CSPI, Huffington Post Team Up To Tell Warren Buffett How Dumb He Is

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Photo: Daniel Acker via FortunePhoto: Daniel Acker via Fortune

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has a long career of latching onto every suspect epidemiology study(1) to file nuisance lawsuits and engage in general scaremongering, has really shown how out of touch they are by writing a screed on how dumb Warren Buffett is for not being afraid of soda.

To make its point at Huffington Post, it used their time-honored 'headlines through hyperbole' approach in a blog about soda and further say the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN) that Coca-Cola funded has been "discredited."

Now, it's fun to dump on Coke these days, its corporation communications group certainly has it coming because they're so incompetent they actually apologize for selling soda, but if they won't defend actual science, I must -- and I don't get anything from the company, the way Buffett does. So, in the interests of educating the public, I note they simply funded the work of a researcher who has been saying exactly the same thing for decades, and what the public knows to be true: If you ingest X calories and you burn X calories, you will not get fatter. Nothing discredited about that in the legitimate science world, it is actually the one truism in nutrition, no matter how much CSPI denies biology.

It isn't like the group at the University of Colorado School of Medicine was against soda and suddenly came out in favor of it, yet CSPI wants to imply every science study they are opposed to is written by a shill -- that has been their fundraising modus operandi since their origin.

More ridiculous is that CSPI continues to try and suggest it has invented a heretofore unknown metabolic pathway wherein soda causes diabetes but honey -- also high in fructose -- or any other food of equivalent calories will not.(2) It's not just ridiculous logic, it is intentionally deceiving the public. Dr. Michael Jacobson, co-founder and executive director of CSPI, is also staunchly against meat, so basically if it was a food fad 40 years ago, he still promotes it. He also claims he invented the very term "junk food," if you need even more of an idea where he is coming from.(3) His former boss, Ralph Nader, was at least right on one thing before he settled into a career promoting fear and doubt. Nader's disciples instead went right for cold, hard cash. "Sue and settle" is the strategy of CSPI.

Now, given Note (1) below I recognize that being critical of CSPI will cause them to once again hire a partisan, anti-science journalist (sorry, the one Reuters fired got hired at US Right To Know as a "research" director, get one of the others) to invent an attack piece on us, and their hand-picked scribe will cite that Denier For Hire site run by the former Clinton lawyer(4), which links to a document cobbled together by a fired employee who stole a bunch of stuff and handed it to that partisan magazine that routinely demonizes scientists(5) -- but since that is the standard tactic for scaremongering groups anyway, there is nothing to lose by being honest with the public.

That's something CSPI has never been interested in doing.

However, Buffett has no reason to lie to anyone. The man drinks multiple sodas every day and he is 85-years old. Now, I do not endorse drinking four sodas per day(6) but it's hard to claim he doesn't know what he is talking about when his lifestyle and all of the non-junk science evidence is on his side. Instead, he sounded quite wise when he said, "I elect to get my 2,600 or 2,700 calories a day from things that make me feel good when I eat them. I have not seen evidence that convinces me that it’ll be more likely I reach 100 if I suddenly switched to water and broccoli."

See? He knows more about dietary science than the founder of CSPI.

Last year at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, Buffett also said happiness is more important for longevity than adopting food fads of the year, and that he didn’t see smiles on the faces of people shopping at Whole Foods.

And no one spending money on CSPI is smiling either, they are all miserable because they think every scientist and corporation is out to get them.

They are in a War on Fun. We're happy to defend the public from that.


(1) No effort is spared to undermine science, and especially pro-science groups. In 1982, they even commissioned an environmental activist to write a hit piece on us, because we debunked the notion that coffee caused breast cancer or that a low-fat diet would prevent obesity, which were both positions that CSPI raised money on with glee. In a bizarre fit of irony back then, they examined our publicly-disclosed donor list and mapped them to the science positions we held and declared them causational. Given that as their understanding of how science actually works, it is little surprise they think banning or taxing soda would prevent diabetes. Why is that ironic? Because it was publicly-available due to our transparency. Good luck getting such a donor disclosure out of CSPI.

(2) They continue to do the same with salt despite all the evidence debunking it. Like I wrote, they are trapped in the 1970s.

(3) He is a trained microbiologist, so he must understand the scientific method, though why he refuses to embrace it about cellular respiration must remain a mystery.

(4) SourceWatch.

(5) Mother Jones.

(6) If I accepted small correlation studies and anecdotes as settled science, I'd work at Environmental Working Group or Union of Concerned Scientists or CSPI or any number of other anti-science groups totaling nearly $1 billion a year in revenue. Good luck finding a pro-science group the size of any of those.