When I was a kid, it was common knowledge that you would get cramps and drown if you went swimming within an hour of eating. It never occurred to me that if eating and swimming was a deadly combination, the bottom of every pool would be covered with corpses. I never heard of anyone perishing from a sandwich-related drowning. It turns out there was a good reason: Eating before swimming doesn’t cause cramps after all.
Now it’s common knowledge that your cell phone can bring down an airliner. But if that were true, the airlines would confiscate your phones, not just ask you to turn them off. And given the fact that at least one moron leaves his phone on during every flight, you’d expect at least one cell phone-related crash. I’m still waiting.
Everyone knows you can get AIDS from oral sex. Any doctor will confirm that. It’s common knowledge. Yet there are plenty of teens engaging in oral sex and no other kind of sex. Is there one confirmed case of a virgin getting AIDS from a blow job? I don’t know the answer to that question, but it’s odd that the sidewalks in front of high schools aren’t covered with corpses.
We Americans know that Al Qaeda has cells in America planning to attack. And we know that there are more terrorists than ever, thanks to the Iraq war. It’s easy to get people and explosives into the country on private boats or across our porous borders. The woods must be full of terrorists by now. Apparently all the slow ones came to America. I mean, Iraq has almost as many car bombs as cars. Those guys are industrious. But the American terrorists couldn’t put together one car bomb in six years. I know, I know – every one of those American terror cells is waiting for a nuke so they can do something more fabulous than last time. Apparently no one told Al Qaeda in Iraq what an excellent strategy it is to do nothing for six years.
Everyone knows most vegetarians don’t get enough protein. You probably know a few vegetarians yourself. Have you ever heard of an adult vegetarian being hospitalized because of protein deficiency? You’d expect to go to the hospital for a bunion operation and be turned away because all the beds are full of vegetarians with lackofproteinitis.
I have been thinking along these lines lately because of all the comments on this blog about my high intake of Diet Coke. Many people believe the aspartame is dangerous, and indeed you can find mention on the Internet of studies that support that notion, along with ones that don’t. And more recently, a study showed a link between obesity and heart risk for soda drinkers, both diet and regular. These types of risks are more subtle than an airline crash or a car bomb, so I wouldn’t necessarily expect to see fresh corpses clutching soda cans. But I wonder if it’s my cynicism of common wisdom or just cognitive dissonance that causes me to choose the deliciousness and easy caffeine of my Diet Coke over the alleged risks. All I know for sure is that thinking about it just made me thirsty.
(Warning: Do not get your health and safety tips from cartoonists. I’m just making observations, not recommendations. I’m sure the comment section will provide plenty of counter points.)