A few days ago MD and I did a written interview with Jimmy Moore who runs the Livin La Vida Low Carb blog.
You can read the interview in full here.
As you can see, at the end of the interview Dr. Dean Ornish took exception to one of our answers. Let me take this opportunity to explain my answer more completely.
The question Jimmy posed to us was:
If you had the opportunity to ask low-fat diet guru Dr. Dean Ornish anything you wanted, what would that question be and why?
(The reason for this particular question was that, unbeknown to us, Jimmy had an interview set up with Dr. Ornish and was going to ask him our questions. As usual, MD had her answers finished in plenty of time; I dilly dallied getting mine finished until after the Ornish interview.)
MD’s question to be posed to Dr. Ornish was:
How much Lipitor do you take?
From Dr. Ornish’s response, he obviously misinterpreted her question. He seems to think she implied that he does take Lipitor. She was simply asking how much he takes. His answer is that he has never taken Lipitor or any other cholesterol-lowering medication. I’ll take him at his word on that.
My question (a response, really) was:
Actually, I almost had the opportunity to ask Dr. Ornish a lot of questions, but he bailed. A few years ago one of the networks–CBS, I think–tried to schedule a debate between the two of us. Dr. Ornish declined.
I learned an interesting thing several years ago about how Dr. Ornish operates. He was going to appear on a local Denver radio show in a debate with our partner in our medical practice. His ground rules for the debate were that he, Dean Ornish, could decide AFTER the debate whether or not the show could be aired with him on it. Our partner ate him for lunch and he (Dr. Ornish) refused permission to have the show aired with his name or voice. The producer of the show was so infuriated that she aired the debate using herself as the stand in for Dr. Ornish. Unfortunately, she could not even tell the listeners what was going on.
Apparently in a venue like CBS in which he can’t dictate the terms of engagement to his sole advantage as he could with the Denver radio station, he is unwilling to debate the merits of his ultra-low-fat philosophy.
Dr. Ornish vehemently denies these statements.
All I can tell you is that I got a call from someone in the publicity department at Warner Books (the company that published the Protein Power LifePlan) asking if I could be in New York on some specific date to debate Dr. Ornish on CBS (I think it was CBS, although I wouldn’t swear to it. It was one of the networks for sure, however). I said sure. This person then called me back a day or two later and said that Dr. Ornish had declined the debate. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I suppose there could have been a conflict with his schedule.
The second part of my answer was that Dr. Ornish proceeded with a radio debate with our partner with the proviso that the debate could only be aired if he (Dr. Ornish) approved it after the fact. Our partner at the time was Dr. Ron Rosedale, author of the book The Rosedale Diet. I am basing my response on what Dr. Rosedale related to MD and me the day or so after this debate took place. Dr. Rosedale would have nothing to gain by lieing to me about it, so I took him at his word. I will be seeing Dr. Rosedale at the end of this month; he is giving a talk right after mine at the American Society for Bariatric Physician’s conference in San Diego. I will ask him then for some clarification on Dr. Ornish’s denial that such an event took place. If Dr. Rosedale can remember the people involved, I’ll see if I can track down the specific radio show and get a tape that I can post. No matter what, I’ll post what I find out.
To give the devil his due, Dr. Ornish wrote an excellent piece for MSNBC that deserves reading. He gives a good overview of the positive health benefits of fish oil along with a caveat for people with specific problems that should be heeded. The fact that Dr. Ornish has written such an excellent article proves that the law of averages is hard at work.