• Does a wandering mind kill sex?
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    Psychology Today

    Reviewing some 40 years of research on women with problems of low sexual desire, French sexologist Marie Geonet and colleagues recently concluded (link is external) that negative thoughts play a key role in women’s sexual dysfunction: They distract women from erotic stimulation, produce anxiety and guilt, and diminish sexual arousal and pleasure.



    Similar processes appear to operate in men. Recent work from Portugal by Catia Oliveira and colleagues (link is external) has provided evidence that males’ arousal is linked closely to their thinking. In their small sample, distracting thoughts were the best predictor of inhibited genital response.



    Predictably, research has shown (link is external) some gender differences in sexual distraction: Men tend to get distracted during sex by worries about performance; women are distracted by concerns about appearance. But both sexes worry about the potential adverse consequences of sex, such as unwanted pregnancy and hurt feelings.



    While there’s still much to figure out about the specific paths of influence that connect cognition to sexual experience, one influential theory was developed in the 1980s by American researcher David Barlow. According to his model, anxiety during sex leads some people to a shift in the focus of attention from erotic cues to performance worries. This shift in turn compromises sexual arousal and undermines performance, resulting in lowered satisfaction. As a consequence, anxiety will increase in future sexual situations, as performance related non-erotic thoughts (NETs) become the focus of attention—a negative feedback loop more powerful than a cold shower.



    Evidence has since accumulated that generally supports this model. In 2011, Canadian researchers Andrea Nelson and Christine Purdon (link is external)explored the role of NETs in a community sample of 81 women and 71 men in long-term relationships. According to the authors, “experiencing more frequent NETs was associated with more sexual problems in both women and men.? Moreover, “greater difficulty in refocusing on erotic thoughts during sexual activity uniquely predicted more sexual problems.?

    It’s a very well known fact that the vast majority of prescriptions for Viagra only ever get filled once — and only one pill ever gets taken. The formula is really simple:

    A man gets into a state of anxiety about his sexual performance and looses his erection a number of times. He panics and runs to his doctor — who gives him a prescription for a nice shiny bottle of magic. The man gets the pills, tries one, has a fantastic sexual experience with his partner and, thereafter, leaves his bottle in the medicine chest where the pills first expire, then slowly melt together in the ambient humidity until they are a solid lump in the bottom of the bottle. But, it doesn’t matter because all they are is a security blanket.

    He never had Erectile Dysfunction at all — he had anxiety, a racing mind and the inability to control it. The pills just acted like a lucky rabbit’s foot.

    That’s the power of racing thoughts.

    A lucky rabbit’s foot can get you back down to the level of racing thoughts you had before such that you go back to the sexual performance that was before.

    And, for many men, that’s all they want.

    But, actually dealing with the thoughts themselves and why they are there can eliminate them and, potentially, give you much better sexual intimacy then you previously knew.

    And, if the above is true for men, it’s even more important for women because, as yet, there is no prescription for a nice shiny bottle of magic available…

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  • Think older married couples are mostly celibate?
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    NYT

    The average older adult who had been married for a year had a 65 percent chance of having sex two to three times a month or more. At 25 years of marriage, the likelihood of that frequency dropped to 40 percent. If the marriage lasted 50 years, the likelihood was 35 percent. But if the marriage — and the lifespan — of the older adults continued, at 65 years of being together, the chance of having sex with that frequency was 42 percent.



    Dr. Stroope said that at least two competing forces were at play around sexuality in a long marriage. One is called “habituation,? the dulling of sexual senses as a couple becomes inured to each other, worn by life’s quotidian and lurching demands.



    But long-timers also accumulate what Dr. Stroope calls “relationship capital?: in good marriages, he said, “you’re building up something, accumulating experience and knowledge about your intimate partner over time that builds on itself.?



    And so, as adults age, their social circles shrink, they know time is limited, they look around and what do they see? Each other.



    “They place intimacy as a high priority,? said Dr. Pillemer, whose new book, “30 Lessons for Loving,? is drawn from interviews with 700 older adults. “Many people told me that you don’t notice the physical differences in a long marriage. The person still seems the same to you. “

    The full article is worth reading, but it can all be summarized like this:

    Want someone to think you are beautiful/hansom and still want to have sex with you when you are old, grey and wrinkly? Get married to someone and then love and cherish him/her for the next 65yrs.

    Yes, it’s that simple.

    And, you may still be getting more sex at that age then a lot of near-newlyweds…

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  • Perhaps you should give up on your goals?
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    Next Web

    Scott Adams, creator of office comic Dilbert, explains why goals suck better than anyone I’ve come across:



    “… you will spend every moment until you reach the goal—if you reach it at all—feeling as if you were short of your goal. In other words, goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary.?



    James Clear has written about this as well. James explains how setting goals reinforces our loser mindset:



    “When you’re working toward a goal, you are essentially saying, ‘I’m not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach my goal’.?



    You might think that is worth the pay-off of reaching your goal, but consider what happens as soon as you reach the ‘end’: you immediately lose the motivation and direction that goal gave you and so to fill that gap you start a new goal and the cycle starts all over.

    A system is a process you follow. It’s repeatable, and it leads to the same (or similar) results each time. It can take time to develop a system, but in doing so you’ll learn a ton about getting the results you want.



    A system could be your exercise plan, your writing schedule, or your process of learning new skills regularly.



    A habit is a repeatable action. It’s something you do without thinking about it—unlike a system, which could be a series of actions you take, like an exercise plan that incorporates running, gym, and rest days.



    A habit could be eating cereal for breakfast, running every morning, or reading before you go to sleep.



    Habits and systems have an important thing in common: they’re repeatable. When you’re working on building a habit or developing a system, you focus on what you do each day, not a far-off goal.



    As James Clear says:



    “When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.?



    Perhaps my favorite reason for focusing on systems and habits over goals is that they give you control. I know from experience that when I set a goal I can’t control, like getting a particular job or improving sales for my business, I feel frustrated and disappointed when I don’t ‘complete’ that goal.

    A goal is simply a law which, like all legalistic systems, comes with built in shame, fear or guilt based punishment. It motivates mostly via punishment and the brief hope of a relief from such.

    A system, on the other hand, is the creation of a rhythm — the participation in a life transformation that has, as it’s core, longing. It has no punishment inherent within it because there is no bar to reach and it’s pleasure is found in exploration and experimentation on the self which, when successful, is its own enjoyment.

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  • How to really heal trauma.
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    Huffington post

    The Washington VA is one of the few places veterans can find a form of meditation called iRest, named for integrated restoration. It’s a trauma-sensitive meditation adapted specifically for military service members and veterans with psychological trauma.



    In the hourlong sessions with a dozen other vets, Craig has learned how to unclench, easing his mind and his pain.



    “When you go to war, every day is about getting through that day,? he said. With danger all around, as a soldier or a cop, he added, “if you let your mind float, you’ll be in big trouble. We’ve all been to the edge.? In meditation, with the guidance of a skilled therapist, he said, “I can let my mind float.?



    These aren’t simply feel-good sessions, meditation advocates say. Meditation helps create new muscle memory, actually rewiring the brain to enable veterans to absorb and recover from stress. This brain “rewiring? is what neuroscientists recognize as neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change neural pathways. For patients with PTSD, it means increasing their ability to hold disturbing images and memories without reacting in an emotionally negative way.



    “Meditation’s big thing is to stop your mind,? says Roy Clymer, a Vietnam combat veteran and psychologist who worked with wounded Iraq and Afghan war soldiers for 13 years as director of specialized care at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington. “As you develop skill at meditation, you gain the art of acknowledging an emotion when it comes, accepting it — but not doing what we usually do, which is immediately reacting to it.?



    Many veterans find it difficult to tolerate the images and emotions of combat that can come flooding back, Clymer said. “Meditation helps us tolerate feeling and emotion.?



    Or, as one veteran put it after the meditation drew to a close, “I don’t have to react to everything. This helps me think first. People are going to do things whether I get angry or stay calm, and I’d rather stay calm. I always feel like a new person after this.?

    Hardly a week goes by without one client or another coming in with some new, bright and flashy technique that someone on the web is promoting as being the, “Instant solution,” to their pain, “Able to have rape victims making passionate love in 6 quick and easy sessions,” “Never be bothered by that memory again,” or “Ending fear forever.”

    They are programs that sell really well and even generate lots of positive reviews. Because, they do work — for a short while anyway…

    It is possible to take a rape victim, teach her to dissociate from her pain, go into an altered mental state, play a different role, channel pain into playing out a dramatic sexual presentation and get her able to offer herself and her partner a climax in a fantastically shorter time then it takes to really heal sexual trauma.

    But, that’s not sexual intimacy or love making or even just plain having sex. There’s only one word to describe it and it starts with an, “F,” and ends with, “ing.”

    And, it doesn’t last.

    Quick band-aid solutions sell lots of places — but their sales pitches fall completely flat wherever large groups of people who have been to hell and back gather. And, they are utterly scorned in places like VA hospitals. There people demand treatments that work.

    And, what do they offer those veterans?

    They teach them to STOP dissociating, connect with themselves, find parts of themselves they have previously rejected and then accept them, welcome memories, experience pain, be O.K. with hurting and grieving and carefully listen to the deepest places of their hearts.

    There we see no flashing lights, taps on the hands, vibrating eggs, strange sounds, mantras, formulas or strange blank Zen states. Just people learning how to feel again within a non-reactive state using techniques that are thousands of years old.

    No, they are not going to produce results in six easy sessions — much less instantly.

    But, the good news is that those skills actually work and they really do last.

    And, the even better news is that it’s not some therapist’s magic trick that heals you — you learn how to heal yourself.

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  • The real reason parents refuse to vaccinate their kids…
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    Mind Hacks

    There are other psychological factors at play in the decisions taken by individual parents not to vaccinate their children. One is the rational selfishness of avoiding risk, or even the discomfort of a momentary jab, by gambling that the herd immunity of everyone else will be enough to protect your child.



    Another is our tendency to underplay rare events in our calculation about risks – ironically the very success of vaccination programmes makes the diseases they protect us against rare, meaning that most of us don’t have direct experience of the negative consequences of not vaccinating. Finally, we know that people feel differently about errors of action compared to errors of inaction, even if the consequences are the same.



    Many who seek to persuade anti-vaxxers view the issue as a simple one of scientific education. Anti-vaxxers have mistaken the basic facts, the argument goes, so they need to be corrected. This is likely to be ineffective. Anti-vaxxers may be wrong, but don’t call them irrational.



    Rather than lacking scientific facts, they lack a trust in the establishments which produce and disseminate science. If you meet an anti-vaxxer, you might have more luck persuading them by trying to explain how you think science works and why you’ve put your trust in what you’ve been told, rather than dismissing their beliefs as irrational.

    Science was always a rather agenda driven sport with very few scientists ever really able to have been considered practitioners of, “Pure Science.” It always was driven by the need for funding and the interests of those who would fund it. And, though this may offend those who hold science so dear it almost approaches a faith, no one should ever have blindly trusted the pronouncements that came from such.

    True, there were times — the Apollo missions for example — where the funding source was purely public in origin and some of that research tended to be shockingly unbiased. But, in truth, those were rare and, currently, are even more so.

    But, even up to only very recent times, the general public still placed enormous trust in the voices of science. When the scientific community spoke, people listened and they followed the recommendations of such.

    Today, not so much.

    Science, of course, is engaged in rumination that, bluntly, boils down to if it should adopt the polemic style of those the public seems to be listening to. But, that’s ignoring the real problem.

    And, it’s not that the level of corruption, massaged research findings, statistical manipulation, warped confidence intervals, shameless agendas and brazen shilling for the wealthy and powerful are any higher then they ever were or that the pronouncements of the scientific community are any less valid then they were either.

    It’s just that, in the past, so few people in the general public knew what was really going on behind the curtain. Today, all of the above is plastered all over the internet — and a new one hits nearly daily.

    Oh, the same thousands of properly peer reviewed pieces of legitimate research are still getting published and acknowledged — but the never ending streams of scandal have convinced a good part of the public that the emperor really is completely starkers anyway… (And, yes, they still believe that even if the last thing they heard happens to be true…)

    Science, of course, has many members furiously mocking faith and claiming that the internet will ultimately allow so much information about the hypocrisy of religious leaders to flow out that religion will be erased.

    And, there is lots of evidence for such.

    But, if the current Measles epidemic sweeping the USA proves nothing else, it proves that hypocrisy is hardly in short supply within the hallowed halls of science either and it’s just as good at eroding trust in institutions of science as in institutions of religion.

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  • Are you really so sure you, “Clearly remember???”
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    Star

    The new study proves for the first time what psychologists have long suspected: that manipulative questioning tactics used by police can induce false memories — and produce false confessions.



    Published in January in the journal Psychological Science by Julia Shaw of Britain’s University of Bedfordshire and Stephen Porter, a forensic psychologist who studies the role of memory in the legal system at the University of British Columbia, the study holds striking implications for the justice system.



    “The human mind is very vulnerable to certain tactics in interviews,? Porter told the Star in an interview.



    Shaw and Porter recruited 70 students at a Canadian university who had never committed a crime, and told them they’d be taking part in a study about how well people could remember their childhoods. They asked students’ past caregivers for details about a vivid event that had taken place in the students’ lives between ages 11 and 14, such as an accident or an emotional first day at school. Caregivers and students agreed not to communicate about the experiment while it was ongoing.



    Researchers questioned the students for three sessions of about 40 minutes each. They asked them to recall two events in their past: the true event and an added false one, both of which they said the caregivers had told them about. The false event was described in as general terms as possible — simply “an assault? or “an incident where you were in contact with the police.?



    If subjects said they couldn’t remember the false event, questioners reassured them they would be able to retrieve their “lost memories? if they tried hard enough. If they began to “remember,? experimenters asked for more detail. Do you recall any images? How did you feel? Visualize what it might have been like, they said, and the memory will come back to you.



    By the end of the third interview, more than 70 per cent of subjects came to believe they had committed a crime just five or so years in the past. They didn’t merely agree they had done what the experimenters suggested — they generated all the details of the crime themselves, recalling vivid sensory memories and often becoming emotional and guilt-ridden.



    Some subjects persisted in believing they were guilty after they had been told the “crime? had been invented. “A few people argued with the experimenter and said, ‘Well no, I know this happened,’ ? says Porter.



    Think that’s scary? The psychologists did.



    “We ended the study prematurely,? says Porter. Once he and Shaw had interviewed 60 of the students and realized the proportion of them generating false memories was high enough to support their hypothesis, they decided to spare the remaining 10 subjects the unnecessary upheaval.

    If you really think the line, “The suspect later confessed during police interrogation,” means ANYTHING at all, you should probably read the full article.

    And, really, it means only somewhat less then another line: “I uncovered memories of my childhood ________ abuse during therapy.”

    The problem is, guilty people sometimes do finally crack under pressure and tell the truth — as also do innocent people admit to completely false things. People can partially or, in incredibly rare cases, completely repress memories only recovering them (sometimes in therapy) years later — but those memories can also be therapist created and implanted.

    Both the police and the therapeutic community would like to believe (or at least act like) the above abuses are difficult to accomplish and so rare they are nearly unheard of.

    Sadly, they’re not.

    There’s a reason the courts have forced the police to inform suspects of their right to have an attorney present — who nearly always ends the interrogation instantly. (Perhaps, so called, recovered memory therapists or trauma memory specialists should have the same in their therapy offices…)

    But, even more importantly, when a research group is ethically forced to end a study early because it is TOO EASY to implant false memories, perhaps no one should ever again be quite as sure that they, “Clearly remember…”

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  • The secret to really turning a woman on!
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    Brain Blogger

    By examining results from these three sexual fantasy measures, the three Canada-based researchers that published the study found;



    ‘direct evidence that object of desire themes are linked more to women’s sexuality than they are to men’s.’



    How integral object of desire self-consciousness (ODSC) is to a woman’s sexual relationships is likely to vary, being largely dependent on how her sexual self-schemas, that is, her cognitive representation of her sexual self, represents her as an object of desire.



    As the lead author of the study explains:



    ‘If a women is schematic [for ODSC], and she does perceive that she is an object of desire within her relationship, then her level of sexual desire and sexual activity may be fairly high. If, on the other hand, she does not feel a sense of her own desirability or being an object of desire, she may have very little sexual desire.’



    While for some women, being an object of desire really turns them on, should we play on this objectification of women to get into women’s fantasies, minds and dare we say, their pants? Well, socioculturally speaking we already do so.

    The therapeutic community has been saying for years that one of the deepest desires of the feminine relational soul is to feel both desired and desirable on every level (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and sexual) and that the desire to feel such is, at least at some level, foundational to a woman’s sense of romantic love.

    So, on one level, the above linked is hardly news — though, the use of, “Desire,” as a synonym for, “Objectification,” the politically correct tip-toeing and the glaring level of hand-wringing in the full article are all entertaining evidence of how uncomfortable that reality makes so many ideologues…

    On another level, we now have hard and fast numbers to prove that assertion and to call into question the foundation of so much of feminist ideology about the dance of human sexuality and, perhaps, to even seriously question the impact of regimented clothing policies on developing adolescent’s sexualities.

    We finally have the ability to stand up and call the God-designed dance of desire, attraction, seduction and enticement for what it is: Beautiful.

    But, really, no one who has any interest in exercising shame, fear or guilt based control of sexuality is going to be at all happy with this. And, it almost goes without saying that the Evangelical right/moral purity/sex is evil/it’s-a-woman’s-fault-I-feel-tempted set hasn’t even weighed in yet…

    When they do, make popcorn!!!

    😉

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  • Can you understand the teenage mind?
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    Telegraph

    She is passionate, for example, about the madness of an 8.30/9am school start time. ‘It’s the middle of the night for a teenager!’ she says. Teenagers release melatonin (the sleepy hormone) a couple of hours later in the day than adults and so are able to stay up later, but then they need more sleep in the morning. ‘It’s like getting us up at 5.30am,’ Blakemore elaborates. Teenagers experience ‘social jet-lag’ as a result, hence the long lie-ins at the weekends (this is absolutely not slothfulness, she says, but their bodies catching up after being forced to awaken so early).



    Teenage brains are also capable of immense creativity, Blakemore says, rather like the way a child under the age of one is receptive to learning languages. Secondary schools, she says, often don’t plug into such creativity. When she advised government aides in 2011 (brought in by Willetts), it was with the aim of trying to broaden their outlook, away from a sole focus on the Charlie and Lola generation (a catchphrase for the under-fives). ‘There is such a large amount of new information about teenage brain development, which should be taken into account when politicians are considering evidence-based policy,’ she explains. ‘Traditionally policy has focused on the early years; the new research suggests that investment into adolescence is important too.



    ‘The teenage brain is very capable of learning,’ she continues, ‘and this is absolutely the wrong time to stifle creativity. They can do amazing things, and yet schools haven’t changed that much for 400 years. The more I learn about how plastic and changing the teenage brain is, the more I question whether [what we have] is the right learning environment for teenagers. One of the things I’ve often thought is that if teenagers were allowed to design schools, maybe they would look completely different.’



    And their changes? ‘Maybe more peer-to-peer learning,’ she says, ‘and more creative timetabling. Open-plan spaces, less making them sit at a desk all day, and more self-initiated learning rather than being spoon-fed stuff all the time.’

    The full article is just brilliant. Read it. (Especially if you have just about had it with your teen…)

    This researcher gets it — and she especially grasps how much teens need the parents they are pushing away.

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  • Are the powerful more likely to cheat?
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    Ars

    Research has previously shown that upper-class individuals are more likely to behave unethically than lower-class people. But, says David Dubois, lead researcher of a new paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, it’s not that simple: both groups behave unethically in different contexts.



    Dubois’ research group found that people with higher socioeconomic status (SES) were more likely to behave unethically when the behavior benefitted themselves, while lower-SES people were more likely to be unethical to benefit other individuals. “Many people think of unethical behaviour in terms of selfish behavior—violating moral standards to give yourself an advantage,” explains Jared Piazza, who was not involved with the research. “But the researchers here draw a distinction between violating a moral standard like ‘it’s wrong to steal’ to benefit others, and violating a moral standard to benefit yourself.”



    This distinction is important, says Dubois. Previous research has only tested unethical behavior that is selfish—it turns out that when unselfish unethical behavior is tested too, lower-SES individuals are just as likely to be unethical.

    After researchers found that wealthy and powerful people are much more likely to defraud then those in poverty, it was only a matter of time before the backlash had to come. (After all, our prisons are mostly filled with colored poor-people — they have to be the real cheaters… Right?)

    But, how to do that? The evidence was rather overwhelming this was not the case…

    Look carefully at the top linked article. This is a study in how you use statistics to say whatever you want.

    First, you redefine the definition: Cheating no longer is selfishly taking advantage of another for personal gain. Now it’s been redefined as doing anything unethical — even just to help another person.

    Then, you conveniently ignore the reality that helping another person is actually a step forward in selfLESSness and providing the gain of helping someone in need is artificially inducing (or openly baiting) a person into justifying a behavior (Where there is obviously no justification for selfishness…)

    It’s a shameless rigging of the test to get the answer you want. You have then essentially created a situation to tempt an inherently good person to violate their own conscience out of a desire to help another — while leaving the test for the wealthy and powerful exactly as it was.

    All that is then required is to keep a straight face while attempting to pass this off as credible research and you have your proof that rich and powerful people are just as honest as the next guy…

    But, what we really have here is really a clear reflection of what those with money and power would most like to ignore about the way our world works:

    Crimes committed by the poor mostly are about survival, feeding children and coping with an obviously rigged system that those trapped in such see no way out of. Fixing such is mostly about creating a good and decent society and, around the world, the more equitable and just a society is, the lower the rates of this sort of crime. It’s a byproduct of treating mental health issues, providing education, creating a fair employment environment and providing functional social services. (Inventing new and ever more draconian punishments accomplishes nothing…)

    Well, that, and the really uncomfortable reality that the entire concept of a safe, productive and non-criminal middle class was a direct result of legislatively controlling some of the cheating of the wealthy and powerful combined with moderating the rest of it through aggressive taxation.

    Trying to pretend that wealth and power are anything but corrupting forces that need to be very carefully controlled is hardly a step towards that good and decent society…

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  • Proof of intelligent life — barely…
    Comments Off on Proof of intelligent life — barely…

    Verge

    The 2015 edition, as noted by The Washington Post, will mark perhaps the biggest change since the original 1977 advice by dropping the warning about cholesterol consumption. One of the six core goals since the 1970s has been to limit the intake of cholesterol to less than 300mg per day, however the present Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) does not believe that cholesterol consumption is something we need to be worried about.



    Foods high in cholesterol — such as eggs, offal, and seafood — have long been considered contributors to the risk of heart disease, however research seeking to establish any causative link between them and undesirable health outcomes has been equivocal. In the absence of a proper scientific consensus and given that the human body produces a lot more cholesterol than it takes in via the diet, the DGAC has decided that “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.” That’s not to say that cholesterol is completely innocuous, and having it clog up your arteries is still a threat to heart health, but the amount of it that you consume is no longer thought to be important enough to restrict.

    That’s a nice way of saying: “So, we spent the last 38 years warning you not to eat something knowing from the start it was based on no evidence at all beyond the idea that something called fat must make you fat and cause heart attacks. Um, ya, our bad — and sorry about making an entire nation (and, to some degree, world) gorge itself on carbs, get sick and die in record numbers…”

    But, time is a wasting…

    I must run and get myself a copy of the updated guidelines — I’m sure they will utterly transform my diet. I just know I can trust the dietary experts at the U.S. Government — they’re not bought and paid for by big Agra Biz or anything…

    Whatever was I thinking listening to people who have real research to back what they are saying like Dr. Barry Sears?

    Ok, rant over…

    😉

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