Thursday, March 8, 2012

Modern Scientists are Troublemakers

Oh sure, scientists are supposed to be helping us understand life and all that. Entering the realm of macrocosmic knowledge, and all that. Pioneering the concepts of the future, and all that. Quantum and all that. But why do they never seem to agree on anything?

The first scientist to ever break a major scientific concept, as far as my understanding goes, was Nicolaus Copernicus. Up to that point, most people believed that the sun revolved around earth. Prior even to that, they believed the earth was pancake-shaped, but Wikipedia doesn't have information on who broke that concept, so we'll skip that. Copernicus was the first to claim that the whole universe revolves around the Sun, a concept named heliocentrism. Unfortunately, he died before he could prove his theory, due to reasons that are unclear to me at this present moment. But that's okay, because Galileo Galilei invented the telescope and it turns out that Copernicus was right after all.

Forward to the 18th century, a wonderful age for science. There was never any shortage of apple trees for scientists to cool their heads under as they waited for an epiphany. It was during this age that Thomas Young (the scientists, not the football player, or the bishop) introduced the wave theory of light. In this theory, Young claimed that light was made of waves, much like sound, ripples, and the kind of wave that microwaves our food today. He was able to prove it too, with his Double-slit experiment, which showed that light, much like sound and ripples (presumably they didn't have microwaves yet), could be diffracted. This discovery was able to shed some, ahem, "light", on the nature of the world as we see it. The bad news? Young's discovery completely shattered Isaac Newton's credibility, who believed in the cospular theory of light - namely, that light was made up of tiny particles called corpuscles, which possessed kinetic energy. His theory was active for around 100 years before Young's time. Fortunately, Newton probably wasn't alive to watch his life's work being shattered to bits by a simple experiment which involved shining some light on a bit of cardboard with two holes in it.

Both of these controversies brought up by the new scientists were still okay, because it turns out that they were right. However, modern scientists of today's time are taking these snippets of history to their own advantage. They think to themselves, if they did it hundreds of years ago and it turns out they were right, then why shouldn't we do the same? Because, argues a more integral type of scientist, that would be the wrong thing to do. Oh yeah, replies the modern scientists, is that way you all sit in dark rooms waiting for alien contact all day? If that's the way its going to be, says the integral scientist, then why are you guys obsessed with things like studying sleep and obesity? And so the fight goes on and on...

Until roughly a decade ago, it was an established fact that Neil Armstrong was the first man to land on the moon. On that glorious day in 1969, the Apollo 11 landed on the moon, marking mankind's first step towards exploring the realms of the universe. The Americans rejoiced and declared a national holiday. The rocket scientists at NASA patted each other on the back and clocked out for the day to go celebrate at Starbucks. For years to come, every school on the globe told its children that Neil Armstrong was the first man to land on the moon.

But then, someone got a funny idea, and decided that it was in fact a great idea. So he set the snowball on top of the hill, and watched it roll, gaining mass as it went, until it became an unstoppable force of destruction...

The rumor began that Neil Armstrong didn't really go to the moon, but that it was a hoax set up by NASA. At first it was just a few whispers in the dark, then it became the drunken ramblings of some redneck in a tavern. Eventually, it became the topic of conversation of young school girls. Before long, housewives were gossiping about it during their Book Club meetings. However, the idea was never really spread worldwide until February 15 2001, when FOX television network aired a program titled Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land On The Moon? After that, may I say, everything just went to pot.

I won't go into deep detail on the ensuing evidences, defences, and debates, but NASA managed to hold their ground, and apparently people are accepting that the hoax was actually a hoax. Namely, there was never any reason to doubt that indeed, Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.

But just as the world is recovering from such a massive blow, Gary Taube stands up and says that people are getting fat because they aren't eating enough fats! It has been common knowledge that if you want to lose weight, you eat fewer calories and burn more calories. However, Taubes here claims that doing that just makes us hungry, and if we want to lose weight, we should put off the rice, and eat more burgers.

As a person who has successfully lost 5kg by following the eat-less-and-jog-more routine, I am going to defend the belief of old by pointing out the flaws in Taube's concepts.

According to Taube, eating less calories and exercising won't keep people thin, it will just make people hungry.

As I remember reading in Reader's Digest:
Taubes: Imagine I invited you to a seven course dinner at my house. You would want to bring your appetite with you, wouldn't you? Maybe you would skip lunch for that day and go for a jog instead. In fact, why not walk to my house instead of driving? Its only a kilometre away, and you'll work up an appetite. See, the things we do to lose weight are the exact same things we would do to make ourselves hungry.

That's what he says. But that's because he doesn't get the concept behind the eat-less-and-jog-more method of losing weight. Even Taubes agrees that in order to lose weight, one must not consume more calories than he expends everyday. He proposes the notion that this can be achieved by eating fatty foods, so that you feel fuller faster, before you would have even consumed as many calories as there are in a plate of rice. Somehow, this doesn't really sound right to me.

If you want to lose weight, you're supposed to be disciplined about it! When Taubes brought his theory up, the people he had in mind were thsoe chubby American friends of his who couldn't resist scarfing down the donut on the table after a jog in the park. See, that's the problem right there. Some people cut down on meals and exercise moderately everyday in an attempt to cut down calories gained and maximize calories expended. And yet we often hear that these methods don't work. Why? Because most of them thought it was okay to take just one bar of chocolate after that thirty-minute jog.

In a sense, Gary Taube has the right idea. In another sense, he doesn't, but perhaps we can't blame him for that. Here are my guidelines to losing weight:

Eat regular-sized meals, but try to leave out dessert. Before you begin a regular exercise routine, practice the habit of avoiding all forms of food outside of meal times. Once you have disciplined yourself to shun snacks, the exercising may begin. I can't really recommend any kind of exercise to you, but I would suggest something that's not enough to completely whack you out, but enough to make you sweat for a bit. And after the exercise - this is the extremely important bit - do not attempt to satisfy your temptations towards food. Not even a bit. Not even fruits. Once you allow yourself to take fruits, you'll allow yourself to take biscuits, and after that, potato chips, then cake, and then you find yourself gaining weight instead of losing it. Instead, fight back the hunger. Think of something else. Surf a few blogs, read a book, or watch TV until its time for your next meal. Anything to avoid eating. Most importantly, your three meals should consist of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Late-night supper is not a meal. Keep this up for a couple of weeks, and it should become practically routine to you. After a few months, its time to tackle that scale again!

I originally intended to talk about the science controversies as an introduction to the whole weight-loss issue, but I got a bit carried away. Anyway, modern science revolves a bit much around losing weight, so at least you walk away with a bit of knowledge of the science of old. I feel extremely liberated today, what with the end of exam season, and the prospect of a happy week of holiday ahead, so have a nice day everyone.


  1. While it was refreshing to find someone else knowing about all these theories (because it still baffles me at how little people know), I actually did not know about the whole widespread news by FOX, but then again, that's all FOX ever does. It's not exactly one to be taken as a reliable news source.

    Even more shocking (yet not really at the same time) is how easily a mass audience can be persuaded by such media.

    My brother and I were eating a local, family-owned restaurant. As I was heading back to our table after getting something from my car, I found my younger brother with an extremely annoyed expression. I asked him why, obviously.

    It was apparently because of the lady that sat right beside us, who was obviously an avid listener to FOX news (and probably didn't listen to or read anything else by her disheveled look) who was talking about all these ridiculous theories that FOX had, once again, successfully conjured up in their free time (which they have waaaay to much of). While I don't remember every example he had given me on our car ride home, I do remember one.

    "She was talking about how by the year 2015, America and Mexico would become nation with a new currency called the Americo."

    ...or something along those lines, and FOX may not have even been what she listened to, but judging from these horrible theories, I would highly assume this was true.


    Oh, pardon my rudeness. I come here and comment on your highly insightful blog without having introduced myself.

    My name is Karlo ^-^

    I stumbled upon (haha...) your blog on purbloggers. Decided to check it out, and was highly intrigued by the most current post.

    Anyway, good day to you sir~

  2. Thanks! I didn't know FOX actually did that. Coming up with theories and all. Interesting incident of yours though. And I wouldn't really call my blog insightful... *smiley*

  3. Sure it is. It's better than just the colloquial talk.

  4. Well, today, maybe, but wait till you read one of my real rants.