Science Versus Orthodoxy Enforcement In The World Of Nutrition

Readers interested in the subject of orthodoxy enforcement in fields marching under a supposed banner of "science" are undoubtedly aware that the problem extends far beyond the archetype of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).  I've previously written several times about orthodoxy enforcement in the area of nutrition and dietary guidelines, including in January a review of the recent book by Nina Teicholz called "The Big, Fat Surprise."   

This subject is back in the news.  In early April, something called the Consumer Federation of America has scheduled its big annual National Food Policy Conference.  Ms. Teicholz was to be one of the speakers.  Late last week, she got disinvited.  Politico had the story on Friday:

In a sign that the nutrition space is as defensive as ever, Nina Teicholz, an author who has publicly criticized the science behind the government's low-fat dietary advice, was recently bumped from a nutrition science panel after being confirmed by the National Food Policy Conference. . . .  The event is set to take place in Washington next month. . . .  Teicholz said she was disinvited after other panelists said they wouldn’t participate with her.     

Now, you might ask, how does it even happen that we have something described as "national food policy" that rises to a level that we need to have "national food policy conferences"?  Aren't the American people capable even of eating on their own without incessant meddling from government busybodies?  Really, those are excellent questions.  Nobody even knows where the government claims to have gotten the authority to issue dietary guidelines and otherwise meddle in "food policy."  Try to find that one in the Constitution!  But once they got into the field, you can be sure that the bureaucrats and the lackeys they fund want to crush anybody who dares to undermine their authority and prerogatives. 

It seems that Ms. Teicholz has lined up some funding from something called the John and Laura Arnold Foundation to promote her countering of official government diet dogma.  Is there any problem with that?  Arnold is a former hedge fund guy who seems to have made his money mostly in oil and gas trading -- in other words, not a guy with any particular interest in the food business that he is pushing.  (Although, suppose he had such an interest; why would that be a problem either?)  A prior article from Politico from last October describes the horror of government lackeys and minions that any private actor may get to have some say on their turf.  For example, there's this from former government Dietary Guidelines panel member Barbara Millen:

[Teicholz's] effort is being bankrolled by billionaire Houston philanthropists, John and Laura Arnold. . . .  The lobbying alarms some who fear it will further politicize a process that informs nearly every aspect of how Americans eat, from what millions of school children are fed each day and the advice doctors give to their patients.  “It’s dangerous and it’s harmful,” Dietary Guidelines panel member Barbara Millen said of the campaign.

You see, in the world view of Millen and her ilk, government getting into an area in which it has no business whatsoever is completely apolitical, whereas any private actor trying to make a private pitch to the citizenry is "politicization" that is "dangerous and harmful."  Government meddling, after all, has nothing to do with politics, but is just the perfect, all-knowing experts (such as, of course, Ms. Millen herself) directing the stupid populace to do what the experts know is the right thing.

Or consider this from Marion Nestle of NYU, another draftsperson of the prior criminally-incompetent government dietary guidelines:

Marion Nestle, a New York University nutrition professor who took part in drafting previous guidelines, also questions whether Teicholz, who has staked out such a strong point of view, can be a credible advocate for science.   “How can she be so certain?” Nestle asked, referring to Teicholz’ advocacy of a diet high in saturated fats. “What I find so distressing is that this just further confuses the public.”

Yes, according to Nestle, the mere staking out of a "strong point of view" disqualifies any and all private persons from having a say in the public debate.  On the other hand, being one of the people responsible for prior government guidelines that are now shown to have been dead wrong and to have contributed to epidemics of things like obesity and diabetes -- and having a powerful interest to be sure that your prior incompetent work doesn't lead to professional disgrace -- that's not disqualifying at all!  Hey, Nestle was working for the government at the time.  The government is perfect by definition!

Teicholz had a very apt comment on the situation:

“Silencing the conversation won't work forever.”

She's right about that.  But meanwhile, the taxpayer-funded grants continue to flow to the Millens and Nestles of the world.