“Natural” living creates communities of fear

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Seemingly disparate groups like anti-vaxxers, anti-GMO advocates, foodists like the Food Babe Army, and the anti-fluoride brigade, share one very important thing in common.

Wait, let me amend that.

In addition to ignorance of basic science, statistics and logic these groups share a second important characteristic.

All are cringing, whingeing communities of fear.

They are all defined by what they are afraid of and they are afraid of anything they don’t understand.

Anti-vaxxers don’t understand immunology.

Anti-GMO advocates don’t understand genetics.

Foodists don’t understand toxicology.

Ditto for the anti-fluoride brigade.

And they have chosen to band together and create an identity around that fear.

Sure they tell themselves and others that their communities are united by refusal to gullibly accept the assurances of experts, but their communities are actually united by the fear generated by their gullible acceptance of fabricated warnings from quacks and charlatans.

Consider the foodist cri de coeur: I won’t eat it if I can’t pronounce it.

What it really means is this: If I can’t pronounce it, it’s a big word. If it’s a big word, it might be technical. If it’s technical, I can’t understand it. If I can’t understand it, I fear it.

Imagine if our distant ancestors, the ones the natural living communities harken back to, had behaved in the same fearful manner.

“Fire? OMG, fire is dangerous. People could get burned. There is no way that I am cooking my meat before eating it!”

“Killing animals with spears? What if someone’s aim is off. They could kill me instead of the wild boar. No, I’ll take my chances getting in close and bashing wild animals over the head with my club.”

“Deliberately planting seeds in the ground? You have got to be kidding me! How do we know that the seeds we plant deliberately will grow into plants as safe and nutritious as the ones we gather? They might be poisoned so we better not eat them.”

Or much, much later:

“Central heating with gas? The gas could blow up!! We’ve been using fire to heat our homes for thousands of years; I’ll stick with that.”

“Electricity? That’s hard to pronounce. I’d rather sit in the dark.”

“Sorry, but there is no way I am getting on an airplane. If we were meant to fly, we’d have been born with wings.”

Sounds ridiculous, right? The innovations that make life longer and less arduous today were new and poorly understood once. That made them scary, but being scary is not the same thing as being dangerous. Once people learned more about these innovations, and observed them in action, they embraced them.

Our distant ancestors could be forgiven for fearing innovations since they had no way to understand how they worked. No one understood that cooking meat made it easier to extract more nutrients giving a competitive advantage for societies that cooked their meat over societies that continued to eat it raw. In time, the individuals that ate cooked meat out-competed everyone else, and those that ate meat raw simply died out. The technological innovation of cooking was so advantageous that we actually evolved to eat only cooked meat, the only animals to do so.

Contemporary anti-vax advocates are ignorant because of their own actions. The knowledge of how vaccines work and their efficacy is available to anyone who cares to learn. But anti-vaxxers are like those who whined that if raw meat was good enough for their ancestors, then it’s good enough for them. If natural selection were allowed to work unimpeded, they would simply die out, but not before they made other people sick as well.

Anti-GMO advocates are like the distant ancestors who may have fretted over the innovation of planting seeds in the ground. Who knew what might grow? Certainly not those fretting ancestors who didn’t understand botany, farming or the genetics of improving crop yields. But contemporary anti-GMO advocates have no excuse for their ignorance of genetics beyond their desire to remain ignorant and afraid.

The ultimate irony of course is that it is technology (the internet) that has allowed for the exploding growth of communities of fear of vaccines, food, and “chemicals.” Most of those who create and inhabit the anti-vax, food phobic, and chemical phobic communities can no better explain how their smart phones and tablets work than they can explain how vaccines and genetic modification of food works. Nonetheless, they surround themselves with high tech gadgets, wireless signals and displays that give off electro-magnetic radiation the better to transmit their fear of vaccines, food and chemicals.

The sad fact is that if it had been up to the cringing, whingeing members of these communities of fear, we’d still be living in small tribal bands in caves, eating raw meat and gathering wild grain and tubers. Fortunately, human history has been advanced by those willing to create and use technological innovation, and advanced much further still by those who made the scientific discoveries that led to the many technological advances that we use today.

Sadly, those who are afraid of technological innovations that they cannot understand are still huddling in the proverbial darkness of their internet communities of fear.

  • Sai C.

    This is so common in marketing for health and beauty products. Things like “natural toothpaste” make my head hurt. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone started making “natural” hemorrhoid butt-wipes. It’s especially prevalent in DIY. “Why would you use synthetic fragrance oils?” “You shouldn’t microwave natural, organic ingredients, or else you’ll lose all the nutrients in them.” It’s a money-making scheme.

  • Chelsie S

    Although I must admit that I agree with the majority of this piece regarding a lot of people in the natural community are driven by fear- as a holistic nutritionist I also have to point out that the general American public is not all that healthy. So yes, emphasis does need to be put on better nutrition (organic or not) so that we can avoid preventable disease in our future generations such as obesity and diabetes. No, I don’t fear processed foods. But yes, I have done plenty of studies, research and essays on what certain ingredients are and the studies conducted on them. Personally I think the majority of society doesn’t know enough about nutrition, and doesn’t have the knowledge and resources to make healthier choices for their family- which is how people like Food Babe draws so many people into her web… people just don’t know who to listen to. “Paleo diet? Whole 30? Atkins? South Beach?” It’s unfortunate better nutrition isn’t taught in public schools and public lunches to combat the confusion in the masses.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      The American public is healthier than is has ever been.

      What is a holistic nutritionist? What are your credentials?

      • Chelsie S

        I respectfully believe that we could strive to do a better job in public education about preventable diseases. Diabetes for example, according to CDC stats in 2014 effects 29.4 million people. Although diabetes is treatable thanks to modern medicine, having a chronic illness is serious, I personally have close friends with diabetes. I have a holistic nutrition consulting certification from the American College of Healthcare Sciences. It is my hope that through better education and resources that I can help people to prevent some chronic illnesses so that my own children won’t have to suffer some of these things.
        On a different note though- I recently e-mailed you yesterday with my own birth story! I want to thank you profusely for opening up my eyes to the real data and statistics regarding “natural births.” You have completely helped me.

  • guest

    And a lot of it boils down to fear of the government and/or capitalism. At least, the reason I don’t fear my tap water and foods bought at a grocery store are because I trust the regulations in place to ensure they are safe. The natural extremists are all afraid that the government and corporations are lying or actively trying to kill us all for profit.

    And that’s tough to argue with, because I think we should distrust capitalism, but not because of pthalates or fluoride.

  • My neighbors are terrified of their smart meter. They stand at least 5 feet from their microwave. They are so afraid all the time that the smoke a pack of cigarettes a day.

  • KeeperOfTheBooks

    So freaking true.
    Back when I was really into the woo, it exacerbated my usual low-level anxiety every time I went to the store, and I wasn’t nearly so into it as many others.
    Typical example: I shouldn’t use any skin/body/hair products with fragrance in them, so I had to scour all over trying to find something that both worked with my difficult hair (wiry, thin, coarse, curly) and had no scent in it but also worked with my limited budget. I shouldn’t use antiperspirants/deodorants because they had fragrance in them and could cause breast cancer, so I used those idiotic liquid crystal things instead, and had to reapply multiple times/day because I live in Texas and sweat like a horse in any climate, plus worked in customer service. I shouldn’t eat bread or really anything with wheat in it, so I should plan my meals around no pasta, no bread, and so on, though I’d “cheat” by baking every so often. I shouldn’t drink milk because EEEK BROKEN FATS but I should drink cream in my coffee, but then I had to cut back my diet elsewhere because despite what “everyone” said, drinking cream and eating large amounts of butter does tend to make you gain weight. Also, my absolute favorite “treat” food, homemade popcorn, was Evil Evil Evil because it was—-AAAAAAGH!—corn!
    It. Was. Ridiculous. This much drama over hair products?? Talk about first world privilege!
    I now use normal products in my hair and on my skin. (Using All Free and Clear, rather than a “green” detergent that doesn’t actually get clothes clean makes sure I don’t get eczema breakouts from a genuine allergy to laundry fragrances.) I eat wheat sometimes, though pasta binges are a bad idea because, well, binges are a bad idea period. :p I drink milk in my coffee, and don’t have to do crazy diet restrictions as a result. And he who tries to take my several-nights-per-week bowl of air-popped popcorn with a tablespoon of butter on it will have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers.
    And strangely enough, I’m perfectly healthy, I am far less stressed every time I eat a meal, and as a pleasant side affect, my hair looks a hell of a lot better than it ever did before. :p I have lost the superpower of killing small animals by lifting my arms over my head in August, but I can live with that.

    • Glad you’re doing better! πŸ˜€

    • luckymama75

      Yes yes yes! I totally agree and went thru this same craziness when I was knee deep in woo too. Plus I had a very young son and I stressed over bathing him in “chemicals”, stressing out if someone offered him something non-organic to eat. It was like a hellish obsessive compulsion. Thankfully I’ve lightened up a lot and my kids are still healthy and awesome. And my life isn’t one big ball of worry anymore.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        My DH was raised in a house where, to be honest, they probably had a lot more junk food around than I’m comfortable with in mine. However, he does have a very accurate story about some friends coming over while they were all kids, being offered a snack, gaping in amazement at the standard kids’ cereals, chips, and so on that were on offer in the pantry, and then proceeding to gorge themselves on it because all they were ever allowed to eat was organic this/no-sugar that. On the other hand, he and his siblings would shrug, grab a handful of chex mix or whatever, and keep on playing. To them, all this stuff was the norm, so they wouldn’t overindulge.

        • Mishimoo

          That is exactly what our house is like, though we tend to have more fruits/veg on offer than lollies and junk. We usually end up throwing away Easter eggs because the kids get bored and the chocolate goes off before they eat it. They seem to self-regulate when it comes to junkfood because it has never beeen anything special. It’s just there and they can mostly eat what they want when they want (except for just before mealtimes). It s less stress for me and more fun for them.

          • Allie

            That’s so true that they do tend to self-regulate. I’ve found if I let my daughter eat her fill she will have only a little more than what I might have given her. Not nearly enough to fight over.

        • Allie

          Great point. There is no surer way to instill a desire for something than to ban it. I am a lawyer and I once had a woman come to me and ask if I could get a court order restraining her ex husband from feeding their son junk food (she was particularly concerned about McDonald’s and its effects on his theretofore macrobiotic diet). I talked her out of it. I tried gently to explain to her that in a year (he was 4) he’d be going to school and then all bets were off and he’d be finding a way to swap his quinoa for a pop tart. I felt bad for her because as a mom I do understand the impulse to desire that level of control, but I could not begin to muster the energy to try maintaining it. I hope she was able to relax, let go a little and just enjoy her son.

    • Allie

      Wow, all those rules sound exhausting. Any tendencies toward woo that I might have are thankfully curbed by my laziness ; )

  • Amy

    This picture showed up a couple of times in my Facebook. It seemed relevant to this post:

    https://www.facebook.com/OccupyDemocrats/photos/a.347907068635687.81180.346937065399354/849353968490992/?type=1

  • Linden

    I’d like to steal the phrase “cringing, whingeing communities of fear”. Thank you. πŸ™‚

  • Ardea

    I taught 7th grade life science for 11 years here – and I can tell you that 7th graders in our town are enthusiastic and willing to try anything.

    Last year, the high school biology teacher retired, and the principal recruited me to replace her. And – same kids, three years later – they have become so horribly cynical and apathetic about the worth of science to their lives. They balk because of religion or because they say, “I’m just stupid,” or “How can anyone KNOW this?” (in a hostile incredulous way, not a “Wow!” way as I was getting last fall with my juniors and seniors in A&P), or “What do I need this for?” or “I’m just going to get my GED and get a good job.”

    I found myself really frustrated… a foundation in biology is necessary for later work in evolution, genetics and anatomy and physiology, otherwise, you are just reteaching middle school year after year and biology becomes less relevant in that manner.

    Then I realized, in one of those flashes of sudden insight that occur in the shower or while jogging on a Sunday afternoon: what if I explicitly taught the timeline and discoveries that went into our modern day knowledge, as well as pre-scientific thought? And the living conditions? I did this with my 9th graders in the physical science class, and it paid off: “Oh! It took 2000 YEARS to get here. Oh! And where would we be without it?” What a difference.

    • Brilliant!

    • Sue

      Great strategy!

      I also like to compare scientific with technological progress: “What would it be like if we were still stuck in the days of horse-and-cart, analogue phones, no internet and no air con? That’s what life would be like if science didn’t progress.”
      (I’m not a teacher, but I chime in with this in on-line discussions that paradoxically complain about science while on the internet).

  • broodofdiapers

    I’m not sure if everybody is familiar with the story of the “homesteading” family from Kentucky who had their 10 children (justifiably) removed because they lived in deplorable conditions, but I followed the dark hole of her blog (don’t even get me started on the contradictions of living ‘off grid’ with one communal family bed, goats shitting in your living room, and no running water but maintaining multiple FB pages, a blog, and owning an iPhone) to her homebirth story… do babies normally look like that when born? Other than the caul, the coloring looks just OFF.

    • broodofdiapers
      • monojo

        “Those familiar with birth, do you see what’s going on here?” Yes. You just took a dump all over your lucky caul baby. How’s that for metaphor?

        • Mattie

          I mean, that’s just one of the less nice aspects of human physiology. Not unique to home birth, but seriously clean it off ick

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Reason #457 I’ll have my babies in a hospital where I can pay nice people to deal with that mess for me, thank you very much.

          • And not worry about a raccoon running off with it!

          • Kelly

            Or a dingo.

          • Maybe that’s what she meant by “chunky baby”?

            …I grossed myself out. ):

          • monojo

            Ewwwwwwwwhahahahahahahaha!

          • monojo

            Totally normal, and that’s why you should have towels and wipes ready. There was an extra hand to take the picture, but not enough to take care of the poop before it got on the baby- that’s a total wtf for me.

          • Mattie

            Same!! I mean, a lot of my friends say that is the thing that they really don’t like the idea of (to do with childbirth) but when I was on placement on delivery suite we would wipe as it was coming out, not just let it get all over everything, because ew.

          • monojo

            Yes! I was scrolling through, and on the second to last birth pic, I thought, oh no, someone better get a wipe ready. And then the next- literal shit all over the baby!?!? That picture was just the cherry on the sundae- every single thing about those pics were just so sad/ gross. It’s clear that they are woefully unprepared for the type of life they want to lead.

    • Spamamander

      And their argument that the children were taken away because they “unschooled”… not because they live in a 3 sided shack with no running water or electricity.

    • Amy

      I don’t know if I’d call that platform they made their kids sleep on a “bed,” nor the three-sided lean-to a “living room.” Those conditions were absolutely appalling. Worse, she was PROUDLY posting pictures of the compound, as if to brag about it, as if the visual evidence of the filth and lack of modern amenities would prove that her kids were safe and well-cared-for.

  • JJ

    Honestly, most of the natural/anti-vax/conspiracy people really need effective treatment for anxiety, not another detox cleanse or Natural News article.

  • Psychae

    You think you’re joking when it comes to avoiding electricity. One of my patients was advised by her naturopath to avoid wi-fi and never to sleep in the same room as an electrical appliance (e.g. desk lamp) that’s plugged into the wall…for the duration of her pregnancy.

    Practical, achievable health care for everyone!

    • Sue

      Yep – there’s a whole world of EMR paranoia, which seems not to be able to distinguish ionising from non-ionising radiation.

      Then there’s the paranoia associated with the fact that non-ioninsing radiation can heat human tissue. Ever heard of sitting in the sun, guys?

  • Froggggggg

    On the same topic, the controversial Australian paleo baby cookbook that was axed by the publisher has now been self-published online: http://www.essentialbaby.com.au/baby/caring-for-baby/pete-evans-releases-controversial-paleo-baby-book-20150529-ghc4p7.html

    Charlotte Carr, the woman who was involved in creating it, nicely proves the point of this post. From the article: “I felt overwhelmed with the ingredients on commercial formulas and just couldn’t understand how we could go from something so pure to something so processed. What worked for me was finding a home made formula which I could make him,” she said.

    Head, meet brick wall.

    • Mishimoo

      Ugh, DAMN! I was hoping that it would just quietly disappear instead of being released.

      • Who?

        No, they are going it alone. Pete what’s his name-don’t remind me, btw-makes me crazy. He looked like a much nicer guy when he was about 20kg heavier.

        • Mishimoo

          I completely agree!!

    • Sue

      If I make it, with love, it HAS to be better than something from the Pharma-Industrial Complex, no?

      Well, no.

  • Froggggggg

    Well, I still know a small handful of people from my parents’ generation who won’t get on a plane, arguing along the lines of “humans weren’t meant to fly”. Fortunately for them, they’ve always had a choice. Once choice is removed, a lot of these beliefs fly out the window very quickly (no pun intended!).

    • Sue

      That can always be met with “humans were meant to innovate”.

  • KarenJJ

    Yes, Naturopaths. Vitamins were once poorly understood, cutting edge science.

  • DelphiniumFalcon

    I can’t pronounce lychee right sometimes. Depending on the person I’m talking to it’s either leechee or lie-chee or litch-ee. Either way once I learn to pronounce it one way I’m told I’m wrong and go to another and the cycle continues.

    Guess I can’t eat an all natural Asian fruit! Because everything from Asia is magic super food for some reason!

    We should start trying to convince the foodies that durians are the new “super food”. I mean they’re harmless and are supposed to taste really good but are also infamous for smelling like raw sewage. You’d literally be able to smell the woo coming!

    • Bugsy

      For maximum effect, they would need to spread durian on the skin as a lotion…hehe…

      • DelphiniumFalcon

        Omg yes! Tell them it’s rich in fats and convince them to try making soap out of it!

      • Spamamander

        It puts the lotion on it’s skin…. sorry couldn’t resist πŸ˜‰

      • Orangs love durian. If it’s good for them… {snark}

  • Zoey

    I was pondering this a little while ago, and came to the conclusion that there are some people (even those surfing the internet on their smartphones) that really believe the solution to all of humanity’s problems is returning to some sort of idealized past. You know, where people had to grow their own food without pesticides or fertilizers, everyone got the measles and was OK after a week, and we could all live in harmony with nature somehow.

    But, luckily for us as a species, many people don’t believe this and continue to look for ways to better our lives using science and technology. I personally believe that humanity’s future (assuming we have one) will be very different from our past, and that is a good thing. Because eating raw meat in a cave, or starving when your crops fail, or dying from polio is crappy, no matter what the crunchy crowd tries to tell us.

    • Mel

      Don’t forget getting sick from improperly stored food.

      I just got back from Puerto Rico which was my first experience in a tropical climate. I also spent 3 hours one night trying to explain how “growing seasons” work in Michigan and how critical getting a crop planted in the right time window was.

      The lady I was talking with looked at me and said “I have no idea how you people survive up there.” I replied “Refrigerated shipping from the rest of the world.”

      • Cobalt

        I met a guy who moved from Venezuela to Pennsylvania tell me

        “American farmers have to work too hard. In my country, you spit and a tree grows and in a week you have fruit. I don’t know why anyone would try to grow it here instead.”

        An oversimplification and exaggeration, but a very real point.

      • Zoey

        I have a few friends that are into home canning now and it seems like there are a lot of ways to screw that up and make yourself quite sick. I prefer to leave my food preservation to those who actually know what they’re doing.

        • Mel

          Oh, there are. I love canning – but I am very, very cautious.

          I learned from my mom who lived through the botulism outbreaks of the 1970’s. She taught me the value of dumping a jar that doesn’t seal and the value of pitching anything that doesn’t look right after storage. You always use a tested recipe (ie something from an Extension agency in the US or the Ball Blue Book) and you MUST not change acid levels in boiling bath canners. Pressure canners must have the gauge tested yearly (which reminds me…) and you have to stay over the required PSI for the entire cooking time or start over.

          I tend to over-cook most of my canned foods – because overcooking gives you “poor” texture. Undercooking gives you botulism. I know which I can live with.

          • Bugsy

            I attempted canning a few years ago, and it came out reasonably okay. However, as the year went on I became less & less inclined to trust whether the jam I made was still good. Now that I’m pregnant, homemade jam is definitely off my list…no matter how amazing the raspberries may be.

          • moto_librarian

            My mother makes freezer strawberry preserves. I know that there is still sealing involved, but it is apparently “safer” than regular canning?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I make freezer jam all the time.

            There are no special precautions that are indicated for it.

          • Mel

            Yup. It’s not anaerobic so botulism can’t grow in it. The other methods of boiling bath and pressure cooking can lead to botulism growth – althoughjams and jellies both are quite acidic and uusually pretty safe.

          • berniece2000

            I have to say, you are overreacting with the jam bit. If you follow the recipe, with the amount of sugar required, you can’t possibly make a bad batch. Jam isn’t even “Sealed” with a canner, you just load it with sugar and put a skim of wax on it.

          • Bugsy

            Fair enough perspective…and to each her own. After having gone through IVF to conceive my children, I tend to exert extra caution against risk throughout my pregnancies.

          • Amy M

            I made homemade jam once, but between my family and the friends I gave it to, it was gone within a week or two.

      • Sue

        That’s IT!

        Not all Paelo ppl had an abundance of food year-round. In drought, flood, or a long winter on the tundra, they just starved. naturally.

        You couldn’t get your raspberry/quinoa/yoghurt/granola all on the same continent or the same season!

    • Liz Leyden

      The Kmehr Rouge tried that. It didn’t end well.

    • Nikat

      Oh god, I know one of these people! She said to me once that she wished she’d been born in a hunter gatherer society. She is addicted to the internet, hates camping or outdoorsy stuff, but is convinced that if she’d been born on the paleolithic she would magically love everything about that life because she’d be used to it, and that she’d never want anything more comfortable.

      I pointed out the infant mortality, lack of birth control, and the very limited medical options – all things that she’s very concerned with in the present. But she claimed that natural living and superior nutrition meant that those things would never be a problem for her.

      • Daleth

        Superior nutrition? From catching squirrels and eating whatever you can find?

        Call me crass, but I will stick with my quinoa, my Colorado pasture-raised buffalo burgers, my dried cherries from Michigan and my Norwegian Jarlsberg cheese, thank you very much. Oh, and my thick slices of the exact non-native species of tomato I want, which I bought as seedlings and am growing in pots.

  • Bugsy

    Very nice post. I do have to disagree with one point, though – that these phobic communities surround themselves w/ electromagnetic radiation. Some see electromagnetic radiation as an additional source of toxicity that must be removed from the world.

    CL and her husband were so, well, anti-life that in addition to being GMO-free, they’d purchased radiation monitors to use around their house. Hubby made them get rid of the microwave (and test out any other electronics w/ the radiation monitor), and the only reason she was “allowed” to have an iPhone is because it tested lower for radiation than their cordless phones. When they were positive their own monitors were working incorrectly, they had city officials come in with big monitors to re-test everything. (Talk about a waste of city money, but I digress…)

    That being said, overall a fantastic post that very much rings true!

    • DelphiniumFalcon

      Try telling them that not all radiation is created equal and it’s ionizing radiation like xrays, gamma rays, and beta particles that cause the major DNA damage but microwaves and commercial radio waves are on a relatively benign part of the spectrum and watch their eyes glaze over. It’d be hilarious if it weren’t so frustrating.

      • Bugsy

        If it involves using big words, you’d automatically lose them. Love that principle that big words = things they don’t understand = dangers & toxins.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Back when I taught Gen Chem, we would pull out the Geiger counter during nuclear chem section. There are a few “household” things that would set it off, like red Fiestaware (the red paint had uranium in it), smoke detectors (based on the decay of americium), and we had “Marie Curie’s rock” which was sent to a former member of the department by Marie Curie (and contained radium).

        Then we’d wave it around and try to find other stuff. A 1 lb container of KI would have a noticeable signal. Then we ask the students what they want to check, and they always ask to check their phone. Of course, there is no radioactivity coming from that.

        But they always asked, because they all thought it did.

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          Why couldn’t I have been in your classes?! I would have loved this!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Nah, that was 15 minutes out of 45 hours of lecture. The rest was as boring as always…

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            Still worth it. And I liked the boring stuff. I lived about two hours away from the old Trojan nuclear power plant in Oregon and it got shut down when I was in fourth grade. I wanted to know why. Dad said because it had some problems and environmentalists don’t like nuclear power. Why? Because it produces waste they don’t like. Why?

            Dad wasn’t going to explain nuclear physics and radiation to a nine year old but I wasn’t satisfied. I went to the library and checked out books on nuclear power stations. Then came home and told dad how nuclear fission worked. His dad was a nuclear physicist who had passed away years before I was born so he said it was this really eerie thing to hear those familiar terms coming out of nine year old daughter. Very proud but still eerie.

            I’ve loved reading about that stuff ever since. I’m kind of a dunce in math or I might have considered something in nuclear physics or plant engineering as a career path. Still fun stuff to read. I was pretty much one of the few people not having an aneurysm among my family and friends regarding Fukushima Daiichi’s problems. The containment building’s ceing isn’t ripped off and the reactor isn’t belching radioactive particles into the sky. It’s an improvement over Chernobyl.

    • Montserrat Blanco

      There is people that sell wall paint that gets rid of that electromagnetic radiation… Supossedly. The tag price is of course eye-watering.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        And the lights no longer work after you paint the room with it? Plus, I would expect the room would be very cold afterwards, since it would get rid of the infrared too.

      • Bugsy

        Yes, but does it block out chemtrails!?!?!?!?!?!?

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          Oh man… Chemtrials are the conspiracy theory du jour where I live. This is often on standby.

        • Armand K

          Obviously not. But you’ve got vinegar for those.

          https://youtu.be/5RTDVR2BnuY

          • Mishimoo

            Or fancy orgone pyramids!

          • momofone

            LOL!

      • DelphiniumFalcon

        So we’ve come full circle? Ban lead based paint because of toxins, start fearing radiation, gamma radiation is stopped by lead, start using lead based paint?

        • Roadstergal

          But… bremsstrahlung!

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            I’m trying to imagine how to pronounce that word since I know diddly squat about how to pronounce things in German and just keep spitting and slurring like I’m having a stroke or something.

          • Roadstergal

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FXaB-F4pC0

            (I actually love German and find it a beautiful language, but I still find this funny.)

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            German is beautiful especially when sung. However my ability to speak it properly is lacking.

            And I love this video! Every time I see it my ribs hurt from all the laughing.

      • Mishimoo

        There are also little stickers for your phones and cards you can wear to stop it. They only cost around $35 aud each.

        Since I’m a bad person, when someone who is terrified of EMF/EMR asked how I can allow my kids to play on computers without the magical stickers, I said that if I was worried I’d use a string of clear quartz because it does exactly the same thing, looks pretty, and only costs $6.

  • Charybdis

    There’s a good quote from the movie The American President that deals with this issue. Paraphrased, it’s this “People aren’t interested in the facts. They want to know what to be afraid of and who they can blame for it.”. That sums it up perfectly. It’s almost as if people are creating “issues” so they can feel important/validated/admired by others in their social network/echo chamber, impressing others with their knowledge of and adherence to the woo de jour.
    My father had allergies out the wazoo and a major problem with wheat gluten, so he had a fairly restricive diet. If he ate something that was not on his food list, majorly unpleasant reactions happened. The recent gluten free craze really bothers me, because it seems like people self-diagnose themselves and/or family members with a gluten sensitivity/allergy and jump on the “Gluten is BAD for you, possibly toxic, go gluten free” bandwagon and start preaching the gluten free lifestyle. I can’t use any artificial sweeteners, as they are a migraine trigger for me. I hate the fact that there is now Splenda for use in baking for that very reason. I also believe in”better living through chemistry”, which seems to be the antithesis of All Natural All The Time.
    If it works for you, fine. Knock yourself out on whatever natural fad is currently in vogue. I don’t use artificial sweeteners because I don’t want migraines. If you do use them, it doesn’t bother me. Just don’t lecture me on the evils of cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Or hormones in meat or milk. Or the evils of pasteurized, homogenized milk. If you want to avoid them because they aren’t natural, fine. Just don’t try to convert me to your way of thinking.

    • demodocus

      The naturopath at the local yarn shop heard a couple years ago about how gluten is just like crack. I particularly enjoy eating the bakery next door’s tasty treats when she’s there.

      • Mattie

        I’d rather be addicted to cake than crack

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          Same. At least I’d die fat and happy instead of starving and strung out!

      • NoLongerCrunching

        I’ve never heard of anyone binge eating loaves of bread. Refined sugar on the other hand can be as addictive as cocaine according to some research:
        Source: my grocery list
        and
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/17668074/?i=2&from=/23719144/related

        • Dinolindor

          Wait, are you serious about not knowing anyone who’s binged on loaves of bread? You clearly have not met me and my old roommate. πŸ™‚ We both could easily eat a whole loaf of bread on our own when we were kids. And we didn’t meet until college, so it wasn’t power of suggestion between each other. Thank goodness we had learned to resist the impulse by the time we met.

          • NoLongerCrunching

            “Resist the impulse”? I don’t understand these words. πŸ˜‰

          • Wren

            Count me in the potential bread bingers.

          • Cobalt

            The only thing better than bread is cheese. Or bread and cheese.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            Falling asleep at 8pm after binging on fresh baked bread and baked feta and honey was what tipped me off that I have coeliacs πŸ™ Damn delicious gluten!

          • Cobalt

            That sounds so delicious.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            It was! Well at least I can still have the baked feta, even if it’s not quite the same without good warm crusty bread. (It’s easy too – stick the feta in a pot or ramekin with a clove or two of garlic, some black pepper and thyme and a drizzle of olive oil, and stick it in a hot oven until the feta is soft, then add a big squeeze of honey, and spread it on bread or crackers)

          • Kesiana

            Need some good GF bread recipes? XD Even the not-so-great breads are fine with a little butter; what you just described should make anything taste fantastic!

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          Heh… I may have done it a few times. Especially after visiting my mom or sister who are celiacs. I need to remember the sweet, sweet gluteny goodness I was being denied.

        • Mel

          Pan sabao (Puerto Rican sweet bread) may change your mind.

          God knows I had to refrain from mailing my clothing home and stuffing my suitcase with fresh loaves from the local bakery.

        • LibrarianSarah
          • Sue

            Lots of the “sugar is addictive like heroin” confuse physiological addiction with stimulation of brain pleasure centers. Sugar does do this, as so other nice flavours, music and sex. Then the pleasue can cause habituation. That’s not “crack addiction”. Sigh.

        • Kesiana

          I’ve never heard of anyone binge eating loaves of bread.

          I actually do that on a regular basis… XD I would be SO much happier if it were possible to live off white bread alone!

          Despite how unlikely I am to give up gluten, EVER, I’m glad for the GF craze–a friend of mine actually has celiac disease (doctor-diagnosed and everything), and it means she can find food she can safely eat with a LOT less trouble. Although certain labels could stand to be clearer…

          I’d also like to think I know something about gluten allergies, but I made brownies for said friend once and realized I had NO idea how paranoid I needed to be. Like, I’ve been known to use a measuring cup just for flour, dust it off, and put it back in the drawer. Did that mean I should assume any cooking utensils in that drawer were contaminated? If yes, could I just wash them by hand and call it good, or I needed to run them through the dishwasher?

          In the end, I just crossed my fingers and took what felt like reasonable precautions. Funny how the GF websites out there don’t seem to cover this, though!

      • demodocus

        I should probably mention this bakery doesn’t make cake. My son has a serious thing for their rosemary focaccia, though. He calls it ca-ca!

  • …Actually there are some of them who choose to limit their exposure to wireless and insist on wired connections everywhere…so they surround themselves with gadgets, but even then, a good number also fear those gadgets.

  • moto_librarian

    If only these irrational people would stop forming virtual communities and actually create physical communities where they would voluntarily isolate themselves from the rest of us. I have no desire to go back to living “naturally.” Give me vaccines, GMOs, and pasteurized milk any day of the week!

    • Amy M

      I opened my big mouth on facebook, because one of my fb friends posted some ignorant anti-GMO stuff. Basically, I said that GMOs are safe and there is no reason to fear them. I got one response: “Do you think drinking glyphosphate is safe too!?!” I answered that one with : “Why would you drink glyphosphate?” because anyone who would wonder about drinking glyphosphate, in response to the suggestion that GMOs are harmless, is probably not going to change his mind. I don’t know if he’ll say more, but if so, I bet its “do your research!.”

      • I’ve just spent a delightful afternoon discovering what a horrible mother and grandmother I am. Now, when I had my babies, there was NO prepared baby food at all in Israel. You cooked something suitable, put it in a food mill [blenders were rare then too] and pureed it. You did this almost every day because most people had rather small fridges and many did not have deep-freezers. Food choices were somewhat limited. Good vegetable and fruit selection, but all meat and a good deal of poultry came from overseas, frozen and impregnated with who knew what antibiotics, etc.

        Now, my daughter does essentially the same thing because prepared baby food is sufficiently expensive to be saved for trips, etc. Instead of a food mill, she has an Italian gadget which steams and purees the food automatically. There is much more variety in the shops; she can get “organic” if she wants [and is rich enough].

        Next week she and her family are going to NYC to visit her brother, my son. He sent us a link to an internet “supermarket” and told me to order whatever I think Ilan the Toothmacher [11 months old] will need. I expected to find Gerber. What I found is [1] all organic, [2] no GM, [3] no additives, [4] packaged in non-BPA-containing packaging, and containing the most incredible ingredients: “Water, Organic White Potatoes, Organic Ground Chicken, Organic Carrots,
        Organic Corn, Organic Peas, Organic Cream (Milk), Organic Extra Virgin
        Olive Oil, Organic Yellow Onion, Organic Garlic, Organic Vegetable Base
        (Cooked Organic Vegetables [Organic Carrot, Organic Onion, Organic
        Celery], Organic Canola Oil, Organic Carrot Powder [Organic Carrot],
        Organic Potato Flour, Organic Onion Powder), Sea Salt, Organic Sage”
        reads one label. Even the biscuits are organic, and some are made from brown rice. [I warned my daughter to taste — it’s probably all lacking that demon chemical, salt]

        Dear God, how my children escaped poisoning and are now healthy, happy, well-nourished successful adults, I’ll never know! Ilan the Toothmacher is a bouncing 10 kilos — he doesn’t know what he’s been missing! Gevalt!

        • demodocus

          Almost certainly. I do get my 18 month kiddo some organic pouches, because the pouch form is *really* convenient (we’re at church a long time between choir practice and the service itself, and they’re fairly minimally messy) and I cannot find pouches filled with normal food. The meat ones I tried were nasty, and I don’t even like salt. Kiddo has a couple favs in the fruit-and-veggie category.

          • Oh dear. Ilan only gets chicken and veg here [I put chicken breasts in soup, with veggies, and then chop it all up, spoon into muffin tins in portions, and freeze; just reheat before serving in — gasp! — the microwave]. He loves it. I’m hoping the chicken combinations will suit him. One, though, has quinoa and amaranth and I wonder what he’ll think of that. Fortunately, he’s not a picky eater. Contrariwise, I’m afraid he might develop a taste for some of these delicacies and begin objecting to plain fare when he returns to Israel in 3 weeks Then my goose is really cooked!

          • demodocus

            He may be okay with the saltless puree. My boyo was fine with unsalted homemade puree, but refused even the Gerber meat + veg purees. Might help to mix familiar herbs/spices into the puree. (I mixed all of dinner into the puree)

          • Liz Leyden

            I buy pouches because they’re convenient to keep in the diaper bag. I buy organic pouches because the local Big Lots has them cheap (usually 50 cents each).

        • SporkParade

          I may or may not have spent an hour two days ago looking through all the baby food pouches on diapers.com to find the one brand that wasn’t non-GMO (all of them are organic). One day, someone will explain to me why the pouches don’t have the same baby food as the jars.

          • Jars are so, well, infra dig , my dear. Pouches make a statement about your committment to mothering [or “mama-ing”]
            I guess. But of course, they do have the advantage of being less breakable.

          • Amy M

            mama-ing. Love it.

          • An Actual Attorney

            Also, a lot lighter to tote around.

        • Montserrat Blanco

          I just boil and pure whatever is available: potatoes, chicken, carrots and courgettes are a great combination. Nothing is organic. My completely unnatural baby is growing fine. If we would have let Nature her way he and I would be dead now, so I could not care less about “natural”.

          • I agree with you, but they are going to NYC for 2 weeks, and with shopping and what-all, my daughter has no inclination to cook. Fortunately, I found good, old-fashioned Gerber’s [albeit “organic”] on Amazon. The site I’d had recommended to me by my son was the “Whole Foods for Baby” kind of place. Really only for very well-heeled and gourmet parents

      • Mel

        I’d rather eat bt (GMO) corn than:
        1) Spray all sorts of nasty pesticides to control corn worms
        2) Eat corn worms

        • Cobalt

          Ug, corn worms. Got most of our crop last year. I had to BUY corn, after putting in the trouble of GROWING corn. Grrrr.

      • DelphiniumFalcon

        Well no I wouldn’t drink glycophosphate but I wouldn’t drink a cow manure smoothie either. What’s their point? Lol

        • Charybdis

          How about a placenta and kale smoothie, made, of course, with kefir instead of yogurt? Or made with yogurt you make yourself using your own vaginal flora?:P

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            …I’m trying to imagine what that would look like and all these “frog in a blender” jokes from elementary school came rushing back.

            Lol vaginal flora yogurt. I’d call bullshit but unfortunately someone somewhere has done this and blogged about how wonderful it is I’m sure.

          • Charybdis

            Yep, a grad student made yogurt using her vaginal flora as the live culture. The result was tangy, tingly and reminiscent of Indian yogurt. She ate the resulting yogurt with blueberries.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            I’m reading that reply with a Hannibal Lecter voice for some reason. And it is glorious! Seriously it totally enhances the what-the-fuck-ery.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            My husband asks “Blueberries? What, not peaches?”

        • Amy M

          Exactly. He came back with “Why would you eat things grown in it?”
          I said that the things I eat that may have had glyphosphate applied, are not grown in a vat of it, and I wash fruits/veg anyway. And that the small amount of herbicide I might be exposed to doesn’t worry me.

          I guess if he wants to avoid potential herbicide poisoning, he should a)not drink any straight from the bottle and b)maybe stop eating fruits and vegetables if he thinks that any amount of herbicide is going to kill him.

        • Amy M

          Ha! I totally got Bingo! He came back and told me I hadn’t done my research and everything I read must have been stuff published by people on Monsanto’s payroll! Win!

    • Bugsy

      I still regret not supporting CL’s husband’s plan to move to a random island in the South Pacific in order to escape toxins.

      • DelphiniumFalcon

        Tell him the settle the Rongerik Atoll. It’s isolated and uninhabited!

        …you don’t need to tell him that it’s part of the Bikini island chain used for nuclear testing.

      • Mel

        Just don’t lick the frogs. Or the fungi. Or shellfish. Or snakes.

      • KarenJJ

        The South Pacific thanks you.

        • Sue

          UNDER the South Pacific might be preferable. Oh- but he might be scared or SONAR.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    Semi-relevant story about “food science” and, more importantly, reporting about food science

    http://io9.com/i-fooled-millions-into-thinking-chocolate-helps-weight-1707251800

    • Roadstergal

      That is an excellent article, and gets right to some of the biggest problems with bad studies – small sample sizes, multiple comparisons that aren’t corrected for, worship of a simple T-test p-value. Not that anyone will listen.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I’m just impressed at the level they went to to pull it off.

  • Amy M

    Don’t forget raw milk advocates! I suppose they are afraid of BGH and/or antibiotics in commercially available pasteurized milk? But they are not afraid of listeria, e.coli or tuberculosis contamination, just like they don’t fear measles or diptheria—all of those things are natural after all, and they have never seen anyone die from those bacteria/viruses.

    • just me

      I don’t think it’s either or. Drinking raw milk is incredibly stupid but that doesn’t mean hormones and antibiotics in milk are a good thing/not harmful.

      • Amy M

        Here’s where I am ignorant. What percentage of commercially available milk is hormones and/or antibiotics? And the hormones given to cows—aren’t they bovine growth hormones? Does BGH cross-react with the human receptor? According to this link: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/recombinant-bovine-growth-hormone, no. That article discusses the possible issues with BGH and seems legit.

        Here’s another one: http://scienceblogs.com/aetiology/2012/06/19/growth-hormones-in-milk-mythfact/

        I think (thought I am not doing a thorough google search) that there is still some concern about the increased use of antibiotics in cows that get rBST, especially from an animal welfare standpoint.

        • Cobalt

          It says on the carton of organic non-hormone treated cow’s milk that there’s no discernible difference in the milk.

        • Mel

          BGH doesn’t react in humans. In the 1940’s, the US tried it as a treatment for certain forms of dwarfism. It didn’t work at all when injected at levels much higher than any milk exposure.

          BGH isn’t excreted in milk. If it was, it could potentially harm the calf (well, if it wasn’t destroyed by the digestive system). Hormones tend to be tightly controlled in milk production systems in mammals.

          BGH is linked with higher mastitis levels in cows – but there are some caveats. First, BGH does increases milk production and high milk production is correlated with higher mastitis rates in the absence of BGH. Secondly, BGH allows cows to stay at milk production levels for up to 3 years (usually 2.5-3 years) without getting re-bred. This allowed us to space births by 18 months apart rather than 2-3 months apart. When we stopped using rBGH, the average herd life span went from 12 years to 5 years. Third, the increased use of antibiotics for mastitis was off-set by decreased use of antibiotics for metritis (uterine infections)

          Bluntly, the uproar over rBGH hurt cow welfare more than it helped cows. If our co-op would let us use rBGH, we’d go back to it in a heartbeat.

          • Amy M

            Thank you! I didn’t want to spout off about something I didn’t really know about, but based on the science I do every day, I couldn’t figure out how cow hormones could affect humans. I do Western blots and sometimes rat-antibodies won’t cross react with mouse—-and those two species are way more similar than humans and cows.

            I didn’t know anything about the affects of rBGH on mastitis and antibiotic use though.

    • SporkParade

      My understanding is that they believe pasteurization destroys the nutrients in the milk.

      • Amy M

        Well it will certainly kill the extra protein that might have been gained from all the bacteria living in it.

    • Inmara

      At least here people are buying raw milk either in stores (a few suppliers sell it) it or directly from farmers because we like to culture leftovers and use them for pancakes – they taste much better than with store-bought kefir or buttermilk. There are folks who are fearmongering about pasteurization and bad effects of homogenizing milk, but most are just nostalgic for the good ol’ times when leftover milk was always self-cultured into nice sour milk, whereas today it’s a gamble whether good or bad bacteria will make it first. Also, some people prefer taste of raw milk – again, nostalgic memories of childhood spent in farm. Actually, I haven’t heard about any cases of listeria or e.coli outbreaks due to raw milk (and such things usually make it to the news).

  • demodocus

    I’m fairly sure that gas heating is more dangerous than vaccines, GMOs, and fluoride. There’s a few gas explosions on the news every year, and you only hear about local ones.

    • Anonymous

      Anything can be dangerous if not used properly. Cars are more dangerous than just about anything but I don’t see a big movement going on to ban cars, although I’m sure it would cut down on the number of deaths.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        Off topic, but…I’d like to ban cars in certain situations. Namely, I don’t see any real advantage to having private cars running around the centers of major cities: there are too many pedestrians and the distances are such that cars don’t make much sense anyway. But I am often considered eccentric.

        • demodocus

          My husband (with his white cane), our son in his stroller (with reflectors stuck on it), and I were nearly hit yesterday, going for milk after dinner. The driver just *had* to turn before we got halfway across the street. The driver behind him had time to ask if we were okay after we crossed before she turned the same way! Ugh.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Cars just don’t work well in places with a lot of pedestrians. Time to get rid of them. (After, of course, making sure that there is good paratransit in place.)

      • demodocus

        I didn’t say we should ban gas; I was just pointing out that the things people are freaking out about are safer than something they may well use or have used. The last explosion I heard of was caused by someone stealing copper. Damn fool

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      There was a gas explosion in my neighborhood about one year ago. Everyone blamed the (public) gas company for it. Seems reasonable enough–it was their pipe that exploded, right? Except that, although the explosion destroyed several houses there were no lives lost. The reason that no lives were lost is that everyone was woken up by their CO detectors going off prior to the explosion, so everyone was outside when it happened. Why were the CO detectors going off? Because of a smoldering fire in the electrical conduit that the (privatized) electric company had failed to maintain properly. And it was that fire that eventually made its way into the gas line and caused the boom. The moral? Public ultilities may kill you from neglect and incompetence, but private utilities’ attempts to make a profit by undermaintaining their works WILL eventually kill you. (Sorry, more off topic ranting.)

      Another random gas story: My house was built in the 1860s. When it was built it had modern gas lighting put in. When it was converted to electricity, they capped the line off but didn’t actually turn it off. At some time between 1910 or so when this was done and now, the line started leaking. It was only found last year when we had a very thorough plumber go through and check for gas leaks. A 100 year old gas leak! AHHHHH!!! Good thing the place wasn’t insulated worth crap or we might have been in trouble.

      Ok, that’s all the gas disaster and near disaster stories I have. For now.