Starbucks in the Land of Fruits and Nuts

Last week, a judge in California decided that Starbucks had to put cancer warning labels on coffee. He declared that Starbucks and other companies failed to prove their case that a chemical found in coffee posed no significant harm.

Give me a break! I can't prove that air doesn't cause cancer. Or water. Everyone who got cancer has breathed air and drunk water! So obviously they're carcinogenic. Right… Maybe you'd like some of that swamp land I've got in south Florida…

Logically, you can't prove a negative. You can only prove a positive. Let me put that differently. You can't prove that there is no God. To do that, you'd have to be in every corner of the universe at once. That's the only way you'd know that God wasn't someplace you weren't. But to do that, you'd have to be God! Proving he does exist is a lot easier.

If evidence exists that coffee does cause cancer, then it should be easy to see. But it's not.

Before we get really twisted – like that judge's mind – let's remember that the voters of California passed Proposition 65 in 1986. It required the California Environmental Protection Agency to create a list of cancer-causing chemicals. This bureaucracy gets to declare that any chemical with a one in one hundred thousand chance of causing cancer has to have a warning label.

This is the Law of the Bureaucrat run amok. Remember that the Prime Directive of the Bureaucrat is to solve a problem – or at least appear to be solving a problem. After all, that's what his job was created for. And that means that there has to be a problem to solve.

Let's take a brief side trip. In scientific inquiry, it is generally accepted that you must have 95% statistical confidence that your answer is correct before you can present it as true. That means there's still a 5% possibility that you're wrong. And count on it, many things that we thought were true have been overturned by newer investigations. All you have to do is remember the many changes over the years in hormone therapy at menopause. What we thought was true changed to false with new information… and then back to true… and to false…

Next, we have to consider a word very few have heard: Hormesis. This term describes how the body responds to various environmental agents. In this graph, the red line describes risk of death. For most toxic agents – even radiation – if the body is exposed to too little of the agent, the risk of dying goes up. If too much is present, the risk of dying goes up. But in the middle, we find a zone of health.

Let's look at dioxin, the culprit in the famous Love Canal toxic scare. Large amounts of it are thought to be hazardous. And the EPA claims that there is no safe level.  But it turns out that some low doses of dioxin greatly reduce the incidence of cancer in laboratory animals. But at very low doses, that benefit disappears. What's going on?

The human body is fearfully and wonderfully made. It has defenses against viruses, bacteria, and a whole host of toxins. But you have to have some exposure to bad stuff in order to be able to defend against it. You develop a kind of immunity when small amounts of toxins pass your way. But if you aren't exposed at all, you're at risk.

Let's get closer to home. I live in Florida, the Sunshine State. Lots of people spend a lot of time in the sun, some on beaches, others on golf courses – like me. The sun produces UV radiation. If you never go out in the sun, you can develop vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to bone weakness, cancer, cardiac disease, and other problems. But if you go outside a bit, you'll be fine. If you spend too much time in sun, you run the risk of skin cancers. A zero dose is dangerous. Low dose is good. High doses are dangerous.

Returning to the Land of Fruits and Nuts, we find that the California EPA declared that acrylamide is a carcinogen. This is candy for bureaucrats. They had already regulated almost all real toxins, so acrylamide, a very common trace byproduct of cooking, was an easy target. In large doses, it does cause cancer. But in small doses, like all of us get every day, it helps to keep our bodies healthy.

Such a nuanced understanding is worse than useless to the bureaucrat. He has to fix problems, or there's no reason for him to have a job. So acrylamide is just another problem for him to fix. It's a reason for him to draw a paycheck. But the fact that the Starbucks dose is good for you gets in his way. So he ignores it. It goes on the list of banned books – er – substances. The bureaucrat is a hero for one more day.

So what does this judge do? He violates every judicial principle. Coffee is guilty until proven innocent. And we know that you can't prove the negative. Yet that's exactly what he demands. He guaranteed the verdict long before he heard – assuming he was even listening – the evidence. So let's consider what the elixir of life actually does.

Spoiler alert: I grew up in a religious tradition that banned caffeine. Now I drink a cup or two of Black Rifle Coffee Silencer Smooth every day.


  • Improves memory
  • May reduce the risk of Parkinson's Disease
  • Reduces the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma
  • Reduces the risk of erectile dysfunction
  • Reduces driver errors
  • Reduces chronic inflammation
  • And more…


  • Reduces the risk of Type II diabetes, a major killer
  • Reduces the risk of liver cancer by 40%
  • Reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis
  • Assists in weight loss
  • Reduces colorectal cancer

In short, coffee is a good thing. But because California bureaucrats are busy fulfilling the Prime Directive to justify their own existence, they are completely blind to the scientific evidence that

  1. Trace amounts of acrylamide are likely good for you due to hormesis
  2. Coffee has well-defined health benefits.

This was capped off by the judge refusing to believe any evidence that whatever small risk acrylamide poses is far offset by the benefits of coffee and cooked food.

Ultimately this shows the way the Left thinks. They have blinders on. Acrylamide causes cancer in some high-dose regimen. Therefore acrylamide is bad. Tax cuts benefit some rich people who actually donate to Republicans. Therefore tax cuts are bad. If there's any risk, all benefits are ignored.

The Left has again proven itself unable to consider the balance of good and bad. Such a comparative risk assessment is beyond their ability to comprehend. It's not because they are unintelligent. It's because they have chosen to be stupid. In the words of the Apostle Peter, they are willingly ignorant. Unfortunately, when they have finished banning everything that causes some sort of harm, everything will be banned.

Curiously, should everything be banned, humanity will have achieved Green Peace. We will all be equal. We will all be dead, since everything that is good for us can also be bad if misused. Thus, the world will return to nature, completely without the corrupting influence of mankind. Isn't that the ultimate Lefty ideal?

I, for one, will fight every day for what is good and right. Taking away our freedoms is not good. The Law of the Bureaucrat works every day to destroy our lives. The only way to win that fight is to continually reduce the arenas where the bureaucrats have any influence. They will fight tooth and nail to prevent that. We must be stronger than they are.