Our daily bread

There was a book by Philip & Phylis Morrison, “The Ring of Truth“. It is about the scientific method, and subtitled “How we know what we know”. It is a fascinating adventure into “popular” science, the idea that by presenting material about science in a non-scientific manner, lay people will be educated about the scientific method.

Much like teaching carpentry with a book about pastry, the results were somewhat disappointing. People who already understood the scientific method found the book interesting for its anecdotes. People who didn’t understand the scientific method found the book fascinating because anecdotes are often more interesting than data, and went forward believing they were now “Scientists”.

A dark day indeed.

Presently, we have descended intellectually to a point where “The Ring of Truth” is all that is required as proof for a theory.  Popular consensus carries more weight with lay people than actual facts, and education is deplored as “mind control”. “Research” means finding agreeable views on the internet, regardless of source.

In the name of “equality” we have skipped past the fact fifty percent of the population is of below average intelligence, and average intelligence is nothing to brag about. Everyone feels good about themselves and gets a trophy for being special.

There are “red flags”, items that should be obvious in the media that something is “sketchy” about a story, yet the same things that are red flags to those over median intelligence are the ring of truth to those below.

Take this as you wish. When a story is all over the news, does that make it true? When you hear the same story from several sources, does it trouble you that not a single source asked obvious follow up questions or dug into the subject a little deeper than the surface?

Take for instance azodicarbonamide.

Azodicarbonamide

Azodicarbonamide

I’m partial to CHON,  the essential elements of life, Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen. I know you can put them together in ways that are toxic to life, but no life on Earth exists without them. This group of CHON is a commonly used food additive, but for some reason it has been in the news lately. No, not the actual chemical, just a little about two products that contain it, and one of the many companies that uses it.

Compare it to the chemical that is often used in its place.

HCO− 3 + H2O → H 2CO 3 + OH−


NaHCO3 AKA “Baking Soda”

Azodicarbonamide is used in the same way as Baking Soda, when moistened it produces bubbles, those things that make the difference between “dough” and “bread”. It is used by most commercial bakeries in the United States and the United Kingdom. There have been questions about its safety in large doses as an inhalant, so it is banned in many countries, and limited to only forty five parts per million in food in the United States. In case your brain doesn’t work with numbers like that, ten thousand parts per million is one percent of the total, so forty five parts per million is .0045% of the ingredients.

Despite the fact azodicarbonamide is in most of the bread you eat, you may think that only Subway uses it. This should be the first red flag. Why would they be the only ones to use it? They aren’t.

You may also be aware that a variation of azodicarbonamide has commercial uses and is used in the production of some foamed plastics, like exercise mats (those little bubbles turn rubber into foam), but it is more likely that you have come to believe that azodicarbonamide has only two uses, Subway bread and yoga mats. Wow what a specialized chemical.

It should also be noted that a variation of the chemical Hydrazine (an antidepressant), known as both Hydrazine and Diazane, is used as a component of rocket fuel. Anti-depressants are not rocket fuel, bread is not yoga mats.

Hydrazine MAOI

Hydrazine MAOI

93px-Hydrazin.svg

Hydrazine rocket fuel

The question that has not been asked is “Why is it so important for Subway to remove a common ingredient from its bread?”. No one has suggested anyone else remove it from their bread, so why Subway? Could it be a competitor starting this fuss? If there is a health concern, it seems more likely that you would inhale azodicarbonamide when doing a downward facing dog than eating a sandwich.

But that only has the ring of truth, no empirical data exists.

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