Say what you want about Reddit‘s r/technology, one of its most popular forums. Just don’t say “NSA,” “net neutrality,” “Comcast,” “Bitcoin,” or any of the roughly 50 other words that will secretly get your post deleted.
There’s a bot in r/technology, ready to delete any so-called controversial headline you try to submit.
In July, Reddit dropped two controversial subreddits, r/atheism and r/politics, from being automatic subscriptions for new users. Given redditors’ frequent complaints about overzealous moderators, r/technology, which boasts more than 5 million subscribers, could be considered their heir as the subreddit everybody loves to complain about.
As such, an intrepid redditor, creq, put together a list of words he found were suspiciously underrepresented on the subreddit. Almost all of them have at least two qualities: they’re commonly found in the intersection of technology and politics, and they can be seen as controversial, or at least likely to inspire anger in a few people.
Another redditor, SamSlate, created a number of graphs showing how often headlines with the acronym “NSA” appear on r/technology. This graph below shows the frequency of “NSA” in r/technology headlines over the past year. The dense chunk in the middle spans June through August of last year, the months during which the intial reports on top-secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden appeared online. The cutoff is clear:
A blanket ban on certain words in headlines may do r/technology subscribers a disservice. After all, “newsworthy” and “controversial” tend to dovetail together; why wouldn’t people interested in technology read about Bitcoin? About Senator Ron Wyden, likely the most dedicated defender of Internet freedom in Congress? About Internet service providers like Comcast and Time Warner?
One moderator at r/technology, agentlame, confirmed to the Daily Dot that, like most subreddits, his uses a bot to automatically filter posts containing words moderators would likely delete manually if they had the time. He said their general rule was to ban headlines with politicized words.
“We don’t have enough active mods and posts that break our rules can make it to the front page in less than an hour,” agentlame said. “So we’re stuck using a bot.”
However, though creq’s methodology looks sound—he said he spent six or seven hours guessing at banned words, and seeing what didn’t come up in searches—agentlame said creq’s list isn’t “entirely correct.”
Neither agentlame nor any other r/technology mods have yet responded with what’s wrong with a corrected list, however. We’ll update if they do.
Here is the list of some of the filtered words:
- Restore the Fourth (never shows up at all)
- Time Warner
- net neutrality
- National Security Agency
BPA New Study
What is bisphenol A?
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical produced in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.
Where is BPA found?
Polycarbonate plastics have many applications including use in some food and drink packaging, e.g., water and infant bottles, compact discs, impact-resistant safety equipment, and medical devices. Epoxy resins are used as lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes. Some dental sealants and composites may also contribute to BPA exposure.
How does BPA get into the body?
The primary source of exposure to BPA for most people is through the diet. While air, dust, and water are other possible sources of exposure, BPA in food and beverages accounts for the majority of daily human exposure.
Bisphenol A can leach into food from the protective internal epoxy resin coatings of canned foods and from consumer products such as polycarbonate tableware, food storage containers, water bottles, and baby bottles. The degree to which BPA leaches from polycarbonate bottles into liquid may depend more on the temperature of the liquid or bottle, than the age of the container. BPA can also be found in breast milk.
Why are people concerned about BPA?
One reason people may be concerned about BPA is because human exposure to BPA is widespread. The 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found detectable levels of BPA in 93% of 2517 urine samples from people six years and older. The CDC NHANES data are considered representative of exposures in the United States. Another reason for concern, especially for parents, may be because some animal studies report effects in fetuses and newborns exposed to BPA.
The new study above from the journal Environmental Health Perspectives has concluded that the petroleum byproduct Bisphenol A, commonly found in plastic products from food packaging and can linings to water bottles, not only competes for receptor space with reproductive hormones in the body, but it appears that men with higher BPA concentrations in their urine also have lower sperm counts.
Worse, the study said that out of 308 men chosen from the general population, BPA was found in a whopping 98% their urine.
This mirrors other claims out there that reliable scientific studies on BPA can’t even be completed because it is too hard to find a BPA-free control group! (As I’ve said before, I bet if you asked most people, the fact that the vast majority of us here in the U.S. have blood that’s so utterly tainted with a plastic chemical to the point that a reliable study can’t even be completed is proof enough in and of itself that we probably need tougher regulations on it, science or no science).
This study falls on the heels of yet another new study that just came out of Australia which found that prenatal exposure to BPA causes negative health effects in babies down the road in life, including a two-fold increased risk for obesity and type two diabetes, on top of higher potential for reproductive problems and breast cancer.
Even though a plethora of research has shown that BPA is harmful to health on a multitude of levels, to the point that France has now banned all BPA from all food and beverage packaging by 2015, the FDA continues to ignore reality and allow the widespread use of the chemical here like it’s no big deal.
Add all those studies to the fact that some six billion pounds of BPA are produced annually and over a million pounds of it are released into the environment every year, and you’d think the FDA might considering finally doing something about it — if for no other reason than to save face to the world. It took the agency, who claims its mission is to protect our health, years and years just to finally remove the stuff from baby bottles and sippy cups, and that was after most all other developed nations had already banned it from children’s food products long ago.
Deakin University scientist Dr. Yaan Gibert said that study results show that exposure to BPA during fetal development and in early life could lead to health consequences later on down the road.
Some of these consequences include a two-fold increased risk for obesity and type two diabetes. Reproductive issues and even breast cancer in females are also identified as some of the serious health effects from BPA chemical exposure. After all, BPA containers have been found to contain synthetic estrogens.
The highly toxic chemical has not been completely banned in Australia where the study has its origin, where small amounts are still officially considered safe, but Dr. Gibert and his research team say otherwise.
Dr. Gibert called for the ban of BPA in sippy cups and baby bottles, so that unborn babies and infants would at least be protected. This is a move that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration called for in 2012.
Since daily dosages of BPA are entering human bodies primarily as a result of eating and drinking from containers that contain the chemical, one way to prevent exposure is to make personal choices to buy BPA-free plastics. Aside from this consumer choice, the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) lists several other precautions individuals can take as consumers. Among the suggestions are avoiding canned foods, and using glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods, since high temperatures cause BPA to leach out of plastics and into hot foods and liquids.
NIEHS includes information on their website about the increased dangers of BPA exposure for infants and unborn babies, citing them as more vulnerable for reproductive issues and other ill health effects later in life.
The burgeoning market for BPA-free plastics may not be the entire solution though, as research is emerging that suggests these plastics also contain harmful chemicals such as synthetic estrogens. In fact, the National Institutes of Health have funded studies that found that “almost all” of the commercially available plastics tested contain synthetic estrogens, which leached even without exposure to heat from the microwave or dishwasher. Some of the synthetic estrogens released from BPA-free containers were actually found to be even worse than those found in BPA-laden containers.
Aspartame New Study
As reported before, aspartame has been shown time and again in studies (the ones not commissioned by the industry) to be bad for you.
Now yet another new study, this one published in the journal Redox Biology (above), has concluded what lots of other research over the past decades has repeatedly shown — aspartame, the popular sweetener in over 6,000 grocery store items, including everything from soup mixes to carbonated beverages to chewing gum — can essentially program your brain cells to kill themselves.
Key study findings include:
- Aspartame administration alters the functional activity in the brain by elevating the antioxidant levels.
- Chronic aspartame consumption altered the neuronal function and neurodegeneration in brain.
- Observed changes may be due to the methanol or its metabolite.
- Long-term FDA approved daily acceptable intake (40 mg/kg bwt) aspartame administration distorted the brain function and generated apoptosis in brain regions.
Apoptosis is defined as, “the process of programmed cell death in multicellular organisms. Biochemical events lead to characteristic cell changes and death.”
Despite its widespread use, the artificial sweetener aspartame remains one of the most controversial food additives, due to mixed evidence on its neurobehavioral effects. Healthy adults who consumed a study‐prepared high‐aspartame diet (25 mg/kg body weight/day) for 8 days and a low‐aspartame diet (10 mg/kg body weight/day) for 8 days, with a 2‐week washout between the diets, were examined for within‐subject differences in cognition, depression, mood, and headache. Measures included weight of foods consumed containing aspartame, mood and depression scales, and cognitive tests for working memory and spatial orientation. When consuming high‐aspartame diets, participants had more irritable mood, exhibited more depression, and performed worse on spatial orientation tests. Aspartame consumption did not influence working memory. Given that the higher intake level tested here was well below the maximum acceptable daily intake level of 40–50 mg/kg body weight/day, careful consideration is warranted when consuming food products that may affect neurobehavioral health.
So even at the FDA acceptable levels, consuming this chemical is just not good for you, no matter what the mega food corporations and their lobbies say.
Aspartame (otherwise known by its brand names NutraSweet and Equal) is one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners in foods today. It breaks down into three components: 50 percent phenylalanine, 40 percent aspartic acid, and 10 percent methanol (yummy). It comes from genetically modified (GM) E. coli bacteria, and by “comes from”, I mean aspartame is GM bacteria poop (super yummy). Aspartic acid is an excitotoxin, methanol is the wood alcohol used in antifreeze, and too much of the amino acid phenylalanine in the brain can decrease serotonin levels over time, leading to chemical imbalances that can actually induce mood disorders and depression.
Dr. Mercola has noted that aspartame actually accounts for over 75 percent of adverse food additive reactions reported to the FDA, including:
“Headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain.”
In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) even lists aspartame as a “chemical with substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity” on its database of developmental neurotoxicants.
It’s the methanol released during aspartame’s metabolism, in this particular case, which these researchers say is helping to generate free radicals that lead to cell damage and death:
This study provides a scientific evidence to conclude that aspartame is toxic to the body system and particularly in brain it increase the free radicals and triggers the apoptosis. Aspartame consumption in a long-term basis may affect the brain. It may be due to its metabolite methanol Aspartame may act as a chemical stressor as indicated by the corticosteroid level. (source)
But I guess we should just keep on consuming it, right?
When I typed “FDA Aspartame” into Google’s search engine to get the FDA’s official take on how safe and wonderful this chemical is for everyone to eat all the time, ironically, the first thing that popped up was a file on the FDA.gov website about aspartame’s toxicity that lists off at least 50 horrible side effects people have experienced from eating and drinking this stuff.
The document, Docket # 02P-0317 Recall Aspartame as a Neurotoxic Drug: File #4: Reported Aspartame Toxicity Reactions by Mark Gold of the Aspartame Toxicity Information Center, also notes that the FDA admittedly stopped recording aspartame toxicity reactions back in 1995, so its figures on exactly who is being negatively affected by aspartame and how aren’t just sketchy, they’re apparently nonexistent:
The FDA and NutraSweet have claimed that the number of reported adverse reactions have declined substantially since the mid-1980s (Pauli 1995, Butchko 1994). In addition, the FDA recently claimed that the number of reported toxicity reactions for 1995 was only 11 (WSJ 1996)! It is important to realize that during the mid-1970s the FDA was investigating wrong-doings of the aspartame manufacturer and stated the facts exactly as they found them:
”[The manufacturer] lied and they didn’t submit the real nature of their observations because had they done that it is more than likely that a great number of these studies would have been rejected simply for adequacy. What Searle did, they took great pains to camouflage these shortcomings of the study. As I say filter and just present to the FDA what they wished the FDA to know and they did other terrible things for instance animals would develop tumors while they were under study. Well they would remove these tumors from the animals.” [FDA Toxicologist and Task Force member, Dr. Andrian Gross (Wilson 1985)]
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, a number of key government and FDA officials left their jobs to work with companies related to the aspartame industry (GAO 1986). This included key FDA officials such as the head of the FDA Bureau of Foods becoming a Vice President of the National Drink Association and the FDA Commissioner becoming a high-paid consultant for the manufacturer’s PR firm, Burston Marsteller (Gordon 1987). After this period of time, there was no scientific evidence and no amount of serious toxicity reports that could get the FDA to seriously consider funding independent, properly-conducted (e.g., chronic exposure) research. That appearance of the FDA being under the total control of the manufacturer, Monsanto, continues to this day.
I include these comments about the FDA to demonstrate why no independent scientist familiar with the aspartame issue takes statements from the FDA such as “11 reported reactions in 1995″ seriously. There are many people, including myself who have received that many toxicity reaction reports in a single day during 1995. The reality is that independent organizations have noted that aspartame toxicity reaction reports given to them have *increased* every year since the late 1980s (Stoddard 1995). It is also important to note that in mid-1995, the FDA admited that it had stopped recording aspartame toxicity reactions (Food 1995). That may have something to do with why the numbers that the FDA reported to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ 1996) were so small! (source)
Why does aspartame continue to be approved and allowed in food after food after drink after gum after food?
That might be a good question for our current FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods, Michael Taylor, who used to be Vice President of Public Policy and a lawyer for Monsanto. He might have some special insight, considering that Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle, the chemical company that held the patent to aspartame, back in 1985.
Sources: https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa/ , http://www.nutritionalanarchy.com/2014/05/03/new-study-fda-approved-levels-of-aspartame-distort-brain-function-kill-brain-cells/ , http://guardianlv.com/2014/04/infants-and-unborn-babies-harmed-by-bpa-chemicals-in-plastic/ , http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/nur.21595/abstract;jsessionid=1BFE170A966E6C4835E7FE044C6A22B9.f03t03 , http://www.dailydot.com/news/reddit-technology-banned-words/ , http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213231714000640