Penny wise, pound foolish

As far as I know, no one makes a peanut butter product that can be squeezed out.

Yet, most manufacturers put peanut butter in squeezably soft plastic containers.

Why? Glass makes more sense because peanut butter, like oils and mayonnaise, needs to be in containers where the oils cannot leach harmful chemicals, such as the plasticizers used in soft plastics.

Glass is heavier and more expensive to transport, and more breakable. So we save money and pollute our bodies.

Penny wise, pound foolish. Man, the backwards animal.


Man – the backwards animal

Man – the backwards animal
As a rule, we approach problems backwards.

For example, we readily believe the notion that a molecule, LDL-cholesterol, which carries important nutrients to cells, is actually atherogenic per se.

Not even remotely credible. Evolution would have selected against it long ago.

More likely the atherogenicity is due to an adulteration of LDL-cholesterol, such as the chemical reaction between methylglyoxal and LDL-cholesterol.

If the rate of the reverse reaction is negligible, the net rate of this adulteration reaction is given by:

R = k*A1*A2

Where R is the rate of the forward reaction, k is the average rate constant, A1 is the chemical activity of LDL-cholesterol, A2 is the average chemical activity of the principal adulterants.

Each chemical activity is factorable into an activity coefficient and a concentration.

I would not choose to attack A1 unless it is severely out of bounds, as it is in familial hypercholesterolemia, and indeed people with LDL-cholesterol levels that can be 5 times normal or more suffer the consequences of the more rapid adulteration reaction (more rapid onset of heart disease).

I would attack A2 by:
a. Reducing the rate of formation of adulterants.
b. Reducing their activity coefficients.
c. Increasing the rate of turnover of adulterants.
d. Increasing the rate of excretion of adulterants (e.g. produce more urine per day).
e. Increasing the rate of the chemical inactivation of adulterants (e.g. by increasing free arginine in the bloodstream).
f. And many more.

There are apt to be fewer harmful side effects attacking A2 than attacking A1, which is what backwards people do
Reducing A1 has had both beneficial side effects (for example the beneficial effects of statins on NO metabolism) and harmful side effects (reduction of important metabolites of the mevalonate pathway such as CoQ10, squalene, dolichols). Were it not for the beneficial side effects of statins, scientists may have long ago abandoned reducing A1 except in severe cases.

Of three minds about religion and god

We have a brain and the gut has a brain. So we are of two minds when they do not see eye to eye. But what happens when one of our two brains is divided against itself? Well then we are of three minds. A four-minded person is possible on various issues.

The brain, if sober and sane, rejects god and the bible, as contradicted by the available evidence. My brain does, and even when I am a bit tipsy, I cannot conceive of testable biblical claims and statements as anything but false. My brain is not divided on this issue.

The gut’s brain wants at least parts of the religious message to be true and perhaps too easily is more than willing to accept the whole message for the desirable parts.

When someone has a religious experience, a part of him (namely the gut’s brain) needed to have the experience (compare what Ellie Arroway said to Rev. Palmer Joss in “Contact” in reference to Rev. Joss’ profession of faith in his religious experience; his reply was that he was not intelligent enough to make up something so grand, implying that the part that made up the experience was his brain) and so the religious experience is created for him by him. The brain or the gut’s brain -or both- creates the religious experience, and they are remarkably creative.

I admit that my gut wants selected parts of the religious message to be true, especially the part about forgiveness, for I have done some ordinary everyday type of wrongs to people who are dead and can no longer forgive me. But if god could forgive me, no problem. All would be forgiven.

My gut’s brain utterly rejects the religious messages that slavery and genocide are A-OK. It is only the parts about forgiveness and eternal life that I find appealing.

Thus I am of three minds about religion.

Why most doctors are nearly useless

As a rule, doctors misunderstand medical conditions (reversible) diseases (irreversible), following Koch, as univariate, i.e. causal, and not surprisingly, they realize that most diseases are idiopathic, without a known cause. As a rule, medical conditions and diseases are idiopathic – they are multivariate, a-causal. It is not our ignorance of causes; it is the lack of utility of univariate models that is the problem.

With few if any exceptions, both medical conditions and diseases are multivariate and a-causal, and we – our weaknesses – are mostly to blame for both sets of maladies. Agents of disease, so-called causes, are nothing more than challenges, selective pressures of varying strengths, with Salmonella being an example of a weak selective pressure, and smallpox and Ebola being stiff challenges to our defenses.

Our weaknesses are most responsible when we succumb to most diseases.

As a rule, specialists are worse offenders -and insufferably arrogant about it- than general practitioners.

As a rule, emotions rule the human mind

An example, e pluribus unum: We do not want suicide to be the rule, so we exclude slow methods of suicide as forms of suicide.

Only fast methods count. Thus, we make suicide to be the exception to the rule. How comforting!


Are people who drink or smoke heavily free from depression? Have they surrendered to happiness, like the fictional Emily Delahunty (“My House in Umbria”)? Do they think everything is hunky-dory? Are they not deeply dissatisfied with their lives, their fellow man, and the state of the world?

How is this different from the thoughts and feelings of someone who takes his life quickly? In the level of unhappiness, despair, or dissatisfaction? I think you are splitting hairs in your definitions if you see a gulf dividing these people. Look again, it is only a rivulet. Only a difference in degree.

Death-by-suicide is the rule among people. Death-not-due-to-suicide is the exception in those few human beings who surrender to happiness, even when their lives are most dire, and even if that happiness is just an illusion – it is a pleasant fiction they allow themselves. At least they are not believing in some man’s nightmarish concept of Deity and attempting to torture the rest of us with that nightmare.