One thing I have observed in all my travels and reading is that a simple lie will travel farther and faster than a slightly more complex truth. Not only is a complex truth harder to remember correctly, it is harder to explain to others, harder to get others to want to understand, and harder still to get them to want to pass it on. This effect is what causes many people to believe incorrect things and make bad decisions. It is not that they want to lie (although that certainly occurs sometimes), or even know that what they are spreading is a lie, it is merely that simple ideas spread faster than complex ones, all other things being equal. Since the truth tends to be complex, or at least not maximally simple, it tends to be the lies that spread faster rather than the other way around.
Many of you have probably heard that cholesterol is bad for you, seeing as it can clog blood vessels, and should be cut out of the diet as much as possible. This is a simple lie. It is easy to advise another that cholesterol is bad, but much harder to explain all of the complex truth that is still being discovered by nutritionists today. The truth is that there are different types of cholesterol. Some are good and some are bad. The good ones are actually beneficial. At any rate, eating less of the bad cholesterol does no good, because the body just makes more to compensate. Finally, there is even dispute over what causes the cholesterol to stick to the arterial walls in the first place. Some have even suggested that it is preventing ruptures in diseased vessels, meaning that even bad cholesterol is really beneficial. We don’t really know.
Many of you have most likely heard from others that they should wear a hat outside when it is cold because fifty percent of one’s escaping body heat is lost through the head. This helpful information influenced me to wear a hat sometimes when I might not have otherwise. Then, one day an idea struck me. I realized that the mouth and nose, through which much heat escapes in warm breath and both of which have high surface areas of thin, capillary-rich skin, are parts of the head. It is no wonder that so much heat escapes through the head! Of course, this means that wearing a hat is hardly a solution.
When we rely on the advice of others, handed down to them by still others, information can be lost or distorted. Finding the original source of the information is ideal, but is often impossible. One has to wonder what else might not have been taken into account. Did they assume that other heat-losing parts such as feet, hands, and genitalia, would already be covered, and therefore not losing much heat? Did they assume that the person would be sitting still and not breathing much, or huffing and puffing after a jog? Maybe by jogging to keep warm, more heat is actually lost through breathing harder. Maybe it depends on air temperature, air pressure, oxygen content of the air, and the hemoglobin content of one’s blood. It could be that at not-as-cold temperatures it is better to walk, and only at extremely cold temperatures it is better to jog. Who knows? It is far too easy for someone in the chain of information transfer to have made a mistake, corrupting all the data from then on. One needs to be careful about what advice they follow.
Then again, maybe I don’t have it quite right either. It could be that I took some slow-spreading, complex lies as the truth. Maybe the truth is even more complex than that. The wisest man is the one who knows that he knows nothing.
What do you know?
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My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.