Noakes guilty of ‘patience in face of profound silliness’


By Marika Sboros 

Prof Michael Simpson

Psychiatry professor Michael Simpson is withering about the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) case against Prof Tim Noakes.

Simpson is a retired psychiatrist who has worked as a doctor and academic in many countries. He has authored articles and books and has been Health24’s “Cybershrink” since its inception.

His latest Health24 column is a blistering attack on the HPCSA case against Noakes (scroll down for a full version). Simpson describes the HPCSA as “totally unfit for purpose” and “Alice in Wonderland living in Pretoria”.

He says that it is acting “bizarrely and improperly” in going after Noakes. “Nobody who has paid intelligent attention to the proceedings and the evidence could find (Noakes) guilty of anything at all,” Simpson says.

If Noakes is guilty of anything, it is “remarkable patience in the face of profound and consistent silliness”.

Single tweet that started it all

Prof Tim Noakes

The HPCSA has charged Noakes with unprofessional conduct for a single tweet to a breastfeeding mother in February 2014. Noakes tweeted that good first foods for infant weaning are LCHF (low-carb, high-fat).

In his column, Simpson says it is not a privilege, but the “absolute duty of any professor to profess to know their field and clearly express their views to the public”. Consequently, no-one should victimise a professor for doing so, he says.

Simpson is also critical of Johannesburg dietitian, Claire Julsing Strydom, who first reported Noakes to the HPCSA.

He calls her a “little-known woman, then leader of a group of dieticians, the Association for Dietetics in SA (ADSA)”. He says Strydom “grew furious” (at Noakes’ tweet). She complained to the HPCSA that the tweet was unscientific – despite “an enormous body of scientific research supporting his views”.

Dietitian Claire Strydom

“More peculiarly”, Simpson says that Strydom told the breastfeeding to ignore Noakes’ advice and contact her instead. Thus, this was a specific offense against the HPCSA’s own professional codes of conduct.

“Yet the (HPCSA) has totally ignored the issue of this definite breach of their rules of professional conduct,” Simpson says. Instead, in an “ugly and disorganised way”, it has pursued a “nasty case against the professor”.

Simpson questions why Strydom and ADSA appear to be “trying to obscure their role” in the case. He also blasts the HPCSA for releasing a statement last month that it had found Noakes guilty. He also calls that action the “most amazingly daft and disgraceful things ever seen in such a situation”.

HPCSA ‘resoundingly stupid’

Click here to read:  ‘Guilty verdict devoid of all truth’ – Joan Adams 

“It’s hard to understand,” says Simpson, “how anyone at the (HPCSA) could have been so resoundingly stupid.”

The HPCSA retracted the statement with what Simpson calls a “faint apology”. He asks why the HPCSA has not identified and sacked the person responsible. He ends with more pertinent questions:

  • If the HPCSA Professional Conduct Committee hearing the case against Noakes finds him innocent, who will pay the massive costs of his defense?
  • What if Noakes, understandably, sues the HPCSA and complainants?
  • Why did the HPCSA advise Strydom not to attend the hearing?
  • Is the Department of Health concerned that their new “prudent diet” may be scientifically wrong?
  • Is there any basis for rumours that Big Food is behind the case and if so, what should the authorities do about it?
  • Click here for a full version of Noakes Punished For Being Popular
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  1. Thank you for this excellent summary. I would like to provide an answer to one of your very well-placed questions:

    Is the Department of Health concerned that their new “prudent diet” may be scientifically wrong?

    I think the answer is that not only are they concerned, but most likely have been consulted by economists (or similar) to ignore that truth, which by now they obviously know. They must ignore, not only to save face but also to prevent an economic collapse. While we, on the outside, can see the truth and can make our purchase choices such that the industry must change, if the order for such change comes from the government, it represents a complete overhaul of the country’s economy.

    Producers of packaged foods will have to all change, all oil manufacturers will go out of business, crop fields will have to be turned into livestock feed, sugar–now used partly as preservative–would need to be replaced by something in prepared food (God forbid a drop of essential mineral, like salt, in our diet), since we will be healthier, less money will be spent on hospital and doctor care so there will be an unemployment line full of health administrators, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc. Pharmaceuticals will suddenly find that not only will people not need medicines, they will also not need supplements!

    I think you can see the point. It would represent a massive collapse of both the food industry and the healthcare industry (including insurance), and then we need to face the legal ramifications.

    If a government agency accepts that they made a mistake, all people who got hurt by that “mistake” can sue. That would represent the largest class action lawsuit since every single person would be part of the lawsuit who ever had to take even a small dose of medicine for heart burn.

    It is an impossible proposition. They must pretend dumb!

    Alternatively, working on the population to understand the wrong and the right and encourage a change (not on twitter, of course,) can create a grassroots effort, which will tilt the market based on its demand and thus the supply must change. I am a scientist in the field of migraine, using the method of grassroots. It is slower but makes bigger changes and there is no resistance – there cannot be.

    Thanks you for your articles. A joy to read.


  2. Professor Simpson sums this unjust farce up nicely.

    The attack on Noakes was a method of defending the vested interests of dietitians and the processed food and drugs industries. The problem is that this attack was organised by the incompetents at the HPCSA and laughably useless dietitians. Intellectually, the hearing resembled giants treading on ants.

  3. That question- -“is Big Food behind the case” is very much on point. The worlds major industrial food and drugs companies, and the grains/sugar industries, would stand to loose fortunes if Tim’s thoughts are not silenced. Also in the mix are the professional reputations of medical “experts” who promote the current standard diets/drugs treatments. Their names and income are at risk too, unless Tim’s ideas squashed. On a different tack, looking at the HPCSA itself, the findings about fitness for office raised by Minister of Health, one finds the word “captured” coming to mind.

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