What Did You Feed Ralph?

We rely very much on our senses and, at least in the west, we have largely determined that anything we are not capable of seeing, tasting, touching, hearing or smelling doesn’t really exist. We have a bit of leeway in our thinking, like understanding that dogs are better at smelling than we are or that ultraviolet light exists. Some non-scientists even know that sharks and birds can detect magnetic fields.

But generally, as human beings, when we are confronted with things that are outside of our normal senses even slightly, our natural tendency is to dismiss it as made up, a hallucination, an illusion, a delusion or just plain wrong. In fact, the majority of what we ‘believe’ is based on shallow knowledge and a very narrow sense spectrum compared with the range of stimulus available to us.  Here’s a good example:

Flowers taylor their displays toward the sensory capabilities of their pollinators. Bees can see visible and ultraviolet light, they have precise olfactory receptors, and now we know they can also detect electric fields.


Visible spectrum. Certain bright colors and petal shapes attract certain pollinators.


Ultraviolet (false color). Bees and other pollinators can see the ultraviolet end of the spectrum. They are guided by patterns on flowers that are invisible to humans.


Fragrance plume (artist’s depiction). Bees follow specific odors to locate flowers and, once they arrive, use scent maps to move toward the center of the flower. Fragrance that clings to a bee provides information for other bees back at the hive.


Electric field (artist’s depiction). Flowers have a weak negative electric charge relative to the air around them. Different flowers have different electric fields, often with charge concentrated at the tips of the petals.

Photos from http://www.npr.org/2013/02/22/172611866/honey-its-electric-bees-sense-charge-on-flowers

We have to ask ourselves, if so much of this stuff exists outside of our range of perception – smell, light, sound, magnetism  electricity, and pheromones, how do we know what is real?

According to Dictionary.com a hallucination is from disturbed sensory perceptions; an illusion is an image or conception of something actual or real that presents itself to the mind in an abnormal or distorted manner; a delusion is  from disturbed thinking or is a false belief about oneself or other people that persists despite its being at variance with the facts. If this is our definition, then we are all delusional and suffer from chronic hallucinations.

As a culture, we are quite willing to accept delusions of religions as fact, but we scoff at people who say they see auras. We accept so much of what we are told without question. We believe that what we know about things and people based solely on our shallow experience is FACT. We often make grand assumptions based on our internal capacities rather than asking questions about the world and the people around us.

I think that like our visual capacity, we experience people as the first flower and miss all the nuances that lie hidden until we inquire, act and investigate. Ask yourself today, what kind of delusions do you think you are under? What belief do you hold dear that might be at variance with the facts? How do you know those are the facts? Do you see a flower in the same way a bee does?


I believe in a long, prolonged, derangement of the senses in order to obtain the unknown.- Jim Morrison

The senses deceive from time to time, and it is prudent never to trust wholly those who have deceived us even once. – Rene Descartes

Whoever realizes that the six senses aren’t real, that the five aggregates are fictions, that no such things can be located anywhere in the body, understands the language of Buddhas.- Bodhidharma

The subtlety of nature is greater many times over than the subtlety of the senses and understanding. – Francis Bacon



From the moment her son Ralph came to national attention, Rose Nader was constantly asked, “What did you feed Ralph?” People weren’t just curious about her son’s impressive height (6’4″) – they wanted to know what they should cook in order to create someone like Ralph Nader, that rare creature blessed with a compassionate heart and the brains and talent to do battle against overwhelming forces – like, say, General Motors. If “You Are What You Eat” is true (and it is; our bodies are made of food), what is Ralph Nader made of? What are the secret ingredients? To answer that question, Mrs. Nader wrote “It Happened in The Kitchen: Recipes For Food and Thought”, a book about cooking and child-rearing, with a bonus chapter containing the wit and wisdom of Ralph’s father, Nathra Nader, the Oscar Wilde of Winsted, Connecticut.

Mrs. Nader was a woman ahead of her time, a homemaker who cooked low-fat recipes and disdained hot dogs and processed foods made by corporations who had no qualms about pushing their junk foods on the public – and specifically, on impressionable children.

Mrs. Nader lived to be 99 (she died just 18 days shy of her 100th birthday). Ralph’s father lived to be 98. At the party celebrating the 40th anniversary of the publication of Ralph’s landmark book, “Unsafe at Any Speed,” I personally witnessed 71-year-old Ralph, at the end of a long day, jogging up two flights of stairs. No matter what you think of Ralph or where you stand politically, that visual should be enough to make you put on your apron and whip up a big batch of hummus. The recipe can be found on page 44 of “It Happened in the Kitchen.” – By Jurgen Vsych


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