Sunday, 1 April 2012

Red meat causes anxiety

Suppose you have a senior health ministry role.

A scientific paper purporting to show a link between red meat and anxiety is brought to your august attention. It was written by an obscure team of researchers from a minor university, but you make enquiries. After all, this little paper fits in rather well with official health policies.

The minor university shivers with academic delight at the interest you have shown in their paper. So adroitly written as it is. Your ministry prods one of its fake charities to make some modest funding available for further research. Two other universities sniff the scent of new funding. Discreetly they climb aboard with a couple of papers showing similar findings.

With high-minded care they peer-review each other’s papers. So successful are they that more funding is promised. Only slightly less modest funding to be sure, but from little oaks...

A press release hits the mainstream media – Causal Links Between Red Meat and Acute Anxiety. Ironically the word Acute caused some anxiety in academic circles, but was left in after due deliberation over a delightful lunch.

The die is cast.

National news media pick up on it as Red Meat Causes Acute Anxiety Shock. The BBC wades in with a potential climate change link and overseas news media give it some prominence.  

Over the next few years, the original findings are confirmed, although a number of professional statisticians have the temerity to pour scorn on the statistical techniques used in the original paper. Events have moved on though.

Policy-friendly research attracts funding - everybody knows it.

Some take advantage because there will always be those who do. A funding environment selects the strongest and most ruthless funding predators because that's what environments do. This is how large swathes of the science game are now played.

Survival has a new prey - scientists. Oh the irony!


Sam Vega said...

I avoid it because it causes acute anxiety, and a good deal worse, in cattle.

By the way, the redness of meat is, for most consumers, the result of it being "painted" by suppliers. I knew someone who did this on a holiday job with a big supermarket chain. By the time most consumers get their hands on it, most meat would be a brownish-grey colour.

Demetrius said...

Of course it makes a difference if you knew the cow you were eating. It does make a difference and Sam Vega is right about the colouring. Anyhow I am anxious to finish commenting because my very large sirloin steak is nearly ready.

A K Haart said...

Sam - we don't eat much meat, generally preferring fish or veggie. I didn't know about the painting, although I'm not surprised even though bright red means not well hung - so to speak.

Demetrius - I think that's the problem with meat - where does it come from? If I knew I might be keener on it I suppose.

James Higham said...

I am really quite anxious that it is so expensive now that I can't get enough red meat to be healthy. Given that anything government or Them-funded studies are following the Agenda, I wonder about this campaign and what they're hoping to achieve.

Also given that armies march on red meat and that it's the best slow release energy giver known, I'd say they want to "wimpize" the population.

A K Haart said...

James - you are right, protein seems to be generally expensive although some cuts of meat are cheap and can be stewed in a slow cooker.

I think fish is better protein source although it isn't cheap either.