Disappointed in Low Carb gurus and covid-19 (and the Dunning-Kruger effect)

(Bob M) #1

As background, I’ve been low carb/keto since 1/1/14. In that time, I have tried the following (a PARTIAL list);

  • High fat a la Jimmy Moore; lower fat a la Ted Naiman; very high saturated fat a la FireInABottle
  • Resistant starch and probiotics
  • Paleo, Primal (basically, paleo but with dairy), near carnivore
  • Liver protocol
  • Iodine loading regimen
  • Many different vitamins, minerals; many combinations of same
  • Intermittent and long term (longest, 5.5 days) fasting
  • Bought a year’s supply of Free Style Libre CGM from Sweden so that I could test things like whether very high protein caused blood sugar increses
  • Tested and compared many different blood sugar and ketone meters
  • Compared different types of ketone measurements, urine, breath, blood
  • Does apple cider vinegar actually lower blood sugar?
  • Does alcohol lower blood sugar?
  • Does protein/fat increase/decrease ketones/blood sugar?
  • Dairy? I’ve not eaten dairy and eaten dairy.
  • Does eating later at night cause an increase in morning blood sugar?
  • Targeted keto diet, with high saturated fat and carbs after exercising (And: is there a benefit to eating carbs + saturated fat over just high saturated fat?)

After testing all these things, I can honestly say that for most of them, I have no idea. While I liked very high saturated fat (seemed cause a dramatic decrease in hunger), I still can’t tell whether high fat is better than low fat, other than if I want to eat higher fat, I try to eat foods higher in saturated fat. Yet, I can eat a low fat meal, say of ham or shrimp, and feel fine. And that’s basically it.

As for whether protein “causes” higher blood sugar (or lower ketones), I can’t tell. It never seemed to for me, but you have to understand that if you decrease protein, you increase fat. Thus, how do know which causes what? (And let’s not even get near the fact that the meters we use are so error prone as to be mainly useless, other than for gross measurements.)

If you’ve heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect, I’m basically at the right end of this curve, basically where the more you know, the less clear things become:


This is in data science field, but you can find similar concepts in other fields.

And when I listen to the people in this podcast, who are virologists who have spent their entire lives studying virology, they say “I (or we) don’t know” multiple times during the show. This particular show is with Tony Fauci, who also says he doesn’t know things, because the science isn’t clear:


And now, turning to low carb gurus (whose names I won’t mention, but these are the big guns of the LC world), they seem to KNOW lock downs don’t work; or KNOW covid-19 is no worse than the flu; or KNOW that people who eat low carb/keto/carnivore walk on water and have nothing to fear from covid-19; or KNOW we should follow the Swedish model; etc.

To me, this is way too much hubris with no humility. This disease is only 6 months old. It’s really not possible to KNOW anything.

Furthermore, we process things through our own lenses, which often filter out what goes against our theories. This is how vegans can look through a mountain of crapidemiology (epidemiology) and make a convincing case we should be vegan. And, of course, we low carbers can do the same.

Case in point: heard a podcast of two low carb/carnivore gurus discussing the covid-19 infection on the aircraft carrier. They assumed that covid-19 would be on every exposed surface on the carrier. As someone who spent 3.5 years on a carrier, I can tell you that idea is completely ludicrous.

So, if you want to “prove” something about covid-19, it’s possible to do so, as long as you ignore anything that conflicts with your theories (or you don’t understand things).

Because of this, I now wonder about their other advice. That is, their low carb advice. If they are so certain about covid-19, might they also be ignoring data about low carb? If so, why then should I follow them?

And, at least on Twitter, anyone who has come out to state definitively that they KNOW what we should be doing about covid-19, I’ve ceased to follow them. That may become permanent.

Your thoughts?


Speaking as an epidemiologist myself, you make very good points. In the end, I will trust how I feel — giving this keto diet that I am trying sufficient time for me to assess whether I have real and lasting change in my weight, my chronic pain and my digestive discomfort. So far I am hopeful! (Although cutting way back on butter and cheese so as to get my total and ldl cholesterol out of the “freak out” range! )


I don’t follow anyone’s advice, actually. I try things and I do what I feel right. My body tells me what it likes. I actually find it dangerous to blindly follow advice, it can lead to problems and suffering. One may tentatively try out things, I do that myself but forcing anything or blindly believing too simple general “facts”… I don’t feel that right. But some people are fine with forcing a woe upon themselves and probably some can’t afford my relaxed style anyway as they are too addicted, sick and need changes asap…
While some people probably know a lot of things and give good advice, we are individuals. We need our own personal way. Even if we have similar (but somewhat different) human bodies.

I agree with you about those Covid-19 opinions…

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #4

Thanks for the Dunning-Kruger effect. I hadn’t heard that before! Fits a lot of things.

As for LC and COVID-19…

We actually know quite a lot about the virus and who are and are not the most likely susceptible to severe/deadly outcomes. We got our first real glimpse with the Diamond Princess at the beginning of Feb. 3700 mostly elderly passengers and crew trapped onboard with no way out. Approx 700 got infected, nearly all passengers, a couple hundred severe cases and 15 deaths. All the severe cases and deaths suffered multiple other chronic and ‘likely fatal’ illnesses.

Aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt of 4500 crew of mostly young and healthy sailors, 1100 got infected and 1 died, a 41 YO. Heath status of the one who died, I don’t know but am willing to bet he had other ‘complications’. Most of the infected were only determined via testing, they showed no symptoms.

If you look at the overall statistics of cases and fatalities, it is very clear that COVID-19 is very selective of whom it mostly kills: the elderly ‘frail’, those with multiple chronic and eventually fatal illness, the immunocompromised, and those who fit all three categories. Even elderly who are not suffering multiple ‘comorbidities’ are not infected or only mildly.

There are about half a dozen chronic illnesses that are COVID-19 bulleyes, including T2D and prediabetes, insulin resistance, CVD and lung infections. We also know that ‘getting’ COVID-19 is not a death sentence for otherwise healthy people, that most will show no or only mild symptoms, including the elderly. I’m a perfect example. Nada, nothing, zilch.

Another thing we know is that COVID-19 ‘fatalities’ have been greatly exaggerated. When this pandemic is over we’re going to find out that it was about equivalent to a severe seasonal flu episode.

As much as LC/keto enhances one’s health, it protects against COVID-19. In my humble opinion.


Haven’t covid deaths already surpassed actual flu deaths?

What’s your blood type? To rule out other factors.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #6

We do not know. And I suspect not.

I won’t bother trying to find the refs, they’ve been multiple over many weeks from many jurisdictions, maybe you can if you want to do so. What has happened in very many areas is that all deaths with COVID-19 are being recorded as deaths because of COVID-19. In many cases any death at all is being recorded as a COVID-19 death, whether or not COVID-19 was even present or suspected. The most egregious example of the past few days is a death in a motorcycle accident being chalked up as a COVID-19 death simply because the decedent tested positive a few days previously.

How are we going to remove all the bogus stats?

(Peter) #7

Ivor and crew have made their new shiny careers out of being anti-medical-establishment in one area (which is becoming more and more proven as studies go on) and have therefore clearly become pretty convinced that running counter to ANY scientific evidence is going to promote their brand/increase their visibility. I’ve unfollowed a heap on twitter for exactly the reasons you state.

(bulkbiker) #8

Shame as they’ve had some great people on and shown huge swathes of data to support what they are saying… So to say they are “counter scientific evidence” is rather disingenuous…

Still I bet they’ll really miss you not following them.


The likelihood of covid affecting someone after they test positive is pretty high. Especially when riding a motorcycle at high speeds.

My brother got type 1 diabetes 3 years ago after a virus attacked his pancreas while I didn’t even get infected. The point is that he was susceptible. I’m susceptible to SARS-Cov viruses and it is inconsiderate for everyone to keep spreading this deadly virus as if it’s the flu.

Avoiding the question regarding your blood type clearly shows that you have something to hide. Innate immunity.

(bulkbiker) #10

Do you understand that most people are asymptomatic and what that means?

The guy who died was in his 20’s…


You didn’t seriously just try to connect motorcycle riding speeds and covid death did you?

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #12

@Consistency 1100 crew members of the USS Theodore Roosevelt tested positive. Almost none of them showed any symptoms and most who showed symptoms were very mild. The only reason we know about it at all is that all 4500 men on that ship were tested. Otherwise, nada. It is being clearly demonstrated before our very eyes by ramped up testing that many more folks than previously suspected have been exposed to the coronavirus, did not get sick and of those who did were only mildly sick. As more and more ‘exposed’ become known, the lower the infected death rate falls. It’s already down into the seasonal flu range. More folks (of all ages) died from flu in 1958, 1969 and 2018-19 than have died from COVID-19 to date. And many so-called COVID-19 deaths are dubious. And I also suspect that many current deaths to seasonal flu are getting counted as COVID deaths.


I do but you don’t seem to understand. The virus still replicates in a covid positive asymptomatic albeit to a lesser extent because of their Anti-A isoantibodies. People who test positive aren’t completely asymptomatic. They still have the reduced energy levels associated with being infected but I can understand how reduced energy levels can’t be noticeable in all asymptomatics because most people already have reduced energy levels due to their metabolic syndrome.

What are you indicating regarding him being in his 20’s? Reckless?

Riding/driving at high speeds requires a longer attention span. Covid affects the brain and reduces attention span.


The wikipedia page doesn’t say what you’re saying regarding the USS Theodore Roosevelt. 60% were asymptomatic.

Seems like you’re derailing from answering the question regarding your blood type.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #14

If so then you should shelter in place and take whatever precautions you deem necessary to protect yourself. Not try to shame everyone else to do what you won’t do for yourself.

Oh, my. Don’t I wish. I don’t know my blood-type. I’m 75 years old and pretty healthy. I began and continue to date what I consider effective protective counter measures. I don’t insist that others cater to my paranoia.

(Doug) #15

Massively far from the truth. In the U.S., flu deaths are overstated (partially in order to stimulate demand for immunization), with pneumonia cases being lumped in with them - this includes fungal and bacterial pnuemonia (it is comparably rare to test for influenza). If we counted flu deaths like we count Covid-19 deaths, there would only be about 1/6 as many reported flu deaths.

For the past six flu seasons, the U.S. has had 3,448 to 15,620 confirmed flu deaths. Compare that to 143,000+ deaths from Covid-19 in the U.S. within a season that is obviously far from over.

In the end, that figure will be revised upwards, as even setting aside all normal, expected deaths and setting aside the current Covid-19 death number, there remain 20,000 - 30,000 excess deaths in the U.S., a substantial portion of which are due to Covid-19.

Of course. It’s not even close.

Heh - imagine that.

This is a talking point that falls apart when we look at the actual numbers. Generalizing from the particular might convince some people, all other things being equal, but they are not even remotely so, here.

Remove reported Covid-19 deaths, and remove expected deaths. In many places very large numbers of deaths remain. Sure, postulate some errors being made - they almost surely are, both ways, i.e. some Covid-19 deaths are being written down as something else, and some deaths from other causes are being written down as Covid 19 - but this is a drop in the bucket compared to the ‘excess’ deaths that remain, and which are evidence of an overall undercount of Covid-19 deaths.

The U.S. is not alone in this.

The U.K. has ~20,000 excess deaths, beyond what is being reported for Covid-19. In just March and April, Italy had 16,000+. Spain, March - May, 17,000. Mexico City, April - June, 17000+. Peru, April - June, 27,000+.

There’s Mexico City, with 22,700 deaths above normal mortality, and a reported 5490 Covid-19 deaths.

Peru - 37,100 deaths above normal mortality, and 9647 of them reported as Covid-19. Nothing much unusual going on, except for Covid-19. The undercounts are obvious.

There are several reasons for this. Lack of tests, lack of testing, policies that miss many Covid-19 cases, etc.

Flu deaths - https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/comparing-covid-19-deaths-to-flu-deaths-is-like-comparing-apples-to-oranges/


I’ve just noticed that British Columbia hasn’t had that many cases relative to the population yet. A lot of places locked down too early and opened too early. I understand your frustration but you’ll understand once the wave hits there.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #17

The wave hit here. This is not bubonic plaque nor the black death.

(Doug) #18

Indeed - 1 in 1609 people.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #19

The last time I got sucked into a COVID discussion I got officially ‘shushed’ (politely, but firmly) so I’m bowing out of this one here and now with the following link. I think Hinderaker is quite objective in this piece, with numbers very easily verified because he shows the sources. As for BC and Canada, maybe we just got lucky or maybe we did something better for a change.


While I appreciate the “concept” graph of the Dunning Kruger effect,
Their data actually looked like this

image https://i0.wp.com/www.talyarkoni.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/dunning_kruger.png

While they showed unskilled people overestimated their capabilities they NEVER claimed that unskilled people estimated themselves to be better than known skilled people.

None of their data look remotely like that cartoon that has become a psychobabble meme.


All the best