"Everything in excess is opposed to nature."
Back in the Cold War days, a useful myth was that of extreme Soviet supremacy. Surely, if the godless communists, hell bent on world domination, were allowed to surpass US military might"well, you get the picture. Author Edward Herman once defined the "Soviet threat" as "a large and formidable beast of prey, the size of whose claws and fangs varied with the demands of the Military-Industrial Complex." As journalist Ken Silverstein explains: "It's now virtually undisputed that the menace once attributed to the Red Army was greatly overrated."
On the topic of overrated, I'm reminded of another America delusion: the protein myth. In the US, the typical adult ingests 100 grams of protein every day--roughly four to five times the amount recommended by scientists not affiliated with meat and dairy corporations. The average American--in his/her lifetime--will consume 12 sheep, 15 cows, 24 hogs, 900 chickens, and 1000 lbs. of assorted animals (like fish). How did we ever develop this idea that more is better when it comes to protein, especially animal protein?
Part of that answer is profit-related, of course, but another part of it is the result of a third popular American pastime: The irrational quest for size. While waif-like models inspire shame, anxiety, guilt, and eating disorders among the female population, those artificially-tanned, oiled-from-head-to-toe, chemically-enhanced bodybuilders smiling at you from the pages of your favorite magazine have the power to wield considerable influence . This is what a real man looks like, they seem to be saying. Envy me. I am a powerful man who commands the sexual attention of others.
"The gyms you go to are crowded with guys trying to look like men," writes author Chuck Palahniuk in his novel, Fight Club, "as if being a man means looking the way a sculptor or an art director says." In order to reach that sculpted ideal, the men (and women) Palahniuk refers to are usually doing too many reps using far too much weight while taking way too long of a break in-between sets as they walk around in a permanent lat pose. Add in the wallet-draining habit of downing powders, pills, and potions, and you have yourself an industry founded on the illogical pursuit of mass.
Much like the Military-Industrial Complex"
" Military history is full of trumped-up threats," Business Week columnist Stan Crock wrote in late 2002. "Time and again in military preparations, fears are raised that later prove unfounded." Crock calls this gap-ology. A gap, according to Herman, is "a frightening but mythical deficiency relative to some foreign power."