Better Living Through Chemistry

 

I have had many friends who chose “natural” remedies, and died from something that was otherwise curable. Nature is perfectly happy if we are dead. Nature is no friend.

As readers know, I believe from my understanding of the Torah that we are here, instead, to improve nature. And because I try to maintain consistency between my beliefs and my practices, you will not hear me say, “Oh, it is natural, so it is better.” I refuse to romanticize a natural world that is absent the contributions of mankind, which means that I will not hesitate to use invasive species of trees or bushes. Similarly, I am more than happy to spray to eliminate mosquitos and ticks on my land.

I love technological fixes to natural problems. Illness and Disease? We use medicine.  I’ll happily use any solution that has a positive cost-benefit based on the available data. Because I know that death is inevitable, anything that prolongs and enriches my opportunities to do as much as possible with the time I have is a no-brainer.

I have a beef with nature. Many years ago my family lived in the middle of nowhere, and, as happened to everyone we knew sooner or later, one of my family was killed in circumstances that would not have come together in a more developed human settlement. That day was beautiful. The sun was shining, the birds were singing. Nature didn’t give a rat’s rear-end that my brother had just died.

On that day, it got personal.

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  1. Misthiocracy has never Member
    Misthiocracy has never
    @Misthiocracy

    ;-)

    • #1
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Old girlfriend: These berries are organic!

    Me: So’s rattlesnake venom.

    • #2
  3. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    From teenage appendicitis to numerous cuts treated with antibiotics and later with intestinal polyps and melanomas removed, medical technology has fended off numerous attempts by nature to kill me. I believe in air conditioning, refrigerated and frozen foods, killing mosquitos, and civil engineering.  I cheer the gas-powered vehicles that bring fresh GMO crops from distant places.  

    I enjoy nature and oppose gratuitous waste and destruction but still know that nature thinks my goal should  be to become compost.  Alligators and polar bears are to be admired but only at a safe distance with unnatural weapons readily at hand.

    • #3
  4. E. Kent Golding Moderator
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    Generally,  I agree with the post.   However,  “we are here, instead, to improve nature” would seem to preclude invasive species.   Invasive species are seldom an improvement — unless you think you can do better than the Creator.

    • #4
  5. Misthiocracy has never Member
    Misthiocracy has never
    @Misthiocracy

    Percival (View Comment):

    Old girlfriend: These berries are organic!

    Me: So’s rattlesnake venom.

    So are petroleum and coal.

    organic (comparative more organic, superlative most organic)

    1. (biology) Pertaining to or derived from living organisms. [from 1778]
    2. (physiology, medicine) Pertaining to an organ of the body of a living organism.
    3. (chemistry) Relating to the compounds of carbon, relating to natural products.
    • #5
  6. Misthiocracy has never Member
    Misthiocracy has never
    @Misthiocracy

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    Generally, I agree with the post. However, “we are here, instead, to improve nature” would seem to preclude invasive species. Invasive species are seldom an improvement — unless you think you can do better than the Creator.

    The Wuhan Virology Institute improves species of virus by making them more invasive.

    ;-)

    • #6
  7. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    Generally, I agree with the post. However, “we are here, instead, to improve nature” would seem to preclude invasive species. Invasive species are seldom an improvement — unless you think you can do better than the Creator.

    I have trees for aesthetic purposes. If the import is prettier, it wins. 

    I don’t think of the older distribution of various animals or plants to be a divine commandment. Europe and The Americas were improved when potatoes and peppers went East, and horses and cows and pigs came West.

    • #7
  8. Misthiocracy has never Member
    Misthiocracy has never
    @Misthiocracy

    iWe (View Comment):
    Europe and The Americas were improved when potatoes and peppers went East, and horses and cows and pigs came West.

    Don’t forget tomatoes. Pre-Columbian Italian restaurants musta really sucked!

    • #8
  9. E. Kent Golding Moderator
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    iWe (View Comment):

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    Generally, I agree with the post. However, “we are here, instead, to improve nature” would seem to preclude invasive species. Invasive species are seldom an improvement — unless you think you can do better than the Creator.

    I have trees for aesthetic purposes. If the import is prettier, it wins.

    I don’t think of the older distribution of various animals or plants to be a divine commandment. Europe and The Americas were improved when potatoes and peppers went East, and horses and cows and pigs came West.

    I hope you never have to deal with Tree of Heaven.  Or burmese pythons.

    • #9
  10. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    Generally, I agree with the post. However, “we are here, instead, to improve nature” would seem to preclude invasive species. Invasive species are seldom an improvement — unless you think you can do better than the Creator.

    I have trees for aesthetic purposes. If the import is prettier, it wins.

    I don’t think of the older distribution of various animals or plants to be a divine commandment. Europe and The Americas were improved when potatoes and peppers went East, and horses and cows and pigs came West.

    I hope you never have to deal with Tree of Heaven. Or burmese pythons.

    I avoid warm climates, so the nastier species aren’t around. In every tropic the snakes are awful – invasive or domestic.

    • #10
  11. carcat74 Member
    carcat74
    @carcat74

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    From teenage appendicitis to numerous cuts treated with antibiotics and later with intestinal polyps and melanomas removed, medical technology has fended off numerous attempts by nature to kill me. I believe in air conditioning, refrigerated and frozen foods, killing mosquitos, and civil engineering. I cheer the gas-powered vehicles that bring fresh GMO crops from distant places.

    I enjoy nature and oppose gratuitous waste and destruction but still know that nature thinks my goal should be to become compost. Alligators and polar bears are to be admired but only at a safe distance with unnatural weapons readily at hand.

    ‘Unnatural’ weapons?  I would change that to ‘deadly’ or ‘defense’, myself….

    • #11
  12. carcat74 Member
    carcat74
    @carcat74

    Misthiocracy has never (View Comment):

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    Generally, I agree with the post. However, “we are here, instead, to improve nature” would seem to preclude invasive species. Invasive species are seldom an improvement — unless you think you can do better than the Creator.

    The Wuhan Virology Institute improves species of virus by making them more invasive.

    ;-)

    and more deadly, the better to ‘cull’ the herd, to hear our ‘betters’ say it.  Just as in abortion, death by a man-made virus, whether by design or accident, could be killing the next Einstein, or Hawking, or Madam Curie…..

    • #12
  13. E. Kent Golding Moderator
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    iWe (View Comment):

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    Generally, I agree with the post. However, “we are here, instead, to improve nature” would seem to preclude invasive species. Invasive species are seldom an improvement — unless you think you can do better than the Creator.

    I have trees for aesthetic purposes. If the import is prettier, it wins.

    I don’t think of the older distribution of various animals or plants to be a divine commandment. Europe and The Americas were improved when potatoes and peppers went East, and horses and cows and pigs came West.

    I hope you never have to deal with Tree of Heaven. Or burmese pythons.

    I avoid warm climates, so the nastier species aren’t around. In every tropic the snakes are awful – invasive or domestic.

    Tree of Heaven is found in abandoned lots in Michigan.   Birds drop the seeds everywhere.   Ugly,  with an unpleasant odor, and hard to kill.

    • #13
  14. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):
    Tree of Heaven is found in abandoned lots in Michigan.   Birds drop the seeds everywhere.   Ugly,  with an unpleasant odor, and hard to kill.

    But a great name! A rose by any other…

    • #14
  15. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    Generally, I agree with the post. However, “we are here, instead, to improve nature” would seem to preclude invasive species. Invasive species are seldom an improvement — unless you think you can do better than the Creator.

    We don’t always get it right.

    • #15
  16. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    iWe (View Comment):

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    Generally, I agree with the post. However, “we are here, instead, to improve nature” would seem to preclude invasive species. Invasive species are seldom an improvement — unless you think you can do better than the Creator.

    I have trees for aesthetic purposes. If the import is prettier, it wins.

    I don’t think of the older distribution of various animals or plants to be a divine commandment. Europe and The Americas were improved when potatoes and peppers went East, and horses and cows and pigs came West.

    Gardens are a celebration of invasive species.  So are farms. 

    • #16
  17. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    In his book Fossil Future, Alex Epstein writes:

    “The Earth is not a naturally nurturing ‘delicate balance’ but rather a naturally (1) dynamic, (2) deficient, and (3) dangerous place that we must massively impact if we are to survive and flourish.”

    I agree. Modernity and prosperity have lulled us into thinking that it’s natural to live a long, comfortable, secure life devoid of daily fear of injury, starvation, predation, and death. But that degree of comfort isn’t natural at all. It’s artificial, man-made. And it persists because we continue to take the obligation to create this unnatural condition seriously and address it competently.

    When we lose sight of that, supply chains dry up, and doors start falling off of airplanes.

    Regarding “natural medicine,” Robert L. Park’s book Voodoo Science provides an interesting account of the origins of homeopathy. He traces the field back to Samuel Hahnemann, an eighteenth century doctor-turned-translator, who, while translating an account of the use of (naturally occurring) quinine to treat malaria and was inspired to create a theory of healing based on the idea that drugs which prompted in a healthy person a particular set of symptoms would, if prescribed to a sick person exhibiting those same symptoms, negate them.

    Since many such drugs are toxic and produce unwanted reactions, it was natural that he would begin diluting the dosage to minimize the harm done by the drug itself. The end-point of that apparently sensible process was the conviction that a hyper-diluted mixture of the supposedly active ingredient would somehow remain beneficial. Homeopathy was born, and continues to flourish today.

    Crazy? Sure. But Hahnemann never met Avogadro (though they were contemporaries), and so didn’t know that a dilution of, for example, one in one-hundred-raised-to-the-hundredth-power was statistically certain to be devoid of even a single molecule of the original substance. Add the placebo effect and shake vigorously, and you have happy patients.

    To his credit, Hahnemann objected to blood-letting and similar practices that we now consider barbaric, and says that’s why he chose to leave medicine and devote himself to writing and research. People are complicated.

    (My mother, a woman of rare intelligence and quiet good nature who spent her life as an operating room nurse, an amateur student of Catholic theology and evolutionary biology, and a devoted mother of seven, happily embraced homeopathy in her later years: her tidy collection of categorized sugar pills still fill a cupboard in the kitchen. None of us every took them seriously. But take them we did, without expressing our skepticism to her, because it made mom happy.)

    • #17
  18. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    • #18
  19. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Make fun of bloodletting all you want but it’s still practiced today. Two pints at one sitting is common for ferritin reduction.

    Physicians prescribe therapeutic phlebotomies for patients who have too much iron stored in their bodies and whose hemoglobin levels are sufficient to tolerate blood removal.Each blood donation, or phlebotomy treatment, removes about 500cc of blood and reduces the amount of iron in the body by about 250 milligrams.

    https://irondisorders.org/phlebotomy/

     

     

    • #19
  20. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    iWe (View Comment):
    I avoid warm climates, so the nastier species aren’t around. In every tropic the snakes are awful – invasive or domestic.

    • #20
  21. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    drlorentz (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Make fun of bloodletting all you want but it’s still practiced today. Two pints at one sitting is common for ferritin reduction.

    Physicians prescribe therapeutic phlebotomies for patients who have too much iron stored in their bodies and whose hemoglobin levels are sufficient to tolerate blood removal.Each blood donation, or phlebotomy treatment, removes about 500cc of blood and reduces the amount of iron in the body by about 250 milligrams.

    https://irondisorders.org/phlebotomy/

     

     

    Okay, but the “Barbers” did it for EVERYONE.

    • #21
  22. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    The most deadly substances in the world are ” natural”.

     

    Batrachotoxin  LD 50 ( lethal dose for 50% exposed ) 2Ug /kg

    Maitotoxin LD 50 0.2 Ug/kg

    Botulinum toxin LD 50 1Ng/kg

    Mother Nature is a bitch.

    • #22
  23. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    In his book Fossil Future, Alex Epstein writes:

    “The Earth is not a naturally nurturing ‘delicate balance’ but rather a naturally (1) dynamic, (2) deficient, and (3) dangerous place that we must massively impact if we are to survive and flourish.”

    I agree. Modernity and prosperity have lulled us into thinking that it’s natural to live a long, comfortable, secure life devoid of daily fear of injury, starvation, predation, and death. But that degree of comfort isn’t natural at all. It’s artificial, man-made. And it persists because we continue to take the obligation to create this unnatural condition seriously and address it competently.

    When we lose sight of that, supply chains dry up, and doors start falling off of airplanes.

    Regarding “natural medicine,” Robert L. Park’s book Voodoo Science provides an interesting account of the origins of homeopathy. He traces the field back to Samuel Hahnemann, an eighteenth century doctor-turned-translator, who, while translating an account of the use of (naturally occurring) quinine to treat malaria and was inspired to create a theory of healing based on the idea that drugs which prompted in a healthy person a particular set of symptoms would, if prescribed to a sick person exhibiting those same symptoms, negate them.

    Since many such drugs are toxic and produce unwanted reactions, it was natural that he would begin diluting the dosage to minimize the harm done by the drug itself. The end-point of that apparently sensible process was the conviction that a hyper-diluted mixture of the supposedly active ingredient would somehow remain beneficial. Homeopathy was born, and continues to flourish today.

    Crazy? Sure. But Hahnemann never met Avogadro (though they were contemporaries), and so didn’t know that a dilution of, for example, one in one-hundred-raised-to-the-hundredth-power was statistically certain to be devoid of even a single molecule of the original substance. Add the placebo effect and shake vigorously, and you have happy patients.

    To his credit, Hahnemann objected to blood-letting and similar practices that we now consider barbaric, and says that’s why he chose to leave medicine and devote himself to writing and research. People are complicated.

    (My mother, a woman of rare intelligence and quiet good nature who spent her life as an operating room nurse, an amateur student of Catholic theology and evolutionary biology, and a devoted mother of seven, happily embraced homeopathy in her later years: her tidy collection of categorized sugar pills still fill a cupboard in the kitchen. None of us every took them seriously. But take them we did, without expressing our skepticism to her, because it made mom happy.)

    Extremely expensive distilled water.

     

    • #23
  24. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    In his book Fossil Future, Alex Epstein writes:

    “The Earth is not a naturally nurturing ‘delicate balance’ but rather a naturally (1) dynamic, (2) deficient, and (3) dangerous place that we must massively impact if we are to survive and flourish.”

    I agree. Modernity and prosperity have lulled us into thinking that it’s natural to live a long, comfortable, secure life devoid of daily fear of injury, starvation, predation, and death. But that degree of comfort isn’t natural at all. It’s artificial, man-made. And it persists because we continue to take the obligation to create this unnatural condition seriously and address it competently.

    When we lose sight of that, supply chains dry up, and doors start falling off of airplanes.

    Regarding “natural medicine,” Robert L. Park’s book Voodoo Science provides an interesting account of the origins of homeopathy. He traces the field back to Samuel Hahnemann, an eighteenth century doctor-turned-translator, who, while translating an account of the use of (naturally occurring) quinine to treat malaria and was inspired to create a theory of healing based on the idea that drugs which prompted in a healthy person a particular set of symptoms would, if prescribed to a sick person exhibiting those same symptoms, negate them.

    Since many such drugs are toxic and produce unwanted reactions, it was natural that he would begin diluting the dosage to minimize the harm done by the drug itself. The end-point of that apparently sensible process was the conviction that a hyper-diluted mixture of the supposedly active ingredient would somehow remain beneficial. Homeopathy was born, and continues to flourish today.

    Crazy? Sure. But Hahnemann never met Avogadro (though they were contemporaries), and so didn’t know that a dilution of, for example, one in one-hundred-raised-to-the-hundredth-power was statistically certain to be devoid of even a single molecule of the original substance. Add the placebo effect and shake vigorously, and you have happy patients.

    To his credit, Hahnemann objected to blood-letting and similar practices that we now consider barbaric, and says that’s why he chose to leave medicine and devote himself to writing and research. People are complicated.

    (My mother, a woman of rare intelligence and quiet good nature who spent her life as an operating room nurse, an amateur student of Catholic theology and evolutionary biology, and a devoted mother of seven, happily embraced homeopathy in her later years: her tidy collection of categorized sugar pills still fill a cupboard in the kitchen. None of us every took them seriously. But take them we did, without expressing our skepticism to her, because it made mom happy.)

    Extremely expensive distilled water.

     

    For those who actually bother to do their own diluting, yes. I understand there are such hard-core true believers out there. I suspect most people do what my mom did: buy the little bottles of sugar pills with the neat little descriptions of what ailment they miraculously cured.

    That’s the final amusing detail to me: after all that dilution-to-nothing, even the water is taken out of the equation, and all that’s left is that little sugar pill.

    It’s like making chicken soup by waving a rubber chicken over a pot of water.

    • #24
  25. E. Kent Golding Moderator
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    Not every foreign or non-native species is invasive.     If it stays in your garden or farm,  and needs human help in propagation or maintenance,  it is not invasive.    If it escapes and overwhelms and changes the native ecosystems, it is invasive.   Invasive is bad.   Not worrying about invasive is irresponsible.

    • #25
  26. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    In his book Fossil Future, Alex Epstein writes:

    “The Earth is not a naturally nurturing ‘delicate balance’ but rather a naturally (1) dynamic, (2) deficient, and (3) dangerous place that we must massively impact if we are to survive and flourish.”

    I agree. Modernity and prosperity have lulled us into thinking that it’s natural to live a long, comfortable, secure life devoid of daily fear of injury, starvation, predation, and death. But that degree of comfort isn’t natural at all. It’s artificial, man-made. And it persists because we continue to take the obligation to create this unnatural condition seriously and address it competently.

    When we lose sight of that, supply chains dry up, and doors start falling off of airplanes.

    Regarding “natural medicine,” Robert L. Park’s book Voodoo Science provides an interesting account of the origins of homeopathy. He traces the field back to Samuel Hahnemann, an eighteenth century doctor-turned-translator, who, while translating an account of the use of (naturally occurring) quinine to treat malaria and was inspired to create a theory of healing based on the idea that drugs which prompted in a healthy person a particular set of symptoms would, if prescribed to a sick person exhibiting those same symptoms, negate them.

    Since many such drugs are toxic and produce unwanted reactions, it was natural that he would begin diluting the dosage to minimize the harm done by the drug itself. The end-point of that apparently sensible process was the conviction that a hyper-diluted mixture of the supposedly active ingredient would somehow remain beneficial. Homeopathy was born, and continues to flourish today.

    Crazy? Sure. But Hahnemann never met Avogadro (though they were contemporaries), and so didn’t know that a dilution of, for example, one in one-hundred-raised-to-the-hundredth-power was statistically certain to be devoid of even a single molecule of the original substance. Add the placebo effect and shake vigorously, and you have happy patients.

    To his credit, Hahnemann objected to blood-letting and similar practices that we now consider barbaric, and says that’s why he chose to leave medicine and devote himself to writing and research. People are complicated.

    (My mother, a woman of rare intelligence and quiet good nature who spent her life as an operating room nurse, an amateur student of Catholic theology and evolutionary biology, and a devoted mother of seven, happily embraced homeopathy in her later years: her tidy collection of categorized sugar pills still fill a cupboard in the kitchen. None of us every took them seriously. But take them we did, without expressing our skepticism to her, because it made mom happy.)

    Extremely expensive distilled water.

     

    For those who actually bother to do their own diluting, yes. I understand there are such hard-core true believers out there. I suspect most people do what my mom did: buy the little bottles of sugar pills with the neat little descriptions of what ailment they miraculously cured.

    That’s the final amusing detail to me: after all that dilution-to-nothing, even the water is taken out of the equation, and all that’s left is that little sugar pill.

    It’s like making chicken soup by waving a rubber chicken over a pot of water.

    News item seen in the early days of the internet: quack sells homeopathic cures delivered by internet.

    • #26
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