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Critical Thinking…

October 24, 2010

This has been a very interesting week here at You Are Not A Fit Person.  The burger experiment that I performed, the one that proved that McDonalds burgers do in fact rot, has finally been getting a lot of press.  Certainly nowhere near the millions of hits that the initial, ‘McDonalds burgers don’t rot’ stories have, but a hell of a lot more than I had expected.  There is a large number of people out there who are questioning the tremendously unscientific claims of McDonalds burgers being unable to rot, and many of them are ending up here.  Still there are many more who continually ask, ‘But why would you defend McDonalds when you know it isn’t good for you.  Sure, the food may rot, but why bother defending the evil company at all’.

Defending Science

I find this statement disturbing on many levels.  First, this reminds me of the person who finds out an innocent person was wrongfully convicted and says, ‘Well, they must have been guilty of something or the police wouldn’t have arrested them in the first place’.  Second, this upsets me because no one is defending McDonalds here, WE ARE JUST DEFENDING SCIENCE.  This is simply a case of requiring people to actually question what others are claiming.  A case of demanding RATIONAL THOUGHT from our fellow citizens rather than purely emotional thought.

Rational thought goes beyond the discussion of science here, it goes to the entire structure of the argument that the non-rotting food group.  This is the reason we need to explore not only the outcomes of events (burger didn’t rot), but as importantly the reasons for these outcomes (no nutrition, chemical nature, bathed in preservatives) is that without science we cannot say with any confidence that just because the event occurred it occurred for the reason proposed.  People who jump to the unproven reasons will then use this as justification for an action (McDonald’s food is bad for you so don’t eat it).  So, the burger not rotting is then evidence not to eat at McDonalds because the food is bad for you (at least in the example we are using).  So, if I can get a burger to rot (which I did with no difficulty at all), I have disproved the reasons that were claimed, which I have done.  The problem then comes with the fact that the failure to rot is connected to the justification for action, not eating at McDonalds.  So, I have disproven the rotting and chemicals part of the equation, therefore I have disproven that McDonalds food is bad for you, yet McDonalds food is bad for you.  McDonalds burgers and fries are bad for you because they are so good tasting, a poor balance of macronutrients, and utterly unfilling when eaten in calorie controlled portions (so you end up eating way to many calories).

Logically I haven’t proven that McDonalds is good for you, hell I haven’t even proven that McDonalds isn’t bad for you, but I have destroyed this argument for why McDonalds is bad and thus, when people make a poor argument against McDonalds and that argument is embarrassingly destroyed, this has only given ammunition to those who would argue that a) people are wrongly attacking fast food, and b) fast food isn’t bad at all.  It literally gives McDonalds the high moral ground! Does this whole scenario sound familiar to you?  It should.

Do you remember in An Inconvenient Truth when Al Gore said that global warming was increasing the frequency and intensity of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.  That because we had had more hurricanes in the year the movie was made then ever before, not to mention the intensity and damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, that this is evidence of global warming.  Al Gore’s argument can be broken down to:  there were more hurricanes in the gulf with greater intensities than ever in history (outcome of event),  these are caused by a planet made warmer by human activity (event) , therefore lets reduce greenhouse emissions to reduce the temperature of the planet (justification of action).  The problem was and still is, there is no evidence that the hurricanes that year had anything to do with global warming.   They may have, but there was no science behind this so just as easily they may not have.  So, when we then went to years of low numbers of hurricanes, the entire argument was destroyed.  If hurricanes are proof of global warming, and there are no hurricanes, then there can be no global warming.  This gave ammunition to people who would deny global warming, and in many ways we are worse off than before the movie was made, even though it was an excellent movie with some excellent science in it.  In almost every way this was just as much a parlour trick as the dried out hamburgers.  Had the hurricanes kept coming, we would all be driving electric cars right now (which would be awesome), but they didn’t, so now the attempts at developing a culture of sustainability continue to be embattled by those who can find fault in the logic of this argument.  Where are the hurricanes Mr. Gore?

Defending Logic

So it isn’t simply the defence of science that is occurring, but much more importantly, the defence of logic itself.  If you don’t demand logical arguments in the first place, especially for things you are on the fence about or have a desire to initially believe, then you may actually be undermining your OWN cause, whatever that may be.  Ask the experts for logical arguments and ask others to criticize and test these arguments.  There are very smart people who can help determine the good science and the good arguments, never be afraid to listen to them.  They tend to be called scientists, logicians and philosophers.  Get more than one opinion though, there are crackpots everywhere.

Never ask the debaters and the pundits as well.  They live for the emotional arguments, irrational thoughts, and the back and forth created by the mistake listed above.  This is their bread and utter.  It doesn’t matter that they are the most likely to back poor arguments in the first place, no, this only helps to keep them in business.  When I think of how much misinformation abounds in the political arena right now, on every side and how this keeps the pundits in business, I am sick to my stomach.  Politics is so tightly connected to our health as a society that to know there can be no help from the politicians because information and action have been disabled by blowhards and loudmouths who have access to the publics emotions is honestly sickening.  When I think of all of the solutions that could be forthcoming from nations with an inestimable power, and all of the families and kids who will never get the solutions to their dietary and weight problems it makes me furious.

My argument as to why not to eat at McDonalds (or other fast food locations) is quite simple though.  I am telling people to not eat at McDonalds if they want to be fit, or if you do, eat there very rarely (which is hard because when you eat that food, you tend to crave it, a lot).  If you do eat there, skip the fries and have a side salad with Newman’s Own Light Balsamic dressing.  If you have one burger with a salad or 2 and a water (or diet drink) you can get out pretty unscathed, but it is nearly impossible to not have the fries and nuggets and sundaes when you are there.  Again, this why I suggest you avoid the place altogether.  McDonalds is probably the best of the fast food places by the way.  Burger King lists the Triple Whopper with cheese on their standard menu, other places are trying to be known for their terrible choices.  These are the reasons to avoid McDonalds, not the other bizarre ones.

Why Fast Food Is Bad

There are other good reasons not to eat fast food.  Some people argue you shouldn’t eat beef because of cruelty to animals and because it puts an undue burden on the environment.  There are excellent, substantiated arguments to support these claims.  If you want to go vegetarian I applaud you.  Whatever reason you choose to do something or not do something though, do your homework and pick well supported reasons.  If you do decide something based mainly on emotion, good for you, but don’t try to turn that into an argument.  Arguments are logical.

This blog entry is directed at the unfit people who want to get fit.  So many people are using poor logic to try to get your money and they are winning.  They are getting rich and what are we getting?  We all know the answer to this…. Please people, be more skeptical.  Really, in the health world, you can’t be too skeptical.

More Science

On a side note, there is an ongoing experiment, complete with controls that shows what happens when you dry out organic burgers along with the McDonalds burgers.  There are numerous combinations to this one, so it will be exciting to see.  You can follow it here.

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