Egyptian Mummies Yield Ancient Secrets of Good Journalism

This is based on an LA Times article here

What strikes me most is how athlerosclerotic the science itself is.  Or perhaps it’s just the reportage?

The opening line of the article is “CT scans of Egyptian mummies… show evidence of… hardening of the arteries, which is normally thought of as a disease caused by modern lifestyles….”  One of the researching cardiologist draws this conclusion: “Perhaps atherosclerosis is part of being human.”

The LA Times reporter covering the story (Thomas Maugh) rightly points out at the end, “The high-status Egyptians ate a diet high in meat from cattle, ducks and geese, all fatty.”  Which of course entirely negates the hypothesis of heart disease being part of the natural human condition.

It’s clear why the researchers — both cardiologists — would want ancient evidence to support the notion that heart disease is normal.  But the fact is that the preponderance of evidence around the world in epidemiology as well as cardiology indicates that diet and lifestyle are largely responsible.  Don’t trust me, just start digging around for yourself, it’s not hard to find the data.

Okay, so researchers are trying to get their work into the mainstream, what’s new?  Any thinking person can see through their faulty logic, right?  Not according to all the research on behavioral psychology.  That’s why I’m mostly disappointed in the reporting as opposed to the research.

Maugh and the LA Times bit so hard on this succulent morsel of pseudo-science that the net result is false information which is damaging to public health.  Had Maugh flipped his article upside down and lead with his commentary at the bottom, he would have come much closer to serving the public good with the dark leafy vegetables of truth.

hat tip: @DannyHorowitz

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  • Alex

    Are you surprised? The consensus has voted with their money for what entertainment and news-tainment oughta look like. If we let the consensus decide what is important, we will end up with business models that have nothing to do with learning.

    K12 - first we learn from authority, but at least the curriculum isn’t as biased as it was centuries ago. In college we have a little bit more freedom and that is why those years are so romanticized from a learning perspective. Although i have my doubts about the conflict of interest between the profs and the students. Most professors aren’t humble and create an illusion of confidence in validity of the theories. After undergrad it’s almost as if people decide that’s enough and learning grinds to a hault. it may be partly cause we’re working faster and faster (barring “smarter” companies like Google) and don’t have the mental capacity or desire to further our personal understanding of the world. It’s not surprising that the majority pays for for an illusion of understanding or learning considering the typical adult household. so i don’t blame the reporters or even the business models and not even the consumers. either everyone’s guilty or noone. until we focus on evolution and emergence in everything we do, we’re doomed to deal with the consequences.

  • Ann

    On the other hand, that our body will eventually fail is a human condition, else we’d all have immortality and be gods? ;)

    So regardless how healthy you live, there will always be something that kills you? (Of course, lots of cattle, ducks and geese might just speed things up.)