Patterico's Pontifications


George Carlin on Immune Systems

Filed under: General,Humor — Patterico @ 8:22 pm

I thought of this clip again today as I was filling up a bottle with tap water — which I regularly drink, to the dismay of my colleagues. My belief is, you have to give your immune system a good slug every now and then, just to keep it in practice. Turns out George Carlin agrees.

It’s George Carlin, so expect foul language from this point forward. But it’s funny ’cause it’s true:

“You’re gonna get sick, and you’re gonna die, and you’re gonna deserve it — because you’re fuckin’ weak, and you have a fuckin’ weak immune system!”

I can’t say I take it quite to his extremes — for example, I do take regular showers and wash my hands. But eat food off the ground? You betcha!

42 Responses to “George Carlin on Immune Systems”

  1. the three second rule is alive and well at my house, but not for company. 😀

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  2. Perhaps if our children weren’t being raised in bubbles, there wouldn’t be the rash of debilitating illnesses that seem so inexplicable, particularly to those of us who grew up in a less urban time.

    AD - RtR/OS! (cf9e75)

  3. The opening lines from his last concert. He was one of a kind and sorely missed. I especially like the first sentence and will occasionally yell it out when bicyclists hog the road and dare car drivers to do anything about it. They are especially noxious here in Scottsdale, as well as along the PCH in SoCal.


    “I’d like to begin by saying, fuck Lance Armstrong. Fuck him and his balls and his bicycles and his steroids and his yellow shirts and the dumb, empty expression on his face. I’m tired of that asshole. And while you’re at it, fuck Tiger Woods, too. There’s another jackoff I can do without.

    I’m tired of being told who to admire in this country. Aren’t you sick of being told who your heroes ought to be? Being told who you ought to be looking up to? I’ll choose my own heroes, thank you very much.

    And fuck Dr. Phil, too. Dr. Phil said I should express my emotions, so that’s what I’m doing.”

    horatio (55069c)

  4. Patterico, if you get a chance, you should view Penn and Teller’s expose of the bottled water scam from their show called “Bullsh*t.”

    Let’s see if I can find you a video peek:

    So next time someone gives you trouble about using tap water, you know what to say.

    Eric Blair (5cf38e)

  5. Okay, that didn’t work. Try this:

    It’s really pretty funny and informative.

    Eric Blair (5cf38e)

  6. I’ll choose my own heroes, thank you very much.

    my heroes wear camouflage.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  7. Carlin was quite hysterical when he was not being a total nozzle.

    JD (76f87c)

  8. Thank you – many years ago when I was an analytical chemist I analyzed potable water for the local water districts regularly at a commercial lab in Monrovia. I can tell you based on my own personal experience that tap water is better than bottled water. No plastic monomers. A little bit of chlorine (far safer than bacteria). The usual trace minerals Ca, Mg, Na, K, Fe, Zn, etc, all good stuff. Just well water or collected rain. The bottled water is the same stuff, sometimes put through charcoal or whatever. But it is a complete scam. Bottled water gets more and more polluted with plastic the longer it is on the shelf. And it is completely unnecessary. What a waste of money – it costs 10,000x what tap water costs. We have the best water in the world, and that is just not good enough for the fascists. I am usually in my own lonely little world when I state these facts.

    william wilson (40bc94)

  9. With some exceptions, Carlin’s philosophy is the right one.

    Ask youself, why don’t Mexicans suffer from Montezuma’s Revenge? Answer: because their immune systems work.

    The helicopter moms who hover over their children, use antibacterial soap on the table in a restaurant to avoid any contact with germs, are really not doing their children any favors. Their immune systems are never challenged. Their antibody levels are low and they will get sick at some point, with a far greater virulence than need be. But you will never convince these moms of that.

    Every kid should eat a live worm once in his life, especially with a little dirt on it. Good for you.

    Corky Boyd (a311f8)

  10. I always liked Carlin’s routine that said, in essence, when on the freeway, anyone driving faster than you was a ‘maniac” whilst anyone driving slower than you was an ‘idiot.”

    gazzer (87d7c3)

  11. “Every kid should eat a live worm once in his life, especially with a little dirt on it. Good for you.”

    Corky, it was specifically a philosophy of mine before I had kids, that if they wanted to eat dirt — let ’em.

    As it turns out, they never really developed a taste for the stuff. But if they had, I wouldn’t have stopped them.

    Patterico (b3aecd)

  12. I’m sorry, but I love the taste of filtered water. It makes a huge difference to me. I don’t buy bottled often, but I can tell the difference between filtered water and tap. Perhaps the filter is leaving some flavor like Ka in the water, but I think it’s removing the chlorine.

    I also use that damn antibacterial goo quite a bit.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  13. You haven’t lived unless you’ve gone urinal trough diving at Wrigley Field.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  14. Trough diving at Wrigley Field explains A LOT

    JD (76f87c)

  15. Ahhhh, Patterico. Carlin is cutting but it’s always good to go back to basics… remember your Tom Lehrer:

    “Lots of things there that you can drink,
    But stay away from the kitchen sink.
    The breakfast garbage that you throw in to the bay,
    They drink at lunch in San Jose!!!”

    –from ‘Pollution’ by Tom Lehrer, ‘That Was The Year That Was.’

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  16. I love that video of George Carlin. I believe there’s some truth to it, but I still prefer bottled water.

    mikeb302000 (6127bb)

  17. A friend of mine told me that one of his friends works at a place which bottles water; their source is the municipal tap water! I guess that somewhere a spring feeds into the reservoir, so it’s real spring water.

    The Dana with a friend of a friend (3e4784)

  18. There’s a spout right next to the local beer distributor where water just runs off the side of the mountain, and people stop all the time to fill up jugs of real mountain run-off water. I tried it once, to see if there was any big deal about it; it didn’t taste any different than my tap water.

    The Dana in Pennsylvania (3e4784)

  19. Of course, if you do it like the Dana in Pennsylvania said, you’ll avoid the most monstrously conceived communist plot ever foisted on a free people.

    General Jack Ripper (3e4784)

  20. General Jack D. Ripper: Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about war?

    Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: No, I don’t think I do, sir, no.

    General Jack D. Ripper: He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.


    General Jack D. Ripper: Mandrake, do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water, why, there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk… ice cream. Ice cream, Mandrake, children’s ice cream.

    Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Lord, Jack.

    General Jack D. Ripper: You know when fluoridation first began?

    Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: I… no, no. I don’t, Jack.

    General Jack D. Ripper: Nineteen hundred and forty-six. Nineteen forty-six, Mandrake. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It’s incredibly obvious, isn’t it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual. Certainly without any choice. That’s the way your hard-core Commie works.

    Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Uh, Jack, Jack, listen, tell me, tell me, Jack. When did you first… become… well, develop this theory?

    General Jack D. Ripper: Well, I, uh… I… I… first became aware of it, Mandrake, during the physical act of love.

    Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Hmm.

    General Jack D. Ripper: Yes, a uh, a profound sense of fatigue… a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I… I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence.

    Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Hmm.

    General Jack D. Ripper: I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake. Women uh… women sense my power and they seek the life essence. I, uh… I do not avoid women, Mandrake.

    Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: No.

    General Jack D. Ripper: But I… I do deny them my essence.

    Horatio (55069c)

  21. #14 JD:

    Trough diving at Wrigley Field explains A LOT

    It certainly does…

    Bottled water? Useful when working out in the field with no tap available. Where do you fill it up? Why, at the tap just like the big water companies do!

    My little town is blessed with an Artesian well…our tap water beats the snot out of any bottled water. And is a LOT cheaper.

    And germs? Go work in an infectious diseases ward for awhile. That which doesn’t kill you…

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  22. My little town is blessed with an Artesian well…our tap water beats the snot out of any bottled water

    So does ours (where I’m staying at the moment). I’ve thought they could bottle a fraction of it (in glass?) and sell it as true “natural water”.

    Mexicans don’t get Montezuma’s revenge because they get “Uncle Sam’s revenge”. Anybody may have some short lived GI upset when making a significant change in location as the normal bacteria in our systems have different strains from place to place and it can take some time to get used to it (primarily E. coli). That is a bit different from more serious illnesses. (any input from EW1(SG) welcome).

    On the serious note, life is not perfect. Much of modern sanitation and vaccinations have greatly improved the general health of the population, but many illnesses, such as chicken pox and mono, are milder when they are caught when in childhood, and in “cleaner” environments they are trouble when contracted as an adult.

    MD in Philly (59a3ad)

  23. Polio was the first of the “cleanliness” diseases. It was significant, in retrospect, that it began in Sweden. The latest cleanliness disease is asthma. Kids are not exposed to allergens until they are older and, instead of becoming tolerant, they develop the disease.

    This first began to be understood when a study was done of children in Mexico. Mexico had far less polio than we did in the 50s. Once they had the virus and could generate antibodies to it and identify them, they discovered that Mexico City slum kids had all been exposed to polio but none got paralysis. They were immune but had been exposed as small children.

    Now, there are studies going on about the effect of parasites on some of the autoimmune diseases. Some worms have an effect of reducing the immune response to itself and may make MS better.

    Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. 2009;666:157-66.

    Helminthic therapy: using worms to treat immune-mediated disease.

    Elliott DE, Weinstock JV.

    Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa
    College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009, USA.

    There is an epidemic of immune-mediated disease in highly-developed
    industrialized countries. Such diseases, like inflammatory bowel disease,
    multiple sclerosis and asthma increase in prevalence as populations adopt modern
    hygienic practices. These practices prevent exposure to parasitic worms
    (helminths). Epidemiologic studies suggest that people who carry helminths have
    less immune-mediated disease. Mice colonized with helminths are protected from
    disease in models of colitis, encephalitis, Type 1 diabetes and asthma. Clinical
    trials show that exposure to helminths reduce disease activity in patients with
    ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. This chapter reviews some of the work
    showing that colonization with helminths alters immune responses, against
    dysregulated inflammation. These helminth-host immune interactions have
    potentially important implications for the treatment of immune-mediated diseases.

    Eating a worm was probably closer to the truth than you realized.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  24. #22 MD in Philly:

    Anybody may have some short lived GI upset when making a significant change in location

    And sometimes it ain’t so short lived :( But the more frequently you visit other places, the milder the upset usually is…and attitude is also a huge factor. If you genuinely enjoy traveling, it will affect you less than others.

    As far as serious diseases go, I hate to wade in too deeply where my knowledge is very limited. Infectious diseases affect us even when we experience a subclinical exposure to them: its not just the “poison,” but the dose that causes us to “catch” a disease. If the “dose” isn’t large enough to cause a fullblown case of it, and our body’s immune system is successful in repelling it, and we are all the stronger for it.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  25. #22 EW1: …then we are all the stronger…

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  26. #23 Mike K:

    Eating a worm was probably closer to the truth than you realized.

    I realize there is some fascinating stuff going on with the effects of parasites on immunology, but somehow I think I’d rather just stick with earthworms, thank you very much.


    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  27. When I was in medical school (early 80’s) one of the allergy/immunology docs said he thought a lot of chronic illnesses would turn out to be dysfunctional immune responses to various common things in the environment.

    That being said, I’m not sure one will get a net gain by ingesting parasitic worms. Perhaps one day childhood vaccinations will include a standardized dose of oral parasites with a anti-parasite chaser a month later. Who knows.

    MD in Philly (59a3ad)

  28. Only thing that makes me nervous about tap water is the possibility of lead in the pipes. But it doesn’t make me that nervous, I spose, because I still drink it and make my kids’ bottles & food w/ it.

    jpe (08c1dd)

  29. When I was diagnosed I was told by two prominent oncologists that the likely cause was the all – encompassing “environmental causes,” which basically could mean anything. However, I do believe that we’re subject to much greater amounts of plastics and other chemicals in the air and the water we breathe today, compared to 30 years ago, even though visual airborne pollutants are much lower now. So even though we need chlorine to disenfect our water, I still use a purifier to get that stuff out before I drink it.

    There are measurable studies that have been done on the amount of chemicals in our bloodstreams today, and the results have not been seriously contested (although their conclusions have been).

    Dmac (21311c)

  30. While we’re praising the polio resistant kids in Mexico, let’s remember that a whole lot of that herd was culled by other things before we got to the tough survivors … ditto Montezuma’s revenge.

    quasimodo (4af144)

  31. My partner, back in 1972, had a new housekeeper coming from El Salvador. Later she became my house cleaning lady for 20 years. The first couple of days in the USA were tough for her because she got sick from drinking the water. That was in Laguna Niguel. Each to his own intestinal flora.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  32. I disagree with Carlin about the showering every day. I have to do it EVERY DAY. Even if I have the flu, and I’m barfing while I’m soaping up the pits and privates. He does make a point about polio. Polio was a rare disease, until the sanitary initiatives of the early 1900’s. Kids born after these initiatives were not exposed to the disease in a weakened state and were vulnerable to it later on. However, I don’t think Carlin would seriously make these claims had he seen a slum of the 19th century during a cholera or typhoid epidemic, diseases related directly to poor sanitation.

    East Coast Chris (ded5f2)

  33. MD in Philly:

    When I was in medical school (early 80’s) one of the allergy/immunology docs said he thought a lot of chronic illnesses would turn out to be dysfunctional immune responses to various common things in the environment.

    I think the rise in asthma, MS, and fibromyalgia-like conditions offers some support for that belief.

    That being said, I’m not sure one will get a net gain by ingesting parasitic worms. Perhaps one day childhood vaccinations will include a standardized dose of oral parasites with a anti-parasite chaser a month later. Who knows.

    A pediatric allergist who used to treat one of my sons always added small amounts of (basically) dirt, toxins and germs to the allergy shot extracts. He said it would help kids develop stronger immune systems like “the barefoot kids across the tracks.” (He was an older fellow.) It nearly killed my severely immune-compromised kid but I understand the theory, although my preference is for people to leave the windows open more often — especially at night or whenever the climate permits.

    DRJ (daa62a)

  34. Tap water in southern CA is tested constantly throughout the distribution system.
    It tastes bad compared to some places, but it is safe and clean

    Fill the bottle from the LA river though, and drink that and I’ll bet your immune system will be impressed.

    Anyone who has visited a third world public restroom knows that the locals are…. well… explosive.. too.
    The asian ones where you back in and where everyone else has missed badly…

    I’ve seen places where the village outhouse is perched out on cliffs above the river with what looks like a mudslide below it down to the water and been places were the people just go in the bushes and let the pigs clean up. The chickens forage through the ditch that flows outside all the houses.
    I am all for building immune systems, but take a pass on the pork.

    I’ll never forget going to draw water from a river (no well in the village… an issue we were noting for future remedy) I was getting water to boil a chicken in and looking around and seeing what was left of the butt end of the intestines of a large animal tangled in the rocks just upstream and waving at me. People were swimming and washing clothes 50 meters down.
    I relocated my water drawing upstream above the butcher’s food prep area. Knowing there was another village ten kilometers upstream didn’t inspire confidence.
    I’m surprised I didn’t give myself iodine poisoning…

    We pulled out for some R and R out at a small beach resort and there I get sick…. bad shrimp… go figure.

    Steve G (7d4c78)

  35. The Jews got it right regarding the piglets a long time ago, Steve.

    Dmac (21311c)

  36. One solution to water pollution – your intake must be downstream from your outlet.

    Robert N. (419d7b)

  37. Robert, do you want to take another hack at that?

    AD - RtR/OS! (a87d65)

  38. Thanks, SteveG. I’ll probably have nightmares about that visual tonight.

    PatAZ (9d1bb3)

  39. Dmac- The Jews also have written down that you should “go out of the camp and bury that which comes from you”. (Somewhere in Leviticus, I think).

    DRJ- that was an, um, interesting trial your doc did. I’m glad your son survived it.

    Steve G. – I’m glad it was you, not me. I’ve used outhouses and dug in the woods, but those were tolerable. I don’t know how long ago that was. My boys use some millipore filter when camping to avoid the giardia.

    MD in Philly (59a3ad)

  40. I heard the worst is when you are trying to go and the village pigs get impatient and a little too familiar. Thank God that I didn’t feel a snout where one should not be… which would have interrupted the process. Forever

    Steve G (7d4c78)

  41. What I hate is “have a safe holiday” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

    Now we have to fear holidays??

    Patricia (fa8e06)

  42. I grew up on the far south side of chicago (heavy industrial). A couple miles to the south of us was a Sherwin-Williams paint factory, get a nice southerly breeze and you’d be choking on the odors. I remember sitting on the front porch looking to the southeast and watching the steel mills open up the furnaces turning the sky a lovely red (this event would also backlight the stack of the incinerator at 103rd & Stony). I remember swimming at Calumet beach and diving into the water with an oil film floating on top. I can’t remember the last time I had cold or the flu. No allergies, ever. My only hospitalizations where non-environmentally related (back surgery in 2001 and then a couple of stents in my RCA in 2009). One doesn’t need to be either a complete pig or total germaphobe, just pick the middle ground. Use a little common sense people.

    SaintGeorgeGentile (aa85b2)

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