Fake News – Sharing Lies

Why do we share gossip, lies, and fake news just as easily as real news?
What drives us to share ‘news’ at all?

A long time ago, about half a billion years to be a little more accurate, one member of a certain tribe returned to his thirsty fellow tribe-folk companions and happened to mention that he was not thirsty at all. When pressed for the reason for this curious happenstance, he explained that he had found water and slaked his thirst forthwith.
When he offered to share the location of this bonanza with his fellow tribe-folk (although the spears may have been an encouraging factor) he was amazed to discover his newly found popularity. He was now so much in demand that he was soon the father of many little tribe-folk. Having passed on this tidbit of information to said little tribe-folk, within a few generations it became common for others to see the gratifying benefit of this newly found willingness to share information.

Those fortunate tribe-folk that heard the news did not die of thirst, well not that time anyway and went on to breed more little tribe-folk who also liked to give and receive information. These tribe-folk are your ancestors.

While there is probably only one prime motivator for sharing news, what of the controls that used to be there and no longer apply?

No so long ago, if one wanted to share news with a lot of people, one made contact with the local newspaper and if someone on staff considered your information worthy of publication, a few days later your news would be known by ‘all and sundry’ to quote an over-used and abused cliche.

Now that we have direct access to millions of others via social media, this natural filter has been removed from the information pipeline and a few dodgy folk have recognized an opportunity to cheat a little by publishing information of dubious veracity. Unfortunately the warm glow of the spotlight shines just as brightly on fake information as it does on the truth and so we have ‘fake news’.

Fake news can feel right because it confirms an existing attitude. (The broadcaster does not WANT to know it’s not true and convinces him/herself otherwise.)

Fake news works well on and for the gullible and poorly educated, as few if any have the benefit of training in the art of journalism. They are easy to fool and will enthusiastically repeat what they have heard without checking or thinking how foolish they may look when the truth comes out.

Fake news is easy to digest and causes no interruption to the flow of more titillating tid-bits further on. Large quantities can be digested easily like finding a wheelbarrow full of chocolate. Few are willing to refrain from sampling a few before checking the ownership of said chocolates. That takes effort and lazy people don’t bother which leads rather nicely onto the sweetest of subjects, sugar.

Food marketers are resourceful, you have to give them credit for the quality and quantity of dis-information about carbohydrates which is only matched by equally aggressive campaigns by tobacco, petroleum and fossil fuel industries.

The most effective weapon to postpone social change (or trick people into voting a particular way)  is to create dis-information and make it a catch-phrase. Those who understand the epidemic of obesity sweeping the world know that in order to curb the scourge, we need  to reduce carbohydrate intake from the absurdly high levels in most packaged food which in turn, came about because of the misguided and intuitive ‘low fat’ ideas of the dieticians.

To sell food with low fat, they had to introduce high levels of carbohydrate to offset the bland taste and it has become a practice now so ingrained, it is difficult to find any low carbohydrate food. To change millions of products back to healthy levels of fat to get the taste back without the sugar, will cost billions and manufacturers are understandably reluctant to plunge into that particular cesspit.

In the food marketing business, here are the two most popular ‘not quite’ lies.

  • ‘Carbohydrate is necessary for good health’. (Like the best lies, is largely true, but leaves out more than it reveals.)
  • ‘There are ‘good’ carbs and ‘bad’ carbs’. This one is almost complete nonsense other than the fact there are three types. The first two, sugar and starch, are only distinguished by the speed of take up in the body. Fibre is essentially indigestible so it is irrelevant unless you are a termite.

To further obfuscate, marketers list the sugar number and the carbohydrate number with the total number separately which handily infers they are significantly different. (Now don’t you worry about a high carb count if the sugar is low.) The problem with this is the ‘sugar’ may be low, but the starch is high, exploiting another technical difference to confuse the customer.

(Total carbohydrates is the only one that matters in the case of accumulating weight as the sugar is converted to fat for convenient storage purposes. See the link below.)

Another ploy to ameliorate your concerns is to list carbohydrates per serve as that is often a lower number. (As a guide never buy anything with more than 20 grams per hundred or as close to it as you can find.)

As if being manipulated by manufacturers, producers and packagers were not enough, you are also given, perhaps not a third lie, but a ‘not quite true’ story by the well-intentioned ‘health experts’.
Do not be confused by the terminology, good sugar, fructose sugar, bad sugar, raw sugar, refined sugar. There is no such thing as good sugar – bad sugar at least not as far as your body is concerned.

Your body will use whatever sugar you give it for immediate energy use and store the rest as fat without checking with you about its source.

Managing your response to misinformation

You can address the first lie but simply understanding that carbohydrate (sugar, starch and fibre) is present in most food and is the primary on-tap energy component. (Protein, fat and others serve different primary functions.)

If you consciously and seriously limit packaged foods that contain high quantities of total carbohydrate, you will do no harm as one picks up all the carbohydrate one needs from normal eating, just as your ancestors did.

When trying to re-establish normal weight, it’s also good idea to only use a little of those healthy fresh foods that have naturally have a particularly high sugar content.
These include most fruit and some vegetables. These should be included but in small quantities to obtain the other elements they contain. Already slim individuals can consume a lot sugar from fruit and veg without unnecessarily delaying weight loss.

You might also consider the validity of arguments by those who push the concept of large amount of these products being part of a healthy diet. No matter which way you cut it, whether you get your sugar from fruit or from pizza, your body won’t know or care and will use it the same way. It will use what it needs for energy and store the rest as fat. That’s just the way it is.

References and links

Getting slim again is really not as hard as it seems
The mechanism of how we form opinions

Carbohydrates Explained
The Murky Depths of Australian Food Standards


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