- Category: 2024
I see these arguments come from the Left and the Right: people with no advanced education and people with liberal arts or engineering degrees. The former surprises me. If they don’t teach analytical or critical thinking to students in liberal arts programs, our civilization is doomed.
“They say…” and “Some people believe….” are meaningless ways to advance an opinion or argument. Vague references to the unidentified are references to no one. At best, you can get some people to say or believe pretty much anything. That’s not saying anything at all.
“My great-grand-aunt ….” is only one step beyond the previous one. Anecdotal evidence is often inaccurately attributed or remembered and invariably statistically irrelevant.
A video on YouTube is evidence for nothing. There is no review of content for accuracy or truthfulness. Anyone can post pretty much anything and make any ridiculous, unsubstantiated claims.
The previous point is a specific example of social media generally. Believe nothing you read on FaceBook, Instagram, TikTok, or other social platforms. Nothing ensures that what you are reading has any relation to reality. The alternate reality on which the Right thrives originates in social media and is maintained by some hugely irresponsible news organizations, including Fox.
This brings me to news organizations. A right-wing extremist foreigner owns Fox News, and the outlet reflects his bias and bigotry. One can argue this endlessly, but no independent source will support the counterargument to this assertion. As support, I offer:
Strive to use neutral news sources. Any Liberal or Conservative source owned by a publicly traded company is going to be prone to clickbait.
Some would say that the sources I use above are elitist. This is a slur used by both the Left and the Right. An ad hominin attack on the references I list has no content. Elite experts will better assess news neutrality than a random populist on the street, conservative or liberal.
Anyone who is making a profit from the message is suspect. This is true as much for book authors as for some late-night infomercials.
Likewise, presence on the New York Times Best-Seller list does not confer authority. Sales volume drives position on the best-seller list, not honesty or accuracy. As such, the list is little more than a high-brow Nielsen Rating.
The universe is not Manichean: things do not neatly classify into opposite sets. Human endeavor cannot achieve complete objectivity, yet this is not grounds for abandoning the effort to be objective. Peer review is a human activity and inevitably flawed. It does not follow that the Western scientific tradition is a useless effort or that we should adopt the New Age thinking that believing anything you wish is a legitimate way to know things. Likewise, science and Western medicine have been dominated by men. But remember, this is not cause to throw it out in favor of shamanism, voodoo, New Age homeopathy, or even traditional Chinese medicine. Science and medicine are self-correcting; their alternatives are just made up. This logic applies equally well to small-scale matters. Refined sugar is unhealthy. From this, there is no scientific or logical basis to conclude that all carbohydrates are also harmful. Likewise, counting calories is error-prone and probably not a helpful thing to do. Compounding the issue is that foods are digested very differently. There are significant differences in how foods are digested, resulting in variations in satiety, energy response, energy storage, and impact on health. But this does not mean that calories do not count. Unless you are an endurance athlete in heavy training, you do not need that 1,000-calorie meal.
- Category: 2024
I wrote a script in Python using Matplotlib to compare this year's weekly running totals against last year's. The desired outcome is to exceed last year's total running miles this year. To ensure that this happens, I will compare my miles every week. I will also develop a line graph comparing the total cumulative weekly distance. I'm an engineer by training. Numbers motivate me.
- Category: 2024
I was recently thinking about the relationship between inflammation and diet. I was reading an article, "5 Foods That Can Cause Inflammation", on the Cleaveland Clinic's website. I reviewed the citations used in the article.
The section about sugar's inflammatory effects cites research that compares the relative inflammatory responses of fructose to sucrose. However, the paper does cite references for the association of dietary sugar-sweetened beverages with elevated inflammatory marker C-reactive protein. The evidence is conclusive that sucrose consumption results in a subclinical, chronic inflammatory response.
The next section is on trans fatty acids. The adverse effect on health from these is well known. There is no safe consumption level. One research article from as early as 1997 states: "Because there are no known nutritional benefits of trans fatty acids and clear adverse metabolic consequences exist, prudent public policy would dictate that their consumption be minimized" in typically understated science jargon.
Google search: role of polyphenols bound to cereal dietary fiber American Journal of Clinical Nutrition