“Thank You” Dr. Gibson
You no doubt are acquainted with someone who has adopted a “gluten free” diet. And no doubt, you’ve noticed a number of supermarkets have devoted considerable space to offering “gluten-free’ foods. And I suspect most of those proudly avoiding gluten have no idea what it is. In fact, Jimmy Kimmel took a camera crew to the streets of Los Angeles to ask those who proudly adhering to foods free of the component (it’s all-natural, by the way), what exactly gluten is. And none of them had any idea. They did know it was bad for you.
Gluten is a protein found in grains, especially wheat, that, when exposed to water allows the flour to become elastic, thereby making bread chewy instead of crumbly, to provide one example. And unless you suffer from celiac disease, which means one is allergic to gluten, avoiding it has absolutely no health benefit, other causing you to eat less bread and pasta, which may cut down on carbohydrates consumed, which may be beneficial, as New York Times writer Gary Taubes, the author of “Why We Get Fat” suggests.
The belief that gluten is unhealthy for many comes from a study, conducted several years ago by an Australian Gastroenterologist by the name of Peter Gibson. During the study, Gibson invited participants to eat up, and many reported digestive distress. And so, he submitted it to a journal for publication, and it was, and gluten-free became a sensible course of action.
But Dr. Gibson began to question his findings. What if there might have factors other than gluten causing problems? And so he listed other ingredients that might be factors causing negative reactions in some of the subjects, such as lactose intolerance or sensitivity to certain preservatives. He then created a controlled diet, with all those possible confounding factors removed. The new study participants then were served the control diet, and only the control diet over several days. Dr. Gibson informed the subjects that the diet did contain gluten, when actually some items did, and some items didn’t. And even when gluten-free food was served, many of those in the study reported bad effects. In other words, those in the study got sick because they expected to, not necessarily due to the presence of gluten.
The reason I wrote about this is to thank Dr. Gibson for daring to question his own assumptions, and findings. And that is what a true scientist is supposed to do.
That’s what Roger Revelle did. While teaching at Harvard, he conducted a study on the effects of carbon dioxide on global temperatures, and found what he believed to be a correlation between the rise of co2 and temperature he devoted the rest of his academic career to research in this area. Among those working with him collecting data was future Vice-President Al Gore, who used much Dr. Revelle’s research as a basis for Earth In The Balance.
But by 1988, Revelle was beginning to question some of his work, and several years later, published an article in Cosmos, urging more study of the CO2- Temperature link before remedial action was taken.
VP Gore, when asked about his mentor’s doubts, simply dismissed those concerns, claiming the Doctor was senile.
Gore knew that Dr. Revelle might destroy his future racket, which has been very kind to him and his partners.
Don’t you know you senile old fool? The science is settled!”