a nut at the LA Times

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Joel Stein at the LA Times has written an op-ed that is, to put it bluntly, as close to being complete bullshit as anything I've ever seen. "Nut allergies -- a Yuppie invention" may just qualify as the dumbest assertion I've read in years, along with the subtitle's claim that "Some kids really do have food allergies. But most just have bad reactions to their parents' mass hysteria."

"Your kid doesn't have an allergy to nuts. Your kid has a parent who needs to feel special."

How exactly do all those trips to pediatricians, allergists, and pharmacies satisfy parents' need for an "special" life? That's a very peculiar type of "mass hysteria."

"Yes, a tiny number of kids have severe peanut allergies that cause anaphylactic shock..."

Allergies can be severe without causing anaphylactic shock. Other allergic symptoms--eczema, rashes, hives, vomiting, breathing problems--are serious enough by themselves.

"genes don't mutate fast enough to have caused an 18% increase in childhood food allergies between 1997 and 2007. And genes certainly don't cause 25% of parents to believe that their kids have food allergies, when 4% do. Yuppiedom does." [...] "peanut allergies are only an issue in rich, lefty communities"

This issue doesn't have anything to do with liberals or yuppies, you dolt. Have you ever considered that other causes are possible--such as antibiotic use, early exposure to allergens, and other factors? (Environmental issues may be involved, which should have occurred to you after mentioning places as diverse as Ecuador, Guatemala, Britain, and Israel.)

"British kids were 10 times more likely to have peanut allergies than Israelis. That's probably because Israeli kids have other things to be afraid of."

Hmmm...so if Osama bin Laden obtained a nuclear bomb, then fewer American kids would have allergic reactions? It's an interesting hypothesis, and one that makes me glad you're not an epidemiologist. Or a pediatrician. Or a newspaper columnist. (Oops.)

"Parents may think they are doing their kids a favor by testing them and being hyper-vigilant about monitoring what they eat, but it's not cool to freak kids out."

It's also not cool to send a kid into the school cafeteria without the knowledge that sharing a friend's PB&J sandwich may cause wheezing, gasping for air, and a trip to the nurse's office...or an ambulance ride to the ER.

Mr Stein did write one unimpeachable sentence in his piece:

"opinion columnists believe in saying something outrageous to get attention."

At that, he succeeded; I'm outraged. (I'm also beginning to suspect that newspapers are in such bad economic shape because they'll apparently hire anyone who can bang out a few hundred words on a subject, regardless of accuracy.)

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on January 17, 2009 6:12 PM.

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