Eat More Salt

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005 9:31 pm by Neal

OK, that’s not the message in John Stossel’s essay, Half-baked science, but he does use the example of the federal anti-salt Nazi to point out how much government policy and corporate propaganda is based on poor and rigged science, which is to say that they are not based on science at all. Stossel’s salt example:

The federal anti-salt bureaucracy launched expensive public service announcements that warn Americans to cut back on salt. The ads intoned, ominously, “You eat more than 20 times the salt your body needs.”

Eat “no more than 2,400 milligrams a day,” said Dr. Jeffrey Cutler, the official behind the government’s anti-salt campaign.

I feel sorry for you if you follow your government’s recommendations. A maximum of 2,400 milligrams a day makes for a miserable diet. Three dill pickles put you over the limit.

Cutler decided that Americans should eat less salt because high blood pressure can lead to heart disease and eating less salt can lower blood pressure. It’s a plausible theory, but it doesn’t prove that less salt leads to less heart disease. Too many other things may be going on.

Many experts on blood pressure told us there isn’t enough scientific research to justify the government’s anti-salt campaign, and there definitely isn’t enough to justify Cutler’s 2,400-milligram limit.

“I can’t imagine how they came up with that number. I mean, there isn’t a single bit of evidence that suggests 2,400 milligrams is better than 2,100 or 3,700,” said Dr. Michael Alderman, who headed the American Society of Hypertension, America’s biggest organization of specialists in high blood pressure. He says some people should cut back on salt, but for most people, it’s pointless. Some studies have found that those who ate the least salt were four times more likely to have heart attacks.

For a more serious and thorough treatment of the abuse of “science” by special interests, please read a speech by Michael Crichton (of Jurassic Park fame) entitled Aliens Cause Global Warming. This excellent speech exposes the many ways that science has been perverted by “scientists” to further personal agendas, whether for individual, governmental, or corporate gain. Most important, this speech reminds us that science is all about reproducible results and NOT about consensus. So often today we here, “a consensus exists among scientists that A causes B.” As Crichton notes, reach for your wallet whenever you hear someone referring to a “consensus of scientists”.

This speech is not to be missed.

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