Belief versus Truth

Stephen Colbert defined a new word: Truthiness, The belief or assertion that a particular statement is true based on the intuition or perceptions of some individual or individuals, without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.

A number of popular commentators write that we should trust our intuition (without explaining what that may be) rather than relying on what we read. Most of these commentators have written many, many books to tells us that we do not need these books.

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Big Fat Myths by Ruben Meerman

Ruben Meerman and Professor Andrew Brown from the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, University of New South Wales published a paper in 2014 When somebody loses weight, where does the fat go? 

Meerman has a physics degree and is known as the surfing scientist and has appeared in a number of television shows including ABC’s Catalyst program. and he is the author of Big Fat Myths, a book that expands on the previous paper. The original paper and later book explains how every molecule of fat escapes the human body during weight loss.

He believes that his research shows that weight loss is best achieved by “eating less and moving more”.

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Tornadoes, Seagulls, Grasshoppers and the Butterfly Effect

Edward Lorenz was a mathematician and meteorologist. Whilst his name may not be familiar, you would have heard about the results of his work.

Whilst he is best known for his work on Chaos Theory, he made very valuable contributions to other areas of mathematics including climate theory.

Lorenz presented a paper at a meeting in December, 1972 in Washington, DC, the title of the talk being, Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?

The title was a question. The answer is – of course it does not. If it did we would be creating tornadoes every time we clapped our hands. Lorenz conclusion was that long-term weather forecasting was doomed.

The problem of accurate, long-term weather forecasting has been recognised for some time – and seagulls, grasshoppers or butterflies are not part of the problem or solution.

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Do vegetarians live longer?

On 2nd February 2017, Melody Ding, a senior researcher from the University of Sydney published an article in The Conversation titled “Do vegetarians live longer? Probably, but not because they’re vegetarian”. Her preferences were revealed early in the article when she writes, “vegetarianism and its more austere cousin, veganism, are becoming increasingly popular”.

A person calling a vegan diet austere does not know how to cook.

There is overwhelming evidence that vegans (and particularly whole-food, plant-based vegans) live longer and healthier lives.


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Eating Red Meat is Not Natural

Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose is popularly known as alpha-gal. It is a carbohydrate found in the meat of mammals – exceptions being primates (which includes humans) and other African and Asian apes.

Since the early 2000s, severe allergic reaction has been observed several hours after the consumption of red meat. Several deaths have occurred. This is associated with IgE antibodies to alpha-gal as a result of the patients been bitten by ticks. This has occurred in eastern Australia, south-east USA and Sweden.


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BMJ Editorial – Are Some Diets “Mass Murder”?

Richard Smith’s wrote an article Are some diets “mass murder”? in The BMJ on 15 December 2014. He uses a work of a popular commentator to reach his conclusions in this article. Smith’s claim that Nina Teicholz’s The Big Fat Surprise, demolishes the hypothesis that saturated fat is the cause of cardiovascular disease fails with just a little scrutiny.

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Liver Cleansing with Olive Oil

The internet has numerous pages advocating an Olive Oil – Lemon Juice Liver Cleanse or Detox. The purpose of the exercise is eliminate gallstones from your gall bladder. The instructions vary but lemon juice and olive oil are featured. Apple juice and Epsom salts are sometimes involved.

This procedure results in numerous green stones passed in the faeces in the following morning.

Unfortunately, the exercise does not remove gallstones and has the potential to cause nausea, severe abdominal pain and may even lead to surgery to remove your gall bladder. It also leads to a false sense of security, giving rise to the belief that you have solved your gallstone problem.


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How do we know what we know?

Many “facts” have a long history of discovery, with a sometimes bitter and acrimonious debate before a final acceptance.

In Life, the Universe and Everything (part of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series), Douglas Adams explains our inability to take in new information as a result of the Someone Else’s Problem field. Effrafax of Wug utilised the SEP field to create an invisibility device that would run for a hundred years on a single torch battery. It relied on people’s inability to see anything that they do not want to, were not expecting or cannot explain.

We obtain our information initially from parents and from interacting with the world around us. We learn that fire is something that should be avoided if we put our hand in it.

As we grow older, we learn from other people, reading, school, television. Observation is not always a reliable guide. It is obvious that the sun and the moon revolve around the earth. We see the sun rise each morning in the east and set at night in the west.

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What is a Heart Attack?

Below is an overview of the mechanism that leads to cardiac myocardial infarctions (or heart attack). It took many decades for a basic understanding of this process.

The consensus at the beginning of the 20th century was that heart disease is a normal part of aging. In 1913, a 28 year old pathologist, Nikolay Anitschkow (or Anichkov), working at the Military Medical Academy in St. Petersburg, showed that by feeding rabbits cholesterol dissolved in sunflower oil induced vascular lesions closely resembling those of human atherosclerosis, both grossly and microscopically. Controls fed only the sunflower oil showed no lesions.

Another difficulty in understanding heart disease is that there are a number of factors involved. Researchers, practitioners and the public become attached to one aspect. Some argue passionately regarding one aspect of heart disease and become blind to other factors.

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