Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 7.8

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Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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14 Comments

  1. I find the leaked information story interesting.
    On the one hand – we have some really pertinent information that the public is entitled to know the video showing the shooting of the journalist.
    On the other hand, leaking secrets without discretion – 260,000 documents doesn’t lead me to think discretion was at the top of his list – is really, really scary.
    Of course announcing he is a humanist interested in science, gay rights, etc, – is like waving a red flag in front of nonsense peddlers some portion of which may connect humanist thinking with people who are trying to leak secrets. (my theory is based on previous illogical leaps of reason in that quarter)

  2. Re: Mercola
    The title is misleading. He’s pretty quick to lump all artificial sweeteners into the same category with aspartame. It’s also telling that nearly every link in his article use his own website as references, including suggesting his own treatment plans.

    It’s like the entire article is an infomercial.

    “For those times when you just want a taste of something sweet, your healthiest alternative is Stevia. It’s a natural plant…”

    I know of a lot of natural plants. Maybe next time I’ll sweeten my tea with Datura Stramonium and see how much better it is than sucralose.

  3. That article on sweeteners made my eyes bleed.

    BUT.

    Aspartame is crap. I’d rather have a teaspoon of sugar if necessary, or several tablespoons if I’m cooking pork belly, than that.

    My question: have there been any studies on people using it in the wild?

  4. About a year or so ago, I think SGU podcast briefly mentioned the “aspartame” issue. Dr. Novella stated that there was only one trial (with mice) that showed a correlation with an adverse health risk (I think it was cancer, but not sure). Maybe someone else remembers this episode? However, the main criticism against the study was that the dosage levels were much higher than what people would normally ingest. And without replication, the claims are under-supported.

  5. I usually don’t even read the quackery that HuffPo passes off as medical or nutritional advice, but I’ve never been a fan of artificial sweeteners. Maybe it’s a holdover from my nature loving hippie parents, but I just don’t trust anything that can sweeten food without adding extra calories. It just seems too good to be true. Two recent articles I’ve read on the matter are:

    http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/302/22/2477

    http://www.cspinet.org/new/200808281.html

    Neither is particularly definitive, (and I’ve only done minimal digging to see how trustworthy CSPI is) but it’s enough to make me opt for sugar, honey, etc. on the occasions when I want something sweet.

  6. That HuffPo article is amazingly full of shit. It’s a bunch of alarmist crap from a guy that rants about how it screws up your amino acids without knowing what the hell an amino acid is.

    There have been adverse reactions to aspartame, but it’s to phenylalanine, not aspartame. See, we also know the metabolic path of aspartame; it breaks down into phenylalanine and aspartic acid, two essential amino acids. That’s why we fucking use it; we already have its metabolites in our bodies in high quantities because they’re basic building blocks of life.

    Did he even mention that methanol and formaldehyde can be produced when the body metabolizes aspartame? I don’t think he did. It’s irrelevant, as we would have a hard time ingesting enough aspartame to create enough methanol or formaldehyde to cause harm to ourselves, but still.

  7. I remember reading about an aspartame study done up here in Canada. There were negative health effects, but you needed to drink about a gross of diet pop a week to develop them. That’s 144 cans. 50 liters a week, or more than seven liters a day.

    I don’t know anyone who can do that.

    Back in high school, I did know someone who averaged a 24-pack a weekend.

    On a side note, I also know various people who are allergic to soy protein, gluten, lactose, strawberries, peanuts, shellfish, etc., etc., etc. Just because someone out there has a bad reaction to something, doesn’t mean everyone should avoid using it.

    Aspartame is the MSG of artificial sweeteners.

  8. “While a variety of symptoms have been reported, almost two-thirds of them fall into the neurological and behavioral category consisting mostly of headaches, mood alterations, and hallucinations.” Hallucinations? How come I can’t get hallucinations from nutrisweet?

    By the way, if we should ban any food or chemical that might give anyone a reaction, then pine nuts should be banned immediately. Pine nuts make my husband’s eyes swell shut. So much for that “healthy Mediterranean diet”… it will literally kill my husband.

  9. That Homemaker article drives me insane.

    I agree with the author to an extent. I feel like trying to fit the ideal will set yourself up for disaster (ie: I wanted to use cloth diapers and breastfeed incredibly bad, but I failed at both for one reason or another) and having absolutely zero “fun” money can be a quick road to depression (as I have experienced sometimes myself) but I think she is quick to use two extremes.

    The author compares a)people who drive SUV’s and throw money around willy nilly and b)People who grow/can their own food and live off of the land.

    I know she was speaking of another author but the rest of the article reads as a bitch session about how being a homemaker is depressing, unrealistic and unfeminist.

    For one, it took four years of a University and $3000 dollars in a vocational school for me to realize that I was only going to school because I was supposed to and afraid of what my parents would think of me — not because that’s what I really wanted. Truth is, I WANT to stay at home with my daughter, can jams/preserves and have an herb garden. That IS feminism because that’s what I want, not what someone is telling me I have to do.

    Of course, I would like to have the money to do other things and I think there is a great balance of both but I by no means need an SUV (I’m perfectly fine with a ’96 Honda.)

  10. I don’t read HuffPo, except for the occasional link. The last two dumb articles I’ve read have had the comments rip the author apart. At what point do regular readers start complaining to the editors that their articles are shit?

  11. Personally I don’t like the _taste_ of sweeteners, and I don’t think all food and drink should necessarily be sweet.
    When I went to the US most bread, for instance, was sweet as cake to my taste buds. So I think I’m better off overall just cutting back on sugar, rather than tossing sweetener in everything.

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