Quickies: Sugar substitutes affect gut biome, gaming award show bomb threat, and how hip-hop can help humanism

  • Sugar substitutes linked to obesity – “This is the first work to suggest that sweeteners might be exacerbating metabolic disease, and that this might happen through the gut microbiome, the diverse community of bacteria in the human intestines.” From Mary.
  • Bomb threat targeted Anita Sarkeesian at Game Developers Choice Awards last March – “An anonymous e-mailer threatened to blow up a bomb at the Game Developers Choice Awards this past March unless the hosts rescinded an award recognizing feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian, the organizers of the event have confirmed to Kotaku.” From Criticaldragon1177.
  • Can hip-hop help humanism? – “In “Humanism and/in Hip-Hop,” a new course offered through The Humanist Institute, Dr. Monica Miller argues that all atheists can learn by looking to hip-hop and African American Humanism.” From Courtney.
  • My year as an abortion doula – “Women have historically supported other women through the process of childbirth, so the work of birth doulas is nothing new. But when birth doulas Lauren Mitchell and Mary Mahoney sought to bring those support practices into abortion clinics, they met immediate resistance.”
  • Featured image by Flickr user Susiepie


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. It seems to me that it’s a bit early to bin the sugar substitutes based on this study, even in the story it is highly couched.

    Yet another example of taking the preliminary findings and reporting them as “fact”, but then “more study is suggested” doesn’t get you page views.

    Nature should know better.

    1. That’s actually kind of the study I expect from a journal like Nature. The high impact journals have a lot of studies with incorrect conclusions because they’re searching for novelty and almost by definition the novel studies are more likely to be wrong.

    1. Mrmisconception,

      Okay the link I posted in my last comment seemed to work for me. You should be able to read it now.

  2. Amanda,

    I have to wonder if the person, or persons who sent those anonymous emails was serious and really was going to bomb the Game Developers Choice Awards, but than decided not to when he noticed the heightened security around the event. Either way I’m glad it didn’t happen, and I’m hoping whoever sent those threatening emails is tracked down and receives a visit from law enforcement.

  3. Yes I will wait until there is more data. The net net is that they are looking into whether art sweets change metabolism. There is enough evidence to establish a hypothesis, that is all.

    And yes, I know I’m an addict. I drink a case (24) of Diet 7-Up every three days.

  4. Amanda,

    That thing about the artificial sweeteners is very upsetting to me, especially since I use a lot of them.

  5. I am quite sure that artificial sweeteners are bad for you.

    Your body has sugar receptors for good reasons, to detect and regulate the movement and use of sugar in the body. The mouth is not the only place that sugar receptors are active. They are present in the gut and regulate the pancreas to release appropriate digestive enzymes to digest disaccharides (like lactose and sucrose).

    Mess up the signaling of sugar receptors and you will mess up the regulation and utilization of sugar.

    How much messing-up can physiology tolerate? If you are young and healthy and stress-free, probably quite a bit. If you are stressed-out, a lot less.

    1. Not saying that you are wrong, but I would be taking it on a case by case basis.

      Aspartame, for instance, is rapidly and completely hydrolysed once it reaches the small intestine, so it is hard to see how it could have any effect on receptors there, let alone further down in the large intestine.

  6. Warning, don’t read the comments on the Anita Sarkeesian article unless you feel like playing “find the logical fallacy”. There is some major victim-blaming going on as well, even going so far as to insinuate (though always being careful not to accuse) that Anita herself might of called in the threat. Although I did get a good laugh when someone suggested Christina Sommers was a feminist, so there’s that.

    Silly MRAs, fedoras are for douchebags.

    1. Mrmisconception,

      Why am I not surprised. I didn’t even bother reading the comments, not to that reason, but because I was in a hurry to show it to you guys.

      1. Jon Brewer,

        Unfortunately its doubtful that any terrorist act won’t lead to false flag conspiracy theories. We’re not going to get rid of that, or terrorism itself.

        1. Well, yeah, for big things like 9/11. But somehow I think “keep pretending sexist portrayals of women in videogames don’t real” is a bit more petty, as goals go, than “create a global theocracy”.

  7. I’m somewhat puzzled by the sweetener story, though I haven’t seen the full Nature article yet. Their findings mostly only involve saccharin, so I’m not sure how the draw conclusions about sweeteners in general.

  8. Has anybody read the full version of the sweeteners paper?

    I had a look at the graphs (free) and Figure 5 appears to contradict the whole thing, showing unchanged insulin production in all groups.

    The Wikipedia article on saccharine makes the same comment in regard to 3 earlier studies!

    I’m confused.

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