These Are The Crazy Years

It’s become a thing among Heinlein fans, writers and readers alike.  We get together for a good talk, and a glass of wine, and one of us will mention something nuts and the others will go “Well, these are the crazy years.”

Things like the girl who had to remove a decoration from her purse before boarding a plane because the decoration was in the shape of a revolver, though about finger sized and evidently cut in half lengthwise.  The TSA thought the ban on guns applied to this too.  (Of course, she’d flown with it before, so it was just this TSA station, but nonetheless its rulings were absolute.)

Things like the little deaf boy who can’t sign his name because one of the letters looks like a gun.

Things like kids getting in trouble because of a fictional story they wrote.  Things like my younger son – it’s a theme, yes.  The boy is lightening rod on his mother’s side.  More on that later – getting sent to the school psychiatrist because he used the following sentence in an essay “Some people think I’m crazy.”

Then there is the shooting in the Aurora theater, which doesn’t even make any sense, except in a culture where it’s better to be famous for killing people than to be obscure.

There’s half (half?) of our literature and movies, which glorify behaviors that in real life get you killed or make you a bum.  There’s the fact that being thrifty, hard working and honoring your contracts makes you “uncool.”  There the fact our women are taught to hate all men and men are finally learning to avoid women.  There’s…

You say it in groups of Heinlein fans, and people go “Well, these ARE the crazy years.”  And you move on.

I’m here to tell you these are not the crazy years, these are the fracking insane years.  Yesterday I went for a long walk and because I didn’t have my son – he was volunteering at the hospital – and therefore had to stay off the more interesting parts of downtown, I took an audio book to keep me company.  The book, because I’m writing space opera and trying to internalize his rhythms (and also because I really am trying to avoid using his terminology, etc, by reminding myself what it is.  I grew up with it, and to me it just means “science fiction” but of course it’s more than that), was Methuselah’s Children by Robert A. Heinlein.

When he hits the description of the Crazy years – you know, kids striking for less homework, more pay (for going to school) and eating clay sandwiches and such, I thought “Brother, you didn’t know from crazy.”

Part of his explanation – built into his world building – was that the crazy years were brought on by population pressures.  One must give the man one strike, and that’s a big one, but it’s one he shared with every scientist of his time.

At least he seemed to have a clue what really was at the bottom of it.  “Semantic confusion.”  Semantic confusion is a big big issue, and it is what is at the bottom of our own insanity.

Heinlein believed that semantics would become an exact science.  Since he based his beliefs on the scientific magazines of his time, I’m going to assume there was research into this.  But it seems to have come to nothing.  Or did it?

Was this one of those sciences that was never published?  One of those things that were considered too dangerous for people to know?

Let me put it this way, if I say “Women should sleep around with every guy possible, because guys want to have women available to them with no strings attached” most women figure out that’s bad, right?  But if I say “Women should sleep around with every guy possible so no man will hold strings on them and they can be free” this is liberating, right?  Semantics.  Not looking beyond the significant for the signified.

But the emotions know, if the head doesn’t.  Pretty words can beguile women, and tv shows can show the wonderful joys of the slutty lifestyle, but every one of a us knows a woman who is turning forty and fifty, still raising the fist of liberation but finding fewer and fewer takers and, let’s face it, sinking into a pit of quiet despair.

Because men and women are different, and studies prove this.  You shouldn’t need studies.  It’s evolutionary.  It benefitted men to sleep around and so those who did it with no issues were the ones who left most off spring.  It did not benefit women to sleep around.  It benefited them to have a guy know (or think) the kids were his, and therefore bring her the best hunk of mammoth from his hunt.  Her kids survived.

Studies have shown that though in both cases sex creates attachment, the effect is much stronger among women.

There’s other stuff.  We won’t talk about the human papilloma virus, now endemic in populations, which apparently causes interesting forms of vaginal, penile and mouth cancers.  The widespread dissemination of it requires that most people have MANY partners.

BUT at the heart of it, guys enjoy the hooking up culture, women don’t.  I’m not saying there weren’t always women who enjoyed it – of course there were – but statistically speaking, women favor attachment over hooking up.

How in hell did “liberating women” turn into “make them available for men’s fun with no pressures and no commitments?”  How can we believe “Men and women are exactly the same, despite different evolutionary pressures, despite the fact we can see and hear they aren’t?”

Semantic confusion.  We confuse equality before the law with equality.

How did not teaching your kids to read – whole word, making the classroom fun, “new methods” of learning for something that has been done in a mass setting and successfully since at least the Roman Empire – become “pedagogy”? and “Desirable”?  Semantic confusion.  We think “new” is better and trust “new discoveries” to make learning “less boring.”  (Almost all basic learning is mind bogglingly boring.  But it opens your wings to the sky.)

How did “Question Authority” become “Question all authority except your hippie teacher?”  Semantic confusion.  The teacher is after all cool and still behaves like an adolescent and assays your fears of growing old and unhip.  And he says the authority are those other people.  You know, the unhip ones, like your parents.  And you don’t think that the teacher has power over the classroom.  That he has his own authority.  And that he’s using it to manipulate you.

How did “Speaking Truth to Power” become saying platitudes that are already enforced from the top down in our laws and in our societal assumptions.  You know, things like “Anyone could be homeless.  They just need compassion.”  (Actually this is true, but for the long time homeless compassion should come in the form of making sure they take their meds and at least moderate their behavior enough to live in society.)  Things like “Women are exactly the same as men and any differences are cultural.”  (Actually women are driven by different hormones which shape thought, which shape – oh, never mind.  Yes, some women are more masculine then men, but not the vast majority.)  Things like “You should be able to make a living at whatever you want to, whether it’s something other people want or need or not.”  Things like “What’s wrong with capitalism is that it doesn’t distribute money equally.”

This is “Brave and courageous” I suppose because they can give you your very own TV show, for parroting what the authorities want people to believe.

But the thing about semantic insanity is that words aren’t the truth.  Words are just words.  Our lying eyes still insist on telling us where reality differs from the words, and things start cracking up.

The first symptom is an amping up of insanity.  Do women feel used and treated like dirt?  Do they get upset because younger women (DUH) attract more men?

Well, you get screams of “harassment” at mere words said in passing; and you get “lookism” and its being considered a bad thing to note someone is in fact female.

They could step back and think that perhaps sex for its own sake is bad, and perhaps there is a reason for mating for life and having support in your middle or old age.  But that would require real talking truth to power.  And that they can’t do.  Because everyone knows married people are unhip.

Is your kid failing to learn to read by the new spanking shiny methods?  Well, then he must have a disability and it must be the fault of something that’s tragically unhip, like irradiated food.

… But insanity can only be amped so much.  After a while even the crazies know it’s crazy.  And then, there’s the fact that semantic insanity encourages the sort of behavior that makes things worse and takes society apart faster.

And then the crash comes.  The normal result of the crash is a strong man regime, and maybe that’s where we’ll end up.  Only not the current strong men, because they’re semantically insane.  The very people trying to speed up the crash are the ones least likely to survive it.

Because most of them are third generation indoctrinated and unable to think of the signified beneath the significant.

I’m an odd duck.  I’d prefer no enforcement of even the old morals.  It makes most of us Odds distinctly uncomfortable, when any societal normal is rigidly enforced.  And it makes it difficult for creativity and invention to flourish.

But that’s where we’re headed if we don’t rein in this semantic insanity, because a strong-man regime that’s closer aligned with the majority of people is better than what we have now, which is only aligned with the reality inside people’s heads.  (Or at least the kakistocracy’s heads.)  It will allow people to survive better.

Or we can turn back now, and try to think clearly and believe our lying eyes and not the pretty stuff we want to believe.

As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,

The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

There is a different post over at Mad Genius Club:  Entanglements.

444 responses to “These Are The Crazy Years

  1. Korzybski’s semantics sounded really good, but they really didn’t work.

    • Joel Salomon

      General semantics is almost certainly what Heinlein was referring to. This was one of many ideas John Campbell encouraged, and according to J.E.P., “was a bit of a fad among science fiction writers in the 40’s (Null-A by van Vogt was one major series, but there were plenty of others).”

      • I am old enough to remember when JWC still ran Analog with an iron fist. It was though encased in a velvet glove, especially when dealing with his readers and his favorites in his stable of regular writers.
        One of the things he was well known for was “seeding” his best writers with a concept or idea then stepping back and letting them run with it. I always found it fascinating how many different ways there are to slice that same bit of fruit.

  2. Logic, grammar, and rhetoric, OTOH, still work but mostly aren’t taught.

    • John Taylor Gatto is an education conspiracy theorist. He claims that logic, grammar and rhetoric were deliberately taken out of the public schools to make people easier to lead. He says that elite private schools teach them, and actually emphasize rhetoric.

      • This makes an amount of sense, but runs into another trouble … The product of the elite schools, almost universally, go on to the elite colleges, where they are taught twaddle and foolishness and given MBA degrees and told to go and run things “the right way” ..

        The majority of ’em are well-positioned only to be, as Douglas Adams put it, “first against the wall when the revolution came”.

        Mew

  3. “Part of his explanation – built into his world building – was that the crazy years were brought on by population pressures.”

    He was spot on. One of the biggest changes with the increase in population has been an increased reliance on grains and grain products in the diet. One of the biggest components of this have been seed oils, which are produced from grains (and legumes like soybeans; seeds, in other words).

    “Soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil and other industrial creations have replaced milk and meat fat in our diet, while total fat consumption has remained relatively constant. The result is that we’re eating a lot more polyunsaturated fat than we were just 30 years ago, most of it linoleic acid (omega-6). ”

    It turns out that the rate of consumption of seed oils correlates very well with the homicide rate. That’s right. And that’s across countries and across time.

    Does this sounds crazy? Indeed, but the evidence for this is pretty overwhelming.

    “In the next few posts, I’ll explore the data from intervention trials that support the hypothesis that excessive omega-6 consumption, and insufficient omega-3 consumption, cause serious problems for psychiatric and physical health.”

    “Vegetable Oil and Homicide”
    http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.ca/2008/09/vegetable-oil-and-homicide.html

    Take a look.

    • PROVE there’s population increase to the unsustainable or even psychotic level. JUST do it. PROVE it. Only Americans can believe this.

      As for vegetable oil and homicide, you’re right, it sounds crazy.

      • I’m still waiting for a defined meaning for sustainability. What do they think are the limits and what will be expected to reach them. They never seem to want to let us find that out. I suspect that’s because it’s because it involves something really ugly.

        • Yes. They hate humans and want as few as possible. Oddly, they never volunteer.

          • It’s identical to the penultimate frame of classical Marxism: the ruling elite will gently phase out government when we’re all perfected enough to live without it. In the same way, those particular enlightened will slit their own throats when the time comes, the better to allow Mother Gaia to reclaim Spaceship Earth without the cancerous growth of humanity staining Her. Because green.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              Your mention of correlation vs causation reminded me of the article I read a couple of years ago, claiming a link between DDT use and numbers of Polio cases. Sheesh.

              • Wayne Blackburn

                Oops, that was supposed to be attached to your comment a couple down from this one. I got an error the first time I tried to post it, and got the wrong one the second time. 🙂

      • But I’ll run with the oil/homicide correlation, as it supports my desire to eat more meat. Because bacon.

        • Well. Okay. Bacon. My argument is obvious invalid 😉

          • Not at all: correlation does not equal causation, as my advisor drummed into us neophyte philosophers. I suspect the locations are similar because of the increased likelihood that urban and inner-urban dwellers eat highly processed, seed oil rich junk than that there’s something in the oil itself. Though, omega-6 oils are generally inflammation encouraging. Perhaps there’s an inflammation thingy in their brainies that drives them to kill? Nah, I’m still going with simple correlation.

          • My wife says that she could be a vegetarian, except she like steak too much :>)

            • Teacher in Tejas

              Told my wife the other day I could never be a Hindu, Kosher Jew or Muslim. Love pig and cow waaaaayyyy too much!

              • Or as “Gunga-Din” put it in Vorpal Blade: “I don’t care what the Brahmins say, Christian’s got to be higher on the totem pole. They get prime rib.”

            • Look in my mouth, see these here canine teeth? God didn’t give them to herbivores.

        • If he had said that omega-6 caused more inflammation and that it managed to make chronic illnesses worse (no proof– I have read it during my time in looking for ways to make my life better with chronic disease). I would believe it.

          I do know from personal experience that omega-3 in the diet (I use pills… and fish) does help with the inflammation. I saw my inflammation reduce in half (my doctor was worried) in one month when I was taking fish oil three times a day. –It would make me wonder (about his example) if the cause of some homicide is inflammation in the brain. I think I need to think about it… ummmm

          • I think every healthy human is capable of murder — the cause of increased murder in certain populations is that they were never taught to control themselves or in some cases that murder is bad. PFUI.

            • true– and since we are living in the time of secularism (that word caught in my throat) there are no brakes on some humans… and their behavior. (But I still wonder if inflammation is still not helpful… not the main cause… but not helpful).

              • You can always argue a chain of causality. Inflammation => discomfort => chronic sleep deficit => impaired judgment => drug use . . . .

                Except we don’t all runaround killing each other, so there’s got to be some failure mode specific to the group that commits the most murder. I’d suggest a lack of discipline in the home, lack of a good male role model, AKA absent fathers. A bad situation caused, IMO, by the early welfare programs.

                • And continued today. Yep.
                  There is always a tendency — you find it referenced in Agatha Christie’s novels — to explain evil as organic. BUT it’s never JUST organic.

                  • Michael Medved has argued that a defining characteristic of Liberals is their belief in materialism. To the materialist everything has an organic or societal underlying cause which can be addressed by changing material circumstances.

                    Which should make clear the underlying flaws of Liberalism.

                    • Nonsense! Only Approved Victims Group’s acts are thus caused. The scapegoats blamed for the cause must, of course, act out of spontaneous free will.

                • I would agree about the early welfare programs. I have met some adults that survived the foster programs (not sure if that would be considered early welfare), and were good honest people. Survived– was the word for it btw.

      • If we can’t feed our population in a manner that allows them to be healthy, then we either: have poor production methods; or have too many people.

        I can’t prove what you’re asking, because the cause could be either of the above. I don’t know that if we attempted to produce a more traditional diet we would succeed. I hope we can.

        “Only Americans can believe this.”

        Actually what convinced me was this, from the UK:

        “The UK prison trial at Aylesbury jail showed that when young men there were fed multivitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids [omega-3 oils], the number of violent offences they committed in the prison fell by 37%. Although no one is suggesting that poor diet alone can account for complex social problems, the former chief inspector of prisons Lord Ramsbotham says that he is now “absolutely convinced that there is a direct link between diet and antisocial behaviour, both that bad diet causes bad behaviour and that good diet prevents it.”…

        “…For the clinician in charge of the US study, Joseph Hibbeln, the results of his trial are not a miracle, but simply what you might predict if you understand the biochemistry of the brain and the biophysics of the brain cell membrane. His hypothesis is that modern industrialised diets may be changing the very architecture and functioning of the brain.

        “We are suffering, he believes, from widespread diseases of deficiency. Just as vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, deficiency in the essential fats the brain needs and the nutrients needed to metabolise those fats is causing of a host of mental problems from depression to aggression. Not all experts agree, but if he is right, the consequences are as serious as they could be. The pandemic of violence in western societies may be related to what we eat or fail to eat. Junk food may not only be making us sick, but mad and bad too….”

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2006/oct/17/prisonsandprobation.ukcrime

        As I said, the evidence for this, if you take the time to review it, is pretty overwhelming.

        • But our population is WAY more healthy than at any time before, and living longer.

          We produce more than enough food for everyone. You want to feed everyone? Eliminate Marxism, root it out root and branch.

          • Way more healthy, in terms of the classical diseases, measles, mumps, typhoid, but (last time I checked) cancers are up.

            Then, there’s the allergies. Peanut, tree nut, wheat-sensitivity .. these aren’t “crazy”, they’re triggered by things in the kind of grain-rich “food-pyramid” diet – inflammation causes damage to the way the immune system works too.

            The point is, yes, we are much healthier today – but there are trade-offs. NO argument re. Marxism, or statism in any of its’ ugly forms. Get government out of the way and let those who have the skill and the will get to work feeding the world.

            Mew

            • Oh, yeah, but the allergy thing? First world problem. Might have to do (weirdly) with our lack of parasites and our houses being too clean.
              Grain rich… yeah, but trust me, I knew people who lived on bread and soup in Portugal, and allergies were virtually unknown. I was shocked as an exchange student to find everyone in the US was “allergic” to something. I thought they were nuts. As I said, it’s possible it’s something like our lack of parasites, too. (Which probably contributes to obesity.)
              Cancer — live long enough EVERYONE will get cancer. And we’re living VERY long.

              • I’ve always wondered if the increase in allergies is because people don’t get sick and die as easily. When more babies died before their second birthday, they never had a CHANCE to develop allergies in the first place. And asthmatics probably didn’t live long enough to reproduce– a bad respiratory bug would have gotten them when they were young…

                • Didn’t get me, and trust me, I had er… interesting medical care. But yeah, it made survival more difficult.

                • Yeah, first thing I thought of when folks started telling me that hunter-gatherers were so much more healthy than farmers.

                  • They are, coyotes are a lot healthier than Dalmatians too. Doesn’t mean if you want Spot to be healthy you should make him live like coyote, not at least if you don’t want him healthily dead.

                    • Just had a horrible thought… know those classic animal “rights” groups that show nasty (frequently staged) videos and make claims about how ag workers kill off the weak in horrible ways to be profitable?

                      What do they think happened to the hunter/gatherers?

                    • leaving unwanted children and older folks to die… was a classic example.

                    • Or killing them (hopefully in a passive way– just not doing all you can to save them) to protect the rest of the group. Dying simply because hunter/gatherer doesn’t have enough constant food and secure housing to keep those who are weakened alive.

                      Yeah, with that in mind, hunter/gatherer would be a LOT healthier. You have to be to survive.

              • Good Heavens. A use of “First World Problem” that actually mean something. I shall die of shock.

              • Lack of parasites and houses being too clean? I can buy that, if you also add “and kids spending way more time indoors than previous generations”. Basically, most modern American kids don’t get a wide exposure to pollen, or dust, or whatever, in the early years when the immune system learns “this is a natural part of my environment which I shouldn’t overreact to”, so a lot more of them find their immune system overreacting later on. That’s my personal theory.

                To the best of my knowledge I have no allergies of any kind, and my best guess as to the reason is the WIDE range of environments I was exposed to in my infancy. (Ages 0 to 2 on a ship travelling all over the Pacific islands and SE Asia. Ages 2 to 4 in Dallas, TX. Ages 4+ in France.) I’m sure genetics, being born premature or “on schedule”, etc., all contribute as well, of course; there are many factors in just about every facet of medical science, and why should allergies be different? But the best explanation I can come up with for why so many Americans suffer from allergies is what Sarah just said: cleanliness (and lack of playing outside) leading to underexposure in formative years.

                • marycatelli

                  too much can indeed be a problem. Polio was not a major problem until the 20th century because prior to then, it had been an infant’s disease; apparently they can cope easier.

                  Life is full of trade-offs.

                • That would probably explain my husband– his mom had some serious health problems when she was a kid, and has allergies out her ears; he spent his early years with her family when his dad deployed, and so was likewise kept in a very, very, very clean environment. Has some allergies. His sister less so, but she’s got even fewer, and is kinda a girly-girl about ’em.

                  Meanwhile, my kids keep managing to eat dirt and my house would probably kill any grandmother that came in (of horror or embarrassment would depend on what they think of me) and while we follow food safety measures, I don’t use bleach unless there’s a “oh, so that’s where that went…” situation.

                  I’ll be highly amused if allergies take a massive dive because the folks who built their home-cleaning around not being clean enough is a major health risk aren’t either keeping house or visiting their daughter-in-law…..

                  • well, I think with both working parents our housecleaning as a society has taken a massive dive. I TRIED to be as obsessive as my mom, but seriously, my writing took off when Robert was three and since then though not supporting us is a needed supplement. This means it’s more important than a bathroom you can eat off of. (WHO eats in the bathroom?) That means well… actually other than being allergic to dogs (!) for younger son and corn syrup and soy milk for older son (but that might be a weird hereditary thing), there seem to be no allergies.

                    • *mock serious*

                      Tell him that soy mimics estrogen, so it’s just that he’s too masculine.

                      (Funnier because I suspect BOTH your boys will have the initial “oh, no, just because estrogen is the ‘female’ hormone doesn’t mean that men don’t have any” or a more technical and accurate version of the same.)

                • To strengthen your theory: a common and effective treatment for childhood allergies is to expose the child to the allergic substance in a controlled environment (usually through injections in a doctors office) in gradually increasing dosages, until they build up a tolerance.

              • “…..I was shocked as an exchange student to find everyone in the US was “allergic” to something. I thought they were nuts…..”

                Yes they are, most commonly peanuts.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              Somebody said that about cancers recently (something having to do with what someone claimed was causing the increase), but after first attributing it to increased reporting, I looked into it on sites like the CDC and some Cancer information site, and it turns out that the incidence of most cancers has stayed flat or decreased a little in the past 10 years.

              • My personal favorite cause of cancer: old age.
                If people would just die sooner, we could solve this cancer thing real quick.

        • The reason why British criminals are nutritionally deficient is not overpopulation but the idiotic eating habits they were raised with and have not given up as adults.

          In depth

        • Excuse me, but the citation is crap science. The leading US researcher on Fatty Acids is Floyd R. “Ski” Chilton – and his office is a few doors away from mine.

          His exact words: “Oh God, not this again!”

          • Yep. And it has buggerall to do with overpopulation.

          • To quote Chilton:

            “With regard to the impact of linoleic acid [omega-6 seed oils] on behavioral disorders, Hibbeln and colleagues demonstrated that greater consumption of linoleic acid correlated with higher rates of homicide mortality over a 20-fold range across countries. More recently, dietary intake of seed oils, which are rich in linoleic acid, have been associated with depressive symptoms in an elderly population. Additionally, a recent 10 years follow-up of a national cohort provides strong evidence that diet rich in linoleic acid may enhance the risk of depression among the general population.”

            Sounds to me like he agrees with my point.

            If Sarah approves the comment with the link, you can go read it yourself, or query for it in PubMed.

            • Except that he has since found the genetic confound to the data. He himself said that the dietary evidence *must* be weighed in conjunction with genetics of the population.

              • “Except that he has since found the genetic confound to the data.”

                Then go ask him for a link to his research. Google Scholar knows nothing about it: he doesn’t seem to have published anything on it.

                It is an interesting hypothesis, I agree. But the fact that we see similar effects on seed oils on other species makes me think that whatever genetic effect he thinks he found is small.

                Chilton has published research on the effects of seed oils on fish, btw. Fascinating stuff, I hadn’t realized it was him.

                “He himself said that the dietary evidence *must* be weighed in conjunction with genetics of the population.”

                Indeed, the dose makes a poison. Genetics determines your susceptibility. That’s old news…

                • It takes real intelligence, or the lack thereof to argue with the guy whose office is right down the hall from the top expert and you contradict that expert. And stay with it. BTW, most of the latest research doesn’t necessarily show up in the journals very quickly and thus google scholar might not pick up on it.

        • Don’t agree with the population explosion– I am seeing a drop in children in my area (one guy has three children from three different women, but the women only have one a piece… that would be much higher about twenty years ago.)

        • Kitteh-Dragon

          Tuck, every single person in prison populations has consumed dihydrogen monoxide from an early age. This is even more tied to causality than oils. People who nave never allowed dihydrogen monoxide to pass their lips have *never* committed a single crime. This is provable, and reproduceable, science.

          • I almost spewed on my keyboard. 😉

          • I believe the problem lies with bananas, myself, and their long-term toxicity. Did you ever stop to think that pretty much everyone who ate a banana before 1910 is DEAD now? And the people born before 1970 who have eaten them are increasingly having problems with their health?

            And yet – what do people feed babies? MASHED BANANAS! Oh, god – the horror!

            • I don’t normally bestow this on first time commenters, but you, sir, are a BAD man.

              • Thank you. (Bows humbly in your direction.)

                I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while, and when the Dihydrogen Monoxide joke came up, I KNEW I had to give my favorite rant about bananas. I’ve gotten quite a few people with it!

                (But don’t get me started on kiwi fruit. Those things are just… evil.)

            • Dang it, your comment made me eat a banana, and I’m supposed to be low-carbing. 😀

        • A genetic analysis of the UK prison study showed that the link between violence and diet was that the “violent” patients were shown to have a genetic enzyme deficiency. *ONLY*THEN* did diet have anything to do with behavior.
          -Floyd R. “Ski” Chilton, Ph.D.

        • By the way – the Guardian article is absolutely hilarious! It cites Hibbeln and others talking about whether giving omega-3s will help other populations with *no* idea of the mechanism.

          Also – Hibbeln was in *UNIFORM*? Oh, God, that is HILARIOUS! While the NIH is part of the Public Health Service, the only member that *ever* wears a uniform is the Surgeon General of the U.S.

          GUFFAW!

          • So your argument against his position is to make fun of his clothes?

            • Less that, than suggesting the Guardian’s pointing out of Hibbeln’s uniform to grant further gravitas his words. If Hibbeln was in uniform, then he was serving on active duty (possible in a federal facility) or as an activated reservist. What the Guardian is attempting here is something of a bait and switch. Uniform typically means “authority” in this case, but Hibbeln is speaking as a scientist. His uniform or lack thereof should have no bearing on his hypothesis.

              • “His uniform or lack thereof should have no bearing on his hypothesis.”

                So why point it out?

                • Right – so why did the Guardian mention it? Likely because they needed to boost his Gravitas. By the way, just because he works for NIH, does not make him correct. Chilton says his work has become much more of a reviewer/administrator than a bench scientist. Again, he stressed that the dietary change has much less to do with the diet being the problem, but that the increased omega-3’s and reduced omega-6’s work in *some* people who were shown to have the enzyme deficiency phenotype.

                  By the way, I notice that you haven’t responded to earlier questions – are you a biologist and have you read the *original* scientific reports instead of the press releases?

                  • “…are you a biologist and have you read the *original* scientific reports instead of the press releases?”

                    Didn’t we just agree that the argument is more important than the uniform? Are you going to start making fun of my clothes next?

                    And yes, I read the original research. Press releases are pretty useless.

                  • Hey Morris, you say you’re down the hall from Ski Chilton. Have _you_ read any of his stuff? This is from his blog:

                    “Although we eat all the time, we too are in a state of malnutrition: the foods we eat do not contain the ingredients our bodies require to properly regulate our immune, endocrine, our brain and emotional responses. Make no mistake about it, there is a severe price to be paid for this malnutrition in the form of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, allergies, skin disease, poor cognitive function, excessive depression and perhaps most of all, exaggerated aging.”

                    You keep quoting him like he’s going to refute me… That’s not going to happen, as he and I are saying the same thing.

                    • Yes, I have read Chilton. Are you aware that most of what he is referring to is about *inflammation*? Mostly the tie-in with excess arachidonic acid, which is admittedly an omega-6 FA and can be related to excess linoleic acid.

                      However, I also notice how *smoothly* you’ve changed the goalposts from “Seed oils make people violent” to “Omega-6’s are a health hazard.”

                      Gotta admire those smooth moves.

                    • ” Are you aware that most of what he is referring to is about *inflammation*? Mostly the tie-in with excess arachidonic acid, which is admittedly an omega-6 FA and can be related to excess linoleic acid. ”

                      Yes, inflammation is one effect of excess LA and inadequate amounts of n-3. That’s his focus. There are others.

                      “However, I also notice how *smoothly* you’ve changed the goalposts from “Seed oils make people violent” to “Omega-6′s are a health hazard.”

                      “Gotta admire those smooth moves.”

                      Seed oils make people violent. They have other neurological effects, as Chilton’s detailed in his research. No change in goal posts. Chilton and I agree 100% on that. They’re also a health hazard. Chilton and I agree 100% on that. I don’t know why I’m arguing with you about it, as you bring this guy up to refute me and he and I agree more than you and he do.

                      Sorry that you’re having trouble keeping up with a complicated topic.

          • Not true. Certain parts of the USPHS and certain parts of NOAA are uniformed services. There are historical reasons for this, mainly not wanting your public health officers or mapping units to be shot as spies, should they be present on a battlefield (or in the case of the mapping people, present on the field long before the battle — they were on the beach at Normandy two weeks before D-Day, as I recall, and and on many islands of the South Pacific well before the invasions took place). It’s hard to remember just how important accurate maps and charts were in the days before satellite imagery and GPS, or just how much impact an epidemic can have on a military campaign.

            Both of those could become important factors again, of course. Something might happen to the satellites, and there’s always a chance of biological war.

        • Third alternative: our distribution methods suck.

          Fourth alternative: too many in the population willfully elect short term rewards over long term benefits.

          Fifth alternative: define “healthy.”

          Finally,

          … the evidence for this, if you take the time to review it, is pretty overwhelming.

          is a de rigeur sentence for all conspiracy theories. While it is not itself proof of bad science, it is certainly a flashing amber LED.

          • “…is a de rigeur sentence for all conspiracy theories. While it is not itself proof of bad science, it is certainly a flashing amber LED.”

            Yeah, that’s a fair point. Unfortunately this is the nuts and bolts of human biochemistry, it’s not simple, or quick. You wind up getting into enzymes and fatty acid composition of membranes. Real exciting stuff…

            When I started reading about this stuff, it took me six months to learn enough to make a change in my own diet. Once I did, I saw such dramatic results that I really dove into the research. 3 years later and I’m still learning….

        • “If we can’t feed our population in a manner that allows them to be healthy, then we either: have poor production methods; or have too many people.”
          Now here’s the problem. Who is “we”, what population represents “our” and what defines “poor health.” As far as I know in the Western world, diseases related to famine or diet are virtually nonexistent , almost nonexistent in Asia, and declining in the rest of the world. Also, while you claim violence is increasing because of using vegetable oils and eating grains, meat and fish consumption is up due to higher living standards across the world. Finally overall, violence seem to be down, not up. So I have no idea what you are complaining about.

        • If we can’t feed our population in a manner that allows them to be healthy, then we either: have poor production methods; or have too many people.

          You’re apparently not aware that it’s been a very long time since the last famine with natural causes. The usual cause is dysfunctional or outright evil government. Communism caused massive famine all by itself, and every major famine in the last 50 years has been caused by politics. Every one. In that time there have been any number of natural disasters, droughts, crop losses and so forth, but not one of the functional democratic republics has had any problems feeding its population.

          I don’t remember the exact figures, since my mind acts as a stainless steel lint trap collecting useless trivia, but as I recall, the world already produces right now more than enough food for the population. It’s getting that food to the people who need that’s problematic, thanks to kleptocratic dictators, most of them pseudo-Marxist bullies.

          The pandemic of violence in western societies is just laughable. Pandemic violence? Please. Even in oh-so-“violent” America most people have never personally experienced an assault or known someone who was violently attacked. In tribal cultures violent deaths hover at around one per hundred people, and violent attacks are closer to one in ten. The so-called pandemic is really caused by importing people from cultures with those levels of violence and allowing them to keep their barbarian habits.

      • Actually, the seed oil point is distorted to the point of being “inflammatory” (pun intended) and false. The known issue is that certain populations with increased violence tend to have aberrant destaturase and chain elongation enzymes that convert 18 carbon omega-3 (linoleic acid) and omega-6 (alpha-linolenic acid) fatty acids into longer chain (C20 and C22) fatty acids. The major finding of those studies was too much linoleic and not enough linolenic oils, and deficiency of some of the omega-3 derivative FAs such as eicosapentanoic acid.

        It is *NOT* true that the diet alone causes the violence, but that diet is a *symptom* and that feeding the *wrong* balance of oils in the diet makes the issue worse. The genetics of the enzyme imbalance are such that “low asian” (i.e. middle eastern) and african populations have greatest imbalance, while northern/western hemisphere populations are least imbalanced.

        It should be noted that the violence correlation data came from prison populations, so there is considerable observer bias. The *real* data points out the *necessity* for fat, fatty acid and oil supplementation in diet so that the appropriate essential fatty acids can be produced. In addition, while only linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid are *always* essential FAs (the human system can’t synthesize them) there are sometimes other conditions such as infant development and the aforementioned enzyme deficiencies in which arachidonic acid, the aforementioned eicosapentanoic acid are also necessary to get from diet – and these *must * come from either seed or fish oil sources!

        • “It should be noted that the violence correlation data came from prison populations, so there is considerable observer bias.”

          That’s not correct. It’s from population-wide data from several countries and multiple controlled studies.

          I’ve not seen any scientific evidence to support your theory that the problem is differing genetic makeups in different populations.

          • Are you a biologist? Have you searched PubMed? Have you investigated Chilton’s publications? If not all you are doing is perpetuating crap science.

            • Eh. This is also a good demonstration of the crazy years “My pet theory explains and justifies EVERYTHING and I’ll hook onto a line of a post that has nothing to do with it” This reminds me of when I wrote about forced marriages and got the foreskin brigade. These people don’t realize they’re using this one pet theory as a talisman against having to think.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Yep, “He’s” a good example of the critter that comes out in “Crazy Years”.

                • Yes, Drak, but let’s not go too far crazy in the opposite direction.

                  Just because this theory is obviously not proven doesn’t mean there isn’t something to changes in diet and behavior problems.

                  I think we agree that the real problem is not diet, rather it is mal-teaching at a young age – acting out is acceptable, throwing fits to get what you want is okay, etc. etc. – but it doesn’t excuse a crap diet.

                  I am also not saying that a crap diet is the fault of anyone but the consumer. I am, however, saying that I would be in a much worse place with my family’s collection of food allergies if I were holding down two jobs and trying to buy ingredients and cook every meal…

                  Mew

                  • But that actually has absolutely nothing to do with overpopulation. It has everything to do with food subsidies from above, etc.

                    • Very true. It has to do with artificial scarcity, both of jobs and food.

                      I have, however, run into people claiming allergies “aren’t real”, in the same way people claim “depression isn’t real”. It’s something I’m .. sensitized .. to object to.

                      Mew

                    • Well, SOME allergies aren’t real. Sorry, I’ve seen parents convince their kids they’re allergic to EVERYTHING. But that doesn’t mean ALL allergies aren’t real. As I said, people have done good experiments with reintroducing parasites. (The lack of parasites probably has something to do with obesity too. Till the mid twentieth century, the intestinal worms we always had with us. Makes sense to have co-evolved.)

              • I think it’s a need to not see the real problems. The reality is that progressives ideas, the ideas that came more or less out of WW1 and the events surrounding, were the driving force for most of the 20th century and in the end have proven to be terrible failures. People like Tuck cannot accept that everything they know is probably wrong, so they attach themselves to irrelevancies. The problem isn’t grains, after all people have been eating primarily grain diets for centuries. The problem is that, in general, shortages of any kind have become nonexistent except where the Progressives have total control.

          • Tuck, you’re apparently not reading closely enough. Tim’s not saying that the problem is a genetic one, but that a genetic preponderance is exacerbated by diet that may lead to an increase in violent behavior.

            On a more personal note, we Huns enjoy a good rabbit hole, but the way you’re going about it is guaranteed to inflame (see what I did there? /lampshade) the Horde. I’d recommend moderation.

        • …and my apologies, I did reverse linolenic – with is omega 3 – with linoleic – omega 6. Still the omega-6 derivatives – gamma-linolenic, dihomo-gamma-linolenic and arachidonic acid are key building blocks of the nervous system. So, we *need* those FAs. We *have* to have linoleic acid in our diets.

          • As I understand it, a 1:1 balance of omega-3 to omega-6 acids is more or less ideal.

          • “We *have* to have linoleic acid in our diets.”

            Agreed. But not too much.

          • I heard that we needed Omega 3-6-9 (all of them), but that we have more omega-6s in our modern diet than Omega 3 and we need more Omega threes. (If I am wrong– please correct)

            • Well, a recent study says Omega-3 is correlated to high prostate cancer. Studies continue.

              • lol maybe it is the mercury in the fish and not the actual omega-3? Just like most of these research studies, it all has to do with what your body actually needs. We can’t have a one-fit all diet for everyone (I could say the same for health care… clothing, etc, etc,).

                • No, this is from the supplements. BUT yeah, humans are actually very NOT one size fits all.

                  • Yep– dang– about the supplements… but like chemo… sometimes I have to weigh the risks with the benefits now. *sigh

                  • Exactamundo!
                    Tried very hard a while back to make a somewhat similar point in a far removed venue and ran smack dab into the rabid anti artificial sweetener cops. My point was that everyone reacts differently to chemicals both natural and artificial and one should learn their tolerances and ingest accordingly. I leave it to the student to visualize the ever so long list of names I was called by the “in crowd.” You’d a thought I was proposing something like the indiscriminate use of dihydrogen monoxide or other such dangerous poisons. DHM? Ban it I say! Cause of more human and animal deaths than any other single substance on this earth.

                    • Besides guns, Unc. You forgot “besides guns.” Cuz guns’re bad.

                    • I can’t use some artificial sweeteners, but I’m fine with one kind. which is good, otherwise there would be no “Sweet” in my life. Eh.

                    • I can only eat sugar and honey in very small quantities… artificial sweeteners… not good at all… for me

                    • Simple experiment to demonstrate human differentials in re chemical process: pour experimental subjects servings of vodka calibrated to be identical in proportion to body weight. If all humans react similarly to ingested chemicals, all test subjects ought show comparable effects as dosages increase.

                      DHM is not the problem. It is the O component that causes problems. Statistical analyses show that all persons who sample O, even just once, become addicted and will eventually expire from failure to inhale sufficient quantities.

                • Mercury, isn’t that the stuff that causes autism in vaccines! Jenny McCarthy said so!

                  *looks at Tim boiling over and dives behind the counter*

                  • LOL– Hey– we had a mercury spill in one of our schools recently (about the amount in a temp gauge… remember those?)… It was treated like a massive disaster. We played with those all the time… when I was a kid.

                    • We did too. Little silver balls. Bah.

                    • Yep– plus as long as you didn’t heat it… then it supposedly wasn’t harmful.

                    • Yeah, but they really played hell with any rings you were dumb enough to be wearing.

                    • That’s interesting– I didn’t wear rings then (or now)

                    • only one I wear is my wedding ring. I don’t like things that interfere with my fingers’ ability to do stuff…

                    • Before chemo I would get a reaction to metals that were not silver or gold. Now I can’t wear any metal *sigh.

                    • Robert corrodes metal. First it turns green, then black, then develops holes. Even gold and silver. Curiously, my paternal grandmother did the same, which is why we inherited her jewelry in new condition.
                      I’ve told him it’s elf blood 😉 If he ever gets married, he’ll need a polished stone wedding ring.

                    • LOL– I have a sister who can’t wear watches. Digital, wind-up, battery… they eventually stop after a week or two and then that’s it. They NEVER work again. Metal and I don’t do well together *sob.

                      I still think we must have some distant ancestors. *waggle eyebrows. hahahaha

                    • I used to do that to watches. No longer do. But I was death-of-watches. Instantaneous. My dad once gave me his watch to hold while he washed his hands. I told him again last time I visited “I just held it”. He insists. “You must have done something to it.” The watch never worked again. Things FUSED inside. At that time — puberty, ah — I also killed electronics. For about two years I was not allowed to turn the tv on. I had to get someone else to push the button “because we can’t afford the repair bills.” Same for radio, recorders, anything with electronic entrails.

                    • That is funny– Of course we didn’t let my sister hold any electronics either.

                    • Mercury coats gold or silver (I forget which, or if it’s both). Not easy to remove when you’re 10 years old playing with neat heavy liquid metals.

                    • Sarah, the electronics hex could be a propensity for wizardry. I have it on good authority that Harry Dresden has a similar problem. I suspect you channeled it into your writing, which is why you’re currently capable of not causing your computer to commit suicide.

                    • Looks at computer. Looks at #3 son… Looks at computer again. you do know my computers have a tendency to die in bizarre ways, including but not limited to exploding in flames?

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      You suddenly have a #3 son? (runs very fast)

                    • I adopted Kilted Dave. He seemed to fit in well with the other two loonies. Technically he should be #1, but Robert doesn’t even LIKE pottage, so…

                    • You remember the legend of Zeus and Thena? /runs

                    • I hope Kilted Dave didn’t spring from my brain, but it’s possible. Adopting Kilted Dave and Foxfier is a transparent effort to be grandma, btw… 😉

                    • *wise nod Yes, grandchildren are joys forever. (I did become a grandmother through my hubby’s children.) 😉

                    • And, to be fair, I’m not sure I’d sell it (give it away? sure, but sell it? I have other ways of building lucre). Besides, Mrs. Dave has first dibs on all my cooking, anyway. Though assuming we’re at LibertyCon next year, I may have to volunteer for BFC duty, and make shrimp gumbo, kalua pork and turkish brisket.

                      And I have my own messy heritage yet to fully assimilate/overcome, so I’m not terribly interested in depriving Robert and Marshall of theirs and adding it to my burden.

                    • I hope Kilted Dave didn’t spring from my brain, but it’s possible. Adopting Kilted Dave and Foxfier is a transparent effort to be grandma, btw…

                      Oh, no. Oh, dear. My eventual (sooner rather than later, it is hoped) spawn will have an even greater pool of knowledge and wisdom from which to learn? I perish from despair.

                    • I still kill watches, but I can wear some metals without trouble. I also used to wreak havoc with any electronics (including those in my car, which is why every car I have ever owned acquired a burned out antenna motor, fried wiring, eccentric starter, etc), until I figured out how to “regulate” my energy field. Now I can use a computer, walk by a TV set or radio without sending it into static hell, and I no longer pop lightbulbs just by touching or nearly touching them. When I forget to “shield” myself, computers crash and freeze. I’m amazed that many of my friends have this same weird thing, as if we’re walking electrical storms. We must all be aliens. 😛

                    • LOL– well I don’t kill electronic things (I was an electronics tech for awhile). But, I learned how to convince the electronics to work. On the other hand things around me (approx. 6 feet away) fall. At first I thought it was the minor earthquakes we here, but the last time it happened, the hubby was on the computer, I was on the couch cross-stitching, and he checked the earthquake site… nope… It’s gotta be me. 🙂

                    • “Robert corrodes metal. First it turns green, then black, then develops holes. Even gold and silver.”

                      I am somewhat similar. I can wear my wedding band because it is 18k gold, but anything lower corrodes. Anything gold plated dies an early death if I wear it. After having lots of watches corrode away on my wrist, turning my skin green, I found that a all stainless divers watch will last. However the entire watch case, crown, and band must be stainless to survive. Watches with just a stainless back still corrode away.

                    • I have a friend who corrodes rings like that, he has a platinum wedding band, only metal he found he didn’t corrode. I cause the cheap stuff to corrode and turn green, but apparently my body just has good taste, real gold or silver suits me just fine. I got one of those cheap silver plated class rings in high school, it would turn green/black and turn my finger green in just hours. My mothers class ring (she graduated from the same school) was real silver and had no reaction however. But even my pinky outgrew wearing it before I graduated.

                  • Jenny McCarthy is responsible for a large number of deaths and yet The View is going to add that moron to their table of moron hosts.

                    This infuriates me.

                    • Actually, the lie about mercury and autism is just the toned-down version of the anti-vaccine cult. The longer version of that superstition was stated by Bill Maher once. In a nutshell, they don’t just claim that vaccines are harmful; they actually claim that they have no positive effects whatsoever. Specifically, they claim that germs do not cause disease, but “corporate pollutants” do.

                      Maher backed off that statement, by denying he’d ever said it even though it was already on tape. I got the distinct impression that the negative reaction caught him entirely by surprise; apparently his admiration for all things Hollywood made him accept Jenny McCarthy’s scientific credentials without question.

              • Eskimos have very high intake of omega-3 and very low rates of prostate cancer. That study had a lot of issues, but made for a good headline. It stuck in your head…

              • Life is fatal. Choose accordingly.

                Mew

            • “I heard that we needed Omega 3-6-9 (all of them), but that we have more omega-6s in our modern diet than Omega 3 and we need more Omega threes. (If I am wrong– please correct)”

              Your body produces omega-9, you don’t need to eat much (if any) of it to be healthy. Your body requires omega-3 and -6 fats, and cannot produce them on it’s own, which is why they’re known as essential.

              The point I was making originally was that we’re eating too much omega-6, and it has many negative health consequences to humans, including, it seems, an increased propensity to violence and depression.

              • Look, the health disadvantages of excess omega-6’s are fine. What you originally posted equated Seed oils with violence. THAT is what I objected to. It’s crap science because it *NEVER* looked at the genetics. If you were to ask Chilton right now what caused the change in behavior, he’d tell you that it was reduced omega-6’s in the populations *with the genetic predisposition* and that there’s *also* a racial disparity with respect to the genetics and it *also* correlates with the behavior and probability of imprisonment!

                The whole point of the genetic/diet relationship is the reason why Chilton’s *son* is so involved in a foundation that is trying to alter the humanitarian food packs that the First World sends to the Third World so that population genetics are accounted for.

                Finally, you also equated seed oils exclusively with omega-6 fatty acids. That is a horrendously untrue assumption, since seed oils also contain omega-3 and fish oils also contain omega-6.

                • He also equated both with “proof” of overpopulation. He smells of incoherence and jumping to conclusions.

                  • Wayne Blackburn

                    Actually, I think the population pressures he’s referring to have been going on for a couple thousand years, since he’s talking about increased reliance on grains. Grains have been a major source of dietary calories since the Pyramids were being built (or maybe longer?).

                    • Longer. Last ten thousand years. So he wants the population reduced to pre 8k bc levels. Fair enough. I say he goes first.

                    • “So he wants the population reduced to pre 8k bc levels. Fair enough. I say he goes first.”

                      Shame, shame, you’re putting words in my mouth. Never said that, never thought it.

                      I do think that Malthus was right, I do think that we’ve run out of food. And we started running out of food about 50k years ago, not 8. (Look up the phrase “anthropocene extinction”, it’s very educational.)

                      That doesn’t mean that I think that some government program is going to fix it. I’m not some progressive ideologue, and I don’t believe that life always gets better. If things can’t go on, they won’t, and I expect we’ll solve our food problem the way the Byzantines ultimately did.

                      They had a nice plague and 90% of them died. The ones who were left had lots of food…

                    • Well at least Friar Tuck here finally admits he’s a Malthusian.

                    • “Well at least Friar Tuck here finally admits he’s a Malthusian.”

                      Do you believe in economics? That’s really all that Malthus was pointing out. At some point, we have too many people to feed. Limited resources, guns and butter, and all that.

                      That’s a fairly unremarkable position to take. What’s unreasonable, IMHO, is the article of faith that we will _never_ hit Malthusian limits to human population growth. We’ve been hitting them, as I’ve said, for 50k years. All human technological development is a result of hitting those limits.

                      My point is not what you seem to think it is, however. If we’re going to surpass the latest Malthusian challenges, we’ve got to do it in a way that leaves humans healthy, not malnourished and psychopathic.

                      Read up a bit on parenteral nutrition. It’s based on feeding people lots of seed oils. It’s pretty educational about where our current attempt to deal with our current food shortages is leading us.

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      I looked up your “anthropocene extinction”. I knew I would regret it, but I did. From Wiki:

                      Most biologists believe that we are at the beginning of an anthropogenic mass extinction that is accelerating at a terrifying rate.

                      I can’t begin to process the stupid in that statement.

                    • They’re progressives trying to scare up funding for more research, what do you expect.

                      But you’ve completely missed the point.

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      Well, sorry, but I don’t GET oblique points. If you wanted to use that to make a point that is something other than claiming that it’s true, you’ll have to be more direct.

                    • … we started running out of food about 50k years ago“????

                      Sorry, I am going to tune my worry meter to the Yellowstone Caldera as a more immediate threat. I find the trade-off of human civilization (A/C, indoor plumbing, guns that allow my increasingly aged body to deter predatory youth and antibiotics) adequate compensation for slow* death by starvation.

                      *NB: very slow, as I am, at sixty years, already about twice the life expectancy of our paleolithic** ancestors.

                      **BTW, when we can harvest meat raised in the same manner enjoyed by our paleolithic ancestors and engage in the same manner of food production (i.e., growing and harvesting in the same manner with comparable levels of effort) I will consider somebody to have successfully adopted the “paleolithic diet.” Until then you’re just enjoying a faux paleolithic diet, akin to visiting Frontierland and thinking you understand life in the Wild West.

                    • Rob Crawford

                      “I expect we’ll solve our food problem the way the Byzantines ultimately did.

                      They had a nice plague and 90% of them died. The ones who were left had lots of food…”

                      Actually, famine and plague go hand-in-hand. Sometimes it’s because the plague killed enough of the farmers, fishers, and herders to depress food production. Sometimes it’s because famine made the population more susceptible to disease.

                      I’d *love* to see the citations on this Byzantine plague.

                    • “I’d *love* to see the citations on this Byzantine plague.”

                      Start here: “The Justinian Plague did not reach as far as the Black Death would reach, and must have killed far fewer people. But it has affected our world in way we still do not fully understand. Some writers have suggested that the plague’s depopulation of the Levant remains apparent to this day. Much former Byzantine farmland is still unsettled and uncultivated. The ruins of once thriving settlements, of towns and monasteries, can still be seen in the pasturelands of Syria. The Negev Desert, once home to many carefully nurtured monastic settlements, reverted to wasteland inhabited only by nomadic sheepherders until the mid-nineteenth century. The farmland of Africa dried up as the irrigation system fell into disrepair, and the Sahara began its inexorable advance into wheat fields that had fed an empire. The population itself did not recover for fifteen centuries, and even then the rural countryside remained sparsely settled; population growth took place largely in the major cities of the Middle East.”

                      “Plague: The Mysterious Past and Terrifying Future of the World’s Most Dangerous Disease” by Wendy Orent

                    • Yeah, I looked up the extinction bit, too. It appears to be pretty standard grey goo material: overpopulation, overexploitation, lack of resources, humans’re bad, mkay. I suspect the current cooling trend coupled with global politico-economic shenanigans dovetailed with lack of a frontier to be far more problematic in the next few years. Possibly to the point where we won’t need to worry about the supposed overpopulation. Lies, damn lies . . .

                    • “Yeah, I looked up the extinction bit, too. It appears to be pretty standard grey goo material: overpopulation, overexploitation, lack of resources, humans’re bad, mkay”

                      We’re the most fearsome and deadly predator the planet’s ever seen. I think that’s pretty cool.

                      But planning appropriately given that fact is probably a good idea… If we’re capable of it as a species. Eating everything until nothing’s left is not a great plan. I don’t find the notion of eating Soylent Green appealing, myself.

                    • Re: the Byzantine plague, I imagine the reference is for the plague during Justinian’s reign that (partially) precipitated the Nike riots. Though I thought that was limited to Constantinople.

                    • Rob Crawford

                      The Justinian Plague? That’s the one you claim killed 90% of the population?

                      It didn’t. Wikipedia: “The initial plague ultimately killed perhaps 40% of the city’s inhabitants and caused the deaths of up to a quarter of the human population of the eastern Mediterranean.”

                      It was bad, and I have no doubt it made it impossible for Justinian to hold onto the gains he made in Italy and North Africa, but it didn’t kill 90% of the population. Neither your case nor your reputation are aided by such claims.

                      KiltedDave: “Re: the Byzantine plague, I imagine the reference is for the plague during Justinian’s reign that (partially) precipitated the Nike riots. Though I thought that was limited to Constantinople.”

                      Dunno about the plagues causing the riots. The tax reforms (carried out by a particularly corrupt man) and the legal reforms (upsetting all sorts of apple carts) probably had more to do with them. Justinian’s foreign wars — after the North African victory, at least — didn’t bring in much loot, and between them and his building projects, he needed LOTS of money.

                  • Seeing I couldn’t reply on rings up above… your son might be able to wear a tungsten carbide ring. That stuff’s resistant to pretty much everything.

                    http://www.tungstenringsco.com/faq

                    Just trying to be helpful – my brain’s like a dusty attic, and every so often things shift.

                • And all of that leaves out environmental factors, such as economic condition, family history, cultural issues (the culture of poverty in the US is highly conducive to severely dysfunctional personalities.) But we’re not allowed to talk about those. That would be RAAACCIIIIST!

            • We don’t need omega-9s in the diet. Our bodies make that.

              • Thanks– as I have said before, I have been on a low dosage of chemo for ten years. My body is very deficient and I have to take supplements to counteract the effects. It seems to be a problem with a lot of chronic illness folks who are on some very bad medications.

        • With a study of prison populations, I could prove that cotton underwear causes violence.

        • …arachidonic acid,,,

          I don’t care what the research shows, I’m not gonna eat any spiders!

      • At some point, if population increases to a high enough level, you WILL have mass starvation. The contention that the planet Earth can produce an ‘unlimitted’ amount of food, is a fairy tale, since for among other reasons, it violates several laws of physics.

        • Oh, for fuck’s sake, the population might ALREADY be in free fall, masked only by really bad statistics (and fraud) and the fact people are living longer. (Rolls eyes.)

          • Hoyt: Whether or not the population is declining, or in ‘free fall’ as you put it, is an entirely different subject. It has absolutely no bearing at all on the fact that if the population were to increase to a high enough level, we would have mass starvation. What that level might be, I don’t know enough to say. For all I know, we could support 50 trillion people and feed them all adequately, but at SOME point, if the population went up continuously, we would have mass starvation. We cannot create an infinite amount of food, because we do not have an infinite amount of matter or energy on this planet.

            • Brilliant point, Ann!! If Earth’s human population approached infinity we would be unable to feed them all! Bloody obvious, enit?

              Of course, well before we approached infinite human population the assembled mass would condense the planet into a singularity, making further population increase unlikely as we’d all be so compressed our heads would be up our posteriors.

            • Kitteh-Dragon

              Rude little person who is possibly female. and has chose the signifier of Ann Morgan (trust me, you don’t want to what you call to *my* mind).

              1. You are not **allowed** to refer to the person who owns the blog by her last name only. EVER. To do so shows that you are an uneducated, rude child (I don’t care what your analog or digital age is, you *are* an immature, self-centered cretin).

              2. You don’t have the least idea what you’re spouting. You picked up buzz words and a smattering of talking points, someplace. That puts you intellectually vastly lower than Alex, the grey parrot (who was the object of study for 30 years at various universities).

              3. You are a nuisance. You are unworthy of the time and effort required to hold a mirror up to your grimy little face and make you see what you really are – which is apparent to all the rest of us, but you don’t do much self-measuring, you just rejoice in the belly button lint that you have acquired because is imbued with the youness of you. It’s still bell button lint. And not only uninteresting, but actually quite gross to everybody else. Quit waving it around and go home.

        • Kitteh-Dragon

          “At some point, if…” At some point, Ann Morgan, *if* you stop going poo poo, you WILL die of an impacted colon. That is a blunt fact. And, when that time comes, you will be no more full of excrement than you are at this moment – because *that* would violate several laws of physics. Not to mention logic.

          • I see. No doubt your comments about poo-poo are indicative of your high level of maturity, logic, and politeness, while my comments about the laws of physics are indicative of my rudeness and stupidity.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Simply fascinating. The Earth cannot support an infinite number of people. Why didn’t anyone think of it before? Oh, yes, that would be because it’s bleedingly obvious, and no one said or even implied that it could produce an unlimited amount of food.

          For the record, however, since I have a friend who once believed that we would have an indefinite population growth, I did the calculations and proved that eventually, no matter how low a growth rate you choose, the expanding mass of humanity would have to grow at a rate greater than the speed of light in order to maintain that growth rate. Impressions of the silliness of that calculation can be elucidated below.

        • Your argument is based on a straw man, “rebutting” an assertion not made. All evidence is that population increase does not proceed unabated but adjusts itself to conditions. This is known as using feedback in a self-regulating system. In all developed countries thus far the evidence is that as survival strategies change from family size (breadth) to the investment in family education (depth) family sizes drop markedly.

          Demographic evidence reveals that developed countries have a greater problem maintaining population absent in migration than they do with over-population.

          • **Your argument is based on a straw man, “rebutting” an assertion not made. All evidence is that population increase does not proceed unabated but adjusts itself to conditions. This is known as using feedback in a self-regulating system. In all developed countries thus far the evidence is that as survival strategies change from family size (breadth) to the investment in family education (depth) family sizes drop markedly.**

            The assertion was made that Malthus was wrong. As I understand, what Malthus claimed was that *if* the population got too high, you would eventually have mass starvation. Claiming that the population will not get that high is *not* proving Malthus wrong, it is simply claiming that other factors will prevent the population from getting high enough to reach the point of mass starvation he predicted.

            I’m also not convinced of your statement that population increase will necessarily always ‘adjust itself to conditions’. Other organisms on this planet can and have overbred their food supplies. I see nothing that makes it inherently impossible for human beings to do the same.

    • Tuck,

      Don’t be more of an idiot than God made you. That Malthusian crap has been repeatedly discredited. As for your “seed oils cause homicide” crap, son, did no one ever teach you that correlation does not indicate causation?

      How about this, which is probably more along your mental level. “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.”

      We’re not over populated. China, is not actually overpopulated for available land. What China has a problem with is land-use strategy and areas where they are still using stone age farming techniques. With modern farming, land management and animal husbandry techniques the United States alone could feed the entire world.

      *mutters about going back in time and killing Thomas Malthus.*

      • “Don’t be more of an idiot than God made you. ”

        Don’t argue from ignorance. Correlation does not indicate causation, indeed, but we know what the mechanism is here. That supports the causal link.

        Research supporting this is available to you at the links above. Or you could just keep making a fool of yourself…

        • Ahh so you are more of an idiot than God made you. Good to know.

          The mechanism may be understood, although I suspect the story is making this more dramatic than it actually is. Being a journalist I know how that works.

          I take it your solution to these problems is government intervention in order to make us all eat the way you think we should.

          As Sarah noted above, those UK criminals have bad eating habits they learned at their mother’s breast. As do we here in the US. I’ll accept for the sake of argument, that “seed oils bad.”

          The problem here — is that being a statist, Malthusian lackwit as you are — you have no sense of history. The eating of seeds and seed oils goes back centuries, nay millennia. Moreover, oh mental lightweight, humans are not actually designed to digest milk from cows or other animals. See, that’s a mutation that appears to have occurred in Northern Europe in relatively recent times, evolutionarily speaking. We’re omnivores you pompous chiggar turd. We need calories from vegetables as much as we do from meat. Moreover legumes are a high-fat, high-protein and therefore high-value food to hunter gatherers, which we are evolved to be.

          But please, research is available to you to confirm this, or you could just keep making a fool of yourself …

        • Hate to tell you this, Boyo… that ain’t research, that’s “journalism.”

          • “I take it your solution to these problems is government intervention in order to make us all eat the way you think we should.”

            Actually, government intervention in the form of subsidies to the agricultural producers of grains and legumes is the *cause* of the rampant consumption of seed oils.

            I don’t give a damn how you eat. I care how I and my family eats. The government-induced bias in the food markets make it really hard to eat a traditional, healthy diet.

            • Define, traditional, healthy diet.

              My opinion of that, coming from Western Kansas, includes lots of bread, spicy Mexican food and dishes as varied as pot roast and spahgetti with meat sauce.

              • “Define, traditional, healthy diet.”

                A diet which can support a healthy human population for multiple generations.

                Seems more to be defined by what they don’t include: refined, industrial-produced grain and sugar products.

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  You can’t get away with that kind of handwavium here. SPECIFY what types of foods, in what relative quantities, you’re talking about which constitute a “healthy diet”.

                  • “SPECIFY what types of foods, in what relative quantities, you’re talking about which constitute a “healthy diet”.”

                    Not possible. The whole problem with government attempts to meddle with national diet is that we don’t know what all the constituents of a healthy human diet are.

                    For instance, the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that everyone in this thread seems to agree are important? The RDA for those are zero, they only recently determined that they were even important. What else remains undetermined?

                    Unlike some of the hysterics here who automatically assume that I’m a Marxist because of my point about diet and population, my position is fundamentally conservative: we don’t know enough about human diet to radically change it.

                    What we do know is that the changes we’ve been making as part of “progress” seem to be a bit of a disaster, as the obesity epidemic makes perfectly clear. Feed any population of humans the Modern American Diet, and they get fat and diabetic.

                    Something’s seriously wrong with a diet if that’s the universal result of eating it.

                    (Oh, and it has the same effect on animals, regardless of species, to Morris’ points about human genetics.)

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      You implied that you knew what a “traditional, healthy diet” is. Now you’re claiming that it can’t be specified. Make up your mind, or else stop spewing bulls*** claims about how unhealthy our diet is.

                      Oh, wait. I forgot. The new thing (well, in the past 40 years or so) is to complain about how bad something is and expect other people to fix it when the person complaining can’t even tell the people who they want to fix things exactly what they are claiming is bad.

                    • Wayne, you said ” SPECIFY what types of foods, in what relative quantities, you’re talking about which constitute a “healthy diet”.”

                      There are multiple healthy diets. Traditional Eskimos were healthy, so were people living in Africa. They ate almost nothing in common, if you’re looking for a menu.

                      So I answered correctly, can’t do that. You want to know what to eat? Don’t eat anything that became common since the agricultural revolution. It’s called the Paleo diet. Minimal grains, legumes, sugar. Eat meat, fish, vegetables.

                      Works very well for fixing what ails you.

                      But it’s not magic…

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      Don’t eat anything that became common since the agricultural revolution.

                      Wow, do you have any clue what you just said? You just took off the plate EVERY commercially available food item today in America, except for a select few VERY specialized things (Ok, most fish are included, but I’m sure the farmed ones are being modified by selective breeding right now). Those would be the ones who provide specialty items like wild meats, insects, foraged wild plants, and a few other products. Because nothing is the same as it was 10,000 years ago, when the agricultural revolution started.

                      Strangely, however, most of the problems that people identify (aggressiveness, obesity, various psychological disorders) as being a result of diet, seem to have become significant problems only in the past 50 years or so, when we have been largely eating the same things for several hundred years. What’s changed since then? The destruction of the nuclear family, the restriction of discipline of children, reduction in the allowable activities of children to keep them safe from themselves, reduction of the expectations of children, so that they won’t get their feelings hurt, setting racial groups against each other, telling immigrants that they don’t need to integrate into their adopted country’s culture, they can keep their own, separate, inconsistent punishments for people who break laws, neurotic punishments for people who haven’t actually done anything wrong, etc. ad infinitum. With all these psychological factors operating, I doubt any study could find a signal in all the noise, wrt food effects.

                    • Now, now Wayne, you’re using LOGIC, don’t you know that’s not politically correct? You might hurt Tucker’s feelings!

                    • I think he’s confusing the industrial revolution and the agricultural revolution. This is also a form of quasi religious thought: Our ancestors ate only what was good for them. Well, I read archeological magazines. Sure. If you want to die at 35 with all rotted teeth and severe deficiencies, go ahead and eat pre-agricultural revolution… or even pre-industrial one. If you don’t want to, then eat whatever works for you.

                    • “Well, I read archeological magazines. Sure. If you want to die at 35 with all rotted teeth and severe deficiencies, go ahead and eat pre-agricultural revolution… or even pre-industrial one. If you don’t want to, then eat whatever works for you.”

                      OK. Pre-agricultural humans were far healthier than those immediately post-agricultural. This is not “quasi-religious thought”, this is boring scientific truth. If you want the links to the research, I’m happy to provide them, or you can go buy Dan Lieberman’s book when it comes out this fall, he covers this in detail (he’s the head of the Dept. of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard).

                      The most amazing fact I learned from Prof. Lieberman was the number of cavities in the human fossil record prior to the advent of agriculture. That number is zero.

                      Everything you think you know about human nutrition is BS.

                      Start with that.

                    • To be fair, I agree with him about the detriments of the standard American diet. Eliminating grains and the attendant gluten (sourdough, sob!), sweeteners, and most starches – and avoiding processed junk “food” – and replacing them with meats, fishes and vegetables seems to provide (at least) significant short term health benefits. I know it keeps me looking pretty good in my skivvies, so saith Mrs. Dave. On the other hand, I have friends who manage the same on a different diet, as well as friends who – usually for specific health issues – simply can’t eat lots of meat. I do know that consuming grains, sugars and legumes tends to upset my digestive tract in ways that meat and veggies don’t. But, y’know, anecdote isn’t data. There are resources. Gary Taubes has been mentioned. Loren Cordain has done a lot of work, along with Chris Kresser and Robb Wolf. On a more pop cultural front, Mark Sisson has done a lot to promote that kind of work. My mother-in-law has a Pharm. D. and is a certified nutritionist and health coach and recommends a similar diet. My suggestion: find out what makes you feel like crap and don’t eat it. Or much of it. I have trouble giving up fried things, and popcorn, and beer is right out. Nobody’s taking my beer. Or bacon. Because bacon. And beer.

                    • *THAT* part of your posts gets no argument from me. I dislike the piling on of “nutriofads” that are based on shaky grounds. A person with a fast metabolism and active pancreas will likely do well on a low-fat diet, whereas one with a family history of diabetes will probably get fat on it. SO the “food guide pyramid” isn’t universal and the government / health lobby has no business meddling in it.

                      But at the same time – announcing a Fatwa on seed oils makes about as much sense as the autism/vaccine scare – it’s based on *very* biased populations and represents incomplete science – precisely because of the same genetic diversity that condemns the food pyramid!

                    • OK, once a thread reaches a certain nesting density, you can’t reply to specific posts, so I backed up one layer for this response – it’s to KilteDave regarding gluten…

                      Gluten sensitivity, like last century’s MSG sensitivity – is problematic from a research standpoint. Lab tests and double-blind suggest there is no such thing. Last week there was a report in New Scientist (and I can’t re-find the link) that a double-blind study of persons who self-report as gluten-sensitive – less than 40% showed *any* gluten sensitivity, and less than 20% had a severe enough reaction to merit a dietary change. Given that recent counts have “gluten sensitivity” at up to 40% of U.S. population (yet the *real* gluten sensitive disease – coeliac disease – at <8% of the population) the reality is that there may only be about 4-5% more people who are truly gluten sensitive than accounted for by coeliac disease.

                      And just for reference, MSG sensitivity, a/k/a Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, is now know to be as false as the vaccine/autism connection.

                    • Attempting to bypass WordPress’s comment-nesting limits, just to see if it can be done.

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      Oh, you can continue to reply to comments beyond nesting limits (easiest way is hitting the Reply link in the email notification), but if you are reading them on the webpage, they can get VERY confusing, with all branches at the same indentation level.

                    • Tim-
                      The nesting thing is a normal problem with wordpress, and as soon as Sarah makes her first million, I expect she’ll pay someone to manage her website.

                      As to diet: huh. Is there evidence of what does cause the discomfort reported by the ersatz “gluten sensitive,” then? I ask not in a combative manner, simply looking for more information.

                    • “Is there evidence of what does cause the discomfort reported by the ersatz “gluten sensitive,” then? I ask not in a combative manner, simply looking for more information.”

                      They don’t really know what the mechanism is. They’ve confirmed that it exists, however. They do know what the mechanism is for celiac disease, which is the most severe form of gluten intolerance.

                      It took them 1800 years to figure out that gluten causes celiac disease, and then it was a lucky accident, so I wouldn’t expect any quick answers.

                      BTW, rates of celiac disease are highest in those areas that eat the most wheat, and that have eaten it for the longest. They found a rate of 50% in one school in Egypt, which gets 50% of its calories from modern wheat.

                      If you want to see a nice Malthusian disaster unfold, keep an eye on Egypt.

                    • Protip from my uncle: Work on the second million right from the start. Skip the first million completely; everyone says that one’s the hardest.

                    • Oh, THAT explains why I haven’t managed it yet. DUH.

                    • Well, yes. But Our Hostess is a mite … strong willed.

                    • Rob Crawford

                      “If you want to see a nice Malthusian disaster unfold, keep an eye on Egypt.”

                      That has NOTHING to do with what they eat, and EVERYTHING to do with poor social institutions and extremely poor choices in politics.

                    • “That has NOTHING to do with what they eat, and EVERYTHING to do with poor social institutions and extremely poor choices in politics.”

                      Sure. One of the well-known effects of celiac disease (for instance) is neurological imbalances, including schizophrenia. Poor neurological functioning is not conducive to wise choices in anything.

                    • Including not letting tourists feel safe. They’re not overpopulated. They’re over-stupied.

                    • Actually, what happened in Egypt was a direct result of the Obama regime’s decision to force that nation into early elections. This had the effect that the Muslim Brotherhood, which hadn’t even taken part in the revolution but had organizational strength dating back several decades, was able to win those elections, since the actual revolutionaries hadn’t organized yet.

                      Here’s where my paranoid side kicks in: is Obama trying to ensure a major terrorist attack against the US, by placing as many anti-American regimes in power as possible? Why is he aiding al-Qaeda in Syria?

                      Once the second 9/11 happens, all guns will be confiscated in America and the new Soviet Socialist American Republic will be proclaimed. Since there will be no outside force, it will last literally forever, or at least until the Sun’s red giant phase.

                    • Rob Crawford

                      And Tuck’s “theory” descends into magic territory. It explains EVERYTHING.

                    • I feel like I’m rereading the theories of Sylvester Graham, the Kellogg brothers and their battle against “impure thoughts”.

                    • and also for manipulating uteri… head>desk.

                    • “What we do know is that the changes we’ve been making as part of “progress” seem to be a bit of a disaster, as the obesity epidemic makes perfectly clear. Feed any population of humans the Modern American Diet, and they get fat and diabetic.

                      Something’s seriously wrong with a diet if that’s the universal result of eating it.”

                      You want to come over here and call me fat to my face?

                      The Obesity Epidemic, as you call it, is a sign of national prosperity. It is not a sign that we are getting away from a ‘traditional healthy diet’, it is a sign that we are a very prosperous nation. We are such a wealthy nation that even our poor can easily afford to eat enough to get fat. The reason that throughout history there was usually a far smaller percentage of the population that was fat is that ONLY RICH PEOPLE COULD AFFORD ENOUGH FOOD TO BECOME FAT!

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      The other side of that being that in general (given what I know of you, from your comments and your website, this probably doesn’t apply to you, bearcat), people in this country are not as active as they once were. Kids don’t spend a couple of hours after school, and most of the day Saturday, running around doing things that are energetic (and possibly dangerous) like they used to. In the ones who still do that, I would wager that they have a significantly lower ratio of overweight members. I know *I* wasn’t fat until I got a desk job.

                    • True, but that is also a sign of prosperity, not having to work so hard for an overabundance of food that it doesn’t matter how much you eat.

                      Lack of exercise is definitely a large factor in a large percentage (not all, but the majority) of obesity cases. I was simply pointing out that obesity is not “the universal result” of eating the “Modern American Diet.” Since I know of zero examples of poverty-ridden countries with “obesity epidemics” I deduce that the ‘leading cause’ is a prosperous society, which allows the ‘actual causes’ of obesity to become more prevalent.

              • “Traditional healthy diet” you know, vegetarian and approved of by Whole Foods. What everyone really would eat, if there were enough to go around. Because people buy cheetos and bacon because they’re FORCED.
                You guys tell me when you’re done with this chewtoy. I’ve given up. I’ll just ruin keyboards with coffee again.

                • Typical liberal progressive one size fits all and they get to specify the size crap.
                  Simple truth that even the medical profession doesn’t seem to grasp all that well: people are different. Some can’t tolerate gluten, while others thrive on bread and pastries. Some, and this seems to go along racial lines, cannot properly digest milk or milk products containing lactose. I personally get fewer winter colds when I take a regular vitamin C supplement, but it can exacerbate kidney stones in folks with a certain metabolism.
                  Of course a strong argument could be made, borrowing from the logic of our good friend Tuck, that all food is poison and should be avoided for a healthy lifestyle.
                  Side note, anyone have any idea how much starvation has resulted from the higher cost and reduced availability of corn and its derivatives caused by the diversion of much of the US crop to ethanol production?

              • lol– because of my problems, I don’t eat much dairy, or tomatoes (I mourn that– ) or citrus fruit. All of these foods cause various problems in my body. Cruciferous vegetables, red meat, salmon, fruits like blueberries, and bread are my total diet now (plus popcorn). I found that some foods are the source of my headaches and digestive problems. It doesn’t help that I have been on an oral form of chemo for ten years now either.

                • Well, no. Chemo will mess with everything. BTW I can’t have popcorn and it is one of my VERY favorite things.

                  • I like to sprinkle melted butter and grated parmesan cheese over it. With spices. Fortunately, I only have it at my parents. Otherwise, I would eat it ALL THE TIME.

                  • Sorry about the popcorn — I am sure I would go batty w/o it because it is my only treat (can’t eat too many things with sugar and I have problems with chocolate now–sad). Yes, chemo and I have a love-hate relationship.

          • Oh, I know Tim. And that’s the problem. We journalists get hold of a story and have a bad habit of picking the most inflammatory information to make our story. Particularly since most of us don’t really understand science, but like to appear “smart.”

            The “research” tummy tuck here is touting is a story by the leftist rag, the Guardian.

            • “The “research” tummy tuck here is touting is a story by the leftist rag, the Guardian.”

              Actually, the first post I “touted” was a series of articles by a scientist, citing work that you can find yourself in PubMed, as I have done. (to Mr. Morris’ question). I figured I’d add the “popular” version of the story to simplify things for you. I guess I overestimated your intelligence.

              Sorry, won’t happen again.

              • Tuck, if you want to turn this into a ritual d*ck beating contest about who’s smarter, I’ll be happy to share my last I.Q. test scores with you if you’ll share yours.

                Or you could just admit that, as the actual biologist has pointed out to you, that you don’t actually know what you’re talking about and are a typical vileprog.

                • “Tuck, if you want to turn this into a ritual d*ck beating contest about who’s smarter, I’ll be happy to share my last I.Q. test scores with you if you’ll share yours.”

                  Your behavior says all I need to know about your intelligence.

                  “Or you could just admit that, as the actual biologist has pointed out to you, that you don’t actually know what you’re talking about and are a typical vileprog.”

                  The “actual biologist” who gets his facts wrong on the basics? That guy? Or Chilton, who makes the same point I do here in his published research?

                  Please be a little more clear: with your high IQ, that should be easy.

                  • Ahh, and here is a perfect example of the vileprog in action. What he really can’t stand about this, is that we find him _amusing._

                    • “What he really can’t stand about this, is that we find him _amusing._”

                      Actually, I find you amusing. I don’t care what you think about me, you’re just a troll in the comments of a blog.

                    • Tuck the really funny part here is I agree with you about government intervention in American diets. Every time they set up what they think is “healthy” new research invalidates it. I have written extensively about it here: http://pjmedia.com/blog/wasted-food-hungry-kids-michelle-obamas-bill-in-action/

                      Where we disagree, violently, is in the solution. My solution is to let doctors and nutritionists educate people. And let people make their own decisions. My wife is prediabetic, she can’t have certain foods. I’m not. I’m one of those annoying people who eats whatever he wants and never gains weight. But there are certain foods (strawberries *sob*) I cannot have as they are migraine triggers. Nutrition is INDIVIDUAL.

                      Your solution is more government intervention, a’la Michelle Obama.

                      So no, don’t think you’re a Marxist. But I do think you’re a vileprog, whatever you try to call yourself.

                    • “Where we disagree, violently, is in the solution. My solution is to let doctors and nutritionists educate people. And let people make their own decisions. My wife is prediabetic, she can’t have certain foods. I’m not. I’m one of those annoying people who eats whatever he wants and never gains weight. But there are certain foods (strawberries *sob*) I cannot have as they are migraine triggers. Nutrition is INDIVIDUAL.

                      “Your solution is more government intervention, a’la Michelle Obama.

                      “So no, don’t think you’re a Marxist. But I do think you’re a vileprog, whatever you try to call yourself.”

                      You have no idea what my solution is, as I haven’t commented on that subject. You’re putting words in my mouth and then arguing with me about it. This must be one of those high-IQ things that I don’t understand.

                      “My solution is to let doctors and nutritionists educate people. ”

                      See, here’s the problem: you don’t know enough about the problem to have an opinion on it.

                      Doctors and nutritionists merely repeat the governments’ line on what proper nutrition is. They have to: that’s the law. Government subsidizes foods based on the government line. And the government line on nutrition has no scientific basis.

                      So your solution, in fact, is to follow the government intervention, a’la Michelle Obama.

                      I think that’s wrong, and that approach, of having faith that the “experts” are doing the right thing, is what’s gotten us in this fix.

                      Do some research, learn for yourself what the scientific research says about human diet. Don’t assume that what you think is correct is, because from what you’ve said here, it’s not.

                      And I’m as far from a vileprog as it’s possible to get ideologically… You, however, seem to follow the prog line, even though you don’t seem to be aware of it.

                      The bogus revolution in diet was part and parcel of the Progressive revolution of the 20th century.

                    • I’m a prog? BWAHAHHAAHAHAH, MUAHAHAHHAH HOOOO HOOO HOO!!!

                      *giggle, snort, wipes his eyes*

                      Oh dear GOD man, I’m the guy who has twice caused the government to back off on one of it’s pet regulatory projects within HOURS of breaking the story. You tell me to do some research, you really ought to do a little of your own before you make statements like that. Be a good idea to find out who you’re actually talking to. Go ahead, google, me, I’m here under my own name. Read my writings. Then come back and try again.

                      Oh, and after you’ve gotten back on your meds. You might note that you’re suggesting we trade one set of experts for another — just the ones you happen to agree with.

                      I don’t want any experts, other than my doctor, after doing his OWN research, telling me what to eat. And then I’m liable to not listen to him anyway.

                      You are the one who suggested the government should encourage better eating through subsidies to the farmers, not I.

                      Because pizza, and beer. And bacon pizza.

                    • “You are the one who suggested the government should encourage better eating through subsidies to the farmers, not I.”

                      No, you said that I did, I never did. I’ve never believed that, and never said it. I said “The government-induced bias in the food markets make it really hard to eat a traditional, healthy diet.” How you could twist that around to what you say above is a bit of a mystery to me.

                      You’re parroting the progressive line on diet and you don’t even realize it. Getting “experts” like your doctor in between you and your food was the most brilliant move the Progressives ever did. Nearly all Republicans and conservatives parrot the Prog line on science, as you’re doing here.

                      If they control what you should be eating, they control every aspect of your life. For your safety. It’s perfect. Totalitarianism follows easily after that.

                      “Go ahead, google, me, I’m here under my own name.”

                      So you’re the body builder? Or the travel writer? Tough to tell…

                      If you’re the guy who wrote this:

                      http://pjmedia.com/blog/the-progressive-war-on-science-obama-admin-regulations-crushing-research/

                      Then I’m curious. Have you looked into the accuracy rates of published scientific research?

                    • Ah you got me, I misread your comment about government subsidies, mea culpa, mea culpa mea maxima culpa.

                    • “Ah you got me, I misread your comment about government subsidies, mea culpa, mea culpa mea maxima culpa.”

                      No worries. Most of the folks who go on about diet are left-wing progs. It’s a natural assumption that I would be too…

                    • Oh and yes, I _am_ the guy who wrote that. I stand by it.

                    • “Oh and yes, I _am_ the guy who wrote that. I stand by it.”

                      Good. Nice piece. I’ve been reading Pajamas Media since day one.

                      But I think you’re missing the bigger story. The bigger story, IMHO, is that institutional science is seriously broken. The rates of bogus research is on the order of 50% to 90%, depending on the area. Medical research is one of the worst. Gary Taubes covers this peripherally in his work, but a lot of this research gets passed along because it meets the need of the progressives, which is to keep people believing that the route to progress lies through them. They’re perpetrating a con, and scientific research is key to continuing the con.

                      New research comes out all the time, and most of it is meaningless or wrong.. But it keeps the money flowing. By the billions.

                    • Rob Crawford

                      “They’re perpetrating a con, and scientific research is key to continuing the con.”

                      The biggest cons are carried out by people who don’t understand the science.

                  • so, a transposition in typing is “getting my facts wrong?” Wow. I hope you NEVER get carpal tunnel syndrome and have to pause and switch things around in mid-sentence.

        • actually, you said it. correlation does not equal causation. The articles you linked are correlation. They are NOT causation. When you can cite and interpret the primary sources, you can continue this argument.

          I’ll give you a head start – the link is: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=%28%28behavior+OR+violence%29%29+AND+linoleic+acid

          • My favorite correlation is that the Price of Butter in Bangladesh is one of the best indicators of the movement of the US Stock Market. Now show me how one of those causes the other …. 😉

      • Patrick: the fact that the Earth is not overpopulated NOW cannot be regarded as proof that it is impossible for it to be overpopulated. The laws of physics state that you cannot get more energy out of a system than you put into a system. In the case of food, the energy is supplied by the amount of sunlight hitting the earth every year, which is a large, but finite quantity.

        • The laws of humanity state that we have a very long way to go to that.

          • Hoyt, whether we have a long way to go to that point, is also irrelevent, and does not disprove my statement. It might be that we could feed 50 trillion human beings, and it would take us a long time, as you point out, to get to that level of population. And we may choose to (or be unable to for other reasons) not reach that level of population. But that does not mean that Malthus was wrong. At some point, with a large enough population, we would have mass starvation. Claiming that we would not, and that Malthus is wrong, simply because we have not reached a sufficiently high population yet, is erroneous. It’s rather as if, someone told us that if we drove our car off a cliff, the resulting crash at the bottom would destroy our car and kill us. The fact that the cliff might be 1000 miles away, or that the car runs out of gas, or we are stopped for speeding before we get there, or choose of our own accord not to continue to drive towards the cliff, does not disprove that the car would explode and we would be killed, if we ever did drive off the cliff.

            • “Ms. Hoyt”. “Mrs. Hoyt”. “Sarah”. Even “hey, you idiot”.

              Every one of those implies more respect than just “Hoyt”.

              On Thu, Jul 18, 2013 at 12:07 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

              > ** > Ann Morgan commented: “Hoyt, whether we have a long way to go to that > point, is also irrelevent, and does not disprove my statement. It might be > that we could feed 50 trillion human beings, and it would take us a long > time, as you point out, to get to that level of population. ” >

              • I call my very good friends by their last name, my friends by their first name, acquaintances, enemies and people I don’t know by however they introduce themselves. Politicians are an exception to this rule, because they are known by their last name, usually without on honorific. Somehow I don’t believe Ann and Sarah are very good friends. If you are insinuating she is a politician, that is an insult that impugns her honor, and there are several here, myself included that would be happy to defend it on your field of choice.

            • I’ve stayed out of this until reading this comment. You have invaded this blog, tried to hijack it with a comment that was far longer than the original post, have refused to discuss the different responses brought up by others and have now shown even more of a lack of respect for your “hostess” than before. If you feel this passionately about your topic, which has little — if anything — to do with the original post by Sarah, then go write about it on your own blog. So far, the others commenting here have been fairly restrained. Don’t push them any further. Trust me, you won’t like the response. They will flay you with logic and detailed arguments that not only take apart your comments but you as well. I’m readying the popcorn concession for when they do.

        • Your response would be appropriate if anyone had asserted Earth’s carrying capacity for human life was infinite. As nobody has even approached such a claim your point is simply asinine. Immolating straw men generates brief heat and very little light.

        • 1. The laws of physics state that you cannot get more energy out of a system than you put into a system.

          Come again?

          2. I have no idea of how my mentors put up with me back in the day. Afaic that they did so gives me a moral obligation to emulate them, but some people push the envelope…

    • Oh My God, these are indeed the Crazy Years – and nutbar “nutrition” fraud like this is among the symptoms.

      • Yup. It’s enough to make this poor pathologist a mite sad.

        • Rob Crawford

          On the other hand, there was a lot of nutrition garbage at the end of the 19th century, too.

          I think some of it’s a pseudo-religious impulse: “if I’m PURE, I’ll live FOREVER!”

          • Brothers John Harvey and Will Keith Kellogg — founders of Kellogg’s cereals — were holistic medicine proponents, as was Charles William “C.W.” Post. They advocated state of the art nutritional science in promoting their breakfast cereals.

            Then there was the radium fad. Not content with planting it on your wrist by painting it on your watch, manufacturers found

            an incredible number of other uses … as well. One of these was radium water. This was particularly popular in Europe in the 1920’s and many different companies were making these “vitalizers” that contained water charged with radon gas. Radium was even used by a few people to spread on their gardens to supposedly enhance them.

            There were radium injections, pills to be taken orally, creams, ointments, lipstick and even suppositories. Although the medical profession challenged the claimed benefits for these “quack” treatments, its use continued until the 1960’s. I was personally involved at the age of nine when I had my tonsils and adenoids removed in the mid 1940’s. I was given several radium treatments that were to prevent any growth return. Radium tipped rods that were otherwise stored in a lead container, were inserted way in my nose for 10 or 15 minute periods. Fortunately, many years later and after several medical tests, no ill effects have appeared. However, not everyone was that lucky, particularly if they were exposed at an earlier age.
            http://www.roger-russell.com/radioactive/radioactive.htm

            • In one Oz story, there’s a culture entirely built on the marvelous properties of radium.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              To be fair about the Radium paint on the watch dials – the only ones they were dangerous to were the women who were painting the numbers on the faces of the watches. According to an account I read many moons ago, they used to twirl the brushes on their lips to get a good point to paint with. Once the watch was closed, the workings and the crystal would protect one from the Alpha particles which constituted the vast majority of the radiation from it.

    • @Tuck, you do realize that homicide rates in the US are down over the last 30 years, right? I’m guessing that refutes your omega-6 thesis.

      http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0873729.html

      • “I’m guessing that refutes your omega-6 thesis.”

        Violence rates have reduced in recent years, but are still far higher than they were prior to their increase after WWII.

        • Rob Crawford

          You do realize that the highest homicide rate ever recorded was in a fish-oil-heavy Eskimo tribe, right?

        • @Tuck, but if we go back to 1000 AD then violence rates are down. We currently have the lowest homicide rates in history. The run up in violence leading up to WWII may have had more to do with idiotic laws (prohibition) and the economics (the great depression) than diet.

          If I understand your claim correctly, you’re arguing that increased omega-6 consumption is driving up violence. That thesis flies in the face of current data.

          • Take it up with Hibbeln. It’s his research, not mine. They’ve confirmed it in controlled trials, I can’t help you after that.

            • Controlled trials =/= valid trials

              Hibbeln isn’t coming here spouting dubious data. Attributing variations in rates of violence to a single variable is something they tried back in the 1980s with the “crack babies” and “super-predator” theories.

        • I fundamentally doubt the rates of violence prior to WWII and since are comparable due to significant changes in definition of violence and in reporting methodology.

    • Tuck,
      One of the biggest changes with the increase in population has been an increased reliance on grains and grain products in the diet.

      Really? Where in the name of all that’s unholy (holy won’t touch me with a lightning strike and unholy is scared I’ll take over) do you get that little gem? In every society that developed agriculture the diet of all but a relatively small number of people was almost entirely based on grains and legumes. In a lot of places it’s still that way.

      It turns out that the rate of consumption of seed oils correlates very well with the homicide rate. That’s right. And that’s across countries and across time.

      Others have covered the alleged science of this claim. I can confidently inform you that it’s bullshit. (Actually, what it is is so bloody specific to modern Western culture and people eating diets that largely don’t match what their recent ancestors ate that it’s functionally useless). The most violent cultures today have diets with next to no seed oils. They just don’t hit the average diet researcher’s radar because they’re isolated tribal cultures that are still operating on a hunter-gatherer or hunt/gather/fish basis. Including at least one New Guinea tribe that was practicing cannibalism quite recently – “long pig” is still meat and does not typically contain seed oil.

      Also, any evidence can be overwhelming if you cherry-pick your data. And even an intelligent person can be sucked in by someone who’s cloaking propaganda in apparently reasonable wording.

      • … the rate of consumption of seed oils correlates very well with the homicide rate.

        Well, when you think of it, the first murder (Genesis 4:8) correlates to grain versus meat.

    • “Soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil and other industrial creations have replaced milk and meat fat in our diet, while total fat consumption has remained relatively constant. The result is that we’re eating a lot more polyunsaturated fat than we were just 30 years ago, most of it linoleic acid (omega-6). ”

      It turns out that the rate of consumption of seed oils correlates very well with the homicide rate. That’s right. And that’s across countries and across time.

      That contradicts itself; it says that the homicide rate correlates to the seed oil consumption, and that it’s true across time, and that seed oil is a modern thing– folks here know that the homicide rate has been dropping.

    • Plenty of other people have taken your argument apart, but I just want to point out the obvious.

      You state that increases in population correlate strongly with increases in seed oil consumption, and increases in seed oil consumption correlate strongly with increases in the homicide rate. By the very premises you’re assuming, then, increases in population correlate strongly with increases in the homicide rate. (Which has not proven true in the U.S. in the past 30 years, as hdls points out.)

      So which seems more likely? That something dietary is causing sudden behavioral changes, yet almost nobody has noticed except some Brilliant Researcher™ who has parlayed that discovery into fame and money? Or that increases in population size mean that there are proportionally more crazies like the sicko* who shot up the movie theater in Aurora, and those crazies who kill dozens of people each end up having a large impact on the murder rate?

      The problem with the latter theory is, it’s too obviously common sense. Which means you can’t parlay that into fame and Guardian interviews.

      * I know he has a name, but I refuse to give him any more of the twisted “glory” he sought by using it. He can go ahead and be nameless.

  4. A variation on those copybook headings. RAH himself said a liberal is someone who, while acknowledging that water runs downhill, will pray that it never hits bottom.

    Another story on the conceit that language == manipulating symbols == thought is Delany’s Babel 17, which I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed even as I recognized its shortcomings as a viable concept.

    M

    • Wayne Blackburn

      Yes, that is a good one, though he went a bit far in language variation claims, but I can see language construction aiding in thinking speed and clarity.

      Another, even though it’s a Lefty morass, which points out such things, is the final trilogy in Brin’s Uplift saga.

  5. Rob Crawford

    “Almost all basic learning is mind bogglingly boring. But it opens your wings to the sky.”

    Basic learning is like the first stage on the Saturn V — slow and tedious, but necessary if you want to reach the moon.

    • Yep, and every time we try to circumvent the boredom, the learning goes away too.

      • My attitude toward “Times tables” changed once I had pointed out to me its advantages in developing the mental ability to focus on a matter and to hold concepts on our mental desktops.

        It is rather like dismissing push-ups as a useless skill without recognizing their benefits in developing upper body strength and dissipating excess energy.

    • And it can lead to truly disastrous situations in the future, if you skip that. Such as crushing and perpetual boredom.

      More here

      • Still more here A sample:

        “This realization comes considerably later to most of my intelligent patients, however, who complain in their thirties of a vague, persistent, and severe dissatisfaction with their present existence. The excitements of their youth are over: in the culture of the slums, men and women are past their prime by the age of 25. Their personal lives are in disarray, to put it kindly: the men have fathered children with whom they have little or no contact; the women, preoccupied with meeting the increasingly imperious demands of these same children, drudge at ill-paid, boring, and impermanent jobs. (The illegitimacy rate in Britain has recently passed the 40 percent mark, and while most births are still registered in the names of two parents, relations between the sexes grow ever more unstable.) The entertainments that once seemed so compelling to both men and women—indeed, the whole purpose of life—seem so no longer. These patients are listless, irritable, and disgruntled. They indulge in self-destructive, anti-social, or irrational behavior: they drink too much, involve themselves in meaningless quarrels, quit their jobs when they can’t afford to, run up debts on trifles, pursue obviously disastrous relationships, and move house as if the problem were in the walls that surround them.

        “The diagnosis is boredom, a much underestimated factor in the explanation of undesirable human conduct. As soon as the word is mentioned, they pounce upon it, almost with relief: recognition of the problem is instant, though they had not thought of it before. Yes, they are bored—bored to the very depths of their being.

        “But why are they bored, they ask me? The answer, of course, is that they have never applied their intelligence either to their work, their personal lives, or their leisure, and intelligence is a distinct disadvantage when it is not used: it bites back”

        • The thing that has always struck me about the progressive scheme of thing has been it’s incredible capacity to waste people, to kill any ability to improve themselves, to squelch any ambition except to live in the system, all so that they are guaranteed to vote the right way.

  6. Teacher in Tejas

    As an educator your comment on the education system rings true. We veteran teachers chuckle as every few years our districts and schools pay some outside speaker six and sometimes seven figures to come in and reinvent the wheel. It’s always the “Next Greatest Thing” or the new technology. Hey someone just wrote a new PhD in education and this is finally IT! The answer! We usually smile, nod and then go back to our classrooms and continue to build positive relationships with our students, challenge them to think and come up with creative ways to impart information (the better of us anyway)

    And you are spot on with the “if my kid can’t learn” it must be some outside force. Michael Savage went about saying it the wrong way a few years ago when I said, “Autism is the new ADD” but he was certainly correct. A friend of mine who works in medical research put it thus: It’s all these suburban, go-getter, soccer mom parents, who will cut anyone’s throat who seems to get in their kid’s way (I have actually had parents who tried to end my career because their lazy, spoiled child refused to work in my class). There is no way on God’s green earth that two perfect, uber-suburban parents could actually have (gasp) an average or below average child! Horrors! It must be autism or ADD or Aspergers or any of the myriad of choices available to us now, to over-diagnose and find excuses for why kids don’t do well in school.

    Every time someone writes a new PhD in education we end up with a new medical/scientific/socialization condition. It used to be ADD then it became ADD/HD and then it became ADD/HD/OHI and the march to folly continues.

    • Our poor kid suffered to sixth grade with a real disability (one moreover that runs in the family) because we were convinced he was just being a lazy *ss. Until they showed us the results of the hearing tests, we didn’t believe it… eh. But yes.

      • Teacher in Tejas

        One of the “world turned upside down” things in education I have found interesting is a news story I saw a few years ago. It dealt with parents in places like Manhattan and New England who send their kids to the top private schools (but vote Democratic because they know how to run public schools…..ah but I digress) and how these parents were using every trick in the book to get their precious darlings classified as “special needs” in order to get them “extended time” on the SAT! Can you imagine that? I bet not too long ago parents with a “special ed” child would have been ostracized from the best cocktail parties due to that fact, and now its,

        “I say Muffy, little Zenith has Asbergers so no more of those pesky discipline conferences, Longines has onset dyslexia so spelling is no longer an issue and Barack has ADD/HD so he gets all the time he needs and actually has the test read to him.” Harvard here we come.”

        • Marsh qualified for extra time and REFUSED to take it. The same way he qualifies for extra accommodations in college (mostly he just needs a silent room) but refused to have the paperwork transferred from high school. He says the world will not accommodate him. He’s probably right.

          • I don’t expect it’ll slow him down particularly.

            • Ah, yes, but you’ve met the critter. He takes after me. BTW, he really is lightening rod. I used to find the one bizarre way of falling through the cracks/getting in trouble with officialdom. It drove mom and dad nuts. They were sure I was doing something wrong. I wasn’t, I just seem to hit things weirdly and go of into people’s blindspots/insanity. What this means is that I’m more tolerant of Marsh who seems to do the same. if there’s a way to drive the system batty he does it by accident.
              Probably by the time he’s my age he’ll have learned to do it on purpose 😉

              • All the more reason to get on his good side early on. I suppose I could always bring mints to the next gathering . . .

                • Oh, you found that. Yes. It’s his weakness. If he’s particularly good we’ll take him to Celestial Seasoning and LOCK him in the mint room 😉

                  • Say rather that I intuited it. As to the mint room, I understand it’s an excellent way to clear the sinuses.

                  • Rob Crawford

                    Mint. I swear we will terraform planets with mint.

                    My brother transplanted mint once — tore off a piece, drove an hour with the torn-off piece laying on the truck seat in the sun, threw it on the ground, and stomped on it. A year or two later that whole raised bed (10’x10′) was filled with mint.

                    I moved some to the foundation of a long-gone silo, and it jumped the 1′ thick concrete foundation into the lawn. Was a nice patch to run the mower through.

                    • Mint is an alien life form. It gives the term :invasive species” a whole new meaning.

                    • I wonder if it would grow in my garden. Seriously — we have roots that suck up all the life of every plant I put in…

                    • Rob Crawford

                      The mint that jumped out of the silo foundation jumped INTO a yard with a walnut tree. Walnuts poison the soil to keep competition down.

                    • My lawn mint died when we fixed the leaky faucet over it. I have to water the mint in a pot constantly or it won’t survive the summer. We’re also the only ones in our neighborhood with a surviving Bur Oak. It’s planted near the AC drain.

                    • I once planted a mint plant in a corner of the backyard. Then my son dumped a VW engine on it. By the time I got him to dispose of the engine it was surrounded by mint.

                    • The neighborhood cats are seeding catnip all over the yard. It almost ate my miniature roses last year. Mint plants are too ferocious to be left in the hands (paws?) of non-professionals.

          • rawlenyanzi

            Your son is very perceptive, it seems.

          • A number of kids refuse to take it because it requires coming after school when they’d rather hang with their friends.

    • Rob Crawford

      “then it became ADD/HD/OHI”

      Please tell me the next step is “ADD/HD/OHI/O”.

    • rawlenyanzi

      As an educator your comment on the education system rings true. We veteran teachers chuckle as every few years our districts and schools pay some outside speaker six and sometimes seven figures to come in and reinvent the wheel. It’s always the “Next Greatest Thing” or the new technology. Hey someone just wrote a new PhD in education and this is finally IT! The answer! We usually smile, nod and then go back to our classrooms and continue to build positive relationships with our students, challenge them to think and come up with creative ways to impart information (the better of us anyway)

      Meanwhile, this Silicon Valley school bans computers. More power to them, I say.

      Every time someone writes a new PhD in education we end up with a new medical/scientific/socialization condition. It used to be ADD then it became ADD/HD and then it became ADD/HD/OHI and the march to folly continues.

      It’s about not holding kids responsible for their behavior, since that would be “judging.”

    • “schools pay some outside speaker six and sometimes seven figures to come in …”

      Funneling taxpayer money to consultants is a classic way of scratching the backs of one’s friends while appearing to address a problem. Bureaucracies thrive on the appearance of “doing something” while ignoring fundamental intractable problems. This is the crux of the premise of Asimov’s Foundation.

  7. Copybooks updated by Bill Whittle:

  8. The wisdom in this post, yea, most of us know this. Knowing this does what for us? Nada. We are out numbered, surrounded, outgunned by endless hoards of mindless paste eating mouth breathers. I just wish I was healthy enough to enjoy the Mad Max society to come.

    How terrible is wisdom when it does not profit the wise.

    • From Puppet Masters “That entire time was psychotic. A man with his gaskets fully tight would get murdered.”
      … well, knowing you’re not alone might help?

    • To know that I’m not the only one out there who thinks things are crazier than a bullbat means 1) I’m not the one that’s nuts and 2) there are other people willing to stand in the breach with me. It’s a h-ll of a lot easier to keep fighting and writing and thinking about how to make the future better when there are other people, also tired, also angry, also depressed sometimes, who are sharing the load, even if I don’t see them face-to-face.

  9. “Then there is the shooting in the Aurora theater, which doesn’t even make any sense, except in a culture where it’s better to be famous for killing people than to be obscure.”

    Well, one can add that the shooter carefully chose not the closest theater or the largest, but the one that posted that guns were not allowed.

  10. Rob Crawford

    “It makes most of us Odds distinctly uncomfortable, when any societal normal is rigidly enforced. And it makes it difficult for creativity and invention to flourish.”

    Objection! Shakespeare and Franklin and Edison and Poe and Lovecraft and Tolkien and Heinlein and…

    I’m more discomfited by “norms” that are “enforced” sporadically or unequally. And by the slow abandonment of the ethos of individualism.

    • Actually no, Rob. They were not rigid societies. I was thinking more like communist countries or Arab countries. Or Napoleonic France. In Shakespeare’s times there were penalties for adultery on the books, but they were only enforced if you p*ssed someone off on something else. There were too many young people and society was a bit nuts. Heinlein’s time? You got to be kidding. Preached at, but nothing enforced. Franklin? PFUI. In the frontier. Keep going, that is not the “repressive society” I meant.

      • Rob Crawford

        Then we’re arguing on the extent of “rigid” enforcement, which is fair enough.

  11. Christopher Chupik

    “Or we can turn back now, and try to think clearly and believe our lying eyes and not the pretty stuff we want to believe.”

    This reminds me of one of those trendy memes I utterly despise. “That’s just an anecdote, that’s not evidence of anything!” In short, don’t believe your own experiences. Ugh.

    • Susan Shepherd

      Agreed. I am fully aware that personal anecdotes cannot, on their own, be thought of as evidence for enormous or widespread trends. But I do get really ticked off when someone says “That can’t be true!” or “But that doesn’t happen in the real world!” in response to something I’ve seen / experienced for myself. And when several people have similar anecdotes, no, it doesn’t /prove/ there’s a trend, but it does mean that the matter may be worth looking into.

      • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… the difference between a field study (not a scientific study btw with control groups) and an anecdote is whether the person gathering the evidence has a PhD in an approved propagandized field. my personal opinion, of course… Even with a PhD… the field study starts with overwhelming anecdotes.

      • Personal anecdotes cannot, on their own, be thought of as evidence for enormous or widespread trends — but they can be evidence of the occurrence of a fact. The spontaneous combustion of SPQR would not demonstrate such events are common, nor even likely — but it would establish them as possible.

        • Anecdotes are the first step to discover imho. You gather a lot of them — do the math– and then you have the basis for a study. 😉

          • The reason I say what I say about anecdotes and the research scientist is from personal experience with dealing with the researchers and my disease. When the researchers were looking for a trigger (the disease is needs a genetic base and a trigger to get started), they were looking at organic triggers like those that caused by allergies and asthma. Because the experiences of the “patients” was considered anecdotal, when we explained that it had to be an industrial/chemical type trigger (organic chemicals, silica, asbestos, etc) we were told that we didn’t know what we were talking about. The researchers have not been able to find a single trigger. It turns out that the trigger is different for each person who gets the disease.

            They found out that the genetic basis is the same as other auto-immune diseases. Once again when people are individual and their diseases are individual.

            So if the researchers would listen to the anecdotes and then develop their research to where the anecdotes pointed (I found that many of the researchers already had a bias), then they would be farther along in curing us. So that is my experience– and opinion…

  12. Crazy years? Yeah, more like “Insane Years”, as most of those in positions of authority have no capability to perform any useful work.

    I ended up spending more time than I should on Google Earth yesterday, looking first at “Serpent Mound”, and then at some of the cities that were pictured yesterday. I also got side-tracked into following the Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo, NY (got sidetracked once, and ended up following the Oswego canal – still interesting). Most of these aren’t much used these days, as we have faster ways of moving bulk freight. In the meantime, I saw quite a bit of open country. Much of it was “open” because it had once been developed, then let go back to forest. Other areas were “open” because they just weren’t WORTH developing.

    On the other hand, there are places in the Northeast where it’s hard to find room to turn around. Out west, not so much — long stretches of NOTHING exist in almost all the states. There are still open areas in and around most of our big cities. We are far from being “over-populated”.

    Part of China’s problem is that at least a third of the country is either semi-desert, or the real thing. The lack of moisture prevents more than minor farming, but they’re not into running herds of cattle on scrub land as Americans are. Anywhere there’s moisture, there’s farming, sometimes INTENSE farming.

    • Also, they are a total command economy.

      • I don’t think that China is a total command economy. I think that china is several countries that sort of have the same central government. You have the Southeast which runs on the philosophies of John Cowperthwaite(Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai and their surround), the old central state and Manchuria(smokyville, big industry and the rust belt) and the deep interior which is basically the uninhabitated region. The southeast makes all the money and the central government tries to keep the south east from seceding.

        • “The country, once divided, must unite, and once united, must divide.” I’m just waiting for the next cycle to hit China.

  13. My impression (any archeoeconomists present please chime in) is that the Middle Kingdom has been a command economy of one form or another and cyclically of greater or lesser degree for nigh on six thousand years.

    Even so, and perhaps because of that, the folks from mainland China that I know are among the most intrinsically capitalist people I’ve ever known. Right up there with the Russians. Reinforces my faith in the indominability of humanity, it does.

    • So, you’re saying the *ss whom refuted my alternate history story in Analog by saying I didn’t understand Asians were inherently non-capitalist and genetically altruistic or something was WRONG? WOW. Who could have seen that coming? (Other than anyone who knows Asians, of course.)

      • When the Mandarins horde all the gold and silver, you learn to make copper squeal.

      • ” Who could have seen that coming?”

        Anyone who as ever walked into a minimart. The first thing Asians do when they immigrate, is start a business, if that ain’t capitalistic I don’t know what is.

    • A friend was flabbergasted by the book When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433.

      Then the Chinese sealed themselves off, which was convenient for the ruling class of the time but disastrous for the nation’s future.

      Fortunately that can’t happen here because the US and Europe are ruled by enlightened multicultural savants. 🙄

      • It can’t happen because the shipping container has changed the paradigm and made the world’s economy to interlinked. it’s one thing to break off when foreign goods are rare and expensive, which was the essential norm when everything was break bulk. It’s another when foreign goods are cheap and integral part of your supply stream.

        • In the early twentieth century, everyone knew we couldn’t have another war because the parts of the world were so economically interdependent.

          • Indeed. The evil associated with WW2 was so great that it’s easy to overlook the insanity associated with WW1.

          • 1. Thirty years ago I knew an engineer on AT&T’s long-distance network. He said the network was designed so that any local overload would quickly get diverted to other parts of the system and thereby attenuated. However, he continued, the downside was that if a failure ever did occur, it would likely take down the whole network.

            My impression is that both models and empirical evidence suggest that highly interconnected systems are vulnerable to catastrophic failures, and that such failures are much more likely than a naive assessment would suggest. For example, a “once-in-a-millennium” financial crisis seems to happen every decade or so.

            2. Both the Chinese government and the Chinese people are strongly nationalistic, with a strain of xenophobia. There are plenty of flash points between China and its neighbors & counterparties. Incompetent corrupt Western governments are not maintaining the power to sustain their prerogatives but expect those prerogatives to continue. A conflagration might be unlikely because of overall self-interest, but it’s not impossible either.

  14. Crazy years…

    To paraphrase my faculty advisor from the early-to-mid 1970s:

    My neighbors are crazy. There’s no other word for it. Fortunately most of it cancels out because they’re crazy in different ways. Little or no harm done.

    But at work, everybody is crazy the same way, and that worries me.

    He was right to be worried.

    The Internet does more good than harm, but in this regard it is doing harm.

  15. Can anyone point me at a biologist I can ask questions of re: my next series on the topic of current human bacterial ecosystems? (Which may or may not have anything to do with the recent wave of multi-species obesity making the news, and most of this set of comments.) My email: Karen.L.Myers@usa.net

    While I’m at it, on an unrelated topic, does anyone know someone I can ask about what it takes to get a child born abroad of a US mother (who married a local) naturalized as a US citizen? (For the purposes of a fictional background).

    Thanks!

  16. One useful tool in separating out truth from lies:

    One thing I learned in the Marine Corps is that physical knowledge–the kind that you learn with on-hand practice–is superior to philosophical knowledge. So when someone talks about “common sense gun control” who can’t handle a gun without dropping the gun and shrieking in terror, and who thinks a semi-automatic is a sorta machine gun, it’s a good bet that they are both lacking in “common sense” and in honesty.

    I’ve noticed that the Washington elite have become increasingly hateful toward blue collar types, the ones who have actual common sense instead of “common sense.” This reminds me of the Russian aristocrats who opposed Peter the Great, and who were famous for growing out their fingernails to prove that they had never had to do manual labor. (I cite David Frum as a particularly loathsome, evil, cowardly, parasitic example. Every time I see his grinning devil face, I am reminded of the “better off dead” list in Heinlein’s “Gulf.”)

    • rawlenyanzi

      Experience is a really hard teacher. He gives the test, grades it, then gives the lesson. All grades are final, too.

    • William Newman

      Ken wrote “One thing I learned in the Marine Corps is that physical knowledge–the kind that you learn with on-hand practice–is superior to philosophical knowledge.”

      It’s basically a good point, but I think your formulation is too strict. Quantum mechanics and cryptography and signal processing and control theory and various other things can be exceedingly useful despite being sufficiently abstract that they resist being learned from on-hand practice. On-hand physical knowledge will only get you so far in figuring out how to intercept Adm. Yamamoto’s plane or how to make qualitative improvements in night vision devices.

      I suggest changing the letter of the rule, while trying to respect its spirit: doubt people who love abstractions for their own sake, and mostly ignore people who can’t connect their work to reality and cleanly demonstrate that it matches. And generally the more abstract their work, the more care should be taken in checking the match. Richard Feynman said wise and merciless things on various occasions about checking connections with reality. He seems to have mostly gotten it right: his famous work was generally very abstract (e.g., Nobel Prize for innovations in abstractions built on a tower of other abstractions, such as his ‘Feynman diagrams’) but still useful.

      • Oh, I agree. I love quantum mechanics. There was an xkcd comic once that was comparing real physics like relativity and quantum to “supernatural phenomena,” and noting that it was the former that had real-world applications like GPS.

  17. Keep in mind that Heinlein’s “Crazy Years” were a kludge to get us from “here” to “there” and should not be taken as anything other than a bit of convenient handwavium coupled with social commentary (in Heinlein’s case, soccom reflecting his animus toward fundamentalist religions.)

    At pretty much any given time it is possible to cite certain trends which, if continued and achieve resonance within a society, can produce a “Crazy Years Effect.” America in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1960’s certainly offered such obvious trends, yet the country recovered each time. I expect it would be relatively easy to find similar circumstances in the 19th and prior centuries (you want some serious CFE? Look at America in the 1770’s!)

    • Keep in mind, as well, that the only reason the present seems particularly insane is that we’re living through it in the here-and-now. And, I’ll agree that it looks pretty bad, compared to what we CHOOSE TO REMEMBER from the past.

      However, comma… The past was equally, ludicrously insane.

      Want some perspective? A little historical reading is always valuable. Currently, there’s a decently cheap and authoritative version of the old standard, “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”, by Charles MacKay over at Amazon on the Kindle.

      Think things are insane, at the moment? Read that,and then tell me that we’re as crazy as the French were during the Mississippi Bubble, the English during the South Seas Bubble, or the Dutch during the Tulip Bubble.

      Anything you can find in contemporary life that looks nuts, I guarantee you that I can find a far more extreme parallel somewhere in history. Well, at least, most of contemporary life. There are some areas where we are running unprecedented social experiments, and it remains to be seen how they’re going to work out. The trouble is, these are all areas where nobody is paying any real attention to things. The next major crisis is going to come out of the blue, and likely be something that only a few esoteric experts saw coming, just like 9/11. Nobody expected the terrorists to weaponize airliners, but they damn sure did. In hindsight, however? All the warning signs were there, and had we been omniscient, we’d have been expecting it.

      • Tom Clancy did, except he crashed it into a joint session of Congress that the President was addressing . . . One of the Jack Ryan books, forget which–haven’t reread them for quite a while.

        • Birthday girl

          That was “Debt of Honor,” which I read while on a plane in 1995. It was what made Jack Ryan the President. It was the first thing I thought of when I heard about 9/11. You are the only other person I’m aware of to make that connection.

          • There were a lot of people in the intelligence and security agencies who also made the connection, and well before 9/11. The problem was, the idea was so outlandish that nobody in authority took it seriously. Literally–An acquaintance of mine suggested this as part of a training scenario, and it was rejected as being, and I quote: “Too Tom-Clancyish…”.

            There were a bunch of warning signs, had we the wit to recognize them. Those signs were even out in the open-source world. I remember reading a New York Times article (I used to read that paper cover-to-cover on a daily basis, until they went nuts after 2001. Now I won’t use it to line a birdcage…) about how confused Western intelligence agencies were over what the Iraqis were up to, when they moved a wrecked 707 fuselage from Baghdad International Airport to Salman Pak, and were teaching international terrorists how to take over aircraft with things they could get through airport security openly. Everyone in the security world went “Huh. What the hell is the sense of that? All they get is an airliner, and then we take it back when they land somewhere with the hostages…”.

            That story was probably one of the first things I thought of on 9/11, after watching the news before I went in for PT at the unit. I remember thinking “Well, I guess we know what the point of all that was, don’t we?”.

            • Birthday girl

              “There were a lot of people in the intelligence and security agencies who also made the connection ….”

              Well I’m neither intelligent nor secure, so … 🙂

  18. It will NOT last. All communist regimes collapse internally.

  19. To what degree are these Crazy Years because of increased reporting and indulgence of Teh Crazy?

    A Cambridge University educated research scientist … believes both of her legs do not belong to her and dreams of being paralysed from the waist down.’Something in my brain tells me my legs are not supposed to work,’ she said. ‘Having any sensation in them just feels wrong.’
    http://www.nationalreview.com/human-exceptionalism/353631/biid-victim-wants-spinal-cord-cut-wesley-j-smith

    In earlier times such a belief would result in psychiatric incarceration. Nowadays it produces advocates for her right to exercise free choice about her lifestyle.

    • There’s something very sick about the ones who encourage this kind of illness rather than trying to help the people recover from it, or work around it.

      And I’ll stop with that, rather than risk drawing some real sickos into the thread.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      I’m convinced that indulgence in the crazy, particularly from an early age, has more to do with The Crazy Years coming about than any other factor.

      Although I’ve been thinking about setting up a chart and graphing things, because it’s more like Year of the Jackpot to me.

  20. Dawn Dreams

    Ah, Sarah, today you saved me! I let myself get pulled into discussions about how if I merely empathized enough, I’d surely understand the point that the other person was making and agree with them. Never mind the facts.

    Then I made the mistake of reading another article explaining that, because of my privileged race, I’m not capable of empathizing with that other person anyway. I unimaginatively imagine that everyone else wants to be just like my race. Instead, I need to be wise enough to realize I can’t empathize–and humane enough to not use my privilege and to try for its overthrow.

    Then, sliding into a sulk, I said to myself, “Self, you know that Sarah will have some sage advice that will get right to the point even if she’s not directly talking about empathy or race.” And here I am. Agreeing that These Are The Crazy Years. Recognizing the semantic confusion. And thanking you for the sage advice.

  21. The Crazy Years, you say? Saint Heinlein is not alone in the pantheon:

    >Foyle shook himself and abruptly jaunted to the bronze head of Eros, fifty feet above the counter of Piccadilly Circus. He perched precariously and bawled: “Listen a me, all you! Listen, man! Gonna sermonize, me. Dig this, you!”

    He was answered with a roar.

    “You pigs, you. You goof like pigs, is all. You got the most in you, and you use the least. You hear me, you? Got a million in you and spend pennies. Got a genius in you and think crazies. Got a heart in you and feel empties. All a you. Every you . . .”

    He was jeered. He continued with the hysterical passion of the possessed. “Take a war to make you spend. Take a jam to make you think. Take a challenge to make you great. Rest of the time you sit around lazy, you. Pigs, you! All right, God damn you! I challenge you, me. Die or live and be great. Blow yourselves to Christ gone or come and find me, Gully Foyle, and I make you men. I make you great. I give you the stars.”

    He disappeared.

  22. At last someone has defined the hypocrisy I am seeing running rampant, Semantic Confusion. I already figured we were in the Crazy Years.

    I’ve heard people say health insurance is devastating health care and in the next breath praise Obamacare to the roof. When I say it’s mandatory insurance, I’m screamed at, “No, it’s not! You want people to die!”

    I’ve watched women cry their eyes out because some one night stand didn’t remember them, then scream at me that they are more liberated than i am because I am a prude.

    Oh wait. Crazy years.

    Now let me go back to my Human Wave SF story.

  23. I have been reading the past few days about an interesting feild of study called ‘semiotics’ which is the study of signs and symbols. Much of what it says confirms some thoughts I have had about Malak and I having a different symbol system in our heads, despite the fact that we have many of the same philosophical ideas.

    According to what I read, a symbol consists of 3 parts, the ‘sign’, the ‘signifier’ and the ‘signified’.

    The ‘sign’ describes what type of sign it is, such as what it is made out of (not necessarily material), and other aspects of it’s nature without dealing with it’s particular meaning. A sign can be verbal, or written, or sung, or made out of glass, metal or plastic, etc.

    The ‘signifier’ describes what sort of meaning is depicted by the sign. For instance, the word ‘open’ on the sign in front of a store. Or the word ‘car’ spoken to someone. Or a picture of the devil.

    The ‘signified’ describes either the mental concept someone gets from the signified, or the actual objective object or concept the signified refers to (providing it can be specifically determined).

    Much about signs is arbitrary. For instance, there is no good reason why the ‘open’ sign on a store must be made out of cardboard and not neon tubes. Nor is there any particular reason why it must even use the word ‘open’ as it’s signifier rather than ‘sesame’ to refer to the concept that the store is open for business, except that most of us have mutually agreed that it should.

    The signified is also arbitrary, as the same signifier can create highly different mental concepts in different people depending both on their personalities, and the particular context in which the signifier is used. The word ‘open’ for instance, means something different when it is on the front of a store than when it is spoken by your dentist. The word ‘car’ when spoken, may give you a mental image of a Cadillac and me a mental image of a Ford. A stop sign will have a different effect on people when it is on a post at the end of a street than it will if it is on someone’s bedroom wall. A picture of the devil will give most people a different reaction if it is on a can of ham, than if it is spraypainted above an altar.

    There are three basic types of signifiers, symbolic, iconic, and causative. Symbolic signifiers are those that bear no actual resemblence to what they signify, and their meaning must be learned, either through purposeful education, or immersion in a particular culture. Examples of this are the Alphabet, alchemal symbols, or religious symbols such as the cross, pentagram, or star of David. As are the stylized male and female symbols on restrooms, neither of which bears any real resemblence to one gender more than the other, were it not for the fact that in our particular culture men do not generally wear skirts.

    Iconic signifiers are those that do bear a resemblence to what they signify. Onomotapeic words such as ‘boom’ or ‘meow’ are iconic, as are paintings of real people or objects whose appearance is known. Bear in mind that many paintings can be symbolic. Any painting of a supernatural entity such as the Goat of Mendes (depicting Satan or Baphomet) or the Archangel Michael is necessarily symbolic. It is highly doubtful that the artist knows what any supernatural entity actually looks like, and even more doubtful if a supernatural entity bears any resemblence at all to a hermaphrodite with a goat’s head, or a man with wings, or anything else that we could even comprehend.

    Causative signifiers are those which depict something caused, or associated with what is being signified. For instance, a picture of smoke could be used to signify fire, because smoke is caused by fire. A picture of a cloud could be used to signify rain, for the opposite reason, clouds are the cause of rain.
    As I wrote above, much about symbols is arbitrary, and dependent either on a person’s culture, or an person’s individual life experiences. When I say the word ‘car’ for instance, you may form a mental image of a Cadillac, I may form a mental image of a Ford.

    However, there are some symbols in which this arbitrariness does not exist. When they are used, anyone who is aware of their meaning will form a precise mental understanding of what is meant. This means that symbols are divided into 2 categories, analog and digital. An analog symbol is one which does not have a precise meaning. A digital symbol is one which DOES have a precise meaning. For an example of this, suppose I say that I saw a ‘red’ light. Your mental image of red is probably not exactly the same as what I am refering to. The use of the word ‘red’ in this case, is an analog symbol.

    However, if, instead, I state that I saw a light which was emitting light at such and such a frequency on the spectrum, there is no room for confusion. If you have been educated to understand what is meant by the frequency of light, you will know (or in short order be able to find out), the precise color of the light I am talking about.

    Almost all numerical data, such as the precise frequency of a certain color of light, is digital in nature. Most scientific concepts are digital in nature, as well. Hydrogen Peroxide refers to a specific substance, as does Uranium 238. In the realm of biology, large works such as Hortus Third have been created to define various species of plants, so that botanists can use symbols for plant species which are digital in nature (the latin names as defined by Hortus Third), rather than analog in nature (as are the common names of plants, which vary from place to place).

    This is why I am in favor of a theological equivalent of Hortus Third eventually being created. As things stand now, almost all names for dieties (or demons) are analog in nature, and their meaning varies from person to person, and religion to religion. The term ‘God’ for instance, is currently the equivalent of the common name of a flower. What a Muslim actually means by ‘God’ is very different than what a Christian means by ‘God’. And even among Christians, what a Quaker means by ‘God’ is very different than what a Jehovah’s Witness means by ‘God’. Even among the Jehovah’s Witnesses, what the man sitting in pew 5 means by ‘God’ is probably at least slightly different than what the woman in pew 8 means by ‘God’.

    If people think that the word ‘God’ means the same thing to everyone, it is because they are unaware (or pretending to be unaware) of the analog nature of this particular symbol, and/or they are also confusing the signifier with the signified.

    The terms for a diety actually have several levels. The signified pointed at by one signifier can actually be a signifier in itself, pointing at something else. For instance, if I say the word ‘cat’, the signifier is the word ‘cat’, and the signified is, perhaps, the cat sitting on top of my car. But in turn, that cat is a signifier in itself, and can be used as a symbol for the entire species of cats. In addition, instead of saying the word ‘cat’, I could use other signifiers to direct your attention to the cat on top of my car, such as pointing my finger at it, or swearing about ‘that damned flea-bitten stray’.

    In the case of dieties, the signifier is whatever you are choosing to use to represent your diety, such as the name of a diety, or a statue or design you feel represents your diety. This signifier points to the philosophical and moral principals you feel (and are able to comprehend) that your diety represents (to the degree you are able to comprehend them), and these philosophical principals in turn point to whatever actual diety (or aspect of a diety) best represents them.

    Now, take the case of myself, Malak, and Roger Elwood. Roger Elwood no doubt would have me believe that he and I, since we both worship what we call ‘God’, have the same religion in common, and Malak does not, because he worships demons. But this is not the case, this is claiming that the signifier is the same as the signified, which it is not. In this case, Elwood and I are both using the same signifier, the word ‘God’ to refer to our dieties. But the signified we have in mind, namely the philosophical principals we are refering to by our signifier, are diametrical opposites. So to claim that we are refering to the same diety merely because we are using the same word (signifier), is like claiming that somebody who is pointing a finger at the moon is refering to the same thing as someone who is pointing a finger at their dirty toilet, because of the fact that they are both using the same signifier, a pointed finger.

    Obviously, this is absurd. If I am pointing my finger at the moon, and Malak comes along and points a cardboard sign with a painted arrow at the moon, it is WE who are both referring to the same thing, regardless of the fact that I might happen to find Malak’s painted arrow to be ugly, or he might happen to think my finger has a wart on it. If Roger Elwood comes along, and points his finger at a dirty toilet, and claims this is the same thing as my moon, merely because we have a signifier in common, he is as full of shit as the toilet.

    Now, in the case of our theology, I think two things. First of all, Malak and I agree on most, but not ALL of our philosophical beliefs. However, our differences are very minor, particularily when compared to the disgusting variety of endomaltheism practiced by Roger Elwood. Also, we probably do more philosophical thinking and are far more specific in our beliefs than many people do. So, when I use the word ‘God’ or look at particular images that help my concentrate on my religion, those are my signifiers, which are pointing to the philosophical principals I believe that my diety represents, which would be the equivalent of my pointing my finger to a specific crater on the moon. When Malak says he is a Demonaltrist, that is his signfier, which is pointing to his philosophical principals, which (being similiar to but not exactly like mine) would be another crater on the moon, some distance away from my crater.

    Some people have not done very much thinking about their religion, or might not be capable of it. In which case when they talk about their diety, their signifier would not be as specific as Malak’s or mine; instead of pointing to a particular crater on the moon, they would have to point at the moon as a whole, or even in the general direction of the moon and not exactly at it.

    I think it is important for people to try to be as specific as they are mentally capable of being, when they think about their diety (which is one reason I think there should be a theological equivalent of Hortus Third). Such specificness is discouraged by most organized religions, however. The reason for this is that endomalthiests like Elwood have a great deal to gain by convincing people that the disgusting sort of ‘God’ he believes in is the same ‘God’ that they beleive in, and it is they who are mistaken and engaging in wishful thinking by believing that their God might actually possess certain decent qualities (hated by Elwood and his ‘God’).

    And the less specific a person is in their beliefs, the easier it is to convince them of this sort of nonsense. If I know enough about the moon that I can point to a specific crater on it, it would be rather difficult to convince me that I am pointing to the same thing as someone pointing to their dirty toilet. On the other hand, if I know so little about the moon, that I can only point in the general direction of it, perhaps I can only point vaguely upwards, or I might point in any random direction, it becomes far easier for someone to convince me that my moon and their toilet are the same thing, and in addition, it becomes easier to convince me that someone using an arrow sign to point at the moon is not pointing at the moon at all (since I really don’t know where the moon is).
    The Catholic church suffers from a number of problems. Most obvious of course is their total hypocricy in shaking their finger at gays and forbidding priests to get married, while covering up priests who molest children. Related to this is their (deliberate) inability to distinguish between things that are actually evil (such as murder), and things which merely happen to *offend* them, such as lust, be it the feeling, or acting on it. But then, the Catholic church is in large part a con game, and what they mainly have to sell is absolution from imaginary guilt. Since far more people feel or act on lust, than are murderers, the Catholic Church acts to inculcate guilt regarding this feeling, so they can then sell ‘absolution’ for it.

    A second problem with the Catholic Church is their failure to grasp the principles of semiotics, which I think I have discussed in another post, a while back. Semiotics is the study of signs, or symbols, which form the patterns people think in, and includes such a broad range of things as language, traffic signs, pictures, and such things as the astronomical symbols for planets, or the alchemal symbols for certain elements.

    Almost ALL symbols, except certain pictures depicting very clear objects or situations, are dependent, for being understood, on being learned. You learn your language. You learn what the traffic signs mean. You learn, if you are interested, the astronomical symbols for the planets. You learn, if you are interested, and allowed to do so, the secret signs used by high orders of the Masons.

    Most people living in the same place and time will share the same culture, and thus, to a large extent, have MANY of the same mental symbols that they use. People living in other places and other times will come from a different culture, and have a vastly different set of mental symbols. And this is where the Catholic Church has utterly failed, they insist on using a set of symbols, including illustrations, and a mythology, which are now 2000 years out of date, and wonder why fewer and fewer people derive any meaning from them. But to expect a person from 20th century America to derive meaning from a mythology of a deity and saints who lived 2000 years ago in a foreign country is about as reasonable and expecting them to understand Aramaic. Yet the Catholic church insists on using these old symbols and stories, because they are ‘holy’. Whatever that means.

    Another area where the Catholic church has failed in the area of semiotics is that they ALSO fail to grasp that since a far greater range of information and experiences is available now, than was true in the past, the principal I mentioned earlier, that:
    Quote:
    ”Most people living in the same place and time will share the same culture, and thus, to a large extent, have MANY of the same mental symbols that they use.”

    Is far less true in the past. In 21st century America, two people, living next door to eachother, can have far different life experiences. There are now probably literally millions of different books that people can read, compared to the single bible that existed in a fortunate village of hundreds of years ago. Two children who grow up reading different books, watching different TV shows and forming, for whatever reasons, different conclusions about the religion and lifestyle of their parents, may share a common language, but they are going to share a vastly different set of mental symbols in other areas. Not only would it be ludicrous and meaningless for them to attend a church which insisted (as the Catholic Church does) on a single set of one-size-fits-all symbols, but given that those symbols are 2000 years out of date, those symbols are quite likely to be appropriate for NEITHER of them.

    Case in point: Malak and myself both grew up in the same country. However, we have spent our time studying very different things. Malak has studied a lot about demonaltry, and I have studied (among other things) a great deal about biology. As a result, although we both do, in fact, believe in many of the same religious principals, the mental symbols that we use to understand these principals are very different. So different that it did, in fact, take a great deal of time and effort on my part, in discussing things with Malak, to discover that various symbols he used which are somewhat repulsive to me, do, in fact, represent the very same principals I believe in myself. For instance, there are certain principals which (if I have understood Malak correctly) for him, are symbolized by a painting or sculpture of Levi’s Baphomet. Well, I cannot use that symbol. However, many of those principals which are symbolized to Malak by Baphomet are to me, symbolized by an illustration of the Darwinian evolution of an ape into a man. That is, if said illustration were painted by someone who was not a politically correct prude who found it necessary to pretend that human beings did not have genitalia, by painting the leg in front of them, since I am finding this psychological neutering of human beings to also be increasingly repugnant.

    But that’s neither here nor there. Despite our believing in many of the same principals, Malak could no more meditate on his principals by thinking of a Darwinian image, than I could by thinking on an image of Baphomet. A Church, such as the Catholic Church, which insists that only a SINGLE set of symbols was correct, despite the increasingly varied life experiences of it’s members, is ultimately going to fail MOST of it’s members. And if, too boot, those symbols are 2000 years out of date, it is going to fail ALL of it’s members. If I cannot meditate on a symbol of Baphomet, and Malak cannot meditate on an image of Darwinian evolution, NEITHER of us is likely to be able to meditate on the image of some Saint that lived over 1000 years ago, even if the life of that Saint were, in fact, an exemplary example of principals that either Malak or I believe in.

    This latter, being increasingly unlikely, of course. As I mentioned above, the main commodity peddled by the Catholic Church seems to be absolution for undeserved guilt. Among things that are supposedly condemned by their ‘God’ are sex, free will, and, in fact, human intelligence itself. Unfortunately for them, fewer and fewer people are buying this. The human species, any species, cannot stand still. Our evolution to date, since we broke off from the rest of the apes, has been to become more and more intelligent, and more and more sexualized (the two are in fact related, but that is too long a subject to deal with here). Suffice it to say, that the human species is NOT going to simply stop evolving and remain at a particular point of evolution, which happens to be convenient for the Catholic Church. We are either going to, in the future, become MORE intelligent, and MORE sexualized, in which case the drivel the Catholic church has to sell against both is going to become increasingly repugnant to us, OR we are going to regress back into something more closely resembling an animal, becoming LESS intelligent and LESS sexualized.

    In point of fact, I think we are actually seeing BOTH trends occuring at once. IMHO, part of the human race is evolving, and the other part is regressing. The first part is seeing past the false guilt nonsense sold by the Catholic church and either looking elsewhere for their answers in life, or coming up with their own. Those who are regressing, are remaining in the church, which is increasingly composed of the stupidest, and most hateful portion of humanity, whose ‘religion’ consists of hating sex, hating homosexuality, hating intelligence, hating, in fact, anything either different or better than themselves. But this is not, in fact, Christianity. Christ did not hate. The Catholic Church, in it’s greed to sell false guilt, has now gone full circle and is increasingly inhabited by, and catering to, human beings whose principals are not in the realm of the sacred, but in the realm of the profane, and/ or animalistic.

    • Do you have anything else, other than a long, ramblingly incoherent comment and anti-Catholicism? Do you also spring for antisemitism? I can tell you both are winners at this blog — not.
      Humans evolving, devolving and doing ring around the rosy is fun, provided you declare yourself the enlightened one, isn’t it?

      • anti-Catholicism? Hmm, I maybe should go back and read the rest of that comment, I got bored ands scrolled down after the first page and missed that. Of course most of us don’t write comments longer than your post.

        • I lowered the ban hammer. It didn’t even seem to be evangelically based anti Catholicism, just “Catholic, guilt, population, DERP”

          • Yes. “Semiotics plus stuff I’m reading and some odd Satanist mean that Catholic/Christian symbology is meaningless at this remove so BAD. Because reasons.” Very strange, and I, too, only skimmed. I kept looking for a connection. I looked in vain.

            • I read the entire thing and came away confused. *sigh… it was she had more in common with a Satanist than a Christian because they were pointing to the same thing– something to do with symbolism and how symbolism works for individual people. Being of the camp that symbolism is a group thing– (as close to the same mind set as a group can be) because if every person sees the symbol as different that what is the point of signs and symbols. Ding-dang…

              light-bulb

    • Oh, and since I am a linguist by training and semiotics is part of my training — what you’re saying is BOTH elementary and laughably wrong. It’s kind of like watching a kindergartner explaining quantum physics.

      • Ok – what precisely is wrong with my statements?

        • Sarah, I think this critter is approaching trolldom. Demanding “precise” explanation of error is a classic troll technique, especially coming from somebody who has demonstrated so thorough an inability to address topics actually raised.

      • Point of information: semiotics owes a lot to St. Augustine of Hippo, who explains a fair amount about it in asides in his book on Christian teachings and the interpretation of the Bible, De Doctrina Christiana (On Christian Doctrine). It’s not modern semiotics, but it does point to it. You can definitely see his background as a teacher of rhetoric.

        • I have now banned Ann, since she seemed to incite the ban hammer from someone I trust. I’d have done it earlier, but I was asleep since I’m still recouping. Arguably I should have done it from her first comment on this post (yes, she had commented before, in sometimes puzzling — i.e. disconnected — but not offensive ways.) However I thought “Off meds, and will realize it.” Apparently … not.
          I knew if needed you or TXRed would come in with the history of stuff. You’re good at that. BUT meanwhile the trollish invasion gave me something to blog about this weekend: the uses of guilt and shame, which like everything else can be pathological but — if not — can be civilizational tools. And often are.

    • Does it not occur to you that posting a 3,500+ word “comment” to somebody’s blog is presumptuous and rude?

      Especially when you expound upon a topic about which you confess lacking in depth understanding? A topic as expansive as Semiotics requires years of study to properly comprehend, not a “few days.”

      To go beyond that to engage in an anti-Catholic bash based upon misrepresentation of the Church (N.B., I am not myself Catholic, but have paid the church sufficient respect as a 2K year old institution to think it requires an effort to comprehend rather than the superficial description you’ve employed) is more than just rude, it is vulgar and crass. Its only relation to the topic of the post to which you’ve appended your comment is that your comment serves as an illustration of the post’s thesis.

    • Kitteh-Dragon

      I refuse to take you seriously when you talk about being precise in things, and then start a supposed conversation with the undead (Roger Elwood became an ex-human being in 2007). I’m supposed to believe that you know all about the Roman Catholic church, and semiotics, when you don’t even keep track whether or not your imaginary companion is still alive?

      Look, you are an exceedingly rude entity that is, perhaps, female. You posted this pile of dog’s vomit on somebody else’s blog in a blatant, childish attempt to get somebody to read over your latest gathering of lint from your own belly button.

      I don’t care what your find in your belly button, in your ears, or up your nostrils. You are uneducated. And *rude*. Did I mention rude?

      Uneducated would be bad enough. Rude uneducated people need to go study. In the corner.

      • I see, you start talking about dog vomit, lint in the bellybutton, and calling me childish, yet I am the one who is ‘rude’. And btw, can you quote exactly where I claimed that Roger Elwood was alive, or that I had had personal conversations with him? Having personal conversations with him is hardly necessary, he makes his particularly repugnant theological beliefs abundantly clear in his books.

        • It wasn’t that you claimed Roger Elwood was alive, but your citation of him as being in disagreement that Kitteh-Dragon was referencing. Whether or not his books are “repugnant” is both a matter of opinion (they sold, ergo they were not universally deemed repugnant) and, more importantly, irrelevant.

          As you referenced Elwood in the present tense —

          Roger Elwood no doubt would have me believe

          — a half dozen times it is disingenuous to make a point of whether or not you specifically claimed he was living; present tense implies present existence, nicht wahr?

          As you have demonstrated so glaring an absence of conprehension of manners, please note that Kitteh-Dragon being rude to you does not mean you were not rude initially, for reasons I have already provided. Kitteh-Dragon merely responded to you with the courtesy you had earned. Surely someone clever enough to grasp the whole of semiotics in a mere few days can comprehend this transactional behaviour of addressing in kind with greater explicitness?

          • Tsk — please insert an /BLOCKQUOTE between “believe” and “— a half dozen times”. I deeply regret the editing error.

          • (they sold, ergo they were not universally deemed repugnant)

            Partly true, though I would point out that some people *do* spend money and/or time on things specifically because they are repulsive. There are websites devoted to pictures of such things as maggots and cysts. Not to mention a whole class of horror movies that seems to pretty much go for the “gross-out”

            • Your evidence doesn’t support your assertion, and your claim doesn’t even refute RES’; the original statement of “they sold, ergo they are not universally deemed ‘offensive: offensive and completely unacceptable’ is not the same as “people *do* spend money and/or time on things specifically because they are ‘very unpleasant: making somebody feel disgust or very strong dislike'”, and neither “such things (implication: very unpleasant: making somebody feel disgust or very strong dislike) have websites devoted to pictures” nor “a whole class of horror movies seems to pretty much go for the “gross-out”” supports your claim that their repulsiveness and/or repugnant qualities are the reason they exist.

    • Look. I have serious disagreements with some of the Catholic Church’s doctrines, and I’d be happy to debate my Catholic friends about them. (Though not in these comments, since our gracious hostess has specifically requested that we refrain from theological debate in here).

      But you can take your abysmally ignorant, bigoted anti-Catholicism and shove it. I’m not even going to take the time to explain in how many ways you’re either fundamentally wrong, or at best misunderstanding Catholic doctrine, because you’re not worth wasting my time on. In the immortal words of John Flansburgh and John Linnel:

      This is where the party ends.
      I can’t stand here listening to you
      And your racist friend bigotry.

      There’s the door. Don’t let it hit you in the brain on your way out.

      • /slowclap Troll-slashing sharpened with classic TMBG? That was marvelous, Robin.

        To our beloved new chew-toy, I will tell you what I have told (if no one beats me to it) every other troll, fanatic*, or ignoramus who has wandered in here since I took up residence in this corner of the blog ocean. No one among the Huns and Hoydens refuses to debate. We argue amongst ourselves constantly, and you’re welcome to join in. But Ghu blast it, step up your game. We expect good arguments, not simply proof by vigorous assertion or complaints about tone. Poor argument will at best be ignored. If it is poor quality and annoying, we will mock it. If it descends to real trollishness, well, that’s what we have a Kitteh-Dragon for.

        In your personal case, you started with a giant deficit with your 3.5k word blog hijack. Maybe you’re new to the blogosphere, but that was terribly rude. I don’t know a blog anywhere that would tolerate such a thing, much less one with an active community. If you have that much to say, get your own blog, post it there, and come post a short comment with a link. What you did was boorish by any standard, but especially to the Odds, curmudgeons, retronauts, anachronists, gentlemen, and ladies (and occasional felines) who make up the community here. You’re welcome to start minding your manners and participating, but you need to understand how offensive your introduction was and why you raised so many hackles, and then remedy the situation.

        tl;dr version: cf. Wheaton’s Law

        * Please note that a few of these have moderated their tone, gotten off their high horse, and become accepted members of the community here. The others… not so much.

        • Yeah, if you’re going to troll THIS blog, you got to have GAME baby. We enjoy playing with trolls.

        • I will tell you what I have told (if no one beats me to it) every other troll, fanatic*, or ignoramus who has wandered in here since I took up residence in this corner of the blog ocean

          Now I need to figure out if I managed to blend in long enough to pass before RES and my first alley cat spat, or if I was just not impressive enough to get your warning. 😀

          • Nyah – you was fine, just a little dogged (I can be a sonuvableep meself) but not infusing teh stoopid. There is a distinction between quibbling over fine points of distinction and generating a disruption in The Force.

            It was the latest chew toy’s demand that Sarah provide specific refutation of her errors that got Little Orphan Ann spat out. We have more interesting demands to place upon Sarah’s writing time.

          • I seem to remember you already being here before I arrived, though it’s been long enough I could be mistaken. And as RES said, while you’ve gone at people hammer and tongs, you’ve never come across as a troll.

            • I think I visited a little bit back when VodkaPundit first linked the blog– I remember reading “he beats me, but he’s my publisher” when it was just written– but I didn’t visit very often until more recently and didn’t really hang out in the comments… so I remember you as predating me…..

    • You are using the time honored argument against the Catholic Church that new is always better. The problem with that argument (besides the fact that using an old argument to ‘prove’ that new is better is in itself hypocrisy) is that it has been proven blatantly false time and again. Just because solar power is new does not mean it is better than hydroelectric power.*

      *Discussions of different sources of electricity are at least as relevant to this posts topic as your comment, so I make no apologies for jumping to a rabbit trail in a different county.

  24. It’s *also* possible someone may buy a book under mistaken impressions about it, and not realize how repulsive they are going to find it until after they have gotten to Chapter 5 or so.

    • So keep the receipt, and return the book. Coming to a space not yours and occupying everyone’s attention with completely and unapologetically off-topic comments is akin to walking into someone’s front room during a gathering and singing off-key show-tunes at the top of one’s lungs. Not only gauche, but strange. Please stop.

      • marycatelli

        Depends on the gathering. This one is equivalent to waltzing into a ceremony inaugurating the mayor to sing off-key — not show-tunes but political tunes. On themes unrelated to anything the mayor can do.

  25. Gee, Miss Morgan, and I thought _I_ had Aspie tendencies. I am reminded of people telling me they have autistic kids, and my asking them, “Which kind? The kind that can’t talk, or the kind that just won’t shut up?”

  26. Pingback: Semantic confusion before the Crash: “These are the fracking insane years.” | timcondon.net