Dr. Greger’s Vehement Atkins Critique Fails the Test of Science

Category: Experiment
Last Updated: 18 Jun 2020
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The vehement and vitriol-filled critique of the Atkins diet By Dr. Michael Greger contains plenty of criticism, but almost no science. Despite his litany of experts’ opinions, Dr. Greger offers no scientific basis for his criticism, and his arguments against the diet are sometimes quite specious. Dr. Gregor offers little more than a litany of “authorities” whose prima fascia condemnations of the Atkins Diet also fail the fundamental tests of science, and in many cases, illustrate the ignorance of those offering critique.

Officials such as the President of the American College of Nutrition, as well as the unnamed chief health officer of Maryland are quoted with out-of-context condemnations of the diet that offer no insight as to how their conclusions are made. Chairs of various medical departments are similarly quoted, condemning the Atkins Diet as “nonsense” whose author is committing “malpractice. ” In a transparent attempt at “fairness”, Dr. Greger offers some of Atkins own public statements in support of his diet, and subjects them to ridicule.

Also read this Critique of Stuff Is Not Salvation

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He counters Atkins’ dismissal of nutritionists by reciting another litany of professionals who have criticized the diet. Mr. Greger’s argument seems to boil down to: “here’s a list of smart people who agree with me. ” Sadly, Dr. Greger’s criticism could have been done in several far more effective ways with the simple application of basic scientific method. He would have been wiser to conduct a study and offer a conclusion based on evidence, rather than relying on unsubstantiated statements by other authorities. Dr. Greger offers two hypotheses, both of which could be tested using the scientific method.

The lesser of the two hypotheses is that the Atkins Diet is ineffective in its stated goal of sustained weight loss. The best way to do this would be with a controlled study of two groups, each of whom would use the Atkins Diet for a fixed period of time. Then one group, the experimental one, would continue with the diet, while the control group would abandon it. Continuing monitoring of the weight situation would then indicate whether this diet was effective in the long term, whether a person continues it or not. There are several pitfalls that one could run up against in such an experiment.

First, the subject group must be one that is not using any other method of weight control (i. e. exercise, pills, etc. ). Since such a study would, by definition, be longitudinal, the experimenter would have to rely on self-report on this and other aspects of controlling variables. It is well known that self-report can yield questionable results when utilized as the sole measure of variables, particularly in an emotionally charged subject such as weight-loss. The primary dangers could be misreporting diet activities out of embarrassment.

Randomization across groups should limit the corruption of data as a result of such considerations. In addition to the practical limits with long-term studies, such as subjects dropping out, and limited sample Dr. Greger in particular would be wise to be aware of the possibly of observer bias, or design bias. His own strong opinions of the efficacy and risks to the subjects of this diet would be likely to taint his conclusions and possibly the methodology itself. The second and more sweeping of Dr. Greger’s hypotheses is the notion that the Atkins Diet is hazardous to the health of the practitioners.

Direct experimentation or even observation of existing data would be extremely problematic. Obviously, subjecting Human subjects to a hypothetically harmful diet would be considered to be unethical, and basing conclusions on antidotal or even “case study” data contains its own sets of hazards. In Dr. Greger’s case, he would be almost certain to “cherry-pick” cases that support his hypothesis. This may prove to be especially difficult given that most people, upon developing negative health consequences from a diet, would likely stop using the diet. The best way for Dr.

Greger to test this second hypothesis would be to simply take existing data on nutritional necessities for long-term health, and determine if the Atkins Diet calls for nutrition that reflects these requirements. In that way, Dr. Gereger would be able to point to some data, rather than relying on the opinions of experts in the field. While consensus of opinion in the scientific community can be a compelling argument for a particular hypothesis, by itself, it fails to persuade nearly as much as would the sensible application of the scientific method.

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Dr. Greger’s Vehement Atkins Critique Fails the Test of Science. (2017, May 15). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/dr-gregers-vehement-atkins-critique-fails-test-science/

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