Monday, January 19, 2015

The McDonalds Burger Won't Mold (Thank you Captain Obvious)

With all my heart and not exaggerating one teensy, tinesy twig, I will share with you that if I see the reference to the urban legend/myth about the McDonalds Burger After A Year or Two or Twelve one more time I think the top of my head may pop off and hot lava spew out.  Or maybe McDonalds burgers I ate as a child will fly out, still looking just like they did when they were served to me in the 1960s.   

Listen.  Everyone knows fast food isn't a healthy choice.  But whatever happened to the scientific method?  Postulate, hypothesis, theorum, empirical testing for validity, proof?  

Like this:

In the interest of full transparancy and disclosure and given what I'm about to say in the next couple of paragraphs, let me admit I know nothing about J. Kenji Lopez.  I don't even pretend to know whether he's a real person or not. No clue if the testing that's recorded on this page of Serious Eats was really even done or not, or if Serious Eats is even a real thing.   The point is, the curiousity and then the quest to get the facts in the manner outlined on this web page is what ought to go through any rational, reasonable, intelligent person's brain when presented with vapid quackery like The McDonalds Burger Myth.  Science rules, y'all.
The irony of me questioning a statement that asserts the unhealthiness of any McDonalds' food offering is so over the top I can't even begin to articulate it.   Nevertheless, this:
HERE'S THE DEAL:  When you use random fake factoids and myths to prove your point, you become LESS believable.  You have entered the realm of defeating your own purpose. You don't want to defeat your own point, do you?  Well do you?  Why work so hard to make a point only to erase it with erroneous information?  Whyyyyy?????  It's like (no one I know has ever done this ehhhhver) doing your homework and not turning it in.   Also, it's much like taking an English class from someone who has bad grammar.  Are they credible?  Tenable? I think not.
For your enjoyment, here are a few equally quack-worthy urban legends routinely brought back to life (which is now called going viral.  I so savor the profound irony of the term viral there.) 

  • Rod Stewart became so ill after spending - umm - a lot of time one evening with many Navy seamen *winky winky* - that he had to be rushed to the ER to have his stomach pumped.  (I think this was my very first urban legend.  That means, then, that up until then I was an urban legend virgin.  Baahahaha!!)
  • Vaccinating your children will make them have autism.    (Thanks, Andrew Wakefield.  He's now prostituting himself using a different John from the law firm that was his original John back in 1998.)  A bunch of people wanted to believe what this dude was selling anyway, and considering he's still writing books, speaking and stuff, still do. He moved from Britain to the U.S. though, where us gullible folk are looking so hard for Truth that we'll buy anything.  Literally.  I look for him to be selling his crap on those home shopping stations next.
  • Blair Witch was real. (Congrats, Marketing Geniuses)
  • Lemons are 10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy.  (Seriously????  I've seen both.  I tell you what.  I'll put a lemon wedge in my iced tea and you put a syringe of chemo in yours.)
  • Mr. Rogers was a Navy Seal and Steve from Blues Clues was a porn star.  And a vampire.  (Never understood the point of either of those, frankly.  Because really, did it make any difference?)
  • Coconut oil will cure ehhhhhhhhverything.  (Enjoy this one now, because it's on its way out, only to be replaced by the next cure-all.  There always is one.  Remember pomegranate juice?  The high carb diet?  Yeah.)  Congrats again, Marketing Geniuses.
  • If you turn out the lights, look in the mirror and say "Bloody Mary" three times a super scary ghostie appears.   (Hey.  Question.  If you're in a dark bar and there's a mirror in front of you and you order three Bloody Marys, do you conjure some kind of vengeful spirit or something?  Yes.  It's called a hangover.) I crack myself up.
Recently I was reading a blog authored by a Mom whose intention it is to improve the quality of food she feeds her family - most notably her children.  In addition, she wishes to make her children more aware of ingredients in the food they eat.  Lastly, her desire is to accomplish these goals without having to take out a loan in order to pay the grocery bill.  Indeed.

Sometimes I start out reading an article, post, or book because the initial philosophy or concept intrigues me and I feel there's merit to it.  Things cook along fine and with every paragraph I'm gaining trust and confidence and faith in the writer.  He/she seems to reason well, make good points, write intelligently.  Then out of clear blue air the writer feels the need to reference a theory and call it a fact.  Reference an urban myth and build their case from it.  Boom, I'm done. You lost me.  And worse, you lost your own credibility.  You are dead to me.  (Not really.  But the point you were trying to make?  Not just dead.  Doornail dead.)

When did we start believing that once we postulated, the next step was just to accept any and all information we were fed that helped prove that particular opinion, without any sourcing, testing, referencing, credit, or proof?  And thennnn, not just accept it as truth, but pass it on in order to enhance, validate, or further our own position???  Oh wait.  I know.  It was when Al Gore invented The World Wide Web.  Bless him.   Later nicknamed The Web and now affectionately referred to as The Internet, Online, or The Net, anything that's on it is fact.  Absolute, undeniable truth.  Nah, that can't be it.  We were believing quacks way before Mr. Gore invented the www but whatever.  

Ok back to the Mom blog. I was interested.  The woman seemed to have a fairly firm grasp on the reality of life with kids, the amount of time available to Moms in general, and the gritty reality that just because she wants to be uber responsible for what she feeds her family doesn't mean she can rationalize spending unrealistic amounts of money on trendy specialty foods with lofty or impressive claims.

I read several posts she had made to her blog;  took note of a couple points I thought were valid.  The woman has a far stricter view than I in terms of what she thinks is harmful for her kids to ingest, and as a result her family's menus and approved foods are very limited, but I have the ability to glean what I want from material and leave the rest on the page as it were, so that was ok.  Then.  Thennnnn, in a dissertation style post about toxic additives, she claimed that annatto was an ARTIFICIAL additive and not only was it not okay to ingest, but it had horribly harmful side effects.  WHAT?  She had anecdotal evidence yet!  Wanna hear it?  A couple of Moms who had 'noticed' that after eating something with annatto in it, their child banged his/her head repeatedly on the wall.


In the next paragraph, she mentioned three or four additives that were 'from natural sources so were ok to eat'.  One was beta-carotene, one was lactic acid, etc.  But annatto was synthetic.  Artificial.  And evil.  And made kids bang their heads.  Bless her.  Bless them.  Just bless.

Come on.  Source your information, do your research, your due diligence.  Please don't just spew stuff that you think is right or want to be right, or because you read it somewhere,  because it was on the internet so it must be true, or because your friend believes it and your friend is so cool, or because you think it enhances or strengthens your position, or because you feel it makes you appear as though you have a cause or you're taking a stand. 


Listen.  I've fallen victim to repeating information that turned out not to be factual.  Only recently in fact, I reposted a tweet about a (semi)celebrity's death along with a sentiment about how sad this made me and how I'd be praying for his family.  Guess what!?! Semi-celebrity did not die.  Was way alive.  Not only that, but that turned out to be about the fifth time that exact myth had circulated.  This made me smack my own head.  Why do people start such stories?  Give me one legitimate reason anyone would ever start such a story.  Anyone?  Anyone?  I'm thinking it's the same person who creates computer viruses. Re-circulates anonymous stories that are years old as if they happened yesterday and to them personally.  Hacks accounts.  Steals identities.  I'd better stop now.  This is heading down a criminal path.  (I guess if the shoe fits......)
The point is it happens to everyone occasionally.  You believe something you hear, read, are told. You're too trusting.  Maybe you even repeat it.  But you learn a lesson.  Totally different bird from the FFUF (the Fake Factoid User Freak).

Don't be a FFUFer.