Gary Taubes vs. Alan Aragon EPIC Debate

OMG, it finally really happened. Gary Taubes actually agreed to a debate over his “Alternative Hypothesis” of obesity (he blames carbs, not calories). It was long anticipated (scheduled last year), and it finally happened at the EPIC Fitness Summit 2015 last weekend in the UK.

To some obsessed diet nerds, this debate was the Holy Grail we’ve waited our whole lives for. The its-black-and-white, carbs-literally-make-you-fat, I’m-never-wrong Gary Taubes was finally to address his critics (or at least one of them), in person, in a responsive manner.

Usually, the only times we see Gary Taubes is either in some friendly (i.e., “low-carb”) environment, or bullying mild, reasonable people with his boorish behaviour. No one gets an opposing word in edgewise, or he stonewalls against any reasonable questions. And then some crazed low-carb (i.e., overweight) fan comes on to say that Gary Taubes’ books changed their life.

So that’s all you get on the internet. A bunch of old Gary Taubes videos of his “Why We Get Fat” talk, that make you want to scream. Or worse, him and some other fixed-idea nuts like Andreas “The Diet Doctor” Eenfeldt, or Dr. Robert “Fructose is Poison” Lustig enabling their fans’ low-carb hysterics.

And half the idiots believe him. After all, he spent 10 years researching the science, and writing a 600+ page magnum opus, and he’s won the biggest awards in science journalism, and he writes for the New York Times and the BMJ. And what if eating fat doesn’t make you fat? See, that bacon is good for you. It’s all you should eat. Don’t eat any carbs. Carbs literally make you fat.

And it never ends. (Well, maybe after this debate, it might finally stop.) Gary Taubes drove all this low-carb, keto, paleo craziness by making people fear insulin. His description of a normal metabolic process becomes a fat storage horror story.

Thankfully, the crowd of professional trainers and coaches at the EPIC Summit weren’t as gullible as the general public. They provided the perfect audience for Taubes’ “Carbs vs. Calories” debate with Alan Aragon. Personally, I thought Gary Taubes would pull his usual antics, and stonewall against any informed discussion. From Ben Carpenter’s description of the exchange, it sounded like he tried a bit of that, but the informed crowd saw right through it.

I haven’t seen any of the debate video, which should eventually become public. For now, we have Ben Carpenter’s excellent review of the exchange, which he clearly credits Alan Aragon as winning. Thank g*d. Please no more pathological science. Oh, I forgot, there’s still years of NuSI research to waste everyone’s time on.

Alan Aragon posted about the whole experience on the forums:

It wasn’t even an actual debate. It was Gary hypothesizing without supporting research, then me presenting a metric shit-ton of research supporting my position, followed by Gary flippantly dismissing and denying said shit-ton of research. Gary should have approached the debate very differently. The overwhelming consensus was that he got his ass handed to him. I personally was VERY disappointed in Gary’s lack of decorum. He consistently ran way over his time slots, and interrupted me several times during my opening statement, which was very time-sensitive. It was very insulting to the audience, moderator, and of course me. To top things off, he admitted to me that even if NuSI research refuted his position, he likely wouldn’t change his current opinions. So, in essence, he’s not swayed by evidence. Bottom line is that he made a bad impression on everyone.