The mayor of Acapulco faced public ridicule on social networks by pointing out that the factors that contribute to the high levels of violence in the city of Guerrero are due, among other things, to “the heat”: “The lack of employment can also be a factor and the same (…) the heat (sic) can also be a factor for violence. A bad diet, when you bring a bad diet, for example, if they eat more carbohydrates, you speed up.”
Already the construction of the mayor’s argument was ridiculed in networks. There was even a response from the official, in which she cited an article in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization to justify her statements about the climate, which analyzes the non-economic factors of violence such as temperature and physiological and psychological factors. . Beyond what we can argue about the value of the argument, the statements and the justification, they show two great vices of contemporary thought: determinism at all costs and the lack of complex thought.
To understand the great social issues of today such as violence, inequality in all its manifestations, or even problems related to food, it is necessary to exercise complex thinking so that words such as “multifactorial” or “multicausal”, or even “multidisciplinary” do not remain only in empty words to explain in effect, that the problems and social realities are complex and there are no determinisms of cause – effect as in controlled laboratory experiments. That is precisely the reality: people try to understand it through biases. If we set out to find the relationship between violence and any other variable (however crazy it may seem), we will find a relationship. But this does not mean, however, that this variable has the explanatory capacity of the phenomenon.
The ability to analyze reality in a complex way requires training, but also training that occurs from early education. In addition to this, the argument conjugates, in a crude way, how the blame for almost all ills today can be attributed to food. It is the easy answer, to also explain complex phenomena such as obesity and chronic degenerative diseases. The fault lies with the “bad” diet and that is as far as the arguments go, which do not consider the social realities of that lifestyle.
A third point with which you must be very careful is the interpretation of cause and effect effects from reading a scientific article. And it is that as science has a method and rigor, scientific articles always have to be read from the critical perspective of the methodology and to know exactly what is meant by a relationship between “carbohydrates” and the excitability of the temperament, for example. From this point of view, it is very delicate to interpret these studies without taking into account questions of method. And it is not that we all have to be specialists in research methodology or epistemology (the way we do science), but these areas and discoveries also have to find the appropriate channels of communication of the findings for the non-specialized public. , under penalty of constructing arguments of the type: carbohydrates are equivalent to excitability that is equivalent to explosive character and violence. Explaining complex problems with simple answers is an indicator that those are not the answers.
Food and society columnist
POINT AND HOW
Food and society columnist. Gastronaut, observer and foodie. She is a researcher in sociology of food, nutritionist. She is president and founder of Funalid: Foundation for Food and Development.