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Archive for September, 2012


The Bitter Pill

I’m partially back to blogging again, my fingers are much better, but typing is still hit and miss due to the fact that I once had the ability to feel the keys on my left hand. That sensation is gone in one finger, and diminished in another. So my apple keyboard that I love so dearly, is now hard to use. I even bought a new Macbook Retina, and find it’s keyboard difficult to touch type on. I’ll get there, but it’s like learning all over again, and it saps my desire to sit and share my thoughts. The stairs that caused the accident are done, and I have a deeper and profound respect for anything with spinning blade.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the mankind’s proclivity to bend the truth in any given situation, sometimes knowingly and sometimes not.

Devin pointed me to a link on the Papacy and the East (it can be found here: Archbishop Minnerath on Rome, the Papacy, and the East), while I was completely outclassed by the level of participants, my take away from the conversation was very personal, and it enforced for me some core truths that I’ve been mulling over for a while now. However before I explain that, let me as bugs bunny would say ‘take a left turn at Albuquerque’…

I’ve pretty much used up all the middle years of my life, and one thing that has become an issue is the battle of the bulge. I’ve lost a good deal of weight over the last two years, but getting down to a ‘skinny’ weight sucks. We have been working out at the local gym, which is having a very positive effect on us, and helps with our goals. However the situation of getting good solid dietary advice is all but impossible. I’d like to explore the reasons for this a little and lay some foundational work about us as flawed human beings.

On friday we decided to hire a trainer, in our discussion with the head trainer he waxed poetic on their idea of a diet to lose weight on. Basically it consisted of a couple of things:


1. Portion Control.

2. Eating foods low on the Glycemic Index scale.

3. Avoiding foods like Carrots, which are “nothing but sugar”.

4. Eating leafy green vegetables (lots of them).

5. No Sugar free sodas or beverages which are “Just as bad or worse for you than a regular soda”.

6. Lower your salt intake.


The quoted words are theirs not mine, and it’s those I want to talk about. These people are trainers, they see lots of people in my condition, and they have a system they employ to get their results. If I follow their guidelines, I could lose 21 pounds in 20 days, and I have no doubt that works as advertised.

My issue is this: The dietary advice they are giving, while it may work. Is not only wrong, it’s deceptive.

Items 1 and 4 are perfectly fine, the other three are where the problems come in. They focus on the Glycemic Index, it’s system where they test the impact of a food on your glucose levels. What they do is have a patient fast, then eat a food item, and they run blood tests to gauge the impact. All fine and well, except that the result rely on a fasting period, which none of us do in our normal lives. There is a great deal of controversy around the system, because when applied incorrectly or without common sense you end up with the opposite results you where looking to get in the first place.

A good example is a baked potato, on it’s own it has a high glycemic index, but add olive oil which slows it’s impact on glucose levels and it becomes a low GI food item. The missing point is that it’s full of vitamins and other healthy nutrients. Another example of this kind of nonsense was a snickers bar and a cup of broad bean soup, both are very high on the GI scale, but you can guess which is better for you. No one is saying that the GI scale is bad, just that you need to apply common sense to use it correctly.

Which leads me to item 3, when the trainer said this, I registered a mental note to go do some research. Carrots do have sugar, but they also have LOTS of vitamins, fiber and other healthy things. The ADA (American Diabetes Association) recommends them as a good food for diabetics (this would mean raw or steamed, and not in a sugar glaze, common sense again). His claim that he never eats them made me suspicious, when people vilify something in the face of common sense, I begin to question their motives and methods.

The same with his final assault on all sugar free sodas and beverages, he drinks nothing but water, which sounds pretty damn boring to me. He doesn’t even drink coffee, which around here is almost sacrilegious. But when he asserted that a diet coke is worse for you than a regular coke, I again made a mental note. His reasoning is that it effects your metabolism and fools your body into consuming foods incorrectly. If you sit and actually think about that statement for a minute, you realize how patently absurd it is. I have cut down dramatically on my diet soda drinking not because they make me fat, which they can’t on their own (they have NO sugar, so no calories people), but because they have a ton of salt and aren’t all that good for you. He told me that if I was going to drink a soda drink a real one, which is the just about the worst advice I have ever heard, I’m pre-diabetic, if I want a soda I’ll do a diet so I don’t spike my blood sugar.

If you think I’m wrong on my stance here, then take it up with the ADA or the Mayo Clinic, or any number of other reputable organizations who’s information I used to come to the conclusion that my trainer is an idiot when it comes to diet. There is no science that sugar free drinks are worse for you, I almost tore into him when he started on Aspartame, which does in fact give rats cancer, IF THAT’S ALL YOU FEED THEM IN MASS QUANTITIES!! Those tests where so skewed, I’m amazed at how many people buy into crap like that, without ever digging any further than what they hear from some ‘expert’.

I’m not trying to say that the trainers at the gym are lying to us, but they are stating misinformation and using their position to qualify themselves as experts. I was able to take apart their arguments with a couple of quick google searches. They let their desire for confirmation of their vision crowd out the truth. And I can guarantee you if I walked in with a list of links showing that their positions are not backed by dietary experts, and medical organizations dedicated to this kind of science, they would never take the time to find out the truth. They would see it as an attack on their credibility, they have empirical evidence that what they believe is correct, so why would they ever question it?

You find this same position with Christians of all different stripes, from Evangelicals to Catholics, and yes even Orthodox. We build these belief systems, and then we spend our lives defending our castle of cards. It’s a human condition, Hume was right that we are shaped by our experiences. We also are rational beings ala Descartes, and once our castle is built, it takes a complete collapse before we reconsider our worldview. This is the human condition, I see it in politics, life, family, religion. So many times we are only interested in the truth that fits our preconceptions, it’s one reason that so many Atheists start out as believers, when they question their faith they run into the human need for absolutes, and especially in religion there is no room for doubt. And their questions are derided by the faithful who have no time for anything but absolutes in their world views. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, we believers are better at making Atheists than we are good solid believers.

Truth, unfortunately is the first victim in our quest to be right. I’m no better than anyone at this, I constantly question my beliefs and presuppositions. The difference is that like Einstein, I’m not afraid to admit that I was wrong given better information about any topic. What I believe today, will not be what I believe tomorrow, it will grow and shrink as I expand my understanding. There are constants to be sure, but even they can change in subtle ways. I love my wife in a deeper and different way, than I did when we first married. Today I know so much more about her, and us, what was important then, is no longer as important. The love remains, but it changes.

That’s how I view my faith, it’s been there a long time, but it’s changing, always. But it, like my marriage is changing because I have parsed through the lies, and deceptions and kept what I needed to and discarded the rest. One reason that I despise apologists so much, is they work in absolutes. Their faith demands it, but God is bigger than our absolutes, and only a fallible human can attempt to defend or define an infallible God, the fallible portion always colors the definition. It’s like the calvinist who is concerned about God’s sovereignty, the very fact that he sees the need to defend God’s sovereignty, defeats the purpose of his defense. A truly sovereign or infallible God needs no defense from fallible beings…

Catholics who claim Papal infallibility and universal jurisdiction have the same problem, they must defend both positions because the church has put them in an all or nothing situation. When history no longer works, they switch to philosophical rhetoric, arguing the necessity of their position. Round and round it goes, and there’s never a clear winner, because to concede their point, is to destroy their house of cards. Baptist’s, Lutherans, all of them do it. Because our human nature requires us to defend our house of cards, ignoring the truth that many times is so inconvenient to us.

It’s a bitter pill that we all must swallow at some time, our humanity, and our sinful nature, corrupts how we believe.

I am at a point where, I’m dealing with who I am, and what I am. What that means is that I’m at the moment apostate in my beliefs, it’s temporary while I work things out. But no amount of honey will help me swallow my own bitter pill.

We have been watching reruns of the X-Files, and at the climax of season one Deep Throat laying on the ground dying, with Agent Scully holding his head, whispers… ‘Trust No One’

Wise words..