Dec 24 2010

Wrecker of Civilization

Published by at 8:01 am
Under General | Nincompoopery

A loon is defined as:

1. addle-head, addlehead, loon, birdbrain (a person with confused ideas; incapable of serious thought.
2. somewhat primitive fish-eating diving bird of the northern hemisphere having webbed feet placed far back.


According to one or the other of these definitions, University of Miami philosophy graduate student and dangerously ignorant science arbitrator Fredrik Haraldsen thinks that I am an American Loon, though personally I think I fit the second definition better than the first. Loons are cool birds, kind of a triple-threat; they can swim, fly and ambulate. Not exactly sure what Mr. Haraldsen can do. Does seem that he can slither pretty good though.

Scientific pseudo-skepticism is one of only a few professions (TV reality shows being the only other genre I can think of) in which it is possible to build up one’s street credentials by the simple act of being a sarcastic moron. In an idiots-on-stilts blog known as The Encyclopedia of American Loons, Haraldsen appears to be working through the alphabet, documenting what he believes to be the best in American loonery. The list, which as of now only extends to loons whose last names begin with A though E, seems to consist of preliterate-style bashings of conservative politicians, creation scientists and various New Age types. I particularly enjoyed seeing David Berlinski (who wrote what I still consider to be one of the best introductions to the calculus), Deepak Chopra, and Fritjof Capra (author of the Tao of Physics) on this roster. I am apparently something called ‘food-woo,’ and in Haraldsen’s addled estimation constitutes a

Frighteningly common type of crackpot who confuses anecdotal evidence and confirmation bias with science. Some of his advice may actually be harmful, so he must be considered moderately dangerous.

I always get a kick when a criticism wants to claim that something is both ineffective and dangerous at the same time. Sort of like the old codger in the diner who complains to the waitress that the food is terrible and the portions are too small. Confirmation bias is the tendency to favor information that confirms one’s own preconceptions or hypothesis regardless of whether the information is true. Now, for Haraldsen to be correct in this assertion he would need to present evidence that I’ve twisted evidence (studies, reports, research) to suit my beliefs or agenda. But again intellectual dishonesty wins out over truth and facts. I’ve authored numerous review articles that cite hundreds of studies about blood groups and physiology. In no instance has it ever been demonstrated that I misrepresented the data in those studies. (1,2)

Food woo is potent stuff, and Peter D’Adamo is one of the most influential. Now, there is some evidence that his suggestions are, indeed, partially founded on Eastern (more closely Japanese) superstition (many remedies that claim such background are not), though it must, for obvious reasons, be a relatively new kind of superstition. The Eastern connection does, of course, not make his crackpottery [sic] more likely to be correct.

Common Loon (Gavia immer)

Now, I have read this paragraph several times, and I still can’t figure out what this guy is trying to say. Is he trying to link my work with the Japanese pop-culture personality stuff? If he is, his criticism is off from the start: I’ve never endorsed any of that stuff. Perhaps it’s because Mr. Haraldsen appears to have no scientific credentials whatsoever, but rather seems to be pursuing post-graduate studies in philosophy; a noble profession, for sure, but (last I checked) one devoid of graduate level biochemistry. So, lacking the prerequisite ability to actually think for himself, Haraldsen is left to simply aggregate whatever extant material he can find that fits his opinion on the subject. True scholarship! Many aspects of Haraldsen’s toxic little blog remind me of the infamous Mr. Blackwell, famous for his widely publicized ‘Worst Dressed Lists’ of the 1960s and ’70s, except Blackwell was much more funny and erudite. Haraldsen just seems like a schmuck who very much wants to be the knight-errant.

But then again, who would not love to be called influential? That I like.

The problem with Haraldsen’s criticisms is that his only strategy centers around maniacally endeavoring to cover the subject in question with as much ad hominem manure as possible, so that he can stand back, point to the person in question, and exclaim for all to hear: “Look everybody! He is covered in manure!”

I’ve addressed the evidence shortcomings of the blood type diet theory numerous times. Fact is, subjecting this theory to the kind of proof these types of skeptics demand is simply outside the realm of rational possibility. You’re talking epidemiological scale research here. A minimal sample size for a study such as this would probably be around 1000 subjects–double this if the study were to be blinded and half the participants given sham-type diets. The minimal length of time would be six months to one year. So you are looking at a price tag in the millions of dollars.

Of course you can do little pilot-type studies, but they don’t mean very much. For example, we were able to show that the latter values (third and fourth blows) in a series of sequential breath hydrogen levels (a marker of either bacteria overgrowth or malabsorption) diminished significantly when individuals are placed on the recommended diet for their blood group. In addition we were able to document that breath hydrogen levels appear to be associated with ABO blood group and secretor status to some degree. However, these were uncontrolled and the number of subjects was quite small. (3)

More hard reporting:

D’Adamo’s schtick is the Blood Type Diet (a.k.a. blood type astrology), in which the members of each of the four main blood type groups are assigned their own regimen of foods to consume and avoid. … Apparently he is putting a lot of effort in capturing the Japanese market, as seen from his website.

Again with the Japanese? Enough already!

Oh… now I think I get it.

My website splash page used to feature an Asian girl in the background photo. But that image changes every two months or so. Now it shows a Latin-Middle Eastern type person (hard to say for sure, these are stock images). In another month it will show a young Caucasian man. I suppose this was Haraldsen’s clue that I was pitching the Japanese market.

What a ridiculous over-extrapolation.

The rest of the entry seems like he lifted entire parts from Wikipedia and The Skeptics Dictionary, two resources which, if I were Haraldsen’s grade advisor, would be grounds for a stern reprimand.

The consensus among dieticians, physicians, and scientists, however, is that the theory is unsupported by scientific evidence. Remember that the Galileo gambit is a fallacy, if you were ever attempted [sic] to go down that route.

Haraldsen should remember that argument from authority is also a fallacy, but then again there is nothing in that Haraldsen’s sophomoric blog that could pass for serious science discourse anyway.

Scorecard:

  • Not proven to universal satisfaction: Yes.
  • Falsifiable: Yes.
  • Extraordinary claims: No.
  • Unscientific: No.
  • Haraldsen: Juvenile Cadet.
  1. D’Adamo, PJ. The Non-transfusion Significance of the ABO Blood groups. Textbook of Natural Medicine (2005, 2010) Pizzorno and Murray, editors (Elsevier Publications)
  2. D’Adamo PJ, Kelly GS. Metabolic and immunologic consequences of ABH secretor and Lewis subtype status.Altern Med Rev. 2001 Aug;6(4):390-405.
  3. D’Adamo. PJ. A Breath of Fresh Air. 2009 Conference Proceedings, Institute for Human Individuality. Norwalk CT USA

9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Wrecker of Civilization”

  1. Andrea Cayea says:

    “Schmuck, a Yiddish word, has a range of meaning depending on context. In its most innocuous use, a schmuck is a person who does a stupid thing, in which case “dumb schmuck” is the appropriate expression.

    A schmuck’s behavior ranges from pesky and inconsiderate, to obnoxious and manipulative. A schmuck’s personality type ranges from jerk to bastard.

    Schmucky behavior also falls within a range of intentionality. Some schmucks carefully plan their bad behavior, some only a little, and some not at all. For example, the bastard may spend considerable time planning his bad deeds. In contrast, the dumb schmuck and the pesky behave badly without any forethought.”

    Ah yes my friend you hit the nail on the head.
    :)

  2. Jolanda Bassi says:

    On being a schmuck:

    .. I encountered a person in his 70s who is blaming his parents for dealing with the then child in cruel and unusual ways, because he was the subject of ill health, early in life, and they dragged the child from doctor to doctor. When I suggested that somewhere this person made a ‘choice’ to ‘see things through the eyes of a ‘victim’, rather then accepting, that the parents where doing what ever they thought was good, the now adult became almost deranged, super angry at me, for not sympathizing with the pain and suffering experienced ever since!

    Certainly I understand that certain illnesses, are miserable, cruel and require unusual measures, until one finds out that they don’t work. In the case of someone following BTD there is a chance, a good chance, that stupid opinionated utterances would disappear from the persons need to see him or her SELF as ‘victimized’ and might actually start to feel better.

    The same for someone’s critique; when the person writing about the Blood Type Diet has no ‘command’ to follow it and spouts of on its in-validity, then one has to question that persons mental health.

    By following the ‘diet’ mental health might set in and create ‘understanding’ of ones motives and then create choices for or against old ideas or the diet. The choice is ones own. One can suffer needing ‘therapy’ of re-assurances lasting a lifetime, or say: “Enough! I leave the trash of ill feelings on the side of the road and walk away!” One can get up in the morning and train the mind to say: He, She, They, are all wrong and deserve my negative attention -forever- thus causing mental instability within the conflict of ones own mind and body.. Or one can say; there are more important things to do, then to cloud my sunshiny day with trash, and keep walking in sunlight leaving the trash to its own ‘time, place and space.

    As adults we can do that, as people voicing opinions, we really need to look at what is ‘a schmuck’. According to some words I read by (Google) George Clooney:

    “Before they could kill me on Batman & Robin, I said, ‘It’s a bad film, and I’m the worst thing in it.’ You try to defend an indefensible position, you’ll look like a schmuck. The guys I dig don’t do that. Look at Winston Churchill. He said, ‘These are our shortcomings. Now let’s get past it ..”

    The choices are ours. We can build or tear down. Thankfully, the body knows the difference and accommodates itself to experiments, and some actually work IF ONE CHOOSES to DO something to alter the most inner part of each cell. One can either slither around with a reptilian brain, or rise up and become a healthy powerful person by adapting to choices and stick by them – long enough to see if they work. D’Adamo’s work is monumental and anyone choosing to actually follow through to learn and comprehend and CHOOSE to act on the learning, is better of for it. Even those lacking fortitude to stick with it benefit. At least now they know why they may feel miserable. And that is almost more important! It saves money, time and lives.

    But, if all people would follow that logic, then all mental health specialists might be out of work – not a good thing, because ‘mindless’ critics who spout out words for the sake of hearing themselves clack clack away, they may need such therapists for a time or for life! The choices we create are of our own choosing, like it was said above: The guys I dig don’t do that… … ‘These are our shortcomings. Now let’s get past it,’ ..

    Hip, hip, hurrah for this so-called diet and lifestyle! It works for me and many others just fine.

  3. B. A. Ross says:

    Fredrik Haraldsen: the true embodiment of a pseudointellectual.

  4. Peppermint Twist says:

    Oh my. I literally laughed out loud after reading your reaction to one quote, as my reaction was identical: “Again with the Japanese? Enough already!”

    Well, they say to write about what you know. This guy seems to be intimate with loondom (the first variety–no insult meant to the second, avian type).

    It ain’t easy being an original, or being famous. Put ‘em together and you will forever be confronted with folks who are threatened somehow by you and feel the need to try and put you down. As a friend of mine put it once when I mused/asked why, throughout history, some people are so threatened by truly good, visionary people: “Light attracts dark”. Darn that–must be part of the Tao of Physics ;). Only thing to do is roll with it.

  5. Snazzyshaz says:

    Albert Einstein reportedly said once,
    “Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.”

    There are still far too many mediocrities in this world!

  6. DOS says:

    The link that man provided to another website had a bunch of lies or half lies in it.

    People that make the claims Dr. D’Adamo bases all of this out of his opinion of the first blood type and early human diets are, well, stupid. He states that “perhaps this is why it works” essentially. It has nothing to do with the facts like blood type O and B have much more IAP. Even if there were no records of the past beyond a hundred years but we had our information since, today… the same conclusions on diet would of been formulated.

    No where does Dr. D’Adamo recommend Type A consume zero meat. He only recommends specific meat as well as non-red in general. There is not one instance of entire food group cutting unless you count red meat as its own group like that other criticism article awhile back (ha). Yet the link used says what could be construed that way, “type o should eliminate grains”. Yes they should eliminate wheat and rye, etc, but not grains entirely. That is why in english you specify “eliminate all grains”. However guising that he means all grains you could claim danger to the diet. Totally a means to an ends that is inappropriate, yes I know, but people practice it.

    One legit criticism is maybe that when people switch to eating higher quality home cooked meals they are seeing remission of problems and it has nothing to do with the BTD/GTD. However I would like to point out most people willing to try naturalpathic approaches already eat vegetables and cook their own food! They are the type of people that like having gardens, eating fresh, etc!

    The only true criticism I know is many researchers have noted that the did not intend on the information being used as Dr. D’Adamo has applied it. That is the only place the real debate is at, if theories could be proven correct through studies or the if we can accept logical deduction through science. The scenarios and questions are there and thus far Dr. D’Adamo is the only man willing answer them with logical deduction. Everyone else is doing the equivalent of feeding an experimental group of people almonds daily and seeing if they die less than a control group, yet they do not examine the people and almonds just death counts.

    Anyways at least we got to read one of the silliest criticisms of Dr. D’Adamo that made wild claims about Japanese stuff. I mean it is so bad that I even wonder if it is a joke to raise support for the BTD/GTD work it is so bad. The Japanese should be offended that some dude thinks they are a target-able audience based on the color scheme, marketing, and wording of D’Adamo’s website. They are so susceptible to the layout and content of this website that Japanese text is unnecessary?

  7. Kevin Paulison says:

    Dr D’Adamo, don’t waste your time responding to people who are too stupid to recognize the truth. If Fredrick Haraldsen and the rest of his ignorant friends aren’t intelligent enough or moral enough to acknowledge and admit the truth: then good. I hope they all stay ignorant and get sick. It will be funny to watch Allopathic Medicine destroy their lives. If people don’t appreciate your work, then to H@!! with them!

    • Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for your support. I agree that this sort of discourse is largely a complete waste of time and energy, but in the age of the Internet, the old rules of ‘turn the other cheek’ are no longer valid. The sullying one’s name online requires swift action so that when presented with the results from search engines readers can see both sides of the story and decide for themselves.

      Peter

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