• I finally read Aaron’s book

    Aaron sent me a copy of his book (co-authored by Rachel Vreeman) Don’t Swallow Your Gum!: Myths, Half-Truths, and Outright Lies About Your Body and Health. It was a quick read. One thing I didn’t expect was its humor. It’s funny and informative. I’m a biased reviewer, but I did enjoy it.

    It’s loaded with topics. I flagged some that are or were relevant to my own health or that of family members or were things I thought about. Some I believed, some I didn’t. I’m not telling you which are true, half-true, or false. You need to read the book for the answers:

    • If you shave your hair, it will grow back faster, darker, and thicker (page 14)
    • If you don’t shut your eyes when you sneeze, your eyeball will pop out of your head (page 18)
    • You should poop at least once per day (page 22)
    • Your urine should be almost clear (page 24)
    • You can get a hernia from lifting something heavy (page 34)
    • If you get stung by a jellyfish, you should have someone urinate on the sting (page 41)
    • You lose most of your body heat from your head (page 53)
    • Propping a baby upright will help with reflux (page 99)
    • The iron in baby formula causes constipation (page 110)
    • Sugar makes kids hyper (page 113)
    • Milk makes you phlegmy (page 123)
    • Caffeinated beverages are dehydrating (page 130)
    • You should drink at least eight glasses of water a day (page 131)
    • It’s safe to double dip (page 140)

    There are also a few things I can’t believe anybody thought were true:

    • The average person swallows eight spiders per year (page 19)
    • Mosquitoes that buzz by your ear don’t bite (page 28)
    • If you pick up food within five seconds of hitting the floor, it’s safe (page 134)

    There’s one minor thing that bothered me about the book. It’s a tiny detail and not in the main text. It’s the title to the glossary of scientific terms: “Boring research terms that you might see in this book.” I bristle at the use of “boring.” As definitions, they’re no more boring than those of any other words. Also, research is no more or less boring than any other endeavor. In general, there is too much fear of intellectual rigor, science, and math in our culture. Suggesting they might be “boring” is not helpful. I know that’s not what Aaron and Rachel were trying to do (or their editors). I think they were just trying to be folksy and to connect. Still, it rubs me the wrong way.

    Far more importantly, I’m smarter for having read the book. Some of my thoughts and habits will change for it. That’s a larger impact than most books make on my life.

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