Just a reminder, sometimes “settled science” isn’t so settled. Headline from today’s Washington Post: “Is Whole Milk Good for Us After All?”


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11 responses to “Spilt Milk”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    You have one scientific study that says this and it proves the science is not settled?

    Hells Bells – you’ve got scientists right now who say it’s never been conclusively proven that cigarettes cause cancer.

    Vaccinations actually KILL kids – we KNOW THIS!

    Banning DDT has caused millions of deaths from Malaria…

    Science has become one massive worldwide conspiracy!

    Clearly – we could put the fear of God into the Scientific community and make them do what is right – if we started burning a few at the stake from time to time – to be a warning to other heretics!

    and with the power of the internet and YouTube – we should be able to get the rest of these charlatans to get straight with God… or whatever.

  2. I didn’t think I would be snagged by this one, but some issues need to be corrected. First, the article is exactly right. There never was a scientifically proved causation between saturated fat and heart disease. In fact, the “right” fats are absolutely essential for our health.

    This misleading science is still going on, even in the article. The article refers several times to “bad” cholesterol. There never has been a scientific study that showed heart disease was caused by cholesterol. Many studies showed high “correlation” between cholesterol levels and heart disease, but not “causation”. The body uses cholesterol to heal areas of vascular inflammation – the real cause of cardiovascular disease. So if you have a lot of inflammation, your body will usually demonstrate higher levels of cholesterol. You are then given pharmaceuticals to reduce your cholesterol. This is an expensive solution to solve a problem which doesn’t exist, but the drugs cause many side effects which can create real medical problems. If you are on these medications, please do some independent research. I am not qualified to give medical advice, but many doctors rely on the information provided to them by the pharmaceutical companies. Cholesterol is a precursor to the making of health promoting Vitamin D in the body (using 15-20 minutes of sunlight on the skin per day). The synthetic versions of Vitamin D put back into milk or in supplements do not do the job. Cholesterol is also a component of the many regulatory hormones our body manufactures. Basically, this is a valuable naturally produced compound and we shouldn’t do things to get it out of whack.

    The milk story deserves more explanation. Many suspect this movement was spurred by the dairy industry. When farmers made butter or ice cream, they thought skim milk was fit only for the hogs. The dairy industry, as it became industrialized, used primarily Holstein cows which have the highest milk production, but the lowest percentage of butterfat. As they skimmed cream to make butter, ice cream, cream cheese, etc., they were left with a low-fat product. What to do with it? They convinced people that it was healthier! And so created a large market for what had been a waste product.

    They also homogenized it, to make it more “convenient”. Modern dairies nowadays, skim all of the cream off bulk milk. They then add it back to skim milk to make 2% or whole milk (about 3.5%) products. The cream is often added back in powdered form so they can have an inventory of cream without it spoiling. They must break down the normally large fat globules so they will stay in suspension with the milk. Passing the fat through a narrow orifice makes the fat globules so small they will pass through a human cell membrane (which nature did not intend). This can cause health issues.

    The article did not mention there is a very real difference in the type of fat that is in whole milk. Science has identified that Omega-6 fatty acids cause inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids heal and sustain the body. The ideal ratio between the two is 1:1.

    Cattle are designed to eat grass. They have a four-part fermentation tank digestive system which allows grass to be broken down into nutrients for them. Feeding cattle grain (mostly corn) rather than grass makes their normally alkaline fermentation system become acidic and makes them sick (and causing bad strains of acid-tolerant e. coli to be produced). Most of the cattle in the U.S. are regularly dosed with antibiotics because of this – contributing to antibiotic tolerant strains of pathogens. Eighty-percent of antibiotic use in the U.S. is for livestock.

    A grain based diet for cattle (it’s easier for confinement operations) creates a 1: 20 ratio (or more) of good Omega-3’s to bad Omega’s 6’s. We do know that high ratios of Omega-6 in our milk or in our meat, will contribute to inflammation in the body – thus leading to cardiovascular disease and other maladies.

    Grass fed animals will produce a healthy 1:1 or 1:2 ratio of beneficial Omega -3. They also produce a heart healthy contributor called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Unfortunately, this is destroyed like Vitamin D, lactase (an enzyme which digests lactose) and other valuable enzymes and antioxidants – by pasteurization (high heat). Unpasteurized milk from clean sources has lower amounts of bacteria than store-bought pasteurized products, but it is not legal to buy in Virginia and many other states. It is ironic that the General Assembly allows us to buy cigarettes, alcohol and pharmaceuticals that can harm us; but we don’t have the freedom to buy something that can make us healthy. The dairy lobbyists at work.

  3. Just goes to show, “proved science” can be reproved.

    1. The science never was really proved in the first place. It was just advertised that way. The scientists knew it, but the politicians and industry PR machines did what they wanted with it. Too much “buying the science you want” going on these days. This is especially true as academic research departments have become industry funded rather than grant funded. Scientists with alternative points of view don’t get funded anymore and our understanding develops more slowly as a result. And our universities have become money churning factories rather than centers of higher education.

  4. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    TomH – very well stated in my view.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    this is like saying that because no scientist correctly predicted the path of Jaquith that it “proves” the science of hurricane prediction is not ‘settled” science and anyone can play the game of predicting hurricane paths.

    Now – the very next time that a bunch of scientists get involved in predicting the potential path of a hurricane – and the dang thing disappears without a trace from the surface of the earth – I’ll get on board with the naysayers.

    what this proves to me is a fundamental misunderstanding of what science does and does not do and some kind of naive expectation that when a majority of scientists say they believe – at some point in time – something is true – that they be held to a standard that essentially impugns the very concept of science itself if they don’t get it “right – like they are either incompetent from the get go or they are promoting falsehoods and if they agree with each other then they surely are up to no good.

    In other words – because one guy or even one group questions something like saturated fats – it essentially means that all the prior science was “wrong”.

    When this becomes how you view science – then , yes of course, one can then proceed to discount science in virtually everything and proceed to belive what one wishes to believe, instead.

    sorry – not for me. I DO take ALL science with a bit of a grain of salt – in part because when journalists get into the act like this one did – it can pollute what science really is about.

    here’s a poll that summaries the issue:

    “A substantial percentage of scientists also say that the news media have done a poor job educating the public. About three-quarters (76%) say a major problem for science is that news reports fail to distinguish between findings that are well-founded and those that are not. And 48% say media oversimplification of scientific findings is a major problem. The scientists are particularly critical of television news coverage of science. Just 15% of scientists rate TV coverage as excellent or good, while 83% say it is only fair or poor. Newspaper coverage of science is rated somewhat better; still, barely a third (36%) of the scientists say it is excellent or good, while 63% rate it as only fair or poor.”


    and you know what? take a look at how students in our schools do in math and science.

    look at the SOL and AP and SAT scores in science … that explains a LOT….

  6. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me why it doesn’t matter that it was “settled science” in the 1970s we were entering into a new ice age. This is not to argue that scientists urging there is global warming related to carbon emissions are necessarily wrong. But I still have trouble understanding how settled science can do a 180 and no one questions credibility.

    It’s not unlike Fairfax County Public Schools that has been arguing for at least the last 20 years it could not cut anything from the budget, when it eliminated a sizable number of staff positions in recent years. But at least, Superintendent Garza acknowledges a credibility issue.

    1. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

      Oh, the explanation is really easy: you’re a liar. There was no settled science on global cooling in the 70s. The vast majority of the papers on global climate activity predicted warming.

  7. LarrytheG Avatar

    science is not infallible – never was. science promotes the scientific method which requires peers to replicate findings.. even then.. it does not guarantee 100% no matter what.

    Where do you get the 180 from? I see global warming exactly the same way I see El Nino or even hurricane prediction. Do you just totally not believe the science because they did not get everything 100% dead on correct? Science never promised that in the first place. but when 99 scientists tell you that cigarettes will likely cause cancer and you cite the 1 guy who says that not one study has actually proved it conclusively – where are you in your thinking?

    what you’re doing TMT – is you’re saying that because Fairfax financial folks don’t do finances the way you prefer – that it basically means the whole field of finance is suspect.

    You can use that approach on anything – and end up believing everything is bogus.

    If Obama screws up – the POTUS is corrupt. If the SCOTUS issues a decision you disagree with – the POTUS can no longer be trusted as in institution. If some pilot in some plane flies it into a mountain – you can no longer trust any pilot.

    etc, etc..

    but comparing Science as a discipline to the Fairfax School budget office is a new stretch!

  8. I was trained as a scientist. My coursework was in Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology. Scientists understand that “science” is a collection of opinions supported by data. Very seldom do you hear them talking about scientific “facts”. Thomas Kuhn once wrote a book that documented that for a new theory to be largely accepted, it required the deaths of the generation of scientists holding fast to the old theory. With all of the brilliant minds, scientists often overlook data which don’t fit the existing worldview. Only when the data is overwhelming do we accept a different way of looking at things.

    Before something is widely accepted, other researchers must replicate a study and their results must undergo peer review. In the original study about saturated fats, his data did not support his conclusions. Policy makers and industry PR firms made what they wanted out of it before other scientists could point out that it was faulty research.

    We live in a soundbite culture. People want absolutes. Our beliefs become “facts”. We make enemies out of those who have a different opinion rather than using them as a source of learning. As a business leader, I always valued those who did not agree with me. It sharpened my thinking and gave me other options to consider.

    We live in a complex world. The more we learn, the more we realize how much we do not know. When Einstein published his theories, did that make Newton “wrong”? Or did we come to understand that there was more to this universe than we first thought. Even Einstein was uncomfortable with the “spooky action at a distance” discovered in quantum mechanics.

    It has been said that a sign of intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing thoughts in your head at the same time. Does that sound like our news shows or social media?

    That is my concern with standardized tests. They have value but they do not measure how well we think. There is too little civil discourse and deep thought going on today. I sometimes think the privileged few of several hundred years ago were better educated than we are today. They didn’t know nearly as many facts but they had a broad understanding of many disciplines and were not afraid to admit and ponder what they did not yet understand. It seems we are afraid to say “I don’t know”.

    Blaming the scientists is like blaming the politicians for our current system. As individuals and communities we must start asking better questions and expecting better answers. Soundbites do not move the dialogue forward.

  9. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: ” That is my concern with standardized tests. They have value but they do not measure how well we think.”

    I’m not in favor of high stakes standardized testing but testing is necessary if for no other reason in a child’s formative stages to identify what they have learned and what they need more help with.

    Testing is a normal part of life – from drivers licensing, to getting into the Armed Forces to getting a license as an Engineer or Physician or even getting into College, graduating or getting credit for AP courses.

    Testing is also how we know that we suck compared to Europe, Asia and Australia/New Zealand and we do know where we are deficit – math and science – and using math/science to describe, understand and articulate the use of technology in real world problem solving.

    A good example is giving a kid a computer program to write or a robot to design. both require a command of language, math and science to deal with technology in devising solutions and our school systems in this country except for Magnets, Charters and some other isolated examples largely do not do this.

    AP participation rate even at good schools is less than 50% and more typical in the 12-25% range – and that’s participation rate – the pass rate for math and science in AP at most schools is abysmal.

    It’s not STEM per se – in terms of course material – it’s the ability to competently use language, and knowledge to solve real world problems.

    Smartphones are ubiquitous in our world – but most folks don’t have a clue how the technology actually works – and THAT’S where JOBS are for those looking for jobs!

    Drones are becoming more and more a part of the world we live in – but very few understand how drones actually work because they do not possess the education necessary to do so – much less compete for a job in a field that is now being revolutionized by drones.

    these are the global jobs that are now available that 80% of US kids are not getting level of education needed to do these jobs.

    Math and Science in our schools are actually feared… steered away from and it shows up painfully later on when issues like Climate Change and scientific inquiry in general are at issue.

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