We will find ourselves spending quite a few decades cleaning up after modernity. In particular, we will find that in inversion time, everything that seems “good” is in fact bad, and many things labeled as “bad” are in fact harmless.
The most recent significant indicator of this inversion came from of all places The New York Times, which noted how legal corruption caused science to hide the dangers of sugar in order to shift the blame to our friend fat:
The sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to play down the link between sugar and heart disease and promote saturated fat as the culprit instead, newly released historical documents show.
The internal sugar industry documents, recently discovered by a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, and published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that five decades of research into the role of nutrition and heart disease, including many of today’s dietary recommendations, may have been largely shaped by the sugar industry.
“They were able to derail the discussion about sugar for decades,” said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at U.C.S.F. and an author of the JAMA Internal Medicine paper.
At the end of those decades, we find ourselves facing the knowledge that “science” is administered by scientists, and those — being human — succumb to self-interest in the following ways:
In fact, if you want to be a scientist who is not dependent on a paycheck for the rest of your working career, or you simply want to join the top income level, it makes sense to give in to one of these temptations, or it might never happen.
Few scientists are truly great, and without that kind of talent, your run-of-the-mill boffin requires a boost from something other than pure skill.
This explains why most published research findings are false:
The probability that a research claim is true may depend on study power and bias, the number of other studies on the same question, and, importantly, the ratio of true to no relationships among the relationships probed in each scientific field. In this framework, a research finding is less likely to be true when the studies conducted in a field are smaller; when effect sizes are smaller; when there is a greater number and lesser preselection of tested relationships; where there is greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes; when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice; and when more teams are involved in a scientific field in chase of statistical significance. Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias.
This leads us to wonder how many of the assumptions that well-read people adopt are simply inaccurate or partial tellings of a more complex situation. Such may be the case with sugar, which was assumed to be safe, but may in fact drench young men in estrogen analogues:
The dietary sugar of 15 young men was reduced from their habitual approximately 150 g/day to about 55 g/day. After 3 weeks, the concentration of oestradiol in their plasma fell by about 25%. Resumption of their habitual intake of sugar for 2 weeks restored the oestradiol concentration to its previous value. The results provide further evidence that dietary sugar can be one of the causes of coronary heart disease, and support the view that the underlying mechanism producing the disease is a disturbance in hormone balance.
Oestradiol, now spelled estradiol, is a form of estrogen.
Estrogenizing young men turns out to increase their levels of stress hormones:
In response to the psychosocial stressor, ACTH, cortisol, norepinephrine, and heart rate were increased in both experimental groups (all P < 0.0001). However, the estradiol-treated subjects showed exaggerated peak ACTH (P < 0.001) and cortisol (P < 0.002) responses compared to the placebo group. Also, the norepinephrine area under the response curve was greater in the estradiol group (P < 0.05). Although heart rate responses differences failed to reach statistical significance, they, too, tended to be larger in the estradiol group.
In addition, as one might expect, introducing estrogen to men suppresses sexual desire:
In men who received Nal-Glu alone, there were clinically and statistically significant decreases in the frequency of sexual desire, sexual fantasies, and intercourse at 4-6 weeks.
Since sugar raises estrogen levels, it likely has similar effects, making men less sexually active at the same time it makes them more nervous and reduces their heart health. This would make them more ideal citizens for an authority that wanted to control them.