AskMe weighme judgeme June 13, 2006 2:35 AM   Subscribe

Ask a question about being bugged and everyone says "see a psychiatrist". Ask a question about losing weight or dying while trying, with mentions by the OP of bulimia and not caring if it affects her health - and people come up with tapeworms and smoking? What the heck?
posted by divabat to MetaFilter-Related at 2:35 AM (53 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

South Bronx Paradise, baby!
posted by puke & cry at 2:43 AM on June 13, 2006


Yeah I thought the tapeworm answer was in bad taste. But other than that the answers were fine IMNSHO.

wfrgms' answer was pretty much in line with the "see a psychiatrist" line of AskMe answering and kindall's answer was a nice stab at answering the question without judgement of the OP's reasons for asking.
posted by sveskemus at 3:05 AM on June 13, 2006


Yeah, I noticed the two "see a professional" answers. I just thought it was odd that there weren't more of them, considering how other such questions in the past would have had plenty of those.
posted by divabat at 3:52 AM on June 13, 2006


Different kinds of knee-jerk answerers click on different questions. The "see a shrink" crowd like to read the "OMG my life sucks and I want to die" type questions. The "huh huh. fatso." crowd like to read the diet questions. Makes sense to me.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:07 AM on June 13, 2006 [1 favorite]


Seriously, don't they know that cigarettes are bad for your tapeworm? You're smoking for two now.
posted by allen.spaulding at 4:11 AM on June 13, 2006 [3 favorites]


One was SERIOUSLY disturbed, with apparent delusions and paranoia. The other is a fat person, who can't seem to lose weight. I actually didn't take that fat thread seriously when I read it, whereas the bugged guy really sounded crazy. It's easier to say "You sound like you have schizophrenia, you should probably get medicated for that" than it is to say "you sound like you have some serious body issues, maybe you should see a therapist".
posted by antifuse at 4:18 AM on June 13, 2006


Hey, that thread was so awesome it even had a high fructose corn syrup crazy in it! That's really what I love about Ask MetaFilter is the legion of regular, clockworklike responses from disgruntled segments of the population for or against something or other.
posted by Captaintripps at 4:31 AM on June 13, 2006


wfrgms answer and others like it are annoying. The kneejerk "I know what you actually want and you don't! Even though you quite clearly spelled out what you want!" crap is...crap. Because, what, elr might die, but at the weight he/she wants to be? Who cares.

Behaving timidly seems to be exactly what elr doesn't want to be doing. And "healthy" is timid. Further than not paying mind the content, those kinds of answers imply a real deficit in hearing tone.
posted by birdie birdington at 4:41 AM on June 13, 2006


"Seek professional help" is awful awful advice for someone who has a something that 1) a whole lot of people don't like, 2) is possible to get rid of, and 3) actually exists in the real world, and not only in the person's mind.

Listening devices in your home? Most people don't like them. It's possible to get rid of them. The only question left is whether you think they actually exist.

Being fat is something that a whole lot of people don't like. It's possible to get rid of the fat. And judging by the height/weight that the person gave, most laymen would consider that to be fat.

It would be nice and probably better for elr's general well-being if he was fine with his weight. But desiring to lose weight after what you percieve to be years of struggle? That sounds downright normal to me.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:56 AM on June 13, 2006


Behaving timidly seems to be exactly what elr doesn't want to be doing. And "healthy" is timid.

Yeah, but it actually works. The reason people hate the suggestion isn't because it's timid, but because it's hard work.

I mean, shit, if you just want to lose a bunch of weight quickly, there's always amputation.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:59 AM on June 13, 2006


Actually, I wouldn't lump your answer in with the "act timidly" answers. I think your linked advice is pretty great really and stated motivationally -- and of further importance, reserving judgement.

And there are still Pollyanas around thinking that caloric deficits are unhealthy. Basically, wfrgms' response comes off like a judgemental Pollyana who, if well considered by elr, only serves to give pause instead of motivational push, without offering what this elusive "healthy" entails. Quite the opposite of the effect you acheived.
posted by birdie birdington at 5:09 AM on June 13, 2006


uh, achieved. (5am :()
posted by birdie birdington at 5:11 AM on June 13, 2006


Wanting to have an eating disorder is not the same thing as having paranoid delusions.
posted by OmieWise at 5:16 AM on June 13, 2006


Disgusting or not, a tapeworm would work and probably so would smoking.
posted by caddis at 5:18 AM on June 13, 2006


It was a question with an absurd premise. "I don't care about dying, I just want to look good." IMHO, it's inhumane to give this person advice that validates their question. People who obviously don't care about their health and simply want to achieve certain physical goals need mental help (be it from friends, therapists, parents, whatever).

Additionally, it's a sign of a complete breakdown of a healthy and happy lifestyle when people just want to lose weight at any cost. (On a more judgmental note, it could also be a sign that this person is too lazy to wait out the long road ahead of them in regards to healthy weight loss.)

These kinds of questions really scare me because I would NEVER knowingly give bad advice to anyone, even my worst of enemies. The fact that this site is semi-anonymous fuels this kind of bad advice. "Hey, I don't know the guy/girl, so what the hell do I care if my advice is wrong or stupid. I'll just throw it out there irresponsibly."

What makes AskMeFi great is that there exists a pool of intelligent people giving good advice. What makes it potentially great is that people here actually have a sort of respect for each other and only want to genuinely help people. Questions and answers like these undermine the value of the site.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 5:40 AM on June 13, 2006


Disgusting or not, a tapeworm would work and probably so would smoking.


Both false.
posted by Miko at 5:44 AM on June 13, 2006


SeizeTheDay writes "It was a question with an absurd premise. 'I don't care about dying, I just want to look good.' IMHO, it's inhumane to give this person advice that validates their question. People who obviously don't care about their health and simply want to achieve certain physical goals need mental help (be it from friends, therapists, parents, whatever)."

Except that the details in the question are actually a litany of homeostatsis. Clearly the questioner has some desperation, but just as clearly they don't have bulimia or a speed problem despite trying to get these things started. In other words, their frustration is with not being as mentally unbalanced as many people (based on the responses) seem to think that they are. Almost all of the advice in thread is cogent and helpful. There is almost none that threatens the health of the questioner in any way. So what's the big deal?
posted by OmieWise at 6:08 AM on June 13, 2006


Dumb AskMe question gets awful answers. News at 11.

But divabat, we *are* encouraged to take the question at face value in AskMe and not be judgmental towards the asker. In this case, that combination is a license to give bad advice, which some folks apparently find fun. But unless you think the question should have been deleted, I'm not sure there's anything fixable here.

Seriously, don't they know that cigarettes are bad for your tapeworm? You're smoking for two now.

*stifles guffaw*
posted by mediareport at 6:17 AM on June 13, 2006


It was a question with an absurd premise.

And so some of the answers were likewise absurd. Most were not, actually, which was a pleasant surprise. Part of the downside to asking a question of a semi-random peanut gallery is that you have to take the crunchy with the smooth. While there may be some questions that I may roll my eyes at in the privacy of my own home, trying to keep that eye-rolling out of AskMe proper is what makes it generally work so well. And it does mostly work.

Once your question says "I'll try anything" people see it as an open season on screwball answers.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:18 AM on June 13, 2006


Y'know, the whole "I think I'm being bugged" thread really changed my outlook on the "see a shrink" answer. I used to think that this was bad advice, on the assumption that anyone who posted to AskMe had already considered that option. However, sometimes that is clearly not the case.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:02 AM on June 13, 2006


If someone wants a concrete answer to something (diet, medicine, networking, automotive maintenance, law, gardening, etc.) we should just have AskMe block all answers, and display "SEE A PROFESSIONAL."

If someone asks an anecdotal, open ended question ("what's the best place to..." "what's your favorite...") we should have AskMe block all answers and display "THREAD CLOSED, TOO CHATTY."

There, see how simple and elegant it all is now?
posted by sourwookie at 7:04 AM on June 13, 2006


Both false.

prove it
posted by caddis at 7:13 AM on June 13, 2006


BTW, since I'm here, here's a bug report for Matt, if you're here:

I didn't mark this MeTa thread as a favorite, but I noticed that someone did. I looked to find out who and discovered that it was me? Why did this thread (until about a minute ago when I removed myself) report that I marked it as a favorite?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:29 AM on June 13, 2006


Man, my redundancy in that last comment suggests that perhaps I need professional help. Cripes.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:30 AM on June 13, 2006


It would be nice and probably better for elr's general well-being if he was fine with his weight. But desiring to lose weight after what you percieve to be years of struggle? That sounds downright normal to me.

But seeing a professional about the mental health part of it AND continuing to work on the physical part of it are not mutually exclusive. In fact I would suggest that in this situation, the poster should not have one without the other. Both will help him be healthier, and the former will probably help him acheve the latter, even.
posted by librarina at 7:30 AM on June 13, 2006


What's with all the amateur psychologists here? Do you really think you know what is going on in this person's head? There are a lot of reasons someone would be frustrated enough to phrase their question as elr did that do not include mental disorder. If you are really absolutely positive that you are right please have a drink on me, have several, we could use a good flameout.
posted by caddis at 7:39 AM on June 13, 2006


Can we just say that all AskMes about health are offiically called out, from this time forward? Ugh.
posted by desuetude at 7:50 AM on June 13, 2006


Part of the downside to asking a question of a semi-random peanut gallery is that you have to take the crunchy with the smooth.

Best peanutbutter metaphor ever.

Why did this thread (until about a minute ago when I removed myself) report that I marked it as a favorite?

It could be an arcane bug, but it's probably user error. It's easy to accidentally click fave, and since it adds really quickly and leaves you back at the originating page, you might not notice that you misclicked.
posted by cortex at 7:50 AM on June 13, 2006


prove it

Oh, I see. You make the unsupported claim, I challenge it, and I'm the one that has to provide citations? Well, OK.

Neither tapeworms nor smoking promise very effective weight loss results.

Tapeworm tales.

Results of tapeworm infection.

Weight loss is only one symptom of tapeworm infection, and apparently it doesn't always appear.

But here's a fabulous tapeworm pill poster. Note that, as the Snopes article says, it may not have actually contained tapeworms, nor is there any reason to think it worked.

As to smoking. Smoking can increase the metabolism a small amount due to higher heart rate. Poor circulation makes the heart work harder. Smoking can also mildly suppress the appetite, and can work as a substitute for food in people who have a desire to always be noshing on something. However, its effects on weight are not dramatic, and smoking really hasn't been shown to be an effective weight loss method. I can think of plenty overweight smokers; in fact, I was one. I now weigh 50 pounds less than I did while a smoker. It's easy to think that smoking reduces weight, because people tend to gain when they quit. But that's more because of the phenomenon of nicotine withdrawal, less because of the small metabolic effect.

This study showed a relationship between obesity and smoking.

This study showed that while weight gain is part of smoking withdrawal, smoking itself does not cause weight loss.

In addition, smoking changes the body's fat distribution, creating a 'pot belly' or waist thickening effect in women. So if the goal is to meet the generic standard of narrow waistedness, smoking is counterproductive.
posted by Miko at 9:02 AM on June 13, 2006


I concede.

(I was kind of joking, but that was good stuff you found Miko.)
posted by caddis at 9:10 AM on June 13, 2006


Wow, my own MeTa callout.

I'm looking for advice. I never said anything about being lazy or not dieting. I said that I'm exercizing like crazy and improving my diet more and more. I don't want to stop doing either of these things but they don't feel like enough and I want to do something that will get results in the meantime.

In the real world, I get a lot of encouragement. Personally, I prefer jokes that are in bad taste.
posted by elr at 10:06 AM on June 13, 2006


The tapeworm sites were an interesting diversion, agreed.
posted by Miko at 10:34 AM on June 13, 2006


This callout is really inappropriate, divabat.
posted by 517 at 11:36 AM on June 13, 2006


Well there is the question of whether bulimia is a sickness. The Romans used to vomit shit up all the time and we don't call them buliemic? Or do we now? Maybe somebody could pathologize Roman traditions but I guess there's no money there. Still, think of all those poor Romans so obsessed with their body image! Anyways, the point: the asker has stated that he's of sound mind and--wait for this--this doesn't contradict his actions.
posted by nixerman at 11:42 AM on June 13, 2006


No, we would call that something terribly, terribly wrong. You're not supposed to vomit feces.

nixerman: The Romans used to vomit shit up all the time and we don't call them buliemic?
posted by Captaintripps at 11:57 AM on June 13, 2006


Also, they didn't vomit to stay skinny, they vomited in order to eat more.
posted by Miko at 12:49 PM on June 13, 2006




caddis, did you see this MeFi post about hookworms and asthma?
posted by OmieWise at 1:23 PM on June 13, 2006


Forgot about that one, but I did not forget about Mind Control Parasites.
posted by caddis at 1:46 PM on June 13, 2006


We can boil this debate down to "Do people of sound mind have the right to hurt/kill themselves."

If you think they do, then the first question is, "Is this poster of sound mind?" Any answer to that will be a judgment call (especially when you only have the evidence of what you read in an online forum), and different people will make different judgements. At which point, it just turns into a "no she isn't", "yes she is" debate.

For the sake of argument, let's assume she's sane. So, does a sane person have a right to hurt/kill herself? To put it even more starkly, what do we do if someone posts this question?

I'm tired of life. I've been unhappy for 30 years. I'd like to kill myself, but I'm afraid of pain. What's the best way to do it so I go peacefully in my sleep?

In many places, suicide is against the law, but ignore that aspect for now. Say it's legal. How do we respond?

I don't think there's one answer. Many people will respond in many different ways (and since we're talking about ethics, most of those people will probably be angry at people who respond in other ways).

Here's my view, based on my personal ethics:

-- Sane, grownup people have a right to hurt/kill themselves.

-- Sane, grownup people have a right to ask for advice about how to hurt/kill themselves. (An opposing view might be that while they have the right to hurt themselves, they don't have the right to burden other people with their decision.)

-- I have no obligation to respond. (And personally, I wouldn't. I'm fine with the question, and I'm fine with other people answering it if they want to, but I'm not comfortable helping someone to hurt themselves. This has more to do with my own squeamishness and cowardess than anything else.)

-- If I do post a response, I think it's okay for me to point out that there might be other options or to stress that my answer might lead to bodily harm or death -- as-long-as I DO answer the question.

-- I am not allowed to simply post my opinion that the person shouldn't hurt/kill herself. That doesn't answer the person's question, and thus such an "answer" is violating a rule of AskMe.

-- If I feel that the person is of unsound mind (or if I know she's a minor), that trumps (for me) AskMe rules. I am free to step in and object/help. But I'm assuming here that she's sane, so I must either answer the question or remain silent.
posted by grumblebee at 2:20 PM on June 13, 2006


A large plastic bag and a large rubber band will cure what ails you.
posted by caddis at 2:30 PM on June 13, 2006


Leechings for everyone!
posted by Marnie at 2:46 PM on June 13, 2006


Leechings for some; miniature American flags for others.
posted by Gator at 2:51 PM on June 13, 2006


The worst part of tapeworms and smoking is getting the squirmy bastards lit.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:02 PM on June 13, 2006


First we had a thread go fishy; now we have one going wormy.
posted by caddis at 4:05 PM on June 13, 2006


Oh you meant bugged like "listening devices," I thought you meant bugged like "my neighbor poainted his house an ugly color." We've removed suicide-type questions before -- and contacted the poster, etc -- fwiw.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:16 PM on June 13, 2006


Wow, is this callout blowing the "harm" issue of the question way out of proportion.
posted by desuetude at 4:22 PM on June 13, 2006


Ask a question about being bugged and everyone says "see a psychiatrist".

Ask a question about pretty much anything involving mental states, and you get that and 'get you some legally prescribed and societally condoned druuuuuugs gurlfrend!'

One of the many things that drive me up the fucking wall about AskMe in particular and Amerka in general.

Perhaps medication might help my rage, come to think of it, or maybe professional counseling....

Nah, fuck that noise.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:43 PM on June 13, 2006


Agreed, stav. Imagine how much poorer our culture would be if we had "meds" for the last 500 years. Van Gogh on Wellbutrin, Einstein on Ritalin, Kant on Zoloft, Neitzche on Thorazine, Caravaggio on Pimozide, Emily Dickinson on Paxil...
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:30 PM on June 13, 2006


Here's what I don't understand about the tapeworm. Where do the calories go? Does the tapeworm just get hot or what? I mean, you eat 3,000, burn 1,500 during the day and the tapeworm takes another 1,500? How does that work?

Or does the tapeworm just interfere with normal digestion?
posted by delmoi at 7:32 PM on June 13, 2006


Agreed, stav. Imagine how much poorer our culture would be if we had "meds" for the last 500 years.

Opium was legal and popular for hundreds of years. Less addictive then wellbutrin!
posted by delmoi at 7:34 PM on June 13, 2006


Agreed, stav. Imagine how much poorer our culture would be if we had "meds" for the last 500 years. Van Gogh on Wellbutrin, Einstein on Ritalin, Kant on Zoloft, Neitzche on Thorazine, Caravaggio on Pimozide, Emily Dickinson on Paxil...

If I say "Hitler on Prozac," is that a Godwin?
posted by frogan at 8:39 PM on June 13, 2006


Where do the calories go? Does the tapeworm just get hot or what?

No, the worm just keeps getting bigger. Then it starts dropping off pieces of itself, which make more worms for someone else to pick up.

Then you die.
posted by frogan at 8:41 PM on June 13, 2006


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