Thursday, July 22, 2010

What T. Colin Campbell Didn't Want You to See

T. Colin Campbell has chosen to not participate in any discussion of his own "scientific results". Take a look at his last word on the topic, note metadiscussion of what "science is about" rather than actually discussing any science, and check the shoes.

The great thing about the Internet, of course, is that it is impossible to censor anything. I'm pasting the comments I submitted to Campbell's site below. These were not approved. Compare with the openness displayed by Denise Minger in publishing comments from all comers, and fostering open discussion. Draw your own conclusions. If you have submitted comments to that were not published, feel free to post them in the comments here. I'll send through anything that isn't overt spam.

To be fair, these comments may yet show up. There is a perfectly acceptable explanation that they haven't been published yet. I'm sure most bloggers have experienced "falling behind in comment moderation". If these comments are published, I partly retract my criticism. But the main portion remains valid: exchange of information is crucial to scientific progress. If you're not willing to exchange information, you're not interested in scientific progress.

I posted this just because it seemed odd to be revising such a benign comment. Who does this, and why?

Uh, why did your answer to my original question change from ““Dr. Campbell said he will be able to post comments now and then, although he cannot respond to every question.” to “Dr. Campbell said he will participate to the extent possible.”? Those seem like they say the same thing to me.

At any rate, I expect Dr. Campbell will find it a better use of his time to respond to specific points here rather than having to write lengthy detailed work such as above.

Here's a harder question:

From the response above:

“First and foremost, our extensive work on the biochemical fundamentals of the casein effect on experimental cancer in laboratory animals (only partly described in our book) was prominent because these findings led to my suggestion of fundamental principles and concepts that apply to the broader effects of nutrition on cancer development.”

Can you explain what these fundamental principles might be, or at least direct me to a detailed discussion? Proteins are broken down in to amino acids in the gut (at least in healthy individuals). These amino acids are then transported throughout the body, where they may be used to build new proteins. How does a specific mixture of amino acids trigger cancer growth? And of course I doubt most free-living organisms eat large quantities of isolated casein. So if I eat a meal containing casein, the mixture of amino acids absorbed reflects that off the total protein content of the meal, not just the casein.

It seems that in order for casein to have a specific role, it would need to trigger some other biological response beyond it’s simple amino acid content. For example, we know that most cancers have a very high glucose requirement, as they largely rely on anaerobic glucose metabolism for energy. We might then expect insulin to be required to stimulate glucose transport. Some cancers do indeed show higher expression of insulin receptors, see e.g.

From this we might hypothesize that dietary carbohydrates would drive cancer growth by providing both a supply a glucose and increased insulin secretion. It further can encompass other observations, e.g. the association of dietary fat and cancer. When eaten in combination with carbohydrate, fat will amplify insulin secretion.

Returning to your hypothesis that casein has a unique potential to stimulate cancer growth. What metabolic pathways are followed that create the “casein effect”? Is there some specific hormonal signal uniquely stimulated by casein?

And a link to a multivariate analysis that would answer at least some of Dr. Campbell's objections:

Here is an interesting blog on a multivariate analysis of China Study data:

I put these comments under the post "The Challenge of Telling the Truth:


Your suggestion about keeping an “open attitude” is a good one. However, you need to keep an open attitude about scientific evidence as well. The way you talk about “truth of health” sounds a lot more like religion than science. Perhaps this is simply a communication gap. I sincerely hope that you and your father have the sort of open and inquisitive minds required for scientific progress. There is no absolute “truth” in science, as this would imply we have perfect information. I doubt even the staunchest supporter of any dietary dogma would claim that we have perfect understanding of the deep complexities of human biology.

I will reiterate here what I have said elsewhere: scientific progress is about two-way communication. You and your father likely have information that supports your hypotheses, information that others do not have. However, I’m sure you’d agree that others have information that you do not as well. The only way to reach “agreement” is communication, so we’re all on the same page. This is why dialog is so fundamental to scientific progress. I hope you and your father will participate in this dialog.


“Despite lacking an adequate understanding of statistics and causality, this person used her intelligence and writing skills to compose a critique that might seem persuasive to laypeople.”

You might wish to expand on this a bit. It sounds like you’re saying she is both stupid (“lacking…understanding”) and intelligent in the same sentence. And I’m sure you would agree that “laypeople” need to have greater understanding of the issues so that they can make informed decisions, rather than simply picking an “expert” to blindly follow. Perhaps you can provide a little Statistics 101 discussion for us to better illustrate the shortcomings in Ms. Minger’s analysis for the lay public?


Unknown said...

Here are the two comments that I posted. They are currently both visible to me and marked as "Your comment is awaiting moderation." when I view the site:

July 22, 2010 at 6:25 am
The critical comment on Ms. Minger’s blog by an epidemiologist named “rayna”, which begins with “Your analysis is completely OVER-SIMPLIFIED.” is still there:

July 22, 2010 at 7:14 am
Dr. Campbell:

Ms. Minger in stated that the China Study data showed “a +67 correlation” between wheat consumption and coronary heart disease. You say here that this is a univariate correlation which doesn’t take into account other potentially important factors such as green vegetable consumption, serum levels of monounsaturated fats, serum levels of urea, and body weight.

My question is: when you do a multivariate correlation analysis which takes into account those other four factors in addition to wheat consumption and heart disease, then what are the resulting numbers? What is the correlation between wheat consumption and heart disease in that multivariate analysis?

Thank you for taking the time to respond to Ms. Minger’s analysis. I believe this is an important conversation that will turn out to have historic consequences.


Zooko Wilcox-O’Hearn

I copied the HTML of the site as it was presented to me and uploaded it here:

I was modestly proud of my second comment for focussing in on the only quantitative thing that Dr. Campbell had written in his post. I had hoped that by asking a question that was a direct response to something that he had written and that wasn't too broad that I could elicit a response. Bummer.

SamAbroad said...

God, Colin loves to waffle doesn't he? I'm amazed at his ability to use up many word without saying absolutely anything of substance.

It's quite a clever tactic actually, as it discourages debate by boring people to death.

Dave said...


The sort of verbal obfuscation used by Campbell has a long, sad history in science. I found myself on the wrong end of it many times during my scientific career, so this is familiar territory. I found that the best way to combat is insist on answer to direct questions, ones where the answer is critical to the obfuscator's hypothesis. That usually gets them to clam up in a hurry.

What amazes me is how consistently it plays out across different individuals. I'm reading the book "Predictably Irrational" right now (great read), and Campbell is giving us a nice example of predictably irrational behavior. I expressed hope that he would engage in a dialog, but was pretty sure things would go exactly as they have. In these situations, I always hope to be proven wrong. No luck this time.

Steve said...

If the comments section was still open I would post this

"Not only does Denise misrepresent and misunderstand the rationale for the science in The China Study, her choice of words do not facilitate what she hopes to achieve. Her overall message, often embellished with adjectives and subjective remarks, appeals to some questionable characters sympathetic to or subservient to the Weston A Price Foundation, a farm lobbying group whose advocates and apologists have accused me of being a “fraud”, a “liar”, a “buffoon” and (earlier) an associate of a “terrorist” organization. I doubt that this is what she wanted to achieve. These individuals, for much too long, have been carelessly using or even ignoring science to further their own interests, such as advocating for the use of a very high fat, high protein diet mostly consistent with the diet that has caused us so much difficulty.”

Wow again attacking Denise again instead of her analysis of the China Study.

Campbell do you have no shame?

Rick Lawrence said...

Here is what I posted but it wasn't allowed to see the light of day over at the Campbell Coalition.


If Dr. Campbell is to be taken completely seriously in this reply, it needs editing. First, the anonymous comment he lauds on Minger's blog did not "mysteriously disappear": -- it's right where it always was, with a reply from Minger. Where's the mystery?

Second, slyly praising someone at the start of a lengthy response only to use the old fallacy of guilt by association at the end is gratuitous at best (and even carries its own "mysterious" implications.) Removing these snide personal remarks would make it a much stronger response. (Like Dr. Campbell, there is no need to go into a laundry list of these personal remarks - they are obvious and can be easily identified by any competent editor.)

Third, with nearly 10,000 words to chose from on Minger's post, why did Dr. Campbell feel the need to invent a conversation? It could lead the reader to wonder what else may have been have invented. (See the problem?)

Fourth, asking one's readers to "assume" that one counterpoint made by Dr. Campbell applies to every item on the "laundry list" he's not going to bother with and inviting the readers to do the work is astonishingly presumptuous. If it is worth the work, do it. If it is so "out there" or simply too bad to work with, say so. But to tell the reader to do your own work is something no teacher of English would let their laziest student get away with.

Lastly, Dr. Campbell criticizes Minger's style: "...her choice of words do not facilitate what she hopes to achieve." If that is true of Minger's style it is doubly true here. Minger is an amateur creative writer posting on a blog, Dr. Campbell is the professional, public face of a proposed worldwide revolution in nutrition and eating patterns. He's got to hold himself to a better standard rather than find himself sloppily slogging away at it.

The Big Idea here is worth a much better effort, don't you think?


Dave said...

@Rick Lawrence,

"Fourth, asking one's readers to "assume" that one counterpoint made by Dr. Campbell applies to every item on the "laundry list" he's not going to bother with and inviting the readers to do the work is astonishingly presumptuous."

Particularly considering that "doing the work" for the reader falls under the job description of scientist/educator, both titles in which Dr. Campbell appears to take great pride.

Dave said...

Just posted this on the article titled "Are All Proteins Created Equal?" Good discussion fodder here, particularly on the depth of Dr. Campbell's understanding of the metabolic connections (since this article says little beyond "plant protein is healthy because plant protein is healthy. Because I said so!").

Will we get any kind of answer? Will my comment even escape unmoderated limbo? Tune in next time for more exciting adventures!
Dr. Campbell,

I think your argument could use some expansion here. You are asking the reader to take an awful lot on faith here. We want to know WHY animal protein is different from plant protein in terms of its effect on health.

Dave said...

Couldn't let this go. Here's a quote from T. Colin Campbell himself, taken from the article "How Science Misleads":

"If we are going to be scientists, then let’s be scientists by following the evidence where it takes us, not by seeking to find conclusions that please people"

Pot and kettle, anyone?

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Bravo for you to attempt a dialog. I can't stand the guy and believe he is a liar, or at best criminally incompetent. I believe Colon's (the appropriate spelling- thanks Peter!) strategy is simply to keep preaching to his choir and sensoring naysayers, knowing that he will always have a loyal group of idiot followers too stupid and trusting to doubt his wise words. He doesn't need to engage in dialog and isn't interested in science, only ideology. But I hope I am proved wrong and you get him to actually discuss science.


Dave said...

Hi Drs. Thanks.

Personally, I think you're giving Campbell too much credit for having a "strategy".

MontyApollo said...

Hi Dave,

In addition to the amusing "How Science Misleads" article, there is also an article by his son on "The Challenge of Telling the Truth" which is kind of a funny title given that they immediately shut down any open discussion on the China Study.

They have converted science to a religion. They don't really see science as a process anymore. They think it is some ultimate truth that only they have discovered, and if you can't see it then you must not be doing science correctly.

Sue said...

I had a feeling Campbell would back out of the discussions. Too many questions he doesn't want to answer. He wants people that don't question but just take his word for it. His son Nelson is following in his footsteps.

Dave said...

From Dr. Campbell's response:

"Science is about observing the natural order of things to an extent that begins to indicate a pattern."

Perceiving patterns is certainly part of science. It's at the front end of the process, so to speak: identifying these patterns is how we generate hypotheses. But at some point you need to be able to communicate your hypothesis and the evidence that supports it.

Saying "I'm an expert because I recognize the patterns" winds up circular, because the answer to the question "Why can you recognize patterns" is that "I am an expert."

Sue said...

Did you see the article at vegsource. All comments so far in favour of Campbell:

Michael Barker said...

I really am not interested in Campbell's retorts and I don't think you should be either. Look at Ed Kock's post. Minger has shown how questionable Campbell's conclusions were. This was possible because Campbell put the data out and it is good data. We can roast Campbell's conclusions because the data is there. There are so many papers where that isn't true. Let's, at least, give him credit for not hiding the basis on which he can be challenged.

PS Like your blog. I will be following. I assume you were an experimental physicist because you sound rational.

praguestepchild said...

Dave wrote: "I found that the best way to combat is insist on answer to direct questions, ones where the answer is critical to the obfuscator's hypothesis. That usually gets them to clam up in a hurry."

I am always amazed at how people will try to dodge simple direct questions. I've gotten responses such as "If you need me to explain that, you don't understand the field", "Socratic method is trite", to "You need to do your own research, I don't have time to explain the basics". Anything to dodge a direct line of questioning and try to make you look like an asshole for trying to cut to the heart of the matter.

These people have plenty of time to write long-winded crap that is essentially meaningless, but never enough time to answer a simple question.

Asclepius said...

I expressed to TCC my concerns about the quality of the data generated in the China Study.

He says in his post on his website that “One of the unique characteristics of this survey was the traditional dietary practices of this cohort of people”, but in his original response to Denise Minger, he states that he “discovered after the project was completed that meat consumption for one of the counties, Tuoli, was clearly not accurate on the 3 days that the data were being collected. On those days, they were essentially eating as if it were a feast to impress the survey team but on the question of frequency of consumption over the course of a year, it was very different”.

My questions to TCC were thusly:

1) How did you quantify/qualify the extent of this ‘desire to impress’ amongst ALL groups in the study?

2) What specific adjustment to macro-nutrient composition (if any) did you make for this behaviour amongst the Tuoli? For example, did you account for other likly sources of animal based food (such as dairy)?

3) If the ‘traditional dietary practices’ were thusly obscured from you (by a desire to ‘impress’), how can you be sure that any such adjustments you chose to make were accurate and appropriate?

Alas my comment is awaiting moderation.

praguestepchild said...

Dr Colon writes:
"Science is about observing the natural order of things to an extent that begins to indicate a pattern."

I prefer this definition:

"Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool." - Richard Feynman

Dave said...


"Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool." - Richard Feynman

Indeed. That's why a quantitative and transparent method is required to assess the weight given to a hypothesis. Quantitative because you need a way at arriving at a number to avoid statements like "moderate support for the hypothesis". If you and I are debating different hypotheses, and we both have "moderate" support, then what? Indeed, if you think about it, we often would face cases where an individual hypothesis has relatively low support. When testing hypotheses against epidemiological data, such as that of the China Study, the potential hypothesis space is vast, and the data does rather little to select out one. Rather it tends to indicate large sets that might be preferred, e.g. the hypotheses implying observed correlations.

But a given hypothesis in the preferred set has low probability of being true, simply because there are many alternatives and no information to distinguish them. With no quantification of such, it is easy to be fooled, as the brain tends toward absolute statements (some brains have greater tendency than others, as we've seen with Dr. Campbell). With quantitative probabilities in hand, even weakly supported hypotheses can be compared to each other, e.g. suggesting which avenues of further research might be productive.

Transparency is the other key issue. Here's a quote from Campbell's retort, something I actually agree with:

"the scientist should state clearly his or her biases then try hard to be objective"

All scientific conclusions contain some subjective judgments of the scientists. That's reality. You'll never have data on every possible aspect affecting a conclusion. What you can do, however, is transparently indicate what information when in to the analysis. That includes not only data, but any subjective "knowledge". When performed in a consistent quantitative framework, this analysis leads to the probability that a given hypothesis is true, given data and other information. Other people can then look in and know exactly what went into your calculation, decide if they have different information, see how it affects the probability, etc. The sort of nonsensical pissing contest that people like Campbell engage in just goes away, or at least becomes obviously about the subjective inputs.

Sue said...

Campbell posted another comment after the supposedly last one. Also they let through another comment which was a positive one for them.

Drew @ How To Cook Like Your Grandmother said...

I believe this quote applies: "You cannot reason people out of a position they have not reasoned themselves into."

Lindsay Wolf said...

It's sad to me that a conclusive study meant to help people heal, not hurt them has received so much criticism on here. I'm a bit disappointed by everyone who has either negatively challenged Dr. Campbell's views or made a negative comment about him below the post. There are countless studies that commend an animal-heavy diet, and where has that gotten us? Heart disease, growing amounts of cancer, high rates of diabetes, and an obesity epidemic that is running rampant. Instead of trying to disprove a study that has been worked on in for over thirty years, why don't you try eating a healthy, plant-based diet for several years and see where you're at? I myself had a moment fall into my lap three years ago that led me to two years of veganism. I wasn't looking for it or wanting to practice it - but here I am, a plant-based, vegan person and loving it. I look to people like T. Colin Campbell with admiration because they have challenged the status quo - so that we may have better health and well being to come. I'm just thankful my mind opened up three years ago and continues to stay open.

(And no, I am no spokesperson for or employee of Dr. Campbell. I am just someone who believes in the healing power of eating plants and living in the least cruel way possible.)

Dave said...


What exactly makes the Campbell's work "conclusive"? I presume that you being "sad" and "disappointed" is a way of saying you have no actual evidence to back up Campbell's conclusions, or refute the recent challenges, the most notable of which is Denise Minger's because it is simply mathematics. If Dr. Campbell can't even get the math right, how can we even begin to trust his conclusions?

If Dr. Campbell wants to help people, he should be providing information instead of gospel. I asked a couple of straightforward scientific questions of Dr. Campbell. Not only did he not even publish the questions on his blog, he stomped off in something of a hissy fit that anyone would have the temerity to question him in the first place. This all smacks of the "great and powerful Oz", ordering us to ignore the man behind the curtain. If Dr. Campbell doesn't want to "open his curtain" and provide actual information beyond "because I said so", then all of his good intentions don't amount to more than a hill of beans.

And let's be very clear: if anything, during the period that obesity and diabetes have skyrocketed, the US has been drifting more towards the sort of diet you espouse. You can find details here:

Michael B. said...

Kudos to "Spark of Reason" for exposing Colin Campbell's nonsense. But Campbell is not just a phony 'scientist'; he is also a failed businessman who started a vegan-inspired business (Paracelsian, Inc.), lost the money of several investors, failed to make legally-required quarterly filings, and was stripped by the S.E.C. of the right to trade stock publicly. See here for the S.E.C.'s 2005 administrative proceeding against Campbell's company:

Anonymous said...

After reading T. Colin Campbell's China Study, I now eat a whole foods plant based diet and have never felt better. I enjoy running and bike riding, and as a 45 year old I can tell you that my energy level and performance is better than when I ate meat and dairy at 40 years old.

Maybe most of you who attack Campbell's character are motivated because you don't like the idea of changing your diet, and perhaps a little blindness in your analysis and criticism is also based on your unwillingness to change. Just a thought.

Dave said...

After reading {insert LC/paleo book here}, I now eat a whole foods animal-based diet and have never felt better. I enjoy running and bike riding, and as a 43 year old I can tell you that my energy level and performance is better than when I ate bread and beans at 35 years old.

Maybe most of you who attack {insert LC/paleo book author here}'s character are motivated because you don't like the idea of changing your diet, and perhaps a little blindness in your analysis and criticism is also based on your unwillingness to change. Just a thought.

Drew @ Willpower Is For Fat People said...

Hah! Dave, that was so much better than what I was planning to write.

Anonymous said...

@Dave: Good for you. Have you tried eating a whole foods, plant based diet. Maybe you can try it out and see how that goes versus your paleo diet.

Have you read this yet?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone posting here actually read The China Study. It doesn't appear to be the case.

Anonymous said...

@Dave. You wrote, "And let's be very clear: if anything, during the period that obesity and diabetes have skyrocketed, the US has been drifting more towards the sort of diet you espouse."

I don't doubt you have amazing scientific skills and reasoning abilities, but it's odd that would suggest that more US citizens drifting towards a whole foods plant based has anything to do with increased obesity and diabetes. I can assure you that those eating a whole foods, plant based diet are not obese, and if they have never had diabetes, they certainly would not get the disease as a healthy vegan diet or those who come close to doing so.

Dave said...


You're proselytizing. So far your argument is basically "just try it" and "read this book", which is essentially what I get from religious zealots who come to my door to try to convert me into their cult (apparently, they also don't know the meaning of the word "solicit", as they think my "No Soliciting" sign doesn't apply to them).

I will happily continue publishing your comments. Unlike T. Colin Campbell, I don't choose to censor those who don't agree with my views. But the whole point of my blog is the free exchange of information, and so far you aren't contributing any. If you want me to engage in further discussion, you need to bring something more concrete to the table than "I can assure you X is true" etc.

I don't know your definition of a "plant-based whole foods diet", so I can't tell you if I tried it or not.

By Campbell's own admission, The China Study was not intended to be a scientific work but more an expression of his views on nutrition. I'm not interested in his opinions (or really those of anybody else, for that matter). He had the opportunity to answer my questions about the science underlying his views, and he chose instead to throw a hissy fit about one of my questions, and not even publish the other one in his blog. Until he demonstrates otherwise, I'll assume it's because he has no answers, which implies that reading The China Study would be a giant waste of time.

What is it with vegans and censorship anyway? Campbell did it (and even took down his whole blog to hide the dissension). The 30 Bananas people are all about censorship. I'll bet they wish they could censor this:

Anonymous said...


Please explain how asking you to read The China Study and try the diet is a sign of religious zealotry. I find that very odd. I do think there is some religious zealotry among scientists who actually believe that it's always best to rule our own lives by reason alone. Reason does have it's limits, and if I had never had read the China Study I would continue eating an almost vegan diet based on experience and my total cholesterol of 156, which is far better than my 269 when I ate a diet of meat, fruit and veggies. Personally, eating far less meat and dairy works for me, and I know it has worked for others.

The China Study is a work written for the lay person, not for an audience of scientists, but his opinions in the book are derived from his scientific work. Scientists also have a opinions they wish to share their opinions derived from the work beyond their scientist peers. I'm not sure why you are not interested in his opinions since they rely on his work, so why are so reluctant to read it.

I'm not a scientist, but it does strike me as very interesting that children in the Philippines who ate a diet rich in dairy and protein developed cancer after consuming peanut butter contaminated by aflatoxin while children of poor families who couldn't afford meat or dairy did not develop cancer. Interesting, don't you think? Campbell then conducted a study in which he fed one group of rats aflatoxin and 20 percent of their protein from casein, and feed aflatoxin to another group of rats with 5 percent of their protein coming from casein. All rats fed 20 percent casein developed cancer, and those fed 5% casein did not. Interesting, don't you think?

Perhaps you don't find epidemiological studies convincing, but when such studies are backed up by laboratory rats, I find that interesting. I think it's interesting that rural Chinese who consumed a whole foods plant based diet had very low cancer rates while the more affluent in other areas who consumed meat and dairy had high rates of cancer.

There's a great deal in the book worth considering, even though Campbell does present his opinions. I don't agree with all of Campbell's opinions. After all, I do eat a little meat from time to time, but I don't consume dairy because it stiffens my joints. probably receives tons of posts on their sites from vegan haters and those who have a bone to pick with the vegan diet in general. Obviously, the website is meant for those who want information about a lifestyle they have already chosen, and sure it does try to convince people. People aren't zombies, though, so if you want to challenge the ideas on the website, you can simply look elsewhere.

As for Campbell censoring you, I just don't know what really went on. Campbell said that Ms. Minger censored him. What is is with raw meat eaters and their censorship?

I'm happy with my diet. It works for me.

Enjoy this video of Carl Lewis talking about competing as a vegan:

No, I'm not being religious. :)


Dave said...

"children in the Philippines who ate a diet rich in dairy and protein developed cancer after consuming peanut butter contaminated by aflatoxin while children of poor families who couldn't afford meat or dairy did not develop cancer. Interesting, don't you think?"

Very interesting. It would be a lot more interesting if you provided a hypothetical mechanism. That's the question I asked Campbell, which he chose not to answer, instead giving a long rant about why he wouldn't answer the question. See details above in the original post. I await your response.

Here's my hypothesis as to why those poor children didn't develop cancer: they were starving. There's probably a whole lot of other tissue in their bodies that didn't develop properly either due to a lack of complete protein.

Your "answer" to my question about censorship reminds me of when I ask one of my children why they are behaving badly to the other one, and boils down to "he/she did it first". In other words, it's childish. Tell me why Campbell blocked my comments on his website. He's supposed to be a scientist and educator - this not the behavior I would expect. deserves infinite credit for publishing comments from "vegan haters". I don't consider myself in that group. You can be a vegan and make informed and intelligent choices. What I do dislike are semi-religious converts to a particular diet who do not think for themselves, but instead pick their "guru" and flog his teachings like he was the second coming of Christ. This phenomenon isn't unique to vegans, you can find these people for any and all dietary approaches.

Personally, I think most of the ways we categorize foods are remarkably short-sighted, given our current knowledge of metabolism. And the "plant" vs. "animal" categorization tops that list. We need to classify foods based on their net metabolic effects, not whether leaves or a face in its original form. As I responded to you originally, I've seen similar improvements in health as you describe, yet I eat nothing like a vegan diet. What we probably have in common is the "whole foods" part (though you have yet to define what this means to you).

What is it that you call a "plant-based whole foods diet"?

Anonymous said...

Your condescending reply to my answer about censorship reminds me of the bad parent who doesn't trust in his children's ability to see a double standard when he sees one. I simply find it interesting that you are quick to complain about Campbell not replying to your message but say nothing about Ms. Minger's apparent refusal to engage with Campbell. It certainly shows your bias.

Speaking of double standards, you don't take your posters to task for making irresponsible and ridiculous statements. Some guy is offering dangerous dietary advise without backing up his statements. Let's face it: there are lots of people that all vegans don't get enough protein in their diets and are risking their health. Let's put that myth to rest. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence alone that puts that baby to rest.

I do not believe science will ever be able fully comprehend the chemical processes involved in nutrition, an opinion of Campbell's I agree with. Nature is more complex than our ability to fully comprehend it. I doubt there will ever be a complete knowledge of nutrition.

I eat brown rice, potatoes, legumes, fruits, veggies that are not overly processes, meaning that I cook them myself and try to avoid overly processed, prepackaged foods. Honestly, I'm not trying to a pure about it, but I enjoy staying as close as possible to my diet and find that eating bread, even wheat bread, brings my energy down. I can eat tons of beans, rice and potatoes and still have plenty of energy. This is what I mean by plant-based whole foods diet.

Dave said...

If you don't like my condescending attitude, you should stop trying to convert me to your "ism". You want me to read China Study, and I decline because I don't believe Campbell is much of a scientist given his behavior. Minger is not my "guru" as Campbell apparently is to you. If you have a problem with Minger's behavior, take it up with her. I did ask Campbell why he censored me, and that question also was never answered, nor did it even get published.

The really telling thing about all of this is Campbell's incredibly shallow thinking. Did he really think people like me wouldn't just post these questions/comments elsewhere? Not too bright.

If you like your diet, stick with it and be happy. You shouldn't need me or anybody else to validate your behavior, and if you're really healthy in mind and body, anti-vegan criticism shouldn't mean much to you. I'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish here.

Science will never have "complete understanding" of anything. Recognizing that is key. But people like Campbell use this as a convenient excuse to avoid saying "I don't know" or otherwise facing difficult questions that cause them cognitive dissonance. Campbell further seems to think that despite his admitted lack of understanding (which we all share, by the way), he has some special insight into things, all that nonsense about "symphonies" etc. And for some reason he doesn't feel the need to explain his reasoning to the rest of us, we're just supposed to listen because he's special. I hope you enjoy basking in Campbell's "specialness". I'll pass, thanks.

Dave said...


Not sure what you mean about "dangerous advice". Advice is just a bunch of words. It's only dangerous when people follow it uncritically, without actually thinking through whether it makes sense, the motivations of those giving the advice, etc. Sort of like reading "The China Study" and taking it as your bible for all things nutritional, particularly given that it apparently contains very little actual scientific discussion.

But since you've read it, and seem to want very badly for me to read it, let's do this: find me the answer to the question I posed to Campbell in the book. If that's in there, I'll read "The China Study". Otherwise it would be pretty much a waste of my time.

In fact, I'll go you one better: since you seem to be a great fan of T. Colin Campbell, you might appeal to him to provide the answer to my question. I suppose it is understandable (albeit really dumb) that he might get miffed about a young whippersnapper questioning him. But perhaps as a devotee you'll have better luck?

Anonymous said...

Did I say I was a devotee? How many times have I stated that I don't follow Campbell's program. Perhaps you're confused because you expect admiration to translate into religious worship and a belief that Campbell presents complete and perfect knowledge, but I don't agree with all of his opinions, as I have made clear a few occasions. Are you paying attention or are you intent only on making me into some imaginary enemy? Whatever the case, maybe I simply need to tell you that I disagree with Campbell about a few things. I agree with him that it's better to avoid vitamin supplements, but I disagree with his one exception rule that I should take a vitamin b12 supplement. I prefer to get some during family events where I have a little turkey. b12 stays in the body for a long time; furthermore, I can get b12 from nutritional yeast. Yes, China Study did change my life, but it was just a jumping board. I still enjoy the book, but I see its flaws. My primary motivation for eating the way I do stems from experience and simple, anecdotal evidence. It's all I really need.

You need a reality check. I am fairly certain that Colin Campbell receives tons of message on his website. Do you actually believe he spends his time sorting through all the messages? Is your ego so inflated that you believe that he's not replying to your question because you somehow stumped him? Give me a break.

Experience and anecdotal evidence is all I need to know to base my diet. Descriptions of the science of nutrition did motivate me to act, but at this point in my life I know enough about my own body and other people's stories to know that people are full of BS when they claim that eating a whole foods, plant based diet is dangerous and inferior. There are many people like me who have never felt more healthy and alive as vegans or near vegans. You said you eat a different diet and you feel much better; that's great. From what I can gather, it appears that you are eating some trendy paleo diet. If you have given up cheese and dairy and consume whole foods, we can say we have something in common. I'm sure what we have a common explains our improved health. Since you feel so great, I guess there's no reason to change your diet. It works for you. Good for you.

My diet works for me, which is why I plan to continue eating the way I do until I die. It seems to me that you shave an axe to grind with respect to those who choose to live a vegan diet.

Oh, if you can waste your time looking at Paleo diet blogs, I'm sure you can find some time to read The China Study.

One last thing. Click here for a list of elite, vegan athletes:

Their stories are really enough to know that vegans can thrive on their diets.

Dave said...


Apologies if I misinterpreted your zeal, that it was not directed toward Campbell per se but instead at veganism in general. Speaking of paying attention: I already said in an earlier comment that the distinction between plant and animal foods is shortsighted. You could eat a vegan diet consisting entirely of sawdust, and not be healthy. You could eat an animal-based diet of rat fur, and not be healthy. It's the metabolic net outcome of what you eat that's important, not whether the organism has mitochondria or chloroplasts. These are the sorts of things you figure out when you attempt to view the world through the lens of science rather than vague semi-religious concepts. If I "shave an axe to grind" with anything, it's with those who wish to visit their irrationalities upon the rest of the world as if they were deep truths rooted in evidence and logical reason.

I know that Campbell read my question, because he specifically mentioned it in rant about why he wasn't going to answer such questions.

You don't know how many paleo blogs I read (not many, and usually because somebody directs me toward a specific article which sounds interesting). At this point, I have about as much interest in reading T. Colin Campbell as I do the works of Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Your rant has done nothing to dissuade me. Please continue posting, however, it is certainly entertaining to see you get tangled up in your cognitive dissonance.

JD Hullinger said...

I will continue posting with the hope that your continued defensiveness and childish insults will provide more entertainment.

If you don't read too many Paleo sites, I recommend you delete the one Paleo found under links on your blog. Call me crazy, but a blogger's links usually tells me his interests.

Speaking of religious beliefs, net metabolic outcome is your idol. I'm convinced you have a better scientific understanding of net metabolic outcome, but I'm equally convinced that you view nutrition through a narrow vision. I'm also convinced you have not yet spend sufficient time investigating the many epidemiological studies showing a correlation between meat and dairy consumption and cancer. We're not talking about population of starving vegans, and I understand that correlation is not causation.

I suppose a closed and arrogant mind is the best way to avoid cognitive dissonance. As long as you can avoid the literature that demonstrates increased cancer risk with meat and dairy consumption, the more you can avoid the disease of the mind you mention. If you don't want to investigate this issue through Campbell, I know you can find the literature somewhere else.

We haven't even talked about heart disease risk. I'm willing to your hatred for Dr. Esselstyn is equal to that of Dr. Campbell. I have to admit that I reject Esseystn advise to avoid oil; Esselystn's advise stems from an occupation hazard of saving people's life from inoperable heart disease, but I see where he's coming from. All patients who followed his diet reversed heart disease. Wow. True, they were also on small amounts of cholesterol reducing medication, but their medication didn't work when they followed the typical diet recommendations.

I don't really care if my family or friends eat meat or not. I just want them to be healthy, and I know their lack of health stems from too much meat and dairy and too enough fruits and veggies. If they can increase their fruit and veggies intake, especially their veggies, I know they'll feel better. People without scientific sophistication knows this to be true by experience, not by some religious belief.

Dave said...


"I suppose a closed and arrogant mind is the best way to avoid cognitive dissonance."

Look in the mirror.

"As long as you can avoid the literature that demonstrates increased cancer risk with meat and dairy consumption, the more you can avoid the disease of the mind you mention."

I don't ignore it. But there's other evidence of similar weight (epidemiological, etc.) showing now effect. It's a net zero. If you can provide a biological mechanism demonstrated in living organisms, I would be more interested. At this point, however, you're just pushing your own confirmation bias.

"People without scientific sophistication knows this to be true by experience, not by some religious belief."

People with "scientific sophistication" (by which I assume you mean the ability and will to think for themselves) know that experience can be a valuable guide. They also know that personal experience rarely provides a well-controlled basis for drawing conclusions. I have no doubt you are healthier on your current diet. I also have no doubt that, when viewed through a more analytical lens, you changed many things about your life. You don't have a good control to compare with, e.g. only increasing vegetable intake while keeping other things the same, or only eliminating wheat while continuing to eat meat, or whatever.

And apparently you think that people should follow your advice just because you said so. That's exactly the attitude I would hope people run screaming from, as it is essentially the definition of religion, and not science. It's no surprise you can't get others in your family to listen to you, since you really give them no reason to other than your religious zeal.

Dave said...


And maybe you missed my comment where I gave you the opportunity to update my beliefs with new evidence: "find me the answer to the question I posed to Campbell in the book." Or anywhere, for that matter. I expect you'll say something along the lines of "I don't need to find that answer because I know THE TRUTH, and yea verily the UNBELIEVERS shall be laid low by the POWER OF BEANS", but I thought it would be worth a try to give you another chance. Sometimes gems of knowledge come from the most unexpected sources.

JD Hullinger said...

I don't tell my friends and family to eat like I do. I only suggest in conversation that a diet rich and fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes is very healthy, but I never tell them they shouldn't eat meat or dairy. When they ask about my own diet, I tell them about it and say it works for me, and it's true that I say I think too much meat and dairy consumption is not good for us. Some people believe differently.

People used to site science when claiming that a vegetarian diet could not possibly provide people with enough protein. I would venture to guess that most people still believe this. Vegetarians got it right. People still believe vegans need to consume meals consisting of complete proteins like rice and beans. Scientific knowledge caught up to what vegans already knew, yet vegans have been called religious zealots by scientists and mainstream whom scientists enlighten with their errors that pass as reality. It takes only a little common sense based on experience to know that vegans don't need to consume meat and dairy in order to build strong muscles. Who are the religious zealots? Those who cites science showing that vegans can't possibly get enough protein consuming only plants or vegans who are able to demonstrate as much as endurance and strength as meat eaters? I would say the former are religious zealots.

Okay, let me know word for word what you would like to post to Campbell's website. I have no problem doing so.

What problem do you have with Campbell's experiments on rats?

JD Hullinger said...

Consider the possibility that you look for evidence to support your diet and apply far more analysis and criticism to diets far different than your own. I admit I have the same tendency. I have noticed that you are much softer on the peleo cult followers than vegan ones. Why is that? Are you--GASP!-- more than a scientist and simply a human with deep biases.

The problem with the study of nutrition is that the the human body is much more complicated than what science can account for. I doubt science is capable of providing a well-controlled basis for drawing conclusions beyond very limited variables, and I doubt even this. Scientists really thought that anyone not consuming meat or dairy could possibly thrive off protein from only plant foods. As I mentioned in my previous post, vegetarians knew they were wrong. Science was slow to understand what vegetarians already knew. We don't have to be anal scientists to know certain things. You really can get all the protein you need without eating meat or dairy.

Anonymous said...

To the person that already disagrees with the unhealthness of milk based protein primarily casein. I will put this in simple terms, just as T. Colin Campbell does in his book written for the common lay person. Proteins are the most varied biological macromolecules aka macronutrients in living things. Simple answer to casein causing cancer would be to look up his actual published peer review research and read the entire scientific study. Thats what a true scientist would do. Also as an aside, there are prions that cause disease and we do not fully understand the mechanisms and they are composed of amino acids to. The fundamental design in the China Study book is good, but of course rather than attack with a simple understanding of macromolecules and their monomers please read the actual research before you make an assessment.

Anonymous said...

All you people want to do is keep doing what you are doing....not change so you can blame something else. Colin may have a very good discovery here. Ya know what! Keep believing the government they have nothing to gain right!, you should totally trust them. Feed that to your children.