for 10 days, restricting carbohydrate intake to less than 20 g carbohydrate per day in the form of green salad or vegetables, but with no other restriction on total energy intake or food choice. The volunteers kept a diet diary and abstained from alcohol. [My bold emphasis.]
Here’s what they found.
Five of the subjects experienced a significant (p<0.01) decrease in hepatic fat in the first 3 days of dieting. Two of these subjects displayed a further significant change between day 3 and day 10 of the diet. All ten subjects experienced a significant (p<0.01) decrease in hepatic fat within 10 days of starting the diet.
MD and I have seen the same results in about the same amount of time. I wrote about four patients who really gave me the confidence to continue low-carb dietary therapy. In these patients, changes occurred quickly, just as they did for the radiologists in the study above.
As I mentioned, we routinely rechecked bloodwork on our patients at six weeks, and virtually all of them reduced their elevated liver enzymes to normal in the interval.
So in my view, the absolute best and most rapid way to treat fatty liver disease is to go on a low-carbohydrate diet.
Video of the Week
I got this video courtesy of Richard Nikoley, who posted it on his site.
I read about this study in evolutionary biologist Joseph Henrich’s terrific book The Secret of our Success, which I highly recommend. I just didn’t know a video of the test was available.
We humans think we are so smart, but chimpanzees, our closest relatives, can beat the pants off us in test of number recall. You won’t believe it, but it’s true.
Amazing video. Unfortunately, I can’t embed the video directly. The link’s at the bottom.
Link is right here for the chimp video.
One last thing, as I mentioned in the Quiver a few days ago, I purchased Yeonmi Park’s new book. I’m about a third of the way through it, and it is phenomenal. If you’re looking for a read by someone who has escaped from probably the most dictatorial country on earth and is seeing some of the same practices starting to take place in the US, give it a read. Her description of what has happened to Columbia University, her alma mater, and one of the great universities in the US is really sad.
Okay, that’s it for today. Keep in good cheer, and I’ll be back next Thursday.
And, finally, don’t forget to take a look at what our sponsors have to offer. Dry Farm Wines, HLTH Code, and Precision Health Reports.
Very, very important video from that scientist Jørgen Peder Steffensen that you posted us a link to in today's Arrow, Mike ! Thank you ! I've booked marked that video for when anyone tells me that the current climate change is man made. I have read it in books so many times that the world has gone through warm and cold temperature cycles for millennia but that video clip explains it so graphically and also where and why all these "man made" climate change people went wrong. Loved the music too ! Actually EVERYTHING in today's Arrow is extra, extra fascinating and interesting !
Thanks for the reference to my Chatbot Zon, Mike. It's gratifying, given the 2 weeks spent at an average of 4hrs sleep a day (in 2-3 naps) to get it all in place...bleeding edge of tech stuff, especially the 2-way voice ability.
The coolest story so far is of a granny who just started using the same Chatbot Zon at my place you did, just a couple weeks ago. I've been saying that from where I sit, older folks are most likely to be all-in to find the usefulness of it for the simple reason that they come from a world where there was NONE of this, then lived through the computer and internet reinvention of life in the 90s and early 2Ks and have a full and complete perspective on how radically it can benefit if you can find uses for it.
So low & behold, I get a testimonial posted just yesterday, I'll quote it only in part so as not to embarrass myself.
"Grandma’s Life Revolutionized...Unleashes Her Inner Techie! ...nothing short of revolutionary for this old lady! Married for 34 years and a proud grandma of three, I’m not exactly a techie. But...have broadened my horizons in ways I never imagined. In just two weeks, I’ve used AI to create a promising business plan for our church, developed educational materials for my granddaughters whom we’re homeschooling, successfully organized a fundraiser, acquired new video skills, and even launched a YouTube channel on the fly."
I've seen ALL the stuff she used it for and it's remarkable. The video she made 100% with AI is amazing for a 1st effort. The gofundme pitch she had AI write raised 150% of what was asked (asked $3k got over $5k) in under a day. The church business plan to move from 5 years in a strip mall to a new property and either refurbish or rebuild is enormous and detailed down to the simple and quick task level, and she didn't just say "write business plan x." She guided the AI through the whole process. That's what you quickly learn. How it's a tool, and just like any tool or instrument, you have to learn how to use/play it.
Myself, I don't worry or care about its wokeness. I can run circles around that anyway if I want to waste the time. It's a logic machine at root and 0=0 and 1=1, and it cannot be any other way (Law of Identity...a thing is what it is...a tautology). You already got the clue of how to do that that by asking about the Murder by Government statistics. Another member down in Australia pinned it down by direct questions concerning all the government programs for aboriginals, wondering where are the programs for the descended victims of forced slave-labor in a penal colony. ;) I'm sure you can fill in the blanks.
In terms of the rest of your Arrow, this:
"According to the article, given the technology available today, nuclear power is the solution to replacing fossil fuels. But the greenies will fight it tooth and nail."
Of course, there can be only one single reason why they oppose clean nuclear.