A Reply to Denise Minger's Latest Comments
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 12:47PM
Plant Positive

As I made clear in my first Response to Denise Minger video, Ms Minger lifted major ideas from my Ancel Keys videos and passed those ideas off as her own, without any effort to cite me properly. Additionally, she left the impression these ideas in her blog were corrections of the material in my videos. She said, “In fact, it was his glossed-over portrayal in a recent series of anti-paleo YouTube videos that inspired me to write this post.” Ms Minger has now responded to my complaints in her comments section. These responses deepen an impression of a lack of high standards. Ms Minger said the following:

“For what it’s worth, I corresponded with Plant Positive over email after this post was up, and in the time between this post going up and now (3 months?) he has never asked me to attribute his name to anything in this post, nor otherwise expressed concern with what I’ve written in terms of “intellectual dishonesty.” If he contacted me with any unhappiness about this, I would gladly add any addendums necessary to clarify his role in bringing the Ancel Keys “myth” to the fore.”

As Ms Minger knows full well, it is necessary to cite at the time of publication. It is not the responsibility of the originator of borrowed research or ideas to monitor the use of his work on the Internet and to request that a proper citation be given. Likewise, a plagiarist cannot reclaim a presumption of integrity simply by providing a reference AFTER BEING CAUGHT. It doesn’t work like that and Ms Minger knows it.

Moreover, as I stated in the video, it is incumbent upon one making reference to another’s work to summarize the ideas of the referenced work and its importance to the new work. Should that not be appropriate, an in-text citation should be placed next to each statement utilizing the referenced work. Even now, Ms Minger has not really done this but for one minor instance (Mexico’s death certificates). She now states:

“(Note: This post was inspired by the “Ancel Keys” section in a recent series of paleo-challenging YouTube videos, which I may critique in the future. The anonymous videomaker “Plant Positive” highlighted some important misconceptions about Keys and his research that I’d like to broadcast to a larger audience, but didn’t address some equally important points tangled in the Keys saga, and likewise made some arguments I believe are incomplete or misleading. This blog post is an attempt to address those misconceptions in a more balanced and thorough way, and provide a broader context for how we view the infamous Mr. Keys.)”

Observe that Ms Minger still does not say what she has taken from my work, only repeating that her blog post was “inspired” by my videos. This is totally inadequate and I shouldn’t have to say so. She purposefully leaves the impression she has contributed something of equal value to my work. In my new videos, I make clear this is not the case at all. And again, she says I had somehow been incomplete or misleading. The fact that she still insists on criticizing my work in her reference–  without specifics and even as she is being pressured by public shaming to give me appropriate credit – reveals once again her difficulty with academic integrity. She needs to cleanly cite the any content of my work she is using. Her statement of her negative opinion does not constitute a proper citation. Ms Minger then copied and pasted her criticisms of my original videos, criticisms I answered in detail in my new videos. She seems to be pretending I have not answered these challenges. How she feels comfortable doing this, I have no idea. It is apparent she is not willing to engage me honestly; she only wants to appear that she is. It is difficult to know how to respond to such an individual.

Regarding her mention of her email exchange with me, she has placed me in the uncomfortable position of wondering whether it is appropriate to publicly discuss private emails.  To the detriment of my complaint here, I will respect the privacy of those emails. Suffice it to say, she did not raise the issues of either my critical videos of her or her Ancel Keys post. I will allow one quotation of myself here. I said, “I am preparing a video response to your comments about my videos. Your criticism is public, so my reply to it will be as well. If you would like to communicate privately after that, that works for me.  I reply to everyone who messages me.” Why did I not ask for appropriate citations then? First, as I said, that is not my responsibility so the question is beside the point. But frankly, I found it so shocking that she would take my material and represent it as her work only five days after having acknowledged she’d seen it that I thought that it was more important to expose that behavior than to receive timely credit for my work. Her offer to send me papers I could not access, along with her unexpectedly friendly manner, suggested to me she wanted to defuse the irritation she surely knew she caused me. Think about it: I put up four videos criticizing her China studies nonsense, she took my Ancel Keys material and represented it as her own, and mentioned neither of these in her unsolicited personal messages to me. She instead offered her help retrieving journal publications (to have advance notice of future projects of mine, perhaps?). Additionally, she made comments under my video 63 as follows:

“My own diet is about 90% plants, so if I have biases associated with my own food choices, they should be favoring the plant kingdom.”

“I agree cholesterol denialism (in the sense that blood lipids are ... ... unrelated to heart disease) is a problem”

I believed Ms Minger was trying to win me over a bit so I wouldn’t call her out publicly for her Ancel Keys blog post. This almost worked. Yet in the end, I decided to pull no punches.

As anyone who has seen my “Vegan Propaganda” video, challenging the dogma of the low carb/Paleo crowd carries the risk of getting dragged into an arena of debate without rules. I don’t like being in attack mode. I don’t want to face the torrent of ridicule that T Colin Campbell has received. I would rather be on friendly terms with Ms Minger and everyone else. But the fact is she has sought and acquired a place of public prominence. She has purchased it cheaply by attempting to discredit respected and responsible academics with bogus and manipulative arguments and she has used it to mislead the public about important health matters. These matters are not part of a game. The price for nutritional misinformation is paid in the form of lost productive years, unmanageable medical bills, and lost time on this Earth with friends and family. Therefore, it doesn’t matter that I would prefer to be friendly with her, and it doesn’t matter what further abuse will come my way. There is a greater good that is more important than all that.

Ms Minger ends her new introduction to this blog by once again calling Ancel Keys “infamous”. My videos demonstrate that any demonization of him is not fair, and it appeals to a bias among her readers, a bias created through the perpetuation of a lie. I find this cynical scapegoating of a man who can no longer defend himself to be distasteful. Ms Minger seems to be reacting immaturely and defensively to my videos. She would do better to offer a mea culpa and allow this experience to inspire some fresh self-reflection about what her contributions should be and how she might better use her talents to serve others.

Have you read this far? What did you learn about science, history, or nutrition from my discussion of this matter? I am guessing nothing. This is why I do not expect to be a participant in a long-running exchange with Ms Minger or anyone else. It doesn’t really help anyone. What I’ve done so far is enough. My videos were my effort to provide quality references and support for those who are truly open-minded and curious, and to demonstrate the intellectual bankruptcy of the Paleo/low carb idea and the lack of credibility of some of its proponents. Ms Minger suggests she may criticize my videos in the future. I can now imagine how Dr Campbell may have felt after having gone back and forth with her a bit. At a certain point it likely became clear that he would not satisfy or outlast her. Folks, this isn’t what I do for a living. Unlike Ms Minger and the various other saturated fat and meat apologists, I do not have a book to sell you. I have pressing business that requires my attention. I will not have the time to engage in this further. I have put out some good material for those who are open to it. Realistically, I can’t do much more than that.

Article originally appeared on plantpositive (http://plantpositive.com/).
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