Whilst engaging in cooking on last Saturday and entertaining family for an early Christmas dinner — periodically checking email — I received a missive from a new heart surgeon in training in the UK. He took umbrage with my derogatory remarks directed at another UK heart surgeon some time ago.
I need to advise you that your post is not only unacceptable and distasteful, it is also highly defamatory and you are vulnerable to a law suit to this effect.
It is entirely reasonable that you disagree with the views expressed by Dr. Kolvekar, but the sheer wanton disrespect you display to this person who is a highly accomplished, talented individual (by definition, he is a heart surgeon), is reprehensible and a reflection of your state of both mind and body.
You should foremost concentrate on losing weight, and preventing yourself getting heart disease, rather than insult obscenely those very people who may one day cure you of the illnesses to which you are most vulnerable.
I’m not sure to which of my posts featuring Dr. Shyam Kolvekar he’s referring, but here’s the list:
- This Article Made Me Hungry; So I Stopped For Breakfast
- Shyam Kolvekar: The Most Stupidest Man in The World
I suspect he’s referring to the latter. I dunno, perhaps they don’t get the Dos Equis commercials in the UK and he didn’t get the humor. But no matter; he got the rage, which was real.
Before I get into that, something from a subsequent email (we exchanged a few over several hours).
…my argument is with the careless, wanton way you choose to denigrate people who have done nothing but work very hard most of their lives in medicine.
More, amongst much mutual virtual chest beating:
I can tell you that heart surgeons go through years and years of hard work, dedication, and accomplishment to become who they are, usually sacrificing large parts of their personal lives. The work they do is invaluable to society and they perform the most complex operations on the most high risk patients.
My interlocutor seems to hold somewhat to Marx’s Labor Theory of Value, as have others in previous and similar exchanges, such as Dr. Stephen Benoit, who did not like my characterization of his and his colleagues’ work as "Grant Whore[ing]."
In the end it’s pretty clear to me that I was wrong to target them. I do have two disagreements with Dr. Benoit.
1. In all of his communications he has emphasized the level, intensity and length of the work. I’m not an adherent to the Labor Theory of Value. I’m now satisfied that their work is sound, and so it has value. But it matters not to me whether it took 5 minutes or 10 years to produce.
I suppose that if anyone is to be forgiven for such an ethical misstep (I can expound upon that in comments, later) it could be doctors and especially, surgeons. It is indeed a long and arduous path. But in the end I think it’s fallacy to regard their value to others and society as based principally upon that, and not on their competence or more: their correctness and effectiveness.
Butcher surgeons exist. They "worked hard," too. I’ll not belabor the point. I’m of the mind, principally for illustration, that a prodigy who worked hardly a lick but can do a competent heart transplant or valve replacement creates more value than a board-certified physician with a decade of tough training, yet is so-so in the operating room. Quantity of work has nothing to do with anything.
There was a second point to that quote of mine, above.
2. I firmly believe that there is room and justification for the sorts of vitriol I spew, human beings or not. But I recognize that I spewed at the wrong folks this time and I regret that. Thankfully, there are plenty who actually deserve it. I will probably do better in the future to primarily direct public hangings to news media unless I’m particularly familiar with a piece of research.
Now Kolvekar — so far as I can determine as of this time of posting — certainly does not deserve the courtesy, nor the correction extended to Benoit. Benoit contacted me; we discussed, he explained, and he convinced me. Anyone can do that, if they’re right. And I suspect Kolvekar to this day would be unrepentant in his stance against a natural food used for centuries vs. industrial machine lubricants re-dubbed as "food."
Fat chance. But I should explain the sorts of distinctions I form and engage in as a part of this blogging work. This is actually from the beginning of a reply email, before I realized it was time to put it in a post.
First, I’m a blogger; not a journalist…not a representative of some institution — not anyone speaking in any official capacity. I’m a self-admitted Hit & Run artist. It’s my style, I do it for effect & attention. And it gets attention; I get 100,000 visits and 200,000 page views per month. And it helps people. Browse through some of these unsolicited testimonials from readers.
A few of particular note, among the dozens I’ve blogged and the hundreds contained within comments to those posts and others:
- “It’s Almost Like This Stuff Really Works”
- Murray: “I Freed My Animal”
- Real Results: Primal in Philly
- Real Results: Austin from Singapore
- Way More Important Than… (106 Pounds Lost in 7 Months)
Continuing with the draft of the email response…
These are all real people with real lives who have finally stopped listening to the dietary crap peddled by Kolvekar and his ilk, and the medical profession in general which, I might add, has been a dismal failure these past decades as people get fatter and fatter, and more diabetic, year by year and yet they still get the same advice to lower the fat and even to not eat too much protein (well, they have to eat something so what’s it gonna be then: sugar). And Kolvekar is going to admonish them to drop the butter? Fucker.
And if you don’t understand metabolism 101 and that it’s sugar, especially refined, that principally makes us fat then go ahead and get to know Kolvekar. Get chummy. Get press. Get rich.
Granted that I am somewhat emboldened in all of this. But that’s only because over the years I have somehow managed to attract the attention of many MDs and PhDs who have to their great credit put health above their immediate livelihoods and notoriety, and have either directly or indirectly encouraged my muckraking. …And these aren’t the contrarian for contrarian’s sake quacks who sell books through direct mail and ebooks, where all modernity is some ill conspiracy.
These are simply real people who care more about their patients and, well, reality: common sense, logic, reason, self respect and a host of other things that ought to define us as humans…above the silly, sensational, magic-bullet, fuck-all crap peddled by guise like Dr. Oz on fucking Teevee.
See, they’re just naive enough to believe that holding to a long-term view of health is going to be better in the end for their personal bien-être, as too: for the patients they truly care about.
Before I move on to the last topic, I want to address something about how I personally view surgeons as somewhat distinct from the rest of the medical community. I may be wrong and stand to be corrected, but to me we’re talking about mechanics.
Don’t get me wrong. A mechanic who competently switches out a water pump, while performing a valuable service, is in no way the same as one who can switch out a blood pump in a human being. The latter have my utmost respect — not for the obvious years, expense, singular dedication and almost insurmountable obstacles they must overcome to ever be trusted with it — but because they actually do it. They pioneered it and by damn, they do it — and it can be — hell, is — awe inspiring and amazing. I am once again compelled to link to my touchstone in the matter. Now, watch that minute of footage and tell me that I slash & burn indiscriminately.
The short story is that I don’t believe in gods but surgeons are the real archetype, if gods did exist. But, and I stress: there is no more necessity for a surgeon to really know what causes a blood pump to need repair than does an auto-mechanic need to know what makes water pumps fail.
It could be well argued that it’s actually a distraction and in the case of blood pumps, so critical that the distraction is unaffordable. Which means: surgeons are off the hook in general, in my book, and get a pass; but only so long as they just stick to the business of physically and mechanically repairing the damage reeked by the Standard American Diet (and the medical profession and pharmaceutical industry that promotes it).
But alas, it appears my new friend pretty much tows the party line.
…to me it is simple: too much fat/not enough exercise = heart disease.
Is it that simple? How about some distinction between kinds of fat? Maybe modern vegetable and seed oils with high levels of pro-inflammatory omega-6 polyunsaturated fats have a different impact on heart and blood vessel tissue than do natural, saturated fats that humans have been ingesting for hundreds of thousands of years as part of their natural selection as biological organisms.
While I have done many posts on saturated fats, as well as the cholesterol con over the years, this link and post that follows is probably the most recent, comprehensive…and covers epidemiology, prospective studies, and a review study:
It’s also worth pointing out this; as for one, I have not mentioned it in a long while anyway and two, it addresses the health of the population that eats the most saturated fat in the wold. Roughly 50% of total energy for the folks of Tokelau comes from saturated fat. Make sure you get a whiff of Dr. Stephen Guyenet’s links there.
Of course, I’m not the only one saying this stuff. In fact, so are plenty of…
…some being even world renowned and not just a shill for Unilever and their industrial spreads, like Dr. Shyam Kolvekar.