further joys of sunscreen, of a (coco)nutty variety

The Beauty Brains: telling it like it is. Thumbs up for some sensible sane combatting of idiocy: 

“Can I use coconut oil as a sunscreen?” (2013-07-08), re. ““Ditch the toxic sunscreen: use coconut oil instead” on the Underground Health blog. Here’s what that lot have to say about themselves:

About Us

UndergroundHealth.com – Healthy Living & Holistic Healing

Underground Health began it’s life in 2007 as a simple health blog. The mission always has been to share health news and information about the benefits of holistic medicine, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and developing a strong mental being and heightened state of awareness. By sharing knowledge about natural healing as well as insight on how to live an overall healthier life, readers and followers will experience greater levels of happiness and satisfaction in their own lives. Underground Health believes in natural medicine and holistic healing and the nurturing of the human body and promotes a life and existence free from the harmful and deadly side effects of traditional medical practices.

Each day, thousands of health conscious people visit UndergroundHealth.com and consider us a trusted source for breaking health news and and information on how to live a more natural life. Thanks for your continued support!


We offer free information and opinions on UndergroundHealth.com, not as a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician, pharmacist, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements or following any treatment suggested on this website. Only your health care provider, personal physician, or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs or diagnose your particular medical history.

Comments: a dry chuckle and gah, the linguistic-allergy hives strike again: people, go hire proofreaders and editors! It is a fine and noble profession, alas its membership increasingly rare and secretive, and much misunderstood by ignorant outsiders. Like librarians and all those whose work and lives are the maintenance of knowledge, culture, and Standards. Not missed until they’re gone. Like fairies and other Little People.

Also, nice bit of legal wimp-out that erases much of the content of the whole site, and everything in that tasty piece of coconuttiness by Paul Fassa, of NaturalSociety.com . See, credit where credit’s due: proper attribution is the rule for all sources, even for eejits; fair’s fair. This is of course also naming and shaming. Anyway: feel free to head over and add comments. Many of the comments already there are of the high calibre and currency (this is, after all, in the “breaking news” part of that site) that you might expect. Of, say, your average Daily Mail aficionado.

Back to our new friend Paul. You’ll find that he provides a decent quantity of evidence to back up what is a misguided argument, both in the aforementioned version and in its appearances elsewhere online. Looking back through what sources and factual information he uses to support his point/claim, you’ll see two things:
(1) there’s a lot of EWG (and worse, for yes, there are worse sources of information);
(2) there’s layers and layers of misreading, misunderstanding, misprision: by Paul (ex. selective reading–and selective non-reading and misreading–of the EWG’s annual sunscreen report for this year), and by others whose material (often skim- or sketchily-read and misread) he then uses (often, misuses).

Classic problem: reading the available data selectively, only for those items that support your hypothesis. This is bad reading and the result is a catalogue of logical fallacies (so: flawed reasoning and point fails), as well as EPIC FACEPALM FAIL on the methodology that is the common basis to science and other forms of knowledge (and as we all ought to jollywell remember, the two started out as one and the same thing): intellectual honesty in reading/researching everything, and openness of one’s working hypothesis to change or even refutation.

What we have here instead is blinkered, doctrinal, monolithically static, doctrine-supporting, a missive to the faithful blinkered cult-followers.

I admit, I’m now helping his stats by citing him here. Doing so will give what he says more credence, as credibility and fiability are measured these days by number of hits, number of shares, the extent and density of citation-network. Winning points in a game.

This is a fundamentally and fatally flawed system:
(1) it equates these stats with truth-value;
(2) it does not account for quality (which overlaps onto truth, in that “better quality” involves “being (more) true/right/correct”), including value and relative weight;
(3) it’s phallogocentric: about winning and losing points, at the end of which process the winner takes all, conquers territory, and gets to (re)write the authoritative account of Things: What, How, and Why They Are. This will sound familiar, I hope, to anyone who knows anything about history and politics. Or indeed anyone with a pulse, given that this is what happens in current contemporary politics (and has done for ever, and much of “history” is just “ancient politics of dead people/s” anyway).

So we have here my old hobby-horse: not all opinions are equally valid or important.

Four problems branch off re. quality:
(1) it’s a sliding scale, not a simple binary;
(2) we need to take into account the quality of what was said, but also of what was then said about it;
(3) while some aspects of quality may be objective and absolute (facts, arguments), others may change over time (new evidence, new proofs).

Two ways to circumvent or indeed to pervert or subvert this problem:
(1) add as many negative comments as possible to such online follies;
(2) ensure that as many references as possible, in other places such as this one here and “The Beauty Brains,” are refutations and negative criticism. So that these become weightier than the silly appreciation.

Paul’s piece first appeared at the (variously-interesting: a mixed bag that actually includes many positives, in my judgement) Natural Society (2013-06-29), and there’s more comments there. Go forth and add to them. If you’re having a bad or dull day, they might make you laugh. On the other hand, they might (like the previous comments and all too many expressions of Vox Pop) make you cry, weep for humanity, despair for the future (and present) of the species, and generally become stabby about (simplistic-model) democracy, One Man One Vote, and the right to opinion and self-expression. Thinking positively, that might (a) induce you to hug a librarian (or hire a proofreader the next time you actually need one) and/or (b) help you care less about stupid selfish humanity (screw ’em all, and may they die out soon, best they deserve) and more about the rest of existence.

A less misanthropic attitude and a more positive way to react to that foolish piece, and all the idiocratic and anti-knowledge folly that surrounds it and its reception? Hope for gynarchist revolution.

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