August 2007 Archives

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Finally! Published studies that weight loss dramatically extends life

By Michael Fumento

"To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals." So observed Benjamin Franklin centuries ago. But Franklin didn't comment on whether food intake restriction worked by keeping people thin or by making them thin. Indeed, it's become a mantra of the "size acceptance" groups that there's no scientific evidence that losing weight increases longevity. And it's been true - until now, as I write in The American Spectator Online.

I also write about those who have found their life's calling in catering to delusional overweight people, which can be a lucrative market insofar as two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. One, Paul Campos, author of The Obesity Myth, insisted that 40 percent reduced mortality over seven years was "at best" a "very, very modest effect." Not just "very," but "very, very!"

Then there's Sandy Szwarc, nurse and cookbook author, properly labeled "a bigwig in the fat acceptance movement." Regarding the new studies, she calls it a "leap of logic" to assume that there is a correlation between the bariatric surgery and subsequent dramatic weight loss and the "purported improved mortalities." Purported? And apparently it wasn't the weight loss that extended survival time but either divine intervention or alien abductions.

August 31, 2007 10:19 AM  ·  Permalink  ·  Obesity

A reader comments on Troll Lambert and gigantic egos

By Michael Fumento

Dear Mr. Fumento:

I just read your article regarding the Lancet article and your comments about Tim Lambert and his web site, Deltoid.

Lambert Troll
Troll Lambert waiting to pummel somebody
smarter than him. He won't have to wait long.

Dr. D. Rutledge Taylor asked me to view the site and comment when they opened a new section dealing with Rachel Carson. I foolishly tried to engage them in an intelligent and mannerly discussion. I have to agree with you wholeheartedly. Any honest-hearted person who "reads and comments on Deltoid is spitting into the wind." Snotty juvenile manners and gigantic egos are the order of the day for Lambert and his acolytes. They clearly filter the comments and I think there is some back door discussion between them before the comments appear. They will take one or two words or one sentence (ignoring the entire context of what is said) and declare everything stated as being debunked in great triumph. What a waste of time. I would love to know what he does for a living. Can anyone that ridiculous do anything that is worth anything?

My response:

Probably not, and in Lambert's case certainly not. He is a computer professor, meaning he may teach as few as nine hours a week. (I know a professor who did, at full pay.) He's also only written a handful of published papers in his lifetime, none on issues that he blogs about. That gives him lots of time to troll the web for people to attack who make him feel insecure by being smarter than he is. (He started a vendetta against when I made him look like a fool, notwithstanding that doing so is easier than "dieting" on chocolate cake.) It's long been said that idle hands are the devil's workshop. Add in blogging software than can be used by a child and you've got a really bad combination. The troll also uses his free time (and perhaps money) to make sure his personal attacks appear in the top ten of a Google search of that person's name and to make sure his Deltoid postings are repeated over and over on blog search engines like Feedster and Technorati. That makes readers have to scroll through several pages to find the original of whatever it is that he and his little but vociferous gang are attacking, and as he knows many readers will not. In other words, he abuses science, he abuses individuals, he abuses search engines, and probably abuses himself as well - though we won't go into that.

One can only hope Troll Lambert will join "Second Life" (Do they have troll avatars?) and finally get a first life.

August 30, 2007 01:50 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Bloggers ~ Environment

Huffington Post ups Iraqi deaths past 1 million

By Michael Fumento

As of August 14th, 1,019,627 Iraqis "have been killed due to the U.S. invasion" according to Robert Naiman in a blog at the Huffington Post. His methodology, however, as you might guess, is a bit wanting.

He starts with a 2006 Lancet study that he says calculates 600,000 Iraqi civilians killed in the war as of July, 2006. (Actually, the study said 655,000 but then you can't expect Naiman to read actual studies or even their abstracts or conclusions.) He then updates that figure to the present by taking the estimated death figure at the website of an anti-war group called Iraqi Body Count at that time, the estimated figure now, and applying the percentage increase to 600,000. Comments on his blog express disbelief that the mainstream media has ignored this ingenious work and the horrifying conclusion - but there just may be a reason:

1. The methodology in the Lancet work has been shredded, most recently by yours truly just a week ago. It was sheer propaganda, as not just the study made clear but also separate comments from the lead author and the journal's editor.

2. While Naiman is happy to use the percentage increase in Iraq Body Count's data, he rejects their actual figures. Wonder why? As of August 24, the group's website provided a range of Iraqi civilian deaths due to the invasion of "70,359 to 76,873." You probably needn't go running for your calculator to see that's just a bit below the Lancet figure from last year and somewhat more below Naiman's estimate.

3. About 420 days had elapsed since the Lancet's cut-off and the publication of Naiman's estimate. Divide those 455,000 additional alleged deaths by 420 and you get over 1,083 deaths a day! How are these multitudes being killed and who's hiding the bodies?

4. Naiman claims he's using the Lancet research for his baseline, but the original Lancet paper, published in 2004, came up with a (still ridiculous) 180 deaths a day.

5. Therefore, while the only two datasets Naiman claims to rely on are from Iraq Body Count and The Lancet, his estimate is grotesquely higher than both of theirs. In sum, Mr. Naiman has merely illustrated the power of wishful thinking.

August 24, 2007 08:38 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Iraq ~ Military

Burying the Lancet's "100,000 civilians killed" nonsense

By Michael Fumento

It was an October surprise courtesy of the Lancet medical journal. A report, rushed to the public via online publication five days before the 2004 election, claimed the American-led coalition had directly or indirectly killed about 100,000 Iraqi civilians since the invasion - most from air strikes. The media, with no great love for Bush and already turning against the war, went wild.

Oliver Northl
Tim Lambert: Lancet
defender and infamous troll
The Lancet was so delighted with the reaction (if not the "wrong" election outcome) that in 2006 it updated its figure to a stunning 655,000 deaths. Further, this time it said violence directly caused all deaths. This paper, by amazing coincidence, appeared just before the mid-term election.

There were critics, including yours truly. But now there's even more ammunition in the form of a statistical analysis by David Kane presented at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Salt Lake City. Naturally Kane's assessment is under vicious attack not by proponents of good epidemiology but rather opponents of the war, primarily a troll at the website Deltoid, Tim Lambert. Read my full article here.

August 21, 2007 10:33 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Iraq ~ Military

Hansen to his critics: You're paid-off "court jesters"

By Michael Fumento

Global warming alarmist since 1988 and head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies James Hansen has answered his critics who 1) pointed out that his agency put out false but significant data on US warming trends, and 2) refused to publicize these figures after changing them. Wrote Hansen:

The real deal is this: the 'royalty' controlling the court, the ones with the power, the ones with the ability to make a difference, with the ability to change our course, the ones who will live in infamy if we pass the tipping points, are the captains of industry, CEOs in fossil fuel companies such as EXXON/Mobil [sic], automobile manufacturers, utilities, all of the leaders who have placed short-term profit above the fate of the planet and the well-being of our children. The court jesters are their jesters, occasionally paid for services, and more substantively supported by the captains' disinformation campaigns.

This is what we've been getting from environmentalists for decades. If you can't beat 'em on the facts, you smear 'em. It was utterly predictable that Hansen, a very little man with a big title, would go this route.

August 20, 2007 04:30 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Environment

James Hansen's Hacks and their Global Warming Game

By Michael Fumento

If you follow the global warming debate, one thing you "know" is there is no debate. Questioning man-made global warming puts in the same league as Holocaust deniers and proves you're on the take from Big Carbon. Another is that nine of the ten warmest years recorded in the U.S. lower 48 since 1880 have occurred since 1995, with the very hottest being 1998.

But we now know, thanks to the efforts of Canadian mathematician Stephen McIntyre, who revealed and then publicized glitches in data kept by James Hansen's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, that the hottest year was 1934 and that the real 15 hottest years are spread over seven decades. Eight occurred before the chief "greenhouse gas," atmospheric carbon dioxide, began its sharp rise; seven occurred afterwards.

Does this prove everything about global warming is a hoax, as some have claimed? Or is it worthy of nothing more than a mention on the back of a card in Trivial Pursuit, as Hansen claims? Even if you've read about this controversy elsewhere, my findings in The American Spectator Online may surprise you.

August 16, 2007 10:14 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Environment

Canada's wonderful robo-surgeon. But can they afford it?

By Michael Fumento

The neuroArm, as I write in TCS Daily, is a wonderful Canadian invention that goes beyond robotic surgery, the main advantage of which is no shaky scalpels. It also allows neurological operations inside an MRI machine, sending the surgeon a continuous stream of 3-D images as well as video. This could revolutionize brain surgery. I'm certainly going to hold off on getting a brain tumor until they're commercialized. Unfortunately, it may be almost entirely an export item. You see, one thing Michael Moore didn't mention in his schlockumentary "Sicko" is that Canada's vaunted socialized medical system isn't keen on expensive medical equipment. In fact, Canada ranks thirteenth among 20 OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries with only 4.6 MRI scanners per million people, while Japan and the United States had the highest number with 35.3 and 19.5 per million respectively. Without MRIs, neuroArm is just another robo-surgeon. But the issue will be moot if the nation's health administrators decide they can't afford the neuroArm either. Socialized health care sucks.

August 16, 2007 12:13 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Diseases (other than AIDS and cancer)

One cheer for Obama's call for attacking Pakistan

By Michael Fumento

Barack Obama is taking heat from the right over his comments that if elected president he wouldn't hesitate to attack al Qaeda in Pakistan to disrupt its safe havens.

But give Obama this, he is the first candidate (that I know of) who has called the Pakistanis to task for allowing al Qaeda and other international Islamist terror groups to operate there with impunity. Western Pakistan today is what Afghanistan was on September 10th. Terrorists currently operate in Afghanistan but there's little evidence they operate out of it. SOMEBODY in some way needs to clear out the Pakistani rat's nest and if Obama stirs debate as to how, all power to him.

I'm also tired of the black-white fallacy of "Musharraf or an Islamist" as Pakistani president. Musharraf overthrew a democratically-elected prime minister who has shown no inclination that I know of towards Islamism. There's no reason to believe Islamists would win in a free election. What's clear is we need somebody with the balls (or ovaries, perhaps) to clear out western Pakistan and Musharraf does not.

August 3, 2007 11:37 AM  ·  Permalink  ·  Military ~ Terrorism

Obesity as contagion

By Michael Fumento

What makes you fat? Eating cheesy-poofs while watching Sex in the City reruns? Wolfing down a Wendy's "Baconator," comprising a double cheeseburger with six strips of bacon that could feed everyone in Darfur for a week? How about when you get the urge to exercise you lie down until it goes away, as one CEO famously put it?

Yes, to all of the above. But these are all specific contributors to obesity driven by larger forces that are making us, well, larger. One of the most important of these, as a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows, is that having fat social contacts makes you fatter. Read my article in The American Spectator Online on why obesity is contagious.

August 1, 2007 08:54 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Obesity