Dr Malcolm Kendrick used the analogy of sexual abuse in a new interview. Victims who spoke out were disbelieved and told they were making mischief and should shut up.
He compares this to modern day medical 'heretics', who challenge government health statements and guidelines, that have no basis in science.
A simple, logical narrative that is easy to understand, becomes a fixed idea in public perception, even if it is wrong. This makes it difficult to change people's minds.
One example Dr Kendrick gives is the contention that a high saturated fat diet causes heart disease. Researchers feed rabbits such a diet and they die. Rabbits are vegetarian and not designed to eat a high animal fat diet. If we ate the same diet as a koala bear (ie eucalyptus leaves), we'd eventually die, because humans are designed to eat a mixed diet including other animals.
Scientific evidence has no impact on erroneous, but deeply ingrained ideas, such as the cholesterol hypothesis. Evidence seems only to make it stronger, as it bends out of shape to accommodate and neutralise contradictory data.
Listen to the full interview here.