Perform a Reality Check

It makes a lot of sense to read books, listen to (smart) people and try new things. However, it does pay off to be a little bit sceptical before embracing something new too deeply. Just the fact that somebody seems or sounds trustworthy or has written a book does not necessarily mean that they are experts in the field. Nor does it mean that they have your best interests in mind when giving you advice on making a profound change in your life. It is always up to you to do the reality check before you start believing something extraordinary. Most medical experts agree that mr. Jobs would still be among us had he not tried to cure his cancer with eating raw food, but used some more conventional methods.

A little bit less extreme example is a guy I know. He read some book called 80-10-10 diet and now he is eating only bananas for three weeks in an attempt to “detoxify” his body. So there is a book that suggest to eat bananas to detoxify; at the same time there are hundreds of scientific articles which demonstrate that eating mainly high glycemic-index food (which bananas are) is a proven way to induce diabetes and some other diseases on oneself. So does the book overrule those articles (and all the other sources recommending a balanced diet) just because you read it more recently?!

In the last issue of The Economist there is an article about the growing number of parents who refuse to have their newborn children vaccinated against diseases such as measles, polio, tetanus, diphtheria and others. There was a paper published by a British doctor in 1998 which claimed that vaccines cause autism. Athough the paper has since been entirely discredited and the doctor censored, the rumor lives on. The new generation of parents have not seen anybody die from measles, polio or diphteria (thanks to vaccines, obviously) and some of them have decided to believe the rumor based on one odd (and false) paper. Unfortunately, some of them will learn to be sceptical the hard way.

I could make lot of examples here, but I stop for now. The idea is simple: whenever confronted with some new and “revolutionary” theory or idea, give yourself the opportunity of doubt. Not only will you save yourself the disgusting three weeks of eating only bananas, but you will make better decisions for the long run, too.


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