Peter Hitchens explains the dangers of relying on scientific consensus on issues such as low fat diets in his Mail on Sunday column:
Whenever I see a ‘low-fat muffin’ in a coffee shop, I have to control an urge to pick it up, jump on it and shout rude words.
I am myself an expert in getting fat, and know that this evil blob of sugar and starch is a rapid route to a bigger waistband.
Fat doesn’t make you fat. Butter is good for you. So is cream. Skimmed milk is a futile punitive measure, not a foodstuff, a way of making ourselves needlessly miserable which has taken over the world on the basis of an illusion.
This is because almost everything most people think about food, and almost everything shops tell them, is completely wrong. In an unending struggle to get this across, the National Obesity Forum last week made a renewed attack on these mistaken attitudes.
Sugar, not fat, is the menace to our lives. And this has been known since 1972 when a brave scientist, John Yudkin, wrote a book – Pure, White And Deadly – showing it was so.
He and his unfashionable message were buried in abuse. It may be that some in the sugar industry might have been involved. These days he would have been called a ‘fat-threat denier’, or something of the kind. He died in 1995, too soon to see his ideas rescued and taken seriously again.
Even now, people are getting needlessly fat and dying of horrible diseases because the anti-fat (and pro-sugar) lobby still hasn’t been completely routed. It will be, but these things take time. I mention this not just because it’s true, but because it’s an example of how thoughtless worship of scientists gets us repeatedly into trouble.
Doubters like me are told not to dare criticise the sacred men in white coats.
But scientists disagree among themselves and are often wrong. In fact, science progresses by exploding dud theories of the past. And laymen are perfectly entitled to apply facts and logic to what these people say. The obvious argument against the skimmed-milk fanatics is that decades of this policy have left us with more fat people than ever. But we should not have had to wait so long.
There is powerful evidence against many other things now accepted as true, and often very weak evidence for them. I’d name ‘antidepressant’ pills, ‘dyslexia’, ‘ADHD’ and ‘man-made climate change’.
Those who criticise these things are angrily hushed, with righteous cries of ‘How dare you!’, and if they won’t shut up, they are punished – as was John Yudkin. Yet I believe in all these cases the critics will be proved right, as Professor Yudkin was. The miserable thing is that so much damage will be done while we wait for the truth to get the upper hand.
Be less trusting of all fashionable ideas, is my advice.
Gullibility and conformism never advanced civilisation by a single step.
Read the rest of Peter Hitchens’ column here.