Jerzy Zięba has written a bestselling book called "Ukryte terapie. Czego ci lekarz nie powie" ("The Hidden Therapies - What your doctor won't tell you"), which is widely considered to be pseudo-scientific by medical authorities in my country, and Mr Zięba himself is widely considered to be a quack.

In his book he promotes a number of unconventional therapies and argues against a number of claims made by mainstream medicine. Interestingly, he backs up many (though not all) of his claims with references to scientific papers. This, I believe, mandates a thorough refutation with at least equally strong sources. Until now, I have not found such a thorough refutation, so I've posted 4 questions about his book, each asking to verify a specific claim from only a single chapter of his book:

Originally, these questions were posted on Skeptics.SE, however - in spite of upvotes - I got no answers there, so according to Meta guidelines I've deleted the questions from there and tried my luck here.

However, I've been told that I should instead ask one big question because otherwise three of the above four are likely to be closed as dupes. I'm not convinced this is a good idea, and this is because:

  • Do these questions really ask about the same thing? Research backing up setting reference range of cholesterol is not strictly the same as research about health risk curves regarding cholesterol levels, though I admit this is close enough. How can this be the same as safety of statins however is beyond my understanding.
  • These are only four specific claims from perhaps the shortest of a series of chapters of his book devoted just to cholesterol / cardiovascular health / animal fat / statins topic. If I have to ask only 1 Q instead of the above 4, then I'd likely have to summarize his claims from the other chapters about this topic as well. This would be a really big honking question.
  • I thought asking precisely one question per claim from the book would allow the most thorough and precise refutation.

However, in other chapters of this book he does cite other pieces of scientific research only regarding health effects of certain cholesterol levels. He also acknowledges scientific studies whose findings contradict his theories, but criticizes their methodologies. Therefore, my current plan is:

  • Delete the above 4 questions;
  • Summarize claims from all chapters of the book wrt health effects of different cholesterol levels and post this as one question;
  • Summarize claims from all chapters of the book wrt safety of statins and post this as another question;
  • Summarize claims from all chapters of the book wrt health effects of eating saturated fats that are not immediately reducible to claims about health effects of cholesterol levels and post this as a yet another question.

Is this OK?

... Then perhaps we could move onto other weird ideas of this guy, like therapeutic effects of enormous doses of Vit. C and his skepticism to vaccines.

3 Answers 3


Your questions need to be posted to Skeptics. They are squarely on topic there but not here. The fact that they got no answers there doesn't justify moving them here.

The way you make these questions appropriate for this site is to boil the claims down to their scientific basis and ask about the science, not about the veracity of the authors or how they arrived at their claims.

And questions about theories such as massive vitamin C doses and vaccine skepticism aren't likely to meet a warm welcome here unless they're very carefully crafted and show a lot of prior research. Vaccine skepticism in particular will likely meet a rapid demise since vaccines are accepted science as far as most members of this community are concerned.

  • OK just explaine me one thing. How is the question "does research back up setting reference values of cholesterol to up to 200mg/dl" different from the question "does research disprove cumulative positive effects of moderate alcohol doses" because the latter apparently is on topic. And also how is the question about Gary Taubes different from the question about research on statins since both ask about particular pieces of research.
    – gaazkam
    Jan 4, 2019 at 22:24
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    The difference is the context in which you've asked the questions. They're posed as questions asking us to judge the author and how he arrived at his conclusions, not about the conclusions alone. Asking solely about cholesterol reference ranges is fine. Just leave Taubes out of it.
    – Carey Gregory Mod
    Jan 4, 2019 at 22:28

Being late to the party of four questions in short cadence: the Vitamin C and vaccine questions were never spelled out (by you?) so I can't comment on those. (But I guess Skeptics might indeed be better for them, probably?)

What I find problematic about your approach is something entirely different form the other answers here, despite @Carey already commenting on it:

The difference is the context in which you've asked the questions. They're posed as questions asking us to judge the author and how he arrived at his conclusions, not about the conclusions alone. Asking solely about cholesterol reference ranges is fine. Just leave Taubes out of it.

Obviously, I found the question OK and answered it. But I would add to Carey's comment that giving the "quack-book" as background is not per se bad, although we likely do not have the capacity to deconstruct every claim of the entire book here in a short amount of time.

The way the questions are asked and what their aim seems to be directs them more to Skeptics than here.

For example, the "in order to allow" question that you yourself saw as fitting better on the other site will have problems there as well, since it asks for hidden motivations, a conspiracy of sorts. That may well be the case, or not, but remains very probably – or even of course – difficult to prove.

The other questions may be fine here, in my opinion, if the following conditions are met:

  1. We probably do not want to refute a best-selling quack. We want to look at the claims presented and the evidence cited, then evaluate that. Even if the claims are mostly outrageous and the evidence presented shaky almost all the time, the quack in question may have found the occasional nugget or sometimes only slightly misunderstood an issue, the literature, or re-presents it badly. If you know it's bull, we all know it's bull, then what's the point in wasting our time with it?

  2. Coming from the claims in the book is OKish, but going from the claims one step further would be really great. This is resembling what @Jan wrote here:

    [about the Taubes question:] You are a skillful searcher, …

    And I believe that as well. The Taubes/cholesterol question is a bit on the bad side, as "did T. write that?" is really too easy to answer. I put that into a search engine and the article came up first. (I really thought: "Are you kidding me?") But then I read that article and found the answer to be worthwhile nonetheless, as Taubes is a nice writer who mostly gets it right in the basics and then takes the occasional wrong turn (from what I read by him or about him). –– So, what's really the question here: Is that "10 pages article proof?" And now we're getting there.

That leads me to the conclusion

  • that downplaying your personal context (refuting the quack) would have made the question better.
  • including a link to the real article in question should have been the main frame of reference
  • more prior research of your own would have been helpful (taking one or two other scientific articles – neither from the quack nor from Taubes – into consideration and evaluating them)

And finally: do not post all of your questions at once!

Space them out. If one's got problems we can try to work that out. If we can work that out, you will probably post a better second question, as you learned what was criticised about the first. If that one question gets an answer, you might also learn from that answer something. That not only better informs your next question by what you already learned from that but also gives you more time to do more research on your own.

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    "If you it's bull, we all know it's bull, then what's the point in wasting our time with it?" - that's not that easy, especially if the arguments seem - at least superficially - convincing. See this question of mine on Philosophy SE.
    – gaazkam
    Jan 6, 2019 at 16:34

OK, there is one question about liver function that could stay as a separate question, but I don't want start with this issue.

It's this. You ask, for example "Did Gary Taubes publish an article claiming these things?" You are a skillful searcher, so you have probably searched for this by yourself. We here usually have only online sources at hand and do not often go to physical libraries to answer someone's question. I mean, I do not feel like a better searcher than you. Additional thing is: Let's say that someone actually finds what you asked about Taubes. How can this help to improve my, your or anyone's health? One of the expectations for the answers here is that they provide something practically helpful for health.

About high vitamin C doses, which is a separate question. I've searched for this once thoroughly and I found nothing useful, as I remember. But the question itself is valid.

Questions about the skepticism of vaccines are so repetitive that everyone is getting tired of them. I don't know. It's a separate question, again, anyway.

  • Look I may go to a library and check if there is an article from Gary Taubes. That's not an issue. What is an issue however: Does this article from Gary Taubes actually prove anything? Can this piece of research be considered trustworthy enough, even though it contradicts views of mainstream medicine? Answering this is beyond my skills. As we know, for each claim of mainstream medicine we could likely find a piece of research that contradicts it. So what conclusions should we draw?
    – gaazkam
    Jan 4, 2019 at 17:34
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    OK, so you are asking for an opinion who seems to be more right: one or another author. That's fine then. You may want to emphasize this in your original question rather than asking if the other man has really said something.
    – Jan
    Jan 4, 2019 at 17:54

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