A sentence I read in a book I came across in the stacks of the library at San Jose State University has stuck with me and seemed to apply to the search for knowledge. I meant to read the book eventually, but then forgot the title.
I never forgot the sentence: “Information is everywhere, it takes a goal-seeking organism to turn it into knowledge.” Of course! How else can we organize and make deductions from random information, I thought. But recently scholars and researchers have challenged that thought. It seems that not long after man created the axe he had an axe to grind. Researchers are talking about “motivated cognition,” or, as explained by Dan Kahan, professor of law and psychology at Yale Law School: “the unconscious tendency of individuals to fit their processing of information to conclusions that suit some end or goal.” That is pretty much what the sentence I quoted refers to, but this one implies that we tend to look for information that confirms what we already think.
Any ideologues or anyone trying to prove a point, whether political, religious, scientific or even medical, are prone to this type of reasoning. As a matter of fact, we all are. Infatuation with someone or something really blinds us to negative information.
In this case, I am back to the mighty, ubiquitous egg. Desmond sent me an article by a Dr. Mercola responding to the study done by David Spencer warning about egg yolks. Dr. Mercola adds that the data for the Spencer study relied upon the memories of stroke victims about their diets during their lives. And the research was funded by heart and stroke foundations that in turn were funded in large part by drug companies making statins to lower cholesterol.
Now the yolk researchers are saying that it is just an hypothesis but the media ran away with it. That is probably true. Dr. Mercola confirmed what I mentioned – that the researchers did not include other elements of the subjects’ lives, like exercise, one of the most important factors in keeping a healthy heart.
However, if the researchers were motivated by their goal, in full disclosure, I should admit that I probably have a goal, which is my infatuation with eggs, their complexity and versatility. Others seem interested, too. One reader wrote that the reason they do not refrigerate eggs in Costa Rica is that they do not wash them first and thus they retain a bloom that maintains their freshness for a longer period. Others wrote about the terrible unsanitary situation of egg farms contradicting the above, and others said that egg farms were as sanitary as possible. I don’t think I would like to keep chickens just to have their free-range eggs. According to Frans, chickens are very sociable and not very discriminating about where they eat (or lay) and where they poop. All I can attest to is that I love Italian meringue (made with raw egg whites) and have never gotten sick in Costa Rica from it or from eggs prepared any way.
And finally, Alexis reminded me that I told her that you can tell how fresh an egg is before you break it by putting it in a pan of cold water. If it lies on the bottom, it is very fresh. If it floats on the top, don’t crack it. There is no greater turnoff than a rotten egg. I came upon one only once in my life over 40 years ago in Majorca, and since then I always crack an egg into a little cup before adding it to any mixture. That is aversion therapy that changes behavior at its best.
Meanwhile, there are readers like Jeanita, who is still investigating the egg business in Costa Rica, and there is one last hint I will give you for cooking eggs. If you like fried eggs but want the white on the yolk cooked but don’t want to flip the egg, simply put a half teaspoon of water in the pan and cover it for a minute. My big sister Annetta and I have known this secret since we were kids. I am not sure if my little sister, Donnetta, knows that secret, but today is her birthday. I wish her a happy one, and hope she has many more and that I am around to note them.