chewing ideas down to stubble, then moving on…

Natural Shmatural

Posted by Jason on November 24, 2008

All good ideas come in the shower, right? Well as I was putting some foo-foo shampoo in my hair today, I realized that I’m tired of the obsession over natural ingredients. This shampoo has like 10 different types of tree extracts and all this other nonsense. You see, I ran out of the shampoo that actually works to control my dandruff and annoyingly itchy scalp, and I was stuck using some of this stuff that wifey thought I should try because it’s natural (there’s like 5 of these half-used random shampoo bottles in our shower).

So “natural” stuff is supposed to be better for us all, right? Every time I hem and haw about something natural that wifey brings home for my to slather on myself, she usually says something like, “Well the Native Americans used this stuff for all these things, so it has to be good for you!” Well, she doesn’t always say this, and she usually has a lot better explanation, but I’ve definitely heard this before. Poison oak is natural, but you don’t see me going and rubbing it all over myself, right? My shampoo that actually works has coal tar in it; that’s natural, right? The ancient American colonists used it to torture everyone from slaves to political figures, so that makes it good for you, right?

Anyway, this is not a beef with my wife and her love of natural stuff. It’s probably going to make me live to the salty old age of 110, so rock on, AS LONG AS IT WORKS! What I really thought about in the shower was the idea that these ancient, nearly-extinct cultures always have the best wisdom -much better than our modern intelligence.  Why do we give such credence to these cultures that have been nearly or completely wiped off the face of the Earth? For instance, here in the United States we have a huge veneration (theoretically but not in practice) for the Native American societies that we’ve killed, infected and forced to live on the crappiest chunks of our country. If you tell people that American Indians used this or that, they often automatically think that it’s a good idea to use it for themselves. Or what about the Mayans? Sure they had more advance scientific thinking, but that doesn’t mean that they were smarter than we are now. If these cultures were so smart, then why did they get their butts kicked by the evil Europeans?

Also, most of the knowledge that we have from these mysterious peoples comes from few surviving literary texts (I know not the American Indians; it’s mostly an oral tradition). Only the wealthy and rich knew how to write or were even allowed access to reading and writing. So the general population was probably a lot stupider than our modern general population (I know it’s hard to believe). 

Just because it’s natural doesn’t make it good, and just because some ancient civilization used something doesn’t mean it’s better than something we’ve created. Be wise.


2 Responses to “Natural Shmatural”

  1. Kristen said

    “Well the Native Americans used this stuff for all these things, so it has to be good for you!”

    just for the record, i don’t think i have EVER said this. on the contrary, just the other morning i said, “shampoo and conditioner are a few things i don’t mind not wasting money on buying natural, because it’s on our hair for so short of time it doesn’t have time to soak into our bodies.” AND if i was about natural for the shampoo and conditioner, it’s because it’s better for the environment when it runs down the drain and into our beautiful earth. to say that i make you use natural stuff to keep you alive longer is preposterous! i mean, who would want to live with you for 70 years anyways. self-inflicted torturers, that’s who. so, humpf! 😉

  2. Jason said

    Yes, dear…

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