What I’m Reading (July 4)

By Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA — Jul 04, 2024
From Slow Boring, the question burns: Are "ultra-processed" foods where obesity concerns turn? Magicians weave tricks with swift sleight. Our solar story, finite and brief. Kids Online Safety, a call to arms, To shield our youth from digital harms.
Image by 佳宇 闫 from Pixabay

Obesity has many “causes.” There will never be a smoking gun that will “cure” this ill. Consider this:

“What I argued in my previous post is that Americans have been gaining weight for as far back as we have records, back into the 19th century. For most of this history, weight gain manifested itself primarily in terms of people getting taller and the country experiencing lower rates of malnutrition. Eventually, though, we started hitting some kind of biological limits to increased stature, and the steadily rising average BMI manifested as a rapid increase in the number of people above the largely arbitrary obesity threshold.”

Here is the take from Slow Boring: Are "ultra-processed" foods really the problem? And Americans have been gaining weight for as long as records exist


Magicians utilize known pitfalls in our attention to create their magic. As a result, magic can often elicit ways we think or perceive. The same is now being applied to understanding the cognition of animals.

“One of the tricks that Garcia-Pelegrin performed for the jays is the “fast pass,” where a coin—or in this case a waxworm—is tossed between the magician’s hands so quickly that the visual system of a human would miss it altogether. When we rapidly switch our gaze from one object to another, our eyes move in fast jumps known as saccades, rather than in a smooth motion that would cause the world to blur. During each jump, there’s a split second when we don’t see anything at all, a momentary blindness during which a skilled magician can throw an object from one hand to another right in front of an audience without their seeing it.

Birds, however, are able to see much faster movements than we are, and consequently don’t depend on saccades as much.”

From Nautil.us, Abracadabra! How Magic Can Help Us Understand Animal Minds


If current events have not left you sufficiently depressed, there is this.

“Just like people, planetary systems are born, evolve—then die. It’s a good reminder that there’s no time like the present to make the most of this glorious-but-finite chapter in the solar system’s story.”

Looking to our galactic future, from most of what we can see, it doesn’t end well, at least for us. From Nautil.us, The Stars Foretell Our Doom


John Haidt has gotten a great deal of press lately over his concerns about social media and the mental health of our children. For many, he is just the “tip of the spear,” and the real push will be the Kids Online Safety Act.

“We should not accept the lies of lobbyists who tell us that any social media regulation would make the internet worse. For us to start grasping the benefits of the internet, we first need to stop companies spending billions of dollars to grab hold of our attention from the time we start puberty. 

With regulation, perhaps Mark Zuckerberg will be remembered for pioneering digital technology to connect people, which had some rough spots but ended up making our world much better. Without regulation, Mark Zuckerberg will be remembered as the person who found out how to turn off our brains and used this power to make us sit in the dark, ignore our dreams, and disconnect from the people we love.”

From After Babel, A Gen Z Perspective on Why We Must Pass the Kids Online Safety Act

Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA

Director of Medicine

Dr. Charles Dinerstein, M.D., MBA, FACS is Director of Medicine at the American Council on Science and Health. He has over 25 years of experience as a vascular surgeon.

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