When it comes to relationships of all kinds – family, friends, romantic – it takes a lot for me to become annoyed if the relationship has already been established. However, I’m human, and as such do have a few pet peeves that I have found can in the long run ruin my relationships. One of those mortal sins is the guilt trip.
Guilt. That ugly, base emotion we all feel at one time or another is never considered a good emotion and by its very nature shouldn’t be a common feeling. But when a friend uses guilt as a weapon to curry favor or force you into something a line has been crossed. This has happened to me numerous times in the past, but one of my lab mates has this line of “friendship” down to, well, a science.
Take Sunday night as a typical example. I went in to lab on Saturday to knock out an experiment early in the day so I could still go out and have some fun that night. I had WAY too much fun and didn’t wake up until noon Sunday. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to be making it into lab that day like I thought I would. No worries, I thought, I still have plenty of shit that needs to get done around the apartment, I needed to get a decent workout in, et cetera. Essentially, my way was full.
Enter Steven (clearly not his real name). He texts me saying he’s going into lab around 9PM and wanted me to come too. That’s fine and dandy most days since I actually like midnight recording, but I really wanted to get a decent night sleep and do what I could to get back on a quasi-normal sleep schedule so I played it diplomatically and said, “maybe.” I get, “so that’s a no. Sleep man. I would like some company. But I’ll be fine.” in return.
I know that doesn’t seem like much to someone else reading it, but it means quite a bit coming from this guy. This was him saying, “I clearly don’t mean as much to you as you do to me.” I don’t deal well with that type of attitude in any person, let alone someone I truly consider a friend. However, considering I’ve dealt with this type of passive aggressiveness before I’m willing to do it again to just push off the inevitable one more day. There are more pressing issues at hand.
Like getting laid.
One of the more common complaints I hear about science from family, friends, and people online is that science is too slow. I heard the same complaint in a different form last night while watching the documentary “Vanishing of the Bees” about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). All throughout the doc I heard references similar to “we know something is wrong, but scientists can’t find the cause so it’s not getting any attention” and toward the end Michael Pollan brought out the awful “other ways of knowing” argument in regards to CCD.
Look, I understand that people can get a little pissed when their observations aren’t corroborated by science right away but that is not the fault of science. Science is a process that takes time. Lots of time. It is remarkably difficult both technically and conceptually and there are many more failures than successes. I can understand the plight felt by the beekeepers, but just because they felt something was wrong doesn’t truly mean there was anything wrong. In this case, yes, there was and science was able to get to the bottom of it (I think…). This is precisely how science works and yet people are blaming science for not figuring it out faster! It’s patently absurd!
You can believe it all you want, but there really isn’t any “other way of knowing” that beats the scientific way of knowing. If there was it would simply be taken over by scientists and would be the “new science.” But this simply isn’t the case and it never will be. “Other ways of knowing” are simply not as reliable as science because they don’t follow reproducible evidence wherever it leads and for that they will always be deeply flawed.
Science wins, get over it.
Look, I know that all kinds of people are up in arms about this autism “epidemic,” but few of these idiots have actually been thinking rationally. I came across this idiot over in the comments at this post from a great blog I regularly frequent.
I try to understand these people. I really do. But when they start invoking Godwin’s law and just start spouting crazy I can no longer take them seriously. These people seem to be completely devoted to the fact that their son/daughter cannot be developmentally delayed due to anything other than vaccines, environmental “toxins,” or some other bullshit excuse. I’m not saying that those things may not play a role in their development, but to blame those things, and ONLY those things, with little to no empirical evidence is irresponsible at best. Development is a fickle beast affected by many things, but genetics plays the largest role. In fact, most teratogens have a relatively narrow window during which they have the terrible effects of which you hear.
Essentially what this comes down to is what you are willing to believe based on the evidence. Using the best evidence we have (and it’s damn good evidence) vaccines don’t cause autism. I’m far from an expert, but being in neurobiology for as long as I have I do know human cognition and other basic medical principles very well. Here is my take on this.
What is currently known as autism (or ASD) is a wide range of relatively mild to severe cognitive disorders that have been common in humans for centuries. The reason for the wide range in autism disorders is due to our relative lack of knowledge about the origins of the disorder and our current need to classify anything and everything that isn’t “normal” as a disorder (don’t get me started on the fucked up reasons why), so we just lump them all into the super-diagnosis of what the DSMIV (and soon to be V) calls ASD. There hasn’t been an increase in the number of people with autism, but there has been an exponential growth in the awareness AND diagnosis of autism, making the overall numbers appear to be skyrocketing when in fact they have probably been pretty stable for the past few decades at least. Those kids you used to make fun of for being weird back in the ’70s and ’80s? Yeah, they’re now diagnosed with mild autism or Aspergers. Does that mean that the number actually rose? No, it doesn’t, we’re just changing what it’s called.
Do I have any fool-proof evidence of this? No, I do not, and I don’t pretend to (unlike those anti-vax freaks). I’m using personal observation and common sense to piece together information that doesn’t appear to make a whole lot of sense otherwise. For instance, if mercury poisoning is what was causing so many autism cases then why did the numbers continue to grow even after taking thimerosal out of the most prevelent vaccines? Oh wait, you’ll just blame it on the other “toxins” in the vaccines. Sorry, I forgot that logic doesn’t play a part in your thought process. I shouldn’t be surprised though considering nearly all of you “vaccine caused my baby’s autism!” people lack even the most basic understanding of biological principles and yet still talk like you know something.
My advice: shut the fuck up, love your child for what he/she is, and do your very best to raise him/her regardless of the circumstances.
Michael Jackson died and I don’t care. Yes, he was a great entertainer who many people, but not me, cared about. But what did he really do to deserve this public spectacle? In my opinion we should mourn his death like it was any other and save our praise for people who have devoted their lives toward bettering those around them and by extension the human race.
Don’t fall for nonsense, just because a product is found in nature does not mean it is good for you or is any better than man-made substances. When people mention that something is “natural” in order to make you more interested in it they conveniently want you to forget that there are a lot of natural substances that are potent enough to kill you hundreds of times over.
Also, remember that the danger is in the dose. Normally toxic substances can be harmless in small amounts and typically safe substances can be very toxic in large doses. We put toxic substances into our bodies every day and most people will never see the effects of them because they are in such small doses. This whole concept is why the EPA and other agencies can post acceptably safe levels of things such as mercury, arsenic, dioxins, etc. A “natural” product doesn’t necessarily have safe levels of ingredients
And while I’m on the subject, if you ever see a product that claims to “boost your immune system” run away from that product. What the hell does that statement even mean? First, the company that is promoting their product would have to show that it somehow modulates some part of the human immune system (increasing T-cells?). They would then have to show that the modulation their product induces actually has the desired effect on whatever problem/disease it is trying to alleviate/cure (because you can’t just assume that an increase in something in the immune system is actually going to change the immune system – a bit counter-intuitive, but that’s how science works).
Personally, I stick to well-known, tried-and-true drugs, and I think you should too.
I had this whole long post about the complications of medicine, but in the end decided I could sum up a very long post with a few simple lines.
1. You don’t know more than your doctor. No matter how good you are at Google searches YOU DON’T HAVE A MEDICAL DEGREE.
2. If there are legitimate, science-based, treatments then use them in place of alternative treatments. They’re alternative because they don’t work. You know what they call alternative treatments that do work? Medicine.
3. Your doctor really does want to help you no matter what anyone else may tell you.
4. Your doctor is not omniscient or infallible, but s/he is the best bet you have at staying healthy.
5. Like I’ve said before, modern medicine has become so good that we have begun to expect too much from it. Do we expect a single person (or even two or three) to know how the entire space shuttle works and be able to fix it at the drop of a hat? Then why do we expect a single person or even a small group of very intelligent people to figure out everything wrong with something significantly more complicated like the human body? It doesn’t make sense.
6. Medicine is harder than you know, so leave it to the experts.