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It's hard to follow the news lately without reading some scientific red alert about an everyday food. Not long ago, for instance, The Center for Science in the Public Interest announced that pastries are bad for you. All I can say is: Exactly -- that's why we eat them.

Actually, I lied; I have much more to say. For one thing, I'd like to know whether scientists think we're altogether stupid. Do they really suppose that anyone believes butter-packed, nut-filled, sugar-loaded dessert items are good for us? Or that anybody has ever plucked a cheese-oozing, sugar-coated bonbon of a pastry off the bakery counter while saying, "Yum, this looks low-cal. I'll bet if I eat three of them right now, my cholesterol count will plunge 60 points by tomorrow."

I'm operating under a handicap here -- I personally have never conducted a scientific survey. Nevertheless, I am prepared to say with utter confidence, that 99.999999999999 percent of the population (give or take a 5 percent margin of error) is well aware of pastries' artery-clogging proclivities. This is a direct corollary to the "Tasty No-No" rule: Anything that tastes good will kill you. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but, well, you've got the picture.

We've all digested more than enough goodies ... and studies, to be aware of the danger of desserts. And we're aggravated quite enough, thank you very much. So scientists can stop alarming us now and move on to something useful. How about developing a scrumptious dessert that won't kill us?

When researchers aren't telling us stuff we already know, they're touting the result of some study that contradicts a study from the previous month. Why do scientists get to say "never mind" whenever they feel like it? When lawyers are wrong, they're sued for malpractice. When writers are wrong, they're sued for libel. When politicians are wrong, they ... um ... well ... bad example.

So tell me; Which study is right? Are beta carotene/vitamin E/alcohol good for you or bad? What about sugar and fat substitutes, margarine versus butter, oat bran versus wheat? What weight, cholesterol level, exercise amount and type is right for whom, and how come the rules change every other day?

Most of us paid attention to scientists at first. We replaced our Paba-less sun-screen when they cautioned only Paba would do. We didn't even complain when they reversed themselves; instead, we searched for labels bragging "Paba-free!"

We were just as compliant with coffee, switching from caff to decaf, only to learn that the decaffing chemicals may be (or may not be) even worse for our health. So we switched once more to water processed, only to find out caffeine fights depression. Frankly, that depressed me.

I think it's time for a health advisory hiatus. Scientists can study wine or butter or bran for a bit. After that, they can study it again and again ... and again. Then, when they're absolutely certain, they have my permission to scare us to death.

From now on when a headline proclaims the outcome of some study, I will close my eyes and turn the page. And tonight, to celebrate my decision, I'm going to dine on one of those dangerous Italian/Chinese/Mexican meals. I may even top it off with movie popcorn and a pecan pastry.

I'm feeling better already.

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