FiveThirtyEight diet survey against shoddy science

The website fivethirtyeight is doing a diet survey.
(The site was started by Nate Silver, author of ‘The signal and the noise’)

They are looking for people willing to take a survey and possibly be contacted by a reporter.

FiveThirtyEight Needs Your Help!
Most of what we know about what we eat comes from shoddy science. Help us make sense of it all by telling us what you really eat.

Link to Survey

They’re fighting shoddy science with a web survey?


The web survey is just to get people to sign up. They say they will send the full survey and then possibly follow up with a phone call/interview.


Ah, gotcha. I did wonder; FiveThirtyEight do good stuff as far as I know.

Nate Silver seems like a cool dude. I liked this interview on the Freakonomics podcast.

He’s also gay, which is good to point out because people do not always realize the scientific and technical contributions LGBT have made to society. :rainbow:


Looks like they just released something


I’d encourage people to read it, I like the 538 writing style and analysis so maybe I was predisposed to enjoy it, but I do recommend it.

How anyone can voluntarily report to have a good relationship with their ISP I will never know.

1 Like

Yeah but at the same time I’m a little disappointed there weren’t any real conclusions (other than this is really hard and it’s easy to find crazy correlations). To that end I think the studies focusing on various macro profiles in controlled settings are more interesting. I still believe a long term study based on variations of the powdered food diet would be illustrative. They do raise a good point though… what’s the goal? How do you define healthy?

Great link and the problems with food studies. I wonder if food studies could use Google Glass or some other type of personal camera to record what people eat and then use the video to put it in writing later? That seems more accurate than having people try to remember what they ate.

A similar theme…

No food is healthy. Not even kale.

From article:

What is “mechanically separated meat,” a standard ingredient in the turkey bacon and chicken sausages popularized because of our low-fat love? “Do you know what that is?” a grocery store owner asked me. “They basically put poultry carcasses in a giant salad spinner.” Whatever winds up on the walls of the spinner in addition to meat — bits of cartilage (protein!), nerves (I have enough of my own, thank you), vessels, bone fragments — is scraped off and added to the mixing bowl. “Mechanically separated meat” engages our imagination only when someone attaches new words to it, such as “pink slime.”

Well, that just sounds incredibly appetizing.