Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


Silent3's Journal
Silent3's Journal
February 27, 2014

There are roughly 800,000 cops in the United States...

...according to the stats found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_police_officers

Now, before continuing from that, here are some annoyingly necessary disclaimers to hopefully reduce knee-jerk reactions to the inevitable straw men likely to be evoked by where this post is going:

1) I certainly believe that our police departments have many problems, especially in the way they've become increasingly militarized.

2) No, I don't hang out at "cop lovers dot com", I'm not involved in law enforcement myself, nor is anyone close to me involved.

3) I'm not trying to excuse any police officers terrible, especially murderous behavior.

4) I certainly don't like the way many cops "protect their own", when loyalty to the public should be higher than loyalty to each other when there's wrongdoing to cover up.

With that out of the way, I'd like to ask: What's the big picture on police brutality, on policing abusing their power?

What are the statistics behind the anecdotal evidence? How much do the horror stories we often hear characterize the behavior of cops on the whole?

Let us suppose there's one new horrible story of abusive police behavior every day of the year. Let's further suppose each one involves four different cops. If you post each and every one of those stories you'll definitely create a strong impression that cops are "out of control", that we're "living in a police state", etc.

If the above hypothetical case represents reality (and I'm not saying it does -- just go with me for a moment) that would mean roughly 1500 cops badly abuse their power every year. That would only be about 0.2% of all police officers per year.

OK, suppose you consider the reported stories only the "tip of the iceberg". If it's ten times worse than what we hear about (and I don't think we hear as many as 366 brand new horror stories per year, even if it seems like that on DU sometimes), we'd get up to around 2% of cops per year.

Is calling that "a few bad apples" way too dismissive? (Perhaps if it really were that much, one out of fifty, but I think we're rounding up a lot at this point.) Or is equating what's going on to living in a police state a greater exaggeration?

Does advocacy for victims of police brutality require ignoring whatever the actual percentage of bad cops is? Does it require being angry that I'd even write a post like this, because, as you see it, anyone's suggestion of putting things in some perspective can be nothing other than (queue the straw men) cop worship, dismissing all suffering of victims, and total obsequious submission to authority?

Oh, and does every bad cop thread require someone to reply "Yay, cops!" to that thread?

February 18, 2014

As I was saying, for centuries and centuries average human lifespan...

...has been miserable by modern standards, only 30-40 years as recently as two centuries ago.

When considering what's "natural" or not, please realize that long, healthy lives well into our 70s, 80s, and even 90s, is a wonderfully unnatural thing, not a realization of any basic nature. Our longest lifespans have corresponded with our creation of an increasingly unnatural environment. This is hardly to say that everything modern is healthy -- far from it -- but that, on the whole, the negative aspects of modern life that are mixed in with the positive ones can't be all that hugely bad if they haven't even come close to negating the gains.

If specifically apples harbor no worries in long term use, many other things from bananas to zucchini might. Or they might all be perfectly safe in normal use, but if you tested them the way artificial additives are tested, in huge doses and unrealistic concentrations, the same fears could arise.

The only advantage it makes sense that so-called "natural" foods would intrinsically have (once you jettison the mystical appeal of "nature&quot is that they perhaps have a slight edge in being more like what our bodies have evolved to tolerate. Two things diminish that edge: (1) A far wider variety of foods drawn from all over the globe are now part of our diet, as well as many new pre-GMO foods derived from selective breeding, making even a diet composed purely of "natural" products far more different and diverse than what human evolution has had time to significantly adapt, and (2) Since very few humans have ever lived and reproduced beyond their thirties, or even their twenties, during most of human evolution, there has been little significant selective pressure from what we'd now call "long-term effects".

February 17, 2014

The author does go on to talk about the difference between nutrient dense...

...foods and low calorie food, differences in activities and goals, saying "A healthy highly trained endurance athlete or bodybuilder exercising several hours per day is going to have very different needs and tolerances than a sedentary diabetic overweight office worker.", etc.

Keeping in mind that "Fat loss is ultimately about calories in versus calories out" is important because, while it may not be a good guide to specific food choices and exercise plans, it is useful for setting boundaries that people are all too likely to ignore when they get tempted by hype about "fat-burning foods" and infomercial exercise programs that supposedly burn away pounds and pounds of fat "in only twenty minutes per day!" Too many people are either causing themselves unnecessary grief by avoiding foods that have been unnecessarily demonized, or are failing to lose weight because they consume too many calories while expecting some "superfood" that they're eating to "melt" their fat away.

As long as you're getting the nutrients you need, the most important thing about food choices for people with weight problems is managing hunger. That doesn't change the essential truth about "calories in, calories out", however, it just changes how much will power is needed to prevent excess calories from coming in.

To the extent that food choices may actually change your metabolism, change the rate at which you burn calories, if such effects exist I don't know how well proven these effects are, and I doubt that these effects ever amount to much more than tinkering around the edges of the calories in/out balance sheet.

As for red meat...

I looked at many of the studies that your search brings up, and what I see is a lot of "could", "may", "is associated with", etc. Some of the studies are about particular metabolic reactions, but not looking at the big picture of what's actually going on when people eat red meat. Other stuff is bigger picture, but so "big picture" that it's talking about comparing diets that are greatly different not only in the consumption of red meat, but many other ways at the same time.

No, I certainly didn't go through pages and pages of matches from the search you suggested, but if the OP article's author's point was that there isn't a solid body of research that shows a clear, causal link between typical levels of red meat consumption and specific health problems, that seems to be the case from what I've seen.

Perhaps some people want to "play it safe", avoiding certain foods even when there's only one or a few reported "could", "may", and "is associated with" problems, but I suspect if you take that route, pretty soon you'll be afraid to eat anything -- or, more likely, in order to avoid starvation, you'll start to rationalize believing the research that fits your preconceived notions of healthy eating, and dismiss the studies that would attack whatever is left that you like eating until there's more evidence.

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: New Hampshire
Home country: USA
Member since: Sun Oct 3, 2004, 04:16 PM
Number of posts: 15,642
Latest Discussions»Silent3's Journal