Friday Links

1. This month’s issue of The Atlantic could be a Friday Links of its own as it is heavy on science vs ignorance themes

Many fertility and age “facts” are based on outdated science and a fantastic defense of processed foods (against the likes Michael Pollan). The food article is “interesting throughout” and really highlights some of the quasi religious non-thinking in the modern “foodie” movement (which is less and less about food). The money quote is the McDonald’s guy describing their need to choose between making healthier or more wholesome foods.

2. If you missed it, read Derek Lowe’s takedown of some nutiness.

Some choice quotes:

This piece really is an education. Not about food, or about chemistry – on the contrary, reading it for those purposes will make you noticeably less intelligent than you were before, and consider that a fair warning. The educational part is in the “What a fool believes” category. Make no mistake: on the evidence of this article, its author is indeed a fool.

You cannot assume anything about the effects of a chemical compound based on whether it came from a lovely rainforest orchid or out of a crusty Erlenmeyer flask. The world is not set up that way.

In 2011, a study found that chicken meat with detectable levels of roxarsone [a feed additive] had 2.3 parts per billion (note the “b”) of inorganic arsenic, which is the kind that is truly toxic. […] But let’s get things on scale: it’s worth comparing these arsenic levels to those found in other foods. White rice, for example comes in at about 100 parts per billion of inorganic arsenic (and brown rice at 170 ppb). These, by the way, are all-natural arsenic levels, produced by the plant’s own uptake from the soil. […] If you’re having chicken and rice and you want to worry about arsenic, worry about the rice.

We know that vitalism is not true since 1828. We need to start teaching it to children in schools.

3. If you had a debilitating disease for which there are two possible treatments, A and B. Neither A nor B works miraculously, but they do help. In fact, they are about equal in effectiveness. A costs one hundredth of B.

Which do you pick?

Which do you think should be covered by the taxpayer?

What if the disease is depression, A are anti-depressants, and B is psychotherapy? We should recognize that neither psychotherapy nor meidcation have the efficacy that we would like to obtain from them in treating depression


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