Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSShttp://iwf.org/images/email-logo.pnghttp://www.iwf.org33968Why Gwyneth Paltrow and Other Celebrities Shouldn’t Be Your Source for Science<p> This past weekend, many people held &ldquo;march for science&rdquo; demonstrations and gatherings across the country to protest&hellip;well, something, though it was hard to know exactly what. Predictably, entertainers like Rosario Dawson, Peter Capaldi, Kate Walsh, Kerry Washington, Debra Messing, supermodel (and destroyer of Pepsi) Kendall Jenner, designer Kenneth Cole, and television personality Bill Nye, The Science Guy were all supportive of the March and the vague positions promoted by the March organizers.</p> <p> These elites are all entitled to their opinions and entitled to promote them on social media, but people shouldn&rsquo;t mistake celebrity endorsement as a sign of legitimacy, nor should March organizers forget that celebrities make bad spokesmen for science.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s not that most entertainers are developmentally delayed, it&rsquo;s that sycophants and paid-for-friends (hair dressers, stylists, publicists, spouses) have for so long surrounded them that many are incapable of any sort of self-doubt or self-examination. Lacking much intellectual humility or curiosity, they don&rsquo;t exactly exude one of the tenets of the scientific process: the need to constantly question, and reevaluate evidence, as well as staying open to criticism by other scientists or new discoveries that would lead to a new conclusion.</p> <p> Gwyneth Paltrow is a perfect example of how entertainers usually misunderstand complex scientific issues yet have no problem presenting themselves as knowledgeable experts on these serious topics.</p> <p> For instance, in the weeks leading up to the March for Science, Paltrow tweeted a harrowing message to her 2.8 million followers, warning them that they&rsquo;re being poisoned by their cosmetics because items like lipstick contain lead. Yet, if Paltrow had talked to an actual toxicologist (or <a href="http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/lipstick.asp">even checked Snopes</a>, which dismissed this hysterical nonsense in 2015), she would have learned that the level of lead (which is used as a color additive) in lipstick is so miniscule that it has no epidemiological effect on the human body. The <a href="https://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/transparency/basics/ucm194557.htm">FDA confirmed this on the agency&rsquo;s own website</a>, explaining that, after conducting safety tests on lipstick, they found that the lead levels were so low that the agency &ldquo;does not believe that any of the products tested pose a safety concern.&rdquo;</p> <p> Of course, it&rsquo;s understandable that people are nervous. Cosmetics do contain things that seem scary&mdash;like chemical preservatives with long, multi-syllabic names. That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s so easy to scare people about products one applies directly to the body. But what&rsquo;s not talked about is just what these preservatives do&mdash;protect consumers from opportunistic bacteria that can cause real health problems, like breakouts, skin and eye infections, bumps and itchiness (For even more evidence that preservatives make cosmetics safer, check out this <a href="https://youtu.be/UPjoOQDyQMo">side-by-side view of cosmetics</a> with and without preservatives and tell me which one you want to smear on your face).</p> <p> Paltrow and her Twitter followers might also be reassured to know that the cosmetic industry is already heavily regulated by the Food and Drug Administration under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. In other words, there&rsquo;s a regulatory structure already in place to ensure the safety of the products that end up in your makeup bag.</p> <p> Sadly, Paltrow is a known peddler of fake news from dubious sources. For that lipstick tweet, Paltrow provided a link to a report by the Environmental Working Group&mdash;a widely dismissed (by actual scientists) and very radical environmental group that pushes junk science in order to scare consumers into demanding tougher regulations on an already overregulated cosmetic industry (tip to the ladies: more regulations will lead to higher costs on your favorite blush and eye shadow).</p> <p> Paltrow might also examine the health, beauty, and nutrition advice she promotes on her own lifestyle blog GOOP, which is far from scientifically sound. For instance, Paltrow <a href="http://goop.com/you-probably-have-a-parasite-heres-what-to-do-about-it/">provides guidance</a> from a &ldquo;naturopathic physician and homeopath&rdquo; (otherwise known as &ldquo;not really a doctor&rdquo;) about how to rid oneself of the quite serious problem of parasitic infestation after vacationing in a tropical location: sit in a tub of goat&rsquo;s milk to rid oneself of the parasite. Oddly, the Centers for Disease Control has other <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/health_professionals.html">recommendations</a>, like seeking actual medical help.</p> <p> Paltrow also says bee stings are an <a href="http://www.vogue.com/article/gwyneth-paltrow-apitherapy-bee-stings-treatment">effective treatment</a> for skin irritations and to reduce the appearance of scars. She&rsquo;s told women that <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/gwyneth-paltrow-defends-vagina-steaming-advice-a7145026.html">vaginal steaming</a> promotes hormonal health when it&rsquo;s really just a good way to injure a pretty tender and important part of your body. Paltrow recommends invasive and totally unnecessary <a href="http://gawker.com/5873449/gwyneth-paltrow-now-sells-goop-colon-cleanses">colon cleanses</a> to rid one&rsquo;s body of toxins (that&rsquo;s what your liver does), <a href="http://nypost.com/2013/04/15/you-can-be-a-gwyn-orexic/">starvation diets and food restriction</a>, and that people should forgo <a href="http://goop.com/the-safest-non-toxic-sunscreens/">&ldquo;toxic&rdquo; sunscreen</a> during sunny summer months. Her nonsensical guidance would be comic gold if they weren&rsquo;t so scientifically unsound and potentially harmful.</p> <p> Americans need to remember that ill-informed, pretty people make good entertainers yet they make poor sources for information on science and other policy matters. Marchers for science, politicians, and the media reporting on health and wellness issues would do well to remember the distinction.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2803513/Julie GunlockThu, 27 Apr 2017 12:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDon't Freak Out Over Diet Soda • Cam & Companyhttp://iwf.org/media/2803502/Julie GunlockTue, 25 Apr 2017 08:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumEat Your (Frozen!) Vegetables<p> If you listen to the health bloggers, mom bloggers, fitness bloggers, the ubiquitous Gwyneth Paltrow-wannabe bloggers, you&#39;d think the only way to get healthy is to 1) shop exclusively at Whole Foods, 2) only buy organic produce, and 3) buy only fresh fruits and vegetables, never frozen or (gasp!) canned.</p> <p> But, that&#39;s silly. First, shop where it make sense for your budget. For me, that&#39;s a combination of my local chain grocery store, the Asian market for hard-to-find produce, and occasionally a high-end grocery store for certain items I can&#39;t live without.</p> <p> Each week, frozen foods make it into my cart. I can&rsquo;t live without frozen peas, cauliflower (frozen cauliflower makes the best mash), beans, spinach and chopped broccoli (great as a filler in soups). Frozen food is cheap and easy to store and convenient as I can take from the bag what I need and return the contents to the freezer for later use. &nbsp;</p> <p> And now, there&#39;s more evidence that frozen food is actually better than fresh food (although, both remember that both fresh and frozen are great so don&rsquo;t worry if you&rsquo;re eating fresh over frozen, but if you&#39;re lookign to save money, you dont&#39; have to feel guilty). According to this article on Foxnews.com, frozen is actually slightly higher in nutrients.</p> <blockquote> <p> A team of scientists from the University of Georgia compared fresh with frozen, as well as a third category dubbed &quot;fresh-stored.&quot; This mimicked the typical length of time people tend to store fresh produce after buying it and was found to be around five days.</p> <p> The researchers focused on these family favorites:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; broccoli</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; cauliflower</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; corn</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; green beans</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; green peas</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; spinach</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; blueberries</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; strawberries</p> <p> To judge how fresh each product was, the scientists measured levels of key nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin A and folate. In many cases, there was little difference between the fresh, fresh-stored and frozen varieties. But, where the researchers noted vast differences, <strong>they found the frozen produce outshone the fresh counterparts</strong>. They said: &ldquo;The findings of this study do not support the common belief that fresh food has significantly greater nutritional value than its frozen counterpart.</p> </blockquote> <p> Read more <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/2017/04/21/are-frozen-veggies-healthy-study-suggests-surprising-finding.html">here</a>.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2803474/Julie GunlockMon, 24 Apr 2017 08:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumOh Please! Diet Drinks Don’t Kill<p> Alrighty folks, along with basically everything else you consume except water (wait&hellip;wait&hellip;nope, <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3731388/Deadly-toxic-chemicals-drinking-water-6-MILLION-Americans.html">water too</a>), it turns out diet drinks are going to kill you.</p> <p> Now is a good time to roll your eyes and crack open a cold Diet Coke&hellip;or if you&rsquo;re a social justice warrior, a Diet Pepsi</p> <p> This latest bit of alarmism is due to a new &ldquo;scientific study&rdquo; published in the scientific journal <em>Stroke</em>, and to the many terrifying headlines that have been generated in mainstream publications. Even the most reasonable person will see these stories and wonder: Is there really any reason to worry?</p> <p> The short answer is no and here&rsquo;s why. While some studies are instructive and&nbsp; while there is good reason to study certain types of foods&rsquo; and beverages&rsquo; affect on the body, this latest study isn&rsquo;t really going to generate much concern from the legitimate medical community.</p> <p> The most important detail people should know is that this study is observational, which in science speak means it is the weakest form of scientific study. The researchers observed the eating and drinking habits of 2,888 individuals using a series of questionnaires over a decade.</p> <p> Now, I don&rsquo;t know about you good readers, but if someone asks me what I ate on Saturday night, I might not admit that I ate an entire sleeve of thin mints, followed by two tablespoons of peanut butter and two cheese sticks all washed down with a half-bottle of Chardonnay.</p> <p> Nope, that seems bad. Instead, I&rsquo;d likely write down something quite different. I might say that I had three thin mints, an apple with a teaspoon of low fat peanut butter, all washed down with some sparkling water.&nbsp; In fact, I might even think I was being honest. Memory is a funny thing and human nature demands we fudge reality a little&hellip;or a lot.</p> <p> Back to the study. It&rsquo;s also important to also know that the study found a correlation between consumption of diet drinks and cardiovascular disease. It did not find a direct causation (meaning, people dropped dead after drinking a Tab and the direct cause was the beverage).</p> <p> So, what we&rsquo;re looking at here is that those who drank diet drinks had a slightly higher risk of cardiovascular disease, but&hellip;and this is a big but&hellip;there are lots of other things that might have caused the disease, like eating higher calorie food, a more sedentary life, or smoking--just to name a few things that could cause cardiovascular disease.</p> <p> What I find most interesting about these studies is the utter obviousness of the results. These types of studies always make me say: &ldquo;someone paid someone to study that? Isn&rsquo;t&rsquo; that sort of obvious?&rdquo; The obvious thing here is that diet beverage drinkers are usually overweight or attempting to diet. I know very few people who willingly drink diet beverages unless they are watching their weight.</p> <p> So, is it any wonder that those who drink more diet beverages are perhaps dealing with other health related issues, like obesity? Obesity is a well-documented cause of cardiovascular disease.</p> <p> I&rsquo;m sure the authors of this study are enjoying their newfound fame and the multiple invites to speak at anti-soda summits. But it isn&rsquo;t just the authors of this study that are at fault. The media is hungry for these sorts of stories&mdash;stories that make people feel bad for or afraid of their heretofore-normal behaviors.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s understandable that people are nervous when they see stories like this but we all need to remember, we&rsquo;re all going to die eventually. It won&rsquo;t be because of your Diet Coke.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2803473/Julie GunlockMon, 24 Apr 2017 07:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSupermodels Super Health & Wellness Experts? • Cam & Company http://iwf.org/media/2803377/Julie GunlockTue, 11 Apr 2017 14:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAre Supermodels Experts in Everything?<p> In 1998, hotel chain Holiday Inn Express launched a popular marketing campaign that showed experts (surgeons, pilots, nuclear engineers, mathematics professors) completing tasks in their fields of expertise. As the commercial goes on, viewers learn these people aren&rsquo;t experts at all, but just regular folks who&ndash;and here&rsquo;s the punch line&ndash;happened to stay at a Holiday Inn Express the night before.</p> <p> The ad&rsquo;s meaning is obvious: staying in a Holiday Inn Express makes you a genius, so naturally, you can do anything&mdash;surgery, operate a helicopter, solve difficult equations, thwart a nuclear meltdown&hellip;no sweat!</p> <p> The ads were funny and very popular, running on air for over 10 years. While the ad was meant to be a joke when it first ran almost two decades ago, sadly, today, too many people seem to mistake those ads for reality.&nbsp;</p> <p> Consider, for instance, the announcement by the Partnership for a Healthy America that supermodel Cindy Crawford will be the featured speaker at the organization&rsquo;s annual summit in Washington DC.</p> <p> <img alt="" height="893" sizes="(max-width: 647px) 100vw, 647px" src="https://acculturated.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Crawford-647x893.jpg" srcset="https://acculturated.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Crawford-647x893.jpg 647w, https://acculturated.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Crawford-217x300.jpg 217w, https://acculturated.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Crawford-246x339.jpg 246w, https://acculturated.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Crawford.jpg 750w" style="border:0px;vertical-align:middle;height:auto;" width="647" /></p> <p> This&nbsp;might make you wonder: What does this organization do? Is it dedicated to helping retired models? Perhaps the Partnership (as it&rsquo;s known) helps supermodels integrate into normal society by offering financial guidance, how-to seminars on eating like a normal person, and TED-type talks from former models that now confidently wear mom jeans. If this is the case, Crawford makes total sense as a keynote speaker.</p> <p> Yet, reviewing the&nbsp;<a href="http://ahealthieramerica.org/about/about-the-partnership/" target="_blank">organization&rsquo;s website</a>, one quickly learns that the Partnership has very little to do with the modeling industry and is instead &ldquo;devoted to working with the private sector to ensure the health of our nation&rsquo;s youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis.&rdquo;</p> <p> Childhood obesity is a very complex issue. Activists have blamed everything from Happy Meals to sugary drinks to cartoon characters on cereal boxes to unhealthy school meals. Yet the reason for American kids&rsquo; corporeal abundance remains complicated; it&rsquo;s often not one, but several things that contribute to a child&rsquo;s unhealthy eating habits.</p> <p> Of course, considering the issue&rsquo;s complexity, one would hope an organization as serious as the Partnership would want to hear from experts in the field of obesity research, not from a woman who dropped out of college three decades ago in order to walk the catwalks of Milan and Paris. Admittedly, Crawford made the right decision, which resulted in an extremely successful career as a model, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean that she is well suited to discuss knotty medical issues, especially ones that have befuddled the medical community for decades.&nbsp;</p> <p> Additionally, the Partnership ought to at least consider how the unrealistic body images that women&rsquo;s magazines and the models that they airbrush onto their pages create, warping people&rsquo;s expectations about what &ldquo;healthy&rdquo; even means.&nbsp;</p> <p> If the Partnership really wanted to help kids acquire better eating patterns, they&rsquo;d work to diminish the role of celebrities, rather than promoting them as authorities on the topic. After all, fad diets, dangerous cleanses, and questionable nutrition supplements are often driven by various entertainers pushing them on the public.&nbsp;</p> <p> Consider Gwyneth Paltrow, who both personally and through her lifestyle site GOOP, regularly doles out questionable health advice.&nbsp;<a href="http://goop.com/the-mysteries-of-the-thyroid/" target="_blank">One recent GOOP post</a>&nbsp;featured &ldquo;Medical Medium&rdquo; Anthony William&ndash;a doctor who claims he &ldquo;was born with the unique ability to converse with a high-level spirit who provides him with extraordinarily accurate health information that&rsquo;s often far ahead of its time.&rdquo; So, diet advice from ghosts. Seems safe.</p> <p> Another celebrity with no training but huge confidence in her ability to guide others is Alicia Silverstone. In her book,&nbsp;<em>Kind Mama</em>, Silverstone, who is known appropriately for her role in the 90s hit &ldquo;Clueless,&rdquo;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2606066/Miso-soup-prevent-measles-Why-Alicia-Silverstone-feeding-two-year-old-son-plant-based-diet-instead-getting-vaccinated.html" target="_blank">tells moms</a>&nbsp;that miso soup is better at preventing dangerous and highly infectious diseases&mdash;like measles&mdash;than vaccinations. Silverstone&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/22/from-clueless-to-clueless-alicia-silverstone-s-the-kind-mama.html" target="_blank">also says</a>&nbsp;meat, dairy and tampons cause infertility, and promotes the idea that a plant-based diet can &ldquo;demolish your need for pharmaceutical drugs&rdquo; even for nightmarishly serious conditions as depression, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension.</p> <p> Songstress Katy Perry is another dangerous promoter of bad dietary advice.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2329482/Katy-Perry-tweets-picture-bags-healthy-supplements.html" target="_blank">Tweeting out a picture</a>&nbsp;to her whopping 96 million Twitter followers, Perry bragged that she takes a daily cocktail of 26 vitamins and supplements. Yet the medical community (you know, the guys who went to medical school instead of cranking out bad pop songs) often warns of the dangerous side effects of the overuse of these nutritional supplements. Some&nbsp;<a href="https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/vitamins-and-cancer-risk/" target="_blank">studies</a>&nbsp;have shown they increase the risk of developing cancer and heart disease. Maybe Katy can write a song about that.&nbsp;</p> <p> Holiday Inn meant their ad campaign to be amusing but it was a prescient peek into the future. In his new book&nbsp;<a href="http://thefederalist.com/2014/01/17/the-death-of-expertise/" target="_blank"><em>The Death of Expertise</em></a>, author Tom Nichols explains that these celebrities are simply taking advantage of the public&rsquo;s easy access to information. According to Nichols, that access has enabled &ldquo;a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laypeople, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers&mdash;in other words, between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all.&rdquo;</p> <p> We make over 200 food-related decisions every day. It&rsquo;s vital that we make these decisions with the help of good, science-based, evidence-based information and with the help of people who know what the heck they&rsquo;re talking about. Celebrities usually don&rsquo;t. The Partnership shouldn&rsquo;t pretend otherwise.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2803366/Julie GunlockMon, 10 Apr 2017 14:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLegislation Putting Women in Harms Way + the Non-GMO Project • Cam & Companyhttp://iwf.org/media/2803332/Julie GunlockWed, 5 Apr 2017 14:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPity Our Overconfident Celebrities<p> The Dunning-Kruger effect is defined as a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority. In other words, it&rsquo;s when dumb as rocks folks think they&rsquo;re brilliant.</p> <p> We all know people who suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect: spin instructors, mommy bloggers, anti-vaccination zealots, essential oil peddlers, people who shop at Whole Foods. Nearly every Hollywood actress suffers from the condition. Alicia Silverstone&mdash;of&nbsp;<em>Clueless&nbsp;</em>fame&mdash;wrote a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Kind-Mama-Supercharged-Fertility-Pregnancy/dp/1623360404" target="_blank">book</a>,&nbsp;<em>Kind Mama</em>, in which she doles out medical advice. Just last week, another actress, Hayden Panettiere, made headlines (and a spectacle of herself) by tweeting out a conspiracy theory about the contrails made by the water vapor trailing behind jet planes:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <img alt="" src="http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb366/IWF11/2016/849050_zpswqrnsbzs.png" style="width: 500px; height: 324px;" /></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Fran Drescher&mdash;best known for her role as an annoying nanny on television&mdash;often lectures the world about plant biology, despite lacking any sort of education or background in the subject.</p> <p> And of course, there&rsquo;s movie actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who is well known for her complete lack of humility when it comes to areas of study she&rsquo;s not actually, you know, studied, but causally observes and practices like hobbies&mdash;such as nutrition, fashion, dermatology, gynecology, plant biology and now, marine biology.</p> <p> <em>People</em>&nbsp;magazine&nbsp;<a href="http://people.com/food/gwyneth-paltrow-goop-octopus-slack/" target="_blank">reports</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p> The goop founder revealed on Sunday that she considers octopus &ldquo;too smart to be food.&rdquo; The topic came up when Paltrow and her staff were trading restaurant recommendations in their L.A. office Slack group. One goop staffer suggested ordering the barbecue octopus from Cliff&rsquo;s Edge in Silver Lake, sparking Paltrow&rsquo;s &ldquo;tangent.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p> &ldquo;They have more neurons in their brains than we do. I had to stop eating them because I was so freaked out by it,&rdquo; she said in a series of screenshots shared on goop&lsquo;s Instagram account. &ldquo;They can escape from sea world and s&mdash; by unscrewing drains and going out to sea. #tangent.&rdquo;</p> <p> Indeed, there is a popular YouTube&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvvjcQIJnLg" target="_blank">video</a>&nbsp;(now up to 11 million views; thanks Gwyn), showing an octopus escaping his jelly jar by unscrewing the lid. It&rsquo;s cool and fun to watch and I&rsquo;ll be showing it to my three kids tonight. But should we base our food decisions on a YouTube video or the idea that animals have some, yet obviously not human-level, cognitive abilities?</p> <p> Beyond the silly YouTube video, Paltrow has indeed stumbled into what is actually a very complex ethical question. Should we eat animals that are intelligent or exhibit intelligent behavior? According to Paltrow, octopi have large, complex brains and can accomplish difficult tasks. Therefore, they should not be used as a food source for humans.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s a valid point and while there is significant scientific evidence that certain animals (pigs, elephants, rats, and yes, octopi) have a higher level of intelligence and are able to learn, use tools, and express some basic emotions, it&rsquo;s important to understand the difference between intelligence and consciousness.</p> <p> In a recent&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/just-how-smart-is-an-octopus/2017/01/06/a2f1ed22-acd0-11e6-8b45-f8e493f06fcd_story.html?utm_term=.df231aef57ce" target="_blank">review</a>&nbsp;of Peter Godfrey-Smith&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Other-Minds-Octopus-Origins-Consciousness/dp/0374227764" target="_blank">book</a>,&nbsp;<em>Other Minds</em>, which examines the world of Cephalopods (octopuses, squids and nautiluses), Callum Roberts, a professor of marine conservation at the University of York in Britain and the author of&nbsp;<em>The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea,</em>&nbsp;examines the issue of humans&rsquo; ethical responsibilities toward these animals. Given their brains and higher intelligence, do cephalopods know what they are? Do they have a sense of themselves, an identity? According to Godfrey-Smith, the answer is no.</p> <blockquote> <p> While cephalopods are capable of exceptional complexity in their signaling, the machinery of interpretation is too limited. Humans, perhaps uniquely, have gained the ability to step outside ourselves, to think about our thoughts by means of an unstoppable internal monologue. While cephalopods can produce highly patterned signals, they can&rsquo;t see their own skins, Godfrey-Smith argues, so he rules out the possibility of any internal monologue.</p> </blockquote> <p> It&rsquo;s common to anthropomorphize animals. Giving animals human qualities&mdash;they think like us, they feel like us, they have emotions, they care, they love&mdash;is as human a human quality as there is. Who wouldn&rsquo;t want to live in a Pixar&nbsp;<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2709768/" target="_blank">movie</a>&nbsp;where, when we leave the house, our animals come to life, raiding the fridge, turning on the television, napping in the human bed. Would any of us have pets if we didn&rsquo;t engage in this kind of fantasy?</p> <p> And of course, there&rsquo;s room for sympathy for Paltrow, the hobbyist who generates headlines. Plenty of us spout off and say stupid things. Her moments just happen to grab the world&rsquo;s attention, especially when she talks about an octopus.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/news/2803175/Julie GunlockThu, 23 Mar 2017 13:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFlushable Wipes Ban + Meals On Wheels Hysteria • Cam & Co http://iwf.org/media/2803160/Julie GunlockTue, 21 Mar 2017 16:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNew York City Bans Flushable Wipes • RT Boom Bust http://iwf.org/media/2803154/Julie GunlockTue, 21 Mar 2017 10:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPresident Trump's Budget Cuts to PBS and Meals on Wheels • Fox & Friends Weekendhttp://iwf.org/media/2803133/Julie GunlockMon, 20 Mar 2017 09:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFlushing Busybody Politicians<p> Regulators must think they need to bolster their collective bad reputations as the worst sort of busybodies. Showing that no issue is too small, regulators in the nation&rsquo;s capital have prohibited labeling flushable wipes &ndash; a useful product loved by mothers of infants and messy toddlers to the elderly, and everyone in between &ndash; as &ldquo;flushable&rdquo;, effectively creating a ban on local sales for this nationally marketed consumer good.</p> <p> Other cities are likely to follow in Washington DC&rsquo;s footsteps. In fact, in New York City, council member Donovan Richards has already introduced a bill to ban the sale of flushable wipes, wrongly claiming they do not dissolve in sewer systems.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s a familiar, though entirely false, criticism. Those who oppose these convenient products suggest flushable wipes are contributing to the increasingly disgusting problem of citywide sewer blockages. Yet, they overlook another, very similar product, that&rsquo;s far more likely to be causing the problem&mdash;baby wipes and cleaning wipes, which are not flushable because they contain plastic filaments that do not break down in sewers. Flushable wipes do not contain plastic and are designed to disaggregate in sewer systems.&nbsp;</p> <p> These facts appear to matter little to D.C. politicians who in December passed the first ever ban on the sale of flushable wipes until sewer and infrastructure officials get around to developing citywide &ldquo;flushable&rdquo;&nbsp;standards (apparently, unlike immigration policy, it&rsquo;s okay for government officials to &ldquo;pause&rdquo; on government policies governing the type of wipe one uses in the bathroom).&nbsp;</p> <p> Yet, sadly for DC residents, these flushable standards won&rsquo;t be developed anytime soon. It&rsquo;s common knowledge that city water authority staff is already stretched so thin that they simply won&rsquo;t be able to take on these standard setting responsibilities. What&rsquo;s even more galling is that the Federal Trade Commission has already established a national standard for flushable wipes, making these DC-specific standards unnecessary.</p> <p> While sewage problems are indeed a worthy cause for city officials&rsquo; attention, it&rsquo;s important to not throw the baby products out with the bathwater. In a recent sewage test in New York City, only two percent of the sewage blockage residue came from flushable wipes while a full 33 percent was made up of the plastic filament contained in non-flushable baby wipes. Perhaps a better use of resources would be to urge people not to flush the products that are intended for the garbage rather than the toilet?</p> <p> Politicians would also do well to remember why certain products are developed in the first place: in response to genuine consumer interest. Flushable wipes are popular with mothers of young children and with those who care for the elderly. The unintended consequences of this measure should also be considered. This ban will result in the greater use of non-flushable wipes, like baby wipes and chlorine-based cleaning wipes (which are not banned). In fact, it&rsquo;s likely people will start flushing more of these wipes instead of the flushable alternative, which will only exacerbate the problems with the city&rsquo;s sewers.</p> <p> Naturally, environmentalists are on the wrong side of this issue, applauding the ban when they should be vocally opposed to the waste that this ban will create. Flushable wipes are biodegradable and cut down on the water usage related to using non-disposable washcloths in place of flushable wipes. Where are the environmentalists on water waste and the needed infrastructure repairs that will inevitably result from this ban?</p> <p> The anti-flushable wipe fervor that is sweeping city councils and state legislatures isn&rsquo;t just a waste of time and resources; It is a perfect example of the smallness and intransigence of big government. Politicians see nothing wrong with stepping in to fix a problem that doesn&rsquo;t exist and creating a solution that will result in substantial and unintended human costs, while making society&rsquo;s problem far worse.</p> <p> No wonder so many Americans wish they could flush the political class and start anew.&nbsp;</p> <p> <em>Julie</em>&nbsp;<em>Gunlock is the mother of three messy boys and is a fan of flushable wipes. She writes for the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</em></p> http://iwf.org/news/2803117/Julie GunlockThu, 16 Mar 2017 09:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFeminism’s Problems are Bigger Than One Bad Teacher<p> In the popular &lsquo;80s movie&nbsp;<em>The&nbsp;Goonies</em>, the character Chunk is taken prisoner by the bank-robbing Fratelli gang, who are on the lam and hiding in an abandoned seaside restaurant. When Francis Fratelli (brilliantly played by Joe Pantoliano), the more sociopathic of the two Fratelli brothers, holds Chunk&rsquo;s hand over a running blender&rsquo;s blades and says, &ldquo;I want you tell us everything . . . everything [about the location of your friends] . . .&rdquo; (who are going to find the police), Chunk relents, spilling the beans&hellip;sort of:</p> <blockquote> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;">&ldquo;Okay, Okay, I&rsquo;ll talk&hellip;in third grade I cheated on my history exam. In fourth grade I stole my Uncle Max&rsquo;s toupee and glued it on my face when I played Moses in my Hebrew school play. In fifth grade . . .&rdquo;</span></p> </blockquote> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Q5UG7ISJfP0" width="560"></iframe></p> <p> This scene popped into my head when I began reading Shira Hirschman Weiss&rsquo; rather&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/my-kindergarten-teacher-almost-ruined-feminism-for_us_58be9b0ce4b0aeb52475fee4" target="_blank">depressing blog in the Huffington Post</a>. In her recent &ldquo;My Kindergarten Teacher Almost Ruined &lsquo;Feminism&rsquo; for Me,&rdquo; blog post, Weiss comes off a little like Chunk, rambling on about how, at five, she was mistreated by a stern (and clearly not very nice) teacher and that this mistreatment caused her a lifetime of anxiety and mistrust of feminists.</p> <p> Weiss&rsquo; blog starts off with the Dickensian image of her as a tiny, five-year-old cleaning the cruel teacher&rsquo;s paintbrushes. Weiss writes, likely with a bit of exaggeration, that she &ldquo;spent the day washing&rdquo; the paintbrushes and that despite spending her entire day at the sink, she was never able to meet the teacher&rsquo;s approval, adding parenthetically &ldquo;(in any way)&rdquo; and was &ldquo;always being sent back to the sink, missing outdoor time with the other kids.&rdquo;</p> <p> Weiss also details the verbal abuse she suffered, writing that the teacher called her &ldquo;weird&rdquo; and questioned, presumably within earshot, whether Weiss suffered from &ldquo;mental retardation.&rdquo; She says overall, the teacher &ldquo;made it clear that she felt I was hopeless.&rdquo;</p> <p> This is tough to read and a sad commentary on the lack of kindness, empathy, professionalism, and basic manners on the part of this teacher (that, sadly, was probably more common decades ago). There&rsquo;s no arguing that this teacher was abusive and Weiss understandably has had to work through these feelings of inadequacy for years. Yet, the connection to feminism and Weiss&rsquo; later suggestion that others share her distrust of feminists for similar reasons (having one bad experience with one feminist) ignores the real problems in the feminist movement.</p> <p> Weiss writes she often felt nauseous when hearing the word &ldquo;feminists&rdquo; because this abusive teacher was a well known feminist in the town: &ldquo;In our tight-knit community, she was known for advocating rights for religious Jewish females.&rdquo; She&rsquo;s since moved beyond her reactionary fear, but ponders if others have a similar, misunderstood Pavlovian association with the term:</p> <blockquote> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;">There is a sort of negative association in some people&rsquo;s minds and we don&rsquo;t always know the psychological roots. Perhaps their parents snickered at an &ldquo;eccentric&rdquo; neighbor whose intentions were ahead of her time. Or perhaps, like me, a person attached to important and good work had some glaring faults and a truly negative impact on them personally.</span></p> </blockquote> <p> It&rsquo;s natural to take one&rsquo;s own experiences and assume others share it, but in this case, there are a lot of other reasons that many women (and men) are put off by the modern feminist movement that have nothing to do with a specific negative association or experience.</p> <p> Many modern women simply don&rsquo;t relate to the mainstream feminists narrative that the world (and mostly America) is overwhelmingly hostile to women. Many women don&rsquo;t see men as the enemy or feel that women are at a disadvantage and must constantly battle against a patriarchal system that seeks to make them second class citizens, pay them less, ignore their contributions to society and generally make their lives a living hell.&nbsp; They see the vulgarity and profanity that laces events like the Women&rsquo;s March and want no part of it.</p> <p> In fact, according to a recent&nbsp;<a href="http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2015/04/09/82-percent-of-americans-dont-consider-themselves-feminists-poll-shows/" target="_blank">Vox poll</a>, eighty-two percent of American women don&rsquo;t identify as feminists. Perhaps these women also had vicious teachers who also happened to be feminist leaders in their communities. But something tells me the modern feminists&rsquo; message deserves more of the blame.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2803101/Julie GunlockWed, 15 Mar 2017 12:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNanny State: Europe vs. USA + #DayWithoutAWoman • Cam & Company http://iwf.org/media/2803094/Julie GunlockTue, 14 Mar 2017 15:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNeil deGrasse Tyson Tries to Kill the Tooth Fairy<p> It&rsquo;s typical nowadays for people to take things way too seriously. That&rsquo;s precisely what normally charming astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson did when he claimed that parents who promote traditional childhood fairytales, like the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, are participating in a &ldquo;hoax perpetuated by adults on children.&rdquo;</p> <p> Sheesh. Take it down a couple light years, Neil.</p> <p> Appearing on&nbsp;<em>The Late Late Show with James Corden</em>, Tyson was asked how he and his wife handle these decidedly unscientific issues. Forgetting he was on a comedy show, Tyson launched into an invective he usually reserves for conspiracy theorists, saying that he and his wife &ldquo;are not going to lie to our kids, because the universe is amazing enough we don&rsquo;t have to invent stuff just to keep kids entertained.&rdquo;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/BsR6sIsoWgU" width="560"></iframe></p> <p> Yes, yes, stars and planets and suns and moons and science and all that. It&rsquo;s all just incredible . . . everyone thinks so. Yet, is appreciating the wonderment of the world and carrying on parenting traditions like Santa Claus mutually exclusive? Does appreciating the natural wonders of the universe necessarily diminish the joy of putting out cookies and celery for Santa and his reindeer? Does star gazing with your child preclude a reading of&nbsp;<em>The Night Before Christmas</em>&nbsp;before tucking little Timmy and Susie into bed on Christmas Eve? If we enjoy a trip to the planetarium, or appreciate Tyson&rsquo;s&nbsp;<em><a href="http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/cosmos-a-spacetime-odyssey/" target="_blank">Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey</a></em>&nbsp;television program, does it mean we can&rsquo;t have a little fun stuffing a dollar bill under a child&rsquo;s pillow after the trauma of losing a tooth?</p> <p> Tyson also seems to forget the practical uses for these myths. They make kids (and parents) happy and can bring a small measure of relief to some tough parenting situations. Consider, for instance, the rather macabre childhood milestone of losing teeth, a phenomenon I suppose belongs in Tyson&rsquo;s category of natural and &ldquo;amazing&rdquo; things. But, let&rsquo;s be real: It&rsquo;s gross and, at the very least, it&rsquo;s irritating to have a wobbly tooth hanging out in your head. Kids often complain that they can&rsquo;t bite down on food, and when the tooth really gets loose, it often begins to hurt as the jagged upper edge inflames the gums.</p> <p> Worse still, these irksome loose teeth can hang on for weeks. It&rsquo;s common for kids to refuse to let their parents pull the tooth, releasing it from that one remaining, and stubbornly strong piece of tissue keeping it anchored in place. But at the end of all of this trauma, guess what? A kid gets a dollar or two, which makes losing the next tooth slightly less distressing since it&rsquo;s another opportunity to earn some money.</p> <p> Tyson did end up climbing down from his lofty scientific perch just long enough to tell a delightful story about how his daughter and her friends decided to test the theory behind the Tooth Fairy. Tyson&rsquo;s daughter and her friends agreed, as a group, that when the first among them lost the next tooth, they would place it under their pillow&nbsp;<em>without</em>&nbsp;informing their parents. Sneaky, and brilliant. The next day, Tyson, explains, the tooth was still there, which proved to this gang of science-minded friends that the Tooth Fairy was, in fact, a made up story. This is an exercise that I fully endorse: critical thought, experimentation, testing theories, outsmarting your parent . . . well done, kids!</p> <p> But Tyson should also remember the importance of teaching our kids about the wonders of imagination, the joy of story-telling, the importance of a sense of humor, and the value of staying a kid for a little longer. These &ldquo;hoaxes&rdquo; perpetuated by adults on children are one fine way to do that, and do nothing to detract from our appreciation of other wonders of the world, whether they are made up or a part of nature.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2802968/Julie GunlockTue, 28 Feb 2017 14:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum