How I Got Converted to GMO Food

GMOs

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/25/opinion/sunday/how-i-got-converted-to-gmo-food.html?_r=0

In regards to the above article:

This isn’t the first scientist I’ve heard that is practically begging us to stop believing and spreading the misinformation about GMO’s because it’s hurting people. People around the world are not being allowed to use better crops because of anti-GMO misinformation and paranoia, even leading to Greenpeace ruining field trials by literally pulling up the plants.

“In Africa, however, countries have fallen like dominoes to anti-G.M. campaigns. I am writing this at a biotechnology conference in Nairobi, where the government slapped a G.M.O. import ban in 2012 after activists brandished pictures of rats with tumors and claimed that G.M. foods caused cancer.

The origin of the scare was a French scientific paper that was later retracted by the journal in which it was originally published because of numerous flaws in methodology. Yet Kenya’s ban remains, creating a food-trade bottleneck that will raise prices, worsening malnutrition and increasing poverty for millions.

In Uganda, the valuable banana crop is being devastated by a new disease called bacterial wilt, while the starchy cassava, a subsistence staple, has been hit by two deadly viruses. Biotech scientists have produced resistant varieties of both crops using genetic modification, but anti-G.M.O. groups have successfully prevented the Ugandan Parliament from passing a biosafety law necessary for their release.”

If we’re serious about helping people, and about people’s health, then we need to start listening to the scientists who are sharing their stories and asking us to stop perpetuating misinformation. People talk about the mythical GMO-causing cancer that has been repeatedly debunked, but people are starving because anti-GMO activists won’t let them use better crops? Forgive my French, but that’s bullshit.

(Just to clarify: Being pro GMO doesn’t mean I necessarily support Monsanto. Businesses should be held accountable for their bullying practices whether they’re GMO businesses or not; this is a problem rampant in large corporations in every industry. If they’re acting irresponsibly they should be called out on it. But that doesn’t mean GMO’s are evil.)

This is a speech by a plant geneticist in a TED talk, discussing GMO’s and how they’re helping people:

http://www.ted.com/talks/pamela_ronald_the_case_for_engineering_our_food

An article summarizing the safety of GMO’s, as verified recently by a team of Italian scientists who scrutinized almost 2,000 studies on GMO safety. Their verdict confirmed the already proven consensus- they’re safe.

http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2013/10/08/with-2000-global-studies-confirming-safety-gm-foods-among-most-analyzed-subject-in-science/

An article about how farmers are affected by GMO’s:

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/agriculture/2015/04/18/non-gmo-farming/25951693/

This article from The Science Babe talks about GMO’s, among other things. She cites sources to prove what she’s saying. I encourage you to check out those links and see for yourself the consensus of the scientific community.

http://gawker.com/the-bullshit-hypocrisy-of-all-natural-foods-1702686054

The Hypocrisy of Rudeness in Spiritually Abusive Forms of Christianity

funny-cat-stretching-rudeWhat makes someone rude or immature in a conversation, particularly online? I’ve noticed that the standards for some Christians are very different than standards for nonbelievers. Why? Because it doesn’t matter how nice or rude you are, what matters to them is which SIDE you’re on. These Christians who adhere to spiritually abusive teachings have such a strong us vs them attitude that they will defend a rude Christian bully over a respectful atheist.

For many Christian fundamentalists/Evangelicals/etc., it’s perfectly acceptable to be blunt and even outright rude as long as you’re promoting the right beliefs. It’s “understandable” to get “a little carried away” because your motives are supposedly golden. But atheists and LGBTQ people are given no such understanding. Even if we have been repeatedly insulted and harmed by these people, it’s still “rude” to call them out on it and tell them that they are, in fact, not very nice people.

For example:

If a Christian calls me a sinner and says my sexual orientation is abominable, it’s righteous. If I call them homophobic and point out that their beliefs have caused the LGBTQ community extreme harm, I am the bad one in the conversation.
If a Christian is condescending and says “I’ll pray you come to your senses”, they are praised. But if I suggest that they actually read a science book before bashing evolution, I’m rude and horrid.

  • “You’re going to hell!”
  • “You can’t possibly understand truth because you’re an atheist.”
  • “There are some things we just don’t question.”
  • “Atheists are the cause of all the problems in society.”
  • “Atheists can’t really love or have morals.”
  • “Your life must be falling apart since you don’t believe like me.”
  • “Gay people are unnatural sexual deviants.”
  • “Gay people can love each other if they want, but they should do it behind closed doors and not ever talk about it.”
  • “You can have different opinions than me, as long as your opinions are Biblical.”
  • “I don’t believe your story of deconversion. You couldn’t possibly have been a real Christian and then turn atheist. Either you were never really saved, or you’re lying to me about your past.”
  • “It’s your own fault that your Christian friends abandoned you. You’re a threat to their faith now, and they’re in the right because you refuse to recant your sin and they have to wash their hands of you and follow Biblical discipline.”

These are actual things that have been said to me. Some of them I hear on a regular basis.

So if I get a little irate when I speak to you, if I maybe don’t mince words as much as you’d like, remember that I’m human just like you and I have been told so many hurtful things that sometimes my fuse is a little shorter than it should be. Just like Christians don’t always say things the way they should, I don’t always either. But I will no longer fall for the guilt trip of these hypocritical standards. I will no longer let them bully me and tell me that I’M the rude one. I know that I have been forever labeled as “rude” and “argumentative” by some who don’t understand me, and nothing I do will change that unless I give in and start supporting their side again or shut up and never voice dissenting opinions. Then they’ll call me respectable.

I’ll always do my best to word things respectfully, and if I say something in a manner that was out of line I’ll apologize for it. But I will never again apologize for saying what I think, and I will no longer play this game of rudeness hypocrisy. If you’re rude, you’re rude. Being religious doesn’t excuse that. And I will call you on your bullshit.

My Inner Warrior: Discovering The Rest of Myself

Xena_warrior_princessI was recently in a counseling session, the first I’ve ever been in that involved professional psychologists. (Side note: If you ever have the chance to see a professional psychologist, do it! If you get the right person, the results can be amazing!) During the session, sub-personalities were mentioned. Sub-personalities, in this context anyways, are parts of ourselves that are very prominent but often hide under the surface. It’s the personification of our major personality traits. I realized that I had two very prominent ones.

I have an inner healer and an inner warrior (I picture Xena Warrior Princess in my head lol). I’ve always had both of these traits within me, but for many years they were out of balance. Let me explain.

Violence can be good or bad. Sound strange? Well, self defense is still violence. Physically defending your loved ones from an intruder or marauder is still a violent act, but it is not an immoral one. Whether or not violence is good or bad depends on the context. I watched an episode on the TV show Bonanza where a traveling group of pacifist religious people were in trouble. They were being attacked by a group of awful cowboys who wanted to take the money they’d collectively saved to buy themselves a community piece of land out west. But they were complete pacifists- they believed it was even wrong to defend themselves if it involved violence or weapons. If it hadn’t been for the Cartwright brothers stepping in to help them, they would have been robbed and likely physically harmed by these evil men. The brothers used violence to defend and protect, thus making it a moral act.

There are two sides to all of us, and we must embrace both sides in order to thrive. If you only heal and never fight, you cannot protect yourself from harm or stand up for those who need help. If you only fight and never think of others, you will hurt people. A balance between the light and dark must be found; an accord between angel and demon. For many years my inner healer called all the shots. I sacrificed myself for the sake of others- all the time. And I did it to the applause of a Christian community that idolized servanthood and demonized selfishness even when it was in a healthy context. While self-sacrifice is sometimes necessary and valiant, it’s unhealthy as a continuous lifestyle. I was so bent on making life better for everyone else besides me that I didn’t even think I should have my own individual opinions because I hated being contradictory. My inner warrior was stifled; she gained some expression through religious avenues such as preaching against sin and high intensity outlets like Civil Air Patrol (a military cadet program), but overall she stayed mostly dormant and followed the orders that others gave her.

Now I have more of a balance. My inner warrior has been fully released to do her job- to fight the battles that I didn’t even know that I needed to fight. I no longer ignore my own needs and desires- I stand up for myself unapologetically. My healer is still there, very active and extremely prominent in my life- she drives me to support causes that help others, she drives me to protect those who are being hurt. Instead of being at odds with each other, my healer and warrior are now working together in more harmony than they ever have before. I’m still working out the balance between the two, occasionally my newly-freed warrior gets a little too enthusiastic (lol), but I have a feeling that this is a life-long endeavor for balance that never really ends.

But people who knew me before my deconversion don’t always understand this dichotomy shift. Where I once was always apologetic and overly accommodating and avoided conflict at any cost, now I have very strong opinions of my own and I’m not afraid of conflict. I don’t mince words or pretend I agree in order to make others feel more comfortable like I used to. I don’t play the mind games that I used to rely on, I speak my mind bluntly and openly. I have discovered my own opinions and thoughts, and I will never stay silent again! But to those who don’t understand, they see this as anger and darkness. Yes, I do get angry sometimes. But anger is not always bad. It must be kept in check, like everything else, but it is a tool that can be used for good. And to be honest, I’m still grieving for what I’ve lost and struggling to reconcile the trauma of having my entire worldview fall out from underneath me; and in grief and pain there is anger that must run its course.

I will always respect your right to have your beliefs. I will not attack you as a person for holding those beliefs, and I will try to understand you and your opinions as best I can. However, I will also be blunt and unapologetic about what I believe and how your beliefs and attitudes affect me and others I care about. If you are homophobic, expect that I will call you out on it if it’s an appropriate situation. I no longer care if it makes you uncomfortable; it is silence that allows hurtful ideas and attitudes to permeate and poison our society.
Beware my warrior. She will never again let you walk all over her, she will not allow you to use guilt and shame to make me conform to a box I don’t fit in. She is, I am, strong and unafraid. Share your opinions without fear- but be prepared to be met with someone who is strong and not afraid to challenge you. And if you belittle or attack others for their beliefs, sexual orientation etc., you will see my true inner strength manifested in your direction.

Aspartame: Is it really that bad for you? I used to think so. Here are the facts.

side-effects-of-aspartame1I see memes like this one about aspartame all the time. But are they accurate? I also see memes that claim Vitamin C supplements can cure cancer, vaccines cause autism, and so many other claims that have no scientific basis. So what about aspartame? Are these claims true, or are they just more paranoia and pseudoscience?

I’ve been doing a lot of research on this issue lately. I grew up hearing that aspartame was very bad for you, so I have avoided it myself for many years. But the more I look into it, the more the evidence points to it being just fine to consume. Study after study after study has shown it to be safe. In moderation, as with every other thing we eat, aspartame appears to be perfectly safe for people to consume in their regular diet.

https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/pepsi-removing-aspartame/

http://www.realclearscience.com/journal_club/2015/05/08/aspartame_sensitivity_doesnt_exist_109214.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=17828671&ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

Now I am not arguing that corporations are all good corporate citizens or wouldn’t dream of sweeping some inconvenient evidence under the carpet. But I am saying that a decades long conspiracy among industry, federal regulatory agencies, the medical community, and multiple research institutions and individual researchers – all under the nose of the press and lawyers looking for big class-action suits – is implausible in the extreme. I am also arguing that we should fairly assess all the evidence, not just cherry pick the evidence we like and dismiss the rest out of hand. https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/aspartame-truth-vs-fiction/

You’ll notice something about the links I’ve posted- they all cite scientific studies and/or quotes from verifiable sources, I believe all of them link to these studies or tell you the names so you can verify it for yourself. One of these links is from the US National Library of Medicine. THIS is the kind of research I try to do. I want to know what the actual science says. And contrary to many pseudoscience adherents and conspiracy theorists, I generally trust the consensus of the scientific community.

“But what if they’re wrong or lying? What about this doctor or that person who disagrees?” Then prove it! Get other scientists who have the required education and experience to perform their own studies and concretely prove that aspartame is unsafe! But you don’t have to do that unless you really want to, because they’ve already been doing this exact thing for 30 years, and it’s STILL considered safe for consumption. Shouldn’t this tell us something? Instead of assuming that there must be a decades-long conspiracy by all these countless independent researchers to hide the “truth”, doesn’t it make more sense to assume that maybe people’s fears about aspartame are unfounded?

Picture5-540x300
I want my views to be based on facts. If something is truly bad for me, I’ll avoid it and I’ll encourage others to do the same. But if it’s not, I don’t see why I shouldn’t use it or why we should be stoking fear and paranoia about the food we consume. If there are other scientifically sound studies that show significant possibility of harm from using aspartame and these studies are backed by scientists experienced in this specific field, I’d certainly take that into account. But aspartame is one of the most highly studied food additives of all time, and 30 years of intense research has not proven that its unsafe or harmful.

Is there a downside to aspartame? Surely there must be one. And there is- but it’s not just aspartame.
The only downside I’ve seen of aspartame is also true of any other calorie-free sweetener: If you’re trying to retrain your taste buds to not crave sweet things anymore, then consuming artificial sweeteners will do the same thing to your brain as eating regular sugar. When we eat sweets, we then crave more sweets, even if there’s no calories. We crave the taste psychologically. So if you’re trying to retrain your brain to not crave sweets, then aspartame and all other calorie free sweeteners are going to hurt your progress.

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Please read through the information in the links I shared here before making comments about me not knowing what I’m talking about. Yes, I am just a blogger with an opinion, but this isn’t really about my opinions. This is about sharing the already confirmed consensus of the scientific and medical community. I may not be a scientist or a doctor, but the people who did these studies and verified its safety are. Don’t take my word for it- go research it yourself!

Please keep in mind that if you comment that aspartame is bad for me, I will be asking you for sources. I’ll certainly consider what you have to say, but you’re not going to change my mind with just your opinions or by citing sources that are not verifiable or reliable. I require proof- and so should you.

My Journey Away From Creationism and Criticism of Lee Strobel

debunking-creationism-in-two-minutes

(This was originally my reply to an internet discussion about the claims made by Lee Strobel in “A Case for a Creator”, where he interviews supposed experts and uses several examples to “debunk” evolution, such as Haeckle’s Embryos and the Archeopteryx. I decided to modify it into a blog post since it was almost that long anyways lol.) 

I was a creationist for most of my life, it was a very serious interest of mine because I am incredibly passionate about truth and facts. I strongly supported Kent Hovind, Ken Ham and others like them, I loved Answer in Genesis and I had a big binder full of what I thought was proof against evolution, including the exact examples mentioned in “A Case for a Creator” (my copy of that book was dog-eared and highlighted).

Until I actually studied evolution from a non-creationist source.

When I started being open enough to question things, I started questioning creationism too. I was shocked at what I found- and then I got angry. I felt utterly betrayed.

Creationism had grossly misrepresented evolution to me, in some cases drastically. I was led to believe that there was significant scientific opposition to evolution, even though there isn’t. I was told that there wasn’t sufficient fossil evidence for evolution, when in fact there are thousands of fossils and biological links that prove evolution beyond any reasonable doubt. Even if the Archeopteryx was debunked, which is isn’t, it wouldn’t change the other mountains of evidence for evolution in the fossil record, biology, genetics, and so much more. I was told to ask questions that makes no sense, like why we still have monkeys if we evolved from them (we didn’t evolve from them, we had a common ancestor).

Scientists debate the details, as they do in every branch of accepted science, but there is no real scientific debate on whether evolution itself is a fact or not.

Scientists use evolutionary biology every single day to understand how viruses evolve and change so they can treat it. Without understanding evolution, we would not have vaccines and cures for many diseases. That’s why we have to get a new flu shot every year, because the virus is constantly evolving. Scientists have figured out evolution so well that they can predict evolutionary patterns in the fossil record, which has been confirmed over and over again by fossils we discover.

Here are some sources about the basics of evolution:

Excellent 10 minute description of evolution: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdddbYILel0

Great youtube series on the basics of evolution: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85diEXbJBIk&list=PL0201355430A94385

Evolotion 101: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_01

Answers to Creationist arguments: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/15-answers-to-creationist/

Creationist sources tend to rely on fundamental misunderstandings of evolution and by ignoring the scientific rebuttals to their criticisms. Lee Strobel’s book is a perfect example of this.

Strobel’s Book

There are some major problems with Strobel’s book, A Case for a Creator. For one, he uses Haeckle’s Embryo’s as an example of evolutionary proof even though they were debunked as frauds long ago. No scientist uses that as evidence to prove evolution, there’s plenty of accurate information without needing to use forgeries. So why do Strobel and other creationists specifically use an example that evolutionary scientists today don’t even accept as factual or relevant? It’s incredibly misleading and dishonest. It’s cherry picked to make evolution look unreliable. This alone should call Strobel’s journalistic credibility and competency into question. No truly unbiased author would use such a bad example of evolutionary proof unless he either didn’t understand evolution or was grasping at straws to debunk it and was willing to blur the lines a little.

Another problem with his book is his very biased choice of “experts” to interview.

“And in order to obtain the “hard facts of mathematics” and the “cold data of cosmology,” Strobel interviewed Dr. Craig, who doesn’t even have an undergraduate degree in mathematics or cosmology! Dr. Craig’s credentials are purely in theology and philosophy. While Dr. Craig is indeed qualified to publish on related topics, such as the philosophy of science, he is not among the first people one should approach with questions about mathematics and cosmology–unless one already has an underlying agenda.” http://pleiotropy.fieldofscience.com/2009/02/strobels-case-for-creator.html#sthash.XfHUYuiu.dpuf
“Strobel is frankly misleading about his experts’ qualifications. While spending paragraphs touting each of his interviewees’ “doctorate-level” educations, he fails to point out that most of them do not have doctorates in the fields dealing with the issues on which they were interviewed. Rather, most of them have doctorates in philosophy or theology, and perhaps undergraduate degrees in a related science. Strobel clearly meant to insinuate that he picked doctorate-level experts in the fields dealing with the issues they were interviewed about; but, with a few exceptions, this is not the case. This does not bode well for his claim of standing “in the shoes of the skeptic.” Further, the opinions expressed by his experts are minority opinions in their fields. Of course, minority opinions can and do become majority opinions. But if you are conducting an investigation concerning a particular field of study, you don’t simply interview those with minority opinions and treat their opinions as representative of that field. This provides further evidence that Strobel’s pretense of playing the skeptic is a complete farce.” http://infidels.org/library/modern/paul_doland/creator.html

As for the other examples in Strobel’s book, scientists have debunked those issues many times. I could go into details, but I encourage you to research those claims for yourself.

I strongly encourage you to study science from scientific sources.

Being Horny Used to be a Medical Condition, “Treated” by Doctors

Oh my… history is certainly enlightening!!

Back in the day, there was “no such thing” as a woman’s sex drive. If you were a lady living before the 20th century and were experiencing feelings of anxiety, irritability, nervousness, heaviness in the lower abdomen, wetness between the legs, and erotic fantasies, doctors would diagnose you with “hysteria.”

In order to “cure” hysteria, doctors would apply vegetable oil to a woman’s genitals and message them until the woman suddenly felt a sense of relief. Or in other words, doctors treated hysteria with hand jobs. Because many doctors experienced chronic hand fatigue – achy, cramped fingers – from all the massaging they were doing, maintaining long-term treatment was difficult.

Because of that, physicians experimented with mechanical substitutes for their hands. Thus, the vibrator was born.

Sometimes history is more interesting than anything Hollywood comes up with. Hehe.

I should buy a book on the history of human sexuality, it’s fascinating to see how attitudes towards sex have changed. Oh wait- I have one I haven’t read yet! It’s in my stack of “I want to read these” books. lol.

On a serious note, reading things like this reminds me of the great strides we have made as women- and also just how far we have to go. Female sexuality has long been feared and misunderstood, but we’re making excellent progress in changing that. But we’re not there yet! Once words like “slut” stop being an insult and women aren’t called whores for enjoying sex, then we’ll be getting somewhere.

http://www.bustle.com/articles/81245-the-history-of-vibrators-and-more-things-you-need-to-know-about-your-favorite-sex-toy?utm_source=FBTraffic&utm_medium=fijifrost&utm_campaign=CMfacebook&ts_pid=2

“I am an Atheist Because…” (Meme)

316ffa692584253996a1a475c0e25fa2“I am an atheist.

I’m not an atheist because I think it’s cool.

I’m not an atheist because of religious extremism or oppression

in some depraved corners of the world.

I’m not an atheist because I don’t think evil can exist in a world with a god.

I’m not an atheist because I think science can disprove god.

I’m an atheist because of one simple fact:

The Burden of Proof Lies on Religion.

If you propose the existence of something, you must follow the

scientific method in your defense of its existence.

Otherwise, I have no reason to listen to you.”