Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Complainin' and Complainin'

I seem to be drawn to conflict.

I was watching a programme last week on the UK's Channel 4 called Food Unwarpped, in which presenters aim to teach the public just where their food comes from and all the intriguing behind-the-scenes work that goes along with it (green and black olives, shelling cashews nuts, etc.), and while I do find the show both entertaining and educational (shame on you!, something cannot entertain AND educate!), I was taken aback by a segment on Series 2, Episode 6, where they claimed that Capsiacin, the chemical in chillies that causes the burning sensation, was really just a smokescreen and all the damage was done in the mind!

Now I know what you are thinking: But AC, Capsiacin DOES play tricks with the mind. It doesn't ACTUALLY set your mouth on fire.

And this is true.

But clever clogs that they are, these TV people, they often forget that some human beings take the 'It's all in your mind' as an excuse to do stupid things, without asking more probing questions.

The part which properly annoyed me was watching the segment presenter, Jimmy Doherty, (yes, he of Jimmy's Farm fame) speak to a scientist (yes, a scientist. And in a WHITE LAB COAT. It makes any claims or assertions valid since an empiricist is backing it up) from Bristol University, who proceeds to prove that 'It's all in the head' by dropping some PURE CAPSIACIN extract on a raw steak in one plate, and SULFURIC ACID on another steak on another plate.

Cue the CILLIT BANG moment:

Look, the Capsiacin does nothing to this steak!

Oh, but look at the damage done to the steak by the Sulphuric Acid! Ouch!



First off, the steaks are chunks of dead meat. No live nerve endings or ANYTHING to tell it 'Dude, that Scientist in the white lab coat just poured a teaspoon of pure capsiacin crystals on you.You should be screaming now.'

Second, while it IS in the mind, Capsiacin fools the mind (the pain receptors all along the skin) into thinking it is on fire, and if the mind BELIEVES this, then it will react PHYSIOLOGICALLY to the perceived threat (redness, sweating, possible blisters and skin irritation, raised heartbeat, etc).

But, of course, the zombie meat cannot perceive this.

And since sulphuric acid physically damages almost anything with dramatic, corroding effect (good TV, eh?), well, you can see where I'm going with this.

Interestingly, the Scientist lady was wearing gloves while handling the Capsiacin, and never directly touched it.

Pure Capsiacin extract is processed under highly controlled conditions by people who would otherwise seem to be handling the Ebola virus.

The Ebola Virus...of the mind!

Jimmy, I'm sorry to say this, but if it really is 'all in the mind', you wouldn't mind uploading a video of you dipping your bare hand into a vat of pure capsiacin crystals, would you?  

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