Saturday, February 20, 2016

"it's all MY FAULT!"

I've been reading a very interesting piece of non-fiction, alternated with a few other things -- this is a long-standing habit with me;  whether it's a good or bad habit has to depend on the point of view!  :-) I need a soothing and pleasant book to fall asleep with, something more technical to satisfy intellectual urges, and sometimes an atmosphere-setting book which can help me in my living-history impersonations.  For example, when i portray Louise, the late-Victorian mixologist (bar-tender), all sorts of skills and background knowledge are valuable to make me a believable character, not just some modern person in an old-fashioned dress, mixing modern cocktails with anachronistic equipment.

So it's taking me quite a long time to digest this book, but going slow is sometimes preferable.  Quickly-read books are often quickly forgotten as well!  "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" is worth spending plenty of time to absorb.

Just now i read something that really resonated with me.  In discussing some variables which modify perceived stress, the author notes a rat study in which a lever is supplied, pushing which the rat has been taught to associate with reduced shocks.  A subject who believes that he has some control over his "fate" does not feel stress as strongly as a subject who believes he has no control at all.  HOWEVER, when the subject believes he has some control, but that belief proves to be delusive, the whole thing backfires.

And this is why bad dietary and medical advice makes me fuming furious.  The individual gets advice from a quarter which s/he believes to have true expertise -- eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and everything else in moderation;  exercise strenuously on a regular basis;  avoid red meat and concentrate on low-fat choices, making sure to keep animal-protein on the low side;  cut sat-fats and get the fats you are allowed in PUFA form;  eat 5-11 servings of whole grains daily, and reduce but don't cut out sugar entirely, or you'll feel deprived and end up head-first in the Girl Scout cookies....  When this advice fails, AND IT WILL, obviously the patient did something wrong!

For decades they've been telling us that the food of our ancestors was carcinogenic;  remember when everyone was so shocked that Linda McCartney, a healthy organic vegetarian, died of breast cancer?  That was NOT supposed to happen!  Her whole lifestyle was what was supposed to save us from just that fate!

A low-fat diet was SUPPOSED to keep us from getting fat, but it didn't -- what was with THAT?  Lowering cholesterol was supposed to reduce heart-disease -- how could it POSSIBLY have happened that the use of corn oil resulted in MORE death from heart attacks?

And don't get me started on Alzheimers....

We've been set up to fail, and to blame ourselves for the failure.  It makes me want to go on a spree, Kill Bill style, against all of the "scientists" and "health-columnists" who persist in perpetrating this fraud against people who look to them for authoritative, evidence-based advice.  There's enough data out there to demonstrate that what they espouse is one hundred percent WRONG, but they have reputations to protect, not to mention law-suits to deflect.  They continue to do harm, because at this point it's not enough for new voices to contradict what has become Conventional Wisdom -- the old voices who originally gave the bad advice must step up and say WE WERE WRONG ... and they won't.

It's very difficult to override the ideas we once accepted as truth.  I still find myself thinking that reducing the amount i eat will help me lose fat faster, although i have experience that this is not the case!  I still find myself thinking that fruits and vegetables are "healthy," though the studies which Peter at Hyperlipid reported on MANY years ago proved to me INTELLECTUALLY that they don't actually do what is claimed for them, and my gut has confirmed are NOT my friends.

Convincing us that we have complete control over our weight, and a great deal of control over our health (except for that genetic crap-shoot, you know) has been an insidious tool of our own destruction.  And the "truth" is out there -- it's just a 24/7 job of reading lots of different fields-of-study, and putting puzzle pieces together.

May the gods bless those who make it easier for us -- the Peters, and the Wooos, and the Eades, etc.  Heaps of praise for people who bave brilliant and curious minds, who start with a narrow expertise, but who aren't content to remain in their own isolated fields.  Curses on the professionals who think that everything they learned in school was the very last word on the subject, and DAMN TO HELL the ones who KNOW they're doing the wrong thing, but do it anyway.


  1. Dammit, Tess, you beat me to it! I have a very similar rant in the works for my own blog. (Possibly coming this week, actually, if I get it done in the next couple of days.) You could not be more right. Your last paragraph is *golden.* It's bad enough when doctors don't have accurate or up-to-date information because they're too busy to keep up with the medical literature or some-such. (These people at least know that they *don't* know.) It's even worse when they *think* they have accurate and up-to-date info, but they're completely off the mark. (They're confident they *do* know, but they just happen to be mistaken.) And the very worst is the people who *know* they don't know, but act like they do, and quite literally kill people via their arrogance. (Or maybe their shame/embarrassment -- the emotions that lead them to *not* go the respectable Noakes route and stand up, proudly admitting how wrong they were.) I can sort of understand it -- I mean, we really, truly, are talking about people who took an oath not to harm people, but who, if they allow themselves to open that scary Pandora's box of truth, may be faced with having to acknowledge how many diabetic amputations, how many second heart attacks, how many little kids coked out of their gourds on psychiatric meds, could have been prevented by a change in diet, some fresh air, watching a sunset, and more sleep.

    (As for the "knowing" and "not knowing" thing, I hate -- and I mean *hate* to sound like Rumsfeld, but I didn't know how else to say it. And while we're on that sort of topic, I want to thank you for introducing me to Stonekettle Station. Found him through your blogroll. He's fantastic!

    1. Thank you, Amy! :-) You've made my cloudy Monday morning a lot brighter!

      I'm glad you're enjoying Stonekettle -- i LOVE his way of calling out so much wrong-headed political thinking in this country, especially as he has so much experience of the military world. Just like successful in-the-trenches medical professionals, one gets the sense that their observations can be relied-on!

    2. Yes, loving Stonekettle. I was in the military, too, though only for 4 years. I'm not trying to dissuade your perceptions of the uniform, but bear in mind, the military -- just like the medical profession -- certainly has its share of morons, ignoramuses, and criminals. (They are the minority, sure, but they're there.) ;)

    3. :-) Well, of course. And not all people who claim to have done extraordinary things are telling the truth, either. But Jim's voice of reason -- ie, i agree with his point of view -- are definitely in his favor.

  2. Very often our society expects of people to act like they are unbreakable. I am afraid that victims of cancer are under double pressure - the illness itself and the necessity to demonstrate a positive attitude.

    1. I agree with your assessment! Societal expectations often make our problems worse than they have to be!

      This morning i finally finished the book i mentioned above, and i'm crafting a review/conclusion.... As periodicals used to say, "watch this space for MORE!" ;-)

  3. I've been working on a body image post, which includes my frustration about the attitude that, "fat people are ugly, and being fat is their own fault because they eat too much and are too lazy to exercise, so it's okay to be bigoted against them." This post hits right in that same spot. Apparently, I'm not the only one frustrated with what "everybody knows" because it's wrong.

    1. Sorry you had to wait so long for your comment to be published, Rebecca -- i got busy and failed to check older posts in a timely fashion!

      I'm hoping that the tide is finally changing, when it comes to "acceptable" looks and weights, but it will probably never be perfect. From what i've read of instinctive and "hard-wired" preferences, there will always be some prejudice against people whose proportions don't fit within certain ranges of optimalism. From the evolutionary point of view, those proportions seem to be pretty good indicators of healthiness, and they point us toward potential mates that can help us produce healthy offspring, just as they did our paleolithic ancestors. Waist-to-hip RATIOS -- not hard-number measurements -- are indicative of a healthy liver, for example; facial feature relative dimensions hint at different hormonal balances, too.

      The good news about these proportions is that some of them CAN be tweaked even if the ideal is out of the question for some of us -- our messed-up environments that screw with our hormones may make us carry more subcutaneous fat than we'd like, but our visceral fat is comparatively easy to reduce. Bigger people CAN be healthy, and frankly that's more important than being thrilled by what we see in the mirror!