Friday, December 23, 2011

She’s A Stupid Old Fart

She’s A Stupid Old Fart

She’s an annoying old thing. She sleeps much of the day, but when she is awake she can’t be satisfied.
She seems to want only the basics of life that please her, satisfying both ends of her digestive system, getting constant attention while she’s awake, being left undisturbed when she is asleep. And treats, she loves her treats.
She has some problems with bowel movements, but she is somehow aware enough to eagerly take her laxative each day. Some part of her natural brain endowment is still working.
Sometimes she acts stunned, frozen in place in the middle of a room as if she can’t remember what she was doing or why or where she wants to go. Give her some food and she may begin to eat, turn away, then ask for more food without even looking at her plate to see that she hasn’t finished what she had just been given.
I get frustrated. I don’t know what to do to please her. I have a better understanding of elder abuse now that I have an elder with dementia to look after. It’s easy to let your emotions and thoughts go wild when you don’t know what is happening in the brain of another. I don’t strike out. I don’t shout, though I grumble my frustration sometimes. She doesn’t seem to care.
Her name is Lucy. Who names anyone Lucy? Well, in this case, my long deceased mother-in-law, but that’s another story.
At least I don’t have to physically feed Lucy. She feeds herself. Cats don’t use forks and spoons. Yes, Lucy is a senior feline with dementia. (A UK survey found that one in ten cats develops dementia as it gets well into its teen years.)
Though the lifespan of cats is normally much shorter than that of humans, their behaviour during their lives often matches that of humans to a shocking extent. Cats and humans do not speak the same verbal language, though both have had thousands of years to learn from the other.
Having studied cats intensively for the past two decades (my background is in sociology and education), I have observed only one marked difference between the behaviour of cats and people: when a kitten or cat wants something, it does everything within its power to get it. Human children, sadly, do not, so often miss out on much of the adult attention they desperately want.
OK, if you want to get technical, people don’t clean their behinds by licking, as cats do. But cats have almost germ-free mouths, while people can have billions of bacteria and viruses in theirs. There’s a lesson there, but I’m not sure what it is.

Every cat has a certain level of "talkativeness" some are always quiet and purring, some meow about everything. The change seen with senior dementia is one of increased or excessive vocalizations, and not just a simple meow. They may appear confused and not totally sure of their surroundings while vocalizing, and this behavior is more common at night, often waking up the household.
- Janet Tobiassen Crosby , DVM, veterinarian and author of materials about small animals

As in humans, dementia leaves [cats] confused and distressed...Researchers from the University of Edinburgh now believe half of all cats over the age of 15 and a quarter aged 11 to 14, are suffering from "geriatric onset behavioural problems".
-Laura Donnelly, Health Correspondent, The Telegraph

Feline dementia is very similar to dementia in humans. Here’s the killer: dementia is the most avoidable disease known in either species. Yes, dementia is avoidable, if those in charge of a cat or a child begin early enough.
Cats in the wild live about ten years. Indoor cats often live twice that long. The older they get, the more likely they are to get a disease of old age.
The difference between a cat or a person who will eventually get dementia and one who will not is curiosity or creativity in childhood. Both, in the early years of life, require lots of attention and opportunities to explore, to learn, to satisfy their natural curiosity.
Curiosity, so the old saw goes, killed the cat. But cats have nine lives, so another goes, so they have resources people don’t. When a cat lacks stimulation and inspiration for enough years, it becomes dull. When a child is denied sufficient stimulation and inspiration for its first few years, then again in the primary grades of school, it will stop being curious. As an adult, that child will join the legions of stupid people you see around you, almost everywhere you go.
Have you walked down the hallway of a nursing home that caters to the frail elderly? They sit outside their bedroom doors, staring blankly, hoping for something or someone to pass by to relieve the monotony. Dementia is the last stage of what began as a bored child, then developed into a stupid adult.
If dementia is avoidable, what can we do to help ourselves and others to avoid it? To begin with, you will not likely develop dementia because you were curious enough to read this article. Curiosity is the key. Curiosity doesn’t come out the end of a hypodermic needle or in table form.
Curiosity is, in effect, a desire to learn. A constant desire to learn. It doesn’t seem to matter what a child or even a middle aged adult wants to learn or to explore, so long as it’s new and requires learning. Try something new. Embrace change. Get used to something different. Explore, even if it’s only at your local library. You will never see a demented adult in a library.
Now you know something that could change lives. You, being curious yourself, will not likely suffer from dementia in your later years. But what you know now could prevent someone else from suffering that fate. You could change the life or your grandchild, or your child.
You could change the life of a complete stranger, if you care enough. Consider this: how might the life of a homeless person change if they had a drive to learn, to improve themselves, to change for the better? You might not be able to help that way directly, but you could join an organization with that as its primary objective.

Bill Allin in the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers and parents who want to ensure the kids they know continue to exercise their curiosity throughout their lives.
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Monday, December 19, 2011

Monogamy May Contribute to the Extinction of Humanity

Monogamy May Contribute to the Extinction of Humanity

“I’ve calculated that if we keep fixing the problem, in 10,000 years no men will be producing sperm.”
- Sherman Silber , urological surgeon, researcher who heads the Infertility Center of St. Louis, at St. Luke’s Hospital

It’s not as if the (distinctly male) Y chromosome is under attack by monogamous men. The claim is that due to monogamy, more correctly one man, one woman, no cheating, may be causing the sperm of some men to get lazy. It’s “use it or lose it,” make it work or it will suffer from atrophy.
Isn’t sperm a natural component of maleness, something that gets passed down from generation to generation like a treasured gold pocket watch? Not quite. Like anything related to DNA, deficient sperm, if allowed to procreate through a non-natural process such as in vitro fertilization, will pass from father to son to grandson, and so on. Once the genes responsible for producing sperm become deficient, their progeny (if any) will also be deficient for every succeeding generation.
A strictly monogamous relationship, especially if overwork, lack of sufficient sleep, fatigue from childcare, prescriptive drugs or many other causes come into the picture, results on long periods of sex drought. In effect, what happens with newly made sperm is similar to what happens to muscles that are not used for long periods of time. They don’t work so well. While atrophied muscle can be revived, defective sperm producers remain defective until death.
When it comes to sperm, working well is critically important. The World Health Organization (WHO, an agency of the United Nations) says that fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen will likely result in a healthy egg that will not be fertilized after coitus. Out of that number, only one (in most cases) will ever be successful. If the sperm don’t fight hard, if they have developed with a funny shape or if they swim poorly, they will die alone, along with the egg.
The original purpose of monogamy was to ensure that a baby grew with both a mother and a father--the old concept of “a family.” Monogamy originally meant devotion of one man to one woman for the purpose of raising a child. Religions, given legal charge of marrying men and women, dictated the “no cheating” rule. Even the term for “cheating” in a marriage is “unfaithful,” a word commonly associated with religion.
Today we have astronomical rates of divorce, often because the man has been “unfaithful” to the marriage vow. A shocking majority of single mothers live on social assistance (welfare), barely able to fulfill their role model as mother let alone act as a father as well.
One large study a couple of years ago, in the USA, found that 85 percent of husbands admitted (confidential survey) to being unfaithful to their wives (sex with at least one other partner). However, another study found that 65 percent of wives were unfaithful to their marriage vows as well. Both of these were “at least once.” That’s a clear majority on both sides.
Our insistence on sexual monogamy in marriage (or equivalent) is, therefore, in conflict with the realities. In other words, the partner who gets caught is the guilty one.
But who suffers from breakups resulting from sexual wandering of one or more spouses? More than anyone else, the children. We say that “Kids can adapt easily to changes in family makeup.” That kind of thinking may be seen in people who know nothing about children. They suffer, in ways that parents seldom understand, often for the rest of their lives.
“Bad food, bad genes and monogamy are sucking the life our of human sperm,” according to David H. Freedman, freelance journalist and author, in a column about the degradation of human sperm, in Discover, November 2011.
Several studies have confirmed that the viability of male sperm has slid downhill over the past century, going by standards of the World Health Organization. “We’re producing pretty poor sperm compared with those of [other] primates and other animals,” claims Gary Cherr, reproductive toxicologist at University of California, Davis. “Even in the most fertile men, there are quality issues.”
The facts stated above may seem to confuse the issue of the future of humanity. But they don’t really. Over time, Darwin’s concept of natural selection will prevail.
The total population of humans on our planet may decrease in the meantime. Who would dispute the value of that?
This article is not intended to support the concept of sex with partners outside of marriage. That part is up to you. What we need to keep in mind is the best interests of children, who are inevitably harmed by the breakup of their parents. Inevitably, in their minds, if not visibly by their behaviour at the time.
Let’s remember that the primary purpose of the marriage bond is to ensure a child has caring parents to raise him or her. Sexual monogamy of both parents, or lack thereof, matters little to a child.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to raise kids with a comfortable balance of skills and knowledge as adults.
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

So You Think You Know Christianity (and Islam before the Prophet)

So You Think You Know Christianity (and Islam before the Prophet)

We casually refer to those who attend worship at a place called a "church" Christians, and their religion as Christianity. Not much to argue about there.

What about the origins of Christianity, recorded to some extent in the Bible, and followed to some extent by Muslims (for whom the Bible was the word of God before the writing of the Qur’an)? It only makes sense that those who lived closest to the lifetime of Jesus of Nazareth, especially those who were contemporaries, such as the Apostles, would know the most about the origins of Christianity.

What we know today as Christianity and its Bible are more accurately a product of the Church of Rome, written or revised in the Fourth Century CE, not long before Roman emperor Constantine adopted Christianity as the official religion of Rome (aka the Eastern Roman Empire, or the Byzantine empire). The Apostles and St. Paul played significant parts in what became known as the Bible, but only so far as what they wrote conformed to what the church wanted the world to know.

Even the Bible books by the Apostles were written between 90 and 110 years (some say even more) after the death of Jesus on the cross. Think about your experience with elderly people, especially about how accurate their memories are. You probably don’t know people who have written anything at that age, let alone books that are followed to the letter by followers who believe they are transcribed words from God.
Religious books produced at the time of Jesus or shortly after his death (not necessarily on a cross, it turns out) differ markedly from the story passed along to us from the hallowed halls of head offices of Christian churches. In fact, the cross was not adopted as a Christian symbol for more than two centuries after Jesus. Before the change the accepted symbol was a fish, though some evidence exists that the cross (similar to the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet--thau, made in the shape of a cross--note the significance of that as "this is a far as you need to go, the Cross) was used by Christians who were persecuted by the Romans as a way to identify themselves to each other.

Religious books that were written shortly after the life of Jesus were widely read and believed by Followers of Jesus in the Holy Land. The fact that the Church of Rome (based in Greece and Rome) conducted what amounts to a genocide against the Followers of Jesus in the Holy Land after 150 CE is immaterial to this story. Except to note that followers of Jesus in the Holy Land did not have the same "history" of their religion as the Church of Rome, and they paid for that with their lives in most cases. They were exterminated by Rome, their greatest competitor.

Their holy books were, for the most part, not components of the Bible of today, as compiled by the church in the Fourth Century. They were too varied and heretical.

For example, Followers of Jesus--those who lived in the land that Jesus called home--believed there were two, 12, even as many as 30 gods, as recorded in their holy books. They did not believe in one God, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful. They did not necessarily even believe that one God created the world and everything else they knew. (Beyond the creation story in Genesis, Judaism dwells very little on beginnings as well.)

The death of Christ had nothing to do with salvation. The concept that "He died for your sins" never appears in those early books. Indeed, some believed that Jesus didn’t die on a cross at all. History records that Mary of Magdala lived in France for a while. Some even say she had children there, with Jesus as the father. Enough evidence exists in France today to support at least the Mary part of that claim. She may have fled to France to escape the Roman church, who wanted her dead as she was one of the leaders of the Followers of Jesus and women leading religious groups was forbidden by male-dominated Rome.

Some Christians adhere to the Bible as the only book worth reading and believing, just as Muslims believe that of their holiest book, the Qur’an. Is the Bible really no more accurate as a source for Christian doctrine than our daily newspapers today? That is, was the Bible edited and rewritten to say what its publisher wanted people to read and believe?

History records that some religious books were rewritten by Christian scholars at the time the Bible was first assembled, in the Fourth Century. The original books were destroyed. In fact, history records that the Church of Rome scoured the empire searching for the original versions of the books it adapted and rewrote, as well as books that did not conform to their new Bible, to have them destroyed. Some believe that the burning of the library at Alexandria--the greatest library of the ancient world--was set by Roman Christians because it held too many books written by the Followers of Jesus.

The ancient scrolls known as the Nag Hammadi, the name of the Egyptian city where the scrolls were discovered in 1945, bear witness to the deceptions carried out by the Church of Rome in order to formulate and consolidate its religion in the Fourth Century.

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously declared "God is dead" in several of his books. He didn’t mean that a real God had died. He meant that the fictitious God perpetrated by religions had been revealed as unreal. In other words, the more educated people become, the more they realize the fiction of religion, and the more they will search for a true religion.

While untold numbers of people argue over whether God must exist because they have faith he does, or maybe not, almost no one pays attention to what a real God must be like, in accordance with science that even the most atheistic scientists can’t debate.

Most of those who have experienced God are quiet about it. They know it may not be good for their health to make declarations that go against the teachings of a great religion.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents who want to know when to teach their children the truth about life, instead of leaving much of the life education of their children to street chatter.
Learn more at

Thursday, December 08, 2011

When You Hurt From A Loss

When You Hurt From A Loss

"Forgetting you is not that hard to do I've done it a thousand times a day"
- lyric from "A Thousand Times A Day", by Patty Loveless

Almost everyone has gone through the pain of loss of a loved one, be it through death, divorce or the other just wanting to be out of the relationship. We all need to learn lessons from our experiences.
First of all, it’s important to realize that the hurt is our own. We impose it on ourselves. We don’t hurt for the other person, whether that person is still alive or not, we hurt for ourselves. It’s a form of self pity. The hurt is real, but no one else imposes it on us.
What if the one we love takes off and leaves us, doesn’t that mean the other person hurts us? No, it means we hurt ourselves because we regret our loss.
The love was unrequited, one-sided, at least at the point the one left the other. While we wanted the relationship to continue, the other person knew it wouldn’t work. We should ask ourselves, those of us in this situation, why we would want to continue to live with someone who knew the relationship was wrong, that it just plain wouldn’t work.
Often we feel, perhaps without admitting it to ourselves, that the loss was our own fault. We acted ourselves and it wasn’t good enough. "If only I had done things differently."
No, acting yourself is the only way you can depend on being comfortable in your own skin. The other person just didn’t want that. It’s much the same as your clearly preferring one car while disliking another. The reason doesn’t have to make sense, it just is.
How sensible is it to want someone who doesn’t want you? Isn’t that just beating yourself up?
The situation may be worse with divorce. As common as divorce is these days, it isn’t just a loss. Divorce is a signal to the world of failure. Or so many perceive it.
It may be a costly failure. That kind of mistake doesn’t come cheap in some cases. Courts and lawyers don’t help. They like records, especially when they stand to gain from record settlements.
In virtually every case of divorce, it was a bad match to start with. Something was wrong and at least one of the couple refused to admit it. "Love will conquer all" works in songs and poetry, but living it through makes for slogging that most people don’t care to endure.
Despite the fact that people living today will live almost twice as long as their recent ancestors, on average, we seem to live by the adage that "Life is short, eat the dessert first." Trouble is, many of us lose our appetite for the main course once dessert is over.
Albert Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. (That idea was around for centuries before Einstein.) Is that not what a couple on their way to eventual divorce do?
Unfortunately, when it comes to primary relationships such as marriage or common law, do-overs seldom work. The success rate for second and third tries is perishingly low. Trying again usually just postpones the inevitable.
As with any major life loss or tragedy, the solution to a broken relationship is usually to find another one that will work better. There is no perfect mate or soul mate for most of us. We need to find someone who is prepared to tolerate us while we accept their faults, follies and failures. Love comes much easier when you can overlook those things in your significant other.
Getting past the death of a loved one, especially an unexpected death, can play hard on some people for many years. What causes the hurt? It’s our loss, not the end of life of a loved one. It’s like stabbing yourself hard.
Why does it hurt so much? Most of us are not emotionally or psychologically prepared for a sudden loss. It’s a personal loss we had no control over. Nothing we could have done might have prevented the death, in most cases. It’s life playing its worst on our heart.
Is there a way to lessen the pain? We can be better prepared. We can understand that we could get a phone call any day to say that anyone in our life has died unexpectedly. We can formulate a plan of what we would do if that happened. We can figure out exactly what procedures we would go through if something tragic happened to someone we love.
Will that lessen the loss? No. But it will make the hurt less severe, maybe having it impact our life for a shorter period of time. That’s the best we can do. Hurt is survivable for most of us. Science has proven that it is possible to die of a "broken heart" but few of us actually do.
We can also remember that our loved one might get a similar phone call to say that we have died suddenly. We can prepare plans for that too.
Death and loss of relationships are part of life. It’s worth remembering that emotions work like a pendulum: the farther they swing one way, the farther they are able to swing the other way. Those who suffer little from downswings in life lack the ability to have great joy when life is at its best for them.
The positive side of tragedy is that life always turns around. Maybe not fast enough to suit us most of the time, but that’s life.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning it Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for people who want to learn how to cope with life before they need those coping skills. It’s about learning life lessons before they are needed.
Learn more at

Friday, November 11, 2011

How Close Are We To Armageddon?

How Close Are We To Armageddon?

Nine specific prophecies in the Bible will occur within the final seven years prior to the Battle of Armageddon.
- Armageddon web site of EndTime Ministries

Let’s begin by putting Armageddon into perspective. People have been predicting the end of the world since shortly after the death of Jesus of Nazareth, supposedly based on Revelations 16: verse 16, in the final book of the Christian Bible (also shared by Islam, but seldom mentioned). That is, for 2000 years people have found evidence that the end of the world is imminent. Lots of predictions, not much evidence.
Revelations 16, verse 16, reads as follows: And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. That is the only mention in the Bible of a place called Armageddon.
The name supposedly comes from the Hebrew place name Megiddo. The "them" (King James version) that will gather would be kings who will gather with their warriors on a mountain. They would fight the ultimate battle of the resurrected Jesus versus the Antichrist.
That’s all very well, but there are no mountains anywhere near Megiddo. Plains, maybe, but no mountains. The plains of the Megiddo valley, near Galilee, were the most common place for battles to be fought in ancient times. In all likelihood, Megiddo (or Armageddon) came to be used as a symbol of battle the way many people refer to all facial tissues as Kleenex, or Holocaust (there have been many throughout history) when they refer to the one perpetrated by Hitler.
Despite how often the name has been mentioned over the past 2000 years, there is no place on earth with the name Armageddon.
Who is the Antichrist? Some say Satan. Some insist the Antichrist is human, in particular any foreign leader who happens to be the enemy of the day. In the period following the death of Jesus, that would be the Caesar of the day. Today his name might be Putin or Ahmadinijad, possibly Bush, or even Obama, depending on your preferred prejudices.
Most people today who think about Armageddon, or the possibility of the world as we know it ending, have never read the book of Revelations. If you have read any other parts of the Bible, give Revelations a read. You will likely wonder what happened, why the Bible suddenly became different in its final book. In fact, scholars can’t agree on anything about Revelations, except its position as the last book of the Bible.
Some say it was written by many people, some by only one man, some say by someone who was insane, but it was included in the Bible at the time of sorting in the Fourth Century because it was powerful (scary) and prophetic.
Why should we take those who predict the end of the world seriously? One religious leader, Harold Camping, has predicted the end of the world three times in 2011. He had "evidence" to support each of his predictions. I am here to tell you his predictions were wrong.
Might it all end for us in 2012, specifically on December 12, as predicted by the ancient Maya? Let me say only that the Mayan calendar itself went well beyond that date. If they expected the world to end on that date, it would not make sense to have a calendar extend beyond that date. The Maya predicted a time of renewal in 2012, but not of permanent destruction. They didn’t even predict the end of their own empire, which should give us a clue as to the dependability of their predictions.
Surely all the violence and conflict happening around the world is evidence enough that life is getting worse on our planet. This would only be true if you knew nothing about history and if you believe the news media that have taken their modus operandi from supermarket tabloids. Violence sells advertising, just as we have come to accept that sex and scandal do as well.
The world is actually more peaceful today than it has ever been in human history. Far fewer wars or violent conflicts are happening today than has been the norm for millennia. Major crime is down in most large cities of the world. Though we have seen Occupy protests in many countries of the world, they have been--and they have stressed the importance of their being--peaceful demonstrations.
Even the Arab Spring demonstrations were relatively peaceful. If you know anything of Arab history, you will appreciate how significant that was. Arab peoples are still largely associated with tribes and tribes--anywhere in the world they still exist or did in the past--are notorious for their wars and violent conflicts. That includes the tribes of Israel who were responsible for writing the Bible. They were primitive, coarse, violent people.
Slavery, rampant in the 19th and early 20th centuries (and throughout history before that), exists only in relatively small pockets in tribal conditions today. Genocide, which accounted for something over 60 million deaths in the last century, has all but disappeared due to pressure from world powers.
We live in a time of transition. We live in a period of history when the "civilization" of humanity envisioned in the past could possibly happen in the near future, even in the lifetimes of some of us. It won’t happen quickly. It won’t happen easily. For example, many people today would like to see former U.S. President George W. Bush charged in the International Criminal Court with Crimes Against Humanity. Others see Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinijad leading the world into its first truly nuclear world war. Neither will happen.
We need to separate what is real from the propaganda that those with something to gain want us to believe. We need to understand that when someone, or some power, strongly urges us to believe something, they have something to gain and we have something to lose by believing.
We also need to teach this to our children. Unless they learn what we now understand to be true, what has been gained in our lifetimes could be lost.
As always, education is the key to our future.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book of answers and solutions to problems our leaders want us to believe can never be solved. They can and the solutions are inexpensive and fairly easy to implement.
Learn more at

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Vincent van Gogh: lifetime failure or immortal success?

Vincent van Gogh: lifetime failure or immortal success?

What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?
- Vincent van Gogh, Dutch post-Impressionist painter (1853-1890)

You may have heard of the author of this quote. To many--believe this or not--he is a failed painter. Famous, maybe, but a failure.
Why could anyone consider one of the greatest painters in history a failure? Because he never sold a painting during his lifetime. Well, maybe one, if you consider a purchase by his brother Theo, who supported him financially for the last years of his life.
He was a teacher, a parson (at least he aspired to be one), a missionary and an employee of an art dealer. He was very ill for many years, resulting in long pauses between his painting pieces. Illness, among those who are financially successful, is considered a life failure. (How many financially wealthy and powerful people do you know who have disabilities or chronic illnesses?)
His teeth became loose and painful from his poor diet. He spent much of the money Theo sent him on art supplies, not food. At one point he told his brother that he had only eaten about six hot meals in the previous year. And he bought absinthe, his primary alcoholic vice. He may have had syphilis, as he was treated by Dr. Amadeus Cavenaile, whose office was near the docklands and was well known for treating those with the disease.
Does this not sound much like the dropouts, losers and failures of today’s society? He only lived 37 years, which we might expect today of drug addicts and the homeless.
However, Vincent was different from most people. Despite his failures, disappointments and bad turns in life, and his poor health when he was supposed to be at his most productive time of life, he had confidence in himself.
Vincent van Gogh dared to take chances with his beloved art. He painted differently from the majority of painters who made their living by selling their art. Who are they and where are their paintings now? we might well ask.
Exactly. Van Gogh is remembered, respected, admired, praised and revered for using the talents he had to produce something worthwhile. Most of the others are forgotten.
Van Gogh has already been dead many times more years than he lived. Yet he is still considered among those at the top of the field.
He dared to be different. He dared to subject himself to ridicule--artists have been known to be cruel when critiquing each other’s work.
If you want to be remembered long after you have passed from this mortal coil, you must do something worth remembering. That doesn’t have to be artistic, athletic or economic. The founding librarian at my local library will be remembered for many years to come so long as her photo continues to be mounted on the wall in the main lobby.
What van Gogh produced benefited others long after his death. You can do something with the rest of your life so that you will be remembered as well. Do something to help others. I mean, to really help others, not to contribute cash so that others can help them.
That’s why we are here on this planet. That’s why we remember the helpful ones, those who benefit others, long aftger they are gone. True, we also remember the brutal killers, but they act as foils so that we know what is wrong and what people can do to go wrong. In their peculiar way, even the great perpetrators of genocide through history show us that we should not act like them, must prevent others like them from gaining power.
Help someone. Help someone up, not out. Those we consider failures today don’t want to be failures. Some desperately want to improve their lot in life, but don’t know how. They don’t have one person who really cares for their welfare and their future. Many have given up on their own future, which leads others to believe they like living their present lifestyle. No, they just quit fighting.
Theo van Gogh only gave his brother money, which allowed Vincent to paint. But if Vincent had been given care and help by someone with his life, what might he have accomplished during his lifetime?
We don’t have answers to these questions. All we can do is to look ahead to what we can accomplish with the rest of our own lives. We can help others.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a common sense guidebook, in common language, for parents, teachers and others who want to help children grow to be all they can be. It’s for people who care and want to make a difference in the world.
Learn more at

Thursday, September 22, 2011

While We Watch in Baffled Horror, They Kill Themselves

While We Watch in Baffled Horror, They Kill Themselves

Children as young as twelve were doing it. Girls as well as boys were involved. They joined together in suicide pacts, they copied the actions of friends who had killed themselves and they deliberately overdosed on drugs before doing themselves in. More often than not, they hanged themselves, making a statement in the extreme manner of their deaths that they considered themselves to be fundamentally worthless and to merit suffering as they left this world. In the farewell messages, many said they had no other way to escape pain and almost all of them said life was not worth living.
-James Bartleman, As Long as the Rivers Flow, (Alfred A. Knoff Canada, 2011), diplomat, author, 27th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Canada, member of Chippewas of Mnjikaning (Rama) First Nation (b. 1937)

Isn’t that ridiculous? Teenagers who can’t figure out what to do with their lives so they choose to end it all. They have no trouble getting interested in sending each other hundreds of text messages a day, playing online games with each other till all hours of the morning and watching music videos on their cell phones, but they can’t find time to decide what to do with their lives. Is that lazy or just twisted?
Our usual habit, when we can’t figure out an explanation for the behaviour of other people, is to blame them for something, as if they are the cause of their own feeling of worthlessness.
In the case of this quote, the teens (many just had their thirteenth birthday) under consideration were First Nations (a.k.a. Indians) and Inuit (formerly called Eskimos) in isolated communities in Canada’s north.
But the situation is similar in many pockets in any large city in North America, no matter what the culture of the parents might be. Teens are ending their lives in shocking numbers. We don’t hear much about their deaths because the media prefer to avoid reporting them if possible.
Why would a young person consider himself or herself worthless? Why would they do themselves harm--such as by cutting themselves repeatedly--because they feel they deserve to suffer? What pain could they be suffering if their lives are supported with food, clothing and shelter by their parents (or sometimes by the state)? Why is life not worth living for them?
It’s safe to say that if we can’t come up with answers, we will have trouble sympathizing--or worse, empathizing--with them. How can we stop them from committing suicide if we don’t understand why it seems so attractive to them?
Let’s pose a question for ourselves at this point. If you knew that someone you know was seriously considering ending their own life, you would likely try to do something to stop them. Why? Would it be because you would feel guilty about having done nothing to prevent it after it happened?
How would you know, until the last possible few days or hours, that someone was actually planning to end their life? It’s hard.
Suicide ends the pain for one person, but heaps it on others. It took many years of my asking my own father how his father--the grandfather I never knew--died (when my father was five years old) before he told me that his father had asphyxiated himself by sitting in his running car inside his locked garage.
Why would he not tell me earlier? Surely he didn’t feel guilty because he let his father die when he was five years old. No. My father knew about depression, though he tried to hide it from everyone. He knew that a depressed person will often think about suicide. He knew that when his father had ended his life in a bout of depression, the risk of his following the same path increased greatly.
My father didn’t want his own son to feel that "suicide is in the family" when I found myself in the depths of depression. He was afraid for me, for my life. More than three generations after my grandfather ended his life, the risk that one of his descendents might follow the same path is still with us. Mine is just one family. There are thousands of others, some of them not far from where you live.
To learn more about why people end their lives we need to learn more about how they begin. Some species spread their seeds wider by giving birth to many young, such as a spider that might lay 300 eggs in a single egg sac. Some give birth to young that are immediately ready to take their place in the world among adults and predators. Humans give birth to relatively few young who are the most helpless and incompetent offspring of any animal species we know.
How have we survived and thrived as a species under such strange circumstances? Especially when we make such a tasty meal for predators and have precious few natural defenses. We survived by teaching our young everything they needed to know to be successful adults. It took twenty years for each child, but our ancestors did it.
Do we do that today? No. That’s a generalization, but a reasonable one. It requires little explanation or support for anyone who has thought about it.
Think about this: how often did one of your parents or someone responsible for your care as you were growing up tell you something that you knew immediately by what they said was a lesson you would need to know when you were an adult?
We don’t teach life lessons the way people did in the past. Kids who grew up on farms used to learn how to be farmers. They knew farm life because they lived it. Kids of auto mechanics learned about fixing cars and trucks because it would happen around their house as they grew up. In Christian countries kids went to church on Sundays and were taught how they should behave--what they should do and what they should not do--as adults.
Today’s parents have little opportunity to teach their children how to do the jobs they do at work. There wouldn’t be any point anyway. Many people might identify themselves with one religion on a census form, but they don’t practice that religion by going to its place of worship and taking their children along to learn the life lessons taught there.
In fact, most adults have the impression that kids learn life lessons just by growing up. Maybe in school, maybe in the playgrounds, maybe in the shopping malls, but somewhere. Schools are not designed to teach such lessons and often curriculum restricts teaching them. Kids don’t learn those lessons on the street, in many cases.
They do learn other things on the street. One is that their parents are not teaching them what they need to know as adults. Another, which they learn in school, is that schools are not teaching them skills and knowledge they can use as adults. Educators call much of what they teach mind stretching, but kids just see it as busy work.
So they rebel. They may become "discipline problems" in school, or they drop out. They may leave home to become punkers, or skinheads, or to join some kind of gang made up of others with the same life deficits and a willingness to share their pain. They may become alcoholics or drug addicts, prostitutes or pimps, junkies or resellers of stolen property.
Many kids feel more "at home" with a group of others of their peers who feel left out of life than they do with their own families. They know intuitively that their parents should be teaching them life lessons and their school should be teaching them life skills they need, but they don’t know what those lessons are so they can’t express their need for them to the people who should be teaching those lessons.
Something needs to change. But what? And how? It must begin with the education system. Schools teach children, but eventually those children become adults and parents of their own children. Then, as adults, they can teach their own kids.
Schools need to focus more attention than they do on social skills. Look at the divorce rates, the incidents of domestic disputes, public riots and even road rage to see how much trouble so many people are having with their fellow humans. Even the police don’t negotiate with troublesome people as much now if they can use a taser instead.
Schools also need to teach emotional skills. That includes not just what to do to avoid hurting someone’s feelings and how to stop bullying, but also coping skills. Every life has downturns and we each need to know what to do, who to turn to, what we can count on when times get really tough.
Because when times get to be their worst and people don’t know what to do to help themselves or where to turn for help, they believe that life is no longer worthwhile. They believe that they are worthless.
We have already established what many young people will do when they reach that stage.
It’s real. Kids are killing themselves and sometimes taking many others with them when they go. We don’t need to act as if we have no idea what to do about it.
You read this article. You know. You need to talk with teachers and elected people who have responsibility for setting school curriculum and persuade them to drop some of what is unnecessary and add what is.
Lives depend on it. Please talk about this.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers and parents to show what kids need to know and when they need to know it.
Learn more about the book and get related information at our web site at

Thursday, September 08, 2011

What's The Matter With Our Indians?

What's The Matter With Our Indians?

"Never criticize someone else unless you walk a mile in his moccasins."
- Lakota Sioux proverb

To begin, let's examine the title.
Five hundred years after Christopher Columbus (Christophe Colomb, an Italian cartographer of some considerable renown) defrauded his Spanish sponsors into believing that he had discovered India--naming the inhabitants he found "Indians"--many people still call the aboriginal peoples of North America Indians. By the way, Columbus didn't "discover" the Americas. Being a map maker, he had spoken on many occasions with Norse map makers who had been to North America many times with Norse fishermen who had been visiting the continent for hundreds of years. Thus began the great North American fraud, but more on that later.
The aboriginal people of North America sometimes call themselves Indians, but they aren't serious about it. African Americans sometimes call themselves "niggahs" too, but as a people they don't care for the moniker any more than the aboriginals like whites to call them Indians. "Indians" is a bad name given them by ignorant Europeans whose primary purpose in coming to North America was to steal and to conquer. They called it discovering, exploring, trading, but let's use plain language here. They planned to take as much as possible and give as little as they could get away with. It was the European way of the time.
"Our" is wrong as well. What are called Native Americans in the USA and First Nations in Canada were never conquered, never defeated as a people. Of the hundreds of distinct tribal groups--at least the ones that were not slaughtered to extinction (Beothuk, the original "redskins" that lived in Newfoundland) or decimated as they tried to defend themselves in "Indian wars"--none were truly defeated. They didn't have any concept of "owning" land, so they were prepared to share it with the newcomers. Since the newcomers themselves were not decimated by such delightful diseases as smallpox that the Europeans delivered, the white skins soon outnumbered the natives. As always, size (of population) matters.
So far as aboriginal peoples of North America are concerned, even today, they are Americans or Canadians only according to citizenship documents they may have needed for travel purposes. They consider themselves citizens of their own nations, as promised them in treaties written for them by English speaking lawyers, in English legalese, explained to them in simple but deceptive language they could understand. The English speakers had no leave to negotiate, so it was a "take it or leave it" situation. This matters because in most of these cultures no one forces another to say "No" to anything and it is considered very rude to be forced into saying "No" yourself by another person. The aboriginals agreed to treaties partly because their culture taught them to be agreeable, to not say "No" to someone who is offering something.
They were tricked into giving up "ownership" of their land (a concept they never had in their culture) by Europeans who promised them homes on land they would control ("reserved" land, thus called reserves or reservations) and rights to fishing and hunting on their traditions lands, free education and a stipend for each person from the Crown each year.
The aboriginals had no concept of "king." They knew of a Creator that was active in their lives but never seen, so they assumed that the unseen King would also look after them as the Creator did. And, of course, keep promises made in writing.
What were the living conditions? A little perspective is in order here. After the Second World War, representatives of the (white) government of South Africa came to Canada to see how the Canadian government dealt with its "Indian problem." Then they went home and, following the Canadian pattern, enacted Apartheid. Apartheid was banned in South African years ago when the black skinned people vastly outnumbered the white skins and the world turned against a prejudiced government in South Africa. However, in Canada, the Indian Act still exists, though the government has made promises for many years to remove it. The United Nations has condemned Canada publicly for its apartheid regulations, to no avail. Apartheid still exists, not in South Africa, but in Canada. On "the rez."
Are "Indians" forced to stay on reservations these days? No, in Canada about half live off their home reservations. But any government benefits come only to those who live on the reserves. If you live off the reserve, even briefly--especially if you are a woman--then move back to the reserve, good luck trying to get your rights to benefits back from the government.
Now about the "What's The Matter" part of the title. What's the matter is that North American aboriginal people did not die out, as expected, which is why they were given such a "sweet deal" in the apartheid style treaties. What's the matter is that the culture of the North American aboriginal people is very, very, very different from the culture that was brought to North America from Europe. If this article were expanded to book length, it would still not be long enough to explain the many differences between the cultures of the Europeans (now white North Americans) and the aboriginals.
What's the matter is that the white governments of North America never kept the promises they made to the aboriginal peoples in legally drafted and signed treaties they drew up themselves. No aboriginal group was ever offered the chance to draft a possible treaty because they were considered by the Europeans to be inferior people, not quite human in the European sense. Not only were the conditions of the treaties in the style now known as apartheid, the governments didn't even keep the few promises they made in those treaties. Promises they made up themselves.
We are used to politicians making promises before elections, then forgetting them once the elections are over. But if we have a legal agreement with the government, we expect the government to keep its end of the bargain. The government certainly expects us to keep our end, and is prepared to enforce it with imprisonment if we don't. The government of Canada has never kept its part of the treaties it agreed to with the aboriginal people it wanted to avoid going to war with. There were no Indian wars in Canada to speak of. The aboriginal peoples had no choice but to let the white skins take over their land, exploit it with farming, with mines, with oil wells, while receiving zero in return for their agreeing to "share" that same land. Their "reserved" land, by coincidence, rarely proved to have any real value, including for hunting the animals they traditionally hunted for food, temporary shelter and clothing.
The "problem" with "our Indians" is that the white people lied, cheated, duped their treaty partners, then refused to keep even the few concessions they made in the treaties they signed to keep the peace. And the white people can't understand why their "Indians" are upset. Wouldn't you be upset?
Not only do the aboriginals not have a concept of land ownership (no one would accept ownership of the air, so why should people want to own the land when we can all share?), they don't have a word for "religion". Aboriginal people don't have a problem with belief and faith, with wars and arguments between people who believe in the same God, as whites do. They never ask "Do you believe in God?" Every one I know and have read about believes in a Creator. That's not the God of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam). The Creator is a part of everything, to them. Including rocks, trees, grass, wheat, bears, snakes and people. In fact, the concept of Creator largely agrees with what physics has proven about atoms being components of everything, about energy and matter being different versions of the same thing, about everything of importance being accessible. Science doesn't agree with the concept of a supernatural, but the aboriginal people do not blame scientists for their shortsightedness. They accept what others think and choose to believe.
It's the rest of us non-natives who can't accept differences, who can't accept others who don't believe what we have been taught, who can't accept that aboriginal people believe what they can feel and experience while whites want to have mysteries based on "faith."
The problem is not with the people we white North Americans call Indians, but with us white North Americans not caring enough about others to learn about them, to see if what they believe, what they know, how they live, may be better than what we have been taught. We treasure our ignorance and want to preserve it for our children. Those who believe anything radically different from what we have been taught must surely be "inferior," so may safely be disregarded.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents, grandparents and teachers who want to grow children who do not treasure ignorance, but who embrace learning about all people so that world peace can become possible.
Learn more at

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Some Obesity Explanations Don't Work. Why?

Some Obesity Explanations Don't Work. Why?
The dissenter is every human being at those moments of his life when he
resigns momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself.
 [Caution: the following article is long by usual standards. Read it when you have time to digest is content. It will cause you to think. Obesity is a worldwide problem. Real solutions are scarce.]

When something close to us goes terribly wrong, we don't understand it and we don't like it, human nature dictates that we look for someone to blame. The blame, all too often, goes to the person or group who exhibits behaviours we disapprove of.
A child dies mysteriously, many want to blame the mother. Some even want her executed for murder. Not long ago, after many mothers had been charged and some imprisoned for murdering their infants in what was called crib death, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) was discovered and proven by science. Nature, not bad parenting, took its toll.
In centuries past, Americans in New England were troubled in 1692 by terrible events they couldn't explain. Many women in Salem, Massachusetts, were tied to stakes and burned to death as "witches." Despite the fact that today's witches have not been proven to practice harmful curses, witch costumes remain one of the most popular on Halloween. Wiccans find themselves excluded from the mainstream of society in most communities. The "curse" the Salem witches supposedly had cast was a disease that was not known or understood in their time. Think of influenza scares in recent years and the near panic effects they had.
In ancient times, bad weather was often blamed on bad behaviour by humans in a community that suffered crop damage from hail, drought or floods. Family deaths from disease were often attributed to bad behaviour by current or former members of a family. Humans, it was said, had displeased the gods. Someone was always fingered for blame, no matter if any evidence to convict even existed.
So it is today with obesity. Societies around the world commonly and readily accept that overweight and obese people got that way by overeating. Some graciously add lack of exercise. Too heavy? Convicted, without further investigation or explanation.
Obesity is hardly only the curse of overfed people in rich countries. It exists in virtually every country and almost every culture in the world. It exists in primitive tribes hidden away in the rain forests of the Amazon, in the Innuit (a.k.a. Eskimo) people of the far north, among hard working members of active militaries, among truck drivers, mail carriers and former Olympic athletes who still work out vigorously but not as much as when they were competing.
Overeating and lack of exercise may work as explanations for many people, but not all by any means. Some condition exists today that was rare or non-existent in the past. Laziness and gorging alone do not explain this pandemic.
Most of us know of people who eat far more food than their bodies need and get virtually no exercise. I will never forget the image of three obese women in a restaurant where my wife and I had gone for pizza. Without much to look at around us, we glanced over several times to see the women devouring their food. We noted how much more they had ordered than we had, and commented to each other about the fact. As we finished our pizza, we looked at their table to find it had been cleared of the previous plates and their main course had been delivered. What we saw had only been their appetizers. Before we left, fully satiated with one shared pizza, they had ordered desserts.
I also know a few people who eat far less than I do, exercise more, but tip the scales about 50% heavier than I do. That doesn't make sense.
Much about obesity and persisting explanations for it don't make sense. When we don't understand something mysterious, we tend to blame human behaviour. That is, with the blunt statement: they eat too much, exercise too little. For many obese people, they exercise very little because their weight prevents them from doing more.
Science has identified the protein leptin as the hormone that controls appetite and metabolism. Leptin tells us when we are full, when the meal is over. Or should be over. People with Cushing syndrome lack the gene that controls leptin production on chromosome 7, or they lack receptors for the leptin their bodies produce. The more researchers look, the more people they find with leptin problems. Most obese people have Cushing.
Wikipedia identifies Cushing as being "caused by high levels of cortisol in the blood." Well, now it seems we should be getting somewhere. The adrenal glands produce cortisol as our means of controlling stress in flight-or-fight situations. In other words, in moments of high stress. So, stay calm, right?
Not so fast. Science doesn't have a clear idea about how these chemicals react with each other and how they interact in each individual body. We're still waiting for the pill. That should straighten everything out.
Ah, but many of us today, especially those who live in large cities, whose employment situation is dubious or whose marriage (or primary relationship) is rocky live with constant stress. Constant stress means constant production of cortisol, which means constant depression of leptin. Such people have no way of knowing when to stop eating, when they are full. That is very important. Nature failed these people because another part of nature overrode natural signals.
A PBS documentary I watched recently showed a 500 pound man who went through gastric bypass surgery. It said that this 40-something man could have reached this giant size by overeating (more energy than his body burned) as little as one apple every three days over his whole lifetime. One extra apple every three days could have caused his obesity.
Science also knows that virtually everything that happens within the body takes place as a result of hormones, triggered by endocrine glands, with messages sent to body organs with protein messengers. What affects these hormones?
Governments in several countries have banned bisphenol-A because it can affect the brains of fetuses, babies and young children. Bisphenol-A, used to make polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, appears in many plastic products we use daily. World production of bisphenol-A in the 1980s was around one million tonnes. By 2009 that number had rocketed to 2.2 million tonnes. How does that fit with your memory of when obesity became a world pandemic? How might this chemical hidden in so many plastic products have affected you? Have you heard of any studies about how bisphenol-A affects adults or adolescents?
Industries chuff over half a million kinds of chemicals into the air we breathe and more than half that many chemicals into the water we drink. Our governments ignore possible health affects of these chemicals because the industries provide jobs. Jobs for voters.
At least we can eat organically produced foods, can't we? A recent study examined eggs produced on a Canadian farm that strictly followed guidelines for organic products. Everything the hens consumed from the time they were hatched from eggs was organically "clean." The study found five superbugs, antibiotic resistant microbes for which medical science has no cure, in the farm's organically produced eggs. How? The farmer could only speculate that the original eggs from which his hens had hatched were from non-organic farms. Those superbugs were likely passed from one generation of chickens to the next genetically.
At least the drugs our doctors prescribe are safe. They have been tested for safety and approved by our governments. Well, not quite. Most governments depend on the manufacturers of these drugs to do their own testing and to report their results honestly. Hmmm, honest pharmaceutical companies?
But our governments set the rules for these tests and the tests can be supervised by government representatives. Yes, but few are. Cutbacks. And the test periods that determine how safe chemicals are for us that our medical professionals prescribe? Three years for the most rigorous tests. One year for the majority of new products. Products prescribed by doctors, products that supposedly improve your health.
What you do in your 20s can severely impact your health in your 40s, even in your 60s. You could literally die at age 45 as a result of something that happened to you or that you did in your teens or your 20s. Our bodies take that long to react to stressors in some cases. But prescribed drugs are tested for only one year in most cases.
Returning to our original discussion point of obesity, we have no clue about what causes it, or what might cause it, or what might influence obesity in some people but not in others. As for our tradition of blaming people for their own health condition, maybe we should restrain ourselves on that. For all we know, it could be "something in the air or water." Or something their doctors prescribed to clear up a simple skin problem. Or an antibiotic prescribed to clear up a childhood infection.
Of two things we can be certain. One, we alone bear responsibility for our own health. No one else, certainly not our governments, will be there with us all the way. We need to be knowledgeable and vigilant about what we eat and drink.
Two, we need to prompt our elected representatives to act more on our behalf than on the behalf of corporations that provide jobs but little health protection as they rake in fortunes and become Big Something-or-others.
We need to help ourselves. We need to help each other. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we need to teach these lessons to our children whose lives could otherwise be destroyed by predator corporations whose sole objective is profits.
Addenda to the original article (random thoughts on obesity):
(1) Historically all societies have had obesity rates around three percent, with about six to ten percent of the population overweight. Worldwide, the numbers are now up to ten times what they were. In some families, every member is obese, in others everyone is relatively thin. Lifestyles and amount of food consumed may be similar.
(2) Humans, like all species of animals, have never been lazy or slothful. A species could never survive that way. Laziness is not in our nature. Maybe many of us get less exercise than our ancestors because our lifestyle is restricted by work commitments that tie us to one place and position for too long each day.
(3) No society in human history has been forced to consume water that is filled with hundreds of chemicals that have never undergone long term studies for their effects on human health. Nor has any society been forced to eat food from chemically produced containers as we have. We inhale up to half a million chemicals that are foreign to our bodies with each breath we take.
(4) "Fresh" produce we find in markets, advocated my many health authorities as the best food we can eat, is polluted with chemical pesticides, fertilizes and growth stimulants. "Organic" food products are not free of them. They grow in the same air and with the same water.
(5) Food preservatives that allow us to shop for food once a week rather than once a day do exactly the opposite in our bodies of what we want, which is for the food to break down into raw components we can digest.
(6) No one wants to be fat or obese. Neither exercise nor diets (including permanent changes in eating habits) have proven to be successful in keeping weight off. Most promote yo-yo weight losses and gains that are much harder on our bodies than excess fat. We don't know how our extra weight goes on, we don't know how to get it off. Nothing works over a longer term.
(7) Dramatic increases in longevity over the past two generations may have changed more than just the health of gene strings in our DNA chromosomes. What is causing many of us to be fat may also be causing us to live longer. We just don't know.
(8) Every health authority advises us to avoid gaining weight. Not one says how to do so safely. Some people eat "like birds" but gain weight rapidly. They would starve if they ate less by depriving their bodies of essential nutrients.
(9) I, personally, could not eat the quantities of food recommended by my government's health authority. My stomach is not large enough. If I were to stretch my stomach by eating more of what it recommends, the government has no evidence to support the claim that I would be healthier or that I would not gain weight. It's "ideal" diet could actually prove to be unhealthy because it would cause me to consume chemicals in fresh produce that my body is not prepared to deal with.
(10) Our governments need to start finding real solutions. We are all tired of hearing about the problem.
(11) Eating treats and overeating are the most dependable strategies to tweak the reward centres of the brain without having a downside in the near future (such as a hangover after drinking alcohol heavily). Do we have too few ways to reward ourselves in a non-harmful way or too few support mechanisms so that we need rewards to make our lives seem worthwhile?
(12) There is no such thing as a true expert on consumption of healthy foods or exercise. In time they are all proven wrong.
(13) The best we can do is to eat in as healthy a manner as we believe is right. Worry and stress, including obsessing over weight, causes us to gain weight. So far there are no right answers about healthy weight, only scary media stories put forward by charlatans who make money by telling us how fat we are becoming. These cause us stress, which cause weight gain.
Known reasons for rapid weight gain:
- hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone), in some people body metabolism changes with age mean that even a high average TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) score on a blood test could mean a slower metabolism resulting in weight gain
- PCOs (polycystic ovary syndrome), associated with cysts or fluid sacs in the ovaries
- Cushing syndrome (see article above), too much cortisol, often the result of taking medication for other conditions, such as asthma, or the existence of a noncancerous tumour
- oral contraceptives, some weight gain is associated with taking "the pill"
- steroids (not anabolic steroids as used by weight lifters and athletes), often taken to counter painful conditions such as arthritis or inflammation, possibly even from topical application for a skin condition
- type 2 diabetes, possibly caused by weight gain, possibly a result of having it (either is possible)
- antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, though Prozac seems to cause less weight gain
- estrogen therapy (controversial), as metabolism slows in women after menopause naturally
Finally, a quote from Canadian broadcaster CTV's news web site:
"Obese people who eat well and exercise live just as long as their slimmer counterparts and are less likely to die from heart disease, results from a new study suggest.
Researchers used a new rating scale, the Edmonton Obesity Staging System (EOSS), which gauges the progression and severity of the disease.
They found that obese people who scored lower on the scale, meaning they could metabolize fats well and had no other physical or psychological problems, were less likely than the thin group to die from cardiovascular or heart disease.
"Our findings challenge the idea that all obese individuals need to lose weight," lead author Jennifer Kuk said in a statement.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers, parents and grandparents who want to grow healthy, self-supporting and self-sustaining children.
Learn more at
Archibald MacLeish, American poet and librarian (1892-1982)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Stress: Tolerable Today, It Could Kill You Tomorrow

Stress: Tolerable Today, It Could Kill You Tomorrow
The ability to delude yourself may be an important survival tool.
"I work better under pressure." "I need a deadline to crank me up to do my best work." These excuses for adopting stress instead of independent work skills and developing an ability to focus on work at hand may be too much cost for too little benefit.
It's like saying that you can type better with one hand tied behind your back. Or that you perform better at sex when you are impaired with alcohol or drugs. Believe it if you will, but it's still not true. In the final analysis, stress always does more damage than good.
Long term, stress can shorten a "normal" lifetime (dying of natural causes) by three to seven years. It compromises the immune system, meaning that a reduced immune reaction to an attack by viruses or bacteria means a person will get sick. The hormone cortisol is emitted by the adrenal gland to reduce the damaging effects of stress. It's part of our natural "fight or flight" response to danger. But if the stress continues, this strong hormone continues to be pumped into the body. That can result in impaired cognitive performance, thyroid problems (the thyroid prompts the brain to act in many ways, so the brain is affected as well), blood sugar imbalances, higher blood pressure. It can even cause an accumulation of abdominal fat. No one is certain today what effects cortisol exposure can have on the brain, including mood, temper, sleep pattern and personality as each person may react differently to its long term effects.
It is known, through studies, that long term exposure to cortisol causes damage to the human hippocampus, which is very important to learning new things and to memory of what a person has learned.
In a 2010 study by the American Psychological Association, money, work, financial future, family and relationships caused the greatest amount of stress for Americans. Stress itself may be tied to cancer, though the exact linkage is unclear.
Can it cause a broken heart? Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or "broken heart syndrome," occurs when the bottom part of the heart balloons out, caused when grief or another major stressor floods stress hormones into the heart. Yes, a person can die of a broken heart and the causes are both physical and emotional.
High levels of cortisol in pregnant mothers has been associated with lower IQs in their children, tested at age seven. It has also been associated with autism, though whether stress in mother or baby actually causes autism has not been proven.
One way of avoiding job stress is to have a career in a job expected to be obsolete within a few years., in a survey of 200 professions, found bookbinders have the least stress of any in 2011. Firefighters and airline pilots have the most. Another way is to move to a less stressful location. found Salt Lake City, Utah, the least stressful city among 50 studied in the United States. Detroit took top spot as the most stressful.
This may come as a surprise to some, but not at all to others. Texas A&M International University gave 103 test subjects several stressful tasks, then had them play violent video games. Their stress eased considerably. Best results: Hitman: Blood Money and Call of Duty 2. For those under great stress, virtual violence decreased their bodily reactions to stress.
Militaries handle stress differently. They have their soldiers eat veggies. Military Medicine magazine reported that Yale researchers found eating carrots and potatoes boosted a soldier's cognitive functioning after intensive sessions of survival training. The militaries call it "carbohydrate administration," but it's simply eating complex carbs of any kind. Eating simple carbohydrates like cookies and cake didn't do the trick.
A sudden change of diet can cause stress as well. Going on a restrictive diet quickly (without easing into it) can cause depression or anxiety, according to a study by neuroscientists at the University of Pennsylvania who studied sudden changes of diet with mice that had been fattened up then had their calories severely limited. What is a stressor to a mouse? One method used by the researchers was hanging the mice by their tails for six minutes.
Louisiana State University researchers tried it differently. They caused their test rats to be subjected to random electric shocks to their feet. Then the rats were allowed to self administer intravenous doses of cocaine. As the stress was increased, the rats gave themselves more cocaine. [Anyone who doesn't generalize on that finding is simply not thinking enough. Why do we take so many drugs these days? A more pertinent question might be why do we not teach kids in high school how to cope with stressors in their lives before they resort to possibly harmful alternatives?]
Eating excessively and obsessively is a reaction to constant stress. Researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Portugal's University of Minho stressed lab rats then allowed them to self access treats. Trained to press a level to receive treats, stressed rats continued to press the level after the stress had stopped and even after they had been fed a meal. The brains of the rats showed shrunken neurons in the dorsomedial striatum, an area of the brain associated with goal directed behaviour, and growth in the dorsolateral striatum, which is related to habitual behaviour. In other words, constant stress caused the rats to habitually overeat.
Do you wonder if overly stressed researchers reduce their stress by conducting experiments on lab rats and mice?
We will conclude this article with an anecdote that has been circulating the internet in recent months.
A young lady confidently walked around the room while explaining stress management to an audience.
With a raised glass of water (everyone knew that she was going to ask the ultimate question, "half empty or half full?"), she fooled them all.
"How heavy is this glass of water?" she inquires with a smile.
Answers called out ranged from 8oz. to 20 oz.
She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In every case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."
She continued, "And that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time,sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on.
"As with a glass of water, you have to put it down for awhile and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed. we can carry on with the burden. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night.
Pick them up tomorrow. "Whatever burdens you are carrying now, let them down for a moment. Relax, pick them up later after you've rested. Life is short." There may not be so many then and they won't be so heavy.
That's one way we can all learn to cope with stress in our lives.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents, grandparents and teachers who want to teach their children how to cope with an increasingly stressful world. Better they learn young than depend on medical professionals to try to put them back together when they break as adults.
Learn more about this book and read part of it at

Jane Wagner, American writer, director and producer (b.1935)

Friday, July 08, 2011

To Fear Change Is To Fear Life

To Fear Change Is To Fear Life
If we can recognize that change and uncertainty are basic principles, we can greet the future and the transformation we are undergoing with the understanding that we do not know enough to be pessimistic.
 Every living thing finds life dangerous. Every living thing becomes food for other living things. Those that do not become food for other as prey or fodder become food for microbes and other life forms after they die.Those at or near the top of the food chain tend to be in the latter group. We humans, with few natural enemies, tend to die for reasons that have nothing to do with predators.
Yet so many of us act as if we have something to fear at every moment of our lives.
Caution and the fight or flight response and its attendant physical stressors are built into us from birth. Fear is not. Fear is learned. In nature, an animal in fear tends to soon become lunch for a predator. We humans experience fear and its consequences differently.
Some kinds of fear result from unfortunate events in our lives. In my case, I fear heights (acrophobia) and closed-in spaces (claustrophobia) as consequences of seeing many movies, as a young child, that intentionally made viewers afraid as a form of thrill. The producers of the films set out to create shock in viewers. Indeed, it's what most kids my age wanted when we watched a film. The producers did not intend to develop phobias in their viewers. But they did in some.
Some kinds of fear are taught. They might be taught through role modeling by a parent ("my mother hates spiders and I do too"), by a teacher ("you don't want me to send you to the principal, do you?"), or by another person known to the one developing the fear ("Wait till your parents get home").
The colour-coded risk alert levels broadcast in the USA after 9/11 accomplished absolutely nothing in terms of preparing citizens for a possible attack by terrorists, but "amber alert" notices from the White House built fear into the hearts of people, of others who were "different" in appearance or in the way they speak or dress ("You don't see anyone from Sweden becoming suicide bombers"). This in a country that for a very long time claimed to be a melting pot of cultures, where everyone could mix freely and join into one nation in the process. Fear taught by the nation's leaders brought that claim to an end.
Those who fear seek stability. They want the same weather at the same time each year, which can't happen any more, if it ever could. They want stability in their family life, which is awkward with over half of marriages ending in divorce and grown children moving to all parts of the world for work in their specific fields. In fact, a fearful parent is more likely to cause other family members to want to get away from them.
They want stability in their jobs, which is nearly impossible in today's economic climate. More than anything else, they want to avoid change. To a person with fears, change means instability and instability ramps up their fear level.
Yet change is not just a major factor in today's world, it's critically important and inevitable. It's even part of nature.
It's possible to overcome fear, as many can attest as they have had to do so to survive. An overcome fear hides in the background, the way alcohol does to a recovering alcoholic or casinos and lotteries do for a recovering gambling addict. In the background it doesn't impact daily life. It's tolerable.
Fear of change is much more difficult to conquer. In many societies, such as the USA, fear has become a cultural norm. How do you overcome a cultural norm? The same way the US tackled the problem of tobacco smoking, reducing adult smoking from around 75 percent of adults to just over 20 percent (including the major smoking group teens).
As Hazel Henderson said in the quote that began this article, people must be taught that change and uncertainty are normal. That means, as is the case with most teaching, these lessons should be taught to children (whose lives change frequently anyway). They must also be taught how to cope with change. That means they must know what to do when something major happens in their lives over which they have no control. That means planning ahead and having coping skills.
Children need stability as much as adults. They must have stability in some parts of their lives. But they should be taught how to cope, what to do, where to turn, who to ask for help, if unanticipated change strikes them suddenly.
As grown adults, we can learn to cope by planning as well. If your parents are alive today, it's highly likely that they will die before you do. What plan should you have, at least emotionally, for that? Your spouse or a child could die in an accident any day, or from terminal illness in the near future. What would you do then? These are problems most people would rather leave until the last minute, until they happen. Then their impact can be tragic, such as a fear of commitment to someone who might die.
We know that birth and death are part of life, even though either can come unexpectedly. But "unexpectedly" means major change. If you lost your job, what plan would you put in place so that you could get back on your feet as soon as possible? If your home burned so badly it was no longer habitable, what would you do?
Being prepared for life's possible emergencies means you can cope. Coping means less chance of emotion turmoil, including fear or turning to unhealthy alternatives such as addictions, bullying, depression, thrill-seeking and cutting of social connections that brought love into your life. When your life is upside down and inside out, that's when you need love more than ever. Do you know how to handle the love relationships in your life so that they do not get destroyed when another part of your life implodes?
Change and uncertainty are inevitable, but that doesn't mean we can't prepare for them. When these events trouble you most, you need those who love you to depend on. Having no one to fill that role can be devastating.
If you do not have anyone who loves you unreservedly, this would be a good time to learn how to develop that kind of relationship. Social skills are learnable. You can learn them by reading or taking courses.
No one's life is easy. The ones who survive best are those who prepared for downturns ahead of time. They do not become emotionally destroyed. They put their plan in place. They know how to cope.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents, grandparents and teachers who want to help children grow and develop so they know how to cope with the most important things that happen in their lives.
Learn more at
- Hazel Henderson, English television producer, futurist, author (b. 1933)

Thursday, June 09, 2011

"Old" Is A State Of Mind That Goes With An Unnecessarily Worn Out Body

"Old" Is A State Of Mind That Goes With An Unnecessarily Worn Out Body
The excesses of our youth are drafts upon our old age, payable with interest, about thirty years after date.
- Charles Caleb Colton, English author and clergyman (1780-1832)

I admit it. I'm tired of hearing people say "Bill, I'm getting old."
So many replies come to mind, but kindness causes me to refrain from saying "Yup, and you did it to yourself" or "If you only had known earlier, you could have been in better shape today."
Several older ladies I see walking in malls or on sidewalks trudge along in ways I used to think of as "walking funny." Why, I wondered, did they walk that way because it would be so much less effort to walk in a straighter, more upright manner. Then I learned, as I got older and suffered from fatigue more myself, that they walked that way because it was the least painful way to walk. Would they do some easy stretching exercises that would ease their arthritis pain and stretch the muscles they need to walk in an easier manner? No. "I hate exercises."
Where I live now many men have survived eight decades of life and wonder how many more mornings they will wake up. Most will live another decade at least, as 90 is the average age people die in my area. Most wear hearing aids, though they claim they detest the things. Yet they continue to ride around on lawn tractors, run chainsaws and pilot tillers around their gardens without the benefit of hearing protection. (Men don't wear sissy earmuffs.)
Little hairs in our ears, called cilia, get damaged from loud noise. When that happens the ear owners have ringing in their head that annoys them constantly as long as they are awake. The ringing, unlike their hearing, lasts forever. Those little hairs aren't like whiskers. They function like amplifiers to "boost" incoming sound waves to a level the brain can understand. Damage or "blow out" those cilia and easily half of incoming sound is lost.
No matter, their sons who have moved to the city won't worry about chainsaw, tractor and tiller noise damaging their hearing. They have loud music from ear buds they wear around for much of the day to do that job.
A former railway line now converted to a walking trail runs along one side of our property. In winter, our province licenses the trail to snowmobile organizations who groom it and enforce respectable use of the trail by their members when most folks find it too difficult to walk over the snow anyway. Motorized vehicles are forbidden from using the trail when the snow is gone. But men of all ages on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs, known locally as four-wheelers) ride the trail all summer anyway. Most drive slowly because of the uneven ground along the trail. It never occurs to them to walk and enjoy the scenery.
At the speed most move along the trail, hearing damage is unlikely from loud noise. When they get home, they rev their engines to ensure they are tuned and as responsive as possible. Good. But no hearing protection for engine noise at the same decibel level as a jet airplane. Bad. Really dumb.
A friend who is now retired doesn't drive any more. He can't see enough of the road ahead of him. He is blind in one eye and the other eye is sufficiently damaged, permanently, that he does a lot of guessing about what is in front of him. Damage to his sight resulted from many different incidents of improper welding practices. Yes, many incidents. He knows how to wear a welding helmet, and when. But so many times he didn't bother, just looked away when he activated the welder flame. Oops! My friend hopes to convert a motorized wheelchair for use on the rail trail near his home. He could walk, but "Why?"
For most of human history our ancestors lived an average of 30 years. During that time their bodies suffered all manner of abuse, without balking. No one retired because the concept didn't exist and because they simply didn't live long enough. Now many of us subject our bodies and our senses to the same kinds of abuse our ancestors did, or worse (because we have the technology), then wonder many years later why we got "old" too soon.
Our bodies will suffer from abuse. Not necessarily when we are young and inclined to believe we are just stretching our abilities to the limits. The quote at the beginning of this article says we suffer thirty years later. In many cases, the number is 40 years. In some cases, it's 20 years. Skin cancer, the most common variety of cancer, happens most often to people who suffered bad sunburns 20 to 40 years earlier.
Teens don't die from smoking cigarettes or marijuana. But 30 or 40 years later they may wonder "Why me?" when some debilitating or terminal disease strikes them. My father spent the last months of his life on a ventilator when his lung cancer surgeon discovered so much tobacco tar had accumulated in his lung that my father could not breathe on his own with his remaining "three-quarters lung capacity."
Food preservatives and additives are tested by manufacturers for up to three years. If they haven't killed or harmed anyone in that time, they are usually approved for use in packaged food products. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers are used on "healthy" produce we find in markets, but we don't know what effects they have on our bodies years later because they aren't tested long--most for no more than a year.
Living longer is a grand thing that we should look forward to. But living sick or "old"? Not so much.
It may be too late for you, reading this article, to protect yourself from abuses you did to yourself in your youth. Maybe even from abuses you have ingested in your food over the past few years. But it's not to late to teach our kids.
We need to teach children that abuse will affect their lives just as severely if they do it to themselves as if others do it to them. We need to teach them that they will not want to be "old" weak and dependent in the last decades of their lives.
The only way we can ensure that the message reaches every child is to teach it in school. That's where you and I come in. Let's talk it up and influence those who set school curriculum.
Let's make sure that our kids are as healthy as we wish we were in our old age. Meanwhile, let's make sure our own children and grandchildren know what we would like them to know.
Change begins with us.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents, grandparents and teachers who want to grow children who will live long, healthy and active lives.
Learn more at

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Case For Legalized Prostitution

The Case For Legalized Prostitution
"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
- Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist, Nobel laureate (1879-1955)

What we consider a sin forms from our morality. Religion has, for many centuries, dictated morality. Religion tells us that prostitution is wrong and we made laws to support the claim.
Prostitution fundamentally is sex (coitus) between two consenting adults. Sex is the means by which each of us reading this came into existence. True, the rules differ in some societies that demand marriage or other relationships for sex and procreation, but sex between two consenting adults is still the foundation.
In the situation of prostitution, money or some other form of compensation is exchanged. That makes it illegal. Why is it illegal? Because prostitution is immoral. Why is prostitution immoral? Because...well...everyone says it's immoral. And why is that?
That last question brings us to a murky part of our past that most of us in the modern world would rather not think about. But you and I must because that's why you are reading, so stay with me.
In prehistoric times, our ancestors lived in families that were part of groups known as bands. These bands might have been from 15 to 30 people. Some bands might have been nothing more than large families, in many cases with the most fit males fathering children with as many females as could produce children.
Sometimes bands grouped together to form alliances known as tribes. By themselves, band life was rough, subsistent, based on hunting and gathering. Bands carved their own territories for hunting and gathering, but sometimes boundaries were crossed as food was scarce. Stealing food from another band's territory brought risks. Sometimes a band would overcome that risk by attacking the band that occupied an adjacent territory, killing the adult males, taking the females into their own band and assimilating them into the new and larger band. We must assume that the males of the victorious band did not ask permission to impregnate the captured females. That would be typical of our species and its cousin species.
For obvious reasons, a band wanted to expand as quickly as it could so that it could defend itself from attack or attack other bands as this became necessary. The morality of which males had sex with which females is unknown to us, but we may be certain that it varied from one band to another.
When bands formed into tribes, codes of behaviour were necessary. One important one was that a woman must not have sex with a man who was not part of her own tribe. That would maintain tribal integrity. Genetic diversity resulted from males and females breeding with members of other bands within the same tribe. If a woman got pregnant by a man from another tribe, that would mean the woman would produce a child who would be the product of an enemy tribe. She and the child might have been killed.
If a man conceived a child with a woman from another tribe, this might be frowned upon, but not punished. After all, the child (if it was allowed to live) might enhance the numbers of the father's tribe, not the mother's tribe. Ownership of women and children rested with males in the case of most tribes. That is, if the father could steal the child back after birth. But the woman's tribe (if it didn't kill the child) might want to adopt the child, raise it and enhance its own population, which might work against the welfare of the father's tribe.
In matters of tribal population numbers, size mattered. So developed the rule against a man having sex with a non-approved woman. That rule has remained with us to the present day, though its form has changed.
Prostitution, illegal in most countries (but not all), exists because of unfulfilled human needs. Often the woman needs money and the men need a way to satisfy their hormone-driven compulsion for gratification with a member of the opposite sex (let's stay with the male-female pairing for this discussion). "The oldest profession" has existed as long as our species has been around. Because of unfulfilled human needs our societies have refused to address.
Instead they pass laws which have always been flouted and ignored and always will. The needs of nature almost always take precedence over the laws of a culture or society in matters of behaviour, but not in matters of law or morality.
Illegal sex (prostitution) opens a large opportunity for organized crime participation. Organized crime gangs exist to fulfill human needs that societies would like to pretend do not exist. Of course they don't pay taxes. They take risks, but the benefits are tax-free. We law abiding citizens foot the bill for taxes, including for police, courts, legal staff and jail administrators so prostitutes may be "brought to justice." Judging by history, members of organized crime gangs risk more from fellow gang members, from other gangs and from poor nutrition habits than from prosecution under the law.
Prostitutes risk beatings, disease, drug use to get them past the worst parts of their job and time in jail. Because the law does not recognize their job as real, nor does it happily defend prostitutes against the dangers they face. In name the law offers protection to everyone, in practice not so much to prostitutes. The law also does not collect taxes from prostitutes, pimps and organized crime gangs.
Here we, as societies, face situations where human needs for sex with willing partners are ignored, we pretend they don't exist (even though we know they do) and our cost for health care is much greater than it should be because some people we would rather pretend don't exist require more health care than most of us do.
A couple of years ago a study in the USA (respondents were assurred anonymity) showed that 85 percent of married men had sex outside of their marriage at some point. With women, the number was 65 percent. Marriage failure sits around 54 percent. One of the most common causes for failure of marriages is that one partner had an affair outside of the marriage. Those affairs almost inevitably involve sex, the fulfillment of a need for sexual gratification the one partner could not get from the other.
Moreover, humans are not monogamous, as religions (the descendants of tribal morality administrators) would have us believe. Rare indeed is a bisexual species that remains strictly monogamous after pairing (science has trouble identifying a handful). We are naturally programmed to spread our genes as widely as possible. That means males and females together, as often as possible. As our species has males always ready and females fertile and able to reproduce many more times each year than most mammalian species, sex and the desire for it are part of who we are. Hormones rule, no matter what our religions and our laws say.
But sex must not, by law in most societies, be with another consenting adult if money is involved. Let's remember that our species has existed for about 150,000 years, while money or its equivalent has been around for only a few thousand years.
Something is wrong and few countries are doing anything about it. Because of religious dogma, we stick with tribal morality so old that it predates history. But without justifiable rationale in modern society, except that "everybody says so."
Let's remember where we see tribal morality in action today. In Afghanistan, where the Pashtuns (many of whom are Taliban) have been at war among themselves for over 3300 years, since four of the ancient Twelve Tribes of Israel left the Holy Land when they broke up and took up residence in a mountainous land no other tribes wanted. Similar tribal customs are practised in the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan, where people associate more with their tribe than they do with the nation where they were born.
We can see tribes in action in many parts of Africa, especially where there is violence. Libya is essentially a war between tribes. Same in the Congo (DRC), Nigeria and most of the Arab states experiencing disruption at this time. What is now known as the genocide of Rwanda was a war between the Hutu and the Tutsi tribes. Tribal law is harsh, protectionist and its punishments severe. Some of our modern laws in "free" democratic countries are legacies of tribal laws.
Which brings us back to severe punishments for two people engaged in consenting sex where money is exchanged. I do not claim to be an expert, but I have studied the subject enough to know that some men visit prostitutes because they want more sex than they are having with their wives and they want to save their marriage, not destroy it, by visiting a prostitute (in private). Male prostitutes with female clients exist in every major city, but with lower numbers.
We are, in fact, paying more in taxes and our governments are effectively supporting organized crime activity by not setting up prostitution under controlled legal environments. Note that I have said nothing about girls who run away from home and turn to prostitution as the only way they can find to support themselves, or about the sex slave trade that exists because it can easily be hidden, or about single mothers who support their children by prostitution because they can't make ends meet otherwise. Or about mass murderers of prostitutes who manage to kill dozens of them before they are caught. These problems wouldn't have a place to be if prostitution were legalized and controlled by supervised government facilities.
Prostitution exists as a social problem because we persist in supporting ancient tribal rules instead of making our societies into ones that can function safely and more inexpensively in the 21st century. We no longer live in tribes. Our laws and our moralities have not caught up.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to prepare their children for their whole life ahead, not just with what they will learn in school.
Learn more at
When all the criticism of prostitution is distilled down to its core, the result comes out as "prostitution is a sin because it has always been considered a sin." A tautology, "proved" by constant repetition but no evidence.