04/14/12: Dr. Harris and I have since exchanged several cordial emails about whether or not I misrepresented his position in this article. As I don't feel right editing the post, or deleting it, please read our exchanges and go after me in the comments if you feel that I'm full of shit. Links to our conversation on Paleohacks are here & here and on Free The Animal here. However, I do want to apologize to Dr. Harris for badgering him in the FTA comments section.
Title I really wanted: "Nobody Fucks With The Jesus"
But that's less Googlable.
Dr. Harris and I have a fairly long history. He commented on this weblog almost three years ago when I was in the midst of my all-meat adventure.
When things started to get gnarly (S-C-U-R-V-Y)—and I was completely preoccupied with my religious fervor for zero-carbism—it was Matt Stone's writing and Harris' comments that brought me out of my zero-carb-coma and introduced me to the potato.
For that, I am extremely thankful and like I said here, dude could spit in my face and I would still like him.
And that's a good thing, because recently Dr. Harris really 'put me in my place' when discussing loosely touching upon the ideas of Dr. Ray Peat.
If you're unfamiliar with Dr. Peat's ideas about health, visit the revamped "start here" tab or consider perusing through these articles:
Part I: Wrong Cuz I Said So
While Harris doesn't blog much anymore, he comments like a mofo. He apparently blew everyone's mind on Mellisa McEwen's blog when he spoke about his newfound interest in the immune system.
The conversation carried over to Patrick Vlaskovits' Paleohacks forum where I trolled Harris for his thoughts on the hormonal connection to the involution of the thymus gland (which can be considered 'immunity central'):
"Danny you are cool guy but are being misled by nonsense. Stop reading Ray Peat and start reading Graham Rook." - Dr. Kurt Harris
I already know that I'm supa cool, so that doesn't help further the conversation, but "misled by nonsense"?
I'm always open to the idea that I'm insane, but I needed clarification, so I asked Dr. Harris to speak about the specific mechanisms that Peat was wrong about (bolds are always mine):
"Danny, Peat is full of shit on too many things to bother parsing the wheat from the chaff. Life is short, spend it the way you like. I never bother with anything by Peat. If he is right it tends to be by accident." - Dr. Kurt Harris
Here is the entire thread for those of you with lots of time on your hands.
Part II: The Ghost of Hans Selye
The conversation dwindled after a few days, but picked up with Richard Nikoley's post on Dr. Jack Kruse and cold thermogenesis. As expected, Dr. Harris tore into Dr. Kruse with a venomous rage, but once again lumped Peat with Kruse, as if they were the same person. When this happens, it makes me want to throw myself off a building. No offense Dr. Kruse.
This time our back and forth was more productive and we seemed to reach a common ground; that Hans Selye was a credible source.
When I suggested that to disagree with Peat is to disagree with Selye, Dr. Harris clearly explained why I was wrong about everything:
"Oh, come on. You can’t really believe that. I have read Selye of course. Selye would disown Peat’s TOE [THEORY OF EVERYTHING], in my opinion." - Dr. Kurt Harris
“Your unschooled fantasy synthesis of these thinkers is hardly anything Selye would have endorsed, I am pretty sure.” - Dr. Kurt Harris
I'm definitely unschooled (I dropped out of community college), 'fantasy synthesis' sounds like a good time, but what about the part where Harris says that Selye would "disown" Peat's point of view on health?
Harris is pretty sure about this one, but I am really fucking sure that Harris either hasn't read Selye, still doesn't have a clue about Peat, or was simply arguing for the sake of arguing.
Selye strongly aligns with Peat's views on the hormonal connection to the involution of the thymus gland:
“The organ weighs about 15 gm. at birth and 35 gm. at puberty, but subsequently involutes, reaching 25 gm. in a young adult of about 25 years and gradually diminishes to about 6 gm. at about 70 years of age." - Hans Selye (The Textbook of Endocrinology 1947)
“The best established experimental observations concerning the thymus have been brought out during the last ten years by work concerned with the influence upon this organ of non-specific damage and steroid hormones. It appears that folliculoids [ESTROGEN] and to a lesser extent, even other steroid hormones, cause rapid thymus involution, not only in intact, but also in adrenalectomized animals. Non-specific damaging agents of all kinds have a similar effect only if the adrenals are intact. It has been assumed therefore, that various types of stress cause the thymus to involute through the intermediary of the adrenals.” - Hans Selye (The Textbook of Endocrinology 1947)
“Steroid hormones cause thymic involution in proportion to their folliculoid [ESTROGEN] potency in intact, adrenalectoimized, or gonadectomized animals.” - Hans Selye (The Textbook of Endocrinology 1947)
“Other conditions, such as exposure to nervous or even purely mental stress, forced muscular exercise, anoxia, extremes of temperature, trauma, hemorrhage or intoxication with various drugs, all produce thymus atrophy, as part of general adaption-syndrome which they elicit.”
“Following thyroidectomy, the lymphatic organs, notably the lymph nodes, thymus spleen and bone marrow, usually show moderate involution. Treatment with low doses of thyroid hormone stimulates the growth of these organs.” - Hans Selye (The Textbook of Endocrinology 1947)
Moreover, Selye agree with numerous aspects of Peat's core philosophy: the importance of body temperature, pulse rate, and the metabolic rate:
“The basal metabolic rate (B.M.R.) is the oxygen consumption (or CO2 production, or heat production) under fasting conditions (to eliminate specific dynamic action of food), absolute rest (to eliminate increased caloric requirements for muscular work) and at normal room temperature (to eliminate variations in caloric requirements for the maintenance of normal body temperature).” - Hans Selye (The Textbook of Endocrinology 1947)
“The body temperature is generally a few degrees below normal and hypothyroid patients often suffer from an almost continuous sensation of cold” - Hans Selye (The Textbook of Endocrinology 1947)
“The pulse rate is slow, about 50 or less per minute and there may be hypotension and even cardiac insufficiency” - Hans Selye (The Textbook of Endocrinology 1947)
“Hypothyroidism causes pronounced disturbances in carbohydrate metabolism. This is not unexpected since thyroid hormone stimulates oxidative processes in all tissues and exerts specific influence upon glycogen storage in the liver.” - Hans Selye (The Textbook of Endocrinology 1947)
“The body temperature decreases during the shock-phase of the alarm reaction, especially if defense is impeded by adrenalectomy or hypophysectomy. During the state of resistance, on the other hand, there is often hyperthermia.” - Hans Selye (The Textbook of Endocrinology 1947)
Why am I even bothering with this? Why don't I just mind my own business and STFU?
While I'm hypercritical of the paleosphere, Dr. Harris is dead-on with the following statement:
"A state where everyone needs to eat a customized, idiosyncratic paleo diet to not be sick, where there are legions of people continuously altering their diets in an attempt to get healthy, and there are many many people who eat PERFECTLY in every way that still have serious DOCs is telling us something.
It is telling us to look at other things." - Dr. Kurt Harris
Naturally, I believe that Peat has already uncovered some of those "other things."
I asked Dr. Harris several times about where Peat was wrong regarding his ideas on oxidative energy, carbon dioxide, and limiting the hormones of adaptation. I was dismissed, made fun of, and told that it would be a waste of time to address.
When the smartest, most esteemed figure in paleo cannot tell you why Dr. Peat is "full of shit" it should raise red flags.
Those that engage in this kind of behavior should be held suspect and pressured into furthering the conversation instead of resorting to personal attacks and arguments from authority that help absolutely no one.