Category Archives: Science And Society

“Saving The Planet”

“Why it’s not in my job description as an environmentalist.”

[Afternoon update]

Meatless Burgers

Of course they aren’t any healthier, but this article (as is generally the case) is malinformed on nutrition:

Part of the appeal for diners is that eating less red meat can cut the risk of heart disease and other health risks. But nutritionists and registered dietitians say ordering a meatless burger at a chain — especially one where you can get fries with it — might not be that much better for you. “Are they healthier as far as sodium, calories and fat content? Definitely not,” Sharon Zarabi, a registered dietitian and bariatric program director at Lenox Hill Hospital, told MarketWatch.

There is zero scientific evidence that red meat increases your risk of heart disease (or any other health risk). And there is nothing wrong with sodium, calories (per se) or fat (at least saturated fat, though transfats and seed oils are terrible, nutritionally).

“It’s almost the same amount of calories as the regular burger. The fat is slightly lower, but the saturated fat is still pretty high,” notes Zarabi of the saturated fat, which is almost the same exact amount in each. Consumers can expect to pay at least 10 cents more for the Impossible Whopper ($4.29), with prices varying by location. In the Bay Area, the meatless Whopper is selling for $6.19 before tax, compared to $4.89 for the original version. (Burger King did not respond to a request for comment.) Zarabi urges consumers to look at the weight in grams for each menu option. At White Castle, the Impossible Slider is 90 grams in weight, compared to the Original Slider, which is 55 grams. If you don’t look at the nutrition facts, it could easily seem like the Impossible Slider is worse for you, but they’re actually almost on par with each other. The Impossible Slider is 210 calories with 11 grams of fat, and 4 grams of saturated fat, compared to the Original Slider’s 140 calories with 7 grams of fat and 2.5 grams of saturated fat. The Impossible Slider costs $1.27 more. White Castle did not respond to a request for comment.

This is all junk science. Calories aren’t the issue, saturated fat isn’t the issue, weight in grams isn’t the issue. And sliders are terrible, regardless of what the patty is made of, because they’re mostly bread. But at least this nutritionist gets it right:

Dr. Lisa Young, a registered dietitian and author of “Finally Full, Finally Slim,” says meat alternatives become even more unhealthy when you factor in the bread, condiments and French fries that typically round out a fast food meal.

Not to mention the sugary soft drinks. There may be sound ethical reasons for being a vegan, but don’t delude yourself that it’s a healthy diet.

Born That Way

These kinds of “studies” drive me nuts:

“The idea there that sexual orientation is fluid, that people change as people grow,” Lawrence Mayer, a co-author of the report and a scholar-in-residence at Johns Hopkins University’s psychiatry department, as well as a professor of statistics and biostatistics at Arizona State University, told The Christian Post. “There are probably some people that identify as hetrosexual [sic] that then later on identified as homosexual, so it goes both ways. The importance there is the fluidity and flexibility that these things change in time.”

Of course there are many people for whom sexual orientation is “fluid.” They’re called (wait for it) “bi-sexuals.” They’re born that way. I was born straight, gays are born gay, and there are many people who are born “fluid.” It doesn’t mean that no one is born straight, or gay. I have no idea why this is such a hard concept for some people, including “scholars.”

[Wednesday-morning update]

I discussed this issue previously here:

My theory would explain why some of the most vociferous opponents of homosexuality often (more often than one might have guessed) turn out to be attracted to the same sex — they have a choice, and they feel morally superior to those upon whom they project their own bisexual orientation, and thus assume that people who don’t uphold their own standards of morality are merely weak-willed. These would also be the people who really could be counseled to go straight for religious reasons — they really had been influenced by their postbirth environment, and were capable of going the other way. So this might explain the twin conundrum as well. The twins who are both homosexual either were born homosexual or were born bi and both chose homosexuality. The ones where only one twin had that trait (as with the Collins brothers) were born bi, and made different choices. I know that if I were heterosexual with an identical twin, I would find it mind blowing to be told he was gay, because then I would be wondering why I wasn’t. But in Jason’s brother’s case, maybe he’s thinking: “Well, I decided to do the marriage-to-a-woman-and-have-kids thing, but I can see his point of view.”

I can’t see his point of view, but I’m willing to accept that it’s his point of view.

The Great Lakes

Demonstrate the flaws in climate “science”:

…if the lakes’ huge fluctuations in the past weren’t caused by mankind’s burning fossil fuels, why are scientists so convinced that the far more minor changes happening today are? The reason is simple. Climate scientists can blame anything they want on global warming. The climate models are imprecise enough that no matter what is happening they can point to it as proof that man-made climate change is happening. Too much rain, too little rain, bitterly cold winters, mild winters, more snow, less snow, rising water levels, falling water levels — they can attribute “climate change” as a cause of it all.

A theory for which all evidence is evidence of it, and thus not falsifiable, is not science.

BTW, blogging has been light because I’ve been wiped out by the ISDC for the past five days, and this morning I was at a meeting at ISS Commercialization at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. More meetings tomorrow, then back to LA tomorrow night, where I hope things will get back to normal.