Sunday, September 30, 2012

Killing Ourselves with Cleanliness and Trusting the Untrustworthy

Killing Ourselves with Cleanliness and Trusting the Untrustworthy

"But raw milk from a Jersey cow is a totally different substance from what I'd thought of as milk. If you do not own a cow or know someone who owns a cow, I must caution you never to try raw milk straight from the teat of a Jersey cow, because it would be cruel to taste it once and not have access to it again. Only a few people in America remember this type of milk now, elderly people mostly, who grew up with a cow. They come to the farm sometimes, looking for that taste from their childhood."
Kristin Kimball, American writer, farmer city-refugee, from The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love

Perhaps the worst thing that has happened to food in the modern era was the creation of pasteurization for milk, by Louis Pasteur.

In 1862, heating raw milk to eliminate most of the germs (pathogens) seemed like a great idea. After all, people were dying all over the world from mysterious illnesses that Pasteur identified as microscopic organisms, which we now know as bacteria.

We know much more than we did in the mid-1800s about bacteria. Back then was a time when cleanliness was a matter of removing dirt from your hands before coming to supper and bathing once a week (or a couple of times a year, in some cases) to stop the body from smelling bad (if you couldn’t afford perfume, which was invented to cover bad body odour). Surgeons didn’t even wash their hands or butt out their cigarettes before dipping their hands into the bodies of patients on their operating tables.

When Pasteur invented the process that came to be named after him, he was hailed as a hero. He killed germs. Pasteurized milk and other foods would be "clean."

We now know that our bodies are not composed only of our own cells (and invading bacteria and viruses that sneak in). We have some twenty times as many good bacteria living inside us as we have of our own body cells. These bacteria are so important that we could not live without them. Most are in our gut (they help us digest good) and on our skin (where they protect us against invasion from the environment). In lesser numbers, good and critically important bacteria appear in many other places on and in our bodies.

Milk was, at one time, called "the perfect food" because it contained so many nutrients and beneficial elements (we now know as good bacteria, vitamins and minerals). Now, thanks to pasteurization, our milk is mostly white water, with any goodness being added manually at the dairy, such as vitamins.

Pasteur was so influential on the topic of human health that our ancestors accepted that all microbes were "germs," bad for us by definition. We came to believe that if we couldn’t see it and it was living, it was bad.

We now know that by killing off so many of the good bacteria that aid our health, we have made ourselves unhealthy. Milk, "the perfect food," is now perfectly useless for our health, except for the vitamins added after the cow and pasteurization.

We use mouthwash to make our mouths perfectly "clean." Our mouth is another of those first lines of defence against disease invasion. With a "clean" mouth, our bodies are open to disease against which we have no protection. Clean, but vulnerable.

We use electric toothbrushes to remove that terrible plaque that supposedly causes decay and destroys our health. Many of us spend many minutes each day brushing far longer than a dental hygienist spends cleaning our teeth. This does not make sense, but it delights dentists. Patients keep coming back to their offices when they have weak dentin and super sensitive teeth, for which they must use a special toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Not necessary. Sensitive teeth were almost unheard of among our ancestors.

We suffer pain, have no protection against disease invasion, but our mouths are "clean" according to the advertisers. Who profit from our ignorance and reluctance to learn what we should know.

Speaking of "clean," a TV commercial shows CLR efficiently removing calcium, lime and rust from devices in our homes. Then we can just flush it down the drain. "Clean" homes. But sewage treatment facilities do not remove chemicals from waste water, nor do water treatment plants remove them from incoming water before communities downstream of our chemical waste drink "treated" water that has biological pathogens removed, but not chemical waste. Somebody is drinking water with chemical components that are strong enough to dissolve rust.

Back in the days of our grandparents and earlier, kids got sick. Sometimes regularly. Sometimes parents with large families caused all their children to be infected with diseases like measles, just so they would all gain immunity at once. As adults, they got few diseases because their immune systems had been built up in childhood. It’s commopn today for adults to be off work several times during the year because their weak immune systems allowed them to invaded by some pathogen.

Today we have children who must, in some jurisdictions, take as many as 48 vaccinations (with documented evidence to prove it) before they will be allowed to enter school. Their parents may be forced to home-school if they refuse to subject their kids to these vaccines.

And what is in the vaccines? To avoid legal ramifications, I will let you do some research yourself. But here is a quote from

"Suspicions have been confirmed for those wary of vaccinating their children. A recent large study corroborates other independent study surveys comparing unvaccinated children to vaccinated children.

"They all show that vaccinated children have two to five times more childhood diseases, illnesses, and allergies than unvaccinated children."

What kids in school have these days are "asthma, reoccurring tonsillitis, chronic bronchitis, sinusitis, allergies, eczema, ear infections, diabetes, sleep disorders, bedwetting, dyslexia, migraines, hyperactivity, ADD, epilepsy, depression, and slower development of speech or motor skills."

But schools rarely have cases of chicken pox or measles. Vaccines look after that.

Now in my senior years myself, I sometimes face a new medical professional (such as in a lab) who asks if I brought a list of my medications with me. I say I don’t take any. Some don’t believe me until I insist that I don’t take medication because I don’t need any.

They say I’m lucky. I know that luck has nothing to do with it. I am very attentive to my health and that of my wife. I have studied and learned.

That requires commitment to learning what is real about health claims and what is fraud. Or even what is dangerous to human health, even if proposed by a family doctor or in advertising by pharmaceutical companies.

Most people have no interested in doing that much work. The older they get, the more they suffer. They just consider that they have bad luck. They refuse to consider that they were lazy or ignorant in their younger years.

I was born with two autoimmune diseases (technically they are called syndromes) that were in both sides of my family. I studied and learned how to minimize their symptoms and maximize my own potential. Sure, I have problems sometimes, mostly during stressful periods. But my problems are manageable, which can’t be said by many with autoimmune diseases.

Many people consider me lucky. A few know how hard I have studied to learn what I need to know to safeguard my health, without having to depend on doctors and medication. On the rare occasion I pay a visit to a doctor’s office, I come prepared with a description of my symptoms, what I believe causes them and what the doctor might do to help. Rarely do I leave without the doctor agreeing with me.

That’s not luck.

There is no reason why you can’t control your health as well. The internet is filled with health advice. Some is trash, others are treasures. As you are a reader, you can read it and make your own choices. Don’t wait for someone else to provide the best solutions to good health on a platter.

You can make your own luck when it comes to your own health. You don’t need to depend on professionals who earn their living from people who are chronically unhealthy. Or who refuse to learn.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers. Yes, bad health is a social problem. You catch it by listening to advertising.
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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Are We Really the Most Intelligent Species?

Are We Really the Most Intelligent Species?
Intelligence is not only difficult to define, some people claim that it is a construct with no validity in nature. Albert Einstein himself claimed that all babies are born geniuses, then we overcome that potential in the following years of childhood.
- Bill Allin, Intelligence and Unhappiness: Likely, But Not Inevitably Linked

Depending on the literature you read or the media sources you use, you may find yourself assaulted a few times each week by statements claiming that humans are the most intelligent species on the planet. I say "assaulted" because they happen so frequently.

We are brainwashed into believing that we are the most intelligent species. But are we?

The sources of this information are ourselves. Our sources never give evidence because none actually exists. It’s a tautology: we are the most intelligent species because we are the only species that can say we are.

Speaking of saying, we partly determine the intelligence of other animals according to the number of human words they can understand or speak or otherwise communicate. How many words (or other method of communication) of another species of animal do you speak (or concepts can you communicate)?

For that matter, what can you do better than any other animal does as part of its regular life habits? Pick an animal, any animal, think about something it does, then consider if you could do it better. The answer inevitably is "No." We can’t do anything that any other animal does that is not part of regular human experience.

Science generally agrees that dolphins are very intelligent. But not quite as intelligent as us, most say. They can’t carry on a conversation with us. But then, we can’t carry on a conversation or any other form of extended communication with dolphins either. But we claim we are smarter.

Dolphins live in a water environment, yet breathe air as we do. We can swim under water, but only briefly. At this point, we are incapable of living in any environment that lacks air, or even lasting for more than a few minutes. [NOTE: It is technically possible for our lungs to take oxygen from water, but it’s not something you should attempt.]

We understand that ants and bees have their own forms of intelligence. But we excuse them from the intelligence competition because they are exclusively a social species--their collective intelligence is shared among all members of the hive or nest. According to science, shared intelligence is different from individual intelligence. Why? Because it’s convenient for us.

Now, about individual intelligence. Are humans intelligent as a species, or is it true that just a limited few are as intelligent as we claim our species is as a whole? Remember, it’s only the most highly educated and (likely) those with the highest IQ among us who claim our superiority.

Next time you go to a supermarket, stop for a few minutes and observe people shopping in the aisles. Or looking for a parking space in the lot. Or trying to find their car in the lot after they have finished shopping. Did any of those people have anything at all to do with the organization or the technologies they use in those situations? Some need to use their remote devices to make their car horn sound just so they can find their vehicle.

When it comes to IQ (Intelligence Quotient, the most common measure for human intelligence), does it seem right for us to claim intelligence as a species because a few of us excel at taking IQ tests, or at publishing university study papers?

Though we still hear about IQ once in a while, the concept has little recognized value these days (unless you happen to be a member of or qualify for membership in Mensa). The Stanford-Binet test of IQ was written by educated white men of the middle class, where questions that applied best to the lives and experiences of educated white men of the middle class could best answer them.

Lo and behold, when the test was administered to everyone else, including those from different cultures and with different forms of education and people whose first language was not one in which the test was created, they performed at lower levels on the scale. This served the racial prejudice of educated white middle class Europeans in the early 20th century well.

In general, the form of intelligence evaluation preferred by any one person tends to be one composed by the same language and cultural group as that person. And they stick to it as if were religious gospel or political idealism. In other words, my way is best; other ways are not as good way is best.

Those who perform well on IQ tests give little credit to EQ (Emotional Quotient intelligence) or any of dozens of other forms of tests of personal knowledge, talents or skills because the test which gives them the highest scores is their favourite. That includes tests for happiness, on which highly intelligent people tend to score lower than some other groups (who often have lower IQ scores).

In conclusion, those with the highest scores on any test of intelligence will be among the group into which fall those who composed the test.

[Side note: I just asked my cat about which is the most intelligent species. She told me to get back to work cleaning her litter box and vacuuming up the fur she left on the furniture where she slept. Of course I obeyed, isn’t that what the most intelligent species would do?]

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers, parents, anyone who wants kids to grow up without experiencing anti-social problems.
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