#111 The blame, if we’ve got to extend some here, has been with our advice.

#111 The blame, if we’ve got to extend some here, has been with our advice.

40DO Thesis #

In a world of prejudice and ignorance, look for the voices of wisdom and compassion.

QUOTE I have the best job in the world. I’m a doctor. No! Believe me that’s not why. I’m an obesity doctor. I have the honor of working with the group of people subject to the last widely accepted prejudice: being fat. These people have suffered a lot by the time they see me: shame, guilt, blame and outright discrimination.
The attitude that many take, including those in healthcare, is that these people are to blame for their situation. If they could just control themselves, they wouldn’t be overweight, and they are not motivated to change. Please let me tell you this is not the case. The blame, if we’ve got to extend some here, has been with our advice. And it’s time we change that. – Dr Sarah Hallberg. [1]

On 28 November 1979, the fourteenth flight of TE-901, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, registration ZK-NZP, flew into Mount Erebus on Ross Island, Antarctica, killing all 237 passengers and 20 crew on board. The accident became known as the Mount Erebus disaster. The initial investigation concluded the accident was caused by pilot error but public outcry led to the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the crash. The commission, presided over by Justice Peter Mahon QC, concluded that the accident was caused by a correction made to the co-ordinates of the flight path the night before the disaster, coupled with a failure to inform the flight crew of the change, with the result that the aircraft, instead of being directed by computer down McMurdo Sound (as the crew had been led to believe), was instead re-routed into the path of Mount Erebus. In Justice Mahon’s report, he accused Air New Zealand of presenting “an orchestrated litany of lies” … [2]

A) I honestly believe it is better to know nothing than to know what ain’t so.
B) Wisdom doesn’t consist in knowing more that is new, but in knowing less that is false.
C) “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.” [3]


No one controls what I eat. So, if I overeat, I become overweight. If I am overweight, am I not responsible? Yes.

But am I to blame that I am overweight? And that’s the problem – blame seeks to assign responsibility to someone while exonerating all others. This is the clear tendency which is the immediate result of the original sin: Genesis 3:11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.”

Whenever we hear blame we should do the math and check the truth of the facts. If the facts are false, then the assignment of blame may be faulty. It’s simplistic and often motivated by the desire to provide a solution to the problem while at the same time avoiding any responsibility for it. When blame escalates, it can lead into a litany of lies. The crash of Flight 901 was due to a navigational computer being programmed to be just a few degrees off the preferred course. But it took a public outcry to cause the “facts” to be investigated so that the true understanding of the problem came to light.

We now need a public outcry because “what everyone knows to be true” about obesity and diabetes needs to be investigated for truth. The presence of blame should cause us to be suspicious of the accepted understanding of the facts and launch us into an investigation of the truth. We need a healthy skepticism about what we think we know for certain about our health.

In the summer of 2017 I encountered this presentation by Dr Sarah Hallberg which challenged some of the unquestioned beliefs of medicine related to type 2 diabetes and obesity. Hers was the first voice I heard that questioned the simplistic understanding of the disease I had, and provided a means of hope through a new understanding. She is the first voice I heard that claimed that type 2 diabetes was not irreversible, and provided clear data to support that contention. This gave me new hope for the future, and new coordinates for a path to safety.

I am responsible for being overweight and bringing on the disease of type 2 diabetes in my life … but if I am supplied with the wrong coordinates to become responsible for my health, my diabetes will become even worse. Blame will send me crashing right into the mountain. When I hear blame, I need to question “what everyone knows to be true” … about obesity and type 2 diabetes.

QUESTIONS for thinking it through:

What do I think I know about why I am overweight, obese or experiencing type 2 diabetes?

What have I been told?

Have I ever questioned what I’ve been told in order to verify that it is true?

[1] from the transcript of Reversing Type 2 diabetes starts with ignoring the guidelines, presentation by Dr Sarah Hallberg at TEDxPurdueU,  (2,919,883 views) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da1vvigy5tQ. (Access the transcript by clicking on “…” to the right of the title.)  Dr. Sarah Hallberg is the Medical Director of the Medically Supervised Weight Loss Program at IU Health Arnett, a program she created. She is board certified in both obesity medicine and internal medicine and has a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology. Her program has consistently exceeded national benchmarks for weight loss, and has been highly successful in reversing diabetes and other metabolic diseases. Dr. Hallberg has a B.S., Kinesiology & Exercise Science, Illinois State University, 1994, M.S., Kinesiology & Exercise Science, Illinois State University, 1996 and M.D., Des Moines University, 2002. She is also the medical director of Virta Health, founded in 2014 with the goal of reversing diabetes in 100 million people by 2025 (https://www.virtahealth.com/about).
[2] Air New Zealand Flight 901, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_New_Zealand_Flight_901
[3] A and B:  “It Is Better to Know Nothing than to Know What Ain’t So” by Quote Investigator, https://quoteinvestigator.com/2015/05/30/better-know/
C; misattributed to Mark Twain; https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/738123-what-gets-us-into-trouble-is-not-what-we-don-t
The photo entitled “Fuselage of the DC-10 that crashed in 1979 into Mount Erebus, Antarctica. Picture taken 25 years after the crash” is public domain and found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_New_Zealand_Flight_901#/media/File:Air_New_Zealand_Flight_901.jpg.
Any Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
This blog is part of the Listicles Project – an attempt to bring into focus the archetypes of wisdom, the ideas about a topic which occur again and again in the conversation – a “common sense” understanding. The purpose of this post is to encourage people to think and provide them with fuel for that purpose; it does not advise or recommend. You must think for yourself and consult with others with expertise as you make your own decision – “Where there is no guidance, a people falls; but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” Proverbs 11:14. I am not a physician or licensed health professional. As you think, please consult your health advisers before taking any action. (Please consult the “Read Me” page above for more caveats.)
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