Worldview: Seven Stone: Calorie does not mean what you think it means

Most people, as a result of the junk sold to us by the media as dietary science, think of calories and nutrients for their body the same way they think of fuel and oil for their cars. As a result, they think, if they put in enough calories but not too many and keep the nutrients topped off, they should be healthy.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

I know plenty of people who will argue with me about this, but the actual science of diet is clear: it matters what kind of calories you are eating.

Before people read this and think I am advocating some sort of “eat only these kinds of calories” nonsense, I am not. What ends up being a healthy diet differs from person to person based on your own unique biology and lifestyle. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

That said, there is one rule: the more whole the food you are eating is, the less likely it is to make you fat. Here’s why:

Our bodies have very specific, unique mechanisms for dealing with nearly every calorie and nutrient we consume. These mechanisms often involve complex processes that sometimes themselves require calories and nutrients to function properly. It turns out that the necessary calories and nutrients needed for those processes to function can be found in the whole foods we are eating.

In fact, eating whole food is the most significant change I made toward losing weight over the past two-and-a-half years. I don’t really exercise more. I don’t really consume less calories. I simply eat less processed food and replaced it with more whole food, and as a result, I’ve lost 35 pounds and kept them off.

For me, it was really as simple as that change.

DLH


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Worldview: The strange reality of getting what you want

I’ve wanted a library, lab, and studio since I knew what those three things were. In fact, one of my earliest verifiable geek memories comes from when I was about seven and I discovered a chemistry set in the Sears toy catalog. To this day, I remember being heartbroken for about thirty minutes when I got the, “You’ll shoot your eye out,” response to asking for one.

Thirty-three years later, I find myself in the enviable position of now having a library, lab, and studio. And, just like that, I have to figure out what to do with them.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I find it easy to dream. I think about things all the time, from the small and inconsequential to the massive and grandiose. So, it has been easy for me to daydream about what it would be like to have places to do things I’ve always wanted to do.

Now I have them, and it’s like my mind is blank.

That’s not entirely fair. I know what I want to do, but how do I pick? Seriously, there’s only one of me, only twenty-four hours in a day, and I have a wife and a farm. How do I decide what to do with these new-found assets in such a way that the rest of my life doesn’t come crashing down?

I’m thankful I can even write about having such a problem, but it still seems daunting for the moment. I’d better get back to the lab. Time’s a’wasting.

DLH

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Worldview: The science of do as I say

For whatever reason, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about science recently, especially as it applies to getting kids interested in science and keeping them interested.

One of the points I keep coming back to in this thinking is how often science is sold to kids in a very narrow and limited view of the universe. This view seems to say that science is this small set of things and that anything that lies outside that set is not real science.

What I see in this view is teaching a worldview to kids that does not mesh with what scientists, especially physicists and biologists, are revealing to all of us about the universe. Even as scientific inquiry reveals the universe to be more complex and more bizarre than we imagined, the worldview sold to kids seems to be becoming narrower and more boring.

What I would love to see happening in the scientific world is encouraging kids to explore their environments free of preconceptions. Sure, teach them what we think we already know, but be sure to emphasize we only know it until new or better evidence comes along. We should teach kids to find the flaws in what we think we know instead of proclaiming we already know it.

After all, isn’t that what the scientific world demands of other ways of thinking? That should be a demand that cuts both ways.

DLH

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Worldview: Philosophy: Thinking about radically extended life

David Ewing Duncan recently gave a TED interview about the possibilities–and problems–created by the fact that we are figuring out how to radically extend life as part of his promotion of his new book When I’m 164: The new science of radical life extension, and what happens if it succeeds.

I know it sounds weird, but I think about this very same question often. The fact of the matter is that I could easily live into my 90s and be productive well into my 80s. Where does retiring at 60 or 65 or even 70 fit into a life that could go on for two more decades? Where will the money come from? What will I do?

Again, I know it sounds weird, but my wife and I decided back in our 20s that we did not plan to retire. There are practical as well as idealistic reasons for that decision. Having made that decision that long ago has changed our entire outlook since then. We plan differently. We work differently. We save differently.

And, frankly, the result has been that we are, in a lot of ways, far better off right now than a lot of people we know. We owe less. We’ve saved more. We have less stuff to take care of.

I think the consequences of extended life will be one of the defining factors of our time. Are you thinking about it too?

DLH

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Worldview: Science and Technology: Curiosity

In case you missed it, the Mars Science Laboratory, dubbed “Curiosity” by its builders, landed safely on Mars last night. Trust me, even if you don’t care, it’s a really big deal, and an important step for NASA after shutting down the Space Shuttle program.

What’s more, compared to a lot of things the government spends money on, Curiosity was cheap and produces a measurable good result in terms of raw science, development of technology, and inspiration.

We should do more of this stuff.

DLH

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Art: Make STEM into STEAM to bring the soul back into the modern world

Jerry Isdale has an interesting write-up over at the Adafruit weblog where he makes the case for adding art back into the mix of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs. I heartily agree.

To me, one of the things that the rush toward STEM in the last seventy or so years has brought us is that the soul has been ripped out of the things we have discovered and created. This fact as a variety of evidences, from the exile of philosophy and faith from the scientific mind to the idea that artistically inclined people are not engineering material.

I think returning art (making STEM into STEAM) to the sterile environment we have created could go a long way toward returning us to a holistic state. What do you think?

DLH

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Worldview: Philosophy: Holism

Science and religion… are friends, not foes, in the common quest for knowledge. Some people may find this surprising, for there’s a feeling throughout our society that religious belief is outmoded, or downright impossible, in a scientific age. I don’t agree. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if people in this so called “scientific age” knew a bit more about science than many of them actually do, they’d find it easier to share my view.

– John Polkinghorne

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Worldview: Farming: Some thoughts on Punxsutawney Phil

So yesterday was Groundhog Day, complete with its requisite trotting out of the rodent and an internet full of mocking said rodent and the people who flock to him once per year.

Now, I will grant you that the whole show surrounding Groundhog Day is ridiculous and proves nothing except that people like to have a good time, yet I can’t help but notice that the day also points toward something we’ve forgotten over the past century in our rush to scientize everything: animals, particularly rodents, are a great way to predict the weather wherever you are.

This fact points to a larger failing on the part of our modern selves. We’re so busy analyzing, categorizing, and objectifying nature that we’re no longer a part of it. Nature is something out there, just beyond our sterile, lifeless environs we’ve created to flee it and all its weather-predicting rodent glory.

There was a time when people, farmers and hunter-gatherers alike, knew exactly what weather was coming because the animals, and to a certain extent the plants, told them so. They knew that when the groundhogs started coming out of their dens only to return to them without seeking mates or food that more winter was coming, at least where they lived. They knew that when the spring birds arrived early they could expect a mild late winter. They knew this because they paid attention to what nature told them.

Now, we pay attention to what the meteorologist tells us, and he’s wrong as often as Punxsutawney Phil in my opinion. The fact is I can tell as much about what the weather’s going to do in a week from how my cows eat hay or what my chickens are up to than I can from a sterile forecast of temperature and precipitation.

And together, I can tell a lot more. My argument here is not to abandon science in favor of nature. What does that idea even mean. If science is real science, it’s an observation of nature anyway, and the best observations happen in the environment instead of removed from it. Together, the meteorologist and the groundhog can tell us more than either one can alone.

So, maybe we should give the groundhog a chance. Take a look outside and see what’s happening. It might tell you a lot.

DLH

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