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On medical myths

Do you believe that sugar makes your kids hyperactive? Or that night eating makes you fat? Or that hangovers can be cured?

You are way off the mark there.

Here is a recap of a BMJ article (also publicized in NYT) on the common medical myths. There is also a similar BMJ article of a year ago.

Some of these notions I don’t care much about, but I was always led to believe that reading in dim light has a negative effect on one’s eyesight. Apparently not! Hmmm.


  1. jason

    Interesting… I know a number of parents who would dispute the sugar/hyperactivity finding. And I myself don’t have a “cure” for hangovers, but I find that drinking a nice big glass of water before going to bed seems to cut down on a the severity of the symptoms.

    Perhaps the definitions or parameters of the various studies were more narrowly defined than what most people would think of when discussing these topics?

  2. Ilya

    I thought it was a fun read and did not dig deep into the actual studies referenced in footnotes, but I think the point was that most of these “myths” attain a “common wisdom” status through unscientific observations of people who do not know better. But if you strip all of those unscientific observations away and examine what they suggest scientifically, they do not hold water.

    So, parents complain that when children have lots of sweets they become hyperactive. The study suggests that (a) parents likely convince themselves that their children become hyperactive after consuming sweets, when the child behavior is not actually changing before and after the consumption, and (b) other potential reasons for increased hyperactivity may be masked by parents’ willingness to attribute everything to an additional sugar intake.

    And so on, for others.

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