Sunday, October 16, 2005

*Never cross 2 debaters with a weird sense of humour*

This late update was brought to you by the fact that I was out the entire day with Her yesterday and a birthday party I just returned from and oh, the little side issue that I woke up at 3 p.m. this afternoon.

So here was what had happened. S and CL, strolling in the area outside the fountain after a really full lunch and on the way to get cookies at this marvelous little place at the basement near the pets store. They are making inconsequential conversation on the state of religion and evangelism in schools and other public places when they hear two young female voices behind them.

YFV 1: So, do you want pizza for lunch?

YFV 2: Nope, I try to limit how much pizza I have because they cause cancer in the long run.

At this point, a very incredulous CL and S miss a step and look at each other.

CL (in a relatively loud voice): Everything will kill you in the long run

S (similarly loud): Wait, isn't tomato sauce supposed to be anti-cancer? (It's anti-carcinogenic and lowers the rate of prostate cancer actually)

CL: The whole pizza fiasco is actually a misreading by the Hong Kong government.

By which time the voices behind them fall deadly silent. S and CL try to muffle their laughter.

And that ladies, gentlemen and assorted pets, is the state of knowledge of science amongst certain of our populace today. Sometimes the following words come to haunt me: "The best argument against democracy is 5 minutes with the average voter." But I take solace in the fact that democracy is indeed the worst form of government but the rest that we've tried are all worse.




At 7:16 PM, Anonymous rrrrrrrm said...

Cute, but tomatoes are not the only ingredients in pizza.

Preserved meats like ham, pepperoni and salami -- which are often put into pizzas -- have nitrites and other nasty preservatives. The former may contribute to gastric disorders, while the latter is a family of chemicals of which many are carcinogenic. So what little the humble tomato can do to fight against cancer is pretty much countered by these other ingredients.

Unless, of course, the pizza is purely vegetarian.

I very much feel that the idea that anything will kill you in the end isn't very helpful to people who feel that longevity or a peaceful death is important to them. The idea obviously leads to a ridiculous conclusion that food is bad for you, since you'll die after consuming decades of food! What a horrific drug, this food...

What is an issue here is that we'd like to avoid having cancer and lead a fairly healthy life, and that these aims would hopefully lead to a longer life and a less painful death due to the absence of debilitating diseases (and the attendant surgery or treatment, both of which are painful) inflicted upon us later in life.

Given that most of us will die a painful death anyway (as suggested by a study published within the last five years), it may well be a futile struggle. Also, nobody has yet studied, to the degree of scientific rigour that we've come to demand, how making choices that are deemed to be good to your health contributes to less pain and suffering later in life. But it would appear to a reasonable person that following advice on such health issues may provide a higher chance of success (averting pain late in life) than not.

Hence, some people's obsession with these issues. The problem, however, is that much of nutrition science is tentative, while the media tends to be extremely scattered in its attention, employing a "flavour of the week" approach. This then contributes to the image of such people's irrationality and arbitrariness in their decisions, when these actually reflect the uncertainties stemming from inconclusive studies.


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