Consummate dilettantism!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Chemicals" Are Not Always Bad

I've told you this several times, internet, but you never seem to believe me. Some come around, though:
Good news and bad news at the dentist this morning. The good news is, my teeth are fine. The bad news is, the dentist told me I should give up Tom's of Maine and Nature's Gate in favor of Crest and Colgate.

I pressed him on it because I know sometimes people have knee-jerk reactions about green products, and he insisted that he's only come to the conclusion after observing many people's teeth. In fact, he went so far as to say that I'd be better off brushing my teeth with just water. He said the big C's of dental care have "lots of artificial ingredients in them that are great for your teeth."

And so it is with much dread that I will be reuniting with the tacky blue goop of my youth. The dentist did give me permission to go with the plainest, simplest version of a mainstream paste: No microbeads or built-in mouthwash needed.
Surprised it took him this long. I have instinctively trusted Colgate ever since I read the list of ingredients. Tetrasodium pyrophosphate? It heartens me to know that I am brushing my teeth with such an awesome-sounding, artificial (I presume) chemical, that I do not have to rely on coconut oil* or similarly ineffective nonsense.

Most of the time, "non-green" products are safer, more effective, and/or tastier than "green" ones. Why are there preservatives in snack products? To preserve them. Take those out and your food goes stale after a day or two. Chemicals like these are responsible for simple advances in human welfare. Ironically, without them we would be quite unable to suffer such luxuriantly indulgent movements as the "green" one, which is fundamentally reactionary and Luddite -- its proponents, however, do not understand that the world they wish to live in, one at once perfectly green and perfectly comfortable, cannot exist. We cannot revert to a medieval world without simultaneously reverting to medieval comfort and medieval technology (and, of course, medieval life expectancy), but the only people who think we should are those who are the products of an overly developed middle class. (Ever heard an African complain about the destruction of the rainforest, excepting those obviously aiming at a Western audience? No? That's because they want to rip it all down.) So does material comfort sow the seeds of its own reversion? No, because companies are smart enough to realize that people are stupid enough to fall for a "natural" product that's made in a factory with man-extracted chemicals and gums. "All-natural" has become an advertising technique, and, thank God, not much more. A truly all-natural world is not one I want to live in.

For more on how earth cannot naturally support all of humanity, read this Norman Borlaug column.

For more on how organic food is wildly overrated, read this.

And for more on how religious sentiment always finds an outlet, even when traditional religion is dying, read this.

*Is it just me, or does every green product there is have coconut oil? I guess it just makes some people feel all warm and fuzzy inside to use something probably not more effective than placebo in their hair or whatnot. Me, I prefer those delicious, man-made chemicals. I thought we all got over the bogeyman when we were, like, 5.

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