I’ve answered plenty of reader questions about The China Study over the years. Most simply ask, “I appreciate the research and thought you’ve put into getting us this information about how pre-industrial diets can help curb the diseases of industrialization (heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, obesity, etc.), and I support your conclusions 100% based on my own experience. But I have friends who have read The China Study, and they say that it’s real, hard science disproving what you’re promoting. What’s your response to them?”
I’ve never written a post about The China Study, so rather than point them to my own content, I point them to a hodge podge of various posts online written by people whose scientific judgments I trust as more valid than my own — some are doctors, some have Ph.D.s in nutrition research, and some are just folks who are science junkies. While I’ve found those handful of articles to be helpful, I’ve never found any one of them individually to be all that comprehensive or thorough.
That changed yesterday.
Now, I’ve finally read what I consider the go-to article online for helping folks in love with The China Study see the light. The post is written by someone who took the raw data from The China Study and mapped it out to see if she could draw the same conclusions that the famous book’s author (T. Colin Campbell) drew.
After spending a solid month and a half reading, graphing, sticky-noting, and passing out at 3 AM from studious exhaustion upon her copy of the raw China Study data, blogger Denise Minger decided it was time to voice her criticisms. And there were many.
Her 9,000+ word essay is as thorough as they come, and she concludes with this thought:
In sum, “The China Study” is a compelling collection of carefully chosen data. Unfortunately for both health seekers and the scientific community, Campbell appears to exclude relevant information when it indicts plant foods as causative of disease, or when it shows potential benefits for animal products. This presents readers with a strongly misleading interpretation of the original China Study data, as well as a slanted perspective of nutritional research from other arenas (including some that Campbell himself conducted).
In rebuttals to previous criticism on “The China Study,” Campbell seems to use his curriculum vitae as reason his word should be trusted above that of his critics. His education and experience is no doubt impressive, but the “Trust me, I’m a scientist” argument is a profoundly weak one. It doesn’t require a PhD to be a critical thinker, nor does a laundry list of credentials prevent a person from falling victim to biased thinking. Ultimately, I believe Campbell was influenced by his own expectations about animal protein and disease, leading him to seek out specific correlations in the China Study data (and elsewhere) to confirm his predictions.
So, if you’ve been wanting an in-depth rebuttal to T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study, go read her 9000+ word summary conclusion. And if you want even more detailed analysis, take a look at the complete series of articles she’s posted over the past month as she’s dissected both the raw data and the famed best-selling book.
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