Friday, January 24, 2014

Correlation Does Not Equal Causation

There is so much demonization of smoking these days, many people turn their noses up at food if it isn't gluten free and it seems a certainty that the sun is way more dangerous than it was 60 years ago. I'm not going to mock allergies that people have or try and prove that smoking isn't unhealthy (because it obviously isn't great for you) but I find articles disconcerting with titles like "Smoking Now Found To Be Even Worse Than We Thought". If you are studying something like smoking then you need to take into consideration the type of people smoking. In the past everyone smoked without a second though but now since it's somewhat taboo, it's going to be  the people that need smoking more than they care about being looked down upon. Point being it's probably a stress relief therefore their baseline of stress and stress hormones is probably a lot higher than other individuals. Stress is extremely harmful to the bodies immune system and anyone with a higher level of stress is going to be more susceptible to disease. Are the 80 year olds that have smoked their entire lives outliers, genetic super humans? Or could it possibly be that they don't smoke for the same reasons as the guy who dies at 60 from lung cancer?

You cannot simply take facts and interpret them without structuring them inside of a massive context of culture, emotional and mental stability, lifestyle, geographic location and probably a few other things. I am sure that the ozone truly has been degraded however I can attest to the fact that as one of the most fair skinned genetic classes you will meet, you can develop a base tolerance to the sun. I spent last year out in the sun every day which required applying SPF Ginger about 5 times a day. What I started to discover is that my skin began to permanently darken and I slowly had to apply the sunscreen less times per day. Is it really the suns fault or could it be that because we stay inside away from the sun way more than even a few generations ago, we don't have the melanin built up to handle the intense rays of the sun? Kids used to play outside all summer and now most of them sit inside on video games turning into pasty little UV fodder.

This is probably offensive but I believe that allergies are almost always a product of constant fear / stress / anxiety weaving its way through our subconscious day in and day out. I became lactose intolerant about 5 years ago when I was completely stressed out every day living in LA with 3 kids and making almost nothing. When I was 17 I developed a couple month allergy to peanut butter and when I was 12 I was allergic to eggs (among many other things). To my knowledge I'm not allergic to anything except a little lactose intolerant to some degree. As I've tried to eliminate the mentality that causes me to be stressed, I've been able to periodically ingest dairy products without being miserable for half the day. The bodies immune system is incredible and if it's not working properly, you may need to examine your psyche instead of scrapping all the good food from your diet. 

Next time you read an article that winds you up with the latest study of how awful something is, step back and try testing it with all the different elements of the context it sits in and maybe you will start to think for yourself.

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