Friday, May 15, 2009

Unknown Consequences and Unspoken Consequences

May 15, 2009 

Some consequences are unknown; other are known but unspoken because they raise questions which are politically or financially inconvenient.

The difference between unknown consequences and unspoken consequences is the willful witholding of politically or financially inconvenient causal factors. Examples abound.

For example, the consequences of the Fed blowing $3 trillion "saving" the money-center banks and the Federal government borrowing $3 trillion over the next two years to fund a bound-to-fail stimulus blowout are known: the destruction of the dollar and the bond market as interest rates rise, and the final (well-earned) destruction of public trust/faith in the Fed, the Treasury, Congress and the current administration, all of whom are complicit in witholding the easily predictable consequences of this vast fiscal imprudence.

Please look at the graph Jesse posted recently:

Fiscal Meltdown Will Test the Bond and the Dollar to the Breaking Point.

Another example is the side effects of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications which are prescribed by the tens of millions. Reader M. submitted this comment:


I read your last two articles on obesity with interest. I have read EVERYTHING on weight gain/loss in order to try to lose the 30 pounds I gained while taking Zoloft in 1995. The only real success I've had was doing the Body for Life program for 6 months (15 lb weight loss, 4 lbs muscle gain) but I eventually gained back about 5 lbs. Then I had "success" losing weight while going through the misery of divorce, 25lb loss, but of course gained it all back by, guess what?, going on antidepressants again. Since then I've gained 10 more pounds.

Post menopausal women tend to gain weight. It's common all over the world where people have access to good food. But my real concern is our society's widespread use of prescription drugs. Many drugs besides antidepressants cause weight gain. This is clinical knowledge but doctors won't tell the patients about this very negative side effect. I also suspect that the antidepressant I took changed my biochemistry and made it even harder for me to lose weight and keep it off, but I can't prove it. There's no clinical, only anecdotal, evidence available for that supposition.

The right starting point in all such inquiries is: cui bono? To whose benefit?Leaving known consequences unspoken is a favored tactic of those manipulating the news flow for their own benefit: smoking does not cause cancer, the economy is sound, etc. etc.

The vast spectrum of views relating to weight, diet and obesity is reflected in the variety of reader feedback:

J.F. (MD)

This oil is a GM oil and is reverting back to the poisonous rape oil from which it is made...

- I'm sorry, but this person has no idea what they are talking about. One of the great medical advances in my career is the successful lowering of cholesterol - this has been PROVEN beyond a shadow of a doubt to reduce the problems associated with hardening of the arteries - namely heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.

- Canola oil is NOT a GM product - it IS RAPESEED OIL! - the main grower is Canada. At some time in the recent future, it's age old name rapeseed oil was deemed "politically incorrect", so the name was changed to canola oil, from CANADA. It's the same stuff! AND, canola oil received FDA approval last year as the ONLY cooking oil proven to reduce cholesterol

- the reader did get one thing correct - vegetable oils, specifically trans fats (also contained in animal fats such as lard) are very unhealthy. They cause hardening of the arteries, and worse, inflammation of the lining of the arteries, which causes blood clots. A blood clot forming in an artery to the heart, cutting off blood flow to some of your heart muscle, so that it dies, is essentially what a heart attack it. It appears that most nut and seed oils ( of wich canola oil is) are healthy, as they both lower cholesterol, and reduce blood clotting. These include olive oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, and others.

- just because the average world cholesterol is 240 means nothing! First, the obesity epidemic is now world-wide, even reaching poor third world countries you wouldn't expect. Second, do we want the average world life expectantcy, which, our health problems and all, is significantly lower than U.S.? How about Russia, where it is 54 for men? Half the kids you grew up with would be dead......

- lastly, fatty fish oil, such as salmon oil, is super-healthy as long as not overconsumed due to unfortunate mercury contamination. The longest living people on earth live somewhere in Japan (I forget), eat mostly seafood, unprocessed rice, and home-grown vegetables, very little red meat, virtualy no trans fats, do hard physical work even when over 100, and have a positive attitude. Until we can modify human longevity genes, that's probably the best recipe for living a long, healthy life.

Mark C.

Tom Delane's comment regarding obesity in North America, which you posted today, is a confusing attack on two unrelated things: transfats and vegetarians. As a vegetarian who avoids transfats, I can tell you that there is no necessary connection between the two. I eat a good amount of natural oils (sauteeing onions is a start to many of my meals), and I only cook with olive, sunflower, and grape-seed oil. As for coconut oil, it is healthy but only if not overly heated, and it in fact has a rather low smoking point compared to, for instance, grape-seed oil. Oils heated past their smoking point are potential carcinogens.

"Like it or not we humans are carnivores! ... A Vegetarian diet is Ma Nature's way of getting rid of idiots (natural selection)".

I almost didn't bother replying to such ridiculous statements, but I couldn't help myself. Both of these statements are patently false. Firstly we are not carnivores; we are omnivores, and omnivores are very flexible in how they obtain their nutrients. Only some predators, such as cats, are essentially carnivores, and their nutritional requirements are quite different from ours, eg their high vitamin-A requirement. Finally if vegetarians were weeded out by "natural selection", then India, home to millions of vegetarians, would be a much less populous country...

Mary B.

I am intrigued by the topic of obesity because the ancient (40,000 year old) sculptures show a much different body shape than our current obsession with thin ness. Perhaps the more rounded profile is the survival shape?

We are breeding small- hipped, flat-chested women who will not be useful for childbearing, witness the increase in Caesarian sections as these women get stuck with small pelvis bones. Obstetrics would have a fit at the size of these women but obviously they bred and produced more of us.

To go further on this idea, when modern hospitals and C-sections are a thing of the past, those small hipped women will not breed and we will go back to normal shapes!

See also the Venus of Willendorf

Gene M.

It's abundantly clear that many people eat too much because they are unhappy with their lives and themselves. One of your quotes pointed to that no brainer.

In contrast to California, the times we've roamed Manhattan in NYC, we saw almost NO fat people. I'm presuming because they do a lot of walking--to the subway, then to work, then back and so on. Interesting, proves nothing perhaps. Most Californians don't walk a whole lot.

Second, I didn't see a discussion of genetic disposition. Reams have been written. I have an anecdote. One of my friends who's about 70 eats 3 helpings of desert often. He's a skinny as a rail. Some people metabolize food rapidly, some not. I think one thing exercise does is increase your metabolic rate. My father in law ate lard all his life. Lived til 90.

The average person who lives in a suburban tract has nothing physical to do when he/she gets home. So an adequate amount of physical labor to keep someone in shape is not available for most. I have both a gym membership and 8.5 acres. I look upon going to the gym as medicine.

Also there is a natural statin for high cholesterol. I think your reader is wrong about high cholesterol (according to my bro, the Doc, and a super one he is) but right about the drug companies. Red rice yeast. I take it and a lot of others do, even though the drug companies pressured the FDA nearly to ban it. Even local doctors recommend it. And it works.

Thank you, readers, for these comments. I will add a reference to epigenetics, a relatively new field of research into the environmental effects on gene expression which can apparently be passed on to future generations.

According the a recent PBS NOVA program, a famine can change gene expression, i.e. what specific areas of the genome get turned on or off. The consequences of these "nurture" or environmental experiences are apparently passed on to future generations, even though the genetic sequence itself is unchanged.

At this point the consequences to future generations of exposure to famine, toxic chemicals, alcohol abuse or other significant stressors are unknown; the clues to date are certainly tantalizing.

Here are a few books and films of interest on the subject of diet and weight:

The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite.)

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

Rats in the Grain: The Dirty Tricks and Trials of Archer Daniels Midland, the Supermarket to the World

The Informant: A True Story

Fast Food Nation (film)

Super Size Me (film)

Eat Fat, Lose Fat: The Healthy Alternative to Trans Fats

Know Your Fats : The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol

Nourishing Traditions - Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition & The Diet Dictocrats (Mary Enig and Sally Fallon)
This book appears to be out of print.

Eat Fat, Lose Fat: Lose Weight and Feel Great with Three Delicious, Science-Based Coconut Diets (Sally fallon)

Dr. McDougall's Digestive Tune-Up

The Mcdougall Quick and Easy Cookbook: Over 300 Delicious Low-Fat Recipes You Can Prepare in Fifteen Minutes or Less

The Mcdougall Program: 12 Days to Dynamic Health

The Mcdougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss

The obesity epidemic can be viewed visually via this slideshow map of the U.S.:

Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Obesity Trends 1985-2007 

In Readers Journal: Thought-provoking New essay by Zeus Y. 

Tortured Democracy (Zeus Y.) 

"Good faith" may have limited application in contract law, but it has no place in constitutional law. If you flout the highest law of the land, especially if you are a top-level decision-maker, you should be brought to justice. If you provably condoned, approved, and justified torture against established national and international law, you should be prosecuted.

Thank you, Alexis W. ($20), for your most generous contribution to this site. I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

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