Sunday, June 01, 2008

Mass Preventive Medicine Prevents Individual Rights

In April, I reported that I had read the first 8 chapters of Gary Taubes's book "Good Calories, Bad Calories". I pointed out that those chapters are replete with evidence that "Government encouragement does not order men to believe that the false is true. It merely makes them indifferent to the issue of truth or falsehood." That quote is from Ayn Rand in her essay Establishing of an Establishment now in the book Philosophy: Who Needs It which can be purchased here.

I quoted two paragraphs of his book from the chapter "Creation of Consensus" which showed how evidence contrary to government policy tends not to get funded by the funding agencies, and often gets attacked by their spokesmen. Also, it is this pressure that causes some scientists to interpret the findings of their studies in a light favorable to government policy even when the studies themselves do not support it.

Today's post will look at how this indifference to truth is evolving into the destruction of the concept of health by moving it from the individual context--its rightful place--to a collective context. In other words, the concept of 'public health' is to be considered separate from and superior to individual health. And since you are an individual, your health doesn't matter and can be sacrificed to the good of the collective or the so-called 'common good.'

An example of this is provided by Sandy Szwarc at in a post about a conference at which it was advocated that medical ethics be replaced by social ethics. Summarizing it for us Ms. Szwarc writes:
Essentially, this philosophy argues that the obesity “epidemic” is such a threat to society and our quality of life, that to be moral and ethical, public health policies and preventive health must act in the name of the common good. Public interests are more important than those of individuals. The government must determine what is best for all, as individuals are incapable of protecting themselves. Society, most importantly, must act on behalf of children. Today’s public health has reached such crisis proportions, the viewpoint goes, that coercive policies that strip away individual freedoms and leave people no choice but to comply with “healthy behaviors” are now justified.
I recommend reading the whole short article. The desire of these people to employ the use of force against American citizens is obvious.

That the new concept of 'public health' is designed to sacrifice the individual to some higher entity like the 'common good' is indisputable. But in fact, there is no such thing as public health per se. Most people who use that term generally regard it to mean the sum of the health of all the people in a given society or at least a majority of them since someone is always sick somewhere. That would be a valid use of the term public health. That is not however the intent of the new concept in its collective context. In its new context, public health' is a tool to serve the concept 'common good' or 'public interest' the definition of which will be determined by the intellectuals. But is there such a thing as 'common good'?
When "the common good" of a society is regarded as something apart from and superior to the individual good of its members, it means that the good of some men takes precedence over the good of others, with those others consigned to the status of sacrificial animals. It is tacitly assumed, in such cases, that “the common good” means “the good of the majority” as against the minority or the individual. Observe the significant fact that that assumption is tacit: even the most collectivized mentalities seem to sense the impossibility of justifying it morally. But “the good of the majority,” too, is only a pretense and a delusion: since, in fact, the violation of an individual’s rights means the abrogation of all rights, it delivers the helpless majority into the power of any gang that proclaims itself to be “the voice of society” and proceeds to rule by means of physical force, until deposed by another gang employing the same means.-Ayn Rand Lexicon
Observe how Rand identifies the "good of the majority" as only a pretense and a delusion. This is so true and very important. The new concept of public health can mean anything the 'authorities' want it to mean. It can mean the sacrifice of a minority to a majority or of the majority to a minority. This last is its real meaning. To see how, I have to return to "Good Calories, Bad Calories" and Mr. Taubes' description of how the mass preventive medicine idea took hold.
"This strategy [collective medicine-ME] is credited to the British epidemiologist Geoffrey Rose, a longtime veteran of the dietary-fat controversy. "The mass approach is inherently the only ultimate answer to the problem of mass disease," Rose explained in 1981.

"But, however much it may offer to the community as a whole, it
offers little to each participating individual. When mass
diphtheria immunization was introduced in Britain 40 years ago,
even then roughly 600 children had to be immunized in order that
one life be saved--599 'wasted' immunizations for the one that was
effective....This is the kind of ratio that one has to accept in
mass preventive medicine. A measure applied to many will actually
benefit few." (Rose quote)

When it came to dietary fat and heart disease, according to Rose's calculation, only one man in every fifty might expect to avoid a heart attack by virtue of avoiding saturated fat for his entire adult life: "Forty-nine out of fifty would eat differently everyday for forty years and perhaps get nothing from it." (pp66,67)
So we see that 49 people will be sacrificed for the alleged benefit of one. That is collectivism. It is important here to understand how these collectivists think. By way of an analogy, collectivists see a barrel of 300 apples, (or 300 million people) and notice that 1 in 50 are bad. They see doctors treat each bad apple individually and return them to health. They see that the entire population has been improved. They wish to be as beneficial to mankind as those doctors are. But they seek a shortcut. Instead of treating individual apples to make them better, they look only at the whole population and dream of what it would be like to prevent those 6 apples from going bad. This would certainly be better for all of applekind wouldn't it?

Studies are done and a 'socially acceptable' range of sizes and colors for healthy apples is politically established. All apples must conform to these new standards for their own good. There is only one problem with this behavior on the part of apple authorities. It ignores the nature of apples. According to this web site, there are about 7500 varieties of apples each having its own nature. It's obvious that if any one-size-fits-all program of preventive medicine won't work with apples, it sure as hell won't work with humans. But this kind of thinking is what collectivists want to force or see forced on the public. Only this time the 'public' does mean every individual.

But the truth is they don't care about those 6 apples, or the 294 others whose forced sacrifices are now required. The real ideal of the collectivists is sacrifice, the sacrifice of everyone to everyone all the time. And the tool that will help them achieve this goal is mass preventive medicine as permanent government policy.

The only way a society can protect itself from them is to fight for a separation of state and economics and the best place to start is in medicine. Aside from a rare quarantine, the government has no business getting involved in medicine or public health in any way. The United States was founded on the principle of the primacy of the individual, not the collective or the state.

(As an aside, I recommend Good Calories, Bad Calories if for no other reason than that it's a good history of diet hypotheses and public policy. I don't agree with everything he says but in fairness, he calls for more randomized, double-blind, clinical trials to study refined carbohydrates in a quality way. While I'm not in favor of government funding of any science-except for defense-if it is going to fund some studies then it should fund this also.)


David Brown said...

Interesting material on your blog, Mike. Especially this Ayn Rand Quote: "Government encouragement does not order men to believe that the false is true. It merely makes them indifferent to the issue of truth or falsehood."

I suspect that any sort of indoctrination will accomplish the above, from advertising to academic instruction.

It seems like most people rely heavily on personal preference and consensus of opinion to inform their own views as to how the real world works. Moreover, unless intensely interested in the subject matter, most people are passive about acquiring information about nutritional issues.

Over the years I've written numerous letters for the opinion page of our local paper (Circulation 20,000), many of them critical of the diet-heart hypothesis. It's interesting that no dietitian or physician has ever refuted my arguments in favor of consuming as much red meat, eggs, and full fat dairy products as one desires.

Below is my latest letter published in the April 20, 2008 edition of The Daily Inter Lake.

Dear Editor:

In late February I learned that the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) has a strategy for improving the health of Montanans. It's called the 2006-2010 Montana Nutrition and Physical Activity State Plan to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases. The Plan was formulated by a 77 member Cardiovascular Disease/ Obesity Prevention Task Force and became public policy in June 2006.

Many aspects of the Plan are indeed helpful. Unfortunately, the major dietary advice for weight control is reduced fat intake. In addition, the cornerstone of heart disease prevention involves severely limiting saturated fat consumption. Neither recommendation has sound science behind it.

What these ideas do have behind them is the backing of vegetarian activists, food manufacturers, the edible oils industry, and sugar producers. For decades these corporate interests have controlled advertising, funded research, and exerted influence on government agencies that supply educational materials (Dietary Guidelines) to state and county health departments. Fortunately, there's growing suspicion that current fat-phobic orthodoxy may actually be damaging the public health. For example, on January 21, 2008 researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine released a statement that generated a number of articles headlined "Do national dietary guidelines do more harm than good?" A press release reads, "Mid-way to the drafting of the 2010 guidelines, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University raise questions about the benefits of federal dietary guidelines, and urge that guideline writers be guided by explicit standards of evidence to ensure the public good."

This is exactly what has not been done where dietary fat is concerned. Further along in the article one reads, "Dr. Marantz and colleagues argue that if guidelines can alter behavior, such alteration could have positive or negative effects. They cite how, in 2000, the Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee suggested that the recommendation to lower fat, advised in the 1995 guidelines, had perhaps been ill-advised and might actually have some potential harm. The committee noted concern that the previous priority given to a low-fat intake may lead people to believe that, as long as fat intake is low, the diet will be entirely healthful. This belief could engender an overconsumption of total calories in the form of carbohydrates, resulting in the adverse metabolic consequences of high-carbohydrate diets, the committee wrote, while also noting that an increasing prevalence of obesity in the United States has corresponded roughly with an absolute increase in carbohydrate consumption.

Another indication that the focus is shifting from fat to carbohydrate is this observation in a February 6 article by Dr. J. Rand Baggesen entitled "The latest news about cholesterol medicine." His concluding remark: "There is no substitute for an active physical lifestyle in combination with a diet that avoids high levels of simple carbohydrates when it comes to health. In 2008, we do not have a medicine as powerful as these simple measures when it comes to avoidance of heart disease and stroke.

Other researchers are finding that lower cholesterol levels may have a serious downside not previously noticed because of the prejudice against high cholesterol. For example, in a January 9, 2008 press release "Researchers at Texas A&M University have discovered that lower cholesterol levels can actually reduce muscle gain with exercising." Lead investigator Steven Riechman reported that subjects who were taking cholesterol-lowering drugs while participating in the study showed lower muscle gain totals than those who were not. “Needless to say," he said, "these findings caught us totally off guard.”

While the prejudice against saturated fat and cholesterol runs deep, it's possible that obesity experts will soon begin telling carb-sensitive individuals to consume more butter, eggs, coconut oil, and red meat to reduce insulin levels to allow stored fat to be burned so that weight loss can occur.

In conjunction with the 2008 Western Regional Obesity Course sponsored by the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, the Nutrition and Metabolism Society held a Symposium in Phoenix on April 12-13. The event featured, among others, Gary Taubes, Jeff S. Volek, Stephen D. Phinney, and J. Bruce German. The topic was "Saturated Fat and Heart Disease: What's the Evidence?"

The evidence, of course, is the research that the mainstream nutrition establishment has been ignoring for more than 30 years and will probably continue to ignore for a while yet. That evidence indicates that excessive fructose consumption, not saturated fat, is largely to blame for the continued high incidence of heart disease and the recent increase in the incidence of diabetes and obesity.

David Brown
1925 Belmar Dr
Kalispell, MT 59901

Mike N said...


That's a long letter. I'm surprised they printed the whole thing. But I agree with all of it.

I only disagree on one point not in the letter: that any indoctrination, including advertising, can achieve the same indifference to truth. Advertising leaves us choice. Academic instruction does not in that to get passing grades we must either accept the dogma as true or pretend we do.

Like the global warming hoax, the obesity hoax is cloaked in half truths which serve to hide all the falsehoods and thus disarm the public.

It sure looks right now that some of the obesity that does exist was caused by government action. Remember Mr. walter Willet? He's the head of Harvard School of Public Health who in the 80s advised everyone to switch to trans fats. I heard the USDA used some of his advice to build their food pyramid. Then in 2005 he reversed himself on the trans fats issue and said publicly, if I remember correctly, "I've sent thousands to an early grave."

But you'd never know it by today's editorials. The mantra is still that people eat too much and are too lazy. Obesity is all the public's fault.

But do keep up the good work on getting the correct word out.

Unpretentious Diva said...

Advertising leaves us choice. Academic instruction does not in that to get passing grades we must either accept the dogma as true or pretend we do.
Quite correct!
I read somewhere that americans are even trying to get socialized medical facilities too.
Here is a video about it A Short Course in Brain Surgery

"Common Good" is a myth which leads the idea of Robin hoods, looting one and providing others. That's simply corruption!
Some excerpts from Dr. Ron Paul taken from his 1987 book "Freedom Under Siege".

I see no conflict between the self "ownership" concept associated with natural rights and those who, for religious reasons, believe their life is “owned” by God. One is a political concept and the other a religious concept. Obviously no one can dictate another's religious belief. What one does with one's life and property is a personal decision and it may or may not include religious beliefs. In a free society a person can "turn his life over to God" or squander it as he chooses. The important thing is that the state not be permitted to assume any ownership role of the individual.

A society built on the principle of individual rights rejects the notion that the state should protect a citizen from himself. Government cannot and should not protect against one's own "unwise" decisions. Freedom is impossible once a government assumes a role in regulating the people's eating, sleeping, drinking, smoking, and exercise habits. Once government believes it has an obligation to improve or protect the people physically it will then claim it can protect them economically and intellectually. It leads to a regimented society, hostile to individuals who cling to the notion that their lives and liberty are their own. Conservatives certainly must be reminded that "civil" liberty is the same as economic liberty, and present-day liberals must be told that economic liberty deserves the same protection that the written and spoken word under the First Amendment. Preemptive regulations of either literary commercial activity, for any reason, are prohibited in a free society. Fraud and libel are crimes that, when proven in a court of law, must be punished.

The most important element of a free society, where individual rights held in the highest esteem, is the rejection of the initiation of violence. Initiation of force is a violation of someone else's rights, whether initiated by an individual or the state, for the benefit of an individual or group of individuals, even if it is supposed to be for the benefit of their individual or group of individuals. Legitimate use of violence can only be that which is required in self-defense.

This means that all associations are voluntary and by mutual consent of both parties. Contracts drawn up without force or fraud must be rigidly adhered to. This sounds reasonable, and most people would agree this outline of mutually agreed-to associations. But it also means that free people have the right to discriminate – in choosing a spouse, a friend a business partner, an employer, an employee, a customer, etc. Civil rights legislation of the past thirty years has totally ignored this principle. Many "do-gooders," of course, argue from the "moral high ground" for their version of equal rights, knowing that they can play the sympathies and the guilt of many Americans. Yet the real reason for some of these laws is less than noble. For instance, minimum wage laws are popular, but the proponents rarely admit that this protects higher paid union-jobs and it increases unemployment.

Total freedom of contract and association is what the "pursuit of happiness" is all about. Once this principle is violated, the gradual but steady erosion of our liberties can be expected unless the principle of individual rights is reestablished.

Free choice means that the incentive to produce is maximized, since it's assumed that we can keep the fruits of our labor. In a free society, an individual benefits from wise and frugal decisions and suffers the consequences of bad judgment and wasteful habits. The state should neither guarantee nor tax success, nor compensate those who fail. The individual must be responsible for all of his decisions. Because some suffer from acts outside of their control, we cannot justify the use of violence to take from someone else to "help out." People in need are not excused when they rob their neighbors, and government should not be excused when it does the robbing for them. Providing for the general welfare means that the general conditions of freedom must be maintained. It should never be used to justify specific welfare or any transfer of wealth from one person to another.

A free society permits narrow self-interest but allows for compassion and self-sacrifice. Greed, when associated with force or fraud, is not acceptable. A free society is more likely to survive if compassion is voluntarily shown for the unfortunate than if the poor are ignored. A healthy self-interest associated with a sense of responsibility for family and friends is far superior to a welfare state built on foolish self-sacrifice and violent redistribution of wealth.

A society that holds in high esteem the principle of individual rights is superior in all ways to a society that distorts the meaning of liberty and condones the use of government coercion.

Dr. Ron Paul, "Freedom Under Siege", 1987

Burgess Laughlin said...

David Brown: ". . . no dietitian or physician has ever refuted my arguments in favor of consuming as much red meat, eggs, and full fat dairy products as one desires."

Mr. Brown, what would constitute a refutation? In other words, what are your criteria for showing that a refutation is valid?

More importantly, and more positively, what are the criteria for proving your own thesis--stated above--is valid?