has some breaking news on the subject of obesity in America:
|Americans have sipped and slurped their way to fatness by drinking far more soda and other sugary drinks over the last four decades, a new scientific review concludes.|
Unfortunately, it’s not exactly true
|Anti-Soda Report Succeeds As Long As You Don't Read It|
Anti-Soda Report Succeeds As Long As You Don't Read It Amid great fanfare, scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health released a report yesterday claiming that "Sugary Drinks Pile On Pounds," as the most popular headline put it. Once you filter through the hype, however, the paper (available here from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) offers this conclusion: The more you eat and the less you exercise, the more you'll weigh.
We're not really sure how to say this, but it doesn't take a Harvard Ph.D to understand that adding 150 calories from anything to your daily diet (without otherwise changing your diet or exercise level) will add pounds to your frame.
In essence, showing that a soda contains 150 calories, and positing that 150 calories added to one’s diet will make one gain weight, these geniuses
have declared that therefore soda is the cause of the growing number of obese people in this country.
ConsumerFreedom goes on to give links to studies that the anti-soda repot flat-out ignored, and also to where four of the anti-soda studies were in fact debunked
. So the first thing to note is that, right off the bat, this anti-soda “study” is flat-out wrong
But beyond that, showing that soda has calories in it
does not prove it is responsible
for obesity. It’s not the sodas’
fault that people aren’t taking in fewer calories from other sources to compensate for the ones that sodas add. Someone could drink 10 sodas a day and never gain an ounce, provided that they ate a sufficiently small quantity of other foods. This would not be a good idea from a nutritional standpoint, of course, but it proves the point: it is totally absurd to declare soda
to be the cause of obesity.
So how do scientists, men who supposedly devote their careers to the use of reason, make such boneheaded, almost childish errors?
Much of science, especially statistical science and meta-studies
such as these, has collapsed under the weight of Materialist philosophy. That is, not materialism in the sense of appreciation or pursuit of material values, but Marxian/Hegelian Materialism; the philosophy which rejects the existence of the human mind or, as Ayn Rand puts it (in reference to one of its arch-advocates, B.F. Skinner),
|QUOTE (’ Ayn Rand @ Philosophy: Who Needs It, Chapter 13’)|
|…all those aspects which distinguish [man’s consciousness] from the sensory level of an animal's consciousness - specifically: reason, mind, values, concepts, thought, judgment, volition, purpose, memory, independence, self-esteem.|
When the “scientists” view human beings as nothing more than mindless, Skinnerian, stimulus-response bags of chemicals, their studies will fail to produce meaningful data. Simply put, human beings are not
mindless bags of meat. Attempting to describe humanity without any consideration for the mind
will not tend to yield anything of value, any more than trying to study a forest while refusing to acknowledge the existence of trees
Yet, that is precisely the assumption that these people operate their “studies” with. As such, the only sort of answer they will ever come up with will be one that matches their faulty assumption. In other words, they will go to great lengths, twisting their data into pretzels in order to come up with some explanation that doesn’t require them to acknowledge that man has a mind. Soda-blame fits this model perfectly, because it claims that people are simply helpless victims of the super-fattening elixir that they, unwittingly and/or uncontrollably, quaff.
The kinds of problems produced by this mentality can be positively astounding in their departure from reality. Concluding that soda is “responsible” for obesity is no exception.
Yes, many obese people do drink soda. But in no sense is soda, as such, the cause
I’ve heard this kind of misidentification called “category error*,” especially by Dan Simmons, who uses the term in his short story, here
|QUOTE (’Dan Simmons’)|
|“Do you remember what Category Error is?”|
“I’ll tell you what it is,” said the Time Traveler. “In philosophy and formal logic, and it has its equivalents in science and business management, Category Error is the term for having stated or defined a problem so poorly that it becomes impossible to solve that problem, through dialectic or any other means.”
“Let’s imagine,” said the Time Traveler, “that on December eighth, Nineteen forty-one, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke before a joint session of Congress and asked them to declare war on aviation.”
“That’s absurd,” I said.
“Is it?” asked the Time Traveler. “The American battleships, cruisers, harbor installations, Army barracks, and airfields at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere in Hawaii were all struck by Japanese aircraft. Imagine if the next day Roosevelt had declared war on aviation . . . threatening to wipe it out wherever we found it. Committing all the resources of the United States of America to defeating aviation, so help us God.”
“That’s just stupid,” I said. If I’d ever been afraid of this Time Traveler, I wasn’t now. He was obviously a mental defective. “The planes, the Japanese planes,” I said, “were just a method of attack . . . a means . . . it wasn’t aviation that attacked us at Pearl Harbor, but the Empire of Japan. We declared war on Japan and a few days later its ally, Germany, lived up to its treaty with the Japanese and declared war on us. If we’d declared war on aviation, on goddamned airplanes rather than the empire and ideology that launched them, we’d never have . . .”
I stopped. What had he called it? Category Error. Making the problem unsolvable through your inability – or fear – of defining it correctly.
Declaring that sugary sodas are the cause of obesity is the equivalent of declaring that our enemy in the war we currently fight is “terror.” They are not merely wrong in the sense of mis-identifying the cause, but categorically wrong;
The cause of obesity is the failure of many people to manage their diet and exercise. It isn’t soda; it isn’t chocolate, ice cream, pie, triple cheeseburgers, or any other food. It’s caused by the decisions people make. One can debate exactly why people are making the decision to be obese, but the fact remains that there is no such thing as a person who became obese unwittingly. Somewhere before one crosses the line from overweight to medically obese, it will become unavoidably apparent that something is happening to them.
It is then a matter of choice as to what, if anything, they want to do about it. Any study of obesity must begin and end with this fact. Any study, “solution,” treatment, diet, or exercise will inevitably fail if it does not address the volitional nature of the problem.
By blaming a food, they have not only failed to identify the problem; they have stepped entirely outside the bounds of ever identifying it. The former would be answering the question of “2+2=?” with “5.” The latter is to answer, “2+2=fruitbat.”
This refusal to acknowledge volition, however, creates problems beyond the mere failure to combat obesity. It opens the door to whole host of other troubles… foremost among them are the “food bans,” which these little witch doctors heartily support:
|… [the meta-study] clearly justifies public health efforts to limit sugar-sweetened beverages, said Dr. Frank Hu, who led the report published Tuesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.|
That fact is that nothing could justify the harebrained public health efforts to “limit” (read: BAN) sugar-sweetened beverages. Such bans not only trample on freedom, but also punish the millions of people who enjoy soda but aren’t obese (likely, the majority of soda drinkers are non-obese). No matter how fattening a beverage is, it is the right of manufacturers to manufacture it and for consumers to consume it, if they so choose. This is America, dammit.
But to this mentality, such considerations are anathema. To them, we are all Skinnerian automatons, helplessly pulled by the "conditioning" forces around us. We possess no minds, and thus no need for such things as "rights." Our only need is to be controlled, in precisely the way that Skinner daydreamed, by the totalitarian state.
The label "Food-Nazi" is no exaggeration. The Nazis were themselves Materialists, as are all other socialists. It is no coincidence that the philosophy of Materialism, applied to the question of obesity, is producing the exact same results it did at the beginning of the 20th century. In fact, such bans and their associated push for more and more statism are an inevitable and fundamental extension of the mystic-of-muscle premises upon which these soda-blaming studies are based.
This talk of obesity being caused by soda isn’t just nonsense; it’s dangerous nonsense. And unless we want to see history repeat itself, we need to stop these little witchdoctors, and their tyrannical ideas, right now.
Footnote: “Bad Scientist! Bad!” must be credited to Witch Doctor Repellant. And perhaps, originally, Eric Cartman...
*If anyone has the proper name for “category error,” feel free to post up