A Nietzschean medicine

is a poison that if it does not kill you, it makes you stronger.

Was the medicinal conifer tea of arbor vitae that mysteriously and quickly cured Cartier’s sailors of scurvy and syphilis a Nietzschean medicine?

Compare the story of Mithridates VI, the King of Pontus, who used ever increasing doses of poison to give him immunity to ordinary doses of the poison. He used poison and made it act like a medicine.

Poison: Medicine = two sides of the same coin, as are dying: becoming stronger.

To heal, and in general, to become stronger, one must sometimes almost die. The cure for a malady may well proceed through tremendous torment.


The supreme importance of foundations

The more important something is, the less attention it tends to receive.

It is maximally ironic that on the most important matters, we spend the least time and effort.

Nothing can be more important than foundations. Secure your foundations, or forget even trying to build anything that lasts, and that includes intellectual creations, and among them, the big answers to big questions.

Definitions are foundational – considered merely stipulative, they are thus considered a trifle.

Dead wrong – define a term incorrectly and inappropriately, and you preclude finding the correct answer to a question.

For centuries, the wrong definitions of being, god, creator, and nothingness prevented any possible explanation of where our universe came from.

People assumed that our universe was a creation. Dead wrong, that begs the question. That requires a creator. Just as some children create an imago of their parents that sometimes persists through adulthood, these people further mythologized the creator as god, and that god had to be the prime mover, himself unmoved, and had to be eternal. Highly creative, but wrong, and not remotely possible. If our universe had a creator, he is long dead, and was certainly not an immortal god. He would have laughed uproariously at the notion that people worship the creator. He or she or it may have been a goofball graduate student in physics who never even secured a doctorate, who failed to create a proper universe according to the directives.

In 2017, the definition of life precludes ever finding an answer to the origin of life.

The correct definition is that which yields the correct answer. The incorrect definition yields confusion, and our perpetual confusion about things, even trifles, is a testimony to our failure to secure the foundations of thought.

In 2017, the definition of nutrition references only essential nutrients and calories. If that were so, people on total parenteral nutrition could thrive. They do not. By rule, by the correct definition, nutrition needs to reference nearly everything the body is trying to absorb, because that is what the body needs. Included in that are all of the nutrients the body cannot make at all, the so-called “essential” nutrients. But included in that are also hundreds of nutrients that the body makes, but does not make enough of them to meet all of its needs. Failure to supply these “non-essential” needs implies that penalties must be paid. Because we are the sophisticated products of four billion years of evolution, the penalties have been reduced by, among other things, redistribution and better retention, but they are not non-existent.

Anselm’s faulty definition of existence as a perfection led to his faulty proof of the existence of god. Did Plato assume the same faulty definition of existence in his faulty proof of the existence of Forms? Defined properly, to exist is to be imperfect. To exist is to have qualities and qualities are necessarily imperfect. One can be only so beautiful or so smart. Perfection cannot exist. Perfection, like infinity, is correctly defined as an asymptote. We aspire to perfection, but by definition, we will never achieve it.

Etc. Etc. – there is no end to examples.

Genes are no more the source of our problems than the arrangement of the planets when we were born

“Infinitus est numerus stultorum.”

Though some good will come of it, thanks to intrinsic complexity, personalized medicine with completely sequenced human genomes, Jay Flatley’s flatulent afflatus, is a ridiculously expensive and ultimately useless undertaking.

Our problems are not in our DNA any more than they are in the stars or planets.

Our problems are between our ears. Our errant thoughts, our errant beliefs, and our pathetic lack of discipline are our problems. If you want to uncover the genetic basis of errant human thoughts and beliefs, and lack of discipline, by all means do so – and edit the code that makes such arrant nonsense possible. But forget the rest of it – it does not matter.

Fix those errant thoughts and beliefs, and acquire serious discipline, and we will be much healthier and happier, without a huge medical price tag. In fact, medical costs as a percent of GDP will return to historical lows.

A society that spends more than about 1% of its GDP on healthcare is a stupidly run society that is headed for the scrap heap.

We are living in a satire by Juvenal.

We have met the enemy, and they are us.

Consider the endogenous isolated peoples that Weston Price studied in his travels around the world. Roughly two dozen cultures. In each study, Weston Price had a genetically matched control group – people from the same ancestral gene pool, often very close geographically to their more isolated cousins, but one group adopted our toxic lifestyles, and their health suffered accordingly, while the other group, the healthier group, eschewed our toxic lifestyles.

The penalties that must be paid for nutritional shortfalls get worse with each generation.

Genetic tests, anyone? Anyone out there with sense who desires better health, fitness, and more happiness will eschew genetic tests and adopt a less toxic lifestyle.

Rules and Exceptions

Rule: Non cogito, ergo – non sum.

Exception: Cogito, ergo sum.

Out of a mere exception, Descartes made a rule and then audaciously “derived” god’s existence out of this mere exception, and the world followed his lead, as it usually does, and, as a rule, the world will continue to do so, as long as it derives pleasure from perpetually confusing exceptions, flashes in the pan, with rules.

“Empty” space = rule, matter and radiation = exceptional by-products of the rule.

Death = rule; life = exception.

For species, extinction = rule; survival = exception. Evolution is the story of extinction, punctuated by occasional survival. The odds against survival of any species are great. The odds against survival of any individual of a species are overwhelming. The odds against the existence of a being who has already lived forever are astronomical.

And so on, ad infinitum. It is an understatement to say that true knowledge is that of the rules and their exceptions.

How we look at things backwards

Until 1998, the US government scientists argued that choline was not an essential nutrient because we can make it from the essential nutrient methionine.

True enough, but irrelevant – the very definition of the red herring.

What utter rubbish scientists speak! The body was telling them that they were wrong and they did not listen.

When given choline supplements, people readily absorbed the choline. Was the body making choline receptors for fun? Was it a ruse to fool scientists into thinking that the body is a right idiot and does everything wrong?

Or maybe the body was telling us that we do not make enough of it to meet our needs?

A reasonable person would guess that the body is investing materials, time, and energy making receptors for choline, and maintaining them – and hundreds of other such substances – because it needs more of them than it can make from its raw materials.

A reasonable person would guess that we must suffer some ill consequences if we do not give the body what it is trying to absorb.

A reasonable person would guess that when a person adopts an extreme diet like low fat vegan diets that he will suffer health consequences from the many substances his body is trying to absorb that are not found in such a diet or are too low in concentration. Substances like cholesterol, choline, taurine, carnitine, carnosine. The first three are needed to make the strongest bile acids, the taurocholates and their derivatives.

A reasonable person would guess that essential nutrients are markers of food quality, not the definition of it.

A reasonable person would guess that proper nutrition is so much more than roughly four dozen essential nutrients plus water and oxygen.

Which is easier to believe?

1. Scientists have it wrong, when we see how wrong-headed they have been, and how specious their arguments were and continue to be.

2. Four billion years of selective pressures has it all wrong. The body is a right idiot that never gets it right.

The penalties that must be paid

When we do not give our bodies enough of everything that they are trying to absorb, by rule we must suffer the consequences when our boides are forced to “make do,” generally with what it can make. Something has to give, not necessarily the most direct thing, thanks to evolution.

For example, a person consuming a half gram of cholesterol a day might reduce his cholesterol production by some 5-20%, allowing some other process, perhaps net beneficial, to take place in lieu of more cholesterol production. A person restricting dietary cholesterol may increase his cholesterol production some 5-20%, and the cost is not primarily digestive shortfalls from too little bile (to whose production dietary cholesterol is earmarked), it is what was not done to produce this extra cholesterol. That penalty may in turn be deflected by another compromise, thus diluting the overall penalty that must be paid. Evolution is amazing, reducing the severity of the penalties that must be paid when we are terrible stewards of our own bodies’ health.

Because evolution has already had so many rounds of survival optimization, and there are so many competing processes to exploit, these penalties are less severe than we would see in a man-designed system. This may make the penalties harder to see, but they must be there. The body does not spend energy and materials to absorb substances for fun. When its needs are not being met, penalties must still be paid.

Because so many rounds of evolutionary selective pressure have already occurred, by rule, in the beginning, the least important functions suffer the brunt of the punishment. As deficiencies get worse, eventually more critical functions begin to be compromised. Finally, the most critical functions become compromised.

As we age, nearly every important function declines, including of course both digestion and absorption of nutrients, and thus our bodies’ needs increase as we age, both in the amounts of materials and in the number of such materials, and eventually we cannot meet those needs. We nutrient-starve to death, where “nutrient” is broadly defined as nearly everything our bodies are to absorb, including cholesterol, no matter how much we eat and how many supplements we take.

The ultimate penalty for under-nutrition is death. But death would be coming anyway because our genome has never been evolutionarily optimized for maintenance and repair, and thus for longevity. What optimization has occurred for maintenance and repair has been in the service of growth and reproductive capacity. Nature’s choice; not mine.

Another problem with soft drinks?

Summary: sucrose in soft drinks and foods does at least two bad things: 1. promotes tooth decay. 2. overstimulates the production of insulin and amylin, the latter being potentially the bigger problem in view of the poor solubility of its precursors.

Possibly a third bad thing: the sucrose may turn our guts into fermenters.

Because they are sweetened with sucrose, these soft drinks not only produce an overly vigorous insulin response, they may also over-feed gut yeast, and thus heavy users of these soft drinks may suffer some of the same consequences of those who drink too much. Basically, if this model is true, they are turning their guts into fermenters.

Not a smart thing to do. Milk was selected to have lactose for a good reason – lactose is not a good sugar for mouth bacteria (sucrose or even glucose in milk would have lead to extinction – the secondary teeth would have been destroyed before puberty)  or gut yeast. It is a good substrate for beneficial bacteria and for our system, when our system works properly. Our guts bind the lactose molecule, digest it and immediately absorb the contents, thus successfully keeping the sugars away from gut yeast.

Those lactose molecules that escape our digestion/absorption are mostly used by beneficial bacteria, not Candida. In addition to living within our guts, under certain conditions Candida can change its morphology, enter the circulation, and set up in locations distant from the gut, wherever conditions are “right” for it.

Lactase treated milk misses this vital point – that is making glucose and galactose, prior to ingestion, and the glucose over-feeds gut yeast.