What I'm Reading (Nov. 24)

Banning menthol heats up.
Is it a conspiracy? A ten-point checklist
Debunking pumpkins – say it ain’t so!
The Decline and Fall of Eating together

“At the Gateway mini mart here, you can buy menthol-flavored hemp cigarettes, an impressive 1-pound bag of pipe tobacco, or a Dragon Ball Z-themed bong — or, you can submit a formal comment to regulators at the Food and Drug Administration.

A sign on the door warns consumers: “The FDA Is Trying To Ban Menthol Cigarettes and Flavored Cigars.” Scan the QR code at the bottom of the poster and it’ll take you to the website for a group called Citizens for Tobacco Rights. There, you can submit a comment opposing the FDA’s April proposal to ban menthol and flavored cigarettes and cigars, which would still have to be finalized formally to take effect.”


There is no doubt that concerned citizens should voice their feelings on these regulations. It should be no surprise that Big Tobacco is a driving force in those “spontaneous” feelings. From Stat To gin up opposition to the proposed menthol ban, tobacco companies are turning to gas station ads.

I’ve been writing about the proposal for some time. You can find the scientific concern here, the Canadian experience with banning menthol here, and more current concerns about developing lung cancer. Spoiler alert settled science is difficult to ascertain. 


“Most conspiracy theories are false, he told me, for two reasons: (1) the competency problem and (2) the leakage problem. Most conspiracists, Liddy continued, are bumbling, fumbling nincompoops who can’t keep their mouths shut — three people can keep a secret, he added, echoing Benjamin Franklin, if two of them are dead.”


By the way, the Liddy in this quote is G. Gordon Liddy, who should know something about conspiracies.  The Big Think provides a conspiracy identification kit to help us separate what may be true from what definitely is not. 10 rules to determine if a conspiracy theory is true or false


This week a two-fer from the Atlantic. First, in keeping with the season and our mission, it is time to debunk pumpkin pie.

“The whole reason canned pumpkin isn’t field pumpkin is that field pumpkin isn’t good to eat. Colonial Americans ate them only when they couldn’t afford anything else. It’s icky. So when the industrial revolution came along, according to Ott, “the pumpkin stayed behind on the farm.” Unlike squash, which were sold in markets and remained “part of people’s everyday life, just like how we see squash now,” no one tried to sell pumpkins in the city. They were just used as a cheap alternative to animal feed on small family farms.”

From The Atlantic, The Great Pumpkin-Pie Conspiracy

And second, in keeping with the Thanksgiving holiday tradition, a discourse on the death of dining with one another.

“The dining table is disappearing. Fewer are being sold now in rich economies, apparently. This says a lot about the times we live in. The table is less and less the center of family life. We eat at the computer, standing in the kitchen, lounging on the sofa in front of the television, in the car, or walking along the street. Best of all we like to graze all day. If we do still eat at the table then it’s no longer a dining table but one where eating shares space with other things, such as a computer, a television, or newspapers.”


Why We Eat Together