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The 6 Most Frequently Quoted Bullsh*t Statistics

#3.
Spousal Abuse Skyrockets on Super Bowl Sunday

Surely watching the manliest of sports play out on the world stage brings out the redneck in all of us. It isn't too hard to imagine that a shitty husband or boyfriend might do something like this on Superbowl Sunday.

"Woman! Get me a beer! *smack*"

"Woman! Turn up the TV! I'm watching the Supabowl! *smack*"

"Woman! I don't wanna see you again for the next 2 hours unless you're nekked! *smack*"

And who hasn't been to a Super Bowl Party where one of the male guests gets into a fistfight with his wife in front of all their closest friends? What's that you say common sense? Pretty much everybody hasn't been to a party like that?

Why Is It a Load of Crap?

The problem with this statistic is that the kind of men who would hit their wives and girlfriends over something on TV are the kind of men who are already doing it anyway.

In reality, there is no solid evidence that suggests spouses are abused on Super Bowl Sunday, and in fact for some men the distraction of football might actually make them less likely to hit their wives.

Who Started It?

This myth reached its peak in 1993, when a series of battered women's advocates came forward claiming abuse hotline calls went up by as much as 40% on the day of the big game. Similar stats got repeated and inflated endlessly in the lead up to the Super Bowl, when every section of the paper is obligated to have a story about the Super Bowl, even if there's absolutely nothing to report. Oh newspapers, how we'll miss your journalistic integrity.

Who Was Fooled?

It becamse a big enough deal that NBC aired a public service announcement warning about the dangers of spousal abuse before the game. We hate to think how many abusive husbands, having settled in to watch football, saw the ad and thought, "Hey, that reminds me! I've been so preoccupied with the game that I haven't abused my wife today! Thanks, NBC!"

#2.
You Must Wait 30 Minutes After Eating Before Swimming

If at any time in your life you've had food in your hand near a swimming pool, you've heard this myth. You cannot swim until you've waited at least 30 minutes.

For some families, the more harsh "hour" rule was used. If you broke the rule, the implication was that you would get cramps, be unable to swim, drown, and die. This rule seemed to apply even if you stayed on the shallow end. According to this statistic, unlike air, water-to-skin contact has magical properties that cause the food in your belly to explode unless it is past a certain point in your digestive track.

Why Is It a Load of Crap?

Because you're not a Gremlin. As you may have already guessed, water does not, in fact, bear properties that form a cramp of death, should you get in the water after eating. Getting into the water after eating will have no more effect on your body than going for a walk.

In fact, the movement of your body in the water, particularly if you are just a little kid with floaties on, is more restricted than that of a typical walk. Granted, if you were to swim rigorously for exercise, you wouldn't want to jump in the pool and start swimming lines right after a big bowl of Chili unless your goal is to chum for some sharks with your mouth.

Who Started It?

This one actually comes from an old wives tale that slowly became popular over the years. Supposedly, your stomach is using oxygen to digest food that your muscles need to swim. In actuality, the amount of oxygen your body needs to swim is more than satisfied, whether or not you've eaten recently.

Who Was Fooled?

This cutesy little kids site is one of many offering swimming tips that still buys into the old "wait 30 minutes" rule.

These lies aren't without their consequences. What happens when they find out the 30 minute statistic is false. Doesn't that suggest that the other stuff on the page must be false, too? A horseplay revolution could arise, complete with much more serous acts of rebellions like kids diving in the shallow end, swimming during electrical storms and thinking they could stay under water longer by biting fart bubbles.

#1.
Christmas Causes Suicide

Christmas: A season of joy and togetherness and shopping and joy and shopping. It might be true that Christmas has become really commercialized (as you might have heard from Charlie Brown once or twice), but people generally seem to enjoy it. Aside from the stress, and family you hate, the travel and the junk lying around the house, of course. And the music.

Actually, when we hear that suicide rates jump during the holidays, it's easy to believe it. Especially if you've ever spent a Christmas drunk and alone, tearing up as you sit in your apartment and watch your favorite Christmas movie from childhood (Die Hard).

Why Is It a Load of Crap?

Actually, the suicide rate goes down significantly. Why?

While it's depressing as hell to be alone on Christmas, the truth is most of us aren't. It's just hard to commit suicide when there's people around constantly trying to get you to wear ugly sweaters. Depressed or not, most people aren't big enough dicks to let the kiddies find them hanging over the Christmas tree with a note pinned to their chest.

Who Started It?

In this case, no one fooled us more than ourselves. It's what they call confirmation bias; we decide ahead of time that people should get depressed over the holidays, so when we hear somebody killed themselves on Christmas, we assume the holiday was the reason.

Never mind that far more people kill themselves on President's day, and most other lesser holidays. Never mind that there could have been a thousand other reasons to be depressed.

Who Was Fooled?

The movie Gremlins, for one. A character quotes the suicide stat, which is one of several scientific inaccuracies we noticed in that film (see swimming after eating).

But also, just about every newspaper in the country tends to climb on board. Studies indicate that newspapers actually emphasize suicides during the holidays over the rest of the year, again assuming a link between the suicide and the holiday when they didn't even know if the victim recognized that it was the holiday at all.

In the general population, whether or not you believe this stat tends to depend on how much you hate Christmas (see this typical response from a ray of sunshine talking about how it's "no wonder" suicide rates go up that time of year).

For some reason, when we're miserable we like to project it on other people, and assume they're all miserable too. And, if thinking that other people are suicidal makes you feel a little less suicidal yourself, then go for it.

For more, go buy You Might Be a Zombie anywhere books are sold online or in person.


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