Doug Casey is interviewed by Louis James, International Speculator. This interview was first published on March 14, 2012
Editor's Note: As you may have heard, the World Health Organization (an arm of the United Nations) issued a major report this week. The report claims that eating processed meat, like bacon, causes cancer. The report also says eating any kind of red meat may cause cancer.
In today's Weekend Edition, Casey Research founder Doug Casey explains why you should always be skeptical of government "science".
Louis James: Doug, you're going to love this. There's a new study out purporting to show that eating any amount of any kind of red meat is bad for you; making you 13% more likely to die, in fact. So, with your growing herd of cattle in Argentina, you're close to becoming a mass murderer.
Doug: I saw that. I wonder what you have to do to make it 26% more likely to die. If I go back to skydiving, does that mean I'm 1,000% more likely to die? It's rather strange, in that I always thought we're all basically 100% likely to die.
It's yet another sign of how degraded U.S. society has become, that something so ridiculous can be passed off as news. According to the LA Times article I read, the "study" was just a survey of people's reported eating habits. So, at best (assuming people responded accurately and honestly) the survey might show us a correlation. But even a high-school student should be able to tell you that correlation does not establish causality. The typical science journalist may be even more ignorant and misinformed than the typical financial journalist, which is saying something. It's why I read the papers mostly for entertainment.
L: The study failed to consider, for example, if those who reported eating more meat happen to include more people who ride motorcycles, party hardy, or engage in other higher-risk behaviors, which could easily be true of steak lovers. This survey wouldn't catch such patterns. And yet I read one of the authors claiming:
"This study provides clear evidence that regular consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, contributes substantially to premature death . On the other hand, choosing more healthful sources of protein in place of red meat can confer significant health benefits by reducing chronic disease morbidity and mortality."
Doug: It sounds as if the authors might have a political agenda. But what do you expect from government "science?" Much of it is politically driven, and if you don't arrive at politically correct answers, funding might dry up.
L: But this was a Harvard study.
Doug: Sure it was-but paid for by a branch of the U.S. government health bureaucracy, the NIH. These so-called scientists may well be hacks who got paid a lot of money because they were deemed likely to deliver a result that meshes with the agendas of various politically correct groups.
One of those is the anti-meat fanatics, including the animal rights activists at PETA; they're relatively few in number but very strident. Another is the environmentalists who fear the methane cows and sheep produce; because methane (CH4) is a "greenhouse gas." They believe it will turn this rock with its thin skin of an atmosphere, floating in the cosmos where the average temperature is a couple degrees above absolute zero, into an inferno. Actually, termites and decomposing vegetable matter emit hundreds of times more methane than domestic animals.not to mention volcanoes.
I'm of the opinion that these greens don't really love animals; what's really going on is that they hate people in particular and life in general. Anyway, these types have taken to using science as a cover. There should be a separation of science and state, for the very same reasons there should be a separation between church and state.
L: What would you say to people who say you're biased because you're in the cattle business?
Doug: Yes, the busybodies have convinced Boobus americanus that anyone who actually makes his living dealing with nature shouldn't say anything about it. People who mine minerals, drill for oil, farm, grow animals.people who actually know something about these things, and make them available for use have largely been intimidated into silence. They're commercial, and to be commercial is bad, QED. Of course, that's a completely insane attitude. But the self-righteous busybodies have managed to claim the moral high ground and discredit the producers. They've done this by capturing the government, academia, and the media.
Anyway, I'd say the average "consumer" (which is itself a perverse and degrading way to describe a person) should start using what's left of his own brain instead of relying on experts, whether those be government-stooge scientists or.me. Just think about it: humans evolved over millions of years eating meat, and as much of it as they could get, whenever and wherever it was available. The conclusion of the anti-meat study, at least as broadly stated in the press, has serious credibility problems on its face.
L: The study does make a point of saying that processed meats, like hot dogs, are supposed to be much worse for us. That would seem to have some face validity.
Doug: Yes, I can see that. When you're providing mass quantities of stuff for the masses through industrial processes, it seems inevitable that all kinds of additives, chemicals, and preservatives will get into the mix. Indeed, how much pure beef remains in a typical modern hot dog? I think they're mostly cereal and artificial flavoring these days, plus a good measure of the "pink slime" the USDA puts into lunchmeat for school kids' government-mandated meals.
Equally important, in my view, is that almost all meat these days is from cows raised on unnatural diets, pumped full of steroids and antibiotics, eating cardboard and unnatural food, living miserable lives, shoulder-to-shoulder in feedlots. How many survey respondents would know or care what kind of chemicals and pharmaceuticals went into the meat they are eating? I doubt they could give accurate answers to such questions, if they were even asked. I'd guess the researchers didn't even bother.
Here in Argentina, all my beef cows eat grass on wide open and quite pleasant pampas. No antibiotics, steroids, or cardboard are necessary. I understand that if you're going to provide meat for the masses, that quality may suffer. But that's all the more reason to elevate yourself out of the masses. Entirely apart from the fact "the masses" is a term Marx originated.
Trends in demonized foods are like trends in fashion. For some time, salt was the greatest bogeyman.until some people, particularly an Iranian doctor I once knew named Batmanghelidj, pointed out the obvious, namely that salt is essential to life, and that problems attributed to too much salt are usually problems with not enough water. You need a lot of water washing through your cells. But anything in excess can be a problem, including water. If it's not salt, then it's sugar. If it's not sugar, then it's fat. Red meat has had its turn as demon du jour before, and it looks like it coming back into fashion again.
L: I see Dr. Batmanghelidj's book on Amazon: You're Not Sick, You're Thirsty. I remember the salt scare; that was a big thing back in the '70s, as I recall. The odd thing is that post-scare, salt still seems to have a bad name, but consumption has moved toward gourmet salts. Plain old iodized Morton's salt is not to be found in certain politically correct cupboards, but sea salt or rock salt you grind yourself is acceptable.
Doug: Yes, rich people can't be denied their gourmet designer salts, even though what we generally call "salt" is made of sodium and chlorine: two of the deadliest elements on the periodic table. It's all part of the War on the Periodic Table of the Elements. Plutonium was perhaps the original enemy element, then uranium, then sodium. Gold is considered an evil element by many. Now the most evil element of them all is carbon, which is the essential component of all organic matter, and hence all life on this planet.
L: Hm. Now that you mention it, sodium ends in -ium, like thorium, so it must be bad.
Doug: Yes, and if it weren't for government policy, we'd likely be generating power from thorium instead of uranium; it's a much better fuel. But that's another story. I'm sure that once the Greens discover that its atomic number 90, it, too, will join the enemies list in their general war on the periodic table.
This reminds me of all the government-funded crash programs to find the cause of AIDS. Lo and behold, they found one and called it the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). But as I understand it, there are people who have AIDS and no HIV, and there are people who have HIV and never show any symptoms of AIDS. And yet, to question the HIV orthodoxy is to invite accusations of being a "denialist," homophobe, and maybe even a remover of those tags you're not supposed to take off mattresses under penalty of law. Fortunately, the AIDS hysteria, which was supposed to destroy the human race, has pretty much burned itself out.
And then there's the "overwhelming evidence" of anthropogenic global warming that fearmongers proclaim. Again, with a lot of government "science" involved. It's turned into an industry that destroys capital.
If we could get the state and its corrupting influence completely out of the science business, I'd be much more inclined to accept what the majority of scientists believe on "soft" sciences, like climate studies and epidemiology. Those things aren't at all the same as physics and chemistry; they're far above things like psychology and sociology, but hardly in the same class with mathematics. Certainly, as long as there's government money with a political agenda involved, I'm inclined to take so-called consensus views with at least a grain of gourmet sea salt, or even as possible contrary indicators for the truth.
L: That's a pretty strong statement, Doug.
Doug: It pays to be skeptical.about everything. Most of the reading that I do is either science or history, so I consider myself fairly knowledgeable in those areas, although I'm not a professional in either. But I didn't say I would refuse to believe anything supported by solid evidence just because I didn't like its source. I said that if the data comes from what I regard as a corrupt source, I proceed with greater-than-usual caution.
Although the corruption of science is very bad, what's even worse is the continuing and accelerating encroachment of the "nanny state." This meat study-and others like it-can easily be used to manufacture a scare. The scare will then be used to implement more laws and restric-tions on people's freedom to live their lives as they see fit. and to destroy another industry. One example of that is the FDA's campaign a?gainst farmers who sell unpasteurized milk to those who prefer it.
L: So, whether or not red meat is good for us, we all have a natural or God-given right to eat what we want and go to hell in our own way? Big Brother, step aside, Big Momma is gonna make us eat our veggies.
Doug: Exactly. I'm of the opinion that quality of life trumps quantity of life. That's the exact opposite view from what rulers and would-be rulers hold; they view the rest of our species as milk cows, to be kept alive and milked for as long as possible, no matter how much joy is taken from them. The purpose of life, however, is to enjoy yourself. It's not to be treated like part of a herd and be fed what your master wants for his own purposes.
L: Is that why is it that politicians bother meddling with whether people eat hot dogs or salads?
Doug: That, among many other reasons, they can win brownie points with very vocal activists if they beat up on an unpopular personal choice, like smoking. That's very valuable to them come election time. Politicians, with the possible exceptions of the likes of Ron Paul, always want to increase the state's (and thereby their own) power. Any scare is a great tool for manipulating people into handing over more of their freedom, which is to say, increasing their power over people.
Doug: Right. That's an important book everyone should read. The whole trend is very ominous. It's as Martin Niemoller said during WWII: "First they came for the communists, but I didn't speak out, because I was not a communist."
L: "And then they came for the Jews ... And then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me."
Doug: Right. I believe in speaking out, even though it probably doesn't do any good. I do it because I have to live with myself. I do it because I believe in karma.
L: If we end up in a totalitarian police state or nanny state, I don't want my children to lift their manacled wrists before my eyes and ask me why I didn't resist while resistance was possible.
Doug: Indeed. In spite of the blatantly obvious and disastrous results of Prohibition, politicians have declared open season on drug users, then smokers, then gun owners - All Things Fun. How far can it be from regulating politically incorrect eaters to regulating just about everyone's choices on every subject?
L: Not far.
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