About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Holidays rage blamed on food

The Guardian recently reported a study addressing the perennial question of why so many people have arguments with their families during the holidays. The answer -- in part -- is that the glycemic index hits the roof and goes on a roller-coaster during Christmas and surrounding days, because of the kind of stuff we eat and drink.

Rapid changes in the glycemic index are known to be associated with equally rapid reversals of mood (that's one more reason you don't want to stuff your kids with candies, at Halloween or any other time), which interact with the already psychologically complex social environment that often characterizes the holidays. After all, you are seeing people that you usually don't see, or don't care to see, and you spend hours at close quarters with them, trying to be on your best behavior.

A group of British scientists has even provided people with an alternative menu (e.g., replacing mashed potatoes with Jerusalem artichokes – which are delicious, by the way), to help you cope with the stress and reduce the likelihood of outbursts against your in-laws. That's as far as biology can go; for the rest, you probably still need to confirm that appointment with your psychologist on the morning of the 27th.

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