Fighting ignorance -- how are we doing?

Let’s get back to fighting the sort of ignorance that initially drew me to this board many years ago. Here’s a few examples that seem to keep coming up in my life:

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – My mother still tries to force breakfast on me. This is propaganda pushed by cereal companies.

Distilled water is toxic – Told to me by a friend earlier this year. I’m not sure where this one came from but I’m always amazed that rational adults believe it.

Now we’re cooking with gas – Not really a falsity, but an opinion that gas stoves are better that was wholly pushed by fossil fuel lobbyists to keep people using gas furnaces (I only learned about this this year as well, from a Climate Town video).

Carrots are good for your eyes – WWII subterfuge that persists to this day.

Any others you still encounter?

Breakfast really Is important!

That’s a paddlin’.

I believe that its deionized water that’s not so good for you, but not toxic.

Rules are made to break.

I found out how untrue that was many times.

At the bad adage level: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

The canonical example of WtFness is the Flat Earth thing. About a quarter of adult Americans believe the Earth is flat. Goes up to almost a third for Millennials. And the numbers are growing.

If we can’t easily convince this people how trivially wrong they are, what about all the other lies so many people believe that seriously infect our society?

Your teeth will fall out if you don’t brush them after meals. Not from my experience…

Breakfast is just another meal. Not unimportant. Not crucial. Distilled water is fine. Cooking is cooking. Vitamin A is actually good for eyes, including antioxidant immunity, pigment, mucous membranes and more. Several vegetables and especially organ meats have it.

  1. Most food is organic.

  2. Wait an hour before swimming. Meh.

  3. Chewing gum stays in your body for seven years. This one is true. Isn’t it?

Breakfast is, by definition, whatever you eat first—what you break your fast with. Thus, if you do not eat breakfast, you will starve to death.

The gas industry was battling the electric industry. But electricity was mostly fueled by coal, so Big Fossil Fuel won either way. But since there wasn’t any real alternative back in the 1930s, fossil fuel interests didn’t need to fight in the first place.

Here’s some true non-starters.

Politicians are less honest now than in the past.

Newspapers did more investigative journalism in the old days.

Schools used to really prepare kids for the world.

You need eight large glasses of water a day.

Gas stove top burners are objectively better. They heat up faster and hotter, and cool down more quickly when you turn the heat down. Much better for cooking. I’ve been cooking on electric for many years because our kitchen is over a slab and we’ve been told a gas line would be difficult to run. I wish I had a gas stove. I’ve even considered buying a separate gas burner / propane tank setup so I could use a wok again.

I haven’t heard this one much in the U.S., though I have heard it some. Seems to be much more common in the UK, at least in my experience. It’s like Korean fan death. People just know it’s true, but Americans have fans in their bedrooms and drink distilled water from Walmart, and somehow we don’t die from either.

I don’t know if the distilled water myth originated in the UK, but it spread across the world in the early days of the internet.

FWIW, I hear Korean fan death isn’t as popularly believed any more, possibly because the rest of the world has been making fun of Koreans for believing in it for years. So there’s a little bit of progress.

Well I don’t believe that’s true at all. 25% of adult Americans think the Earth is flat? I know there are a lot of dumb Americans with a bad sense of geography, but where would so many people even develop a thought like that? Every depiction, picture, every reference of the Earth since anyone has been a child is as a round ball.

Speaking of water-related myths, I was drinking a La Croix or some other brand of sparkly water when a friend told me “you know carbonated water is really bad for your teeth and your health in general, right? My dentist told me.”

Wrong. The dissolved carbon dioxide does make the water very slightly acidic, but much less so than, say, a cola, and it’s a much healthier hydration alternative to soft drinks.

I would say that gas stoves are subjectively better than conventional electric stoves in certain ways. Induction stoves (I’ve never used one, sadly) are subjectively better still, and people with the means are flocking to them and not looking back, including many (most?) professionals.

Gas stoves are bad for your health and the environment, but even that’s not really the point of mentioning it. The point is that gas company’s have been using this particular slogan as part of a larger campaign to convince people that gas stoves are really super important for one’s quality of life in order that they don’t get rid of their gas furnaces, which is where the real money comes from for gas companies. It’s all advertising.

But isn’t carbonated water worse for your teeth than, say, tap water? Why compare it to soft drinks which are straight poison? This doesn’t seem like a myth to me.

Hmm…we have a higher-end electric stove that accepts different kinds of burner inserts, and we have a two-burner insert with the glass top. I don’t know if it’s specifically induction, or there are other types of burners with glass tops that are not induction burners. In any case, I wouldn’t say our glass top burners are any better performing than the old-fashioned spiral burners, which we also have as our other two. I’ll have to look into it.

Well, yes, it’s more acidic than tap water (depending on the source of the tap water, I guess), but the way my friend put it, he made it sound like like sparkly water is straight-up poison. This article also reminded me that part of the myth is that it leaches calcium from bones, which I think my friend’s dentist also told him, and which is not correct. So I would maintain that there is a myth that sparkling water is very bad for you in a number of ways, and that the myth is wrong.

People like gas because when the electricity goes out, it still works. Which made me think, what is almost everything is electric, what happens when the grid goes out?

You’d know if it’s induction, as the surface doesn’t actually get hot (other than heat radiating back from the cookware). And you need to use ferrous cookware. We have a glass top conventional electric cooktop and it’s basically the same as the old coil style except it’s easier to clean and nicer to set stuff down on.

OK, that’s fair. Probably like the distilled water thing, where someone will find an article that talks about if you drink nothing but distilled water for your entire life and also eat a very restricted diet then maybe that wouldn’t be good for you because you might miss out on some minerals, and then use that as evidence that drinking from the jug every once in a while will kill you.

Generators exist. Also home battery packs if you’re swank.