Book Club

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.

I agree. (source)
I agree. (source)

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!

Extra Links

If you want to read more about the book, or see some interviews, check these out:


This Month’s Recipe: Swedish Rice Pudding

Yum, check out that Maillard reaction on the top! (source: me)
Yum, check out that Maillard reaction on the top! (source: me)

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?


Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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        1. I missed those (and the episodes that had my friends*) and was never able to go back and see them. I missed a lot, actually. Do you know if they’ve released those to watch anywhere yet? A cursory look at the website says no.

          *Degree pursuit, not just deadbeat friendery.

          1. I don’t know if they’ve been released, but you can find the funnier clips on Youtube.

  1. I am late to starting this book since there was a wait list at the library. I am about a quarter of the way thru and it is delightful. It’s fun to read with someone, as I keep asking my husband questions from the book, we argue them for a bit and then I give the explanation. I love that it is a bit snarky and fun, it would be an excellent book to give someone who regularly spouts off woo if they are intimidated by an academic approach.

    1. I totally busted my husband with this book. He taps cans before he opens them to reduce the bubbles, even though now he says it’s just a reflex and he knows it doesn’t do anything. Most of the other stuff we agreed on though.

      1. I absolutely used to tap soda cans, but I stopped way back for no reason. I’d actually forgotten about it until the book.

        I do have to say, I find the booger eating questionable. The whole point of nose hairs and the mucus membrane is to prevent stuff from getting through, so why would anyone recommend directly counteracting that for some perceived immunity boost? (Although, I may mention it to the next anti-vaccer I run across for kicks.)

        1. I don’t think it would be a huge benefit, but it has the potential to expose your immune system to deactivated antigens (although there’s a good chance the antigens would get broken down in the stomach to amino acids). Unless you’re immunocompromised in some way, I don’t think it’s a dangerous practice. It’s certainly less dangerous than not vaccinating your kid or never washing your hands.

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