9/11 Acquisition Reform Advertising Alaway Alcohol Ale Allergies Antisemitism Barack H. Obama Beer Billiards Biology Books Budget Bureaucracy California Capitalism Carbohydrates Carcinogen CDC Chemical Warfare Chemistry Chemophobia Chirality Climate Science Colonial Pines Computers Conservation Laws Constitution Consumerism Cosmology CPT Invariance Creationism Customer Service Daesh David Irving Dead End Defense Dinosaurs Disasters Economic Energy English Ethics Evolution Fluoride Food FTL Garden Care George W. Bush Gerlich and Tscheuschner GISS Glaciers GMOs HadCRU Haiti Health Himalayan Rock Salt HITRAN Holocaust Denial Home Brewing How It Looks From Here html Humor Information Infrared Spectroscopy IPCC Iran ISIS Islam Islamophobia Israel Ketotifen Fumarate Law Lawn Care Leibniz Lisbon Magnetism Math Medco Medicine Modeling Molecules Monopoly Monsanto Naphazoline hydrochloride Neutrinos Nietzsche NIH NIST Noether's Theorem Non-hazardous Norton Ghost Nuclear Warfare Oil Oil Spill Olopatadine hydrochloride Opinion Orson Scott Card Parody Pataday Patanol Pesticides Pheneramine maleate Physics Plumbing Politics Poll Pope POTUS Prescriptions Prop 65 Psychology Quantum Mechanics Quiz Racism Radiative Transfer Relativity Religion Respiration Senior Housing Signs Smoking Specific Gravity Statistics Stock Market Sugars Sun Tzu Surface Temperature Surgeon General Symantec Target Temperature Terrorism The Final Solution The Holocaust History Project Thermodynamics Time Trains Units Voltaire von Clausewitz Weather White House Wine Yeast

Friday, May 17, 2013

Good and Bad

Just a quick note on something about which I have been thinking, rather than a full blog post.  It seems to me that some people like the simplicity of easily categorizing things into good and bad.  There are good chemicals and bad chemical.  Vitamin C is a good chemical; fluoride is apparently a bad chemical.  Selenium is apparently a good chemical in your multi-vitamin, but a bad chemical when the EPA tries to eliminate it from our water supply.

In reality the world is much more nuanced.  At high concentration naturally occurring fluoride in the water supply can have negative health effects.  At the concentrations in which it is added artificially to water supplies (700 ppb to 1.2 ppm); it's beneficial. Most chemotherapy drugs are really bad for you, but maybe they are better than cancer.  Pesticides are very dangerous compounds, but mosquitoes can be deadly.  Carbon (see Carbon: Poison in Our Food ) can be toxic as hydrogen cyanide, a nutrient such as a carbohydrate, a fuel like methane, or a greenhouse gas like methane and carbon dioxide.  Ozone in the troposphere is pollution, a result of photochemical smog. Ozone in the stratosphere protects us from UV radiation.

I suspect it is tempting to do the same with people.  There is a school of thought that people can be easily categorized as good or bad.  Good people are like us; they believe what we do; we can trust them; they would never hurt a fly.  People who do bad things must be unlike us.  We search for reasons to categorize them as unlike us, rather than recognizing that but for the good choices we happen to have made, we could be those people.  I suspect that this way of looking at the world is pernicious.  It isolates us from the understanding that our choices have consequences, and that we ourselves have to be ever alert that we do not become what we despise.

1 comment:

harada57 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.