There’s an old joke — I’ve seen it attributed to Clarence Darrow, but I have no confidence in this attribution — that goes
I don’t like spinach, and I’m glad I don’t, because if I liked it I’d eat it.
I thought of this in reflecting on the lessons of Nina Teicholz’s book Big Fat Surprise, about the sorry history of public health recommendations about dietary fat, mainly in the US. This will surely go down as one of the most embarrassing disasters in public health history, so Teicholz’s efforts to uncover how a supposedly self-correcting process was able to go so badly wrong holds important lessons for all of us who care about either science or public policy. (It’s sort of The Innocence Project, with observational studies in place of eyewitness misidentification.) (more…)