Anthony Colpo's Confusionist Mind
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 09:23AM
Plant Positive

Anthony Colpo’s Confusionist Mind, Part 1

I can’t tell you how strange it is to wake up one day and see yourself attacked in a blog like this. It’s not just that it’s strange to be attacked. I’m anonymous, after all, so it’s not like I took this personally. But look at this language. Here is a grown man who insists on calling me “Pee Pee”. “Pee Pee” is Anthony Colpo’s witty twist on my pseudonym, Plant Positive. That’s the price I pay for alliteration, I guess. I have to admit, it didn’t occur to me that someone would call me Pee Pee. Maybe I should have focus group tested my assumed name with a panel of fourth grade boys.

It’s not just that, either. This screed goes on and on and on. This is all in response to about a three and a half minutes sequence about Colpo in my Primitive Nutrition Series video number 41. I have to be honest here. I put so much time into those videos. They totaled over nine and a half hours of runtime. I really wanted my project to be seen by someone out there. To have someone give it this much attention is really quite flattering. Anthony Colpo can call me whatever names he wants if it makes him feel better. I just really appreciate knowing I hit such a raw nerve for him. I am delighted by the attention he gave me.

In the bizarre little world of the pro-meat, pro-saturated fat blogosphere, Anthony Colpo is considered one of a handful of individuals who is to be taken seriously for no apparent reason. This guy compares his blog to that of the estimable Denise Minger. Impressive.

Chris Masterjohn thinks Colpo is a rigorous and thorough researcher who has made an important contribution to the fabricated controversy over cholesterol.

Colpo likes Masterjohn and Minger, too. He references their articles about the China Study here. The crowd I am criticizing often references one another, giving the impression they are a small club of elite minds. This is how you create an internet echo chamber.

Meat and fat advocate Michael Eades likes Colpo’s cholesterol book, too.

Paleo radiologist Kurt Harris faults Don Matesz for daring to contradict the likes of Eades, Masterjohn, and Colpo. How foolish he is to disagree with these authorities! By the way, I haven’t mentioned yet that Colpo is a personal trainer. I wonder if there are any other personal trainers Harris considers experts on cardiovascular disease.

At one time, Michael Eades thought of Colpo as his good friend.

But Colpo would later say Eades was either a shameless charlatan or one of the world’s most amateurish researchers. If he talks like this about his friends, I can hardly be upset by all the names he has called me.

In trying to respond to this, Eades felt the need to apologize for the length of his post. I understand where he’s coming from. You’ll see I, too, have decided to respond at length to Colpo.

If you just go by the commentary of some people, Colpo really kicked my ass in his blog with his impeccable logic and critical thinking. It’s as though this guy decided Colpo is a superior critical thinker without doing any thinking of his own. Imagine yourself in my position and you are reading this.

Here is Anthony Colpo wondering what I mean when I call him a “confusionist”. He links us to what he thinks is Wikipedia in his search for an explanation. But unbelievably, he is not linking to Wikipedia at all. He is sending us to a farcical website called the Uncyclopedia. Do you see the quote he retrieves? “Confusionism is a Far Eastern religion that started out as an elaborate way to state the blindingly obvious.” He asks in all sincerity, “what on Earth has this got to do with people who point out the cholesterol theory for the complete sham that it is?” Mr Colpo is confused, isn’t he?

Here is that Uncyclopedia link. You see it says, “Confusionism is a Far Eastern religion that started out…”, etc. Look at the banner. Who wouldn’t be able to tell this is a joke? Look at the left where it says it is the Content-Free Encyclopedia. No content? Actually, that makes it a perfect reference for Colpo!

Uncyclopedia’s joke is making reference to Confucianism, of course. The fact that Colpo didn’t understand that indicates he doesn’t know what Confucianism is, either. Mr Colpo really could have benefited from a modest liberal arts education to avoid pitiful embarrassments such as this.

Let’s go back to that Michael Eades quote. He says, “Anthony changes or removes his material when it proves to be an embarrassment for him.”

Well Colpo eventually became embarrassed by his ponderings of the word “confusionist”, because he has gone back and rewritten this section. He does not give any indication that his blog post of December 15 has been edited. What is so remarkable here is that even after he has been tipped off by someone that Uncylopedia is a humor site, he treats their definition as a real definition anyway and leaves in the part where he asked, “what on Earth has this got to do with people who point out the cholesterol theory for the complete sham that it is?” It seems he still has no concept of what parody is. Mr Colpo, that is a joke definition. It is not intended to be taken seriously. I am embarrassed for you. Really, man, you should have learned some humility by now. Your façade of belligerence and arrogance is just bad strategy. You should hedge your bets a little bit. You should try to come across as a little more mature. Don’t write such long blogs, especially when you’re so emotional. You’re just making it more likely you’ll something regrettable. And if you are going to call someone a moron you’d better be damn sure you’re not making a fool of yourself at the same time.

I really wish I could say I coined the term “confusionist”, but alas, I cannot. I took it from my reading about climate change denialism. Cholesterol denialism and climate denialism aren’t so different from one another. They both originate from political ideologies and not from impartial science. I’ll show you what I mean later.

Here’s another example of Colpo’s difficulties with language. He puts quotes around the word “apologizing”, as though he is quoting me. Mr Colpo, I call the handful of cranks like you saturated fat apologists. This is a reference to apologetics. To steer clear of unnecessary controversy, I’ll just leave it at that.

Here’s another embarrassing intellectual failure from this supposedly great critical thinker. He lists a few more things that he says I don’t want his readers to know about. He brings up the Masai. He says I pretend like they never existed. Of course, my channel viewers know that I created two videos about the Masai for The Primitive Nutrition Series. Now I don’t blame him for not watching all of my videos. He can stay as ignorant as he pleases. But what is so strange to me is that he seems so sure I haven’t looked into the Masai without even bothering to see if that is actually true. Is he completely unconcerned whether what he says can be shown to be completely false with almost no effort? Why assert this at all? What did he gain by this? All he is demonstrating is his recklessness and sloppiness. This gives us a valuable insight into the mind of someone who would invest so much in cholesterol denialism. This is not a careful thinker.

Along the same lines, he references a meta-analysis that stated that saturated fat did not appear to be linked to cardiovascular disease. He says I’m a shameless hypocrite for ignoring this, yet I included this very study in my video number 52. Again, I don’t expect that Colpo would watch my videos. I really don’t see him as the sort of person willing to learn anything that might upset the views he so desperately clings to, as if his whole world depends on it. This whole long, bitter diatribe suggests to me the state of mind of more of a cornered and wounded animal than a dispassionate intellectual. Again, why assert this blindly? It seems to please his readers, he only feels he has to act like he’s completely sure of himself, regardless of the fact that he’s completely shooting in the dark.

Again, imagine you are in my position reading all this, and you see that others think you are being schooled by this guy. In the first paragraph he says I think women should shut up, learn their place, and take their statins. Really? People read this and take it as rational thought? My cholesterol videos argue for choosing a diet that will lower your cholesterol levels so that drugs are not needed for that. And where did I say women should learn their place? Mr Colpo, why not call me a racist or a homophobe or a pedophile while your at it? If you did, your gullible readers would think you were making really good argument against me. Your pro-wrestler-style chest-thumping seems to be all that is needed to impress them. But that isn’t all. Then he says he would like to shove both his books up my keester, and later goes on to say I am the one who is mental and that my diet will cause anger and hostility. Is this self-parody? He is the one thinking about abusing my behind and I am the one who is mental? These ravings are like the scrambled thoughts of the lunatic mumbling away to no one in particular in a public park or a bus station. In public, no one would pay attention except perhaps a social worker, but on the internet, this level of discourse will earn you a following.

While on the subject of mental health, Mr Colpo addresses me personally. He says I should take large doses of statins. Mr Colpo, if you don’t understand what statins are, they are used to treat patients with high cholesterol. As you know, I am a whole food vegan, so I don’t need statins. Also, as a whole food vegan, I have no use for the margarine or oils you say I should eat. All of Colpo’s illogic here prepares us for his charming punch line: he wants to see people like me die to clean up the gene pool. Feeling just a little Hitler today, are you, Mr Colpo? All this is coming from someone making an argument based on mental health. Anthony Colpo’s mind is a strange place indeed.

 Here he imagines what he says would be a sane, intelligent, rational world. In it, people like me would be punished. This echoes Donald Miller’s fantasies based on the movie Sleeper which I referenced in my Confusionist Mind video. These deniers pine for alternate realities in which their views are considered mainstream. It’s a bit sad. These people don’t seem very happy in the real world.

Here’s another big pratfall. He suggests a doctor selling a book for $249 somehow has less integrity than him, since his book has a much lower price tag. Of course, Colpo’s book isn’t worth much, especially if you don’t want to waste your time on crackpot pseudoscience. But that’s not what I find so embarrassing about this comparison he makes between his book and the expensive one.

Here’s the German doctor’s book. It’s a textbook.

Here’s Colpo’s book. It’s not. Anyone who has been to college knows why textbooks cost a lot of money. They are frequently updated. They are exhaustively researched. The are often huge and beautifully produced. They have a limited market. Specialized medical textbooks can’t take much advantage of economies of scale. Cynically exploitive polemics like Colpo’s book are priced cheaply and targeted at a lay audience in hopes of making a profit through a high volume of sales. Colpo didn’t have to do work of any quality because he wasn’t trying to create a reference for young scientists. He was just trying to pander to anyone who loves meat and butter and doesn’t mind parting with 26 bucks to feel better about it.

By Colpo’s logic, the authors of the above $15 anti-vaccination book are somehow more noble than the editors of the $350 textbook you see beneath it, written for scientists who are actually responsible for creating effective vaccines.

And the author of the above totally free climate confusionist book can claim to be more honest than the editors of the below $239 textbook compiling research to help scientists find better strategies to manage climate change. No, Anthony Colpo apparently has never even set foot in a campus book store, yet he fancies himself an authority on cardiovascular disease.

Again, he says I am the one who is mental even as he zigzags between aggression and self-pity. He can’t see how having a book makes him professionally invested in maintaining his delusion. Actually, not only is he professionally invested in his incoherent ideas, his vitriol shows he is quite personally and emotionally invested as well. He thinks the proof of his integrity is his lack of exotic supercars and a supermodel girlfriend. To all you saturated fat apologists watching this, seriously, this is one of your thought-leaders? This is someone who you think is up to the task of understanding the science of heart disease?

Of course, he is personally invested in his delusions about saturated fat. Of course, he is opposed to a vegan like me. Look at his email address: He had a website by this name. This guy is not going to be persuadable to the vegan point of view, no matter how strong the arguments I present are. His sense of identity is wrapped up in eating meat, and his cholesterol denialism book and all his blog posts have made it impossible to change his mind at this point without a major loss of face.

Colpo actually contrasts his personal finances with the earnings of the big drug companies. They have billions. Well, yes, they do, Mr Colpo. You’re just one person. They are many persons. People pay them a lot of money hoping their drugs will keep them from dying of a heart attack. All that money these companies make pays their researchers, who don’t have supercars or supermodel girlfriends, either. Actually, they are more likely to be brilliant nerds with substantial debt from their many years of higher education, something you wouldn’t understand. People pay them because they actually produce real things using real knowledge. This makes them quite unlike you, sir.

Colpo wants us to think he deserves to be treated with the same respect that scientists receive. He sees himself as David against their Goliath. Mr Colpo, if you care so much about this why don’t you humble yourself and go to school so you understand this subject matter? Maybe if you demonstrated some mastery over the science by perhaps getting a passing grade on a test or two you might be able to put together an argument worth taking seriously.

Colpo tries to get personal with me even though he doesn’t know me. I don’t mind. I could do the same. I could have some fun suggesting he so easily upset because he is impotent from the effects of all that saturated fat on the blood supply to his key areas. I’ll try to show some restraint, though. There is an old saying about contests and skunks that applies here, so I’ll take the high road from here on out. In fact, I’ll pay Mr Colpo a compliment in part two.



 Anthony Colpo’s Confusionist Mind, Part 2


I guess Mr Colpo does deserve some credit. He bristles at the thought of being lumped in with the paleo crowd. I can understand why he would not want to be associated with them. For clarification, my Primitive Nutrition Series was grouped into three basic sections: Paleo diet misinformation, cholesterol denialism, and low carb, with some miscellany at the end. Colpo was in the cholesterol denialism section. I never said he was paleo, but I’ll give him full credit now for not completely hopping on the paleo bandwagon. And that’s my compliment.

I’ll try to clarify Colpo’s views on Paleo since he feels wronged by me. Paleo promoters are the object of his scorn. That’s not so unusual since Mr Colpo has more than enough scorn to go around.

He doesn’t like the way paleologic is used to rationalize low carb diets. That’s good. However, he completely buys in on the fallacious appeal to nature at the root of the Paleo idea. He thinks our evolutionary history dictates that we consume a particular Paleo-like diet. We’re back into Paleo truthiness territory here. Colpo has his own personal spin on the nebulous Paleo idea, just like most of the other Paleo promoters.

He thinks that certain foods shouldn’t be eaten because prehistoric humans didn’t eat them. Like the Paleo promoters, this allows him to litmus test what foods are permissible. Baked beans and tofu are likened to candy bars. In Colpo’s mind this makes sense. He also thinks the deep insights of the Paleo concept are necessary to know we shouldn’t eat processed foods, yet somehow he is in favor of nutritional supplements. Are we to believe powdered supplements are not highly processed? He thinks this inconsistency proves he is not dogmatic. What this reveals instead is his inability to develop a coherent philosophy, as he applies Paleo principles in ad hoc fashion at his sole discretion. Paleo justifies his beliefs except when it doesn’t. It seems to me, Colpo really is Paleo. He just won’t say so directly. He tries to give the impression he is somehow above that fad. He’s smarter than all the others. Colpo is too arrogant to merely attach himself to a wider trend. Your only source of quality information is, of course, him and his site.

Moving on, here is Colpo displaying his ignorance just like all the other saturated fat apologists about the myth of Ancel Keys and the 22 country graph. Again, had he watched my videos he would not have to suffer this public exposure of his failure research this.

Here’s a typical tactic for the confusionists. Drug companies make a lot of money, and scientific panels have a say in drug guidelines, so therefore everyone is in on a big scam.

Yes, in a world of freely available research publications Colpo would have us believe that the lipid hypothesis is being promulgated by an international, multigenerational, public and private conspiracy in which every participant is in it to get rich. Actually, Mr Colpo, if you think about it for a moment, it is far more likely that since heart disease is the number one killer in the US, most American researchers in the field have likely lost friends and family to heart disease. This makes such a conspiracy not so likely. To imagine how kooky the conspiracist belief system is, sometime read through a portion of a medical textbook in which some aspect of heart disease is explained and imagine the feverishly paranoid mind that would see purposeful lies all through it. Just try to channel the confusionist mind.

Colpo is a blatant hypocrite in casting himself as an opponent of the drug industry. First, he recommends people eat the foods that ensure the drug companies will have a steady supply of customers in the future. Only in a mind like his could someone who has provided copious information free of charge about how whole plant foods can lower the risk of heart disease be guilty of supporting the drug companies. But if he can convince himself I think women should shut up and know their place, then he can convince himself of anything. The only mystery here is why anyone reads his drivel.

Anthony Colpo is the drug lover and he’s quite open about it. Here he says statins exert a wide range of potentially beneficial anti-atherosclerotic and anti-clotting effects. Mr Colpo, I hope the makers of those statins are happy to have you out there acting as their salesman.

Just look at these two Anthony Colpo quotes. On the left he says I love statins, yet on the right in his published journal article he says statins have clinical benefits.

Just look at all the benefits Colpo claims for these drugs. Statin drugs, how does Anthony Colpo love thee? Let me count the ways. He loves you for your reversal of plaque formation. Anthony Colpo adores you for your effect on arterial function. He admires your anti-clotting effects and your antioxidant effects. I could go on. No wonder he is upset with me. He is only defending the ones he holds most dear. If people did what I say and stick with a whole food vegan diet, the statin market might one day evaporate. Mr Colpo, I hope your selfless devotion to the drug companies has not gone totally unrequited. You at least deserve a thank you note.

Evan Stein is an internationally recognized expert on cardiovascular disease, having worked in the field for 40 years. Here he addresses the so-called pleiotropic effects of statins, which are those claimed extra beneficial effects beyond cholesterol lowering that you just saw. Stein says arguments for these effects are put forth by the pharmaceutical industry as a way to help sell their drugs. Now I have no complaints about this. If people are going to insist on giving themselves cardiovascular disease with their diets, we’ll need some drugs to manage their problems, and the makers of those drugs are entitled to run their operations as a business. But realize these claims of pleiotropic effects are created by the companies that created the drugs, and they know them as well as anyone, certainly better than Anthony Colpo. Read about these pleiotropic effects and you’ll see that the drug companies are not agreeing with Colpo’s premise, however. The benefits of statins are in addition to cholesterol lowering, not instead of cholesterol lowering.

For example, here is one of Colpo’s references to the pleiotropic effects of statins, in this case the reversal of plaque formation. You see Colpo’s quote at the top. But look at the study for yourself. The effect in question is a secondary contribution in addition to cholesterol lowering. Moreover, for this study, atherosclerosis was induced in the experimental animals by feeding them cholesterol. Colpo doesn’t tell you that, of course. This study is the farthest thing from a challenge to the lipid hypothesis.

Here’s another one. Colpo says on the left that an important experiment demonstrated the ability of a statin to prevent the inflammation cascade. But look at the right to see what was actually stated in the paper. The effects in question are in addition to lipid lowering, not in place of it. The authors suggest that statins might also be used for a range of other conditions beyond high cholesterol, including psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. This is exactly what we would expect to see if we believe Evan Stein. New sales opportunities are proposed for statins. I think Dr Stein is right.

Colpo is one of those who say that low cholesterol or statins cause cancer, yet the author of the important paper he referenced thinks it is likely that statins are effective for shrinking cancer tumors. No one who actually works with these drugs in the laboratory seems to agree with Colpo’s analysis of them.

Let’s go back to Colpo’s journal article. It’s a bit strange to see a serious journal with a review of a major concept in medical science authored by someone described as a certified fitness consultant. Wow, he’s actually certified for that! That’s a serious qualification! This article appeared in the Fall 2005 edition of a medical journal called The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. What sort of journal would publish an opinion piece by a fitness instructor with no apparent relevant qualifications which states that the thousands of scientists with genuine qualifications have for decades been practicing “bad science”?

What sort of medical journal publishers thinks they are providing a service to science with a line like this, saying that despite popular perception, plaques are not simply big wads of fat and cholesterol stuck to the arteries like mud inside a pipe? I’m sure any PhD’s reading this are grateful to have Colpo dumb down heart disease for them so they can keep up. No doubt they lack the education to understand cardiovascular disease at a level above popular perception. Maybe if they became certified as trainers they could shed their ignorance.

Here are some other articles appearing in the same issue as Colpo’s. You see Dr Donald Miller, the subject of my Confusionist Mind video number 42, has found a soapbox here as well. Look to the center of my slide and you’ll see that also in this issue is an article called “Canadian Medicare: A Road to Serfdom”, an apparent reference to Friedrich von Hayek’s book, The Road to Serfdom, so this is suggestive of a strongly libertarian point of view for this journal.

Glenn Beck helped boost that book’s sales recently.

Hayek is referenced in an article at the bottom left as well. Are you starting to figure out what’s going on here?

On the right you see another interesting article from the same issue called “Homosexuality: Some Neglected Considerations”. Oh, dear. The concept of sexual orientation receives the sarcastic quote treatment here. Is the author saying there is no such thing? He believes sexual orientation is a purely political concept that has caused the medical and societal harm of homosexuality to be understated. His difficulties with the nature of homosexuality cause him to think of those with a different view as having a political agenda. Does this remind you of the climate change denialists, or the cholesterol denialists? These fringe characters who are at war with science see everyone else as political even as they are united by their own anti-government, anti-science ideologies. That’s how emotionally compelling story lines are created within the confusionist mind.

Sarcastic quotes are usually a good indicator of unserious scholarship. In the absence of reasoned argument, sarcasm will do.

Colpo, like Loren Cordain, has a strange fondness for the use of sarcastic quotation marks, or scare quotes. That last one here is especially out of place in a medical journal, mockingly referring to “health authorities” who Colpo thinks are really just propagandists. He seems to believe the “health authorities” don’t read this journal. No doubt he’s right.

The previous issue of this journal to the one with Colpo’s article addressed some interesting topics as well, including a linking of the Terri Schiavo case to a “culture of death”. The book reviews section covers a book about a perceived campaign to create a master race in the United States and a review of The Free Market and Its Enemies by Ludwig von Mises, another hero of libertarian economic theory.

Colpo is not the only writer with unexpected qualifications to be published in this journal. In the Summer 2003 issue a link was alleged between abortions and breast cancer by someone who’s only credential is serving as President of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer. Also in that issue was an article on “vaccination dissent” by a mathematician. The mathematician here is Roger Schlafly, a computer programmer and son of the famous conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly.

Another son of hers is Andrew Schlafly, the lawyer who founded Conservapedia.

And as the founder of Conservapedia, he started the Conservative Bible Project, a new version of the Bible minus perceived liberal distortions.

Mr Schlafly also published in the journal Mr Colpo selected on the subject of an alleged link between abortion and breast cancer. You can see he also renders legal services to the organization that publishes this journal.

Schlafly is a well-known critic of the theory of evolution. Anthony Colpo is not. He attempts to justify his Paleo-derived diet beliefs through evolution. While discussing evolution, he eagerly aligns himself with scientists and scholars. This is in sharp contrast to his rejection of the science of cholesterol. How do both of these attitudes inhabit the same mind? I’m not sure, but it probably helps to not think too hard about it.

In the Spring 2005 issue the president of the organization publishing this journal wrote an opinion piece on the prospect of single-payer health care in the US. He felt his argument was bolstered by reminders of Fidel Castro, Karl Marx, and Hitler, and an observation that a single-payer system exists in North Korea. Now I really don’t want to discuss politics in my videos. I point all this out for a couple reasons. The first is to show you what sort of journal Anthony Colpo was comfortable using as a platform for his views. I think it’s safe to say that if he seriously disagreed with the philosophy of the publishers of this journal, he probably would not have made a contribution to it. He chose to be published by them. The other reason I raise all this is to allow you to see that a radical suspicion of government keeps popping up as a theme for the denialists.

You’ll recall that Donald Miller has some views that are a bit out there on this subject as well.

Read this slide again if you don’t remember.

Chris Masterjohn likes to appeal to this mindset, too.

As does the Weston Price Foundation with their paranoid phrase “diet dictocrats”. They need this fearful spin to distract the reader from their vacuous reasoning. Butter couldn’t contribute to heart disease. It has nutrients, you see. Brilliant!

David Gorski of Science-Based Medicine has written that it is not an exaggeration to say that the publishers of this journal are waging a war on science- and evidence-based medicine in the name of politics. Maybe now you can see why.

Browse their articles and you will see Colpo’s hostility to the establishment of science-based guidelines for cholesterol is right at home there. Gorski says that if he were a crank or a quack, that journal is one of the first places he would send his papers for publication.

A recent blog post by Dr Steven Novella helps us to clearly see Colpo for what he is: a crank. Novella wrote about “Cranks and Physics”, but he may as well have been writing about Colpo.  At the bottom you see that he has observed that the casual assumption of one’s own genius is a common trait for the crank. Above, Colpo assumes a genuine expert in cardiovascular research feels threatened by his self-assuredness. I think Novella’s comment that the extreme arrogance of the crank is just a cover for his crushing insecurity applies perfectly to Colpo. I would think that anyone reading Colpo’s foul language and insults would immediately see his style as a pathetic and transparent overcompensation.

Novella points out that in the age of the internet, cranks can form their own alternative communities, complete with their own journals. Of course, this is represented by Colpo’s fringe choice of journals for his piece as well.

I don’t even want to paraphrase Novella here. This is such a great observation. Go ahead and pause the video and read this. Colpo reflects these remarks so well. In his mind, his amazing talent makes up for his lack of education.

Colpo and the other cholesterol deniers follow the same playbook as other denialist movements. The Watching the Deniers blog is on point here. All these tactics are used by the cholesterol deniers, too. Rational Wiki also lays out the denialist strategy. I won’t belabor the points made here. Read some cholesterol denialist writings and you will see all these tactics in action.

Some people who really should know better choose to look past all this and ally themselves with Colpo anyway. His nastiness is made out to be a virtue because it’s entertaining. How nice! This blogger thinks Colpo gets the science right most of the time. From my perspective, Colpo fails about as badly as one can in this regard. I’ve made the following videos to make this very clear to you. I will run Colpo’s confusionist gauntlet next. I predict I will be unscathed on the other side of it.

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