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Top Headline Comments 7-1-11 | Main | Just when I thought all was lost...some good news!
July 01, 2011

The Sleeper Curve: Everything Bad is Good For You

In Sleeper, Woody Allen's character, the owner of a health food store, wakes up in the future to find that junk food is good for you, among other things. It's a "fish out of water" story. "The Sleeper Curve" is an expression that acknowledges the fact that much of the absurd humor in the movie Sleeper is coming true. The expression comes from a book by Steven Johnson, Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter.

ABC News excerpts part of the book that deals with another aspect of the Sleeper Curve, entertainment:

Social critic Steven Johnson suggests in his book, "Everything Bad is Good for You," that video games -- violent or not -- are making children smarter. Studies show video games make people more perceptive, training their brains to analyze things faster.
It is a truth nearly universally acknowledged that pop culture caters to our base instincts; mass society dumbs down and simplifies; it races to the bottom. The rare flowerings of "quality programming" only serve to remind us of the overall downward slide. But no mater how many times this refrain is belted out, it doesn't get any more accurate. As we've seen, precisely the opposite seems to be happening: the secular trend is toward greater cognitive demands, more depth, more participation.

. . .

The forces driving the Sleeper Curve straddle three different realms of experience: the economic, the technological, and the neurological. Part of the Sleeper Curve reflects changes in the market forces that shape popular entertainment; part emanates from long-term technological trends; and part stems from deep-seated appetites in the human brain.

More. Radiation is good for you. Ann Coulter wrote about this after the radiation scare from the Fukushima meltdown in Japan, and she talked about it on O'Reilly.

And that crazy premise about junk food? It keeps looking more and more like reality: Butter bad; margerine good. No. Butter good; margerine bad. Fat bad. Okay, that thing about fat? Not completely true. Additives bad; additives good. Low salt good; low salt bad. Food pyramid; food sandcastle. Eat grains, grains, grains for fiber. Whoops! Watch those carbohydrates! Sorry about making you hypoglycemic with our grain mania during the 80's and 90's.

Here is Ace on the Atkins diet, back in 2006:

I remember when I first heard of the Atkins diet thing. It was about three years ago. At my girlfriend's parents' house was a NYT Sunday Magazine with a cover showing bacon and eggs and the headline, What If It's All Been Just A Big Fat Lie?

The article detailed the Atkins theory of weight gain (and weight loss), and questioned whether it was high-fat diets causing heart problems. What if it were actually high-carb diets causing not only obesity but related ailments, like high blood pressure or heart disease?

Since then, other studies have confirmed that steak and lard and bacon are good for you. A 2008 study said that low carb diets and "a Mediterranean-style regimen helped people lose more weight than a traditional low-fat diet in one of the longest and largest studies to compare the dueling weight-loss techniques." Now, they're not even mentioning Mediterranian-style eating. They're simply saying high fat diets are good for you.

The New York Times reported last May that low-salt diets increase the risk of death from heart attacks and strokes and do not prevent high blood pressure. And now, diet soda makes you fat:

"Data from this and other prospective studies suggest that the promotion of diet sodas as healthy alternatives may be ill-advised" Dr. Helen Hazuda, professor of medicine at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, said in a written statement. "They may be free of calories, but not of consequences.

Consequences like weight gain.

. . .

But how?

"Artificial sweeteners could have the effect of triggering appetite but unlike regular sugars they don't deliver something that will squelch the appetite," Sharon Fowler, obesity researcher at UT Health Science Center at San Diego and a co-author on both of these studies, told the Daily Mail. She also said sweeteners could inhibit brain cells that make you feel full.

This is frustrating, because all those years I was running in the 80's, trying to be healthy, eating bran, BRAN!, and "carb-loading" all the time, eating salads, and only sneaking a bite of bacon once in a while. Damn! And all those carbs did push me toward hypoglycemia. I didn't get there, but close. And this happened as I watched my active and healthy 85 year old grandfather sopping up bacon grease every morning with his toast, thinking, "How in the hell do you get away with that?" I could have been eating bacon too.

digg this
posted by rdbrewer at 07:15 AM

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