Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Jamelle Bouie's essay on "conservative tribalism" -- the tendency of right-wingers to adopt (some) positions just to be on the other side of positions liberals have taken --  rings pretty true. I think the problem goes deeper than he knows, though. Dropping a position you used to hold just to get on the right or left of the opposition is an understandable political maneuver.  But when you see conservatives reacting to, for example, Michelle Obama's drink-more-water campaign by exposing the lie that water is good for you, you know things have gotten weird.

Here's a more recent example from the Rasputin of ressentiment, Ole Perfesser Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit: Reynolds quotes a New York Times story about how judgments on what foods are good for you have changed over time, as one would expect in a era of active research ("trying to tweeze feeble effects from a tangle of variables, many of them unknown, inevitably leads to a tug of war of contradictory reports"). Many of us would appreciate the reminder of the need for perspective and factor it into our dietary decisions. Here's Reynolds' reaction:
Yet all the nutritional commands — like the command to avoid sunlight — have been issued in the Voice Of Authority, with doubters and skeptics condemned as disrespecters of science. There’s even the suggestion that the war on tobacco caused people who quit smoking to gain weight, with more cancers resulting from obesity than from cigarettes. If that proves out, will the anti-smoking folks be targeted like the tobacco companies were?
Kind of tempts you to tell him liberals "command" everyone to avoid running their lawn mowers over live power lines, doesn't it? Actually there's no point: He's not going to live out the freedom-from-science dream. That's for his readers to do, poor bastards.


  1. "There’s even the suggestion that the war in Iraq caused more terrorism to breed in the Middle East, with more deaths resulting from post-war instability in the region than under Saddam. If that proves out, will the war supporters be targeted like the anti-war protestors were?

    - Alternate Universe Reynolds

  2. Yet all the nutritional commands — like the command to avoid sunlight —
    have been issued in the Voice Of Authority, with doubters and skeptics
    condemned as disrespecters of science

    Funny, I always saw it as sensible guidelines to encourage people to live healthier, longer lives.

    There’s even the suggestion that the war on tobacco caused people who
    quit smoking to gain weight, with more cancers resulting from obesity
    than from cigarettes. If that proves out, will the anti-smoking folks be
    targeted like the tobacco companies were?

    There is? Who's making this suggestion? On the face of it, the "smoking cessation cause more cancers" thing is bullshit. Smokers who quit could have avoided weight gain by changing their diets, but for the fact that vegetables are for commies and fags.

  3. He's not going to live out the freedom-from-science dream.

    Well, he's not going to "live it out" but I'm pretty sure his Internist must roll his eyes everytime Ole Dr. Perfesser rolls up on him with the latest fad right wing rebuttal to every illness ever known to man. It was laetrile in the 70's--I'm pretty sure that the ODP has some pretty strong ideas about liberty and freedumb as applied to doctor's orders.

  4. I think there's a lot of weird pseudo science floating around about obesity just now because of all the Obamacare trumpeting of things like what happens when people bring their diabetes under control. Its like there's a pile of facts, like a pile of old clothes, on the floor and they just dig through until they assemble an outfit. So: diabetes (wrongly associated with fat people) causes health care problems? Then anything that causes obesity must ipso facto cause health care problems. Cancer is a health care problem and they are always finding new things that are co-morbid with cancer...why not obesity?

    Plus of course there's also this reverse psychology thing going on with these idiots. My right wing sister in law asked me years ago--like 15--whether I didn't expect that it would someday turn out that organic foods were actually bad for you--worse than GMO or artificial fertilizer type foods. Now that I'm doing all this polisci reading I can see that she was offering a classic "futility, perversity, jeopardy" argument. Because that is what is going on here. Its not sufficient for these idiots to argue that a social program or insight is futile (null in effect) they have to argue that there is a perverse backlash from it as well that makes the individual or society worse off than before.

  5. Bizarro Mike4:42 PM

    It's pretty funny to think of "Big Science" as having some kind of sinister agenda. Yes, those white-coated a-holes are pulling the strings to get ... a small grant? What?

  6. On the face of it, the "smoking cessation cause more cancers" thing is bullshit.

    It's another one of those gut instinct, feels-like-science-therefore-science bits. Apparently, there is some evidence that obesity is co-morbid with a few types of cancer. Obviously, if we figure that obesity leads to cancer, and we all know that some people who quit smoking eat more afterwards, and some of those people may gain enough long-term weight to become obese, then obviously some of those people may develop cancers that are co-morbid with obesity. If that's the case, then obviously it's theoretically possible that the number of people who developed those cancers is greater than the number of people who would have developed cancer from using tobacco.

    It's kind of the quintessential glibertarian argument to...well, pretty much anything, but research especially: Keep throwing in theoretical scenarios and made-up scary numbers until your case makes sense. It truly is the philosophy of a theoretical world.

  7. JennOfArk4:51 PM

    Yet all the nutritional commands — like the command to avoid sunlight — have been issued in the Voice Of Authority, with doubters and skeptics condemned as disrespecters of science.

    Yeah, that "Voice of Authority"? It also goes under the heading of what's known as "conventional wisdom" - stuff that everyone just knows, regardless of whether it's true or not. Reynolds & Co. are big fans of the "Voice of Authority," as long as it's telling people we have to start an unnecessary war, get more guns into more people's hands, cut taxes for billionaires & etc. As I recall, in the case of the Iraq War, it was the doubters and skeptics being condemned as unAmerican, by the likes of Reynolds.

    In terms of poor nutritional choices, other than Bloomberg's silly soda size law, which liberals widely derided, I can't really recall anyone being "condemned" as a "disrespecter of science." I've heard people talk about how bad a lot of the food available to us is, I've heard people talk about how some people make poor food choices, I've heard people talk about how a lot of people don't have much access to good food, but I've not heard anyone "condemned." And most people who are well informed and who talk about health, food and nutrition are fairly rational, as in back in the day 30 years ago when my mom, a dedicated margarine user, questioned if the butter I preferred was a good food choice. I pointed out to her that since I only go through a couple of pounds of it per year, I couldn't see where even if the butter was higher in saturated fat than margarine is that it was going to hurt me much, and she agreed. Fast forward 20 years, and we find out it's the margarine that's full of deadly trans fat, and by comparison, butter is a much better choice. Mom uses butter now, and I don't condemn her as a "disrespecter" of science for having used the oleo for all those years.

    This is how sensible people react to changing information. People like Reynolds prefer to bitch and moan and argue about it.

  8. Dr. Hunky Jimpjorps4:53 PM

    I think this is just good old fashioned lawyering from Reynolds; being a lawyer, his instinct is to try to sow reasonable doubt about his opponent's case, rather than prove his own. He'd love a scientific community where the consensus is defined by who can fluster the opposition with the most nightmare hypotheticals and hearsay.

  9. JennOfArk4:54 PM

    Put on your wingnut goggles for a minute, and ask that question again.

    Those white-coated a-holes are pulling the strings just to piss on everyone's - but specifically conservatives' - party.

    I know this because rightwingers, like all other people, have a default setting where they expect others to behave and think as they do. And that's what they would do.

  10. There seems to be a bit of a hole in OP's argument. Let's follow the thread:

    -Liberals want to force people to live a certain way, because they're assholes.
    -Researchers and doctors - who are either liberal assholes themselves or in thrall to them - issue various health edicts.
    -When people oppose this health fascism, they get shouted down because "the science is settled."
    -Years later, we find out that those original proclamations were flawed and/or incomplete.

    Notice a gap in there? Who are these apostates doing the research that challenges the great scientific orthodoxy? It can't be conservatives - they've been hedged out of the process. So is it other liberals? Then how are they getting the news out? Hell, why are they getting the research out? And if it's not about politics, why bother controlling the message?

    I'm being facetious, actually. Yes, there is the little shot at anti-smoking campaigns - part of a fringe but oddly robust libertarian belief that smoking is totally okay. But it's not about smoking, or about food - not really. It's about global warming. It's always about global warming with these guys. And if they can't attack the science in particular, they'll attack science in general.

  11. Dr. Hunky Jimpjorps5:06 PM

    I think the futility-perversity-jeopardy arguments are so popular because they have the comforting, righteous overtone of "you'll be sorry!" -- not only are you wrong, you're so wrong that it'll blow up in your face and you'll realize I was right the whole time and you'll beg for me to forgive you and I'll laugh and say no and then won't you feel so bad?

  12. Ellis_Weiner5:08 PM

    "argue"? Puh-leeze. They're not arguing, neither the Old Perf or your sister in law. They're not even wondering. They're asserting--not to convince you, or any other sane, honest person (which is all we ask for, at this benighted point)--but to clear the ground so they can assume the position and admire themselves doing so.

    To counterfeit coin a phrase, they're not even not even wrong.

  13. This might come across as some old fart blowing stinky old stories into the olfactory systems of those-not-crotchety, but I stillremember the Great Nose-Picker Booger To-Do in the year aught-two.

    The tale began, as these brouhahas often do, in a saloon, this one frequented by Members of the 7th Congress of the United States.Bully’s was always full to bursting immediately after the House was dismissed, and this day was no different than others as members from across the aisle reached out to buy each other libations in a show of bipartisanship. But not Booby “Bumpy” Fitfoul, senior Republican
    Congressman from the Great State of Alabama. He was still steaming mad over a speech delivered that day in Congress by Eustus T. Tailbait, D-NY, who had introduced a Bill to make it illegal to pick your nose and then eat what ya’ dug out. What had Bumpy so riled up was the effrontery of a government trying telling him what he could or could not do with a substance captured in his own nose!

    “They’ll be a- tellin’ me which hand ta’ hold my pecker in when I piss, next,” muttered Bumpy to some of his fellow conservatives. There were nods and dark imprecations from his fellow sufferers. “I aim to do sumpin’ ‘bout this on the morrow, boys. Ain’t no nancy-pants tellin’ me what to do with what’s rightly mine!”

    Well, if you attended your American history classes regularly, and paid attention, you just might remember how this particular issue became a nation-wide sensation. Newspapers and pamphleteers couldn’t print details fast enough as the Democrats claimed it was unsanitary, and more besides, to pick your nose and eat it, and conservatives on the other side wailing about government interference, the rights of privacy, and free supplemental nutrition. The whole issue was studied from every conceivable angle. Then, as these things often play out, first the nation and then the House itself tired of the intractable natures of the opposing sides and the Bill died a quiet death on the floor.

    That’s why to this day there are no laws on the books in the United States of America that prohibit eating what you excavate from your nose. And for that you can thank the Grand Old Party.

  14. coozledad5:14 PM

    Yet all the nutritional commands — like the command to avoid sunlight — have been issued in the Voice Of Authority

    Returning patient Ralph Stroud, a retired operations manager for North Carolina’s Employment Security Commission, grew up on a tobacco and soybean farm. Throughout his youth he headed to the coast with family and friends and routinely used a mixture of iodine and baby oil thought to help achieve a deep, dark tan. Once, on a college spring-break trip to the beach, he and his buddies forgot the baby oil, so they used motor oil instead.

    ...According to the National Cancer Institute, there were more than 68,000 new cases of melanoma in the U.S. in 2009 and more than 8,000 deaths.

    Glen Reynolds needs to visit an oncology ward. Stat.

  15. JennOfArk5:32 PM

    If only they'd passed a law to make illegal to hawk what they excavate from their asses.

  16. To control people. There's this presumption that public health advocates (along with ecologists and anyone else who can be associated with both science and "the left") don't really believe what they say, they're just saying these things so that they can control people's behavior.

    What, that doesn't make sense to you? You're wondering why anyone would want to steer a population's behavior away from a certain hazard if he didn't think the hazard was actually there? Well, that's where we get into "thriller by a 4th-rate novelist" territory. Some of them do believe it's for money - as illogical as that may seem - but there are countless other hypotheses. It's to weaken the US so that the UN can take over. It's connected to communism somehow. It's because they're all part of an anti-human cult. It's so they can wipe out Christianity (don't ask). It's because they're just assholes and hate everyone irrationally. Lots of reasons.

  17. Christopher Hazell5:47 PM

    "have been issued in the Voice Of Authority, with doubters and skeptics condemned as disrespecters of science."

    I'm not sure I've ever seen this happen. I mean, if you doubt Global Warming or Evolution, then people will condemn you for hating science, sure.

    But I don't think I've ever seen that happen with food science.

  18. gocart mozart5:52 PM

    This is correct - It's not argumentation it's trash talking. "Quitting smoking causes cancer" "Your mom's so fat . . . " "Did Michele Obama tell you to eat that salad? Do you do everything the FLOTUS tells you to do? What is she your momma? Your momma is a big fat fascist poopy head." and so on.

  19. Cancer is co-morbid with obesity. Basically anything that can be considered a chronic stressor (including chronic stress) is linked to cancer. Also, type 2 diabetes is pretty strongly associated with obesity (type 1 is independent). The problem is that the relationships are complex and even journalists that are honestly trying to report the effects make a hash of it. Then you have the people with an axe to grind, actively misrepresent the data and/or the associated health recommendations (Paul Campos comes to mind).

  20. mgmonklewis6:07 PM

    "Yet all the nutritional commands — like the command to avoid sunlight —
    have been issued in the Voice Of Authority, with doubters and skeptics
    condemned as disrespecters of science."

    Once again, the Ole Perfesser painstakingly constructs a straw man of arguments that were made by absolutely no one, ever.

  21. redoubtagain6:08 PM

    to clear the ground so they can assume the position and admire themselves doing so.

    Cats do the same thing, which is why litterboxes exist.

  22. mgmonklewis6:10 PM

    Heh, indeedy.

  23. At least cats bury their droppings.

  24. It's pretty funny to think of "Big Science" as having some kind of sinister agenda.

    The thing most of these loons don't realize is the biggest score a scientist can make in his or her career is to prove false what everyone thought was true. With that logic, getting 3000 scientists in a room to agree on anything notable.

  25. "Commands" known to most of us in the rational world as "recommendations"

  26. M. Krebs6:20 PM

    Meanwhile, I see that ObamaHitler ate sushi in Japan. We'll never hear the end of it.

  27. No. Because they were wrong for the right reasons, whereas the anti-war liebruhls were "right" for the wrong reasons, which makes them Wrong.

    Liebruhls are almost always "right" about things, but only for the wrong reasons, so they are always Wrong, especially for using the Voice Of Authority on hapless authoritarian asswipes who can't help but be disgraced for merely being "wrong" all the time (for the right reasons).

  28. RHWombat6:23 PM

    I suspect that this is just another shot from the Koch-suckers and the Rupertarians in the ongoing War on Scientific Aggression (Climate Change Division). The Australian Attorney General, a devout mouthpiece called Brandis, most recently notorious for defending the 'Right to be a bigot' ( ), doubled down with an assault on the Scientific Inquisition attacks on climate deniers: . Far be it for an ignorant antipodean marsupial like me to challenge the primacy of Wingnutius americanensis, but I do think that there is a likely link between Rupert's propaganda puppets and Glenn "RJ" Reynolds.

  29. "…but for the fact that vegetables are for commies and fags."

    Well, there you have it, 4B. QED.

  30. redoubtagain6:25 PM

    Yet all the nutritional commands — like the command to avoid sunlight —
    have been issued in the Voice Of Authority, with doubters and skeptics
    condemned as disrespecters of science.

    OP is on the masthead of Popular Mechanics magazine as "Resident Contrarian." I expect, since he doesn't believe in the scientific method, he will immediately resign, and establish the East Tennessee Institute for Sexbot Research with his own money from now on.

  31. It's ALWAYS personal with conservatoids--practically a defining trait.

  32. And it still assumes facts-not-in-evidence that removing Hazard A (smoking) from the environment necessitates introducing Hazard B (being a fat bastard) for these idjits.

  33. smut clyde6:33 PM

    There is? Who's making this suggestion?
    Glenn Reynolds is suggesting it. It's out there!

  34. M. Krebs6:34 PM


  35. But this whole "obesity is linked to cancer" thing--though I acknowledge that it may be true--strikes me as as weird as the focus on breast cancer "cures" that ignore environmental causes for cancers. Surely its the case that more people will die of cancers caused by toxins in their superfund cleanup site and the frakking going on in their neighborhoods than will die of obesity related cancers that appear "spontaneously" as the result of no known factor.

  36. smut clyde6:45 PM

    IIRC, there is a cause-&-effect link between obesity and (post-menopausal) breast cancer, because adipose tissue is basically an endocrine gland which plays merry scratch with your estrogen levels.

    But the number of extra cancers among people who gained weight after giving up smoking would be orders of magnitude less than the number of lung cancers prevented.

  37. They need a place to lay their weary heds, you know. With the added bonus that apparently your own fundament is an excellent echo chamber.

  38. Megalon7:23 PM

    Let's just pray to God he didn't bow to anyone while doing it or this country is well and truly screwed.

  39. I doubt if he will do anything with his own money, but you're right about the Sexbot Science.

    Glenn will never giver that up. (From here:)

  40. davdoodles8:12 PM

    Truly odd people. In one breath, they argue that scientific and social progress, making things better, makes things worse.
    An easy charge to make of course, as any change will with it bring one consequence or another, even if only in terms of opportunity cost....
    ...And in the next breath, they argue that doing nothing to improve things (a most charitable definition of conservatism, which is really more about regressing than remaining static), magically somehow makes things better.

  41. Spaghetti Lee8:50 PM

    "Supposing for a minute we lived in a world where CDC bureaucrats could infect people with cancer through telekinesis..."

  42. Spaghetti Lee8:51 PM

    If that proves out, will the anti-smoking folks be targeted like the tobacco companies were?

    Well, professor, knowing you, you're probably dead-set on doing that whether it's true or not, so what do you care?

  43. Pope Zebbidie XIII8:55 PM

    Reynolds hates it when liberals use the Voice of Authority - he gets caught in a feedback loop of obey-defy.

  44. Pope Zebbidie XIII9:00 PM

    Probably not. Obesity is a chronic stressor that often has a whole lifetime to cause damage. But like all this population level stuff, it doesn't mean that being fat will give you cancer.

    What will give you cancer is not dying early enough.

  45. L Bob Rife9:03 PM

    Argumentum ad Checkmatum Libtardae

  46. smut clyde9:06 PM

    From the perspective of oncologists, too many calories in your diet *is* an environmental issue.

    There are some lobbyists claiming that obesity is the second largest environmental cause of cancer after smoking, but to get to that figure they have to assume that every single correlation is indeed a causation.

  47. RogerAiles9:12 PM

    "There’s even the suggestion that the war on tobacco caused people who quit smoking to gain weight, with more cancers resulting from obesity than from cigarettes. If that proves out, will the anti-smoking folks be targeted like the tobacco companies were?''

    Surely we wouldn't target the manufacturers of cancer-causing foods for causing cancer!

    The last time I looked, the anti-smoking folks haven't been able to force anyone to stop smoking, let alone ingest food. Nor have the anti-smoking folks concealed decades of their own research on links between comestibles and cancer, ala Big Smokey.

    Forget science, Instacracker doesn't even understand legal causation.

  48. Pope Zebbidie XIII9:13 PM

    When you walk down the beach and you see obese people with skins like leather, eating burnt steaks, smoking unfiltered camels and drinking from 2 different Big Gulps? Epedemiology PhDs, every single one.

  49. Pope Zebbidie XIII9:16 PM

    Well...margarine isn't exactly deadly either or else we'd be seeing an explosion of cancers coming through 4 decades after the increase in use of margarine. As with all things food, moderation works wonders.

  50. Pope Zebbidie XIII9:21 PM

    Come to Australia:

    * Melanoma is the third most common form of cancer in Australian men and women (10% of all cancers)

    * More than 12,500 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed in Australia every year

    * Melanoma makes up only 2.3% of all skin cancers but is responsible for 75% of skin cancer deaths.

    And that's on a population a fourteenth of the US.

  51. The argument that the mortality risks from smoking-cessation-related weight gain are in the same ballpark as the risks from smoking is silly -- of course they're not -- but it's also silly to deny the fact that, on average, people who stop smoking gain weight. Saying, "yeah, but people who gain weight when they stop smoking don't have my smarts or strength of character" doesn't do much from a public-health perspective.

  52. smut clyde9:39 PM

    There is a shi1tload of industry money floating around for funding junk science and discrediting actual science in the food / agriculture area. Particularly noticeable in Australia, because of the clout of the sugarcane industry. There was a series of studies claiming that "sugar consumption is dropping while obesity increases, therefore sugar does not cause obesity".

    One particular study has been receiving no end of flak for claiming that "sugary drink consumption has been dropping" even as the authors' own data show a steady rise in sugary drink consumption. The authors and journal have been stonewalling for a couple of years, recently admitting that yes, the data are completely wrong, but this need not affect the conclusion.

    It would be cynical to suspect that Reynolds just wants to fasten onto this particular teat.

  53. Magatha9:47 PM

    Thanks for the link to that article. For the last 20-some years, I've been really careful about sunscreen and hats, but I grew up at a time when the baby-oil and iodine routine was commonplace. People would cut out tin foil discs and put them on the necks to try to get an even chin and throat tan. We went to Florida in the winter partly to visit the grandparents, but mostly to work on our tans. Poor dumb me: I have my grandmother's pale pinkish Scottish skin. So I'm keeping a lookout.




  55. It's co-morbid, but that doesn't mean there's cause and effect between the obesity and the cancer. There may well be a causal connection between the stressor and the obesity, and the stressor and cancer.

    All of this stuff is quite complex, and focusing on obesity is a really great way to put the solution to the kinds of stressors we all live with onto individuals whose bodies show the effects of the stressors rather than on the systemic issues contributing to the stressors.

  56. Could you give my cat a pep talk about that? I think she may not realize she's a cat.

  57. It's certainly what makes them so devastating at liberal dinner parties. At least when they're telling their conservative friends about it later.

  58. Jon Hendry10:24 PM

    I dunno, obesity is way, way more common than fracking and superfund cleanup sites.

  59. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person10:30 PM

    There’s even the suggestion that the war on tobacco caused people who quit smoking to gain weight

    Interesting construction. It's not quitting smoking that causes weight gain, but TEH LIBERASL! war on backy what did it. Perhaps I shall never understand the overeducated shitheads of this world...

  60. But cancers "caused" by obesity and nothing else is not.

  61. M. Krebs10:40 PM

    I'm pretty sure nobody said that.

  62. tigrismus10:49 PM


  63. I think it's heart disease rather than cancer you gotta watch out for with the trans fats.

  64. I moved to Northern California a few years ago, and it's so much brighter here than it was in New York that I'm frankly getting worried about the fact that I can't seem to find a sunscreen that keeps me from freckling.

  65. M. Krebs10:57 PM

    When I was a kid, it was a common summer occurrence for some idiot to work all day in the hot sun with no shirt and end up with massive blisters all over his shoulders. I think a relatively mild case happened to me once. Back then it was just shit that happened. If you had any sense, you kept your t-shirt on the next time.

  66. tigrismus11:05 PM

    Wait, so nutritional experts have been wrong about eating fatty foods which aren't really that bad but which maybe cause more cancer than tobacco which also wasn't that bad? I cannot understand why people might malign your skepticism. Get as much sun, smoke, fat and sugar as you can. Please.

    If that proves out, will the anti-smoking folks be targeted like the tobacco companies were?

    Nobody wants to end up like poor Philip Morris or RJ Reynolds.

  67. KatWillow11:19 PM

    Dr. Ol' Perfesser is trying to riff on the fact that as Science progresses, they often find new facts that may disprove earlier theories; with the habit of people (media & supplement makers) grabbing the latest health or nutrition theory/study churned out by Universities, claiming this time it IS a "silver bullet" and making it into a money-making fad for twits.

    This proves Science is bunk!

  68. KatWillow11:21 PM

    ... or the high possibility that the same factors that cause obesity also cause cancers (like, say sleep apnea, diabetes, poor nutrition).

  69. Brian Schlosser11:25 PM

    Now, now... it's also about evil-lution.

  70. Brian Schlosser11:30 PM

    You'll stand there with you salads and your small soda cups and you'll yell "save us from good nutrition!"

    And I'll look down and say "No *faaaaartttt*"

  71. Brian Schlosser11:36 PM

    Is it a mixed metaphor to say his strawmen are made out of whole cloth?

  72. AGoodQuestion11:41 PM

    Kinda weird to hear such marked skepticism on science from a guy who wants to join the Borg collective. Oh, right, not collective, those are bad. Well, the Borg Galt's Gulch anyway.

  73. Brian Schlosser11:41 PM

    I heard that on NPR, and I thought to myself "oh, great, they're going to have a field day with that one. Thank God he didn't have any arugula with it"

  74. Brian Schlosser11:44 PM

    "Who is Hugh Borg?" graffiti all over the Cube...

  75. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person12:06 AM

    If that proves out, will the anti-smoking folks be targeted like the tobacco companies were?

    Well, considering that they're not floating in billions of tobacco-bucks, I'd guess probably not...

  76. JennOfArk12:08 AM

    Just wait till they get started on the elitist wasabi.

  77. Daniel Björkman12:20 AM

    Because that is what is going on here. Its not sufficient for these
    idiots to argue that a social program or insight is futile (null in
    effect) they have to argue that there is a perverse backlash from it as
    well that makes the individual or society worse off than before.

    Well, it's a decent bet. A lot of new things are going to turn out to suck.

    It's just, a lot of old things are going to turn out to have sucked all along without us being aware of it, too. Since we are already talking about smoking, that would seem to be a perfect example of hidden suck. And that's not counting all the things that we know damn well are bad, but somehow they've gained the comfort of familiarity so we just ignore them.

    That's what confuses me with conservative thought, really - the selective doom and gloom. They are very clear-sighted when it comes to proposed changes, but they wear oddly rose-coloured glasses when it comes to the way things are right now.

  78. MBouffant1:01 AM

    "Commands" may be added to the long, long list of "Words which do not mean what you think they mean," Perfesser Reynolds, you ignorant fuck. Heh indeed.

  79. Wrangler1:16 AM

    The DeBalsio election response probably belongs in the Hall of Fame of this type of mentality.

  80. BadExampleMan4:16 AM

    Don't you think that comparing Dr. Reynolds to Rasputin is a little bit, well, over-the-top? I mean, unless or until someone has poisoned him, shot him multiple times, blugeoned him, then tossed him in the frozen Tennessee River (see - global warming is a myth!) we won't know if the comparison is valid.

    The scientific method is very important.

    Anyway, I think "the Roger Rabbit of ressentiment" scans better.

  81. Susan of Texas7:41 AM

    Yes, the problem is that liberals used The Voice of Authority, which doesn't belong to them. It belongs to conservatives because liberals are spoiled, petulant children and conservatives are wise grown-ups, and only Mom and Dad can use the Voice of Authority and we're not so sure about Mom 'cause she's a girl and girls are too emotional to be the Voice of Authority. God said so.

    All Voices of Authority must be obeyed so it's really important to make sure liberals aren't allowed to use it.

  82. MikeJ7:42 AM

    Not just sushi, but sushi at a trois etoiles restaurant. Why isn't he eating at the food court in the Mall of America?

    I'll bet he didn't even Bushuru all over his host.

  83. Voice Of Authority8:12 AM

    Please refrain from drinking bleach and sticking your tongue in light sockets!

  84. mortimer20008:21 AM

    Reynolds first line: HEY, WAIT, I THOUGHT THE SCIENCE WAS SETTLED! is almost Johnahic in its sophomoric dickishness. Because nowhere in the quoted Times article, nowhere in legitimate cancer institutions, and nowhere in any reputable science journal are hypothetical links between diet and cancer definitively "settled."

    [By way of example, here's a link to the National Cancer Institute discussing possible cancer benefits of cruciferous vegetables.]

    The only thing settled is that Reynolds is a complete hack, and we don't even need science to prove that.

  85. I agree to a large extent, but my day job is biomedical research so I also see how the emphasis on biology over environment happens. Basically, the environmental recommendations are pretty simple: eat less, more vegetables, less salt and saturated fat. Exercise moderately. Avoid the sun. Relax a bit. Avoid strange chemicals. Don't smoke. That is pretty much it. Some things change over time (cholesterol isn't the bad boy it used to be, welcome home friend egg!), but the basics will always work. I know all these things, I have a degree that allows me to understand it at a pretty deep level, yet I fail pretty regularly in every category except smoking. The one thing that Drs. can do is somehow treat pathologies once they arrive. Unlike the assertions of Reynolds et al., Drs. are not forcing people out for a walk or taking away their 2L Mountain Dew. But when they come in with type 2 diabetes, they can give them a blood sugar monitor, insulin pen, and a list of lifestyle recommendations.
    Reynolds and his ilk are essentially killing people because they encourage low-information individuals to aggressively flaunt common-sense guidelines.
    WRT obesity, heart disease will more likely kill you before the cancers or diabetes does.

  86. From the perspective of oncologists, too many calories in your diet *is* an environmental issue.


  87. At least two orders of magnitude.

  88. Also a little perspective, many if not most people who quit smoking gain some weight. Cancer is linked to obesity, i.e. a BMI over 30. This is way more weight gain than we are usually talking about from a couple extra slices of pizza.

  89. DocAmazing9:00 AM

    That casts Dr. Mrs. Ole Perfesser as Jessica Rabbit, which does not scan at all.

  90. Daniel Björkman9:54 AM

    I can't blame anyone too much for being tribalist. I'd be tribalist too, if I could find a tribe that a) would have me and b) didn't suck. Actually, come to think of it, it's downright impossible to find one that fits either criteria...

  91. Susan of Texas9:56 AM

    Usually it's conservatives who accuse liberals of smugness, elitism, and/or fake morality when liberals are trying to base public policy on science instead of politics.
    My favorite example of conservative scientific concern trolling (which is what this is) is Megan McArdle's assertion that it's better to not have health insurance because sick people go to doctors and you might catch something, or the doctor might make a mistake that makes you worse off.

  92. XeckyGilchrist10:08 AM

    I think the dodge they've found is that libruls' attempts to make things better, even if they work, are bad because they result in Less Freedom.

    It must be fun for them, dedicating their lives to a word they can't even define coherently.

  93. XeckyGilchrist10:09 AM

    Ain't American Yellow mustard good enough for 'im?

  94. XeckyGilchrist10:13 AM

    I think I've put my finger on why the "liebruls are anti-science too!" thing is so dishonest. On the one hand, you have some faction of liberals protesting that a process developed by scientists - genetic modification - is a bad thing. Right or wrong, what they're demanding is that this process be discontinued or at least made explicit so people can avoid it.

    On the other, you have conservatives disagreeing with the consensus of scientists about something - e.g. global warming - and demanding that the entire edifice of scientific research be defunded and salted over.


  95. stepped_pyramids10:20 AM

    Is... is it really controversial to eat sushi? In Japan?

  96. StringOnAStick10:25 AM

    Funny how the majority of docs that I've known are either republicans or flaming libertarians. Now I try to be a lot more selective, especially on the self-ID'd libertoonians (because they will eventually tell you, or rather, lecture to you). I figure if you've fallen for the Rand Side, you've got flaws in your logic circuitry and that could be an issue in the quality of provided care.

  97. StringOnAStick10:28 AM

    I live in Colorado - same issue with relative brilliance, compounded by higher altitude/thinner atmosphere. Look for stuff with zinc oxide in it. And a good hat.

  98. "To control people."

    Of course. Let's take the longer view for a moment. Propagandists like Reynolds don't give a rat's ass about whether the soundness of the science, or whether it actually is science at all. What they're doing is plowing the ground in advance of the Great Conservative Takeover that they fully expect will happen in Congress this year and for the Presidency in '16. The main tool for that is bashing Dems, Libs, and Obama at every turn and creating a Wall Of Sound (thanks, Phil Spector) which makes them look unattractive unAmerican, and therefore unelectable. This will, I'm afraid, pretty much succeed because say what you will about their ideas, wingers are passionate, organized, and well-funded. If they win, they may go so far as to acknowledge the science, but they won't promote it because FREEDOM!!!, and because it's much easier to influence people with bumper sticker length platitudes than actual, rational, well thought out science.

  99. DocAmazing10:40 AM

    see also MARX, Groucho.

  100. StringOnAStick10:44 AM

    I recall reading that even one blistering session, especially while also being a kid, really ups your risk.
    My mom has psoriasis, and for a long time the treatment recommended by her dermatologist was: tanning, lots and lots of it, and us living in a hot, high desert region made that rather unpleasant. It helped, but the new medications work better and no tanning is involved.

  101. StringOnAStick10:46 AM

    He bowed to a robot, and it bowed back. Let the screaming commence!

  102. DocAmazing10:48 AM

    Come work at a hospital with a sizable Medicaid population. Weeds out the Republican docs quick & in a hurry.

  103. Susan of Texas10:53 AM

    And at the same time they take their tax-payer-subsidized high blood pressure medicine, fly in FAA-regulated airplanes, and put their money in federally insured banks.
    I read an interview with an anti-abortion protester in which the young woman was asked why she would fight to curtail women's access to reproductive care when she needs it as well. She replied that the liberals wouldn't let that happen.
    They fight us tooth and nail over social issues that we know they hypocritically ignore, and which many of them don't even want to eliminate. They do it to control us because they have always used religion to control others. The real issue is why they want to control us and as we all know the answer to that is money.
    The people with money want to maintain the conditions under which they achieved their wealth. The people without want to change them. Conservative leaders promise "you will be able to keep more of your money." Liberals promise "hope and change." Religion is conservative because it preserves the Voice of Authority. Science is liberal because it challenges that authority.

  104. StringOnAStick10:53 AM

    I'll bet it does. I'm sure that makes for a much more pleasant working environment as well.

  105. Sometimes siblings act like this too.

    My sister and I were close in age, so this kind of thing did happen. I loved peanut butter, so she hated it. She would proclaim a favorite color, so I had to pick a different color to be my favorite.

    We were young though, and eventually outgrew that sort of petty behavior (for the most part.)

  106. Even in the case of GMO crops, the usual stance can be boiled down to, "shouldn't we at least research how these things interact with the environment and the human body before we completely rely on them for our sustenance?"- a vastly different stance.

  107. Jeez, I miss Don LaFontaine. If only he had smoked more.

  108. No doubt.

    My wife & I just watched the latest episode of Cosmos, and it's all about the scientist who discovered that lead is very bad for people and the environment. The story details his struggle with big business, and his eventual victory.

    It was a story about a forward-thinking individual who worked to make things better. The Rightwingers are gonna hate this episode.

    Will they shout "Freedom!" and demand that the regulations against lead be repealed? It depends on how contrary they decide to be, I guess.

  109. They sure hated when he vacationed in Hawaii and ate sushi there (even though it was made with Spam.)

  110. wasabi.

    I told you he was a radical Muslim!

  111. XeckyGilchrist11:25 AM

    True. But even the fringier lefty positions are much more sensible than the teabaggers'.

  112. XeckyGilchrist12:02 PM

    I love the new Cosmos; it's all about trolling the Right. Smart, charismatic black guy talking about science and specifically attacking conservative U.S. hobbyhorses.

  113. tigrismus12:04 PM

    Made with dressage horseradish.

  114. waspuppet12:11 PM

    I cannot recommend this enough. That is actually what they think.

  115. Yeah, Real True Conservatives should boycott that liberal network and any of its affiliates.

  116. possible cancer benefits of cruciferous vegetables

    A-ha! So Jesus' death saved us from cancer, too. I'm surprised to see a liberal big government "science" institute admit it, though.

  117. I was pleasantly surprised to see that kind of courage. I didn't expect it, especially since its on a mainstream station.

    Watching it, I feel as though we actually have the "Liberal Media" that the Right is always complaining about.

  118. +1 not obese

  119. David_LloydJones2:14 PM

    "Ole Perfesser Glenn Reynolds Rasputin of ressentiment" I love it!

    I was in lycée when Poujade was rampaging around in the France of my youth, so the word has been lying around but without my daring to use it.

    Glad to see somebody using it exactly where it's called for.

  120. Tony Prost3:34 PM

    I would just tell Glenn he is right, and encourage him to start smoking.

  121. Mooser4:02 PM

    And Lennon. Don't forget Lennon, dehumanizing us all by imagining "there's no people". Typical liberal fascism.

  122. Mooser4:08 PM

    Oh gosh, this is wonderful! I love Boney M! "Rasputin" is good, but don't forget "Bahama Mamma" or the song that started it all "Do you Wanna Bump" or "Daddy Cool", and so many others.

  123. Mooser4:10 PM

    Oh yes, weren't those poor tobacco companies "targeted"! In fact, now that people are actually dieing from nicotine poisoning for Christ's sake, they are making some feeble noises about maybe regulating e-cigs.
    Gosh, I wonder how they survive.

  124. Yeah, it's a mixed metaphor but a damn good point.

  125. Mooser4:15 PM

    Oh yes "Popular Mechanics". Weren't they the ones who explained how two jets can demolish (not just knock over, but powder the concrete and cut the beams) three buildings, one of which they didn't even hit!

    Apparently, the buildings just said "Oh, what's the use" and crumbled.

  126. smut clyde4:55 PM

    I dunno, with brussels sprouts it's worth a try.

  127. smut clyde6:56 PM

    There is no real evidence for the "childhood sunburn = melanoma" theory. It's more a post-facto justification for awkward epidemiology. The original theory was that if people stayed out of midday sunlight, and slathered themselves with enough sunblock, then skin cancer would drop. So Australians and New Zealanders avoided sunlight, and slathered themselves with sunblock, but skin cancer rates stayed the same... which is why we now have the received opinion that "the damage was already done decades ago."

  128. It's like how climate scientists invented global warming because they all couldn't stand how well the environment was doing anyhow and they LOVE getting involved in politics. Also, those fat stacks of grant cash because governments love spending money on people telling them to change.

  129. JennOfArk8:34 PM

    True. It's not like anything could make them worse; anything you could do to them could only improve them.

  130. Tehanu9:58 PM

    Lyrics to "Oklahoma?" from the musical version of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels:

    Down in the Panhandle

    Where we manhandle

    All that beef cattle

    And the snakes rattle

    And the wind whistles

    Through the dead thistles,

    It's a little piece of heaven

    With a big house'n

    Lots of big cows'n

    Lots of big sky'n

    Lots of dust flyin'

    And I'll be so happy since

    I'm bringing hime a prince

    To my little piece of heaven,


    Don't you love it when the

    bobcats howl?

    Don't you love it when the

    coyotes cough?

    Well, I know a few tricks

    With a thirty ought-six

    'n you can watch me blow those little

    fuckers heads clean off.

    And then, oh boy-

    We'll go two steppin-

    Through the arroyo,

    Watch what you step in

    'Cause them cattle eat their share

    And it's gotta go somewhere

    In my little piece of heaven,


    And we'll motor into Tulsa for the


    Through the windows of the pickup

    we'll be peekin'-

    Not a tree or a Jew

    To block the lovely view.

    There's a race track and a zoo-


    And Oral Roberts U!


    And we'll dress you up nifty

    In a big Stetson

    With some SPF 50

    So no sun gets in

    'Cause that freckle on your skin

    Can do a feller in

    And the shade is mighty thin in


    And our leading cause of death

    is Melanoma




  131. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person11:23 PM

    So basically all we have to do is fire up The Voice and Command the Righties to go forth, be fruitful and multiply, and they'll soon vanish from the Earth? Cool. Almost makes me wish the Ol' Prof was right about that shit...

  132. Daniel Björkman12:41 AM

    Heh. Yeah. If they let me in, then they're open to any old riffraff!

  133. smut clyde12:48 AM

    And there is the chance that while they are hanging, they might be stolen by passing ghouls.

  134. I've got to find the stuff that Dita Von Teese uses.

  135. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person2:32 PM

    Damn, I hope not. I can see a politician slathering French's Screaming Yellow Glop on a hotdog for the cameras, but please, not at home...

  136. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person2:33 PM

    Lithgow shoulda got an Oscar just for that bit.

  137. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person2:43 PM

    Yeah. Whose booger is it, anyway...