Medieval philosophers, scholars and theologians often engaged in theoretical debate, attempting to explain the world as they comprehended it. Often the result was pure asinine, useless and puerile conjecture, but conjecture that became the rule of the day because these were the “smart people” of their time. Thomas Aquinas was a gifted thinker but even gifted thinkers were given to indulge in the fads of the day. One such debate was of the physical and ephemeral quality of angels.
Isaac D’Israeli (1766-1848), the father of British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli writes, ”The reader desirous of being merry with Aquinas’s angels may find them in Martinus Scriblerus, in Ch. VII who inquires if angels pass from one extreme to another without going through the middle? And if angels know things more clearly in a morning? How many angels can dance on the point of a very fine needle, without jostling one another?”
Martinus Scriblerus (“Martin the Scribbler”) was a pseudonym adopted by the 18th-century wits Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, John Gay, Thomas Parnell, and John Arbuthnot, who collaborated on a satirical work entitled Memoirs of the Extraordinary Life, Works, and Discoveries of Martinus Scriblerus, published in 1741. Turning to chapter VII of this book, now available online courtesy of Google, we find the first two questions cited by D’Israeli but not the one about dancing angels. Did D’Israeli make it up? Nah — he undoubtedly cribbed it from the aforementioned Cudworth, who in True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678) writes: “… some who are far from Atheists, may make themselves merry, with that Conceit, of Thousands of Spirits, dancing at once upon a Needles Point …”
In a debate reminiscent of those of the physical qualities of angels contemplated by St. Thomas Aquinas, the EU leadership has spent three years determining that water does not, in fact, hydrate.
EU officials concluded that, following a three-year investigation, there was no evidence to prove the previously undisputed fact.
Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes into force in the UK next month.
German professors Dr Andreas Hahn and Dr Moritz Hagenmeyer, who advise food manufacturers on how to advertise their products, asked the European Commission if the claim could be made on labels.
They compiled what they assumed was an uncontroversial statement in order to test new laws which allow products to claim they can reduce the risk of disease, subject to EU approval.
They applied for the right to state that “regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration” as well as preventing a decrease in performance.
However, last February, the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) refused to approve the statement.
A meeting of 21 scientists in Parma, Italy, concluded that reduced water content in the body was a symptom of dehydration and not something that drinking water could subsequently control.
Are they being mocked by reasonable people? You bet they are:
Last night, critics claimed the EU was at odds with both science and common sense. Conservative MEP Roger Helmer said: “This is stupidity writ large.
“The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart and yet here they are: highly-paid, highly-pensioned officials worrying about the obvious qualities of water and trying to deny us the right to say what is patently true.
“If ever there were an episode which demonstrates the folly of the great European project then this is it.”
Ukip MEP Paul Nuttall said the ruling made the “bendy banana law” look “positively sane”.
He said: “I had to read this four or five times before I believed it. It is a perfect example of what Brussels does best. Spend three years, with 20 separate pieces of correspondence before summoning 21 professors to Parma where they decide with great solemnity that drinking water cannot be sold as a way to combat dehydration.
“Then they make this judgment law and make it clear that if anybody dares sell water claiming that it is effective against dehydration they could get into serious legal bother.
EU regulations, which aim to uphold food standards across member states, are frequently criticised.
Rules banning bent bananas and curved cucumbers were scrapped in 2008 after causing international ridicule.
Prof Hahn, from the Institute for Food Science and Human Nutrition at Hanover Leibniz University, said the European Commission had made another mistake with its latest ruling.
“What is our reaction to the outcome? Let us put it this way: We are neither surprised nor delighted.
“The European Commission is wrong; it should have authorised the claim. That should be more than clear to anyone who has consumed water in the past, and who has not? We fear there is something wrong in the state of Europe.”
But even with that mocking, the law is the law:
Now the EFSA verdict has been turned into an EU directive which was issued on Wednesday.
One wonders when the EU is going to retroactively declare, as the medieval Catholic Church did, that Galileo and Copernicus were really heretics and wrong after all – the planets orbit around the Earth instead of the sun?
This is exactly the same kind of edict. The EU bureaucrats believe that the world orbits around Brussels but that’s the “point”, isn’t it?
This is actually a couple of days old and I had this scheduled to go up on Sunday but Drudge beat me to it, so I just made it my last post before I catch my flight back to the good old US of A.