Skepchick Book Club: Because I Said So!
Note: Information about next month’s Book Club is at the bottom of this thread. Welcome back to the Skepchick Book Club! Normally, you would need to have read a book to participate in the thread, but because this book was about researching the actual facts behind the”myths, tales, and warnings every generation passes down to its kids” (e.g. the 10% brain usage myth), please share your own story about something your parents/friends told you that either proved to be true or false.
Ken Jennings is an excellent (and saucy!) writer and this book was a fun, quick read. The book is peppered with interesting asides and he really lets his personality shine through his writing. Also, it was fun to read about things that parents tell their kids and the real truth behind the cliches. Also, Jennings doesn’t simply rate the cliches as “true” or “false”–he uses a truth-meter to describe the degree to which a story is true. For example, one warning is, “Never play around refrigerators–you’ll get trapped inside!” and Jennings determines this to be “False,” with the caveat that old-fashioned latch-style refrigerators were capable of trapping a person inside, but thanks to Congress (remember when they used to do things efficiently?), a bill was passed to ban latch-style refrigerators and the newer magnetic-closer fridges are capable of being opened from the inside.
Here are some other myths/facts that I enjoyed learning about:
- Stay away from the Christmas Poinsettia! The leaves are poisonous. (False).
- Nope, nothing but soda! It’ll settle your stomach. (False, unfortunately).
- Take off the Band-Aid and let the cut air out. (False, keep it moist with Vaseline).
- Don’t eat your boogers, it’s bad for you! (False. It may be able to boost your immune system. Also, I would like to propose this therapy to the anti-vaxxers and see how they take it.)
- Wear your retainer or your teeth will get crooked again! (Mostly True).
- Don’t feed the ducks! (True. Their digestive system is meant for bugs, not processed starches.)
Did you have your favorite story debunked or confirmed by this book? Or was your childhood warning not listed (e.g. You need to dig the seed out of a plantar wart–which is by the way FALSE, mom!). Share it in the comments!
If you want to read more about the book, or see some interviews, check these out:
- 10 pieces of wisdom from ‘Because I Said So’ [Christian Science Monitor]
- Interview with Ken Jennings [Huffington Post]
- Book Review [The Onion AV Club]
- Ken Jennings’s Book Labs (funny shorts based on tales from the book)
This Month’s Recipe: Swedish Rice Pudding
Bear with me. I had a hard time coming up with a themed recipe, so I had to do some elaborate brainstorming. There aren’t too many food-related tales in the book, so my thoughts went like this: “Ken Jennings is smart, so maybe I can use some sort of ‘brain food’? Fish! Oh wait, but fish casseroles aren’t very book club (or microwave) friendly. Hm, what country has a diet with a lot of fish? Sweden! OK, I’ll search for a Swedish dessert.”
So I ended up with a Swedish rice pudding, which is more custard-y and solid than the creamy rice pudding you may be used to. I used this recipe, which was nice and simple (and I didn’t have to go to the store for any ingredients). Serve it with a bit of Lingonberry jam or vanilla ice cream if you wish to add some extra sweetness.
Next Month’s Book: Going Clear by Lawrence Wright
On Sunday, March 31st (yep, that’s Easter), I’ll post on our next book: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright. This book is approximately 400 pages so make sure you get a head start! The Wall Street Journal has published a review with some juicy excerpts. I’m sure I won’t be surprised, but who can resist a good book about how bad Scientology is?