What is a Carbage Article?
In September, a “carbage” (carb garbage) article was published in The Lancet Public Health based on very inadequate data analysis, that made the headlines in less than 5 minutes around the world. I have written two previous blog articles about it. See how bad the science was in that paper here and see the ripple effects of such bad science here.
The headlines of that academic article suggested that the consumption of reduced carbohydrates is dangerous. Lots of news flashes followed and several generations of hard nutrition-science work were swept under the rug by those who benefit from industrial profits and those with conflicts of interests (including some of the original authors, who didn’t declare such conflicts of interests!). However, sensationalism is just about that: no one cares about truth and facts, only headlines. In fact, headlines were twisted to make it even more sensational, stopping just short of suggesting that you will die tomorrow if you don’t eat a slice of cake today.
Many scientists and lay people have decided to write about this bad article on their blogs, including me, as noted above. However loud our noises were, the sensationalism of news these days is impossible to out-compete. The creativity with which news media went after the lies and the force with which they pushed the statistical manipulated data as fact and how this was the most important news in this century, that it was impossible to compete with. However, there is always a way to counter and corner: one can write a correspondence or letter to the editor or commentary–depending on the academic journal–and just hope it gets accepted. Well mine did and so did several from other people I know.
By far the most powerful action we could take was to publish our correspondence in the same academic journal, dooming the carbage article by taking it into pieces. Mine published today together with several others–many from colleagues I work with on advancing real nutrition science.
Here is my correspondence, where I make several very strong points in extremely tight sentences. It had to be brief: 250 words and max 5 citations at original submission, which was later changed a tad by the peer reviewer (amazingly even the correspondences are peer reviewed). Since there is no way to link to the correspondence section as a whole (is that a Lancet error?), I am attaching a PDF that includes all correspondences and also the original article authors’ response to these correspondences here: 2018 11 05 LANCET PH reflections & reactions CONTRA SEIDELMANN &Authors’ reply
It is really worthy your time to read all correspondences. They are all excellent. You should also read the response from the authors, which I found shamefully pitiful. I personally think that The Lancet Public Health would do itself a great favor by retracting this article. It is a giant bleeding pimple on the reputation of a baby-journal whose parent is one of the best academic journals today, ranked among the top few.
Comments, as always, are welcome and are moderated for appropriateness.