To be clear, I’m not going after Gary Taubes. I’m going after his fawning fanboys. This is something I’ve written about before, but I wanted to focus specifically on a couple of my favorite Taubes-worshiping fanboys.

Gary Taubes and Stephan Guyenet are in a battle to see who is the defender of the anti-sugar Gods, Gary Taubes or Stephan Guyenet. Gary Taubes is a best-selling author with a highly controversial book called “Why Sugar is Poison” and a blog/website, “The Big Fat Surprise”. Stephan Guyenet is an  associate professor of exercise science (and dietetics) at Ohio State University, a researcher in the fields of obesity and nutrition, and an author of “Eating for Sport” and runs a blog where he defends Gary Taubes’ work, “The Complacent Nutritionist”

The Ancestral Health Symposium’s most talked about, tweeted, and blogged moment was caught on video. The collision of two stars.

Stephan Guyenet has just finished his talk on “food reward” being a major cause of obesity. Gary Taubes, the undisputed champion of the “carbs->insulin->fat” camp, steps up to the microphone for the start of Q&A…

[VIDEO ADDED] [UPDATED]

Showdown

Taubes (normally my idol) claims that Guyenet is disregarding people who were impoverished, ate unsatisfying food, and yet gained weight, therefore “disproving” the reward hypothesis. Guyenet disagrees, claiming that their cuisine was not always unsatisfactory.

According to Taubes, it is always a good idea to examine all the data in science, not just the ones that support your hypothesis. In fact, please do so before delivering a presentation on the topic. He then takes a step away from the microphone.

“Thanks for the advice,” Guyenet says calmly, while the whole audience cringes at the discomfort of the situation.

Epilogue

Taubes subsequently apologized to Guyenet in person, according to what I heard. Good decision, but I believe Taubes would have earned a lot more if he had done it in front of the audience during his lecture. In reality, he came close to doing so, but ended up simply saying that he had “insulted” Guyenet without saying the key words “I’m sorry.”

I spoke with a number of powerful individuals who were still angry about the event years later. That’s a shame.

On the plus side, I believe we can learn something useful from this. Of sure, we should respect our adversaries. And if we aren’t, we won’t be able to win.

PS

I disagree with the “reward” idea and consider myself to be much more in Taubes’ camp when it comes to obesity. On Guyenet’s lecture, I want to write a post later.

I’m not sold on the notion of drinking boring liquid via a straw as the ultimate weight-loss diet. That is not at all essential, in my opinion. In fact, I’m becoming more dissatisfied with Stephan Guyenet. However, I believe he is a great thinker and speaker, and his blog is definitely worth reading.

Update

Actually, the encounter may not have been as dramatic as the subsequent debate suggested. Now I’ve watched it on video for the second time. Check it out for yourself; the most intriguing section begins at 3:26 and lasts just a few minutes:

Perhaps this is mostly a collision of cultures. The Q&A at these conferences is usually über-polite. So when someone is not polite it stands out.

More

More information on AHS

AHS report by Stephan Guyenet

Gary Taubes’ website

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