Dr. James Hamblin at The Atlantic takes a skeptical look at the recent demonizing of gluten and grain and sugars and renewed calls for something resembling a paleo diet. I have been beating the gluten-free horse for a while, of course, to much derision and scorn from people who were not Celiacs but insisted gluten was bad for everyone anyway.

Gluten-free foods have blossomed into a giant business since then. That's good for Celiacs. As I have often noted, the old days of having to buy things mail-order, and of suspect quality, are long gone, but I knew that with all that money being spent  - 20% of the public now claims they are worried about gluten - it was only a matter of time before numerous books got written to take advantage of their willingness to spend 242% more for foods that don't help them in the least, so they have something to read while they enjoy newly-labeled gluten-free ice cream, potato chips and meat.

We already had Wheat Belly scaring people, of course, but Grain Brain is much more narrow because it focuses on our noggin - and the author, Dr. David Perlmutter, even says his changes to diet can prevent half of Alzheimer's cases. Its success since publication is so rampant that your tax dollars are being spent to so we can all be treated to a PBS program called "Brain Change". Thanks, Corporation for Public Broadcasting!

Hamblin is also an M.D. so, while he realizes diet matters, the claim that carbohydrates and gluten are responsible for anxiety, depression, chronic headaches, ADHD and Alzheimer's, along with the usual stuff, can't go unchallenged. His skepticism is obvious.

And valid. As he notes in his article, what the authors call of the actual study Perlmutter cites a 'possible association' to Alzheimer's became, in the mind of Perlmutter, a conspiracy to keep us drug-addled drones. 

"It’s been kept from us," he told Hamblin. "We’ve been basically told, do whatever in the heck you want. Eat whatever you like. Then you’ll have a magic pill that we’re going to develop for you to treat all of your maladies. That doesn’t exist for Alzheimer’s disease.”

Yep, that sounds like mean ol' Big Medicine. Except Perlmutter doesn't look all that great insisting the science is settled based on...not much. Editors and book marketers never asked the awkward questions of him but the Internet sure did. Nathanael Johnson writes at Grist: "Got that? Under Perlmutter’s prism, a single study, of 13 people, with a finding of “possible association,” turns into a near certainty."

Well, it matched his confirmation bias. Pick almost any topic - liberals are smarter, organic food is better than traditional food,  Republicans are anti-science, GMOs cause cancer - and someone can find a study somewhere that reads the way they want. That doesn't mean you should change your life based on it.

California is, of course, a hotbed of anti-science beliefs and as you move toward the coast it gets even crazier. Some schools have vaccine rates of 25%. Not opting out rates, the vaccine rates. No surprise that Whooping Cough made a dramatic resurgence here. Yet despite the work of Andrew Wakefield being debunked someone will still believe it.

When I linked to Johnson's piece on Twitter, it was Arian Anderson who really made me laugh: "Wakefield had n=12 in his MMR/Autism/Vaccine study, so this is officially 8% better."

There you have it. Perlmutter's evidence is 1 person greater than Andrew Wakefield's was. I expect to see a 'warning label for gluten' initiative on California ballots this fall.