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Gloria Lucas Part 2 of 4: A Chicana Girl Attempting to Lead Women

By Jeremy Watkins-Quesada
Recall 'Part 1" of this series in which I offered an anecdote about the spreading of misinformation. The misinformation or 'fake knowledge' in question arose from none other than a world-class, world-renowned expert in evolutionary biology and ethology. Nonetheless, according to Philosopher Erik Reitan, also recall, Dawkins is not an expert in Philosophy, much less the Philosophy of Religion (PoR). This raises the most salient point for our discussion here, for it is not necessarily the case that Reitan's adjudication is the lone basis for doubting Dawkins's philosophic expertise. You see, although Dawkins is a well-trained and likewise skilled evolutionary biologist, he lacks the same kind formal education in Philosophy (in general) and PoR (in particular). Yet, there Dawkins was speaking through his untrained or underdeveloped philosophic skill set as though he were some kind of expert, thereby permeating or spreading through his readership 'fake news' (if you will) about Thomas Aquinas's (recall) belief about something we called X. Also, recall Dawkins as engaging this bit of fake news rhetoric so as to propagate an agenda he has against organized religion and its entailments. 
Remember, as I said before, the debate concerning the existence or non-existence of "God" is not so cut-and-dry, as the onus of proof lies on each side, and even the in-between positions. Hence, the onus of proof lies on every position as far as individual belief or dis-belief or withholding of belief in God (or "Gods") is of concern. Think about it? Belief as such is belief about from what, where, or whom or even who (and--don't forget--even when) the origins of life arise. Collective identity is of the essence here, that is, we the human race are either godly or godless creatures, if you will, based on the truth of our shared origins. But, as it happens, this is not the only possible mode of human creation, so to speak. 
Social movements throughout history like colonialism have helped shape what were seemingly new types of human groups thereby influencing genetic factors like phenotype. Roughly, understand phenotype as gene expression or, simply, observable features on an individual organism like a human being (for example), which mark or demarcate human individuals or subjects as holding collective membership in groups such as a particular gender or race. For example, and for added clarity, observable things like melanin levels on the skin, or the width of one's nose, or fullness of one's lips, hair texture, as well as the effects of sexual hormones on observable sex differences from which gender-typical behaviors emanate. Also included in phenotype are bodily characteristics such as height and weight, which in turn are influenced by yet more phenotypic characteristics like individual behaviors that arise from or are influenced by genetics or social factors. Biologists, including Behavioral Epigeneticists, call this phenomenon psychosocial. All things considered, phenotype is an expression of an organism's or person's genotype, whereas epigenetics explains the phenomenon in which this kind of expression occurs without altering the DNA sequence. Having set the table, I now wish to enter Gloria Lucas's blog post on these matters. 
"During my eating disorder healing journey, I felt the need to find out why I developed an eating disorder." –Gloria Lucas 
The above is Lucas's thesis statement. Her thesis, then, is to find the why or reason for what she characterizes so candidly as her disordered eating. Speaking to this thesis, Lucas says, she just "felt" that her disorder had a "deeper root". Specifically, she continues with the question, 'how has colonialism impacted me?' Then, she lays out the following question, which is really just a rewording or repeat of the previous question, which asks: " I wondered how much trauma had accumulated in my body over the generations that, in return, influenced me?" Already, it seems as though this essay posses a single rhetorical question so as to tack on a ready-made answer, an absolute antithesis to critical thinking. As someone who has graded hundreds (maybe even thousands) of undergraduate essays, I can safely say we need not read further to find out how this is going to end. Nevertheless, it is worth drudging through the whole thing to observe how she is going to defend her position. To be fair, I shall grade Lucas's attempt at defending her position based one of my alma mater's grading rubric for philosophy papers. As an aside, I am qualified to grade university-level philosophy papers, since I taught philosophy courses at Oklahoma State University as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Arguably, Lucas is attempting to philosophize the reasons or causes for her struggle with disordered eating. 
GRADING RUBRIC FOR PHILOSOPHY PAPERS
I. Argumentation (40%)
An exemplary paper:
.95
.85
.75
.65
.55
An unsatisfactory paper:
 
Presents, in a clear manner, strong and well- developed arguments in support of its central claims. Successfully rebuts any relevant counterarguments and also anticipates and defuses potential objections. Is in many ways subtle, original, and insightful.





Fails to adequately defend its central claims. Fails either to successfully rebut relevant counterarguments or to anticipate and defuse potential objections. Is always trite, trivial, or unoriginal.
II. Exposition and Mastery of the Pertinent Material (30%)
An exemplary paper:
.95
.85
.75
.65
.55
An unsatisfactory paper:
 
Demonstrates mastery of the pertinent philosophical views, concepts, and arguments. Gives an accurate and charitable exposition and interpretation of the pertinent philosophical texts and views, providing textual support where appropriate. Fully explains key philosophical terms, concepts, and distinctions in an illuminating way, using the author’s own words, examples, and descriptions.

_________________________________________
III. Introduction and Conclusion (10%)





Fails to demonstrate mastery of the pertinent philosophical views, concepts, and arguments. Provides an incomplete, inaccurate, and/or uncharitable exposition and interpretation of the pertinent philosophical texts and views. Fails to provide adequate explanations for key philosophical terms, concepts, or distinctions.

An exemplary paper:
.95
.85
.75
.65
.55
An unsatisfactory paper:
 
Has an introduction that motivates the project and defines a sharp focus by clearly stating its central aim(s), e.g., a thesis or controlling idea relating to the assigned topic.





Has an inadequate introduction, one that fails to motivate the project or to establish a clear focus by stating a thesis or controlling idea that relates to the assigned topic.
Has a conclusion that summarizes results clearly, explores implications/limitations of those results, and leaves readers with a sense of the paper’s importance.





Has an inadequate conclusion, one that fails either to summarize results or to explain their implications, limitations, and importance.
IV. Organization (10%)
An exemplary paper:
.95
.85
.75
.65
.55
An unsatisfactory paper:
 
Has a clear and logical organizational plan, wherein the ordering of ideas, sentences, and paragraphs build naturally towards the achievement of its central aims. Provides a user-friendly guide to that organizational plan. Uses transitional words/phrases/sentences to show how the various ideas, sentences, and paragraphs relate to the paper’s central aims and to each other.





Has an illogical or indiscernible organizational plan—the paper is a hodgepodge of ideas. Fails to provide a clear guide to the organizational plan. Fails to use adequate transitions. Jumps from one idea or point to another without establishing any connection between them or to the paper’s central aims.
V. Writing (10%)
An exemplary paper:
 
.95
.85
.75
.65
.55
An unsatisfactory paper:
Exhibits a sophisticated (but unpretentious) writing style. Presents its ideas clearly, concisely, and precisely, such that what’s being said is almost never open to misinterpretation and contains almost no unnecessary words, imprecision, or irrelevant content. Employs good diction. Contains virtually no errors in grammar, spelling, or punctuation. Documents sources properly. Is free of typos.





Has a writing style that significantly detracts from the argument, involving repetitive and simplistic sentence structures, unnecessarily inflated language, imprecise wording, and/or language that is unclear, wordy, or repetitious. Contains irrelevant content. Often employs poor diction. Is riddled with grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors. Fails to acknowledge sources properly. Is riddled with typos.

Back to the task at hand, Lucas claims to have 'researched' work on historical trauma or (interchangeably) intergenerational trauma. Quickly, work on historical trauma is a relatively young program of interdisciplinary research consisting of fields such as epigenetics (biology) and its branches, and sociology to name a few. And as Lucas rightly says, work in this area has not yet focused any attention worth mentioning on individuals with ancestral links to colonial indigenous peoples of regions like Latin America, for example. I, myself, have a vested interest in such work taking shape, that is, in order to obtain meta-data for my own concept of what is called collective responsibility. Lucas rightly says (although poorly words) she "feels" the research conducted on descendants of Holocaust survivors and Native Americans "is" applicable to descendants of survivors of Latin American colonialism. 
Before levying her first attack, Lucas posits that historical trauma and eating disorders share "similarities", she says this so as to establish that more research ought to be done both in and out of the context of historical trauma under discussion. As we'll see later, and this is not the first grievance I have, this claim is confusing, perhaps (by accident maybe), a bit of out of context, to be fair. 
"There is very little research or information linking both subjects together." --Gloria Lucas
The quote above serves Lucas as a launchpad of sorts from which she barrels her line of argument into her opposition. To this, she says, "Research ignorance and bias", are at fault for there being 'very little research or information' linking both eating disorders and historical trauma together. Again, we'll get to a critique a bit later, but I must say this is yet another dubious claim to be examined.
To be fair, I am not an expert on the ins and outs of eating disorder research, as it has not yet forged itself into my domain of research interests. I am, however, pretty well versed in research and meta-analysis on historical trauma, collective responsibility, the social sciences, biology and epigenetics, etc, all of which encompass much if not all of what Lucas is driving at here. I am currently preparing to present my research on some of these things at academic conferences this spring. That aside, I will submit to Lucas for the sake of argument if nothing else that, yes, there is not enough research focusing on eating disorders in 'non-white' communities. It follows, then, that we as a society do not hold enough knowledge and therefore solutions to help individuals from non-white populations enduring a struggle with disordered eating and that which underpins such a disorder. Thus, by accepting Lucas's premise, we cannot assert what we believe about these matters or something X (recall!). Except, what happens next finds Lucas making grand assertions about her belief in X.
"US culture has a really hard time addressing social issues like racism and transphobia and this is reflected heavily in the eating disorders world." --Gloria Lucas
Lucas summons 'racism' and 'transphobia' as culprits that factor into the eating disorders of non-white or 'marginalized' populations in the U.S. This means she is essentially blaming systemic oppression for occurrences of disordered eating in the aforementioned populations. She not only says these reasons are somehow connected to these matters, but rather she asserts each of these reasons is reflected heavily in them by citing a piece of literature. So which research article does she cite? After all, research is the key here. Even Lucas herself says as much. Well, as it turns out, the citation links to a blog aptly named 'The Body is Not an Apology".com, a blog it appears dedicated to making eating disorder treatment and discourse more "inclusive" for 'people of color' and those they label "trans". So, what is this groundbreaking piece of evidence this blog and its multi-group of cohorts are hoarding from the scientific community and the world at large? Here is the quote Lucas is evincing.
"Moreover, there is a correlation between eating disorders and historical events, such as the atrocity of slavery. We believe that historical trauma, transgenerational trauma, post-traumatic slave syndrome and the current systems of oppression are factors that contribute to the development of eating disorders in communities of color."--Gloria Lucas & Company at Thebodyisnotanapology-dot-com
So, an observer to the above will notice that Lucas is citing a source of which she is a part, which in turn asserts what is the case about what correlates or literally co-relates historical trauma (as a cause) and eating disorders (the effect), which then supports that claim by saying "we believethat this cause-and-effect relationship is a contributing factor. But then, did Lucas not concede that research and therefore information on these matters were lacking? This is a contradiction, which derails her entire argument to begin with.  
Citing the above quote, then, what Lucas does here is complete her argument by asserting that research is not inclusive enough and therefore lacking in enough (if any) knowledge about "marginalized" groups suffering eating disorders. Her chief complaint is that lack of inclusiveness entails a lack of knowledge about the groups in question. This is a problem. Why? Lucas makes a critical thinking error when she asserts as her premise that 'there is not enough available information from marginalized groups to treat their struggle with eating disorders' so as to then conclude that historical forms of marginalization are what cause eating disorders. As a consequence, she argues not enough is known about X yet goes on to assert what is the case about X, a claim that in-and-of-itself requires there be more than the currently available information. In effect, what Lucas says here is equal to saying 'there is not enough information about X', so we cannot treat X which is a social injustice (she actually claims this is a form of "violence" elsewhere), yet we should pay more attention because I (Lucas) of course know--although without the necessary evidence I'm demanding--that P (not Q) causes X. Or, as an example, this is analogous to saying there is not enough information as to why my puppy ran away, so we won't ever find my runaway puppy if we don't change this, yet we should pay more attention to this matter of why my lost puppy because I of course know--although without the necessary evidence I'm demanding--that the sound of nearby fireworks are what caused him to run away. This is a contradiction that no one, let alone somebody attempting community leadership over the lives of individuals who largely struggle with potentially life threatening conditions, should ever make!!
Epigenetics and its branches or subdivisions are young biological sciences. And like many young promising sciences it is advancing some amazing work very quickly. Yet, like other amazing budding fields of inquiry and research, it is likely due to hit a plateau of sorts soon, much like neuroscience and computer science have or had depending on how one views these in each one's current state. That aside, maybe epigenetics and social scientific research in conjunction will find some meaningful correlation or, perhaps, an observable cause in the future. To be fair, epigenetic research found a correlation between a past famine endured by a particular population and subsequent obesity rates in ancestors of the survivors. Moreover, the DSM-V does in fact recognize certain anxiety conditions as deriving from something like historical trauma. Up to this point, however, many leading researchers seem confident in linking ancestral memory to about 4 generations back if that at maximum. Again, to be fair, some of these researchers seem confident that they can go further in the future with more research. Adding to that, 2-4 generations is likely sufficient for marginalized groups such as Chicano/as. Nonetheless, absolutely none of the research has found connections to anything resembling eating disorders for reasons other than an epigenetic tag originating on human DNA sequences of a particular group that endured an environment in which food insecurity was lethal to the extent of a famine. Eating disorders such as those claimed by Lucas "bulimia" and "binge eating", on the other hand, are hypothesized as falling under the proverbial O.C.D. umbrella, a behavioral model very different from signals to eat everything in site due to food insecurity as the study cited above linking famine to obesity suggests. 
What is more, given Lucas's sympathies with 'indigenous' qua indigenous identity, rather than indigenous qua mestizo identity, it seems as though she is attempting to claim not the colonialism of the subsequent 2-4 generations for her disorders (although reasonable, not currently observable let alone affirmable), but rather the colonialism endured by our purer blood ancestors beginning in the early 1500's, which (from the epigenetic view) is not currently (if ever) feasible insofar as this claim demands evidence from generations beyond the currently tenable (if not still debatable) 2-4 generation threshold. For my part, I would personally as well as intellectually love to see such evidence be unearthed! To closeout this point, it should be obvious that research on eating disorders from the standpoint of the historical trauma research program is not tenable at the moment, a fact having nothing to do with "research bias" or "racism". How could this be true when among others Native American populations are being focused on?
All things considered, the onus of proof lies on Lucas as well as those who might be skeptical of her belief. On the other hand, this means that Lucas is guilty of espousing fake knowledge or fake news to what is very much unfortunately a large audience. There are many, many other issues with Lucas's body of work, which we will cover in the next entry in this series. So what grade is she getting for her effort?
Based on the rubric posted above, I will say the following. I will give her writing 9 out of 10 points, since she made one error regarding clarity, which was when she said something about 'research bias'. The reason I mark her down a point is that she fails to clarify what she means by that term, and, if what she intended to say had to do with the lack of information and research on eating disorders for people of color, she clearly did not stick to that concept. 9 points is very generous. I give her a 10 for organization, that is, even though she kind of jumped to her attack without giving much justification for it. I'll give her the full 5 points for her introduction, which is still a bit generous, yet I cannot fathom giving her any points for her conclusion, as she fails to justify the one she draws and then even contradicts pretty badly--7.5. As for exposition, she fails to offer anyone following her or debating her any reason to believe she is well-versed in the things she mentions as premises for her arguments. It follows, then, she demonstrated a lack of mastery on the subjects she mentioned. I will, however, award her points for knowledge of eating disorder research and its lack of inclusiveness. Finally, her arguments are very poor, as she has not researched very well the areas of knowledge she claims to have legitimate critiques of. Overall, her grade comes out to 61.5 or an estimated 62, a D-.
Out of a Possible 100 POINTS (100%)
Argumentation (40%): 20
Exposition and Mastery of Pertinent Content (30%): 15
Introduction and Conclusion (10%): 7.5
Organization (10%): 10 PTS
Writing (10%): 9 PTS
FINAL GRADE: D-

To be honest, without my generosity this paper is a clear-cut F! But I digress. No, actually, I didn't digress because like Dawkins she is reaching a wide audience while on platforms that to the casual observer might seem trustworthy such as Latina, Cosmopolitan, Eating Disorder Centers, and East Los Angeles College to name but a few. These are institutions entrusted by many impressionable girls or desperate young women looking to solutions for their struggles to which they find Gloria Lucas and her Nalgona Pride. By extension, the parents, families, and friends and other loved ones are reeled into this scam as well. Scam, I say? Yes, I didn't stutter, because insofar as Lucas as an underdeveloped thinker is acting in as a leader via what is arguably supposed to fill the niches of public intellectual and activist, she is only able to produce an underdeveloped end-product that is properly speaking a scam, no more, no less. As we'll see next time, this pseudo-intellectualism purporting to "de-colonialize" the body is an ideology that necessitates further colonialization of her people as well as herself. In the end, and without proper justification, Lucas insists on blaming colonialism for her disorder and those of the girls and women she leading by her word. Her word, as we have seen here, is based not on facts, but how she "feels" about that which is or is not yet cemented as a matter of fact.





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