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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Anti-Milk Nonsense: The Dumbth List

Although it's usually attributed to Mark Twain, it was really Charles Haddon Spurgeon who said "A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on."

I feel the same about the Internet and stupidity. Or Dumbth, as Steve Allen once called it. Just two weeks ago yet another deluded vegan made my blood pressure soar by posting - in a college newspaper, no less - that:

Humans are the only animals on the planet that drink another animal’s milk. Thus, by definition, drinking cows’ milk is extremely unnatural.

You can't approach that statement. It makes no sense from any direction. There are no foods that humans are designed to eat. Not one. They're omnivores, eating every digestible plant or animal part on the planet. And the list of what humans do that other animals don't would fill the Internet. Because it is the Internet.

How could you look yourself in the mirror after saying that? Isn't reason itself one of humanity's unique attributes?

Number two on the Dumbth list is harder to track. Here's my nominee for tonight, mostly because I just read it online and I haven't calmed down yet.
"Margarine is but one molecule from being plastic."

You need to know a little something to understand just how incredibly dumb that statement is. Not much. A grade schooler with a decent science teacher would make a face at an adult spouting that line. I could wish more decent science teachers existed in the world.

Margarine, of course, is a concoction. It's no more a single thing than butter is a single thing. Butter is mostly animal fat with a sprinkling of animal protein and sugar (our old friend lactose). Margarine imitates butter by substituting vegetable oil and water for the animal fat. The rest is a sprinkling of preservatives, stabilizers, and colorants. Nobody denies that margarine is artificial. But it's artificial in the same way a cake is artificial. Cakes don't grow. They are put together from a recipe.

The whole "one molecule away" business is just as bad. Lactose is made out of two simpler sugars, glucose and galactose. The chemical formula for glucose is C6H12O6. The chemical formula for galactose is C6H12O6. Yes, they are chemically identical. They are structured differently and that gives them different properties. The sugar called maltose is composed of a glucose plus a glucose. Starches are composed of strings of glucoses. Identical, but structured differently. Chemicals - and everything is a chemical or a conglomeration of chemicals - can vary tremendously even if their molecules or atoms are the same. Being one molecule away is meaningless. It's like saying that the U.S. is one ocean away from Europe.

Snopes.com traces the origin of this bit of idiocy back to a 1999 email. The line is too good to kept to only one food. They collected some of the variants.:
I was told that the difference between Cool Whip and Styrofoam is one molecule... is this true???

Is velveeta processed cheese food really one molecule different from plastic?

heard that Pam spray is 1 molecule away from plastic and is therefore dangerous??

I am tired of hearing my husband say that Cheez Whiz is only 2 ingredients different from garbage bags. Can you please help me set him straight?

Happy to set him straight, my dear.

If you have other examples of high-level dumbth about dairy, share them. Let's see if we can create a debunkers' top ten.

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