Are smart people more liberal?
Digest #3: also BPA in food, chlorine in pools and dairy for bones
We’ve had some great questions come in on Metafact - with some insightful responses from top experts. Here are some things I’ve learned this week:
Chlorine is safe in pools, but don’t pee in the pool!
For me, the smell of chlorine takes me back to my childhood splashing around the swimming pool. Chlorine is used to disinfect pools to kill disease-causing pathogens (such as bacteria and viruses). Sometimes the smell of chlorine can often be overpowering, so one of the most requested fact-checks we’ve had so far is whether chlorine in pools is harmful to health. Professor Ernest Blatchley a leading researcher on swimming pools from Purdue University writes “Chorine is safe” and in fact “disease outbreaks associated with swimming pool is linked to pools that do not chlorinate adequately”. However, he says that human sweat and urine are the real problems as they combine with chlorine to produce something called “disinfection byproducts (DBPs)” which can cause adverse health effects. I never understood why public pools tell us to shower BEFORE going in the pool - but now I do - to get rid of the sweat. As for peeing in the pool - you might want to tell the kids! (Read his full answers here and here).
Smart people tend to be more liberal
Over the past 20 years, I’ve interacted with lots of ‘smart’ people, from Nobel Laureates to professors to technology founders. Two things seem to separate the smartest people in my opinion: their ability to question how the world works while having an ability to quickly make sense of the world with little prior knowledge. But what about political ideology? A Metafact member asked the interesting question of whether smart people tend to be liberal. Idan Solon, an intelligence researcher who has published on this writes about a “U-shaped curve” where “highly intelligent heavily orient themselves to the left in politics”. Why? Solon suggests that liberals “are more empathetic and trusting toward people they do not know.." I hate left-right labels in politics - so whatever your political leaning, the ability to question how the world works and trust others seems like pretty important traits to get ‘smarter’ - not who you vote for. (Read his full answer here)
It’s hard but try to stop focusing on the negative..
Human nature is funny. If we get 100 compliments and 1 criticism - it’s really hard not to fixate on the one bad review/comment. I noticed this recently when during the Q&A session for our Metafact launch in San Francisco, a scientist in the audience was critical that we used the word ‘fact’ in our name saying ‘we don’t use the word fact in science’. I love getting feedback, but I seemed to fixate on that single negative comment rather than all of the positive comments. I should have quickly moved on quoting Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling:
Facts are the air of scientists. Without them you can never fly.
So are there any benefits to experiencing negative emotions? Yes, writes Professor Joe Forgas a psychologist from UNSW Sydney who says evidence suggests experiencing mild negative emotions can “improve memory performance”, “improve your ability to detect deception” and make you “less gullible”. What about expressing negative emotions, is that beneficial to psychological wellbeing? Dr Elliot Brown a psychiatrist from Germany says “Near Certain” expressing negative emotions is important and even “talking to oneself in the 3rd person” can help. But thinking about the negative should only be short-term. Constantly disqualifying positive events/thoughts and dwelling on the negative is a bad sign for mental health. If you find yourself or someone you know ‘ruminating’ on the negative then please seek help. (Read his full answer here)
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Enjoy the rest of our digest and may the facts be with you!
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Milk and dairy are not bad for your bones
100% consensus from 6 experts. Some celebrity chefs claim dairy is bad for your bones. We asked nutrition and bone experts to verify if that is true. No - it’s not. Healthy bones need a range of nutrients such as calcium. Milk and dairy are good sources of calcium. This doesn’t mean you need dairy for healthy bones but if a person chooses to have dairy in their diet, then this will be beneficial for the health of their bones. Enjoy your cappuccino! Read our expert summary here.
We may be getting too much Bisphenol A (BPA) but there's a lot of uncertainty
67% consensus from 21 experts. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a contaminant that gets into our food from some plastics, particularly when heated. It’s even lined on receipts when we go to the store. You’ve probably seen the ‘BPA-free’ sticker on items in the store. Research has shown BPA may be harmful to endocrine systems, particularly for young kids, but experts were pretty divided on exactly how much BPA people are currently exposed to, or if that's 'too much'. In the meantime, best to use glass or ceramics when you can. Read our expert summary here.
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Each month we investigate a topic voted by members by asking the world's top experts to review the evidence. Reviews are what you need to know. Read all the reviews here.
We gathered more than 50 of the world’s top researchers in neuroscience to share the facts about Alzheimer’s Disease. From diet and genetics to that long-held claim on cooking with aluminium, this review gives you the latest science-backed intelligence you need to know.
Last month’s member topic poll results are in and the winner is….Intermittent Fasting with 42% of the vote. Sleep was close behind on 32% (see below). That means for the next few weeks we will be busy asking top experts a range of questions and will publish our Intermittent Fasting review in December.
Metafact is 100% funded by our members, so your vote is really important to us to make sure we are investigating topics you care about. The November member poll is open until the end of the month. Members, go vote here.
Feedback we’ve had is Dec 16 is a terrible time for alot of members to have our Sydney launch…stay tuned for launch event(s) planned in the early new year..
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