One strong candidate for Word of the Year for 2016 has been “post-truth.” I’m not sure exactly what that means—I’ve always been skeptical of stuff that arrives in the mailbox. But despite the dwindling importance of “facts,” “evidence” and “numbers,” many diligent followers of reality have spent a lot of time analyzing what we believe and the way the world actually exists. They energetically, albeit futilely, alerted us to some disconnects between these two, in a new form of journalism called debunking.
Few of us were aware our lives were full of, umm, bunks. Some of those bunks formed the basis for much of our everyday lives. Many people say our lives are going to have more uncertainty from now on. I’m not so sure. One thing I do know is 2016 definitely rocked my world with several takedowns of the dogma of living I thought were as undeniable as the nine-planet solar system.
- Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. Maybe we just wanted it to be because it was the only time we could eat bacon naked. Wait—make that “bacon all by itself.” We didn’t have to crumble it in a salad, tuck it into a sandwich or blend it into a margarita—just plain old bacon strips honestly consumed in broad daylight. It turns out, the most important meal of the day is: the next one. Deep in our hearts most of us already knew that.
- Supplemental vitamins are useless. Unless your diet is really on the fringe, like a Paleo-Snickers regimen, it’s really hard to not get enough vitamins. This assumes you 1) eat a vegetable monthly and 2) know French fries do not count as a vegetable.
- You don’t need eight glasses of water per day. The origin of the Hydration Mandate is shrouded in shrouds of some kind, but numerous studies have flushed it from accepted wisdom. In fact, this practice could be quite harmful, if the glasses of water are chasers.
- Sugar doesn’t make kids hyperactive. It just gives parents a new excuse for bad behavior. Multiple blind studies have thoroughly disproven this handy explanation for bad behavior, and I can only assume they would be the same with scientists who can see. Interestingly, very few studies were conducted on middle-aged males, but those who did look at the problem seem to think almost nothing can make them hyperactive.
- There aren’t 30 million young Chinese men with no chance of getting married. Although birth records in China indicated the one-child policy had led to a disproportionate surplus of male babies, years later girls seem to be showing up in school at about the natural ratio. It seems Chinese parents had lied to local government officials. While I’m shocked about this type of corruption, it eases my conscience about my travel expense IRS records.
- Flossing doesn’t really make a difference. At your six-month cleaning, the tooth-cleaner asks sweetly: “How often have you been flossing?” This question is right up there with “Do you know how fast you were going?”—there is no good answer. Until now. It turns out when a journalist routinely asked for the research behind the daily flossing commandment, there wasn’t any. It might not be a bad idea, but there’s no proof. So, finally, I have a pride-salvaging reply: “It doesn’t really matter, does it?”
- Antibacterial soap doesn’t make a difference either. While I admit this opinion is from a guy whose idea of fighting germs was formed in the seventh grade from the practice of wiping an unwashed hand across a pop bottle mouth when sharing with friends, after a decade of use, hygienists now agree anti-bacterial soap mostly just makes microbes mad.
Sadly, I have saved the worst news for last. Men everywhere will be shocked and dismayed to know a deeply held conviction we have embraced since second grade has been refuted. That’s right, it turns out girls do not have cooties.
Ironically, it seems we do.