Saturday, September 29, 2007

Wheat, rice and corn are high in simple carbohydrates which promote weight gain

Evolution makes us fat William Leith reviews Waistland: the (R)evolutionary Science behind our Weight and Fitness Crises by Deirdre Barrett
As animals, we are genetically almost identical to our Stone Age ancestors. We live in advanced societies, with supermarkets and cars and lifts, but we are built to be hunter-gatherers. We are programmed to seek out fat, sugar, starch and salt, because, in the Stone Age, these things were hard to come by. When they turn up in abundance, our bodies, for the most part, can't say no.
She tells us lots of interesting things about our hunter-gatherer ancestors, who immediately preceded the first farmers. The point about farming, she says, is that, although it makes populations bigger and tribes more powerful, it's not necessarily healthier for the individual. On the contrary, hunter-gatherer skeletons tend to be bigger and healthier than those of people from early farming societies.
This might be because the crops that people raise tend to be the most convenient ones, rather than the most nutritious. Wheat, rice and corn – the foods that "provide the bulk of the calories consumed today" – are "high in simple carbohydrates which promote weight gain", but each lacks essential nutrients.
So you can see what's happening – to put it simply, human beings are evolving much more slowly than the food we eat. And the food is tricking us. We think it's what we need, but it's just what we want. What can we do? Eat sensibly and exercise, of course. One thing we have to do, though, is "not to listen to your body" – because it craves food that, in abundance, is bad for it.
Barrett is big on exercise. We evolved to enjoy sitting around because, in hunter-gatherer times, we had to walk and jog and climb so much that sitting around was the right thing to do. Now we have to earn it. The good news, she says, is that, if you make exercise a habit, it stays with you.
This is a clear, well-written and thoughtful guide to the fat crisis. The advice is simple. Eat healthy food. Then do a lot of exercise. Then you'll be fine. 27/09/2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Should one lower one's cholesterol?

Irrational beliefs I hold about carbon emissions
I have two sets of beliefs about global warming...
Is this because I visited the ocean as a child, and received some mysterious emotional sense of its powers, a sense which I can no longer eradicate from my subconscious? Or am I more generally attracted to explanations which postulate some deeper but slightly hidden or indirect problem with status quo policies? (I could look for signs that I hold similar delusions elsewhere.)
I try to keep these beliefs from affecting my policy conclusions, but I am not altogether able to stop holding them. And even if my belief turns out to be true (which I expect someone to suggest in the comments), I am quite sure my procedural reason for holding it is an irrational one. Posted by Tyler Cowen on September 25, 2007 at 08:44 AM in Science Permalink Comments
What you are dancing around is the issue of trust. We can't be experts on everything, so we take a lot of what we believe based upon trust.
There are two types of trust. One is trust based upon authority. This is how ideologies function. These can be religious, political or economic. The data is ambiguous, so great weight is given to those who guide the movement. Some people are more predisposed to follow this type of model.
The other type of trust is based upon scientific evidence. The trust comes in when one has to evaluate the trustworthiness of those providing the evidence (and drawing the conclusions). There is little debate over the fact that the moon causes the tides although I'm not aware of individuals doing experiments on their own to validate this.
There is more difficulty when the evidence is still being developed or when it is based upon epidemiological studies. Should one lower one's cholesterol? Well there are plenty of fat old people around who don't have heart attacks.
There also seems to be a correlation between those who are strong adherents to an ideology and their unwillingness to accept scientific evidence that questions their core beliefs. The classic example these days is those who disbelieve evolution.
It appears that those who are doubtful about human caused climate change also fall into this class. Most of the strongest deniers have a belief in the benefits of the capitalist system. This is based upon growth and climate change implies that there may be a need to change this goal. In a finite world permanent growth is impossible. Then something else will have to replace capitalism. Rather than give up the economic ideology, question the science.
Unfortunately for the human race, mother nature doesn't read partisan screeds. Posted by: robertdfeinman at Sep 25, 2007 11:57:12 AM

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The more you eat the sooner you will leave this planet

Eat (Less) to Live (Longer)
New study reveals why restricting calories may lead to longevity By Nikhil Swaminathan Scientific American, September 20, 2007
SIRT3 and SIRT4 are part of a family called sirtuins. (SIRT1, which helps extend cell life by modulating the number of repair proteins fixing DNA damage both inside and outside the cell's nucleus is also a member.) SIRT is short for sir-2 homologue—a well-studied protein that is known to extend yeast cell longevity. According to Sinclair, all of the mammalian SIRT genes (and their proteins) are possible drug targets for therapies aimed at extending life, as well as staving off age-related illnesses, such as Alzheimer's disease, cancers and metabolic disorders, like diabetes... BROWSE BY SUBJECT: SPACE AND PHYSICS
Last year, researchers showed that stimulating SIRT1 can help yeast cells live longer. Sinclair, working with colleagues at his company, at Cornell University in New York and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, identified the actions of two more sirtuin genes called SIRT3 and SIRT4. They found the enzymes controlled by these genes help preserve the mitochondria -- little organs inside of cells that provide their energy.
Your Life Is in Your Hands: the Path to Lasting Health & Happiness by Krishan Chopra (Author), Deepak Chopra (Author) Editorial Reviews
"I believe that what you eat matters, but what is eating you up matters much more," writes Krishan Chopra, M.D., in Your Life Is in Your Hands. Chopra, father of Deepak Chopra, combines knowledge from Western medicine and Eastern wisdom to help you engage in those habits that lead to health and well-being, and discard those that produce stress and illness. Western medicine is effective, but it needs to be combined with a lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and exercise plus heart-and-mind habits such as positive thoughts, optimism, zest for life, right action, meditation, and spirituality.
Chopra describes how, for example, your chances of getting a major illness are doubled if you are depressed, anxious, chronically pessimistic, angry, or irritable, and he explains how to alter those emotions. He discusses the concepts of dharma and karma, illustrating them with family stories. Much of the book is philosophical, spiced with case histories and traditional tales, with advice about how to work these themes into your life. --Joan Price --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Deification of victimhood; the supremacy of feelings over reason, and the glorification of self-esteem over self-control

Dr. Sanity Shining a psychological spotlight on a few of the insanities of life
What all the modern psychobabble about self esteem, feelings, stress and victimhood lead to is a culture of pervasive and malignant narcissism. Instead of healthy ambition, goals and ideals, the malignant narcissist pursues either the sociopathic selfish type of gratification; or the sociopathic selfless variey.
This is a complicated topic, but I discuss it at length in this series of posts . Suffice it to say that our current culture either emphasizes and encourages a bloated sociopathic grandiosity or it encourages the exact opposite- a selfless sociopathy. Both are extremely dysfunctional and malignant for the individual as well as the society at large; and psychological health requires a synthesis of these two extremes of narcissism. The celebrity culture and the quest for superstardom, constant ego-gratification and promotion of self-esteem (at the expense of self-control) has encouraged an unhealthy grandiosity; while at the same time overcompensating with an unhealthy pseudo-selflessness that manifests itself in politics and religion.
The holy trinity of therapeutic psychobabble, the glue that holds this passive, helpless, and ultimately nihilistic world view together is: the deification of victimhood; the supremacy of feelings over reason, and the glorification of self-esteem over self-control.
Those therapists who subscribe to the psychobabble religion and indoctrinate their patients into it, tend to be predisposed to think of themselves as heroically pursuing "social justice" for the poor, unhappy and oppressed masses. But, when you peel away the layers of pseudo-Freudian babble, you discover that the basic premises, the foundation--or "default mode" if you will of the babbler therapist, is the tacit acceptance of Marxist political theory, which neatly sets up the conditions for individual, cultural and societal suicide.
The Marxist dialectic insists that you can either be an "oppressor" or one of the poor "oppressed". From the Marxist moral perspective it is clearly much better to be a victim of oppression. Thus this world view neatly reinforces the passivity and helplessness of victimhood by proclaiming it to be a higher moral value; and, when the only way to get out of this oppressed victim state is to enter the morally inferior ranks of the "oppresors" most people will prefer to reap the rewards of their victimhood--which in our Marxist-drenched culture have proliferated beyond imagining.
Just ask those who finally escape from the oppressed victim mindset only to discover to their astonishment that they are now perceived as "the enemy" and a "traitor" to their gender, race, class, politics etc. etc.--I'm sure you've heard the rhetoric.
At best, a culture or society can either encourage the development of healthy, mature psychological defenses with which to cope with reality and channel human nature; or they can encourage the development and expression of the worse aspects of basic human nature--i.e., those which result in violence, racism, criminality and all the other pathologies. Either way, social, political and economic systems can only encourage certain human traits that result in civilized behavior; or, encourage those that are barbaric and antisocial. Human nature is the same, though, no matter what type of society or political system it finds itself in.
The therapeutic psychobabble that has become the default mode of our culture leads inevitably to the kind of societally dysfuntional and suicidal behavior we witnessed in the recent British confrontation with Iran; and which we witness almost daily now in our dealings with Islamofascism. Our default mode is suicidal. The enemy's is homicidal. It is a perfect postmodern fit. - Diagnosed by Dr. Sanity @ 6:58 AM Comment (0) Trackback (0) <<> Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

It is impossible to understand anything of Lacan if the anthropology of Levi-Strauss is not fully kept in mind

Levi-Strauss already underlined this in An Introduction to Marcel Mauss, where he argued that different social structures give rise to different types of symptoms. For instance, he argues that schizophrenia is absent in particular types of social systems...
I am not at all in disagreement with Schneider’s apparent argument here, but I find it strange to say the least. The great discovery of ethnography during the last century was that kinship structures and the incest taboo have very little to do with biology. It is impossible to understand anything of Lacan– especially why he introduced the symbolic and the name-of-the-father –if the anthropology of Levi-Strauss is not fully kept in mind. This book as an excellent illustration of the non-biological nature of these social structures:
One of the reasons this society is particularly interesting is that it is both possible and sanctioned for a daughter to mate with her biological brother or father. The reason for this is that the name-of-the-father is operative in this society in a very different way, and, because the child does not know who their father is it becomes possible to mate with one's biological father or brother. Examples such as this are not at all rare in ethnography.
From the Lacanian perspective, very different ethnographies will emerge as a result of these different structurations. For instance, Lacan, in an early essay, argued that neurosis is unique to our contemporary historical moment and absent in totemic society by virtue of the fact that for totemic societies the name-of-the-father is separated from the imaginary father (i.e., the male that assists in childcare) and is instead embodied in the totem (you can’t mate with anyone sharing the same totem in your tribe).
By contrast, in contemporary society the name-of-the-father (the prohibition against incest) and the imaginary father (the male caregiver) are embodied in one and the same person, generating all sorts of conflicts (as the imaginary father simultaneously serves as an ego-ideal and a prohibition of that ideal). According to Lacan, these two differing structural configurations generate very different symptomologies.
I’ve tried to outline some of the problems with American psychotherapeutic practice and its biologism (and neurologism) in previous posts on this blog:
The problem lies in an abstract conception of the individual that divorces it from the symbolic, treating the symbolic as if it had no formative impact on individuals. This comes as no surprise giving the reigning individualist, capitalist ideology in the United States, that renders scientists individuated in this context especially prone to abstraction and a disavowal of the social.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Auroville and spirulina

Spirulina: Case Study in Susustianability By mana Even if Auroville is going to grow hugely in number of habitants , there will be no problem at all in producing enough spi within the community to supply this "nutrient rich super food" on a daily basis for all, plus enough to meet the ...
Already in the 1970s, Aurovilians Bob and Deborah Lawlor started a small scale algae farm in Auroville's Success community with a mixture of green algae, mostly chlorella and scenedesmus. In their attempts at growing spi, they found that after a few weeks indigenous varieties of the chlorella species outgrew and replaced the original strain of spi. Although their project was very basic and operated with simple means, it was one of the first experimental spi farms worldwide, and even now is considered to have been of great value. So much so, that it is mentioned in the books written by Ripley D. Fox (the spi guru for the last three decades)...
Big Oxygen Producer: Forests help absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide. Trees are the best land plants for fixing carbon, from 1 to 4 tons per hectare per year. Spirulina is even more efficient. In the California desert, spirulina fixes 6.3 tons of carbon per hectare per year. It produces 16.8 tons of oxygen...
Aurospirullina uses PVs to pump all his water needs and uses solar energy for the bulk of the drying operation. Aurospirullina uses electricity for drying (after sun drying you still need to get rest of the moisture out) and grinding it to powder. This energy use is very small. Overall the Spirulina Project is one of the closest Sustainable projects in Auroville. As our bioregion continues to drain its aquifers we will see more salt water intrusion. This is a major threat but not due to the Spirulina operation. Posted by mana at 1:11 AM

For Evolutionists this presents a problem because it looks more like divine creation

The Upside Down Tree of Life Posted by Bobby Grow
under Naturalism , Apologetics , Theology , Philosophy August 31, 2007
The Cambrian Explosion is what paleontologists refer to when speaking about the sudden appearance of well developed multi-celled organisms within the strata of natural history. Here is a short summary from Berkeley Universities’ web page:
The Cambrian Period marks an important point in the history of life on earth; it is the time when most of the major groups of animals first appear in the fossil record. This event is sometimes called the “Cambrian Explosion”, because of the relatively short time over which this diversity of forms appears. It was once thought that the Cambrian rocks contained the first and oldest fossil animals, but these are now to be found in the earlier Vendian strata.
For Evolutionists this presents a problem because it looks more like divine creation, than it does the slow slow process of evolutionary change from single cell organisms to multi-celled developed organisms. Darwinists, a la Charles Darwin speak of a Tree of Life (ironically) that supposedly a critical observant can follow from the beginning to the present. Once again the Cambrian Explosion turns this thought on its head, and scientifically provides evidence that fits better with intelligent intervention into time and space. In other words there is no observable data that links (i.e. fossil record) one organism to another (in a vertical manner), from one species to another, in the way that naturalists have asserted and hoped for. Jonathan Wells (Bachelors in geology and physics, minor in biology from University of California Berkeley, PhD Yale in relgious studies, PhD Berkeley in molecular and cell biology) says on the Cambrian Explosion, as interviewed by Lee Strobel: > The Stumbling Block