Archive for February, 2013

If the government lies about cat footprints, they could be lying about aliens too.

February 26, 2013

4:31 PM 2/26/2013

I have been sick on and off repeatedly over the last few weeks. I called off from work the other day and felt terrible about it. I was very anxious, because I had recently requested an availability change at work. I asked them not to have me working on weekends or evenings anymore. I want to be able to attend more church activities at UU, and more meetup.com groups, and other activities that are in the evenings. So I called off sick twice recently, once on a Sunday, and once again on a Saturday (on State Patty’s Day, when the manager had specifically said he wanted my help – for anyone who doesn’t know, ‘State’ Patty’s Day is a made-up Penn State holiday). Both days I was scared that they would think I was calling off so that I could go hang out with my friends, or something, but in reality I stayed home and slept all day.

The Game Commission is lying about the cat footprints. I have analyzed the images, and they meet all the criteria of cat fooprints. There are these lines and angles you can draw and measurements you can take to determine whether it’s a cat or dog. I definitely have a monster cat. I’ve decided that it makes sense for it to be a mountain lion and there is no reason why I *wouldn’t* believe mountain lions are in PA.

It’s strange to be directly lied to by the government. I have known for years that the government lies about a lot of things, but I never really experienced it myself. I know for sure, from my own image analysis, that these are mountain lion footprints, and a supposed expert biologist from the game commission told me they were coyote footprints. I have looked at dozens and dozens of mountain lion footprints online, in addition to doing the analysis of the shapes, and they match perfectly. I am being lied to.

Other people online have said that the game commission lied to them about mountain lions even if they had actual photos of the mountain lion itself. Many other people in Pennsylvania are telling stories about seeing mountain lions in various forums where I am showing my photos. They all believe me and they don’t believe the game commission.

Some people who don’t work for the game commission have been brainwashed to believe there couldn’t possibly be any lions in Pennsylvania, and so they too are saying things like ‘coyote,’ such as my uncle. He doesn’t work for the game commission and has no reason to support the taboo, but apparently he sincerely believes the game commission is telling the truth and he believes there couldn’t possibly be any lions, so he forces his brain to twist the images of cat footprints into canine footprints. He isn’t lying on purpose, he’s brainwashed.

I am sick today. My throat hurts, I’ve been coughing, my nose is running, and I am extremely exhausted. I don’t know how I’m going to go to work tomorrow. My schedule has been changed. I’m going to work during the day from Wed-Fri. I have to go in early tomorrow.

Last night I had an incident. I was sleeping at home in the tent. I had my spear outside the tent. I often try to bring it in with me, but my tent support is broken, so the tent is partially collapsed, and it’s hard to make room for anything in there, so sometimes I don’t bother to bring the spear inside. But I feel more secure if I can reach it when there is a noise outside at night.

Well, on the very night when I didn’t bring the spear inside the tent, there ‘just happened’ to be a noise outside, and it was associated with voices in my head. I heard some kind of medium sized animal coming close to the side of my tent. The voices in my head were saying something like ‘Don’t be afraid.’ But, of course, I was afraid. So I roared at it, whatever it was, and I pushed around the walls of the tent to move the whole tent and make it flap around in a big, scary way. The animal ran off.

After it ran off, I reached outside my door and grabbed my spear and struggled to bring it into the tent, but in my rush and my panic, I broke off the end of it, so that I had a medium long stick, and then a short little stick with my knives duct-taped on the end. The stick was getting old and rotten, and needed to be replaced, but it would have been fine if I hadn’t been pulling it and sort of bending it to make it fit through the door in my hurry.

The animal came back a few minutes later, just not as close. I made a noise at it again, but nowhere near as loudly or fiercely as the first time – just a warning growl – and it left and didn’t come back.

I crouched there trying to think of where my duct tape was. I needed the duct tape to tape my spear back together. It’s in some bag somewhere in the pile, and I would have to hunt for it. It’s totally buried. So I could not have found it in the middle of the night while still listening for the animal outside. I suddenly had the idea – or ‘they’ suggested to me – that I should tape the stick together temporarily with masking tape from my lint roller, which was easily accessible in the bag with my work uniform. So I used lint roller tape, which was effective, but quite funny to use. It isn’t very strong, and I will have to get duct tape, and I’d like to make a whole new spear with a stronger stick, but that requires me to spend some time outdoors hunting for a stick, or else it requires me to get another sharp object, which I do not yet have, to chop my big piece of bamboo so it’s short enough to use as the spear. I’ve wanted to use that piece of bamboo but have nothing to cut it with. Bamboo is so strong that they actually use it to make scaffolding over in Asia, when they are doing construction!

So the voices in my head told me afterwards that it was just a bobcat and that it had smelled my urine, which apparently smelled like pheromones to the cat, and the cat wanted to mate with me. When they put me to sleep afterwards, they gave me a fake erotic dream in which a very young small boy, probably in his very early teens, barely even pubescent, wanted to kiss me, and was lying on me with his clothes on. This was supposed to represent the young cat who didn’t understand sex and didn’t know how to interpret which smells he was supposed to follow and which ones he was supposed to avoid. The voices in my head were saying it had been his first attempt at finding companionship.

It would be possible to slightly tame a bobcat if you fed it plenty of food, if you were very gentle and non-threatening to it, and if you allowed it to keep its freedom and wander around instead of keeping it in a cage. You could at least slightly befriend it. I have seen videos online of people who kept bobcats in a cage, which is very bad for them. They are not ‘pets.’ Even housecats should not be locked indoors for their entire lives. I don’t know if a bobcat would ever let you pet it, but I imagine it’s theoretically possible. However, I’m not going to do this at the moment. I don’t even have good quality food for myself yet. That is the next project, after the decon.

I can’t wait until the weather gets warmer. Then, I will work outdoors, I will fix my tents, I will prepare for the decon, and I will move to a location with clean soil where there are no drug residues from the garbage that I had in my car. I just want the weather to stay above freezing for several days in a row. It’s only just barely above freezing now, in the low thirties and upper twenties, hovering right around there, at the border. Today it is raining, with little balls of ice bouncing off the ground. There was an illusion when I stared at the pavement – I couldn’t see the balls of ice falling out of the sky, and they seemed to be jumping directly out of the pavement, leaping up and bouncing.

I could not make myself get out of bed. I slept all day yesterday, Monday. I slept in a hotel again Sunday night into Monday morning. I have slept in the hotel now about four times in the past few weeks, just once a week or so, almost every week, because I have been so sick and miserable over and over again, so sick that I didn’t want to go home after work, so sick that I wanted to lay in the bathtub and then go to sleep in a warm bed. I know there are lots of people who have invited me to stay at their houses, but it’s more convenient to just go to the Super 8 Motel at 11:00 PM or so when I leave McDonald’s after work and spontaneously decide that I feel so sick that I don’t want to go home. I don’t want to call these people up on the phone that late at night without warning and ask them if they could come give me a ride in their car and take them to their house because I don’t feel like riding my bike. I am just getting sick over and over again, and the primary symptom is incapacitating fatigue which is yet not relieved even after sleeping for two days in a row.

So today I had to get up and eat. Usually, by the second day, I start to get sort of lightheaded. I drink plenty of water, and I don’t allow myself to get dehydrated when I’m staying in bed for several days, but I don’t eat much. I’ll just eat up whatever snacks I’ve brought home with me, usually some little cheddar cheese fries from Sheetz or, recently, blocks of chocolate – chocolate has been recently put back on my menu of allowed foods, because I am seeking stimulants that I can use during this time of severe fatigue. Chocolate is an excellent source of fat, and it satisfies the hunger for a long time. But chocolate lovers would be surprised to hear that there is indeed a limit to how much chocolate you can eat. I got so sick of it that the very thought of eating any more chocolate repulsed me. I was eating it as a survival food over the last couple days while resting in bed.

I took two caffeine pills today to force myself to get up. The caffeine pills barely work at all anymore, but they still cause all the undesirable side effects such as stomach upset and urination. For some reason, I can’t regain my sensitivity to the caffeine pills. Even if I go without caffeine for a couple of days, during which I go into withdrawal, I will then use the caffeine pills again and still barely have any effect from them. I wondered if the caffeine had evaporated through the plastic of the little foil wrapped tabs that they come in. It was a theory for why they stopped working. I even tried buying a new batch to find out if the old batch had lost their freshness. I wasn’t quite sure if the new batch worked any better. The effects are so mild now that I can barely tell.

I’ve brought my work uniform down the mountain with me, and I left a couple bags of stuff, including the uniform, in the basket of my bike, which is in a parking garage where it won’t get rained on. I *hate* carrying around all that heavy stuff in my backpack. I’m tired enough as it is. I have to fill all my water bottles too. That will be very heavy to take up the mountain.

When they woke me up the other day they gave me a semi-dream about Godzilla. My aunt on facebook said maybe it was referring to State Patty’s Day, which was funny to me. I myself interpreted it differently. I was thinking about the cougars on Mt. Nittany and how the government said they didn’t exist. I have now directly experienced being lied to by the government. I knew, as an abstraction, that the government lied about things, but it was different to experience it and to know what my own eyes were seeing while the government lied to me directly.

So I started wondering, almost as a joke, what *other* things that the government was hiding. Could it actually be true that aliens and UFOs were real and the government was covering them up? I have never been a big UFO fan, but that’s because I never saw one with my own eyes, and I never saw any aliens myself either. I believe in aliens in the abstract: the universe is so huge that there must be other life out there. I just don’t have any reason to believe, or any reason to NOT believe, that the aliens have come to earth. They may or may not have, and I don’t know one way or the other. But the taboo on mountain lions made me wonder, gee, maybe the taboo on aliens is real too!

I also wondered if other things could still exist, like the woolly mammoth. Maybe it still lives up on those arctic islands, the last place where it was seen.

So the dream about Godzilla was probably inspired by this line of thought. Dinosaurs could still be alive too. When they woke me up, they asked me if, maybe, the dinosaurs are still living in Antarctica, where some dinosaur fossils have been found. Nobody ever goes there, so how many people could really know for sure?

Just about any kind of strange animal could really exist. Many things could exist, but be taboo. Mind control actually exists – I know that from firsthand experience. If I simply don’t know one way or the other, if I haven’t seen it myself, there is no way to know for sure. It’s actually easier to prove that something exists than it is to prove that it *doesn’t* exist. It would be hard to comb the entire state of Pennsylvania, every inch of it, and not find a single mountain lion, simultaneously and painstakingly going over every square inch, with thousands of helicopters viewing it from above, spaced apart a bit, so that the lions could not run from one helicopter into another region, but would instead run away from one and go under the view of another. That’s not how they actually did it in reality. It was more like, ‘Well, only a couple of people think they’ve seen them recently, therefore they’re extinct.’

All of this is filed under ‘maybe’ rather than ‘I believe.’ MAYBE aliens have already come to earth and have crash-landed in UFOs which were then called ‘weather balloons’ the same way my lion footprints are ‘coyote’ footprints. But I personally don’t know one way or the other. The only thing that I do know from personal firsthand experience is that the government lies about things that really exist. So why wouldn’t I expect them to lie about *other* things that really exist?

Anyway that’s where the Godzilla dream came from.

I am so tired of being sick. I am tired of eating a horrible diet, when I have so much knowledge about what kind of diet I should be eating and want to eat. I am tired of using so much caffeine, when I don’t want to use caffeine and I want my body to rest and be as healthy as possible. I am tired of this bad weather, which is making me sicker – my whole body hurts when particular weather patterns go through. I want it to get warm. I want to finish my decon. I want to move on with my life and start my next projects, especially the healthy diet project. I can’t wait until this is over. It will be over soon, but these last few weeks are dragging and dragging and dragging.

I can’t wait to quit caffeine again

February 24, 2013

I am using it as a crutch to get through the rest of winter, but I am not happy about it at all. Reading this article makes me even more convinced that I am right in my plan to quit caffeine before pregnancy:

http://www.naturalnews.com/039214_caffeine_pregnancy_low_birth_weight.html

Autocorrect mistakes: making me laugh till I almost puke

February 21, 2013

My second cousin occasionally posts links to these autocorrect errors on facebook. The page wants you to log in using facebook in order to view it, but I am able to bypass that if I view it in the Opera browser in ‘user mode’ view – I can still read the underlying page beneath the warning message. So I have been looking at these and laughing until the tears are running down my cheeks, laughing until I practically turn my stomach inside out.

(Another way to find these is to google ‘dyac,’ or ‘damn you autocorrect.’)

http://textmessagelol.com/1

Some of the ones that made me laugh the most:
#535:
1. “Love love xmas music! Santa Maria’s comin’ to town!”
2. “Nice! Because Nina and Pinta have been here for YEARS!”
1. “Santa Claus. Sweet baby Cheeses.”
1. ” *Jesus.”
2. “Just stop texting for everyone’s sake.”

People’s reactions to the autocorrected messages are the funniest. Some people are adaptable, and they will just go along with the joke and continue talking as though there was no mistake. That person remembered the three ships of Columbus, the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria.

#531
1. “He has been in New York since April. I miss him. :(”
2. “Aw”
2. “Well asbestos makes the heart grow fonder <3"
1. "Ahahahahaha no it doesn't! It causes cancer"
2. "LMAO absence!!!!! Girl this phone is whack"

#525
1. Everything okay? Haven't heard from you in a few days!
2. Yup. Sorry ma. I just came out of the closet.
1. Oh Matthew! That is great.
1. I always had a hunch.
1. I love you no matter what. So does your father.
2. Holy Shiite I'm not gay ma.
2. I meant coming out of the clinic now. Autocorrect.
1. Oh I see.
2. The real issue is, you think I am gay???

#523
1. Hey babe, I'll be home a little late tonight.
1. I'm taking my new clitoris out for drinks.
2. Ok that's great. Your old clitoris was such a drag.
1. HAHA oh babe you make me laugh. I meant clients by the way.
2. I figured. 🙂

#518
1. Jakes mom is here. I'm taking a shit with her right now. Imma give it to her. It will be ultimate payback for him fucking my gf.
2. I knew you were wasted but dude leave the bathroom now that's nasty
1. I'm not in the bathroom
2. You said u are taking a shit with her…
1. LMAO I meant shit
1. *shot

One thing that makes these funny is the fact that a particular word has been remembered by your phone, which suggests that you have actually typed that word sometime in the past. It's been a long time since I used my ipod, so I don't remember how it works, and I'm not sure if it already has the dictionary in there with words in it, but some of the time, I know that new words get added.

I’m a believer, and I will find them.

February 20, 2013

4:10 PM 2/20/2013

I was very skeptical at first, and apparently, lots of other people are skeptical too – it’s very hard to believe. But I have decided that there really are lions, plural, on Mt. Nittany, and I’ll tell you my rationale for why I believe it. It took a lot of convincing. But I have done some reading, and I photographed a million footprints, and I’ve decided that nothing else fits except a lion.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission thinks it’s a coyote. My uncle, who is a hunter, also thinks it’s a coyote.

However, I believe that at least *some* of the photos I took were of cat footprints. I also agree that I might have made some mistakes, taken photos of several different types of animal footprints, and thereby discredited myself by having a mixture of cat and dog footprints and not being sure which was which.

I have decided that the lions really are there. From what I have read, lions are very hard to eradicate, and hard to even find. They don’t eat carrion, and so it was hard to poison them, back in the days when people were killing off all the wolves and coyotes by feeding them poisoned carrion. Lions can hear you coming. I have heard stories of people who were tracking them using some kind of radio collar or something, I forget what, and when they were attempting to approach the animal, it would hear them coming from a long distance away, and it would go over to the opposite side of the mountain they were on. As soon as they got over to that side, it would once again cross over to the opposite side of the next mountain, staying very far away from them.

It’s hard to find something if it’s always someplace where you’re not.

I read also that there was sort of a government conspiracy to keep the status as ‘extinct.’ Why? Because if it wasn’t extinct in this area, then it would be classified as ‘endangered,’ and they would have to make and enforce a bunch of laws to protect it, when actually, it probably does not need a lot of protection. The only protection it needs is, it needs a habitat, large wooded areas that are undisturbed.

Also, I actually *heard* a lion killing something in the middle of the night one night. I rationalized that I must have heard a bobcat, but now, I am changing my mind. I heard a lion. I wrote about this in my blog, months ago. I woke up around 4 AM or so, and then I heard this sound which was exactly like the fake recording of the Nittany Lion that they play on the radio. It went ‘wrowww wowwwwwwwrrr,’ and then I heard a small animal screaming, ‘eep! eep! eep! eep! eep!’ as it was killed. I was more terrified than I have ever been in my life, and I laid there in exactly the same position for a whole hour without moving a muscle, which means that every arm and leg was fast asleep and pins and needles and the bumps in the ground were pressing into my back and I couldn’t move to get more comfortable, but I stayed in exactly that position anyway. That day, I added another knife to the end of my bear stick, a bigger knife.

I’m reading the information on the websites of organizations that collect data about cougars in the East.

It is not normal for them to try to eat humans. There have been attacks in the past when they were starving to death, when all the forest was chopped down and they had nowhere to live and no deer to eat. This area has plenty of deer, and I am still seeing groups of deer every couple days, and hundreds of deer footprints in the snow, all the time. So there is no shortage of deer here.

I am not going to be overconfident, and I will continue to carry my spear with me. I am sure that they are there. I don’t have a trail camera, and I don’t know how much a trail camera would cost, and I probably don’t want to spend the money on one, but there are ways that people can film animals in the middle of the night. It could be done.

I have a couple of footprints that meet the criteria of cat footprints: an asymmetrical shape, in particular, with a leading toe. I can recognize the canine foot, with its symmetry and the X-shaped space that crosses it.

I think that if someone devoted all of their energy to finding cats in Central Pennsylvania, they would find them, and I might be exactly the person who would do such a thing. I believe they are there. I’m a believer. I’m doing some photo editing now (not to deceive, but to make the footprints easier to see, since it’s easier to see them in real life than it is on film – in real life, you can view them from all different angles and touch them with your fingers to feel the depth of them).

Is this print ‘asymmetrical,’ or merely sideways?

cougar or dog footprint in dry mud

Paracosm

February 17, 2013

Again, I don’t remember exactly how one click led to another, but I ended up reading about ‘paracosms.’ I think I was originally reading about ‘friendly societies’ and ‘clubs’ and similar things in wikipedia, and then I read about secret childhood clubs, which led to reading about childhood mythologies and paracosms – fantasy worlds created in childhood which are sometimes maintained for many years, even into adulthood.

I have one. It’s called Darcon. I’ve mentioned it several times before. I never finished the fiction stories that I started writing about it years ago. Now, I have enough knowledge that maybe the fiction stories will be better. Now maybe I have what I needed, things I didn’t have back then, which made me feel as though something in the story was missing or weak or not good enough. Now maybe it can be.

(*Edit: These turned out to be dog prints. I saw the same prints several times again when it snowed again.*) Announcement: I think there are mountain lions on Mt. Nittany, in State College, Pennsylvania

February 16, 2013

The reason why I wrote all that in the title is so that it’s more likely to show up in google search results. I am going to get my photos uploaded later, but I can’t do it now. I took pictures of cat tracks as big as my palm. I tried to follow them, but for various reasons did not finish following them. They just walked on the same hiking trail that everybody else walks on. I just wanted to find out where they left the trail, but didn’t have time to follow it. I’ll tell the whole story later.

I’m editing this. I think it’s just bobcat footprints.

2-18-2013 – I’m editing this again. It’s a real cougar. I took a bunch more photos. I will upload one of them here.

mountain lion tracks in snow, Mt. Nittany, next to hand for comparison

Unveiled Mysteries

February 15, 2013

4:25 PM 2/15/2013

I don’t have time to write this, because I’m on my lunch break at work, which is almost over, and because my computer and my browser are extremely slow and lockup-prone, and that needs to be fixed with a clean install of the whole thing, the entire operating system, if I had my way, but I don’t have a CD drive at the moment, so I can’t.

But anyway, one thing led to another, and somehow, I forget how, I ended up reading about the ‘I AM’ religious movement last night. It’s a New Age religion. I started reading ‘Unveiled Mysteries’ by Godfre Ray King (Guy Warren Ballard).

http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/um/index.htm

It reads like a work of fiction. I have actually read fiction books just like this before, except they claimed to be fiction books and did not claim to be an actual experience. I’d like to read more about this, but don’t have time right now, but I want to find out what exactly he did claim. He might not have even claimed that it was all true.

Also, he seems to be an EII (*Edit: Disclaimer, he’s probably not an EII, and I will change my mind about this later*), which makes it very readable for me. I actually understand the concepts and values behind it even if I do not believe that it literally, physically happened. And I don’t have enough time to write out everything that I think about it, but it was very interesting, and I’m not done reading it yet. I have seen other books written in this exact style before. It sort of reminds me of ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ or whatever that book is. I could look that up again.

Struggling to get to the Unitarian Universalist church meetings

February 14, 2013

9:28 PM 2/14/2013

I’m sitting at the laundromat eating. I went and bought special foods today. I was sick in the last couple of days.

I took a shower, which reactivated the drug residues in my hair. My hair is holding drug residues in it, as I am still covered with them on my clothing, albeit not a lot, and also on the shared coat at McDonald’s, which has several different kinds of cigarette smoke on it, which always gives me a reaction when I wear it. I’ve worn the shared coat several times recently, so it’s on my uniform, and it was on all of my skin and hair. After the shower, the small amount of drug residues that remained in my hair were wet for a very long time. My hair actually stays wet for longer than 24 hours every time I take a shower, because of the thick dreadlocks. So I was having a reaction for over a day, maybe even two days, after the shower.

I took a shower just before going to the Darwin Day event at the Unitarian Universalist church, which reminds me, I was going to retake that online religion test to see which other religions were listed below UU. The UU celebrates Darwin’s birthday. I went to that event and saw a bunch of people who I have never seen before, because they don’t go to the board games. There were quite a few Alpha NTs there, who I could recognize when they started talking during the discussion. And the minister seems to be an LII. (This is a church where logic and reason are highly respected, and atheists, agnostics, and questioners are happily welcomed and included. So it’s an NT kind of place.) We watched a movie called ‘Inherit The Wind,’ but it was a remake of an older movie. It was about a court case over the issue of teaching evolution in a public school instead of teaching Creation. The movie wasn’t bad, but then afterwards, several people said that the true story was more complicated than the movie, and the true story sounded more interesting, actually.

So, I’ve been to maybe two or three Freethought meetup groups so far, and a couple board game nights at the UU, and now this Darwin Day event. I have begun socializing. I’m not really involved in the church yet, but I plan to be soon. I’ve been having problems getting there because of severe fatigue and because my work schedule makes it hard for me to go anywhere on Sunday mornings. I could go there before work if I go to work in the afternoon, but usually, it’s extremely hard for me to get up that early in the morning if I have been up working the night before.

So I decided to make a drastic and unprecedented change to my work schedule. I am going to make myself unavailable on evenings and weekends. I’m going to work Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday no later than 5:00 PM, so that I can go to various meetings at 6:00 in the evening.

It’s been countless years since I attempted to have any kind of social life. I haven’t tried to have a social life at all since I started living in State College. When I was in Shepherdstown, in college, I sometimes went to various random events in the evenings. That was the closest I ever had to a social life. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that I have never had a social life in my entire life. I am now making a deliberate effort to go to evening events and meet other people.

At the Darwin Day event, I noticed that most of the people attending were males, most of them younger. The women at the church are often the type of women who I like: they are plain rather than flashy. Several of them have long hair, and they wear plain clothing and no makeup, and a couple of them are like old hags or witches, exactly the type of women who I have always loved and identified with. I am one of them now, an old hag, with my ugly face, my mustache, and my dreadlocks, although I am not that old, and I still would like to have children yet. Some of the women are old with white hair, and yet they grow it long. It was a recent trend this last century to make old women chop off their hair and get it curled at the salon, and now you can hardly find an old woman with long white hair anywhere on earth, because people get rich off these old ladies by cutting and perming their hair every couple weeks.

So I don’t know if there are more males than females in general at this church. I only know that that’s how it was at Darwin Day. And I know that I instantly liked and respected the few females who I saw, because they are not the makeup-wearing flashy artificial type. They are more natural looking, plainer, more earthy looking, like me.

I went to Darwin Day this Tuesday, and I had intended to go to the board games on Wednesday. But on Wednesday afternoon, I could see, and feel, that it was going to snow. The clouds covered the sky and became slowly thicker and thicker as the day went on. There was this feeling of wetness in the air, which I could smell in my nostrils with every breath. I didn’t know for sure if it was going to snow or rain, but it was chilly, and I knew that if it did rain, it would be a cold, sleety, miserable rain.

My body became severely fatigued and incapacitated. I was trying to get up. I think this was my weather sensitivity phenomenon, but I might have also just been sick. I was trying, and trying, heroically, to get out of bed. I had three separate Vivarin pills – not all at once, but over a period of hours – as I desperately tried to energize myself enough to get out of bed. But my body was so tired I could not move, and so I laid in bed and agonized over not being able to make it to board game night. While I was lying in bed, I heard a quiet rattle beginning to tap on the tarp above me. I looked out, and the snow had begun to fall. It was a wet snow. Very quickly, within only just a couple short minutes, the entire ground was completely covered, in an instant, and the snow stuck to everything, to every tree branch, so that everything was white everywhere, and beautiful.

I stayed in bed until I was so hungry that I absolutely had to get up, but I could not bring myself to go to the games. Instead I went and sat at McDonald’s for a little while using the internet, and then I went home. The buses were running, so I rode the bus out there to McD by the mall, but then I walked home late at night.

When I walk by the road in the dark in the snow, I am scared of the snowplows. I can hear them coming – they scrape the road and make a rhythmic loud low booming noise as the plow hits bumps and obstacles in the road. They are terrifying, like bulldozers. I have always loved and feared heavy machinery ever since I was a young child. When I see them, I have to watch them, and I am fascinated with their power and all they can do, and they look like they would be fun to operate, but I am also scared, as they could easily injure or kill someone. When the plows approach, I see them coming from far away, and I get wayyyy, way off the side of the road, because if they didn’t see me, they could hit me with the plow, since it’s big and it goes off the edge of the road, and sticks out into the part where the pedestrians walk.

Today my stomach was a bit sick, and maybe that was my own fault, I don’t know. I tried eating a little snow last night on the way home, because I was thirsty while I was going up the hill. I had read recently that clouds contain a lot of bacteria, which I had already suspected for several years now. So the snowflakes are probably nucleated around a bunch of germs.

I decided to go to Wegman’s today. I like to go there to get special food. But on the way there, on the bus, I realized that I could also go to Trader Joe’s. It was built there recently, just across from Wegman’s. I had never been to TJ, but I had heard about it before, because I am often reading online about natural foods, and many people had mentioned that Trader Joe’s was a place where you could get a variety of natural and organic foods.

I went there, and I was a little bit disappointed. I was expecting it to be more like Wegman’s. But instead, it was a much smaller and more ordinary looking grocery store with a lot of packaged food. At Wegman’s, when you go in, you are instantly surrounded by what I can only describe as a clusterfuck of produce, and plants, and herbs, and junk, and clutter, and miscellaneous little things, and flowers, and freshly baked bread, and people walking around wearing tall white chef hats. It’s a place where they make and handle fresh foods and fruits and vegetables, and that’s the first impression you get when you walk in. True, they also have many shelves full of ordinary packaged foods. But the produce section and the bread and seafood sections and the deli and all that other stuff is a beautiful place filled with colors and details. I was paying attention to see exactly what types of details and decorations there were. On top of the deli counter, there are these tiny little fake hot pepper plants made of plastic, and I know that sounds tacky, but it actually looks perfect where they are. There are also containers filled with pasta of many different shapes and colors, for decoration. It’s all those little things that add up to the ‘clusterfuck’ effect, where you’re walking in to a place just filled with ‘stuff’ everywhere, in all directions, colors and beautiful sensory details everywhere. I would hate to have to clean that place.

Trader Joe’s was a simple, sparse place, and you’d think that I would have liked it more for that reason. It had a quirky style to it, which I typed as Beta NF, either EIE or IEI, very similar to that guy, what’s-his-name, who sells foods and gives the profits to charities. (SOCIONICS DISCLAIMER: I could be totally wrong about this typing. When I thought more about it just now, I was able to imagine someone else, an SEI that I know, saying and doing this kind of thing, too. So my ‘beta NF’ guess could be totally, completely, way off.) Newman’s Own, that guy. It reminded me of him. It was a quirky, old-fashioned, silly kind of style. They had pictures and little quotes and comments in various places. If you love the Beta NF (assuming that typing is correct), then you would love the style and spirit of Trader Joe’s. For example, on the paper bag, there are some little old-fashioned drawings. One picture shows two little children talking, and it says, ‘Is framing the bag and hanging it on the wall reusing or recycling?’ That’s what I mean by ‘quirky,’ cute little things like that.

They did in fact have a lot of natural and organic foods. But I was expecting more of a messy explosion of colors and flowers and stuff like when you go into Wegman’s, and it wasn’t like that at all. It was also much smaller, with only a couple aisles. I knew that there was a ‘small but devoted cult following’ of people who absolutely love Trader Joe’s, and I had recently been reading about how it is out in Colorado, and how it’s something that ‘educated liberal white people’ like. Something hippies like. I actually don’t call myself a hippie, in spite of my dreadlocks and my interest in a primitive lifestyle and my love of unspoiled wilderness. I’m not the same as the Beta NF type of hippie. (And the more I reread this, the more I am questioning that typing – it could be SEI instead.)

So, Trader Joe’s was okay, but not thrilling, and I still love Wegman’s much more. I went to Wegman’s afterwards. At TJ’s, I got some little lobster rolls and ate them, and I got some pate made from pork and chicken liver. I sat outside and ate some of those both before I went in to Wegman’s. I got a fruit tart at Wegman’s, and I was looking for shampoos that don’t have sulfate in them, but I got frustrated and gave up, because all of them still had other chemicals that were similar, though not exactly the same. If I ever do a search for a less-toxic shampoo, then I will probably have to use a do-it-yourself shampoo found on the internet, like baking soda or something.

By the way, I don’t mean to be complaining about Beta NFs. The guy who is welcoming me into the UU Church is an EIE, and I am very fond of him. He is so kind to me, and gives me a hug when I walk in. He wants me to feel welcome and accepted in the group. He admires my outdoor lifestyle and sent me a quotation from Thoreau once (Thoreau, typed as a SLI by some people). He totally fits in at the church and he seems necessary there – without him, it would be totally different. An EIE is perfect for talking to large numbers of different people, socializing, welcoming them in, and yet treating people as individuals too, and devoting a large amount of his time and energy to the church. I am very grateful for everything he is doing. It does actually help me to know socionics so that I can understand the reasons why our relationship is the way it is and why we feel the way we feel about each other.

We have a lot of affection and fondness and admiration for each other, and appreciate each other, in a social setting, but yet I know that we would not be good in a one-on-one intimate relationship, not for an extremely long period of time. It just gets kind of tiring. If I am under any kind of stress or strain at all, such as physical fatigue and hunger, then it becomes hard for me to restrain and censor myself the way I want to do around him.

It happened once when we were at the board game night. I was getting tired, it was late at night, I was getting hungry, and I was also a little bit sick that night and wasn’t feeling as well as I would like to. When he plays the board games, he likes to think out several different scenarios before making a move (because he is a -Ni type). But when I was getting tired, I became unable to listen to his advice anymore. He was teaching me how to play the games. I haven’t really played them a lot, although I had played that one once before and was starting to get a little more confident at it.

We were playing a game called ‘Power Grid,’ which I enjoy. Whenever he was describing the different scenarios before I made a move, I just started losing patience and didn’t care anymore, and I just physically could not even understand the words he was saying – it was just gibberish to me. What? You could do what and what? What would happen if I did that? Why would I not want to do that? in a daze, just getting more and more numb and unable to think anymore, unable to use my Ni/Ne function along with him. So I became a teensy bit irritated and just said something like, ‘Oh well, I’ll just do this and see what happens,’ just taking a semi-random action, making the leap, making a move without knowing the future scenarios, because I was just too tired to think ahead, and I felt that the consequences could not possibly be too disastrous. I didn’t like to get even the slightest bit irritable with him, because I am very fond of him, and he’s just being himself, but I just couldn’t think anymore. That was definitely a moment when I was aware of socionics and aware that I couldn’t use my Ni function along with him.

Other than that tiny moment of impatience, we haven’t had outright conflicts. The word ‘conflictor’ is not really a good word to describe this relationship, although I guess it would be a conflict in certain situations. I just know, though, that over time, I will gradually make friends with other people and gradually move away from depending on him. I am sort of his pet right now, because he found me at the meetup group and invited me to the church, and so he’s responsible for introducing me to everyone and showing me in.

It’s cool to experience a real-life conflictor relation up close. I have been an antisocial hermit for many years now, but was learning socionics and talking in the socionics forum (before I got kicked out of there), and thinking about socionic relationships all this time, but wasn’t able to experience them in real life because I was just not socializing with anybody at all except my coworkers. Now I get to experience more social interactions and I can see how a conflictor relation really is, where you genuinely like and admire someone, and don’t really have a ‘conflict’ with them, you just find it hard to think they way they do, and find that it’s easier to have a conversation with other people. Now, I hope I will find duals, activators, and other Delta people when I meet the rest of the church members. One ‘old hag’ lady is a dual – I already knew her from the meetup group. I hope there are more of them.

But I haven’t been able to get to as many church activities as I would like to do, because of my illness, my fatigue, my work schedule, the fact that I can’t get out of bed at all during the daytime during my bouts of fatigue, and all that.

I am curious about one guy with an extremely severe Weston Price deformity. (*Note, I call it a Weston Price deformity, but in reality, some of these deformities and birth defects are caused by the mother’s drug use during pregnancy. Some antidepressants, for example, are known to cause severe, disastrous skull and brain defects. Weston Price did not talk about deformities caused by maternal drug use, but some people on the Weston Price website have written about, for example, white-tailed deer facial deformities caused by pesticides.*) He actually seemed intelligent when he talked, during the Darwin Day discussion. He made one comment, I forget what it was. I couldn’t help noticing him because he looked like a distorted twin of another guy I know, except that his head is really, really narrow. I cannot imagine how he is even able to fit a brain in there. It is a big, obvious, visible deformity, having this extremely impossibly narrow head. Usually when people have severe head deformities, they are also mentally retarded or have some other mental deficiencies, but he seemed socially and mentally normal (at least during that one brief comment he made).

So I am curious to find out whether he really is mostly normal socially and intellectually. It’s likely that he will have some kind of learning disability, something wrong with him, something which isn’t obvious right away, but which he would be willing to tell me if we had a conversation, if we talked about school (he looked young, like a teenager or early twenties). He probably has a hard time in school. I think that people who spend a lot of time at churches often have something wrong with them, which is why they can’t find any other social groups to hang out with. Church people are often the losers. That’s just my impression. But then, almost everyone has something kind of wrong with them nowadays, especially where the deformities are so common. It’s not like the primitive tribes Weston Price visited, where almost every single person in the entire group is fully formed and perfectly healthy and has reached their optimum physical potential.

Anyhow, I haven’t done much more than that recently. It’s only just beginning. I am going to try to spend more time doing church activities and meeting more people there, and I am rearranging my work schedule so that I have time to do it. I mentioned to the scheduling manager that I was going to make a change in my availability, which I said he would not be happy about. He jokingly said, ‘What happens if I just ignore you and say you’re crazy?’ I said, ‘I dunno…. that would probably only work for a little while.’ I’m pretty sure that he’s seen the Harry Potter movies. If he ignores my schedule request, I’ll send him a HOWLER. I’ll stuff a bright hot pink envelope with an angry mouth on it into the scheduling box and see what happens. He has a sense of humor, he’ll love it.

Matthew Smith writes about the Feingold Diet from a sane point of view. ‘History and Hyperactivity: The Feingold Diet.’

February 8, 2013

I discovered his books and writings and I love him.

http://www.historyandpolicy.org/papers/policy-paper-73.html

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You are here: Research » Policy papers »
History and hyperactivity: the Feingold diet

by Matthew Smith
Executive summary
Introduction
Case closed? The Feingold diet on trial
Popularity contested
‘A difficult and exacting regimen?’ Feingold and families
Conclusion #1: Conditions change
Conclusion #2: The patient’s perspective
Further reading
About the author
Executive summary
The Feingold diet was a popular, yet controversial, treatment for hyperactive children during the 1970s which blamed food additives for the disorder.
Although parents and the media were attracted to the Feingold diet, the medical community was suspicious and designed trials to test it.
The trials yielded mixed results and were often methodologically unsound, but most physicians believed they demonstrated that the diet did not work.
Despite medical disapproval, tens of thousands of families have successfully employed the Feingold diet since the 1970s.
Recently, medical associations have begun to admit that they might have been wrong about the diet and Feingold’s theory is experiencing a re-birth.
The history of the Feingold diet shows that medical knowledge is often contingent upon social, as well as scientific, factors.
It suggests that historical analysis be employed by physicians and health policy-makers to help resolve medical controversies.
It also demonstrates that physicians and health policy-makers, as well as medical historians, should consider patients’ experiences more carefully in assessing what constitutes medical knowledge.

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Introduction

In 1974 a self-help book written by Ben F. Feingold (1899-1982) entitled Why Your Child is Hyperactive arrived on the shelves of book stores across North America. On the surface, Feingold’s book was not particularly exceptional. By the mid 1970s hyperactivity (known today as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD) was the most commonly diagnosed childhood psychiatric disorder, estimated to affect at least five per cent of children. Countless other self-help books, medical texts and journal articles addressed hyperactivity, and the media regularly showcased the disorder on television talk shows, call-in radio programmes and in newspaper stories.

But Feingold’s book was not a typical hyperactivity handbook. Instead of attributing the disorder to genetic neurological dysfunction, as most psychiatrists did by the mid-1970s, Feingold, a prominent San Francisco allergist, blamed the large amounts of food colourings, flavourings and preservatives consumed by the average American child. More importantly, Feingold claimed that hyperactivity could be prevented by adopting a food-additive-free diet which was subsequently nicknamed the ‘Feingold diet’.

It did not take long for the Feingold diet to attract enormous attention from physicians, the media and parents of hyperactive children. For parents, Feingold’s theory was attractive in two important ways. First, it tapped into contemporary fears about chemicals in the food supply raised by the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1961. By the 1970s Carson’s concerns about pesticides had been applied to other food chemicals and channelled into a thriving organic food movement. Second, the Feingold diet gave parents an alternative to treating their hyperactive children with controversial stimulant drugs, such as Ritalin, the prevailing medical response to the disorder. Recognising the popularity of Feingold’s idea, the media made a minor celebrity of the septuagenarian allergist and featured him on television and radio programmes such as the Phil Donahue Show and Today, and in print publications ranging from the New York Times and Newsweek to the National Inquirer. Parents impressed by the effectiveness of the Feingold diet formed hundreds of Feingold Associations across North America which advised families on how to employ the diet.

The medical community, however, was not as impressed. Suspicious of Feingold’s clinical observations, his motives and the efficacy of his diet, they designed dozens of clinical trials to test his hypothesis during the 1970s and early 1980s. The overwhelming opinion that emerged out of these trials was that Feingold’s theory was incorrect and, following Feingold’s death in 1982, medical and media interest in the Feingold diet withered away.

Most physicians treating hyperactive children today would argue that this concluded Feingold’s story: scientific testing proved that food additives did not cause hyperactivity, and that the Feingold diet would be a fruitless imposition on families. However, an examination of the broader context within which Feingold developed his theory, the many factors that shaped the diet’s clinical evaluation and eventual rejection, as well as recent developments in the history of the Feingold diet, suggest that this is not the case.

A myriad of political, economic, methodological and social factors combined to undermine Feingold’s theory and relegate it to the margins of medicine. The history of the Feingold diet not only demonstrates the many difficulties inherent in turning novel medical ideas into medical knowledge, but also that historical analysis can provide crucial insight into how medical controversies are resolved, especially when the outcomes of such controversies are flawed.

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Case closed? The Feingold diet on trial

Almost immediately after Feingold produced his theory of hyperactivity, physicians began expressing doubts about his diet. They also began testing it to see if their observations matched those of Feingold. Although their list of reservations grew long, a closer look at them, as well as the design and interpretation of the tests of the Feingold diet, raises questions about how such firm conclusions were thought to be warranted and why they were made.

The chief claim of physicians opposed to Feingold’s theory was that the clinical trials designed to test it proved definitively that the Feingold diet did not improve the behaviour of hyperactive children. The problem with this claim is that the trials actually provided a mix of negative, neutral and positive results. Moreover, most of the trials conducted in the years following Feingold’s death yielded positive results. Even more puzzling were reviews of the trials of the Feingold diet which analysed, summarised and assessed the sum total of trials conducted to test the Feingold’s theory. Although these reviews were supposed to be unbiased, review authors who were opposed to the diet ignored trials that provided support for Feingold’s theory and, on the other hand, positive reviewers were guilty of omitting negative findings.

Equally problematic were the bold conclusions made by investigators based on trials they conducted that were fraught with methodological problems. As most researchers attested, testing the Feingold diet was a methodological nightmare. Feingold claimed that children could react to thousands of food additives, as well as certain fruits and vegetables, but also that not all children reacted to the same substances. Regardless, most researchers only tested one food additive, such as Red Dye #40, and restricted their studies to small groups of children. There were also disputes about what quantity of food additives reflected the typical amounts consumed by children. Although some studied used as little as 20mg of a particular chemical, others used up ten times as much.

Recruiting reliable subjects for trials that ideally demanded large sample sizes was complicated, expensive, and frustrating. It was also difficult to retain children as subjects, especially if they reacted strongly when challenged with a particular food additive after experiencing success on the diet. Many parents disliked seeing a return to the problematic behaviour, even if it was to show that the diet worked. Maintaining strict compliance to the Feingold diet during month-long trials was difficult to enforce and assess.

Moreover, there was potential for bias in many of the trials due to sponsorship. The Nutrition Foundation, a so-called research organisation funded by food manufacturers, food-additive producers and pharmaceutical companies such as Coca Cola, Dow Chemical and Miles Laboratories, not only funded many of the trials, they also provided some of the foods to be tested. Not surprisingly, the trials in which the Nutrition Foundation participated produced uniformly negative results.

Finally, researchers differed markedly with regards to how they interpreted the trial results. In one case, a sample of pre-school children were tested alongside a sample of elementary-aged children, and were found to respond more positively to the Feingold diet than the older group. This accorded with Feingold’s observation that younger children tended to react more dramatically to additives and, therefore, responded better to his diet. Despite this, the investigators, who were funded by the Nutrition Foundation, determined that the results in the younger sample were invalid and emphasised their less dramatic observations of the older group. In contrast, investigators of a trial consisting of twenty-two children found that only two of them reacted to food additives. Regardless, the investigators considered their findings to be in favour of Feingold’s hypothesis.

It is difficult to see how physicians could have drawn definitive conclusions from the trials conducted to test the Feingold diet. Indeed, most investigators, including Feingold’s supporters and detractors, urged that more research be done to explore further the link between food additives and behaviour. Although such trials appeared sporadically after Feingold’s death in 1982, almost all lent support to Feingold’s hypothesis. Nevertheless, they tended not to attract the media attention that accompanied earlier trials, and were typically ignored by physicians.

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Popularity contested

While Feingold’s critics were using results from the trials to attack his hypothesis, they also had other complaints. One was that Feingold had taken his hypothesis to the media and the public before submitting it to the scrutiny of his medical peers. And by doing so, Feingold’s detractors contended, he was no better than a quack snake-oil salesman or a ‘medical pied piper’. Moreover, they believed that Feingold’s popularity, combined with his charisma and grandfatherly charm, could not only convince parents to try the diet, but could also cause a placebo effect. In other words, parents who saw Feingold on television were so impressed by him and his theory that, when they tried the diet for themselves, their high expectations of success blinded them to its actual effects. Many physicians also argued that the extra time and attention parents took in changing their hyperactive child’s diet provided the attention he/she craved and that this, not a different diet, was what caused the cessation of troublesome behaviour.

Grievances about Feingold’s popular approach, however, were not altogether justified. It was correct that Feingold took almost every opportunity to publicise his theory, even accepting interview requests from the tabloid National Enquirer. But it was not true that Feingold took his theory to the masses before seeking the approbation of his medical colleagues. Prior to writing Why Your Child is Hyperactive, Feingold presented his theory at the 1973 and 1974 conferences of the American Medical Association (AMA). Cognisant of the potential appeal of Feingold’s theory, the AMA organised press conferences to precede Feingold’s presentation and eighty members of the international press turned out to hear about food additives and hyperactivity.

Encouraged by the AMA’s apparent interest in his theory, Feingold wrote up his observations and submitted them to be published in the AMA’s journal, JAMA, and later to the British Medical Journal and the Western Journal of Medicine. To Feingold’s dismay, each submission was rejected. The goodwill previously expressed by the AMA had apparently run its course. Although it is difficult to prove why this occurred, it is likely that the influence of the Nutrition Foundation as well as pharmaceutical companies, whose advertisements filled the pages of such journals, was significant. Feingold, well into his mid-seventies and battling his own health problems, had to decide how best to spread his message about food additives and hyperactivity. Soon after these rejections the American publishing giant, Random House, offered to publish his theory in a more popular format and, realising that he would be more likely to convince parents than physicians, Feingold wrote Why Your Child is Hyperactive.

Although Feingold’s overall attention switched from the medical community to parents, he still attempted to convince medical professionals that his theory was sound and that his diet worked. The title of Feingold’s book certainly suggested that its target audience was parents, but close examination of many passages which elaborate on scientific theory and refer to leading researchers reveals that the book was written with physicians also in mind. Furthermore, Feingold persevered in writing for scientific journals and eventually published a dozen articles about his theory, albeit in less-renowned journals such as Ecology of Disease, the American Journal of Nursing and the Delaware Medical Journal.

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‘A difficult and exacting regimen?’ Feingold and families

Physicians opposed to Feingold’s theory expressed many other reservations, including concerns that it reduced the amount of vitamin C consumed by children (since certain fruits and vegetables could be problematic), that it only applied to a small percentage of hyperactive children and that it encouraged children to be picky eaters. Much like other qualms about the Feingold diet, these were questionable. For example, most children were only sensitive to one or two fruits, and Feingold strongly urged that parents re-introduce other fruits and vegetables when it was clear that they caused no reaction.

The percentage of children who reacted to additives was always a thorny issue; while Feingold suggested that up to 75 per cent of hyperactive children could be helped by his diet, others thought that only 5 per cent or fewer were affected. But considering that 5 per cent amounted to a large number of the millions of children diagnosed with hyperactivity by the mid-1970s, and the fact that other solutions, including stimulant drugs, failed to work for large numbers of children, this argument was also quite disingenuous.

Finally, concern that the diet encouraged picky eating was moot, partly because one of the side effects of hyperactivity drugs was appetite suppression (a more serious type of fussy eating), but also because the elimination of so much processed food meant that children consumed less salt, sugar and fat. In other words, it promoted the sort of selective eating that most nutritionists would presumably support.

The final, and most crucial, reservation made about the Feingold diet was much more difficult to refute. This was that, as one critic put it, the Feingold diet was ‘a difficult and exacting regimen which put considerable strain on the whole family’. The inherent difficulty in weaning children off artificial colours and flavours was described neatly in a trial of the diet conducted at a summer camp for learning-disabled children: ‘the children were not happy with the Feingold diet. The teachers had the feeling that there would have been a rebellion had it lasted longer than a week. They particularly disliked the colourlessness of the food, and missed the mustard and ketchup … The strict Feingold diet appears to be distasteful to the typical American child’. Reading comments such as these, physicians were reluctant to recommend the diet and tempt additional failure and strife in families which were already dealing with difficult circumstances.

To some extent such hesitance was justifiable. The Feingold diet, like any diet, was difficult. Although the Feingold Association would send lists of acceptable food products, during the early years of the diet these lists were small and meant that parents, usually mothers, were left on their own to interpret incomprehensible and uncomprehensive labels, bake their own bread, cookies and candy and forgo some of their family’s favourite foods. Controlling diet outside of the home forced mothers to investigate what their children consumed at school, birthday parties, and at the convenience store – no junk food, coloured icing, or colas were allowed. Given the need for complete compliance, and the fact that hyperactive children tended to be defiant, inattentive, and impulsive, a child’s carelessness, indifference or resistance was thought to pose a significant obstacle.

But despite the discouragement of physicians, the incredulity of teachers, family and friends and the inherent complications of the diet itself, tens of thousands of families ignored the mainstream approach to hyperactivity and became Feingold families. Furthermore, a large percentage of these families found the Feingold diet to work and have stayed with it to this day. While Feingold believed that 70 per cent of the families to whom he prescribed the diet found it to work, today the Feingold Association claims that 90 per cent of families who try the diet today are successful.

Most parents and children interviewed about their experiences on the Feingold diet agree that it is an arduous regimen, especially at first when they have to empty their cupboards and search their supermarket for acceptable items. But many of the claims made by Feingold’s opponents about the diet’s difficulty have not been substantiated by families’ experiences. This has been partly because of the weakness of some of their arguments, but also because of the ability and desire of most Feingold families to overcome such difficulties.

Indeed, some of the characteristics shared by most Feingold families have unquestionably helped them succeed on the diet. These include parents with university education, particularly (and interestingly) in the sciences, a comfortable standard of living (often to the point where one parent is able to stay at home or work only part time), domestic harmony and, perhaps most importantly, the willpower to follow through with the diet. Many such parents defied their physicians’ advice, negotiated with schools about providing Feingold-friendly lunches and snacks, adjusted the diet to meet their specifications, found ways of adapting to childhood celebrations such as Halloween and birthdays and brought their own food to family functions even when relatives scoffed. Most interestingly, in the vast majority of cases examined, the children themselves found that the diet was beneficial and, instead of looking at ways to cheat, assertively refused problem food when offered.

Although it could be argued that most American families are not so fortunate and, therefore, that the diet would not be beneficial to them, such a claim would overlook two crucial factors in the history of the Feingold diet. First, the success of Feingold families during the last thirty years has been in spite of countless obstacles, including medical, pharmaceutical and food industry opposition to the diet, poor labelling laws and a cornucopia of additive-laden products, omnipresent, albeit controversial, pharmaceutical alternatives to treat hyperactivity and the overwhelming perception in the media since Feingold’s death that his diet was simply a fad.

The second factor leads from the first and can be summed up best in the form of a question: why, given all of these hurdles, did families stick with the diet, some for over thirty years, if the diet did not work? In other words, if many of these factors changed or had been different, it is possible that a large proportion of hyperactive children could have benefited from the Feingold diet.

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Conclusion #1: Conditions change

In early 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics did something it rarely does. It admitted that it might have made a mistake. Following the publication of yet another trial which supported the Feingold diet, and after four decades of rejecting the Feingold diet as a possible mode of treatment for hyperactivity, the AAP stated that ‘the overall findings of the study are clear and require that even we skeptics, who have long doubted parental claims of the effects of various foods on the behavior of their children, admit we might have been wrong’.

There are two important health-policy implications of this admission which attest to how historical analysis has a crucial role in, if not prescribing health policy, then at least assessing the effectiveness of such policies. The first is that the AAP’s about-face was about much more than a new study. As stressed in this paper, there were dozens of trials which pointed to the effectiveness of the Feingold diet, the most positive of which were published during the last twenty years. The findings of the trial cited by the AAP not only came to the same conclusions as many earlier trials, but the same University of Southampton researchers had already published similar findings in a 2004 study. The significance of their new study did not have as much to do with the findings themselves as with the historical context into which they emerged.

In particular, many dynamics, including concern about the health of the food supply, growing consumer wariness about drugs and new information technologies intervened to re-invigorate interest in the Feingold diet. Food-supply disasters such as the Bovine Spungiform Encephalopathy (BSE) crisis during the 1990s, as well as the corresponding rise of the organic food movement and concerns about childhood obesity, spurred renewed interest in the safety of food found on supermarket shelves.

In the United Kingdom, for example, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver spearheaded a campaign to provide additive-free, organic, and seasonal food in school cafeterias and, in 2005, the Blair government pledged 280 million pounds of support. On his ‘Feed Me Better’ website, Oliver listed ‘poor concentration’, ‘hyperactivity and behavioural problems’, and ‘mood swings’, as effects of the ‘processed junk foods’ served in schools. Some British supermarket chains now voluntarily use natural dyes, such as beetroot, instead of those made from petrochemicals. Furthermore, the explosion in the rates of peanut and other food-allergy diagnoses led to tougher labelling legislation in North America and raised the awareness and acceptance of food sensitivities generally, particularly those affecting children.

In addition, the conventional treatment of hyperactivity using stimulants came under intense suspicion as certain hyperactivity drugs, as well as drugs to treat depression and pain, were found to be dangerous, or in some cases, simply ineffective. The hyperactivity drug Adderall, for example, was temporarily removed from shelves by Health Canada in February 2005 for its role in the sudden deaths of twenty children and adults. Moreover, a recent study at the University of Hull concluded that the drugs used to treat millions of depressive patients do little more than act as placebos. Finally, the emergence of the Internet gave the Feingold Association an invaluable tool to market Feingold’s theory by telling success stories, demonstrating research results and accumulating more comprehensive lists of Feingold-friendly foods.

The importance of these factors in sparking interest in the Feingold diet in 2008, thirty-five years after Feingold’s first press conference, demonstrate that medical solutions can only become authoritative under certain social conditions. The corollary to this is that the makers of health policy, the physicians and legislators who ultimately resolve debates about novel medical ideas, are well served if they use historical analysis to assess all of the factors, especially the non-scientific ones, that contribute to the development of medical knowledge. Whose interests are served by medicating millions of hyperactive children? Whose interests are not served by taking colourings, flavourings and preservatives out of the food supply? The questions historians ask about medical history should perhaps reflect those asked about health policy.

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Conclusion #2: The patient’s perspective

The second aspect of the AAP’s statement that is particularly interesting, and especially pertinent to medical historians, is its remark about doubting ‘parental claims of the effects of various foods on the behavior of their children’. Medical historians have long agonised about conducting ‘history from below’ or patient-centred history, that is, looking at the history of health provision from the perspective of the patient, rather than from the gaze of famous medical researchers or hospital administrators. It is a ‘difficult and exacting’ enterprise itself, but one that can yield surprising results. For the history of the Feingold diet, the experience of patients and parents is not only a key part of the story, but also helps to answer the question at the root of the whole enterprise, namely, did the Feingold diet work? And at the very least, the history of the Feingold diet demonstrates that, yes, it worked for them.

If this conclusion is correct, then it is a call to medical historians, as well as physicians, to expand their understanding of what constitutes medical knowledge. For thousands of Feingold families, the opinion of the AAP and other medical associations that the Feingold diet was quackery was ultimately irrelevant because, for them, the Feingold diet was unequivocally medical knowledge. If the AAP’s admission is any indication, then the parents and patients were right and the paediatricians were wrong.

For medical historians, this re-affirms the value of patient-centred history, both as an historical enterprise, and as a means to apply historical knowledge to contemporary debates about not only health, but other matters of social policy. For physicians, and those who determine health policy, it is a signal that they, too, might be advised to avert their gaze from the laboratory and, instead, re-direct it at the patient.

May 2008

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Further reading
Flurin Condrau, ‘The patient’s view meets the clinical gaze’, Social History of Medicine, 20:3, 2007, 525-40.
Erika Dyck, ‘Hitting highs at rock bottom: LSD treatment for alcoholism, 1950-1970’, Social History of Medicine, 19:2, 2006, 313-29.
Ben F. Feingold, Why Your Child is Hyperactive (New York, Random House, 1974).
Harry Hendrick, Child Welfare: Historical dimensions, contemporary debate (Bristol, Policy, 2003).
Mark Jackson, Allergy: The history of a modern malady (London, Reaktion, 2006).
Gregg Mittman, Breathing Space: How allergies shape our lives and landscape (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2007).
Jack Pressman, Last Resort: Psychosurgery and the limits of modern medicine (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998).
Matthew Smith, ‘Into the mouths of babes: hyperactivity, food additives and the reception of the Feingold diet’ in Mark Jackson (ed.) Health and the Modern Home (New York: Routledge, 2007), 304-21.

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About the author

Matthew Smith is a PhD student at the University of Exeter’s Centre for Medical History whose research is funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. In 2006/2007 he won the Roy Porter student essay prize (Society for the Social History of Medicine) and the Cadogan prize (British Society for the History of Paediatrics and Child Health) for papers about the history of hyperactivity. One of these, ‘Psychiatry limited: hyperactivity and the history of American psychiatry, 1957-1980’, will be published shortly in Social History of Medicine. ms302@exeter.ac.uk

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The placebo effect / nocebo effect is psychosocial, not medical

February 7, 2013

This is a very long angry rant that I wrote today during the afternoon when I was struggling to get up out of bed and using caffeine. I haven’t been feeling well. Taking caffeine without eating any breakfast usually causes me to write long, angry rants where I am shouting at the imaginary audience, like this one. But even so, in spite of the shouting, it contains valuable content. So, here it is.

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3:16 PM 2/7/2013

I’m so angry I want to scream. I’m reading page 57 of Trick or Treatment, and they are ignoring an extremely important distinction!!!

Let me tell MY way of seeing this.

Assumption 1: Wimpy, stupid people have a tendency to go to the doctor for every tiny little ailment regardless of how trivial, unimportant, and non-life-threatening it is. Some people take cold medicine for the slightest cold, anti-diarrhea drugs for the slightest diarrhea, etc. They take unnecessary treatments for harmless and temporary ailments that will go away all by themselves with no lasting consequences regardless of treatments. I myself do not. I don’t treat any illness unless it’s obviously life-threatening and urgent. Oh no! I felt a teeny, tiny little pain in my right hand! And it lasted for five seconds! Oh no!

Instead of just ignoring it and waiting for it to go away on its own, the wimpy, stupid person assumes that they absolutely have to ‘take action’ of some kind to ‘make it go away,’ otherwise they believe it will not go away. So they ‘do something,’ and it makes no difference at all whether the thing that they do was effective or ineffective. The trivial, non-life-threatening, unimportant little pain will go away all by itself regardless of treatment. People describe this phenomenon as the placebo effect. It soothes the stupid wimpy person’s anxiety about their trivial and unimportant pains. This is a symptom of a person with an anxiety problem who doesn’t have faith that the body is usually able to just take care of itself without any treatment at all for minor, common illnesses.

Assumption 2: Stupid, wimpy people are also weak-willed, and they don’t know how to stand up for themselves socially. So whenever a doctor gives them an ineffective treatment, and their elbow is still locked (as in the example on page 57) – THIS MAKES ME *EXTREMELY ANGRY* – If a doctor gives them a treatment that doesn’t work, they are too scared of the doctor’s authority to assert themselves and say, ‘No, this didn’t work, my elbow is still locked.’ This is an issue of SOCIAL SUBMISSIVENESS. It has nothing whatsoever to do with actually curing an illness for real. The incident described in the book said that the illness was NOT CURED: they could see that the elbow was still locked.

Assumption 3: The patient is scared to be sick. They think that people won’t accept them socially if they are sick and have some kind of weakness. If a doctor treats them and fails to cure them, but is still being nice to them at the end of the ineffective treatment and telling them they’re better when they’re not, the IMPLIED MESSAGE IS: It’s okay, society will accept you even though you are still sick. IT’S OKAY TO BE SICK. IT’S OKAY TO BE WEAK. IT’S OKAY TO FAIL SOMETIMES. This is a legitimate message that everyone needs to know: there is nothing wrong with being somewhat sick and somewhat unable to function in society, as long as it isn’t life-threatening. So the patient walks away from the ineffective treatment, feeling more relaxed and soothed and self-accepting AT THE *SOCIAL* LEVEL. Society will still like me anyway even though I have a locked elbow.

That is the essence of the placebo effect.

*IT DOES NOT CURE ILLNESSES FOR REAL.*

Trivial, non-threatening, harmless illnesses can be socially tolerated and accepted. It’s okay to be a little bit sick. Society will not reject you if you are just a little bit sick or a little bit less able to function.

*I* have been saying that many people mistakenly believe that THE PLACEBO EFFECT IS ACTUALLY EFFECTIVE AT CURING ILLNESSES FOR REAL THROUGH THE POWER OF THE MIND. THIS IS WRONG. The illnesses were either trivial illnesses that would have gone away on their own in a short time if someone had waited longer and done nothing, or else they are trivial illnesses that still allow a person to (mostly) function as a member of society, which can be socially acceptable, and the person was merely anxious about whether they were ‘allowed’ to be sick or not in this society. If a society tells you you’re not allowed to be sick, then you will feel a lot of anxiety over even the most trivial and harmless of illnesses and symptoms.

Fear of a loss of social acceptance is the reason why many, or most, people are afraid of being sick. They feel a duty to provide for themselves financially, for instance.

Some people are so unrealistic and so unobservant that they simply don’t know, and don’t understand, the fact that *almost all* trivial little non-life-threatening diseases and symptoms will resolve themselves on their own after a short period of time and require no treatment at all. They have a superstitious, fallacious belief that every little symptom requires some kind of intervention to prevent it from getting worse, when in fact, just ignoring the symptom is just as ‘effective,’ because no action is needed at all. When people develop a superstitious belief, they keep on doing it, and it is not harming them, and it is also not helping them, except merely to temporarily soothe their anxiety and make them feel as though they have ‘done something’ or ‘taken action’ at the ‘appropriate time’ because they believe it is their duty to do something rather than do nothing at all.

So I believe that the ‘placebo effect’ merely influences social behavior. It influences the words that the patient says to the doctor and to other people. It influences whether the patient feels socially accepted or not. Is it okay to be sick? Am I still a socially accepted member of society, even though I still have this trivial illness that won’t go away even after I’ve been treated with an ineffective treatment? The doctor says yes, I will still be socially accepted by wealthy, powerful authority figures such as doctors. Wealthy, powerful members of society are still being nice to me even though I am sick and even though the illness didn’t go away. So it’s ‘okay’ for me to be sick, and I no longer need to feel ‘sickness anxiety’ or ‘sickness phobia.’

I have seen many people who suffer from sickness phobia. The tiniest and most trivial of symptoms, the most harmless of things, all require immediately some kind of treatment to ‘stop them from getting worse,’ when in fact they are destined to go away on their own if you merely sit there and wait it out. Like I said, I never treat any symptoms unless they are so incapacitating that I absolutely cannot function, and I’m aware of the fact that I am treating the illness because it’s interfering with my social functioning – for instance, menstrual cramps would prevent me from going to work at the beginning of my period, so I take ibuprofen. I do have sickness anxiety about my social acceptance: will I still be employed at my job if I call off sick for a day or two every single month at the beginning of my period? They probably wouldn’t like that, and I don’t want to test it and find out, so I take the pills.

But the pills are actually effective at stopping pain. If someone’s disease is severe enough that it actually interferes with their life and their functioning, then it won’t matter that the doctor told them something to the effect of ‘you’re still loved even though your elbow is locked.’ If they absolutely must use their elbow to do something, then sooner or later, the alleged ‘placebo effect’ will vanish and it will NO LONGER MATTER. A while after they go home, when they are no longer in the presence of the wealthy and powerful authority figure, the doctor, they will once again realize, in the privacy of their own home, that they are unable to bend their locked elbow. The delusion disappears whenever they leave the social environment of the doctor. If they could stay in the doctor’s company all day long, and the doctor would take care of them, then it could continue to be socially acceptable for them to have a locked elbow that wasn’t cured by an ineffective treatment.

These incidents of the ‘placebo effect’ in the book are short-lived, temporary, AND UNETHICAL. The doctor is merely using his social pressure and his authority to pressure the patient to say something, to say words, to say the words “yes, my elbow feels better now” when it actually doesn’t, only to continue to have the problem again a little while after they leave the office. The placebo effect does not last long, and sooner or later the person will be disillusioned.

However, for trivial and non-life-threatening illnesses, the placebo effect can be done again and again. It really DOESN’T MATTER if the treatment is effective or not, because the illness is so minor and so trivial THAT IT REQUIRES NO TREATMENT and the person is able to continue functioning.

In such cases, the doctor provides social assurance again and again and again. ‘It’s okay to be sick, it’s okay to fail, it’s okay to be less functional,’ again and again and again. The patient will pay money to receive this social assurance and to relieve them of their sickness anxiety and their fear that they will be socially rejected because they are less able to function. They are not paying to receive a medical treatment, they are paying to receive a psychosocial treatment.

AS SUCH, THE PLACEBO EFFECT IS *NOT EFFECTIVE* AT CURING ILLNESSES FOR REAL. And yet many people still believe that you can really use the ‘placebo effect’ to ACTUALLY MAKE THE REAL ILLNESS GO AWAY FOR REAL, rather than merely socially reassuring the patient and urging them to say (untrue) words out loud, like ‘No, my locked elbow doesn’t hurt anymore and it’s working better now,’ in a particular social context, in the physical vicinity of the doctor, when those words are actually untrue. People who misunderstand and misinterpret the placebo effect will tell you that YES, THE LOCKED ELBOW ACTUALLY UNLOCKED ITSELF *FOR REAL* AND THE PERSON WENT HOME AND WAS ABLE TO CONTINUE FUNCTIONING, FOREVER, FOR REAL, WITH AN UNLOCKED ELBOW, because of merely ‘believing’ that the elbow was going to unlock itself. That is the misunderstanding of the placebo effect that I see over and over again. People do not make any distinction between actually curing the illness versus a patient merely saying out loud the words, ‘Yes, doctor, I’m cured’ while standing next to the doctor, then going home and finding out that they still can’t use their locked elbow any better than they could yesterday, in reality. Nobody makes that distinction.

I myself, for example, suffer from chronic fatigue, which is severe enough that it greatly lowers the quality of my life. If I felt totally accepted socially, that would reduce my social anxiety, but I still would not be able to do the things I used to be able to do before I had severe chronic fatigue. Would my quality of life improve in an environment of social acceptance? *YES*, social acceptance improves overall quality of life! Social acceptance is, therefore, a beneficial and helpful treatment, BUT IT MUST BE DISTINGUISHED FROM THE SO-CALLED ‘PLACEBO EFFECT,’ and it must be called what it is!

If a treatment’s effects are so weak that you’re not sure whether or not you’re seeing the placebo effect or a real effect, then you should just assume that either 1. The condition is harmless and non-urgent and requires no treatment at all, or 2. that particular treatment does not work. If a condition is life-threatening and urgent, then you will immediately see that a particular treatment isn’t working, because you will get even sicker, or die. In that case, it’s extremely important to know whether or not a treatment actually works. But if some illness isn’t going to kill you, just don’t treat it at all! Do nothing. Just endure the illness. Or you can try to troubleshoot it on your own somehow.

Treatments in general, treatments as such, interventions, ‘actions taken,’ should only be done at all for conditions that are life-threatening, urgent, or that severely and extremely ruin the quality of someone’s life and their ability to function. If you have a trivial and minor symptom, such as a brief, fleeting, temporary flash of pain in a finger on your right hand, just ignore it and it will go away. If you catch a cold, just ignore it and it will go away.

If you get diarrhea, just ignore it and it will go away, and if your diarrhea lasts for longer than a couple days, then you have something serious and you have to go to the doctor for it, but otherwise, diarrhea will usually cure itself in a day or two. It’s usually just caused by a stomach virus or by something you ate that day. But I know people who are so anxious about the slightest temporary symptoms in their body that they will run out to the grocery store and get an over-the-counter diarrhea treatment the very instant that they first observe themselves having diarrhea. That is not only unnecessary and a waste of money, it also puts you at risk of suffering side effects from the over-the-counter drugs you’re using, which leads to new symptoms and new illnesses, which will lead this type of person to panic and start taking dozens upon dozens of new drugs one after another, each one of them leading to a dozen new side effects which will each individually need to be treated with a new drug! The best cure in this situation would be to just stop all the drugs, because the side effects of the drugs are the primary problem, and the original problem was so trivial, it didn’t need to be treated at all.

If you keep having diarrhea over and over again, you should troubleshoot what is causing it to happen instead of continually taking over-the-counter diarrhea treatments. You need to know if you’re eating something that is making you sick. If you have severe diarrhea that just won’t go away, until you’re so dehydrated and your electrolytes are so imbalanced that you almost pass out and faint, you need to go to the hospital because you have something severe like giardiasis. But hardly anyone who gets diarrhea in this country actually has anything like giardiasis. They usually just ate something or have a temporary stomach virus.

Are the treatments ‘effective?’ Well, how do you define ‘effective?’ Does it *temporarily* make the *symptom* go away? Over-the-counter treatments might do this. Does it make the pain go away without actually curing the illness? Is that what you define as ‘effective?’ There are other treatments that are interested in solving the long-term illness, the cause of the problem, rather than merely making the pain go away temporarily while leaving the problem to continue again as soon as the drugs wear off.

Are drugs effective at treating depression? Yes, as long as you’re taking the drug, you will continue to have drug-like effects which are viewed as desirable. Did it actually cure the depression? No. Anything about ‘fixing a chemical imbalance in your brain’ is bullshit. You are taking a stimluant drug, a hardcore drug, and the effects that it has are DRUG effects, just like cocaine or heroin or any illegal drug. Do you desire and value drug-like effects? If so, then using drugs to treat depression is extremely effective, just as using cocaine or amphetamines to treat fatigue is effective – you’ll get lots of energy, all right.

However, if you do not value using drugs to achieve drug-like effects in the body, then no, using drugs to treat depression is not effective. The drugs do not permanently cure whatever is causing you to feel depressed or fatigued. You have an unexplained chronic health problem which is still there during and after the use of the drugs, and no, the drugs are not merely replacing natural neurotransmitters that your brain isn’t able to produce on its own and are not therefore ‘natural treatments’ or ‘real cures’ for a ‘chemical imbalance.’ Anybody can get lots of energy from taking an antidepressant or a stimulant, but this does not imply that they were depressed – it implies that the drugs induce artificial effects in the body just like cocaine and any other drugs.

In order to actually cure depression without drugs, you have to troubleshoot what’s causing the problem. You can get temporary relief from some aspects of depression by exercising, for instance, although the depression will come back again if you have some kind of chronic health problem. The effects of exercising have no resemblance whatsoever to the sensations of being on a drug. The drugs will give you AN EXTREME AND INTENSE ‘HIGH’ which has no resemblance to any ordinary physical sensation that you would ever experience from any normal, natural activity at all such as exercise. The drug effects are profoundly different from any normal experience. Do you *value* having drug effects and unusual sensations that are profoundly different from your usual everyday experiences? If so, then using drugs to treat depression is ‘effective’ for you, because you are achieving effects that you value: you *WANT* to ‘be on drugs.’ If it hadn’t been an antidepressant, then you would have gone out into the world and gotten other drugs to try for their recreational value, such as herbal hallucinogens, because you value the experience of using drugs to cause you to feel strange and abnormal physical sensations and mental states.

Are we talking about a short-term palliative that will temporarily make the discomfort go away? Are we talking about a one-shot long-term cure where you take one single pill and it permanently prevents you from ever experiencing the symptom again for the rest of your life? Are we talking about removing the cause of an ongoing problem which is happening over a long period of time? Are we talking about using a treatment over and over again, for a long period of time, to suppress or soothe a chronic illness that won’t go away? Are we talking about people who enjoy and value using any kinds of drugs at all to give themselves ‘superpowers’ and ‘super-experiences’ that are extremely, profoundly different from and perhaps ‘better than’ their normal experience of life?

‘Superpowers’ and ‘superexperiences’ and ‘supersensations’ are one of the conflicts and arguments that I have when I talk to people about the placebo effect or the nocebo effect. I assert that it is not possible to induce drug-like supersensations through a mere nocebo effect alone. The mind, and even hypnosis, is not capable of inducing such extreme, prolonged, and profoundly *different* and *abnormal* physical sensations and states merely by imagining them. It requires an addition of chemicals to produce such states, especially states that last an extremely long time, like hours or days or weeks, as drugs can do.

But some people believe that the mind can cause the body to do abnormal things which, in fact, it cannot, to that degree and extreme. For instance, perhaps an image of an unattractive woman can cause a man to feel temporarily less sexually aroused, or the image of a particular person whom he dislikes. But if a man’s body is already in a state of arousal, which is caused by chemicals, then that person is likely to continue feeling sexually aroused no matter whose image is in front of him. The brain’s power to un-arouse a man isn’t strong enough to turn him off whenever he is filled with hormones.

Yet some people claim that sexual impotence, the inability to get an erection, is merely psychological or can be induced psychologically. I claim that long-lasting impotence (lasting X number of hours, days, weeks, etc) is an extremely abnormal condition that the body is physically incapable of inducing through the mind alone. A man’s body has hormone cycles which fluctuate from day to day, and he will get a non-psychological erection after waking up from sleep in the morning, for instance, and even if he saw a photograph of an unattractive woman at the time, he still would have that non-psychological erection, and the image of the unattractive woman would not be powerful enough to get rid of that erection. If it did, the erection would come back shortly afterwards. The effect would be mild and temporary.

If the erection did not come back shortly afterwards, that merely means that it was a ‘trivial erection’ which was already doomed to fade away on its own. Do erections always require an orgasm and ejaculation? No. There are trivial, low-level, low degree states of physical arousal that will eventually just fade away on their own without release. They will fade away if you look at a photograph of an ugly woman, and they will fade away if you look at a photograph of a sexy woman, and they will fade away if you look at a photograph of a landscape, and they will fade away if you do nothing at all. Sometimes the mood is just destined to be temporary as your hormones and other chemicals fluctuate and change for no reason. Do images always, reliably produce sexual arousal, or are you *sometimes* just not in the mood even if you see an exciting image?

People claim that impotence is psychological. Prolonged impotence, lasting weeks or months. Total impotence, a total and complete lack of ability to get an erection no matter what. They are complaining that a supersymptom, an extreme, prolonged, unusual symptom, is something which the mind is capable of generating through sheer mental power alone.

People disagree about what constitutes a supersymptom or superpower or superexperience. I am well aware of what is normal and abnormal for my body and what my body is capable of generating through mental power alone, and if something strange happens that just keeps going for weeks or months, then I absolutely know it is not mental – it is a ‘supersymptom,’ an undesirable physical state which is extremely unusual and which could not be generated merely from a mental belief or a temporary bad mood or a hypnotic induction.

People who claim the placebo effect or the nocebo effect are often claiming that the mind is capable of creating supersymptoms which I assert that the body does not have the power to create. These symptoms 1. last an extremely long time, like months or years, and almost never go away during that time period, 2. are something you never experienced before in your entire life for such a long duration of time, 3. if they are positive rather than negative, they give you some kind of superpower that you wish you could have had your entire life, but never had until you took this drug, but would have wanted to create by using your mind alone if only you could, 4. are bizarre and unusual and specific and unlike any kind of normal physical sensation or sensory experience, like hallucinogens, 5. are extremely reliable, and always occur shortly after you take the drug, like the push of a button, and never fail to occur when you take that drug.

Normal physical sensations are fleeting and temporary. They do not always appear like clockwork when you do something. Sometimes you do something or go into a particular state or context, but it still does not create the desired mood or sensation or experience, even though it sometimes did in the past. That’s how real sensations and real moods behave. For instance, maybe you have a bad day, and you want to have sex, but even though you did everything to create the right mood, you just couldn’t do it that day, and you don’t know why. However, when you try again tomorrow, you succeed. The symptom is temporary and ever-changing. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.

A supersymptom, on the other hand, will instantly and reliably happen every time you take a drug, and it will be unchanging and long-lasting, and extreme in its degree of intensity. It will continue for extremely long periods of time, like entire days or weeks, while you are using this drug. If a drug causes impotence, it will cause extreme, severe, recurring, noticeable impotence again and again, every day, for weeks or months, while you’re on this drug. Instead of just having a rare incident that happened for one day and then went back to normal, you will have the same problem over and over again every day for *months*. That is a supersymptom. It is so extreme, so long-lasting, and so strongly correlated with the use of the drug that you know for sure that it is abnormal and the drug is causing it.

If it is a medium degree symptom, then you might not know for sure if the drug is causing it. You might, for instance, happen to notice that you are having more frequent, but still temporary, episodes of impotence, which last longer and are slightly more difficult to overcome. But still, you can sometimes have relatively normal sex, although it is usually more difficult to do, takes longer, is less satisfying, etc. Would you know for sure if the drug was causing that? That’s the type of symptom where people, legitimately, don’t know for certain, and legitimately question if the drug might be causing it, or not. However, I’m saying that if something like that keeps happening during the entire time that you’re taking the drug, you can safely assume that the drug is very likely to be causing it, even if you are not 100% certain.

When I get into arguments with people about the placebo effect or the nocebo effect, the issue is usually about which phenomena are supersymptoms. Some people believe that the body has enormous and almost unlimited power to create supersymptoms through sheer mental power alone. In order to disprove this, I would have to do an experiment to demonstrate that the mind is *not capable* of creating experiences that have any resemblance at all to drug experiences. This would be easiest to do if I first gave a particular individual a placebo, asked them to describe their experiences, and then, later on, gave them a real hallucinogen (for instance), and asked them to describe that. They will say, ‘WHOA! That second pill you gave me was the real one!!!’ They will know right away that the experience on the real drug was totally, extremely, many orders of magnitude different from the experiences on the placebo.

You will have to account for different people’s ability to metabolize drugs. Some people just do not respond to any drugs at all unless they are at extremely high dosages, because their body is genetically able to produce huge amounts of metabolic enzymes that break down the drugs. So, you would design the experiment so that they took varying dosage levels of a drug, to find out *when* exactly their body would respond to it. The intended result of the experiment is to *successfully, reliably generate some kind of symptom.* If all that you do is give them one fixed dose of a particular drug, and see no effects from it, that means that you didn’t give them a high enough dose. But some people, on the other hand, are unable to metabolize drugs, and will get extreme and intolerable effects from low dosages that don’t bother other people. Those are the people who get accused of having the placebo effect, because some other person (in the same experiment) will say, ‘But I took TEN GALLONS OF PEYOTE CACTUS AND HAD NO EFFECTS!!!’ They think that everyone is able to metabolize drugs as easily as they themselves do, and so, if anyone else has symptoms from a lower dose, they assume that person is merely experiencing the placebo effect. Experiments are rarely, if ever, designed to account for different individuals’ differing abilities to metabolize drugs! To correctly design such an experiment, you would have to increase the dosage level for every person in the experiment until you got some kind of effect. If you deplete a particular individual’s enzymes, or use several drugs simultaneously to cause an interaction, or use a drug that specifically reduces someone’s ability to metabolize other drugs, then you can intensify the drug’s effects. So you give them ten gallons today, which depletes their enzymes, and then give them a tiny amount tomorrow, which they react to because they no longer have enough enzymes to metabolize it. Few experiments are ever designed to account for this phenomenon.

So it’s not easy to demonstrate the phenomenon of supersymptoms to everyone, because a dosage level that will trigger supersymptoms (extreme, prolonged, obvious, abnormal symptoms that are totally different from everyday life) in one person might not trigger supersymptoms in another person at that dosage, but will instead trigger the ‘Hmm, I’m not sure if this is weird or not’ level of symptoms. People who easily metabolize large doses of drugs are notorious for claiming that everything everybody else experiences are merely their imaginations, because they themselves have never experienced a supersymptom or superexperience or superpower from using a drug. They don’t know how it feels when you experience something which is several orders of magnitude beyond the usual, normal, daily sensations.

The placebo or nocebo effect or hypnotic suggestion is incapable of generating supersymptoms. It can only create mild symptoms which are temporary, unreliable, and inconsistent. It can influence the words that a person says to the doctor or to the experimenters, even if it doesn’t actually change the physical sensation that the person is experiencing inside.

Old theories in physics are not necessarily wrong, and somebody could revive them again.

February 7, 2013

This all started because I was reading about something in mathematics, and ended up wandering off topic, and read about Lord Kelvin’s theory that atoms were made of vortices of strings. I’ve actually thought of that same theory myself before. Maybe someone will reopen that whole line of thought, and make it usable again, using what we know now, and the latest theories and discoveries that they didn’t know back then. Maybe it explains electromagnetic fields and stuff better than the way we explain it now. There is nothing inherently ‘wrong’ about old, abandoned theories in physics, necessarily. They are not necessarily disproven forever and ever just because they are old. Maybe we just wandered away from them and forgot to go back. Maybe they needed an explanation, and nobody ever got it, but somebody still could.

This weird dinner will probably put me into the hospital.

February 6, 2013

10:57 PM 2/5/2013

So, this sort of started with a library book I was reading, called ‘Trick or Treatment,’ which was recommended by someone in the baldness forum after I was complaining about how I think that the placebo/nocebo effect doesn’t exist or has been totally blown out of proportion. I’ve had several different variations of this argument in many different places over the years. But I won’t get into that now.

So I started having some discussions with ‘them’ in my head while I spent the last couple days sleeping, because I had been sick with a cold and was exhausted. And again, I won’t get into everything that I was thinking about. But it led to me thinking about that book and about the scientific method and about how nobody, not even the most sincere and conscientious doctor or scientist, is capable of actually considering all the different points of view objectively and choosing the one that is the most ‘true’ out of all of them, but instead, in reality, people still make decisions based on their own personal preferences and experiences and they tend to pay attention to evidence that supports what they already believe.

So today I was reading about vegetarianism, which I have been opposed to for a long time now. I started reading about some of the more extreme versions of it, not just the ordinary lacto-ovo vegetarians who eat a little meat once in a while, or the pescatarian diet that allows fish, but instead, I read about the most ‘extreme’ diets, like low fat vegan diets. I was reading about these and wondering if they really were as bad as I believed they were. I was reading blogs written by parents who were raising their children vegan, because I am even more strongly opposed to veganism during infancy and childhood.

The children did not drop dead instantly. They survived. However, there was something I was looking for, and I think I could see it. They have this redness under their eyes. They get raccoon eyes. Their eyes look sunken in, and their faces look emaciated. The mother’s face looks even worse. The children got skinnier and skinnier as they got older. I was looking for the Weston Price facial deformities, but I’m not sure that they are entirely caused by malnutrition – I suspect that other toxic chemicals cause the deformities, like fluoridated drinking water, and heavy metals in canned foods, for instance. These kids did not have *obvious* facial deformities, but at the same time, they started to look skinnier as they got older. I didn’t see any photos of people who had been raised vegan for their entire lives all the way through adolescence, but that is what I want to see – someone who was vegan all the way from infancy to adulthood – do they develop properly?

I also read about some things which most people agree are foolish, but which some people are doing, such as feeding their pet cats and dogs vegan food, even though those animals are carnivores and cannot survive on that kind of food. Someone had asked a vet for his opinion on this, and he said, ‘Buy a rabbit. Buy a goat.’ That’s great advice for people who want to feed their pets a vegan diet. If you want to feed your pets a vegan diet, don’t get cats and dogs. But I think the unnaturalness of it is what they *want*. I think that is the very reason they do it. They do it to prove that it can be done.

Well, I read various blogs, and then I went to Wegman’s and went grocery shopping. I don’t normally grocery shop, because I don’t have a place to cook it or store it. So I don’t want a bunch of food that has to be kept somewhere while I slowly eat all of it over a period of days. Still, I was ‘allowed’ to do an ‘experiment.’ I spontaneously bought a bunch of bizarre foods, many of which I had not eaten before. The theme of this shopping trip was to buy foods that I was planning to eat raw. It was not entirely vegan. But I avoided dairy foods, and I also did not buy a couple of fats and oils that I wanted to try, so it was kind of low fat-ish. It was kind of a lowfat raw pescatarian diet, basically.

Here is what I bought: (from my receipt)

1. sprouted pumpkin seeds dried below 105 degrees Fahrenheit (to avoid cooking them)
2. Hijiki dried seaweed
3. large sashimi plate with raw tuna and salmon
4. an heirloom variety tomato
5. a jicama, which is a sweet tasting potato-like tuber from Mexico
6. a couple of shallots (onions)
7. watercress
8. sunchokes – the tubers from the roots of the sunflower
9. avocado
10. kumquats, little tiny oranges
11. shiitake mushrooms

I’ve tried some of those foods before, but not all of them. I was a bit nervous about this. I thought I would probably end up in the hospital with food poisoning from carelessly trying a bunch of foods that I wasn’t familiar with, all at once. I wanted to try buying some raw meats, too, and I saw raw beef suet and wanted to buy it, but I won’t buy raw meat to eat raw unless I know exactly how it was handled and unless it was intended to be eaten raw. The sashimi is intended to be eaten raw, so it is handled in a way that protects it from exposure to germs. But people handling raw meats that are meant to be cooked might not be as careful about protecting the meat from germs. I could still get parasites from the sashimi – I’ve gotten parasites from eating raw fish before.

So I sat down at a table outside, in the cold, once I got back to town, and I ate a little bit of everything. I opened up each and every package and tried a little bit of it, raw. The jicama was hard to eat, because the outside of it was covered with wax, and so I had to peel it with my teeth and spit out the peel and the crumbs of wax. But after I got through the peel, the jicama was very delicious. I had eaten a potato raw many months ago, and it gave me a rash. The jicama so far hasn’t given me a rash. The label says that it’s possible to eat them raw. The sunflower tubers, sunchokes, weren’t as good as the jicama, so I only ate a little bit of one of those.

The kumquats were almost intolerable. I’ve eaten them before, long, long ago. I think I remember why I ate them. There used to be a TV show, a cartoon, and I’ll remember the name of it…. Talespin. They used to fly planes and transport things, a bear named Balloo and a little bear? named Kit. I forget if he was a bear too. One time they had an episode that involved kumquats. So I became curious about kumquats and bought some at the store and tried them. They are totally inedible. Mom told me that people usually make them into jam or something. I read a recipe for them – the recipe always involves adding tons and tons of sugar till they are candied. You never just eat them the way they are. The label on the box described them as ‘Nature’s Sweet Tarts.’ I never liked tart candy. I managed to eat only two of them. I’m wondering if I will ever be able to eat plain cranberries. Cranberries are one of the staple berries of the Arctic. I absolutely *love* to eat sweetened, dried cranberries, but just eating fresh cranberries without any added sugar is… terrible. I want to (theoretically) eat a diet without added sugar, but I might make some kind of exception. Maybe I will allow honey, or something. If I did, then I would have to eat kumquats with tons of honey. But I don’t think they have honey in the Arctic.

Everything else was pretty much as expected. I could only nibble the raw shallots – they were too spicy for me even though they said they were milder than onions. The shiitake mushrooms were okay, but nothing magical.

The sashimi, the raw fish, was somehow both good and disgusting. I reached a point where I didn’t want any more, but had not completely finished the entire tray of it. It kind of made me want to vomit, which is probably why they always include a bunch of pickled ginger with it – ginger really works to prevent vomiting – I’ve used it in the past. Ginger was absolutely miraculous with car sickness. I was sick because I was riding in the car with the newspaper delivery guy who was showing me the route. I strongly suspect that the car exhaust fumes were coming back into the car every time he backed up to get out of a driveway, and he was backing out of dozens of driveways. I had never been more carsick than that. But I didn’t throw up. On the second day that he showed me the route, I took ginger with me and ate it, and it was absolutely miraculous – no car sickness at all.

I ate lots of ginger during the terrible year when the swine flu was going around and I was getting some kind of a virus over and over again several times a week every week – I think that I had contaminated my bed with virus-filled saliva or something, and every time I laid down on it, I got sick again, right after having gotten over it, I suspect. For whatever reason, I spent a very long time, many weeks, getting a stomach virus over and over and over again, but not letting myself throw up. I ate ginger during that time period.

Anyway, now I totally trust ginger to be an effective antiemetic herb. So I always eat it when I’m eating sushi. I chose this sashimi because there wasn’t any rice. It was just strips of raw fish, and lots of it. To me, the rice is a waste of time. It’s garbage. I don’t like white rice. I do sort of like fragrant exotic rices with that special smell, like jasmine rice or basmati rice. But even so, enough is enough – usually when you get a Chinese or Indian meal at a restaurant, they give you an entire gallon of rice along with the meal, and I might eat about 1/10 of it, and the rest probably gets thrown away. Sometimes I can tolerate eating the rice if I can mix it in with the Indian food. But still I always feel that it’s way too much, and I would prefer to have only about 1/4 of what they give me, at the most. So this sashimi was just nothing but fish all by itself, with no rice at all.

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell about the incident where I threw away some food on the ground. I had a bit of a burger, and some leftover rice from a Chinese food meal that I had gotten. I couldn’t eat all of it, so I threw the leftovers on the ground in the forest next to the path where I walk. I saw the crows coming down to eat it the next day or so. When I walked down the path, I saw that the crows had taken the meat, and totally ignored the rice. The rice was garbage to them too.

The raw fish is very easy to eat. I have a cavity which hurts when I chew hard foods like nuts. I am trying to avoid chewing with that particular tooth. I’m going to remove my dental fillings from the other teeth, and that’s going to make it painful to chew with those teeth too. But this raw fish was so easy to eat, I could practically just swallow it whole, almost. I have read that raw meat is extremely easy to digest, and it doesn’t matter if you chew it up or not. They say that cooked meat takes a long time to digest, but raw meat is totally different.

But after eating a lot of it, I just didn’t want any more. It was disgusting after a while. I ate lots of the other vegetables and stuff along with it, so when the fish became disgusting, I would switch to eating something else. I just nibbled a small amount of a whole bunch of different things, and I tried at least a bite of every single item on that list, not a huge amount of them all. I really want to try eating a high-fat raw meat of some kind, like a raw organ meat with fat, instead of this low-fat fish fillet of muscle meat. The organ meats and the fats are, supposedly, the healthiest, according to the Weston Price Diet.

So yes, I forgot to talk about how this all ties in with the Weston Price diet. I have been in favor of a mostly-meat diet, as I am thinking of traveling to the Arctic. It would be very high in fat. I remember reading, many many years ago, about the people (the white Europeans, that is) who explored the Arctic and the Antarctic. If they ate low fat foods while hiking through the Arctic, then they developed frostbite. High fat foods and meats were absolutely essential to prevent frostbite. It was the only way. A lowfat vegetable diet was deadly if you were traveling in freezing conditions. That was a long time ago when I read that, but it was one of the pieces of data that my brain collected which gradually led towards my being in favor of a high-fat meat-eating diet.

Another thing that put me in favor of a high fat mostly meat diet is the Feingold diet and my salicylate sensitivity. I do actually notice symptoms from eating lots of fruits and juices, for instance, tinnitus, ringing in my ears, and restless hyperactivity. If I ate a vegetarian diet or a fruitarian diet, it would be terrible for my salicylate sensitivity. The Feingold diet says that if you are badly salicylate sensitive, you can benefit from eating a very plain meat-and-potatoes type of diet.

After eating, I had this feeling of discomfort, like something was wrong. I’m not sure exactly what it was. I suspect that it might have been because parasites were in the process of penetrating the walls of my digestive system, and in a couple days, I’m going to become aware of them. Or maybe something I ate was mildly poisonous. I also felt a little bit of the familiar salicylate reaction. I just felt like I couldn’t concentrate, but at the same time, wanted to run around and ‘do things,’ though I couldn’t decide what exactly I wanted to do.

While eating, and after eating, my fingertips were burning with agony, because I was sitting outdoors in the cold. But it wasn’t that cold, actually – it was 31 degrees, just below freezing. My fingers had gotten wet from the foods that I was touching, so the wind blew on them when they were wet, and made them much colder. But I started wondering, would my fingertips be feeling such terrible burning agony if I had eaten a bunch of high fat animal meats or high fat fish with their oils? In the Arctic, the people say that when they eat the fats and oils, it makes them feel warm, even if the food itself is cold.

So I ate a very ‘light’ meal with a variety of unfamiliar foods. There was a little bit of fat in it, but not saturated animal fat. The fat-containing foods were the avocado and the sunflower seeds. Tuna and salmon theoretically contain fat, but the particular cuts that I was given did not. They don’t have large amounts of fat riddled through the flesh, as far as I know. I was just eating muscle meat fillets, not the part of the fish where the fat is actually located.

I don’t have any magical feelings right now, an hour or so after having eaten that. I am drinking some decaf coffee – I didn’t forbid myself to continue the coffee and junk food, and I’m partly paying attention to cravings, what gives me cravings versus what prevents cravings.

I myself quit eating chocolate quite a few years ago, when I quit all forms of caffeine. I started drinking coffee again, but for the most part, I still don’t eat chocolate. And now, please forgive me for being judgmental, but I often see vegans, vegetarians, and other people on ‘light’ diets who absolutely love chocolate (and this is fresh in my mind because of the blogs I was reading). This is because chocolate is one of the only ways that they can get any fat in their diet. I have come to view a love of chocolate as a sign that someone is eating a malnourishing diet which doesn’t have enough fat in it. It’s almost invariably linked to vegetarianism. I see it over and over on all sorts of blogs, people who are vegetarians who then proudly talk about how much they *LOVE* chocolate. I myself do not get chocolate cravings anymore. I quit eating it, and while I’m drinking coffee, I’m still getting some cream, and I think that this combination, this coffee and cream, prevents a desire for chocolate. I don’t know if it’s the coffee or the cream or both. I am not saying that coffee addiction is good – I am going to quit coffee too. But it’s noteworthy that I don’t have chocolate cravings. Then again, if I start eating chocolate for any reason, then I quickly get addicted to it and start wanting to eat it all the time.

Anyway, I was looking for photographs of children being raised vegan. I am looking for something wrong with their eyes. Their eyes are sunken looking, with redness underneath them, slightly swollen underneath them, with lines drawn under them and around the edges. If the person is older and is vegan, their face will look like skin over a skull, with gaping wide eyes and huge snarling teeth in a big mouth with the skin drawn back around it, all emaciated, with no fat under the skin. There is this particular look that I recognize as the ‘vegan look,’ but then again, I am not so good at noticing this that I would be able to pick people out of a crowd – I can see it more clearly if I already know that this person is vegan, and so I am wondering if this is just me perceiving something that I expect to see because I don’t believe in veganism for kids.

I’m trying to see if vegan kids grow up with the Weston Price deformities. They don’t necessarily have those exact deformities, and I suspect that canned food, with heavy metals in it, might be what causes the worst of the WP deformities. I believe that it is not merely malnutrition alone that causes the deformities, but malnutrition combined with exposure to toxic chemicals.

So I couldn’t quite see what I was looking for, by looking at these photos of kids in blogs about veganism. They do have sunken eyes and a starved look and redness under the eyes, raccoon eyes. They do look skinny and emaciated. But I don’t see severe WP deformities, not the classic kind, with the maloccluded teeth and the narrowing of the face and all that. The faces do look *sort of* narrow, but I can’t tell for sure – all of these kids were pre-teen, so far. I need to find teenagers and adults who had been raised strictly vegan all their lives.

Veganism doesn’t cause people to instantly drop dead. It is a long slow process of malnourishment. And one reason why I was trying to read about this and question it was because I had been thinking about doctors who only believe evidence that fits what they expect to find or what they already believe. I have been opposed to strict vegan diets for a long time, and I’m expecting the worst when I look at them.

It was interesting, I recently read some articles, some anecdotes, about animals that were supposedly herbivores, eating meat. Someone had videotaped a whitetail deer eating some steak. The deer just came up to the picnic table and grabbed the steak off his plate. Deer are supposed to be herbivores. There were several other incidents of herbivorous animals eating meat. They also sometimes ate carrion, dead animals. They are opportunistic about it. They get it when they can. So even the animals that we view as being innocent of eating meat will still seek it out when they can, and benefit from it. They’re just not able to easily go out and kill something by themselves.

I just sort of want to find out if vegan diets really are as bad as I think they are. When I say vegan, I mean diets that do not include eggs or milk. There can actually be some benefits to this, if you happen to be sensitive to dairy products or eggs. But you would still be able to eat other types of meat, usually, if you were sensitive to those particular foods.

Anyway I want to continue looking at these blogs and photos to see if I can see anything in the pictures of the kids growing up.

I haven’t gotten sick yet, but I feel some sort of pains in my intestine, a little bit. It’s not bad. Those are probably just the parasites burrowing through my intestinal walls or something, no big deal (I’m sort of joking). I have actually had digestive parasites from raw meats or fish before, so that might very well be what it is. But I am hoping to have some kind of magical nourishing effect from all the fresh, raw fruits and vegetables and raw fish that I ate, and so far, nothing magical, just that feeling of wrongness, sickness, which was temporary and passing, and then the feeling of salicylate-induced restlessness, which has also somewhat diminished. I don’t feel magically energetic or alert or happy or anything. And when I say that I felt pains, they were only very mild pains. I am not actually having a lot of gas cramps or anything, not yet.

2:17 AM 2/6/2013

I definitely have an itchy rash on my face and neck now. And, high-pitched noises are painfully loud. I’m at Dunkin Donuts, and the usual music and TV are on, and they have a high frequency hiss which is much louder and much higher than usual, which means I’m having a salicylate reaction.

Oh my god. I’m looking at more photos of vegan children and babies on other blogs, and some of them are worse than others. But I am DEFINITELY seeing redness under and around the eyes, just like I said. One little kid has it so badly she might as well be wearing a bunch of pink makeup all around her eyes. I won’t link to their photos because I will get a bunch of angry vegan moms commenting to me about how evil I am for linking to their blogs.

Oh yeah, I forgot, HAARP is in Alaska.

February 4, 2013

Oh well, I’ll just see what happens anyway, when I go there. I might actually get worse mental experiences if I’m sitting right next to a gigantic ELF generating system.

I was just now reading an anti-HAARP website where they said “the key to geophysical warfare is the identification of environmental instabilities to which the addition of a small amount of energy would release vastly greater amounts of energy.” I’ve had experience with the ‘slip’ attacks, where a VLF radio wave (probably) transduces directly into physical sound or mechanical movement without any special equipment used as a transducer, like the sounds created by falling meteors – electrophonic meteor sounds. If you did that to an earthquake fault and made the sides of the fault slip against each other just a little bit, the pressure from the fault could trigger an earthquake.

Bank run, early January 2013

February 2, 2013

3:34 PM 2/2/2013

I don’t have a lot of time to write, because I’m on my lunch break at work, but I feel like writing. I’m still using Vivarin (caffeine) pills when I get up in the morning, and I have a physical tolerance for them now: it takes more and more of a pill to get the desired effects, while the side effects are all still there – urination, stomach irritation, crashing after the pill wears off, etc.

I found out that just recently there was sort of a ‘run’ on several of the big banks – very large amounts of money were withdrawn. It was because a law recently expired. There was a law saying that the FDIC would pay someone if a bank crashed and they lost their money, and now, the FDIC will pay a bit less, like 80% or something – I need to find the article again – and so people took out the money. People are also withdrawing their physical gold and silver. (*Edit, I just looked at this article again. The number “80%” came from something else. In reality, the FDIC is only insuring $250,000 of someone’s deposit, if I understand correctly, and so if they had a lot more money than that in the bank, then large amounts could be lost. So it’s even worse than I thought at first. I thought the FDIC was covering 80% of someone’s deposit, but that number refers to ’85-90% of the 1.6 trillion dollars (that was withdrawn during the bank run) had been originally deposited at the Too Big To Fail banks.’*)

http://www.dailysilvernews.com/u-s-bank-run-picks-up-pace-144-billion-exited-big-banks-in-january-2013/1828/.

Knowledgeable people had predicted that this would happen. This is one of the predictions, on Dec 20, 2012:

http://www.silverdoctors.com/us-bank-run-imminent-as-fdic-expanded-deposit-insurance-ends-dec-31st/.

I don’t have time to look up more articles – I’m trying to find some good ones to link to. I want to write more and think more about this later.

I’ve been enjoying the game nights at the UU church. I’m very glad to be socializing with real people instead of just socializing over the internet. People on the internet are real too, but it’s not the same.

I can’t wait till it gets warm outside so I can finish my cleanup.

I’m still doing fine sleeping in the tent, even when it gets down to 8 degrees Fahrenheit like they say it did last night. Someone told me it was 12 degrees when I was on my way home on my bike – some people were looking out their front door and they chatted with me for a minute. I have four sleeping bags inside each other, and I have a fifth sleeping bag unzipped and on top as a blanket, because it doesn’t fit very well and that particular one always came unzipped anyway.

I don’t think that it will ever get much colder than 8 degrees or so this winter. It’s February now, and things are going to start getting better. I understand that our air masses are coming down from the north pole, and so they can still be pretty cold for a while yet, but still I don’t expect it to get much worse than this. If I have survived well enough so far, then I expect I will be able to survive for the rest of February, and then, for all practical purposes, winter will be over. So I will have lived outdoors in my car for one winter, and then lived outdoors in a tent this winter. I count this as a success.

The next task, this year, will be to finish the decontamination, and after that, things will really get moving quickly. I’ll be able to do things that I have postponed for years.

I really enjoyed the movie ‘Groundhog Day,’ and would like to watch it again. Like that movie, I feel like I myself have been trapped in a cycle of recurring mistakes, and I feel like I’m finally coming out of it – the long, endless winter is finally over.

I’m also really enjoying reading my library books, but don’t have any time to talk about them – I have to go punch back in to work now. Overall, I am happy, and I am looking forward to the next few weeks.