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Scott and Scurvy

2010-03-09 20:52:22.777995+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

[ related topics: Health ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2010-03-12 16:45:39.070726+00 by: petronius

Yes, the limes did have less vitamin C, but also the means of preparation reduced it further. I wonder if the Sicilian lemons went through a similar process, but because they had more C to begin with enough got through to make then more useful. Since so little C is needed, some random change in the processing might have kept enough C in the limes that no doubts about the need for citrus would have arisen. For want of a nail....

#Comment Re: made: 2010-03-11 21:55:52.80657+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yep. And the human ability to "see" patterns in randomness, to fool ourselves into seeing patterns when there really aren't patterns there, really strongly plays into that.

What I found particularly striking in this article was the way that lemons got replaced with limes for political and economic reasons, without verifying that limes were indeed as effective as lemons, thus the ritual kept going even though the key element that extracted value from the ritual was lost.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-03-11 18:07:22.765121+00 by: petronius

The current controversy over vaccines and autism seem to be a similar sitution. We really don't have any idea what causes autism. As we become more aware of it (whatever "it" is), the lack of precision is frustrating. So parents seize on some piece of settled science, like vaccines, and accuse it of causing the problem. just like the lack of a definition for Vitamin C, some factor we haven't yet discovered is involved in autism, and when it is discovered we will be shocked that we didn't think of it earlier.