this is Dr. Campbell’s response

Tomorrow, on to other topics. Today, here is T. Colin Campbell’s response to Mercola’s missive:

Dr. Mercola raises so many questions that it would take me at least several weeks if not months to answer. He invents clever sayings and makes serious innuendos that are total nonsense–indeed slanderous. His questions are rhetorical, with meaning, and no matter what I say, the questions will always remain–without my answers.

But here are a few general comments that strike me as main points:

1. Dr. Mercola’s main mantra (business model) is Nutritional Typing. In some way (maybe with paid phone assistance from his staff), we are supposed to listen to our body to determine which of three dietary types best suit us. He then becomes more specific as to the importance of eating foods in the right order and of the right type. These recommendations, he claims, are science based.

This is a clever strategy for positioning his company in the marketplace. He casts a broad net to capture as many customers as possible for his many products that he sells. According to him, we fit within one of these three diet groups, ranging from 1) the high carb-low fat types vs. 2) the low carb-high fat types vs. (3) those in-between, thus capturing for his company a much larger customer base.

I deeply respect our personal freedoms to do as we wish (as long as it doesn’t harm others). But given the complex environment within which we choose foods, I cannot understand how we can reliably determine what dietary patterns and order of eating foods is best for our long-term health. I know that some people can recognize specific food allergies, but I also know that we tend to choose food for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is convenience, avoidance of pain and sense of ‘pleasure’ or gratification (read the little gem of a book, The Pleasure Trap, by Lisle and Goldhamer to see how so many of us continually choose foods not in our best interests). His method defies common sense. He says that this is based on science but, if so, I want to see the evidence. I see none. To say that we can determine, with any certainty, which nutritional type, based on our personal but very nebulous assessment of our metabolism is hocus pocus.

On his claims about science, Mercola is out of his element–way out. He excuses his failure to document his professional experiences in the scientific literature because he (and his compatriots like Dr. Eades) don’t have time in their busy practice of medicine, as if public documentation of evidence is a bit of a luxury that is not really that important. This is an extremely lame excuse, exposing his fundamental misunderstanding of what scientific validity really means. Scientific evidence, as accepted by virtually everyone, is that which represents proper scientific experimental design and subsequent publication in the peer-reviewed literature.

Doing and reporting on peer reviewed research may not be a perfect solution for establishing truths (nothing is) but it is far better than listening to someone only telling us what he/she does or believes while giving us no way to evaluate such claims. Peer-review, the main engine of scientific validity, means that our research findings are subjected to the critique of professional colleagues before it is published in the professional literature. Even more to the point, in order for us to get the funding to do the research, especially from institutions like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the National Science Foundation (NSF), we are required to undergo a most serious and somewhat protracted exercise of defending our hypotheses before committees of professional peers that may include as many as 15 members (I know this, having been on several of these panels). The chances of successfully obtaining funding is, on average, only one in six. In short, peer review is rigorous both in getting the funding and in publishing the results. Anyone, like Mercola, who claims scientific validity for his personal/professional observations is really at liberty to say whatever pleases them–and their wallets. This opens doors wide for snake oil ‘science’.

2. He relies on the bogus idea that it is our individual differences in “metabolism” that makes it possible for us to determine which foods please our metabolism and guard us against future ailments.  He has no idea what is metabolism. It changes and responds continuously and it is an enormously complex system of digestion, absorption, transport, enzymatic synthesis and breakdown of intermediates and distribution, excretion and storage of metabolites, all in an effort to maintain homeostasis. Reducing this concept to a simple phenomenon of energy use, which we can assess for ourselves is more superficial than adjectives can describe.

Read the rest of this report here.

29 thoughts on “this is Dr. Campbell’s response

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  1. Thank you Dr. Campbell! Dr. Mercola’s test on Nutritional Typing is ridiculous. It is all set up to buy his book not to mention it is not ‘typing’ at all Every single question has an animal in it. You can not choose ‘Any of the Above’ unless it involves animals. This is pretty bad. My family does well on a vegetarian diet and a high raw one at that. We all do much better not only in my family but almost every single person I have met. Thank you for your response.

  2. Why is he grouping together Mercola with Eades? I’m not aware of much similarity except that they both seem to take issue with some of Campbell’s conclusions. Next I suppose we’ll learn they’re both affiliated with the Weston A. Price Foundation? (btw, not a Mercola supporter here; just wasn’t sure why Campbell was grouping him with Eades).

  3. That explains it somewhat…although “compatriots” implies something mutual, I think. Is Eades a Mercola supporter? That would surprise me but I don’t actually know either way at the moment.

  4. Thank you for posting this, Robyn. He could have said much more I believe, but I felt as he did, that some of Mercola’s claims are so ridiculous they didn’t even deserve attention. I especially liked his explanation of “peer review” which gives so much more validity to his studies than anything Mercola has produced. It’s kind of like a pesky fly buzzing around a lion. Not even a comparison in who is the biggest, smartest, and has the most strength when all is said and done!

  5. It seems odd to me that reading this without having read Mercola’s original article, I have very little idea what he argued. If this were truly a rebuttal shouldn’t it be specific and explain exactly why Mercola is wrong? It seems like yet more ad hominem, begging the question, and appeal to authority from Campbell. And again, I’m not agreeing with Mercola here, just marveling at what passes for debate to Dr. Campbell.

    1. Hey Greg, you’re really welcome to go read Mercola’s newsletter. I’m not going to point to it on my site though, on principle, because it’s junk, and by posting a link on my site with a google page rank of 4, I would be helping him. (I allowed the Denise Minger links because I have no problem with opposing viewpoints–hers show some data pulled from over 100,000 statistical correlations and her analysis is cherry picked–but it’s at least analysis and not profit-motivated, unlike Mercola’s.)

      It’s a rebuttal. It’s specific. It should take you approximately 3 seconds to find his newsletter using a search engine.

  6. I’m not really interested in Mercola, to be honest. My point was that Campbell wasn’t very specific…he mainly talked about Mercola being out of his depth, not being a researcher, not publishing in peer-reviewed journals, “doesn’t know what is metabolism”, etc. I am mainly curious why people who agree with Campbell aren’t offended when he spends sommuch of his time in rebuttals engaging in logical fallacies like I previously mentioned. In this specific case I’m no big fan of the person he’s using them against (Mercola) but I’m just kind of fascinated to see him yet again doing this. Why aren’t you concerned, even if you agree with his conclusions?

    1. Greg, he doesn’t spend a lot of time on this. He’s writing a second book, and he’s spent thousands of hours in research, very few in “rebuttals,” but when someone says false things about you to 1.3 million people, you must make a stand. I did. He did. Now we move on to other, better things. Again, if you’d read the newsletter, this might make sense to you.

  7. …and I don’t mean to overreact on your specific blog and I realize you might not have witnessed the pattern I’m describing. Anyway, that’s all I had to say.

  8. Dr. Mercola appears to be a peddler of his goods….. he will peddle anything for a buck and his own recognition. I just completed writing a book report on the China Study for school. I was amazed to the point of tears at the importance of this study and the wealth of information gained due to Dr. Campbell’s work….

    Someday, people will realize Dr. Mercola is not the god he thinks he is …. he appears to be another money hungry peddler who wants to be famous…

  9. It is a common argument these days that failure to address every single point made in an essay, book, or article by someone else when rebutting is somehow incomplete.

    Nonsense.

    Addressing points which are made up out of thin air does nothing but legitimize them as worthy of response. Better is Campbell’s tactic, which is simply to lump them together as unworthy of discussion, address the main fallacies, and move on.

    As soon as one falls into the trap of arguing whether or not the moon is made of green cheese, the “green cheese debate” becomes the focus. The technique is widely used in politics today, as well. Focus attention on some side issue which is unimportant in order to avoid having to discuss the real meat of the issue.

    Robyn, I greatly appreciate your reasoned, calm and thorough calling out of Mercola. I would wager that he will not respond, but will continue with his tactic of creating the focus around his myths and ignoring his detractors.

  10. hmmm!! if we beleive it or not ,we all have a Creator, who made the universe, planets, plants sky etc…I have read the bible and I have never heard spoken to eat foods in an order or body types nor is it written in the plants or trees or sky or ground.

    If I remember correctly, it says to listen to HIM and NOT man.

    What is science man’s msot of the time, I am assuming, controlled study…hmmm!!!

    As it is said Let go , let God, those of us who KNOW the truth KNOW the Truth, there will always be nay sayers, stand behind me satan, is what I say,

    I personally abhor those who have to PUSH products on to people & find it necessary to back it up with Evidence…hmmm I keep going back to my Creator WHO KNOWS WHAT SHE/HE IS DOING.

    We are here to learn, so learn we shall,

    We are here to discern, so discern we shall.

    We all have choice.

    I am in the whole, life food lifestyle & I love it, I eat what I want, when I want, whatever I want ,of my creators food, straight from the ground & I feel Wonderful on ALL levels of my beingness.

    I do not care about my blood or body type, my blood & body type were created by THE SOURCE of all things and My Creator does not have body types & blood types rules…

    So if it were me, let the doggie paddle in his own doo and be Happy.

    There are folks out here who are really BIG in the Raw/Whole Life Food movement who every single day are SELLING, SELLING, SELLING Supplemental itmes..Super Foods and on & on.

    When I went to Ann Wigmore’s healt institute in Michigan in the 80’s..that is where I learned about my Creators Food and WOW what a difference in my life did that make Wake up call for my body, mind, spirt, soul..

    Guess what No supplements, No Super foods. To me ALL whole Alive foods are Super Foods to my body because MY Creator is involved in those seeds..He/she can dry up all the land and the water sources at a moments notice then what??

    Then waht does MAN have, huh?

    I do not, will not take supplements. No No No

    I, personally do not beleive that I HAVE to eat organic, due to the fact taht I beleive that If I work with my Creator and eat whole live foods, not matter what soil they came from, my Creator words with me and my bodiy to take care of itself and IT DOES.

    I abhor some Hu-MAn telling me what He thinks I need to do Oh.. Puke!!!

    ..so I do NOT listen to them..I Protect my gates, as the bible says ( which means I protect myself my what I read & watch & listen to & taste & touch )

    Go tell it on the mountains when there is NO PROFIT to be made….

    Everyone has the right to make money..and I think all who are making money, when they are doing it for love and caring of the human race they do NOT need to ATTACK others….By your fruits you shall be known….and some fruit is rotten and dried up.

    We all HAVE CHOICE,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,when someone has to bash to make themselves to APPEAR to have all the answers Oh well..why do they have to do this?????

    I personally have NOTGHING to do with Dr M & his viewpoints, I did not like his view points from yrs back..my inner being was screaming Get Away. so I did. and Dr M is welcome to his viewpoints just like the rest of us.

    Remember the Burden of Proof is on the attacker..Let him disprove what you have done with LOTS & LOTS of Evidence..If you even want to waste your time.

    Blessings to us all……G

  11. Again, this is not at all an extreme example of Campbell’s tactic of ad hominem, etc. And I am no Mercola defender. That said, Mercola isn’t incorrect because he is trying to make money or his ideas are a “business model” or he’s in the “marketplace”. He’s not incorrect because he doesn’t publish in peer-reviewed journals. Mercola may be “out of his element – way out” – but just saying that or that he doesn’t understand metabolism isn’t enough to make it true. Spending half or more of his word count explaining peer review is a distraction – Mercola could be correct (which I don’t think he is, so please don’t make it about that) regardless of whether he’s a researcher like Campbell. Again, I’m more upset that Campbell dismisses other people in this same way and with these same techniques than I am about Mercola, but it’s not a legitimate way to argue even if your target is a schmuck. Go refresh your memory about all the various logical fallacies and then read Campbell’s responses to Denise Minger, Chris Masterjohn, even Mercola, and unless you’re in complete denial you’ll see what I’m talking about.

  12. Greg: I too had the same response to reading Campbell’s rebuttal; I tend to get turned off to ad hominem attacks, even though he may be in the right. Thanks Robyn for making us aware of this and sharing great ideas for great health!

  13. To be clear, I’m not saying I definitely think everything Mercola says is wrong. I would need to spend more time reading Mercola than I’m inclined to at the moment. I’m saying that my posts are not about that.

  14. I’ve subscribed to Mercola’s newsletters and I have disliked that every time I go to read about something in regards to our health he always has something to sell at the end. . . No longer a subscriber! Thanks for setting the record straight and posting Campbell’s response. . .I suggest his book to lots of people when they ask about my becoming Vegan. Most don’t want to know!

    Thanks again! Lauri

  15. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. I find many of Dr. Mercola’s posts to be informative and objective. Though he is many times driven by what will lead to more profit and sales, I wouldn’t dismiss everything due to his drive to make money. There are many articles that he provides posts and links to, providing research and evidence, not just his one-sided-buy-my-product opinion as some make him out to be. As with most reasearchers and Dr’s though there is a god-complex that creeps up on them even though they may not be aware of it, or even deny it. Knowledge, noteriety, and money tend to taint us humans like that. I am grateful you questioned his wisdom and (lack) of understanding in this case though GSG. Keep on educating us, and my family and I will keep on drinking green smoothies.

  16. I have two concerns.

    One is that Dr. Mercola was not rude in his article. Dr. Campbell was rude.

    The second is that I feel like eating vegan is very healthy. I can’t be convinced that it is the only way that people should eat, because meat and dairy is eaten in the Bible, and, after all, Jesus ate fish.

  17. Robyn

    Thanks for providing the Campbell response. His wording and logic were clear and did the job eloquently.

    Best in health.

  18. Robyn,

    I subscribe to Mercola’s newsletter, and think he brings to light a lot of important issues. I do however think he is out to lunch on the China Study and the alkaline/ionized water issues. A few months ago I bought his type questionaire, and when I actually saw what it was, felt that I was totally ripped. I have also noted that a lot of what he does is more like an infomercial. I will not be supprised if in the next week or so if he is hawking waterfilters.

    David

  19. First of all, I am one that does not usually write an article unless I have to, but I must when it comes to my conviction regarding whole plant-based foods, which are greatly responsible for being alive today and reversing my grand mal epileptic seizure. I as a natural health care practitioner appreciate and thank God for GreenSmoothieGirl and Dr. Campbell’s China Study for keeping us abreast of the current trends in the field of natural health and wellness. As a Filipino-American I am very thankful to see that Dr. Campbell and his team included the Philippines in the China Study. But I am surprise that Dr. Mercola would make such an unprofessional statement in regards to China Study. Let’s put it this way, I must say that after attacking Dr. Campbell I have lost much respect for Dr. Mercola. Yes, I don’t agree with his nutritional typing either for its not practical nor common sense nor cost-effective, especially to my clients who I consult and counsel; not to mention the Filipinos who live in the tropical islands. To say to the Filipinos or Chinese or anyone else, you are Carb, Protein or Mixed Type is ludicrous. And Dr. Mercola’s motive is doing “whatever pleases them-and their wallets” as Dr. Campbell puts it. It is not user-friendly in my opinion and his concept contradicts what he said below.

    Dr. Mercola: “Let your body tell you what foods you were designed to eat. Don’t listen to me or Dr. Eades or a researcher like Campbell who has never treated patients. Just listen to your own body…Is Vegetarianism Right for You?…Just be honest with yourself and objectively evaluate your body’s response. Your body is the most awesome instrument to make this assessment. Ultimately it is the best resource and far superior to anything you read on the Internet or in any published study…So my final words are to trust the body God gave you to tell you the truth.”

    If we are to allow our bodies tell us what foods we were designed to eat, then why use nutritional typing? In my opinion, we need all those “types” of plant foods- sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, beans, apples, coconuts, papayas, avocados, oats, barley, etc. Can humans and animals survive without plants on this planet earth? Of course, not! Does Dr. Mercola know that without them we cannot survive nor live? “Is Vegetarianism Right for You?” This is mind boggling. Of course, whole plant foods are right and therefore good for us. I have not seen any research that fresh vegetables and fruits and cooked brown rice are not right for humans. All right, I must agree to disagree with Dr. Mercola’s statement above. Who made these bodies of ours? The Creator, right? Who made the plants and trees? Common-sense tells us, the Creator, right? Yes, we should listen to our body, but the far superior and best resource, I believe, is God’s Ancient Love Letter to us in this planet earth to give us guidelines how to live healthy and well. That’s the Bible in the Book of Genesis 1:29 and the Book of Daniel 1:12, which tell us what to eat to promote healthy and wellness lifestyle.

    In conclusion, it was Dr. Campbell’s China Study, not the medical advice (which made it worst, to be honest), which confirmed the eating lifestyle that I should follow to help reverse my seizure for the rest of my life. And that’s consuming 80-90% whole plant-based foods and 10-20% animal products. My bottom line is to trust God who created us and the whole plant based foods before they were altered for us to eat. In other words, our God-made body deserves a God-made food, not those nutritional typing and expensive products.

  20. You know, I’m really surprised by the anti-Mercola venom here! Mercola says over and over that he personally believes that EVERYBODY should eat 80% of their food as veggies, and most of it raw. So far, no disagreement. He says further that many people digest plant proteins very well and have spectacular health. So far, no disagreement/ He goes on to say that some people don’t do well as vegetarians, and that he disagrees with Campbell’s take that everybody should be near-vegan, and the man gets hammered with a bunch of 2 by 4s! Robyn particularly should not lambaste Mercola for selling products and ideology when she does exactly the same thing. While I’m not a Mercola disciple, I don’t see the difference between two people who both have very strong beliefs and make available products which they think will make the lives of their followers better. Robyn noted with scorn that Mercola sells teaching material – oops. Campbell sells books – oops.

  21. I’m not a statistician, so that part of the China Study leaves me cold. However, I do know to look for outside confirmation of an hypothesis. So the first thing I did when I read The China Study was check to see what outside sources say about health in China. This is what I found:

    Official data do not support the China Study’s claim of uniquely good health among rural Chinese. Source: World Health Organization. The USA comes in at #37, right at the bottom of the developed nations. China comes in at #144. That’s out of 190 countries, and the data are from 2007. The China Study was published in 2005, and its data are about 40 years old. Here’s the WHO’s ranking: http://www.photius.com/…/healthranks.html

    According to the Chinese Ministry of Health, the Chinese have the world’s highest incidence of stomach cancer, other cancers occur at about the same rate as in the US, AND the Chinese have a fatal stroke rate five times as high as in the USA. Examining the Chinese Ministry of Health report more closely, rural Chinese have cancer and stroke rates NINETEEN TIMES as high as Chinese city dwellers. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/…/content_6652952.htm

    Diabetes? China describes it as an epidemic. news.bbc.co.uk/…/8587032.stm; http://www.sciencedaily.com/…/100324174057.htm

    A study by Longde Wang, Lingzhi Kong, Fan Wu, Yamin Bai, and Robert Burton, published in the Lancet 2005; 366: 1821-24. http://www.sas.upenn.edu/…/ChronicDiseaseChina.pdf

    “Chronic, non-communicable diseases now account for an estimated 80% of total deaths and 70% of total disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) lost in China (figure 1). The major causes of death in China are cardiovascular disease, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease. Rates of death from chronic disease in middleaged people are higher in China than in some high income countries.”

    Then I looked to see what The Vegan Outreach Society, an organisation that I greatly respect for its sane, sensible, truth-seeking ethos, says about The China Study.

    Scientific review by Doll & Peto found serious flaws in Campbell’s results; this is summarized by the Vegan Outreach website: http://www.veganoutreach.org/enewsletter/20020612.html. Here’s what it says:

    “The effects of animal products on risk of chronic diseases are an area of considerable controversy. … [I]international correlations between per capita food consumption and disease rates are seriously confounded by other lifestyle factors associated with economic affluence. … One of the most comprehensive correlational studies conducted within a country is the China-Oxford-Cornell study…. These correlations, although informative and valuable in many ways, cannot be used to establish causal relationships between dietary factors and disease risk. The limitations of geographical correlations were precisely stated by Drs Doll and Peto:

    Trustworthy epidemiological evidence, it should be noted, always requires demonstration that a relationship holds for individuals (or perhaps small groups) within a large population as well as between large population groups. Correlation between the incidence of cancer in whole towns or whole countries and, for example, the consumption of particular items of food can, at most, provide hypotheses for investigation by other means. Attempts to separate the roles of causative and of confounding factors by statistical techniques of multiple regression analysis have been made often, but evidence obtained in this way is, at best, of only marginal value.

    “Indeed, some of the correlations produced from the China-Oxford-Cornell study are peculiar and probably incorrect. For example, esophageal cancer had no clear association with smoking, and had a negative correlation with daily alcohol intake. These results are clearly contradictory to the well-established findings from studies of individuals that both smoking and alcohol use are strong risk factors for esophageal cancer. In addition, the study did not find a clear association between meat consumption and risk of heart disease or major cancers.”

    Other reviews worthy of consideration: http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/06/01/a-closer-look-at-the-china-study-meat-and-disease/. There’s a good summary of pros and cons here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_China_Study.

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