Policing Warren Buffett’s Diet

I was struck by this article that tries (and mostly fails) to criticize both Warren Buffett's diet and his investments in Coca-Cola:

Warren Buffett will not apologize for his junk food addiction

Like most media news, it produces a sort of ersatz knowledge: it takes something that's technically true (in this case that Buffett has an unhealthy diet) and uses that fact to impose a narrative on the reader (essentially: did you know Buffett drinks Coke and invests in Coke and won't apologize for it at all? What about the children!?!?!).

The reader is left with a totally inaccurate perception of reality and, sadly, becomes measurably dumber after reading the article.

Interestingly, the article is correct about one thing. A few years ago I attended a Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, and Buffett did exactly what the article describes: when the meeting started at 9:00 am, he promptly poured himself a can of Coca-Cola, and throughout the meeting both he and Charlie Munger (Buffett's 94-year-old (!) business partner) snacked absently from a box of See's Candy peanut brittle[1] on the table between them.

But back to this article and the narrative it imposes on us: the spurious idea that some journalist, somewhere, has the right to police the diet of somebody else just because he's rich, famous, or both. Or in a broader sense, on how people passively-aggressively try to control others by asking them to justify and explain their diets, their opinions, their position on political issues, even their investments.

By the way, it's not just the media doing this: we do this to the people around us too.

And don't get me wrong, I'm in no way advocating a diet like Buffett's. Just because I criticize someone for criticizing someone else doesn't mean I advocate the thing being criticized in the first place. If you follow me. What I have a problem with is the passive-aggressive idea that somebody else's diet ought to be policed.

Buffett feels zero need to apologize for how he eats--or how he invests. Nor should you.


Recommended reading:
1) Alice Schroeder's excellent biography of Buffett: The Snowball
2) Janet Lowe's useful biography of Charlie Munger: Damn Right!


[1] What was unintentionally hilarious: the microphones in front of them picked up their crunching. It was oddly hypnotizing to hear Buffett crunching violently on peanut brittle while Munger answered a shareholder's question, and then to hear Munger do the same as Buffett shared his thoughts.


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