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September 18, 2014
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An examination of some of our widest-spread modern myths.

1. Avoiding Gluten Can Give You More Energy

Myth: Products without the wheat-protein gluten are healthier and easier to digest, giving you more energy.

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Fact: For people without coeliac disease or gluten intolerance, gluten (which helps dough keep its texture) is perfectly healthy to digest, and is a nourishing plant protein, especially when supplemented with legumes. Unless you have a gluten-specific disorder, this myth is BUSTED!

2. The Myth of Gilgamesh

Myth: Gilgamesh, a Mesopotamian king, distressed over the death of his friend Enkidu and fearing his own mortality, sought eternal life. He bound stones to his feet and walked on the bottom of the ocean to retrieve a plant resembling a boxthorn that could continually renew his youth. Before Gilgamesh had a chance to ingest the plant, it was stolen by a snake, spoiling his chance at immortality.

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Fact: It’s easy to see why the Gilgamesh myth is appealing: It’s the first great work of literature and poignantly expresses the universality, inescapability, and anguish of mortality. But the myth is BUSTED! Goji berries, which come from the boxthorn plant, can’t grant you eternal life, though they are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and phytochemicals.

3. The Prometheus Myth

Myth: To punish Prometheus for bringing humans fire and the gifts of civilization, Zeus had the immortal Titan chained to a rock, where an eagle would return daily to eat his liver.

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Fact: BUSTED! Liver is alright once in a while, but eating it every day, as Zeus’ eagle supposedly did, would lead to a slew of health problems, from fatty build-up to vitamin overdoses to gout flareups. So pay no attention to this ancient myth and its poignant warnings about the tyranny of power and the noble sacrifices of the righteous who defy it, as powerful and resonant as the symbolism may be.

4. The Rape of Persephone

Myth: Persephone, daughter of the harvest goddess Demeter, was abducted by the underworld god Hades who sought to make her his bride. Hades was made to release her, but tricked her by giving her pomegranate seeds to eat as a parting gift; by accepting his food, she became obligated to spend part of the year underground. Crops do not grow in the winter because Demeter is mourning while her daughter is away.

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Fact: In the battle over Persephone between the coercive suitor and the protective mother, we see the possessive model of female sexuality that has characterized conceptions of femininity throughout the ages. But what we don’t see is that pomegranate seeds, which are not conclusively linked to a stint in the underworld, are high in beneficial polyphenols and are an excellent source of dietary fiber, facts which are of negligible consequence in comparison. It’s for these trivial tidbits about one labor-intensive fruit that we consider this myth BUSTED, while the restrictive traditional view of female agency goes unexamined.

5. Eating At Night Will Make You Fat

Myth: Eating food at night increases weight gain, since you are dormant as you sleep and have no chance to burn the energy.

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Fact: This can hardly be called a myth, as it has no characters, no real story, and little relation to questions on the origin, purpose, and nature of humanity. Also, it is BUSTED! It matters much more how many total calories you eat and how much exercise you get over the course of your day than when you take in your food.

6. The Eucharist at the Last Supper

Myth: Jesus Christ, the son of God and his living incarnation on Earth, dined with his apostles for the last time before his crucifixion, which would atone for the sins of mankind and allow for the salvation of all who would accept him. At this Last Supper he gave bread to his apostles, declaring it to be his body.

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Fact: Jesus is the central figure of the world’s largest religion, and an inspiration to peaceful leaders throughout the centuries who shunned violence and embraced sacrifice. But this myth is BUSTED! A 33-year-old Nazarene man would have a body high in lean protein, while bread and crackers contain mostly simple carbs, which really doesn’t matter at all. It’s a small piece of fucking bread, and people eat it to feel a connection with one of history’s most legendary and influential figures, not to infinitesimally lower their body weight.

7. The Rise and Fall of Oedipus

Myth: The Oracle of Delphi had prophesied to King Laius of Thebes that he would be killed by his son, so when Lauis’ wife, Jocasta, bore him a son, Oedipus, the king ordered a servant to leave the infant on a mountain to die of exposure. However, the man took pity on the newborn, giving him to a shepherd from the nearby kingdom of Corinth. The innocent babe eventually was passed to the Corinthian king and queen, who adopted him as their own and raised him as a prince. Many years later, when Oedipus was grown, he heard a drunk referring to him as a bastard, and sought the truth about his origins. He consulted the Oracle of Delphi, who told him that his fate was to kill his father and marry his mother. Oedipus decided to leave Corinth to avoid that sordid destiny, and departed for Thebes, not knowing it was his native home. On the way, he killed an aggressive chariot-driver while defending himself in a traffic dispute; this man turned out to be his birth father, Laius. He next confounded the terrifying Sphinx, correctly answering her riddle and causing her to fling herself into the sea; as a reward, he was made King of Thebes, and married the widow queen, his mother Jocasta. After years of peaceful rule, he found Thebes under a plague, and The Oracle of Delphi told him that King Laius’ killer must be brought to justice. Oedipus vowed to find the killer and exile him; through an arduous search, he discovered the truth about his own deeds, stabbed out his eyes in grief, and left the land in fulfillment of his vow.

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Fact: BUSTED! There’s absolutely no good nutritional advice in the Oedipus story: It’s all myth, containing only some timeless warnings about man’s inability to control destiny, the hubris of attempting to do so, and the dual dangers of knowing too little and too much. So go read a pamphlet on what probiotics are best for your digestive system, congratulating yourself on “eating smart” while one of the greatest works of Sophocles and indeed all of dramatic literature collects dust on a library shelf. Is that all you want to know, what to eat? Eat your mother’s pussy. You deserve no better than Oedipus. At least he cared enough to ask some real questions.

8. The Egg Yolk Myth

Myth: Egg yolks should be avoided because they are high in cholesterol.

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Fact: It’s fine to eat eggs. Whatever. Busted.

9. The Flood Myth

Myth: A great flood is sent by an angry god or gods to cleanse the world of a sinful civilization and wipe the slate clean for a new birth of humanity.

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Fact: This myth has been repeated by priests, poets, storytellers and writers in different variations from ancient civilizations on nearly every continent since the dawn of history. But you want to know if cleanse diets work, do you? Fine! This myth is BUSTED! Cleanse diets are useless — there’s no backing at all to the vague “detoxification” they claim to provide. But you know what else is useless? Longevity for the sake of longevity, and health for the sake of health. Without our consciousness, we’re dumb lumps of biomass consuming and producing more biomass, so to waste the only gift that could bring us some kind of transcendence on the myopic optimization of these base functions is a special kind of inanity.

10. Truth Has Value

Myth: Human beings seek truth in order to discover their place in the world, and honor those who find and convey it.

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Fact: I’m writing a column about what foods to eat, compiling a list of recycled old chestnuts, trite summaries, and trendy platitudes that form no coherent narrative and convey no new information. You’re reading it not to learn how to improve your health (which you know is by eating less and exercising more), but to give yourself the pipe-dream that you’re only a few pieces of knowledge away from a perfect body. Clearly nobody is concerned with the truth here, or anywhere.

11. Drinking Fruit Juice is as Healthy as Eating Fruit

Myth: “Juicing” is a healthy way to quickly consume many servings of fruit and vegetables in one sitting, giving you your full daily value of many essential nutrients.

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Fact: [a single gunshot, the creaking of a chair, a soft thud, the trickle of a liquid]

…[the buzzing of flies]…

…[the knocks and shouts of a concerned neighbor]…

…[the sirens of a police car]…

…[wood splintering under a battering ram, rapid footsteps, terse communications over a two-way radio]…

BUSTED!

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