Clear Thinking, Drawing Distinctions and North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition vs Steve Cooksey, Diabetes Warrior

Since my post yesterday shining a light on the travesty, I’ve sought to understand what was missing, in how some of the comments have gone. To get one thing out of the way first, some took objection to my analogy of German soldiers tossing Jews in boxcars to meet a certain fate.

I could deal with that myself, but let’s let a German commenter do it.

There is nothing wrong with the comparison. As a German, I laugh about the fear of inappropriate Godwins. Mostly they are right.

The movie “the Reader” shows it perfectly. She was just doing her job (“legal”) and at the same time was hiding her own incompetence (illiteracy). […]

Those people were our great-grandfathers and seemingly normal people. But still, they fucked up big time. We should not suppress history but learn from it, and the 3rd Reich is one of the best and clearest periods in history of evil philosophy with all its implications: psychology, politics, propoganda, ethics, epistemology and metaphysics. You’ll find it all in the books. Heck, Hitler wrote his own philosophy: Mein Kampf. What a disgrace it’s banned here.

I relate Nazism to today’s politicians and thinking all the time. The phrases are identical. […]

Every law is a gun to your head.

Today’s society ONLY works because some people at least choose to think for their own, break laws, invent stuff and don’t get sucked up in the system.

To this I would add that it’s important to understand that Germany was not an evil country. Germans were not evil. They were just like so many today: suckers for authority and someone to tell them what to do. Their principle fault lied in not being careful enough about what they asked for.

It’s that simple. The rest, as they say, is history. And history rolled right along on the back of ideas; which, actually, have consequences.

But the main issue with the whole post, and what prompted me to begin drafting in my head as I was out walking the dogs, is a principle disconnect I see all the time, for decades now. Let me illustrate it.

Suppose by some weird chance I come upon the scene of an atrocity. For the sake of drama, it’s a young girl who has just been raped and killed…and as I fall upon the scene, in the very final stage of dismemberment for later disposal, I notice there’s video surveillance. So I detain the assailant, retrieve the video, gain certainty about what transpired—not beyond reasonable doubt, but beyond any doubt—and I immediately dispatch him.

I then take the video to the local police, tell them I just willfully and in full conscience killed a man, and offer up my hands to be cuffed.

They immediately oblige.

Then they do their investigation, interrogate me, I tell them everything I know and did…and a few days later, the District Attorney files charges against me for 2nd degree murder—which would be exactly the correct charge per the law.

Here’s the point, and consider this carefully: the charge will not be “misapplication of justice.”

In fact, no one will ever argue that I didn’t see to sound competent justice. That argument, in fact, will be inadmissible, and the prosecutor and judge will be on overtime guard throughout, because my defense attorney will want to make sure the jury knows and understands that they can nullify the law if they wish.

In other words, the real fight going on is exactly not whether or not I did the right thing in moral terms, or even whether the state—after millions of dollars and a decade or more of appeals—would not have done exactly the same thing. The real fight in the court room, for the prosecution, will be to paint me as a wanton vigilante. More importantly, to construct a slippery slope and “send a message,” dropping context that true justice was actually done here. Most importantly, to convict me because, after all, every conviction is another notch in the club and jot in the file, leading to promotion and perhaps a career in politics.

That I did what that girl and her family would have wanted—not to mention pretty much all of society, potentially saving others that fate—matters not one tiny little bit.

What matters is that I grandstanded. I took their glory. They get to do that shit: and hold press conferences, have lights shown upon them, solidify their role.

…And so it is with Steve. The charge is not that he’s offering bad advice. In fact, he’s offering good advice, which everyone knows, but that’s irrelevant.

The chief justification is slippery slope.

The real reason is that he makes the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition look like a bunch of incompetent fools.

Incompetent fools like:

  • Michelle Futrell, MS, RD, LDN – Chair, Public Health
  • Brenda Burgin Ross, MS, RD, LDN – Vice Chair, Clinical
  • Richard W. Holden, Sr. – Treasurer, Public Member
  • Kathleen Sodoma, RD, LDN – Secretary, Management
  • Christie Nicholson, MS, RD, LDN, Private Practice
  • Phyllis Hilliard, MPH, Public Member
  • Cathleen E. Ostrowski, MS, RD, LDN, Education

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. Marc on February 1, 2012 at 18:58

    Fuck was that good!

    Beautiful Richard…..simply beautiful.


  2. Tyler on February 1, 2012 at 19:13

    I’m a nazi you insensitive clod!

    • Richard Nikoley on February 1, 2012 at 19:19

      I’m known to regularly insult pedophile rapists too, Tyler.

      • Tyler on February 1, 2012 at 19:21

        Comment system removed my < sarcasm > tag. Hope that wasn’t taken seriously. :P
        “Insensitive clod” usually implies sarcasm.

      • Richard Nikoley on February 1, 2012 at 19:34

        No worries. I half figured as much.

  3. Mike Gruber on February 1, 2012 at 19:49

    Nicely done.

  4. Todd Watson on February 1, 2012 at 20:26

    Great post. It reminded me of a book I read a few years ago in regards to how the German people were convinced to follow Hitler and the Third Reich. If I find the title I’ll mention it again.

    The other post cemented ideas I have in my head for a novel. Not sure how to start it, but it will show how Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-four are coming true using SAD as Soma and the ADA as the Thinkpol. Steve’s situation would tantamount to a though crime. Hope that all made sense. Still fleshing it out.

    I posted this in another community, “For the record, Godwin’s Law is bullshit. If it steps like a goose, has breath of sauerkraut, wears a brown shirt, then it’s a fucking Nazi. Quit being a pussy, no history knowing dicks!”

  5. tess on February 1, 2012 at 20:34

    i’ve got a problem with your talk about the “incompetent fools” — you should have used a MUCH larger font. ;-)

  6. Sean on February 1, 2012 at 23:15

    I don’t think Godwin’s Law was ever meant to be taken literally or seriously. I certainly don’t. To me it’s merely the cousin to the Somalia/roads anti-libertarian “argument”. This is the spirit I used it in when I wrote that we’d both gone Godwin.

    I wasn’t aware that people are taking Godwin’s Law as a literal thing, but if they are, well, fuck them, the world is full of idiots, that ain’t ever going away. Even logical fallacies are really just rule’s of thumb to help cut through false arguments, not cast-iron laws. Nowadays, with everyone on the internet throwing them around without really understanding them, they are more often a hindrance than an aid to logical discourse. But again, the world is full of stupid people.

    As Paul points out, it is ridiculous that Mein Kampf is banned in Germany (and for all practical purposes in some other countries as well). It ought to be required reading instead. There’s no greater argument against Nazism than that tedious literary disgrace of a book. Those who forget the past, etc.

    The real problem throughout human history, of course, is fascist thinking, not one particular flavor of it (be it Hitlerism, Stalinism, Maoism, PCism, etc). Question authority, question everything. That doesn’t mean authority is always wrong, or every accepted belief is wrong, but work it out for yourself, don’t take someone’s word for it. If everyone did that the world would be a hell of a lot better off, but that’s never going to happen.

    This is why I find pathetic all the people who list 1984 as their favorite book, or one of the greatest books of all time, while at the same adhering blindly to some idiotic belief system like socialism. Orwell was a socialist, but he was a brilliant one and his questioning of his own belief system eventually led to Animal Farm. If only more people had the will and intellect to do the same…

    • Sean on February 1, 2012 at 23:35

      Heh, I almost wrote Animal Pharm.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 2, 2012 at 04:49

      My issue with Godwin is how it’s used to dismiss out of hand valid analogies to underlying premises.

      • Sean on February 2, 2012 at 08:16

        You know who else used to dismiss out of hand analogies to underlying premises!?!?

        It’s like using Murphy’s Law seriously. “That new bridge fell down–Murphys Law”. No, it fell down because someone seriously fucked up.

  7. C.G. on February 2, 2012 at 05:16

    Just a suggestion, lets use the law against them. File complaints under this law against every unlicensed source of conventional wisdom in North Carolina, from Paula Deen to the local newspapers to every vegan vegetarian blog or recipe site then call discrimination if they don’t enforce it.

    • rob on February 2, 2012 at 09:52

      I took a look at the law and it is a heck of a complicated law.

  8. Mike on February 2, 2012 at 05:37

    Nice post.

    The very next thing in my feed; seems humorously relevant:

    (It’s about how a satirical game called Cow Clicker–the object is to click a picture of a cow every 6 hours–became popular.)

  9. Jon Cole on February 2, 2012 at 05:39

    “Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.”
    ― Stanley Milgram, Obedience to Authority

    “The disappearance of a sense of responsibility is the most far-reaching consequence of submission to authority.”
    ― Stanley Milgram

    Obedience to authority… If you haven’t seen the footage of Milgram’s obedience study- it’s an eye opener. Watching these men (and women in later replications) “shock” a complete stranger for “failing” a memory test because a guy in a white lab coat told them to is scary. Experiments like this one inspire fear in me because I ask myself, “would I follow an authority figure if they asked me to do something I considered morally wrong?” I can sit here and say that I’m a rational human being and I would be able to resist… but there’s the thought I could be like Milgram’s 37- we do what we’re told.

    Social psychology is full of experiments, studies, and observations trying to explain why good people let bad things happen. John Locke said we are social creatures and the desire to become a part of the social unit forces us to give up our individuality. Later it was speculated that Locke’s ideas explain why there is a general drop in creativity and, I dare say, a movement from a primal worldview to a “civilized” one. Do you remember using sticks as tools when you were a kid? You don’t see mental set or functional fixedness in a kid. We give these things up for fear of ridicule, shame, and a belief that we won’t fit in if we continue to behave in a childish manner. This escalates to the point where we, “do what we’re told,” as adults.

    “Eat 300 grams of carbs daily.”

    “Fat is bad.”

    “You use lard while cooking?!? You’ll get heart disease!”

    “Listen to me because I’m wearing a lab coat and went to Hollywood Upstairs Medical College.”

    The Asch Conformity study and Genovese Syndrome (bystander effect) are both intriguing studies as well.

    • Todd Watson on February 2, 2012 at 09:01

      You express amazement at my statement that ‘civilized’ men try to justify their looting, butchering and plundering by claiming that these things are done in the interests of art, progress and culture. That this simple statement of fact should cause surprize, amazes me in return. People claiming to possess superior civilization have always veneered their rapaciousness by such claims…
      Your friend Mussolini is a striking modern-day example. In that speech of his I heard translated he spoke feelingly of the expansion of civilization. From time to time he has announced; ‘The sword and civilization go hand in hand!’ ‘Wherever the Italian flag waves it will be as a symbol of civilization!’ ‘Africa must be brought into civilization!’ It is not, of course, because of any selfish motive that he has invaded a helpless country, bombing, burning and gassing both combatants and non-combatants by the thousands. Oh, no, according to his own assertions it is all in the interests of art, culture and progress, just as the German war-lords were determined to confer the advantages of Teutonic Kultur on a benighted world, by fire and lead and steel. Civilized nations never, never have selfish motives for butchering, raping and looting; only horrid barbarians have those.
      – Robert E. Howard, from a letter to H. P. Lovecraft (5 December 1935)

      I’ve found myself becoming a political atheist. The more I see either side of the aisle explain why their beliefs are better for civilized society, the more I see they are brainwashed into the same socialized structure system with different names. I don’t need their prohibitive bullshit to make me “do the right thing”. I am fully capable of doing it myself.

      “I will accept any rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”
      – Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

  10. Tony Mach on February 2, 2012 at 06:06

    I would argue that state justice is an form of centrally organized justice. And that there is an evolutionary justification, once we lived in larger groups, connected to other groups.

    I mean, what is the alternative? Everybody “taking the law into their own hands”. The you get perpetual feuds. “You killed my mother/father/sister/brother/daughter/son, so I kill you”. Then I get killed by family member of yours, which lead my family to kill a family member of yours. You see were this is going?

    Sure, such a central justice system gets co-opted by groups and used for their purposes. But this can only go so far. Once (more than a few) people start to perceive the justice system as “not in my interest” or even “unfair to me”, people opt-out and the justice system looses its justification (pun intended).

    I can see that the state (and medical science for that matter) are clearly wrong in this, but at the same time I want frauds to be exposed for what they are. I want to see people like Burzynski no longer conning and hurting people.

    The plural of anecdote is not data and even the most intuitively obvious medical beliefs must be tested. It may be too much too ask at the moment, but the Paleo movement needs studies, proper studies, well done studies, that prove that Paleo is right and that the sat-fat-phobic mainstream is wrong. As long as we can not prove that we are right, they will say that we are wrong, and that we are snake-oil selling quacks And while I think we would have the evidence on our side, we need to build a stronger case – until then we will be called quacks.

    (BTW: I think resorting to comparisons to the fascists should be used when necessary and waranted. You case was a bit over the top, IMHO)

    • Tony Mach on February 2, 2012 at 07:01

      Just one link to illustrate such an extreme case, then I shut up :-)

      Gonzalez can present testimonials of people he helped.

    • Tony Mach on February 2, 2012 at 06:57

      One more thought: The problem with nutritional advice (as with all medical advice) is if you get it wrong, you might not have the possibility to correct that mistake. And people can follow bad advice very long. If you follow bad financial advise, you might “loose the farm”. But you usually don’t get bodily harm from bad investments – one does tend to live on and not make the mistake again. Plus one just might have a chance to get “the farm” back. In a more extreme case, if someone says to a cancer patient “Forget chemotherapy, they got it all wrong, stop the meat and eat only healthy grains and your cancer goes away.”, what would you say? I would say pony up and provide evidence – or shut up. In this extreme example, all the cancer quacks can provide actual testimonies of real people who got helped by them.

      As I said: I think Steve Cooksey got it right, the state got it wrong. But to the law he looks not much different than a cancer quack.

      And as the proverb goes: Nobody gets fired for buying IBM (even if their consultants rob your company dry). And nobody gets persecuted for advising to eat what everybody thinks is healthy (even if it isn’t).

      • Richard Nikoley on February 2, 2012 at 08:16

        “The problem with nutritional advice (as with all medical advice) is if you get it wrong, you might not have the possibility to correct that mistake. And people can follow bad advice very long.”

        And what set of institutions are the worst offenders?

        But, yea, “cancer quacks.” In comparison, it’s a drop in the bucket.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 2, 2012 at 08:12

      “I mean, what is the alternative?”

      The alternative to, say, this?

      As to the rest, it has never been my intention to imply that there are not quacks and bad advice. Rather, just as in the link above, the biggest murderers in history have been the state and the biggest quack by far is the current state.

      You seem to imply that there’s some alternative to murder and quackery. There’s not, but to suggest that the state is in any way a solution to either or both is demonstrably ridiculous.

  11. Hugh Anderson on February 2, 2012 at 06:16

    This ties in to an article I just finished reading from the New Yorker called “The Caging of America.” It makes the point that our criminal justice system is based more on procedures (bureaucracy) than general principles: “You can get off if the cops looked in the wrong car with the wrong warrant when they found your joint, but you have no recourse if owning the joint gets you locked up for life. You may be spared the death penalty if you can show a problem with your appointed defender, but it is much harder if there is merely enormous accumulated evidence that you weren’t guilty in the first place and the jury got it wrong.” Perhaps it could be said that this effect occurs throughout government, a gradual regression to the mean, namely banal, ugly & inefficient bureaucracy.

  12. Dave Sill on February 2, 2012 at 07:17

    My problem with your hypothetical scenario is that you denied the alleged perpetrator due process. You might have been right, but there might also have been other things going on of which you weren’t aware. A far-fetched example suitable for a movie plot is that the real bad guy had the apparent bad guy’s wife and kids in captivity and threatened to kill them all if he didn’t rape and murder the girl. Or maybe the apparent rape victim was the real bad guy and had somehow driven the guy to do what he did.

    Of course there are far-fetched scenarios where even the justice system would have “gotten it wrong”, but I believe a thorough investigation before meting justice will, on average, result in more/better justice.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 2, 2012 at 08:20

      “You might have been right, but there might also have been other things going on of which you weren’t aware.”

      Yea, I can offhand think of dozens of reasons why it would be perfectly OK to rape, murder and dismember a girl. I made the scenario extreme for a reason.

      Because I’m dealing in a principle. The point is, whether I was right or wrong, whether as meticulous or more than the state in meeting out justice, it’s irrelevant.

      The only relevant thing in my trial is that I convicted and executed the guy rather than the state.

      “A far-fetched example suitable for a movie plot is that the real bad guy had the apparent bad guy’s wife and kids in captivity and threatened to kill them all if he didn’t rape and murder the girl.”

      That does not in any way absolve the perpetrator, in my book, btw.

      • Dave Sill on February 2, 2012 at 14:34

        “The only relevant thing in my trial is that I convicted and executed the guy rather than the state.”

        Right, agreed. And I think they’re right to discourage citizens from taking the law into their own hands.

        “That does not in any way absolve the perpetrator, in my book, btw.”

        OK, so to make the scenario even sillier, say the real bad guy has a WMD and has convinced the apparent bad guy that he’ll kill millions of people if he doesn’t rape/kill/dismember this girl, who also happens to have brutally murdered the bad guy’s toddler son.

      • Richard Nikoley on February 2, 2012 at 17:07

        “And I think they’re right”

        They who? Are you talking about the people with Sooper Pow3rz of discernment I just blogged about, in part 3.

        To your silliness, no. Nothing ever absolves him of raping, killing, dismembering her and disposing of the remains. Her life holds no mortgage to any individual, and of that’s the case, millions, billions or trillions make no difference,

        It’s her choice and hers alone to decide if she wants to sacrifice herself on their behalf.

      • Dave Sill on February 3, 2012 at 05:16

        “They who? Are you talking about the people with Sooper Pow3rz of discernment I just blogged about, in part 3.”

        The government. They don’t have super powers, but I don’t think we want the wild west where everyone implements their own idea of justice.

      • Richard Nikoley on February 3, 2012 at 08:09

        “the wild west”

        Maybe you watch too much TV, Dave.


        “Contrary to popular perception, the Old West was much more peaceful than American cities are today. The real culture of violence on the frontier during the latter half of the nineteenth century sprang from the U.S. government’s policies toward the Plains Indians.”

      • LeonRover on February 7, 2012 at 10:06

        Hey Richard

        Thank you for making available these three pieces.

        From the portraits in “High Noon” , “annie get your gun”, Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey to the representation in these articles.

        I was not aware of link between Army Generals, Railroad Entrepreneurs and Pols back then, but modern elites behave no differently, in DC, London or Bonn.

        I particularly enjoyed this quote

        ” Resolved, that no lawyer be permitted to practice law in this district, under penalty of not more than fifty nor less than twenty lashes, and be forever banished from this district. ”


  13. James Howell on February 2, 2012 at 07:32

    Thanks to my dad, a Reagan conservative before anyone even heard of Reagan, I tend to buck the system, believing the government is always wrong, but I never really thought of Nazism in connection with a/our government until I read William L. Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.” The everyday, simple parallels between Shirer’s story and our own ne’er-do-well bureaucrats is indeed troublesome. In the last 20 years, I’ve seen equally troublesome parallels with Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.” With the exception of some elected officials, I don’t believe in inherantly evil officials but their desire to “do good” requires they push idiotic rules, regulations, and laws upon the citizenry, all based upon Conventional Wisdom.

    • Sean on February 2, 2012 at 10:27

      One of my father’s favorite books is ‘Rise and Fall’–but he’s still a died-in-the-wool democrat.

      I don’t think the problem with bureaucrats stems from a misplaced desire to do good, not from my experience, but the terrible incentives in the system. There are idealistic people, but they get trampled underfoot. The system itself attracts and rewards the worst kind of people and behavior. Since there is very little accountability for real-world results, people spend their time essentially fighting turf wars and trying to expand their political influence, or just plain fucking around. Ugly stuff.

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