Okay, I Admit It, I Also Don’t Trust Scientists

I was confused–to say the least–to find that the recalcitrant brother doesn’t believe in evolution or man-made global warming and I will admit to feeling smuggly superior because, by god, I understand that it’s irrefutable science.  And who is some plumber in west Georgia to not believe what irrefutable scientists tell him?

But today I’m reading Alas, A blog about how we’re still bitching at women (in this case, black women) for being too dangerously unhealthy by being fat, fat, fat in which Ampersand posts this chart from the New England Journal of Medicine.

I will wait for you to peruse it.  I would merely point out that, according to this chart, if you are a white, black, or hispanic man, it seems to be a little healthier to be slightly overweight.  If you are a white or black man, you would seem to be better off to be overweight than “normal” weight.

For white women, it seems to be healthiest to be at the high end of “normal” weight or at the low end of “overweight.”  Black women seem to be best off being overweight.  (And, I would point out that, for white and black folks, regardless of gender, it’s better to be morbidly obese than underweight in terms of relative risk of death.

And yet, we’re all supposed to be losing weight.  We’re all supposed to believe that, no matter what we weigh, it’s better if we were a few pounds lighter, because we believe the sciency folks when they tell us that being fat in and of itself is a problem.

So, I’m just going to say, when it comes to talking about fat, I don’t believe scientists.  I just don’t.  I assume that, in general, they’re motivated by an aesthetic bias against fat that has nothing to do with whether or not I’m healthy.  In other words, they think fat is gross and therefore feel justified in believing that fat people are inherently unhealthy and therefore, even when faced with graphs and charts that show otherwise, they’re still telling people to lose weight.

So, yeah, I kind of get where my brother is coming from.  Scientists are not without their paradigms and biases.  I think he’s wrong about evolution.  I’m willing to hear him out on global-warming. 

Family bonding, I guess.


I should not even have to say this, but I know it’s going to come up in the comments so I’ll just preempt it now.  Yes, we Americans are dreadfully unhealthy.  Shoot, even I am dreadfully unhealthy.  But we don’t address that.  We address weight, as if it’s an accurate corrilary of health.

Everyone, fat or skinny, should be exercising a half an hour a day.  Everyone should be eating fresh vegetables and less surgary, corn-syrupy processed crap.  Our goal should be to have a nation of healthy people–not a nation of aesthetically pleasing people–and we need to stop confusing the two.

16 thoughts on “Okay, I Admit It, I Also Don’t Trust Scientists

  1. I’ve been unhealthy all my life. I was at my unhealthiest–in fact, I actually DIED–when I weighed less than 20lbs. Fat has very little to do with whether or not I am healthy.

    Of course, whenever I go to the doctor they automatically blame my weight for whatever health problem I have. (Colds, last time I checked, were not contracted from your waistline.)

    Ironically, I do think that my fat has contributed to my ill health, as I have a serious chronic condition which went undiagnosed for 2 years–in part because of the doctor’s assumptions that fat=whatever’s wrong and in part because I avoided the doctor when was sick because I didn’t want to hear yet another speech about how I am on the fast train to diabetesland.

    Scientists are not without their paradigms and biases.

    Shoot, yeah. But I think it’s cute how they’re all like “But I’m A Scientist! There’s no way!” It’s sort of like how some people think they can’t be racist because they are members of an historically-persecuted race group.

  2. I can’t speak for Exador, but the recalcitrant brother’s position is this: the earth is warming, just as it’s warmed and cooled over the course of its existence (I’m not sure how long he thinks that existence is) and it’s going to suck for us, but there’s not much we can do about it, except suffer through it and hope we’re far enough away from the coasts.

  3. Well, I was about 50 pounds lighter than I am now and extremely unhealthy when I was suffering from an undiagnosed thyroid condition that could have killed me. But you can bet your behind no doctors said a thing about my being underweight at that time.

  4. It’s probably a good thing to keep in mind that physicians /= paleontologists /= geologists /= meteorologists and so on. There are no “scientists” claiming authority in all of these areas.

  5. I’m thinking about starting up a demolition business, so I thought I’d test it out here. You know how that goes.

    Oh, and a corollary to what I wrote above is that anyone in one of the groups I mentioned who claims special expertise in any of the others unquestionably has some axe to grind.

  6. I’d be awfully glad to claim it. I’d be shown up as a sham pretty quickly, of course. Then I could spend the rest of the comicbook trying to prove/redeem myself. I would like to be drawn/written by Stan and Jack, out of nostalgia, but I don’t really think they’re all that good at characterizing women. What do you think?

    Oh, and I’m wondering whether scientists who deal with people, especially physicians, who deal with people as individuals, aren’t particularly susceptible to fads on the one hand and ingrained cultural prejudices on the other. Actually, I wonder whether most physicians, as currently trained, can be considered to be scientists. Most of them don’t seem to spend much time forming testable hypotheses, or setting up any experiments other than double blind drug tests. Not that I’d ever be snarky about physicians or anything.

  7. It’s amazing the lack of preventative healthcare and nutrition training physicians have.

    Regarding evolution, most who refute it, don’t really understand the science – with religion complicating the whole issue. Ditto for global warming, but substitute politics for religion in the scenario.

  8. I am continually amazed that in less than 100 years our culture has gone from revering fat/overweight and pale, pale skin as signs of wealth and priviledge to tanned, weathered skin and ultra thin body images as wealthy and priviledged. My grandmother would have equated the looks on most popular women today as poverty and starvation. Obviously she is poor because she wears ratty clothes, works in the sun and can’t afford to eat. Never underestimate what the media and popular culture can sell you. Vogue defines a large or plus size model as size 12. Marilyn Monroe was a size 14 and didn’t she look marvelous!?

    Global warming? There will continue to be more and more scientific studies to come out about global warming because that is where the biggest grant money is for now. Doesn’t mean they are true, it just means that if someone can tie global warming into their research grant they are more likely to get the money. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

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