Friday, January 11, 2008

Unblinded with science

A fascinating article in the British Medical Journal dispels some commonly held myths that we harbor about health, medicine and their intertwined hand-me-down tales. Among the myths debunked are the ones listed below. I have heard of most of them except for the one about fingernails and hair growing after a person passes on. The study gave reasonable scientific explanations debunking each of these myths. My personal favorite is the much touted myth that we use only 10 percent of our brains - modern fMRI has clearly shown that we use nearly all parts of our brains - putting it to use in actions that have efficiencies of 10 percent is another matter altogether... Plus, having this knowledge will come in handy the next time that burly security guard tells you to turn that cell phone off in a hospital… Throw some science at the person while singing that classic 80’s one hit wonder “She Blinded Me with Science”…

Myths explained to be untrue:
- People should drink at least eight glasses of water a day
- We use only 10% of our brains
- Hair and fingernails continue to grow after death
- Shaving hair causes it to grow back faster, darker, or coarser
- Reading in dim light ruins your eyesight
- Eating turkey makes people especially drowsy
- Mobile phones create electromagnetic interference in hospitals.

Despite their popularity, all of these medical beliefs range from unproved to untrue. While some of these myths simply do not have evidence to confirm them, others have been studied and proved wrong. The venerable journal also reports that even physicians sometimes believe medical myths contradicted by scientific evidence and stresses the need for more objective evidence based medicine.

Madeline von Foerster, 'O Rubor Sanguinis', Acrylic on panel in wood frame, 27" X 21"

1 comment:

Sujith said...

This was a post that opened my eyes. So these are just believes, and does not have a scientific approach to it. Wow!