Friday, April 21, 2017

Critical Thinking Behind the Wheel

From time to time when I’m driving my car and searching the various radio stations for some entertainment, I come across an ad telling me that American men are not as macho as they used to be.  It seems, according to them, that the average amount of testosterone has been decreasing from generation to generation resulting in the crisis they label as low-T.  It behooves me, according to them, to point my car to the nearest clinic to be tested to make sure I, too, am not a victim of this dreaded condition.

If I fail the blood test, they will give me the shots I need to make me feel like my old self, with a better mood, more energy, firmer waistline and more desire.  Since almost no one feels as good as when they were younger, it sounds like another scientific miracle.

Do I turn my car around immediately and head to one of the clinics?  That’s not what a critical thinker does, especially when that critical thinker has learned to be very suspicious of these kinds of come-ons.

So I wasn’t surprised when I learned earlier this week that six of those companies were being sued in Illinois Federal Court for “inappropriate marketing of testosterone-replacement therapy (TRT) with misleading claims.”  The complaint continues that the companies have widely marketed the therapy for off-label use for “a condition invented by Defendants and referred to as Low-T.”  Furthermore, TRT offers little or no benefit while posing serious health risks with no warning to patients.

There is a real medical condition called hypogonadism, not called Low-T.  The Mayo Clinic has information about diagnosis:  “If tests confirm you have low testosterone, further testing can determine if a testicular disorder or a pituitary abnormality is the cause. Based on specific signs and symptoms, additional studies can pinpoint the cause.”  Seems it’s not the direct route to virility the radio ad makes it sound like.  That should be a surprise to no one.

On a completely unrelated subject, except that I have also wondered about this when driving in the car – if you look up the butterfly effect, not the book or the movie, the definition looks like this.

“The butterfly effect is a term used in chaos theory to describe how small changes to a seemingly unrelated thing or condition (also known as an initial condition) can affect large, complex systems. The term comes from the suggestion that the flapping of a butterfly's wings in South America could affect the weather in Texas, meaning that the tiniest influence on one part of a system can have a huge effect on another part.”

So if theoretically the flapping of the wings of one butterfly can affect the weather, what is the effect, if any, of the estimated 300,000 wind turbines around the world harvesting wind power to generate electricity?  We see them along the road and think “clean energy,” but is it more like “lots of huge butterfly wings”?

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