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Revisiting 'L.A. Noire', the Game That Nearly Revolutionized the Video Game Industry

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Six years after its original release, the noir detective game feels like a glimpse of what video gaming might have been.

L.A. Noire was supposed to change everything. Team Bondi’s ambitious video game, published by Rockstar Games—best known for the industry-defining Grand Theft Auto series—took seven years for its developers to complete. The total cost of producing the game was abnormaly high; somewhere between $50 and $100 million, depending on who you believe. A BBC report hypothesized that the game’s innovative motion capture might “change the game for actors.” And in the weeks leading up to L.A. Noire’s release, it played to a sold-out crowd at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2011—the first video game to be showcased at the festival, in a nod to the game’s efforts to erase barriers between video games and film.

At the Tribeca premiere, L.A. Noire writer and director Brendan McNamara gave a grandiose interview to Wired. "Ultimately, we’ll have to judge by whether the audiences buys into this—whether it’s a good game that they want to go out and buy, and a watershed-moment type of game," he said. "It might be hugely egotistical, but we’re hoping for both of those things."

L.A. Noire certainly wasn’t a flop—it garnered largely enthusiastic reviews, and sold nearly five million copies—but it wasn’t exactly a watershed moment in gaming, either. It didn’t spark a new trend in detective games or period games. It didn’t attract a new audience to gaming. And its much-hyped new "MotionScan" technology—which used a system of 32 cameras to capture an actor’s performance in exacting detail—hasn’t been applied to another game since.

So L.A. Noire is a particularly interesting game to revisit in 2017, six years after it failed to revolutionize the gaming industry. Last week, Rockstar Games re-released L.A. Noire on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One with upgraded visuals, as well as a version for Nintendo Switch, making the game portable for the first time. The news that Rockstar was bothering with an L.A. Noire remaster at all caught me off-guard; in the years since its release, the game's cultural footprint has essentially vanished, with more venerated Rockstar games—say, Red Dead Redemption or Bully—seeming like a more obvious choice for a fresh coat of paint.

L.A. Noire casts the player as Cole Phelps, a World War II veteran and rising star in the L.A.P.D. As Phelps delves deeper and deeper into the criminal underbelly of Los Angeles, the player is tasked with solving an increasingly gruesome series of crimes—many of which were based on actual cases from the era.

Phelps is played by Aaron Staton, who you probably know best as Mad Men’s Ken Cosgrove—a performance that played a large role in landing him the part. "I can’t remember the exact one-sentence pitch, but I think it was something like ‘L.A. Confidential meets Grand Theft Auto,’" Staton told me in a phone interview last week. "They were casting actors who had an understanding of the period. Mad Men took place in the '60s and not the '40s—but 20 years is a lot shorter to travel than 70."

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Staton’s performance was achieved via then-cutting edge motion capture: long days of sitting in a room alone and reciting dialogue into those 32 cameras, which faithfully translated his performance into the actual game. "It was so much material," says Staton. "There were 5,000 script pages. I never read the whole script beforehand, because with 5,000 pages, how could I? Eight pages is a big day in television—and here, we were doing 25 or 30 pages a day. We were flying through it—just two or three takes for every line."

This exacting motion-capture technique also led to L.A. Noire’s buzziest feature: the interrogation scenes, in which Cole Phelps grills suspects and witnesses. In theory, the digitized performances were supposed to be detailed enough that players could gauge whether or not a character was lying just by studying their face. In practice, the process is inexact at best. It’s difficult to judge the characters’ expressions, and difficult to know which of Cole’s three very divergent reactions you should apply to these very nuanced moments. (In the original release, your options were "Truth, Doubt, or Lie"; in the remaster, they’ve been changed to "Good Cop, Bad Cop, or Accuse," which is only marginally less confusing.)

L.A. Noire’s interrogations were even difficult enough to thwart the game’s star. "I should play [the remastered version]," Staton says. "I played some of [the original] when it came out. I was actually really terrible at the game. I sat down with my wife and played it, and she said, 'I can’t believe you’re not better at this. Don’t you know which one to choose? Didn’t you spend months doing this?' And she’s not wrong. I should be better at it."

Staton has remained invested in gaming since starring in L.A. Noire in 2011. He plays TT Games’ Lego video games with his kids, and he’s just about to dive into Call of Duty: WWII. "It’s 87 percent loaded here on my Xbox," he says. (Staton is a longtime Call of Duty fan, and he plays online—so yes, there’s a non-zero chance you’ve ended up on the wrong end of Ken Cosgrove’s crosshairs.) And while he wasn’t asked to shoot or record any new scenes for the rerelease of L.A. Noire, he’d be interested in performing in a video game again. "I think that the technology we used… it must be so completely different," Staton says. "It would have been different just a year from then. I would be curious how it would work now."

It’s an interesting thought experiment, because while this remastered version is mechanically identical to the 2011 release, an L.A. Noire created in 2017 would be very, very different. So many of the game’s more experimental choices play strangely by modern standards. It’s bizarre that they created a painstakingly accurate version of Los Angeles in the 1940s but made it so barren that there’s practically no reason to explore it in any kind of detail. It’s bizarre that they went to the trouble of modeling 95 period-appropriate cars, but made it so Cole can only accept dispatcher calls while driving one of the dull police sedans. It’s bizarre that they licensed a terrific set of songs from the era—Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Peggy Lee, and more—but made it a tremendous pain in the ass to drive around without putting your police siren on, rendering all that good music totally moot.

And then there are the side missions. The central arc is a twisty mystery in the heightened mode of a classic noir. The pace is deliberate; you’re driving around gathering evidence, questioning witnesses, and building your case. But the side missions, which pop up more or less randomly, are cut from the Grand Theft Auto vein. Cole rushes into a bank, shoots five robbers in the head, and goes right back to driving around collecting shell casings and badgering witnesses. It’s a game-breaking loss of verisimilitude, and it reeks of bet-hedging, as the team behind L.A. Noire clearly fretted about releasing an open-world game that emphasized cerebral detective work instead of shooting a bunch of random dudes.

So yes, L.A. Noire remains a game that is fundamentally at odds with itself—but I kind of love it anyway. In an era plagued by busywork-infused "map games," L.A. Noire is an outlier—strange and misshapen and fundamentally unlike any other triple-A title released before or since. It’s an unusually punishing game. If you botch an interrogation, you don’t get a second chance; the suspect freezes up, and you’re forced to tail them to make any more progress in the case. And when the case ends, you get a detailed report that runs down every embarrassing error you made along the way.

It’s rare to play a game where consequences actually matter. On one early case, I chased down a man with schizophrenia who had attacked another man in broad daylight. I followed the man up to a rooftop, where he jumped to his death, and the mini-narrative ended with Cole Phelps watching as a coroner drove the man’s body away. Case closed, I guess.

And then I looked up the case online, and discovered that it was actually possible to catch and detain the schizophrenic man before he leapt from the roof. I had failed, but L.A. Noire didn’t give me a game over screen, or penalize me, or even hint that there was another possible outcome. I just had to live with being the L.A. detective who failed to save a sick man’s life—and if Cole Phelps didn’t grapple with that in the game, it was certainly rattling around in my own head. It should be hard to be a detective—confusing and frustrating and often unpleasant, and the game's smartest flourishes and dumbest flaws somehow combine to create that effect. In that way, for all its faults, L.A. Noire might just be the best detective game ever made.

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mburch42
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61 Sensational Soviet Space Posters

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Artists from the Soviet Union looked to the skies and foresaw a Utopia in space. The Communists would bring peace and prosperity not only to the people of Earth but also to the technology-enabled, god-free Great Beyond. The artists created Soviet Space posters, vivid, energising and inspiring visions of the rosy-fingered dawn to tomorrow. They’re terrific.

 

Sovietspaceposters

Glory to the workers of Soviet science and technology!

1960. L. Golovanov. Let's conquer Space!

1960. L. Golovanov. Let’s conquer Space!

Socialism is our launching pad

Socialism is our launching pad

Sovietspaceposters

Glory to the Fatherland of Heroes!

 

Soviet propaganda space posters art

In the name of peace

Soviet propaganda space posters art

In 20th century the rockets race to the stars, the trains are going to the lands of achievements!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

Soviet propaganda space posters art

“There is no God”

Sovietspaceposters

We will open the distant worlds!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

Soviet propaganda space posters art

1965. V. Ivanov. In the name of peace and progress!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

The way for man is open!

 

Gagarin, Titov, Nikolaev, Popovich – the mighty knights of our days

Gagarin, Titov, Nikolaev, Popovich – the mighty knights of our days

Soviet propaganda space posters art

Homeland, your mission is accomplished!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

Glory to the first woman cosmonaut!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

Soviet propaganda space posters art

1982. M. Getman. We are creative and friendly and clever / We’re making space to be peaceful forever!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

1971. A. Yakushin. Space is going to serve people!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

1970. V. Viktorov. Sputnik of friendship and co-operation.

Soviet propaganda space posters art

1968. G. Illarionov. Being long for the future is our life!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

1964. Yu. Kershin and V. Trukhachev. Long live the USSR–the birth-place of Space exploration!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

1963. A. Vinokurov. The distance to even the furthest planet is not that long, folks!

Soviet propaganda space posters art Soviet propaganda space posters art Soviet propaganda space posters art Soviet propaganda space posters art

Soviet propaganda space posters art

Glory to the KPSS!

Soviet propaganda space posters art Soviet propaganda space posters art

Soviet propaganda space posters art

1961. B. Berezovskii. Long live the son of the Communist party!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

1961. V. Viktorov. Long live the first astronaut Yu. A. Gagarin!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

1961. V. Volikov. Long live Soviet science. Long live the Soviet man–the first astronaut!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

To the glory of communism!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

We were born to make the fairy tale come true!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

1959. V. Viktorov. Creative resources of Socialism are boundless!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

1957. V. Viktorov. The greatest victory of Soviet science and technology.

 

 

Soviet propaganda space posters art

In the name of peace and progress!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

Glory to the conquerors of the universe!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

Happy New Year kids!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

Through the worlds and ages

Soviet propaganda space posters art

Report: mission accomplished!

Sovietspaceposters

Let there be peace!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

October opened the road to space!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

Soviet means excellent!

Soviet propaganda space posters art Soviet propaganda space posters art

Soviet propaganda space posters art

nto the space!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

Glory to the Fatherland of Heroes!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

With Lenin’s name!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

Soviet man – be proud, you opened the road to stars from Earth!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

From

Soviet propaganda space posters art

Our triumph in space is the hymn to Soviet country!

Soviet propaganda space posters art

Happy New Year, peace and friendship!

 

Via: RussiaTrek, Aristocrytotriviology

 

 

 

 

The post 61 Sensational Soviet Space Posters appeared first on Flashbak.

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mburch42
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Duelling With Wax Bullets in New York (1909)

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wax bullets new york athletic club 1909

 

According to the Bain New agency, which took these photos of a duel with wax bullets, the date was October 1909 Oct. 28. But an article in the New York Times tells of a duel with wax bullets on February 26 1909.

 

1909 wax bullets dual

 

wax bullets new york athletic club 1909

 

For a brief time wax duelling was popular. It was featured as an associate (non-medal) event during the 1908 Summer Olympics in London.

 

wax duelling 1909 new york

March 11 1909 – New York Times

 

wax bullets new york athletic club 1909

 

wax bullets new york athletic club 1909

 

Via: George Grantham Bain Collection

The post Duelling With Wax Bullets in New York (1909) appeared first on Flashbak.

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mburch42
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Holy Smokes: Police Dashcam Captures Home Explosion

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police-dashcam-home-explosion.jpg This is the dashcam footage from Officer Travis Hiser's police cruiser as he responds to a call about a Ford Explorer that was accidentally driven into a house (I do it all the time) in Hurst, Texas. Unbeknownst to everyone involved, the SUV had severed a gas line in the accident, causing an explosion just moments after Officer Hiser pulls up. Three family members were injured in the blast, but all are expected to make a full recovery. I really hope this serves as an important reminder that if you smell gas, it's best to keep your distance. And that goes for both utility gas and disgusting friends. Keep going for the video while I speculate just how that house snuck up on the driver like that.
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mburch42
2 days ago
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@Mary, this was like three blocks from your aunt's place.
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The Christmas Bullet Was The Worst Plane Ever Made

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It was the worst military aircraft of all time. Developed by a man described as “the greatest charlatan ever to see his name associated with an airplane,” the Christmas Bullet was the rare kind of fighter which had a perfect kill ratio: it killed everyone who ever tried to fly it.

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mburch42
3 days ago
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Pasta Is Good For You, Say Scientists Funded By Big Pasta

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The headlines were a fettuccine fanatic’s dream. “Eating Pasta Linked to Weight Loss in New Study,” Newsweek reported this month, racking up more than 22,500 Facebook likes, shares, and comments. The happy news also went viral on the Independent, the New York Daily News, and Business Insider.

What those and many other stories failed to note, however, was that three of the scientists behind the study in question had financial conflicts as tangled as a bowl of spaghetti, including ties to the world’s largest pasta company, the Barilla Group.

Over the last decade or so, with the rise of the Atkins, South Beach, paleo, and ketogenic diets, Big Pasta has battled a societal shift against carbohydrates — and funded and promoted research suggesting that noodles are good for you.

At least 10 peer-reviewed studies about pasta published since 2008 were either funded directly by Barilla or, like the one published this month, were carried out by scientists who have had financial ties to the company, which reported sales of 3.4 billion euros ($4.2 billion) in 2016. For two years, Barilla has publicized some of these studies, plus others favorable to its product, on its website with taglines like “Eat Smart Be Smart...With Pasta” and “More Evidence Pasta Is Good For You.” And the company hired the large public relations firm Edelman to push the latest study’s findings to journalists.

None of these studies reported anything negative about eating pasta. And that’s not necessarily incorrect. Pasta, in moderation, is a staple of the healthy Mediterranean diet. But health experts say that consumers should be skeptical of the findings of any single study, and should know that the pasta industry is only funding science because it sees an upside.

“The purpose of these studies is not to do basic science about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet — those are very well-established,” said Marion Nestle, a New York University emerita professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health who tracks how the food industry funds science. “The purpose of this is to sell more pasta.”

“The purpose of this is to sell more pasta.”

Barilla also sponsors scientific conferences. Those include the Italian Society of Human Nutrition’s April 2017 conference in Parma, Italy — where Barilla is based — with the special theme of “Pasta: new needs, new ingredients, new technologies,” and last June’s International Symposium on Diabetes and Nutrition in Denmark. The new study’s results were presented at both meetings.

There’s also the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation, which describes itself as an independent think tank and runs its own annual conference about nutrition and sustainability research. And Barilla funds an anti–childhood obesity program in Parma, which includes Barilla-sponsored cooking classes and has enrolled more than 40,000 kids since 2002. Studies about the program claim it has helped improve children’s nutrition knowledge and joint mobility.

“In conducting scientific research, we abide by guiding principles that were created to maintain transparency and minimize potential bias,” Anna Rosales, director of nutrition, technical regulatory, and scientific affairs at Barilla America, told BuzzFeed News by email. For example, she said, citing those principles, scientists have “the freedom to publish their findings, regardless of outcome.”

In its 2016 annual report, the company reported spending 40 million euros ($49.5 million) on research and development, including “intense nutritional research on pasta aimed at divulging accurate information on the nutritional quality of complex carbohydrates, with numerous studies under way in Europe and the United States, with the purpose of assessing the impact of eating pasta on body weight and glycemic response and more generally, the role this product plays in our diet.” (Rosales clarified that Barilla funds research both internally, “to inform innovation,” and externally in “exploring the benefits of a Mediterranean-style of living.” She declined to say how much money went to outside researchers.)

In funding academic scientists, Barilla is following the playbook of other food and beverage giants, said Nestle of New York University: “They are doing what every other food company is doing, which is to try to get research that will demonstrate that the products are healthy.” Coca-Cola, for example, funded a group that was criticized for promoting the idea of exercising more and worrying less about calories. The alcohol industry is funding an ongoing government trial about the potential health benefits of moderate drinking, and Big Sugar has funded research on the dangers of fat.

Several years ago, Nestle visited Barilla’s Parma headquarters. “They were really, really concerned that the low-carb movement was going to kill them,” she recalled, “and that if they didn’t do something to make their products appear more nutritional and healthier, they were going to be in trouble.”

Asked whether Barilla’s research was fueled by anti-carb sentiments, Rosales said, “Barilla does not base its funding on fad diets or trends. The intent of participating in research is grounded in better understanding how our products fit into a healthy lifestyle.”

The latest pasta study to go viral — as disclosed in its 1,100-word statement of “competing interests” — was carried out by three scientists with financial relationships to the food industry: Cyril Kendall, John Sievenpiper, and David Jenkins, all from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. These scientists have received financial support, such as funding or food donations, from dozens of companies and industry groups, including Barilla, the statement noted.

Although Barilla did not fund the study (which was a review of existing research, not a new experiment), all three scientists have been co-authors of past studies partially funded by the company, all about the health effects of diets that included pasta.

Jenkins told BuzzFeed News that Barilla contributed about $456,000 to his research between 2004 and 2015, as well as travel funding. Barilla is also donating about 15,000 boxes of pasta to an ongoing clinical trial of theirs, Sievenpiper said, testing whether certain foods, combined with exercise, can improve heart health.

“You have to engage the food industry to get those trials done.”

The researchers say that big trials are expensive and that they wouldn’t be able to carry them out with government grants alone.

“It’s very hard to fund randomized trials properly,” Sievenpiper told BuzzFeed News, explaining why he’s accepted research grants, food donations, and other forms of funding from the likes of the National Dried Fruit Trade Association, the California Walnut Commission, Unilever, and Quaker, in addition to government funding. “You have to engage the food industry to get those trials done.”

He and his colleagues, he added, “see it as our role to try to influence [companies] and produce healthier foods and promote healthier foods.”

Studies backed by food companies are much more likely to favor their sponsors’ financial interests than independently funded studies, research shows. Still, getting money from industry is common, and these conflicts of interest don’t necessarily mean that a given dataset shouldn’t be trusted.

“Even though you can see evidence of overall bias in the literature, it doesn’t mean that any one study is biased, either intentionally or subconsciously, or that any researcher is specifically biased,” said David Ludwig, a nutrition professor at Harvard School of Public Health, who has studied research funded by beverage companies.

And in the hierarchy of carbohydrates, Ludwig says, lightly cooked pasta does have some nutritional advantages over others as measured by “glycemic index” — or how quickly our digestive system breaks down a food into sugars that are then absorbed into the bloodstream. The glycemic index for spaghetti is 49, which is lower than white bread (75) and white rice (73) but higher than, say, an apple (36).

In the new study, Sievenpiper said his team was curious whether pasta was really hurting people’s ability to lose weight, citing anti-carb chatter on social media and from nutrition experts. “Is this really, of all the things we need to worry about, a concern?” he said.

His team looked at 32 randomized control trials about low-glycemic diets that included pasta. Across all of these trials, the study found, the low-glycemic diets did not appear to contribute to weight gain. And people on these diets were more likely to lose weight than those on higher-glycemic diets.

Independent scientists, however, are skeptical of these conclusions. For example, just 11 of the 32 trials included data about how much pasta people actually ate, a median of 3.3 servings per week. (A serving is about half a cup.) And the weight loss that did emerge was tiny — about 1.4 pounds.

“I think everyone would agree that three servings of pasta a week is not going to lead to weight gain,” said Kevin Klatt, a graduate student in nutritional sciences at Cornell University who was not involved in the work.

“Given that some of the authors do have a tie to the pasta industry, it just raises a question mark for me: Why the unwarranted focus on pasta?”

Those weaknesses are clearly stated in the paper, Sievenpiper said, adding that he was careful to hedge in the press release that he had “some confidence” in concluding that “perhaps pasta can be part of a healthy diet.” He also argued that the media oversimplified the findings.

“This is pasta in the context of a low-glycemic diet,” he said. “Yes, it can fit in a healthy diet and it doesn’t mean you can go hog wild and consume as much as you want on any diet.”

But Kristin Sainani, an associate professor of health research and policy at Stanford University, doesn’t necessarily blame journalists for getting the story wrong. She found it “a little bit misleading” that the scientists would single out pasta in their analysis, and stick “pasta” in the title, when the dish wasn’t a core part of any of the underlying trials.

“Given that some of the authors do have a tie to the pasta industry, it just raises a question mark for me: Why the unwarranted focus on pasta?” she said.

Barilla’s funded research includes a 2017 study that looked at whether pasta was connected to risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes. There turned out to be scant evidence for that link, but the scientists did confirm that pasta leads to a lower post-meal blood-sugar spike than bread or potatoes. On Barilla’s website, it got translated into this alluring takeaway: “Pasta meals may result in more stable blood sugar than meals with bread or potatoes.”

Then there was the 2016 study that reported that eating pasta was linked to having a lower body mass index and smaller waist. “Eating Pasta Does Not Cause Obesity, Italian Study Finds,” reported a Time story with more than 72,000 Facebook likes, comments, and shares. “Pasta Doesn’t Make You Gain Weight, Says Best Study Ever,” Women’s Health declared.

Barilla, too, was thrilled. “Enjoy your favorite carb, guilt-free!” the company announced online, without mentioning it had partly funded the survey of Italians that was the basis for the research. “The study also showed that a pasta focused diet may lead to a trimmer waistline and a slimmer belly. Sounds good to us!”

One study author's self-described goal is to help food companies “develop and communicate aggressive, science-based claims about their products and services.”

But that research had serious flaws. Regina Nuzzo, a statistics professor at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, pointed out that its first statistical analysis did find a link between being obese and eating more pasta. But once the scientists crunched the data a different way, the association disappeared. “And very conveniently, it went in the other direction,” Nuzzo said. (The study’s senior author, Licia Iacoviello of the Institute for Research, Hospitalization and Health Care Neuromed in Pozzilli, Italy, did not respond to requests for comment.)

A similar Barilla study last year reported on how pasta fit into Americans’ diets, based on a survey of nearly 11,000 adults’ dietary habits. One of the study’s authors, Victor Fulgoni, is an executive at the consulting firm Nutrition Impact LLC, whose self-described goal is to help food companies “develop and communicate aggressive, science-based claims about their products and services.” Fulgoni declined to comment for this story.

The National Pasta Association has commissioned at least two studies that were presented at conferences over the last year and a half but have not yet been published in journals. Together, they reported that pasta-eating children and adults have better diets than non-pasta-eaters.

Bastiaan de Zeeuw, chairman of the National Pasta Association, said in a statement that it funds research to help fill a “gap in nutritional research around pasta’s specific role in the diet.” He said the group is not involved in how the studies are done.

In Parma, thousands of children have learned about healthy eating and working out through Giocampus, the educational program funded by Barilla, the city, the University of Parma, and other local institutions. A recent study partially funded by Barilla examined the diets and health habits of nearly 700 participating fifth-graders, many of whom reported eating pasta almost every day. The study found that kids’ sleep habits are linked to being overweight and that those who stayed on the Mediterranean diet were more likely to do well in school.

Barilla touted the Giocampus study as a family-friendly nutrition lesson: “Pasta by itself won’t make your children smarter, but the complex carbs in it will help them stay full longer and keep them focused on their studies, not to mention fueling their physical activity which will further help them improve their cognitive abilities.”

One of the study’s authors, Maria Vittoria Calestani, became a publicist for Barilla in June 2017, the same month the study was published, according to her LinkedIn. And the pasta maker sponsored a sleep “awareness” day run a few months prior by another author, Liborio Parrino, a sleep disorder specialist at the University of Parma. Neither returned a request for comment.

Yet another author from the same university, nutrition researcher Francesca Scazzina, is on a scientific committee that studies Giocampus, and has done research with funding or donated food from Barilla. She said that her team has done studies over the last four years with about 15,000 euros ($18,500) from the project’s sponsors, including Barilla.

“Everything we did in the framework of this project, using money paid by this virtuous alliance of sponsors, has had amazing positive repercussions on the local community, making Parma one of the best place in the world to live, at least if you are a school child!” she said by email.


Barilla isn’t the only pasta manufacturer putting money into science. Granoro, based in southeastern Italy, drew headlines like “Pasta Could Help Save Your Life, Says New Study” last fall for research into a new, barley-enriched pasta that was shown to improve mice’s heart health.

Another brand, Kamut, pays for research into khorasan, an organically grown ancient Mesopotamian wheat mostly sold in Italy — and Bob Quinn, the Montana-based organic farmer who leads the brand, said that work isn’t a response to the low-carb craze at all.

More than a decade ago, Quinn told BuzzFeed News, customers were telling him they felt better eating khorasan than they did modern, mass-produced wheat, so he asked US researchers to study khorasan’s health effects. They all turned him down, he recalled.

So he took his offer to Italy, where researchers were much more receptive. His company has funneled almost $2 million into more than 20 published studies about health, Quinn said, some of which suggest khorasan — in pasta, bread, crackers, and other foods — could help fend against heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Quinn said he helps the scientists generate research ideas, but that the experts are free to publish whatever they find. They haven’t always seen big differences between the modern and ancient wheat, but they also haven’t seen any significant health problems from the latter, he said.

“What we’re doing is doing research that would otherwise not be done,” he said. ●


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