The Vegan Menace: Much Reflection

If I were inclined to predict the future — an exercise in which I only indulge by observing principles, culture and history — roughly in that order — I’d have to give Paleo a decent shot at becoming dominant. There are many reasons for that — probably enough to fill a book — but I try to keep a keen eye out for other possibilities.

For sure, paleo is definitely hitting its mark in surprising ways and what’s more interesting to me is that veg*nism has had a long, long run and I simply don’t see the potential groundswell for it that I do for paleo (you had your chance: Fork. In. Done.). Call me Pollyanna, and I’ll actually accept the criticism; I could be all wrong. But here’s how I stack it up: it essentially comes down to a choice of living in accordance with your nature, or drinking the Cool-Aid, repenting of your dietary "sins," and taking your penance; with bonus points if it makes you sick, fat, weak, miserable or preferably, all of the above — all the while fooling yourself into thinking you’ve "never felt better," like some poor wretch giving a standup testimonial at an evangelical tent revival because she’s so starved for attention (and her husband left her for the organist). Anyone have a preference, at all? I note the way that culture and history have rolled along and thankfully, people have an "annoying" propensity to ultimately do the fuck as they please. Could paleo fill in a missing thing or two for many where various veg*n doctrines and catechisms have routinely fallen short? I guess we’ll see.

The gradual decline of strong religion (in a cultural and historical sense) over centuries is instructive. Upon the advent of the idea of religious freedom (your choice; none — mine — or go through the motions for social harmony) it likely could have been predicted — probably was — to much hand wringing — that the overriding trend would be towards less and less religious influence in your everyday life. Religion for most, even for the moderately religious, has become little more than a mantle piece. That’s a good thing in my assessment, but I suppose I’ll keep on making fun of it even after the Hummel Humpty Dumpty is shattered into pieces — even as some still can’t bring themselves to part with it even though All the Pope’s Horses and All the President’s Men — bedfellows — can’t put Humpty together again.

Yes, health has many facets and toxins exist in many places…

There are a number of things converging. You now have a plethora of Paleo-related blogs (check out the comments). Many different flavors for many kinds of folks, and that’s good. Let some be quasi-religious about paleo — or totally agnostic: me. The point is that things are shaping up in the finest traditions of fun & freedom. How free are you with Hezbollian Veganism? And was the point of it ever about fun?

And then there’s Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint and now, Robb Wolf’s newly published The Paleo Solution — already hitting its mark at The New York Times list. Granted, it’s small potatoes compared to the books sold by Campbell, McDougall, Esselstyn and Ornish. And the four of them are small potatoes compared to Bible sales. And yet, is religion gaining ground in a cultural and historical way, or losing ground as already hashed out? And look how much the latter five have in common. Foremost, they share a particular method of human manipulation: guilt. Make a person feel guilty — even and in particular: unearned — and they’re putty in your hands.

Fuck that noise, Animals.

The bright spot in all of this is that the vegans, like creationists and "Intelligent Designers," wholly lack the scientific background, mental discipline, logical consistency and a whole host of other crucial attributes (like ability to form an objective argument) to advance their cause beyond jerking off the masses ( I believe "energizing" is the pussy-PC way of putting it). Want to know what I mean? Well in any debate the creationists are generally going to spurn science when the apparent facts and evidence go agains them (usually the case) and rely upon "authority;" namely, that of some ancient, conveniently interpreted text — from dirt scratching origins to glass & steel skyscrapers — like The Bible. Vegans do exactly the same thing. If you have the stomach (and time) for it, see comments at Denise Minger’s blog. I recently blogged about a typical example.

Speaking of Denise, she’s kept busy and I’ll take some liberties with the post titles which she has nothing to do with.

Had enough? Good, ’cause there’s more. Remember Chris Masterjohn? He and Anthony Colpo took on The China Study way back (here and here), when it was still but a gleam in a rapist’s eye — dietary rape, that is.

Chris Masterjohn has been particularly supportive of Denise (you can see that in comments in many of the links, above). And not only in comments on her posts but in doing more digging himself. Again, I’m taking liberties with post titles.

  • T. Colin Campbell Sycophants Just Won’t Die
  • T. Colin Campbell Can Be Reduced to a Single AssHolism
  • T. Colin Campbell is a Protein Deficient Rat

The last of those links was just published and served as the Sunday morning motivation to put this post together. Amazingly, what Chis shows is that way back when, Campbell recognized and scientifically showed that the diet he now advocates constitutes protein deficiency, was labeled as such, and caused all sorts of problems including cancer (in rats). And today, apparently for notoriety and a buck, he advocates for humans the exact opposite of what his studies demonstrated a few decades ago. Consequently, I’ll not be softening my vitriol for that asshole anytime soon.

No; I’m not done yet, but just so we’re clear, neither Denise nor Chris have anything to do with my muckraking, above. This is my sport, and I take full responsibility. As of right now, nearing the end of this draft, neither have a clue as to what’s coming and I have no idea in the world what they’ll think about it.

So let’s wrap this up with a video that is in some ways conciliatory to the veg*ans, since I’m such a fair-minded kinda guy.

I give you the former Liar in Chief (as distinguished only by date of holding office; i.e., the "medicine man;" the closest primal analog I can think of: he’s always a liar, as that’s his raison d’être; we seem as yet — qua human meta-culture — to not have evolved past the point of needing a chief liar, the one who sets lying policy for all; seemingly, because we can’t live with the harshness of reality, preferring the opium of sweet sweet lies).

Just watch the video.

That video doesn’t really enrage me, believe it or not. Actually, in some queer sense, I find it pleasing. It’s rather like observing children who’ve latched onto serious and important practical elements of getting it right going off into maturity and adulthood, while remaining frustrating all at the the same time because they’ve got the fundamentals all wrong and don’t yet understand shitall.

"No, dear, it’s not because Susie is a girl and you’re supposed to treat girls nice. It’s because you minded your own business, she’s her own person and so you get along fine."

"No Mr. Bill Clinton, Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Ornish; it’s not because the Liar in Chief followed your hocus-pocus, evolutionarily vapid medicine-man diet, it’s because he cut out the very modern and recent no-food crap that gave him heart disease in the first place, you miserably myopic morons."

Alright, it’s a Sunday afternoon wrap. I’ll be sorely disappointed and will consider my mission failed if no one tells me in comments that this is over the top and they’re not reading my blog, anymore.

09/27/2010: Just up this morning, Denise Minger on JimmyMore’s Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb podcast.

Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. The cost of two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance the travel to write, photo, and film from interesting places and share the experiences with you.


  1. Kyle Bennett on September 26, 2010 at 15:49

    I’m still reading. I won’t tell you it’s over the top (sorry, you gotta work harder than that), but I will offer a warning, based on principle, culture, and history. There will emerge, within the paleo community, possibly and even probably among names now known, a faction that will overreach, ignore facts, spout nonsense, manipulate people, and just plain lie in order to make a buck. It’s a given, every viable host sports parasites. This will be the test of whether paleo “takes” or not. The response from real paleos will be slow (it will take time to get over having thought of them as an ally), and the backlash both broad and gleefully propagated by powerful enemies. If it survives that setback, the future looks bright.

    There’s a certain well-publicized fitness chain that I’m keeping my eye on, for one.

    • CPM on September 26, 2010 at 21:21

      It will be interesting to see how the Paleo message evolves. Canibaies e Reis has posted a video of an interview with Cordain (in Portugese I think, but Cordain answers in English) where he talks about whole grains and dairy being the only elements of the Paleo Diet that are controversial (~3:25). Interestingly, Cordain mentions that cheeses contain certain types of saturated fat that promote heart disease (~3:45).

      I wonder about the strengths of the various influences. All the blogs I read seem to discount the whole idea of saturated fat causing heart disease (Stephan’s posts at Whole Health Source seems to destroy the idea), but does the readership of these blogs compare to the readers of Cordain’s book?

    • Richard Nikoley on September 26, 2010 at 15:53

      Good words of caution, my longtime buddy. And your historical instincts are always right on the mark.

    • marc on September 26, 2010 at 16:45

      Matt Stone? Sorry couldn’t help myself.

      • Richard Nikoley on September 26, 2010 at 16:58

        Jesus, haven’t heard that name in not nearly long enough.

    • Sarah Madden on September 27, 2010 at 11:26

      I have an awful feeling you’re correct, Kyle, Unilever are looking into making ‘paleo’ processed foods. Now there’s an oxymoron. Can we start a mantra in order to combat this before it takes? Repeat after me: Processed is not Paleo, Processed is not Paleo.

  2. Laurie D. on September 26, 2010 at 16:39

    Kyle is on the mark – Unilever is already looking at paleo products. They also came up with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, so look for a I Can’t Believe It’s Not Beef soon on the shelves.

    On the other hand, the pale-faced nimrods who set up the books at my local Borders are still placing vegan/vegetarian books in prominent places (full face out, end of row displays, etc.) while paleo books are non-existent. I take some small pleasure in placing them back in the racks backwards.

    • Jae on September 27, 2010 at 06:48

      You can move them to the Young Adult Fiction sections for added pleasure. =)

    • Travis on September 27, 2010 at 09:51

      “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Beef” HA! :-)) I can picture a bunch of lazy people lining up to buy it along with quarts of snake oil.

  3. NomadicNeill on September 27, 2010 at 00:42

    Why is killing animals ‘non-ideal’.

    Animals killing other animals for food has been ideal for millions of years.

    It’s the circle of life. Even we will become food for the worms.

    • Sue on September 27, 2010 at 01:48

      The circle of life – exactly.

    • pfw on September 27, 2010 at 04:36

      “ideal” is a normative statement. “Dan Linehan” was observing that perception and moral reasoning often trumps any pragmatic judgment when it comes to the actions societies take as a whole, not that killing animals is actually “non-ideal”. I doubt many modern people would make an argument for slavery, but slavery was the accepted and rationalized status quo for most of human history; get enough people believing that killing animals is “wrong” and “bad”, and veganism wins out. IT’s not about reality. It’s about belief.

    • Melissa on September 27, 2010 at 08:06

      Has anyone else noticed that many vegan restaurants are serving gluten-free and sugar-free foods? I usually don’t have a problem eating in them anymore and some of their foods are pretty tasty. I’ve kept many of my vegan cookbooks and continue to use them, albeit to make side dishes to serve with meat :) Vegans might think I’m the devil incarnate, but for event planning I’m often their ally. When planning conferences I’ll always push for good vegan options as long as they support me in gluten-free options.

      • Richard Nikoley on September 27, 2010 at 08:41

        I haven’t a problem in the world with vegan dishes. In fact, it’s a great way to get variety with your veggie intake, especially when introducing things like coconut milk and palm oil a-la MoveNat. I really enjoyed some of those dishes.

    • Andrew on September 30, 2010 at 12:54

      Neil! Long time no see, brother.

      Much of this ado surrounding the killing of animals is simply rooted in degrees of anthropomorphism. The farther away from humans an organism is on the evolutionary tree, the less we relate, and the less we care about killing them. This is true everywhere on the spectrum from chimps to dogs to spiders to lettuce. It proves we have an evolved morality, but it also seems like a spandrel when applied to birds, eggs, fish, et cetera.

  4. Aaron on September 26, 2010 at 16:07


    Regarding religion, spec. Christianity/Judaism: I don’t think people are comfortable with the possibility that the Bible is an allegory for the evolution of humans both biologically and socially. It’s really a great work if you look at all of the symbolism, e.g. Adam & Eve being kicked out of the Garden of Eden for taking the forbidden fruit, which symbolizes the advent of agriculture and man’s ability to “play God”. After the advent of ag. people began to experience new types of physical pain, intrafamilial conflicts over property, and essentially insanity.
    In a Paleo approach to diet and lifestyle, we are attempting to understand what happened before Genesis. Short story long, I agree with you in the sense that Paleo supercedes religion by putting us in touch with our actual origins. But the Bible provides lessons as to how things changed, and the negative consequences of those changes. After Adam & Eve left the Garden, it all went to shit–all subsequent events are bomb-ass case studies in human behavior.

    Anyway, keep up the inspired writing. I enjoy it thoroughly.


    • Richard Nikoley on September 26, 2010 at 16:11

      Oh, Aaron, I haven’t a problem in the world with an anthropological view of the Bible. In fact, it’s hugely valuable in that context.

      That’s just how it always should have been viewed.

      And good integrations. I’m sure there are tons more not even considered because of the thousands years long decline into literalism

  5. Russ Taylor on September 26, 2010 at 16:27

    Awesome post. Reading your stuff is always very uplifting for me, Richard. And I would agree that Paleo has the potential to be the winner, but the veggie’s are still mounting quite an attack. I don’t know if any of you follow the UFC or Mixed Martial Arts in general but there has been a rash of fighters going to an all veggie diet lately, talking up The China Study and sounding like a bunch of damn idiots! I mean, some of the fighters are already damn boring (I’m looking at you, Frank Mir!) so I can’t imagine them emaciated, sick, and tired! Anyway, i hope the word continues to spread, I’m doing my part by looking, performing, and feeling better than I ever have in my life, and when people ask me how I did it, I plant the seed. Thank again, Richard!

    • Richard Nikoley on September 26, 2010 at 16:39

      Stand strong, Russ and have patience.

      MMA guys taking up veggie without the guts for efficient assimilation is a good thing. Not huge because it will be obvious to anyone why they will ultimately fail in performance vs heavy meat / dairy eaters.

      What you have to do is check your principles. Paleo is rock solid. It can’t be any other way the question is only how far down the road of lying to one’s self is humanity in general willing to go?

      And that was roughly my point in bringing up religion. To be sure, it’s all the way for some, even suicide. But not for most, and those are the ones who will drive culture and so forget about the margins.

      • Walter on September 26, 2010 at 18:24

        I agree with this line of thought. When I initially did a plant based diet as opposed to SAD my health improved. Then, like many somewhere at the year to two year mark, health declined.

        Also at a little past the year mark I took 6 credit hours of Anatomy & Physiology, 3 of Biology and 4 of Chemistry because I was tired of not knowing what to do when “experts” disagreed. That’s when the cognitive dissonance started and it took a while for me to get past cognitive rigidity.

        But because health was always my number one concern and my only secondary agenda was fitness, I was able to look at the results produced by paleo and that in addition to the science clinched it for me.

        I think that the majority of the MMA guys will reverse course if the results are not what they want although I hardly think that being an athlete or martial artist makes you immune to cognitive rigidity.

        @ Richard Cognitive rigidity is what USAF Colonel John Boyd would have called a fixed or locked orientation. It occurs to me that if you have not read Boyd the Fighter Pilot who changed the Art of War, you should, because I think you’d get a tremendous kick out of it. Boyd was quite a character and the book is not only informative, but highly entertaining.

        Not to give anything away but the FIRST time they court-martialed him is especially entertaining, when it was all said an done, the general who court-martialed him recommended Boyd for early promotion.

      • Russ Taylor on September 27, 2010 at 12:01

        I used to be heavily involved in MMA. I trained kickboxing with BJJ and some wrestling. I am a horrible wrestler though! And at the time I was also eating the conventional low fat-hi carb, semi-asian soy foods diet. And while I thought my performance was pretty decent I would ALWAYS gas out in the 2nd or 3rd round. It would just be a wave of exhaustion, so I would do more and more cardio to try and get better but it was to no avail. Eventually a couple years down the road I just got tired of getting punched in the face and now just train some kickboxing once or twice a week for fun. But I always wish I could go back about 5 years and give it a go with what I know about nutrition now.

        Walter, I would agree that MMA fighters will probably switch back eventually, they’ll notice the new deficiencies cropping up in their fight game and know they have to change something. The most annoying part is just seeing when these guys mention the damn China Study! And I know plenty of younger fighters who look up to and will attempt to emulate these guys, and that’s kind of sad. But you could make the case that someone blindly following a fighter they like and doing the same thing without research get’s whatever they deserve.

        Last Saturday the newly veggie Frank Mir fought Mirko Cro-Cop. Both fighters at one time were considered among the elite but have lately been looking pretty ragged. I will say that Frank Mir did not look nearly as pudgy as he did back in the day but he also looked really slow and his take down’s, which used to be among the best, were slow and weak. Now granted, he did pull off an 11th hour KO via knee to the head, but otherwise it was a completely boring fight. It makes me wonder how much muscle wasting he’s already experiencing.

  6. Up North on September 26, 2010 at 16:34

    Unilever is now studying Paleo nutrition.

  7. anonymous chris on September 26, 2010 at 16:40

    The toothpaste is out of the tube with vegan/vegetarianism. The Let Them Eat Meat Ex-Vegan Interviews say it all.

    Richard, your criticisms of religious peoples’ anti-science is most often right on target. There are though compelling theistic arguments (i.e. philosophical vs. religious, theistic-arguments).

    Challenging vegans and religious folks is kinda like squishing bugs; don’t you think? I’d like to know your thoughts on greater culture currents. I mean after all you moved to Los Gatos not East San Jose. Do you believe that France will be better off when the ethnic French are a minority in their own land.

    Who is having babies and who isn’t, why and what are the ultimate consequences seem like an appropriate evolutionary topic. Being anti-religious or anti-vegan doesn’t take cajones these days. Critically discussing ethnic/cultural difference (an appropriate evolutionary and Libertarian topic) is the only Blasphemy left for a straight, meat-eating, white guy like you. (Perhaps it doesn’t interest/concern you in which case forgive my my inquiry. California: c’est la vie!)

  8. Bill Strahan on September 26, 2010 at 18:03

    Weird. Clinton “lost” 24 pounds of bodyfat and got healthier. So if he fuels his body with his own bodyfat all is well, but if he consumes another mammal’s bodyfat then he’s screwed. I wonder how that works, Dr. Ornish?

    He ran on real food and saturated fat. So do I. No wonder my BP averages about 115/60 and my resting pulse is in the mid 40’s to high 50’s. And to think BP used to be high and resting pulse never lower than 75-80. Hmmm. I guess 10 pounds of grass fed beef per week isn’t killing me quickly.

    Richard, not over the top. Practically subdued. Like you wrote this after doing yoga or something. Go read some more Vegan manifestos, get that BP artificially elevated and take another stab at it. Damnit, Richard, statins in the water! Doctors in U.K. want to outlaw butter! What do we need to fire you up? :)

    Okay, kidding aside, there’s a certain mellowness that comes in being pretty certain that what you’re doing for yourself is right. I still get fired up from time to time, but for the most part I eat the way I eat for me, I’m damn sure it’s best for me, and if some clown really wants to eat nothing but cabbage and celery then that’s fine as long as they don’t tell me what to do.

    And yeah, I’ll keep reading.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 26, 2010 at 18:21

      Bill, I’m going to make one quibble. We don’t know that Bubba’s 24 lb loss was fat.

      My bet is it wasn’t. With a morning protein shake and plant diet otherwise, he’s probably getting 50g or less protein per day.

      Go Vegan!!!

  9. Lute Nikoley on September 26, 2010 at 18:43

    Of course I will continue to read this blog. I read the newspaper and don’t believe 80% of what I read, but I still do it. I might be at odds with this blog at times, but most of the time find it very informative. so I will continue to read, even if I am flat on my back for the next 3 weeks, as I have been for the last 3 weeks.

  10. Nico on September 26, 2010 at 19:25

    I’ll happily keep reading. I do think, however, that the tone you take against vegans is over the top. I don’t blame anyone the occasional rant, but I do think that, in general, when anyone uses lots of ad hominems, or calls people ignorant, etc. it gives the impression (to me, at least) that they’re not confident in their position (I think you actually are confident in it, and mostly rightly so). I also don’t think this sort of thing is going to help convince anyone, and I do actually think there are some people out there worth convincing. There are a lot of people out there honestly struggling with how to act justly in the world, and yes for many of them veganism seems like a plausible way to do that.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and I know you have made lots of substantive arguments. I also know there are plenty of vegans that are sanctimonious and fanatical. But it seems to me that we’d be better off with more people willing to reasonably engage people who disagree with us, and with somewhat less antipathy.

    But, hey, as a libertarian, I totally respect that it’s your blog and you can use it as you please. Just a friendly critique :-)

    • Richard Nikoley on September 26, 2010 at 20:42


      Let me lend you my perspective. Of course, this post is not going to convince a single soul. Not my objective at all. My objective is, however, to be outrageous enough to get people to take a second look. I do think I blog in a rather unique way.

      So far the stats bear me out. Offhand from memory, average visitor looks at about three posts, not just one.

      • anand srivastava on September 27, 2010 at 13:53

        I did look at three myself on the first day and one of them was from Stephan. That is what changed me. Thanks Richard.

  11. Nathaniel on September 26, 2010 at 20:02

    I enjoy Richard’s unapologetically derisive tone towards veganism. Richard recognizes that veganism, and vegetarianism in many cases, is an ideological faith and not a rational belief system, and as such, it is mostly useless to debate the facts with vegans.

    I think Richard knows exactly what he’s saying and whose opinion matters to him, and I’m guessing that he is not interested in winning over anyone who would be offended by what he said about vegans.

    But that’s what makes Richard the icon that he is: he doesn’t pull any punches! Let someone else be the paleo ambassador to the vegans.

  12. mango genocide on September 26, 2010 at 20:26

    “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.”
    –a Francis Bacon (no pun intended) quote Ayn Rand was particularly fond of.–

    It should be fun to watch Bubba over the next few months/years. Regardless of the outcome, we can’t win in the eyes of the MSM. If he goes off his near-vegan diet it’ll be blamed on his lack of discipline. If he keels over or his health worsens while ON the rabbit chow they’ll say “Not _even_ a diet proven to reverse heart disease could save Clinton after decades of abuse…”

    And so on.

    BTW–is Bubba chugging *soy* protein? Anyone know?

  13. Stan(Heretic) on September 26, 2010 at 21:16

    Veganism is a fascinating fenomenon. One should never underestimate a power of self-destruction. Veganism is a meme. There are 4% of vegetarians in the USA. If it were a fad there would ba a large number of random variants, there is so much different food types and cuisine styles after all. Yet their focus is surprisingly cohesive and united in self-defense. There is a common pattern: always low fat, must be exclusively plant based and always intolerant of additions. Of all the human organs and tissues, the types of food veganism propagates seem to be most (albeit subtly) harmful (by creating defficiencies) to our neural system. It’s highly speculative but veganism seems to share this peculiar self-mind-destructive pattern with the drug/alcohol/nicotine addictions (plus addictive cults). Similar aggresive response to criticism. Ever tried debating such people using logic and reason?

  14. Dan Linehan on September 26, 2010 at 22:43

    IMHO veganism will win out in the long run. Simply because on some level most people feel that killing animals is non-ideal. Eventually technology will allow us to take proper nutrition (in one way or another) without killing anything.

    Whether that will laboratory grown meat or something else remains to be seen.

    • Bushrat on September 28, 2010 at 00:07

      This is a damned good point. Most people now live in cities, isolated from nature and from the realities of where there food comes from. To them meat is something packaged and bought in supermarkets. PETA and other idiots are continually exploiting this ignorance to try and force their vegan agenda down our throats.

      If paleo can make people reconnect with the reality of nature (and not whatever bullshit view of it they get watching Bambi) then there may be hope.

  15. Aaron Smith on September 26, 2010 at 23:05

    As a bible believer and a paleo practicer I think you guys are masking your real intention calling this the Paleo diet when it’s actually just the diet that GOD CREATED US TO EAT. Hypothetically if their was a God doesn’t it make just as much sense that he would create us to thrive on what’s naturally available year round? The reality is that religion doesn’t make you feel guilty you just are that way to begin with, you know we’re WAY to complicated to be random chance and that there’s no evolutionary reason for us to be self aware or have a conscience. The only explanations are divine, don’t kid yourself this diet was the makers idea…

    • Richard Nikoley on September 27, 2010 at 11:26

      My favorite Bible website, that every “Bible believer” ought to have bookmarked and visit regularly:

      “The reality is that religion doesn’t make you feel guilty you just are that way to begin with”

      Ah, the moral contradiction of Original Sin:

      a quote: “A sin without volition is a slap at morality and an insolent contradiction in terms: that which is outside the possibility of choice is outside the province of morality. If man is evil by birth, he has no will, no power to change it; if he has no will, he can be neither good nor evil; a robot is amoral. To hold, as man’s sin, a fact not open to his choice is a mockery of morality. To hold man’s nature as his sin is a mockery of nature. To punish him for a crime he committed before he was born is a mockery of justice. To hold him guilty in a matter where no innocence exists is a mockery of reason. To destroy morality, nature, justice and reason by means of a single concept is a feat of evil hardly to be matched. Yet that is the root of your code.”


      “you know we’re WAY to complicated to be random chance”

      And now, exposing profound ignorance about evolution and the logic of natural selection.

      a quote: “There is probably no other statement which is a better indication that the arguer doesn’t understand evolution. Chance certainly plays a large part in evolution, but this argument completely ignores the fundamental role of natural selection, and selection is the very opposite of chance. Chance, in the form of mutations, provides genetic variation, which is the raw material that natural selection has to work with. From there, natural selection sorts out certain variations. Those variations which give greater reproductive success to their possessors (and chance ensures that such beneficial mutations will be inevitable) are retained, and less successful variations are weeded out. When the environment changes, or when organisms move to a different environment, different variations are selected, leading eventually to different species. Harmful mutations usually die out quickly, so they don’t interfere with the process of beneficial mutations accumulating.

      “Nor is abiogenesis (the origin of the first life) due purely to chance. Atoms and molecules arrange themselves not purely randomly, but according to their chemical properties. In the case of carbon atoms especially, this means complex molecules are sure to form spontaneously, and these complex molecules can influence each other to create even more complex molecules. Once a molecule forms that is approximately self-replicating, natural selection will guide the formation of ever more efficient replicators. The first self-replicating object didn’t need to be as complex as a modern cell or even a strand of DNA. Some self-replicating molecules are not really all that complex (as organic molecules go).

      “Some people still argue that it is wildly improbable for a given self-replicating molecule to form at a given point (although they usually don’t state the “givens,” but leave them implicit in their calculations). This is true, but there were oceans of molecules working on the problem, and no one knows how many possible self-replicating molecules could have served as the first one. A calculation of the odds of abiogenesis is worthless unless it recognizes the immense range of starting materials that the first replicator might have formed from, the probably innumerable different forms that the first replicator might have taken, and the fact that much of the construction of the replicating molecule would have been non-random to start with.

      “(One should also note that the theory of evolution doesn’t depend on how the first life began. The truth or falsity of any theory of abiogenesis wouldn’t affect evolution in the least.)”


      • pecanmike on September 27, 2010 at 13:09

        I really have no problem at all with natural selection and evolution, in fact that is what I believe. But I also believe there is a God. Something does not come from nothing. Who started all the molecules doing whatever they did. To me it is a bigger leap to believe in nothing than to believe a God started all this and is with us today. Although I truly enjoy your blog I guess I will never understand your absolute vehemence towards religion. I am Catholic and don’t buy into many things of the church but most of us in my small church are just regular folks trying to make our way. We like to get together over some beer and BBQ and just live. We dont try to run other peoples lives or really mess with them in any way. We just have simular beliefs. Anyway, this is your playground so you may do as you please. But I just dont get it.

      • Richard Nikoley on September 27, 2010 at 13:39

        “But I also believe there is a God. Something does not come from nothing. Who started all the molecules doing whatever they did.”

        And who created the creator, and so on, ad infinitum? You can’t claim to solve the problem of origins by, on the one hand, claiming there must be a beginning while failing to acknowledge that applies to everything, including your supposed creator.

        Existence exists. That tautology is likely all anyone will ever know about it.

        I mean, sure, one could sit around an speculate (it does not qualify as a hypothesis until there’s actual evidence upon which to form one — ignorance can not form the basis of a testable hypothesis) that we were created by super advanced beings some billions of years ago and at least that would have the virtue of being a natural explanation, but you’re still back where you started from (who created them, and so on, ad infinitum).

        So, ultimately, such questions are pretty much an enormous waste of time.

  16. Nathaniel on September 26, 2010 at 23:11

    “Whether that will laboratory grown meat or something else remains to be seen.”

    Soylent green.

    • Naomi on September 27, 2010 at 01:51

      Haha indeed! Still gives me the shivers :)

  17. Aaron Curl on September 27, 2010 at 03:31

    “it’s because he cut out the very modern and recent no-food crap that gave him heart disease in the first place, you miserably myopic morons.”
    Why can’t people see this? It is so damn obvious. Why can’t the general public see that all this franken food was not around 100 years ago? It is just way to obvious that the decline in health is from the government and doctors telling us it’s o.k. to eat shit! Is this where the phrase…”eat shit and die comes from?”

  18. Primal Mami on September 27, 2010 at 03:39

    Great post!

  19. Jonathan Barnes on September 27, 2010 at 04:26

    Actually, I found some positives in the video. Both Ornish and the other guy believe what you put in your mouth as food matters. If you get it right, your body will do a great job of maintaining good health. I don’t hear that from my mainsteam doctors…they seem to be mainly “fireman”. You come in with a problem and they reach for the extinguisher…DRUGS ! The good doctors may not be getting it right but they are part of the process…you get to use them to help you made your point. Life is a long series of cause and effect, cause and effect, and on and on. We may not all get to where we need to go, diet wise, but we are beginning to go in the right direction. And, you Richard, are making a contribution..thank you for that. It is intuitively obvious and readily apparent that there is an optimum diet for human beings. We shouldn’t eat like monkeys or lions. Our genetic make-up calls for a particular diet. Modern technology has given us a lot of choices, junk food, and we are living with the consequences. Keep up the good work.
    Jon :>)

  20. zach on September 27, 2010 at 13:23

    “The bright spot in all of this is that the vegans, like creationists and “Intelligent Designers,” wholly lack the scientific background, mental discipline, logical consistency and a whole host of other crucial attributes (like ability to form an objective argument) to advance their cause beyond jerking off the masses ( I believe “energizing” is the pussy-PC way of putting it).”

    Indeed. I have never heard of a better description of men like Newton, Euler, Pascal, Descartes, Maxwell, or Gauss to name a few. Gauss, the father of number theory, the fundamental theorem of algebra, a guy who when he was 10 independently found the formula for the sum of the first n positive integers, wrote more about God than math. Princeps mathematicorum? (Prince of the Mathematicians) How about Princeps Idiotorum!

    I agree wholeheartedly about Paleo though. People are starting to get it.

    • CPM on September 27, 2010 at 13:38

      Zach, you are mixing up people who are religious with people who want to remove all mention of dinosaurs from science textbooks because it conflicts with their view that the Earth is only 7000 years old.

      • Richard Nikoley on September 27, 2010 at 13:44

        Indeed, CPM. That was a dishonest cheap shot, Zach, and I think you know it, too.

      • Joseph on September 27, 2010 at 15:40

        My experience (limited as it must be) with humankind leads me to think that “how” one is “religious” matters much more than “what” religion one professes. We are all of us, at the end of the day, “religious/superstitious” — we can’t know every factor going into every decision, so we bite the bullet, make our best guess, and roll the dice. What we can do, however, is be honest (and explicit) about what we do and don’t know. Too many people fail to do this, either because they are too lacking in awareness to realize their ignorance (as I have been many times), or because they have a vested interest in projecting what they know to be false appearances (as some of us may suspect T. Colin Campbell does). With the former group, I have patience; with the latter, I am disgusted. I would not make serious decisions about anything important in consultation with either.

      • Richard Nikoley on September 27, 2010 at 15:55


        If I catch your drift it’s that people need to learn to be comfortable with perpetual uncertainty. In many ways, religion – especially of the Western variety – is about lending a sense of certainty to a wholly uncertain, unanswerable question in the ultimate, i.e., the ULTIMATE origin.

        I believe this is simply a consequence of fear of the unknown. In Paleo times the unknown was prescient and in many ways could be known of at least familiarized. There was no need to entertain ultimate questions because there were lots of unknowns presenting themselves continually, keeping our ancestors busy.

        I also think that religion, just like politics is simply a marketing opportunity for those willing to live off inducing guilt & fear, an aspect I address more deeply in my most recent post.

      • zach on September 27, 2010 at 16:33

        I don’t believe so.These men were not just creationists or “intelligent designers” but they believed wholeheartedly in the literal truth of the bible-noah’s ark, for example. I’m sure you find that story ridiculous and on par with young earth theories.

      • Richard Nikoley on September 27, 2010 at 16:43

        So come, clean, Zach and quit being a pussy.

        Tell me all about Noah’s Ark.

        I judge people in the context of history. In point of fact, you have no idea what they truly believed. What yup do know is that they knew they could be tortured and killed for not beliecving in the correct set of doctrines laid down by the authorities. And you don’t even bring up the real possibility that they went overboard in playing to the fairy tales for want of getting the real science out there and published.

        Instead, you choose to believe that while under such intellectual oppression that no, they truly believed all the fairy tales even as they advanced natural knowledge in profound ways.

        I bow to your thoroughness of insight, Zach. BTW, any idea of where I attended Divinity school?

        The only question is how much projection you’re engaging in

      • zach on September 27, 2010 at 17:25

        I guess history of science is not the most important part of the curriculum in Divinity school.

      • Richard Nikoley on September 27, 2010 at 17:34

        Go ahead and evade the question, pussy. Fuckhead.

        Go fuck yourself. Divinely.

        You’re dishonest. You evade questions and don’t deal with serious objections, such as CPM posted. Accordingly, you’re dismissed.

      • Richard Nikoley on September 27, 2010 at 17:42

        And all religious affirmations by scientists prior to the Renaissance / Enlightenment are totally dissmissible under the very sound legal theory of duress.

        Granted, this does not mean that these scientists & discoverers were not believers. But it makes any testimony they wrote unreliable. Occam’s Razor. Given that we know that most serious scientists are atheists (95%+ today, excepting, weirdly enough, mathematicians) we might extrapolate a bit of culture and reason that had a culture of free enquiry and religious freedom existed back then, “history of science” would read quite differently.

        OK, so ther’s another five minutes of pearl before swine.

      • CPM on September 27, 2010 at 17:21

        Zach, again there is difference between somebody who believes the bible is literal truth and those who believe that their interpretation of the bible dictates what should be taught in science class. The issue is not whether the bible is literal truth or not, the issue is whether the bible is science or not. The Earth may well be 7000 years old, but this is not scientifically supported.

        Creationists do the same thing Campbell is doing – they have a hypothesis that they really like and they use this to judge which science is “correct.” Dinosaurs conflict with this hypothesis, so they toss them out (they are “uncorrected” correlations in Campbellian parlance). Radiocarbon dating conflicts with this hypothesis, so this is tossed out as well (all of modern physics gets thrown out with the bath water, but they are not scientifically literate enough to realize this.)

        The creationism/intelligent design thing in many ways is an artifact of separation of church and state in the United States. A certain group of people want religion taught in the schools, so they are trying to force it into science textbooks. Like many vegans, they are people that normally do not have a whole lot of use for science, but the moment it suits their purposes they become great pretenders.

  21. Luc on September 27, 2010 at 18:04

    Billyboy Clinton certainly has slimmed down a lot. Good for him.
    OTOH he actually does not look healthy to me. He appears to be somewhat frail.

  22. zach on September 27, 2010 at 18:06

    No, look- I feel you. People have done and do a lot of stupid and evil things in the name of religion. Sometimes I get tired of the line that religious people are stupid and have given civilization nothing. It’s an ignorant statement.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 27, 2010 at 18:21

      I’ve never said or implied any such thing, Zach. Yes, I do think diehard literalists/fundamentalists are breathtakingly ignorant.

      But I give the Muslims a pass on that because the truth is forcefully wit held from them. The ones I reserve my real scorn for are the American fundamentalists. They have access to everything and yet belly laugh at real science in favor of an ancient text they were taught to believe.

      That is the true definition of ignorance. American fundamentalist Christians are truly the worlds most ignorant people, bar none

      • gallier2 on September 27, 2010 at 22:42

        And I will go one further and even defend muslims (someone has to do it in that time of irrational persecution) from my personal experience. As ever, it’s only anecdotal evidence coming from my travels and whereabouts, but it’s important, because it goes against the main stream narrative.
        To start, a little bit on me, I’m an atheist, decidedly atheist but not prosletizing (unlike my late brother), all your points on religion/science/fanaticism are in line with my world view. So in 2000 I got involved in a serious relationship with a woman from Comoros Island, an Islamic Republic in the Indian Ocean. The people there are 100% muslims, and during 3 years, including several weeks on Ngazidja (the main island), I was accepted without hassle, everybody knew I was atheist, nobody cared, the only concession I made was to convert (it’s easy if you’re already circumcised, you only repeat a magical formula twice in front of 4 witnesses and you’re in). I never attended anything religious, I told I was atheist, the only reaction I got, was “it’s not up to us to judge you, that’s Allahs job”. Science and litterature, French or German culture, no problem, everything was ok. That does not mean that there were no conflicts but they were never about religion. And as for the stories about women, let me tell you that they did what they wanted and had sexual freedom (not in the sense of being whores but having the power to choose with whom they were partners), women in western countries would be jealous of.
        After these 3 years, we broke up and landed for different reasons in Gabon. Gabon is a former French colony which is mainly chistian (don’t be fooled by the conversion of Omar Bongo to Islam, it was only a ruse to get his say in Opec) background. The American evangelists (CIA sponsored btw) have a big impact there, and the Catholics while being on the decline still have a fair share of the faith market. These 3 weeks were terribly annoying, not a day went by without someone wanting to convince me of god, I even had to threaten people to stop that shit. One or two weeks more, it could have been violent. The prosletizing and coercion was clearly on the ‘christians’ side. And just to give another anecdote, I met a jewish merchant in Gabon and if I had to go through all the anti-semitic clichés, he was the best illustration of them, incredibly disturbing.

      • gallier2 on September 27, 2010 at 23:17

        Sorry for the off topic post, I got a little bit carried away. Just one observation I made when living with poor Africans (that was one thing that made it so special, I lived really among the poors) is how they craved meat. Everything revolved around meat (fish being considered as such), no meat, no food, even if trees were bursting of bread fruits and cassava and rice were plenty.

  23. Dan on September 27, 2010 at 20:08

    I don’t know. The paleo dogma is getting a bid religious and annoying for me at the moment. I obviously like you, and Matt Metzgar. But sometimes Paleo is becoming a little too vegan-like (ie hippyville) for my liking. The closer it gets to that the less like science and more like a movement it becomes. I got into this because I believe in evolution but I hear some damn stupid shit from people about evolution and the paleo diet these days. When i do I feel like they are abusing my baby…evolution. Just don’t touch it please.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 27, 2010 at 20:20

      This comes from what I call dis-integration, Dan. The opposite of integration.

      Logically, we ought to be able to integrate all facts and observations into a logically consistent paleo paradigm. This is why I focus so much on other aspects of the Neolithic besides just food. Everything is Neolithic and if we are to save paleo from becoming just another dietary fad I think we have to go all the way. It’s not just our food that’s a product of force backed, corrective systems, but everything else. At the same time I don’t want in any way to toss out the baby either. I’m shooting, simply, for enlightenment.

      Everyone should live as they must to get along, but the notion that everything is totally hunky dory – like political structures, religion, state sponsored corporatism – but we just need to eat in a certain way, while workable in a practical sense, misses the boat as far as this being a true no shit life way for the rest of your life.

      The reason we eat crap is because we were fed mind crap and swallowed it for eons before.

      • Richard Nikoley on September 27, 2010 at 20:23

        “force backed COERCIVE systems.”

        …Damn iPad soft keyboard….

      • JP on September 28, 2010 at 10:53

        I agree with both of you. Let’s stay objective and question everything. Paleo is definitely becoming a religion.

      • Richard Nikoley on September 28, 2010 at 13:27

        I saw a question on Paleo Hacks the other day that Patrick V alerted me to where someone asked how many children they should have…

      • JP on September 28, 2010 at 19:54

        I missed that one. That’s actually pretty funny.

    • Melissa on September 28, 2010 at 05:17

      Hehe, examples plz?

    • Andrew on September 30, 2010 at 13:57

      Dan, your last point about the abuse of religion is a salient one. However, I’m willing to take some of this abuse with the grain of salt that the general population seems to have very little understanding of Darwinian evolution. Even those who “believe” in it don’t “understand” it. I think it’s kind of cool that rather than people just learning about a great diet because of the logic of paleo, many will also learn about evolution enough to potentially glean a new degree of insight.

  24. Is our community becoming a religious movement à la veganism? « Primal Journal on September 29, 2010 at 08:28

    […] This is certainly the case of Free the animal, who has been writing about quasi-religious vegans [Link here]. I will say it right away: I am an atheist. I am a man of simple tastes : I like facts, […]

  25. Lucy on September 29, 2010 at 09:54

    Don’t worry, I for one am not going to un-reader your blog … it reminds me to pray for you :-D

    • Richard Nikoley on September 29, 2010 at 11:46

      Hey, whatever floats your boat, Lucy. But I always appreciate well wishes regarless of how they’re engineered.

  26. Alex Good on March 14, 2011 at 19:08

    Ha! They panic attacked into “It has a mother!”. That video will do more to convince others of the foolishness of veganism than half the things on the web.

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