[This blog uses we/us and I/me pronouns interchangeably]
Didn’t sleep enough last night–a combination of intense nightmare and waking up 1.5 hour early to take Older Child to school before sunrise for a field trip. When we don’t sleep enough, we often get philosophical. Very stream of consciousness. Different can be beneficial, eye-opening, disruptive. As it pertains to sleep, we will need to nap or go to bed early tonight to catch up and not tip the scales from philosophical into overly delusional.
Our insight this morning regard the fractured nature of how society uses information. Scientific inquiry, distribution of information, and implementation of information all can occur in circumstances decontextualized from how life is lived and, therefore, these processes can be detrimental to individual prosperity and health.
Specialization might bear part of the blame for the narrow focus of scientific inquiry. If someone is going to study the effects of a particular saturated fat on the heart, it seems logical the scientist should be a heart expert. And when the findings of the research are revealed, it’s often via a specific journal, such as for heart research or food health. Snippets of the findings might be published by news sources. And then the frenzy to use the information begins.
“Saturated fat from the fruit of the Doofo Tree will harden your arteries faster than an Alberta Clipper freezes a puddle!”
“Saturated fat from the fruit of the Doofo Tree will harden your arteries faster than an Alberta Clipper freezes a puddle!” is trumpeted from news sources online, TV, radio, and print. And then people rush to eliminate Doofo Oil from their diets. They purge their pantries of any food with Doofo Oil in the ingredients list. Web sites and apps crop up to help you identify your Doofo Oil-offending foods. Food pantries are inundated with Doofo Oil-rich foods. Food manufacturers rush to find alternative sources of shelf-stable oils that stop fewer hearts.
Meanwhile, Doofo Oil producers are pulling their hair out to stem the sudden lag in sales. They rush to a big scientific organization, such as a university, and offer to fund research on the health benefits of Doofo Oil. Scientists scour existing heath data of populations who consume large quantities of Doofo Oil, such as in the Jones Islands in the Big Sea, where Doofo Trees grow.
It turns out that these populations have much lower incidence of dementia than populations who consume other oils or lower concentrations of Doofo Oil. And so brain researchers at the University of Smart People conduct a study, and it confirms that Doofo Oil in high quantities lowers the incidence of dementia. The news is published in a prestigious brain journal or food health journal. The media picks up on the story.
Most consumers already forgot that Doofo Oil stops hearts. That was in the news, like, a year ago. Consumers rush to add Doofo Oil to their diets. Some dedicated athletes who are not interested in Sudoku continue to avoid Doofo Oil altogether. Some sedentary crossword enthusiasts begin consuming Doofo Oil above the recommended daily levels.
Does this seem like the cycle of behavior for scientific and health news to you? It did to us when we were following the news.
Yes, the body has discrete systems, and it’s necessary to know how they work together. And people may be best served by developing critical thinking skills. In personal finance, there was a saying, “No one will care more about your money than you do.” The same can be said for your body. (As for your soul, there probably are people who care more about your soul than you do, and they are sometimes not shy about letting you know it.)
Maybe the Jones Islanders had lower incidence of dementia because everyone dropped dead of heart attacks before anyone could live long enough to develop dementia. Or maybe Jones Islanders had lower dementia rates because they consumed a lot of seafood. Of course, you could also tell the temperature on Jones Island by looking at its residents’ spine, which functioned like thermometers due to all the mercury consumed in their seafood.
It’s called a web of life for a reason.
The solution to the decontextualization of information might be in the activity Older Child was engaged in this morning, for which we arose at an hour better suited to identify constellations than to cook eggs: school band.
In school bands, the clarinetists don’t stage a concert that competes with the tuba concert, that competes with oboe concert, that competes with the trumpet concert. They perform together.
They may rehearse separately to create their desired sound, and they are always mindful of how their sound will affect the sound of the whole band.
Some songs are harmonious, some are discordant, some are predictable, some aren’t. A typical concert features a variety of genres. While you may not be a music enthusiast yourself, music predates written language and may even predate speech, so it’s a pretty good metaphor for something that is critical to human development.
The point is that the members of the band work together. If scientists were a band, the heart people would do their research and then get together with the brain people and the digestive people and the endocrine people, etc., and they would all learn how Doofo Oil interacts with the human body. (In a perfect world, sustainable Doofo Tree production and fair trade would be considerations, too.)
Then we could learn that Doofo Oil is safe for body systems when five or fewer grams per day are consumed and that health benefits to the brain and muscular systems occur when two to four grams are consumed three to five days per week as part of a diet that…
Human bodies are not identical so that the recommendations may not be one size fits all. See your doctor for specific recommendations. Do not consume Doofo Oil if you are pregnant with triplets. Void in Utah.