Familiar adages such as "look before you leap," "a stitch in time saves nine," or "never let Robert Shaw drink on your shark-hunting trip" have been passed down through generations for a reason: They're simple, memorable ways to impart important lessons, so we don't have to stumble through life discovering all this crap by trial and error. However, it turns out that many of the simple pearls of wisdom we take for granted as universal truths just don't stand up to the cold, hard scrutiny of scientists who are forever trying to shatter everything we once believed in ...
5"Early to Bed and Early to Rise Makes a Man Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise"
This saying is attributed to Ben "Ride the Lightning" Franklin in his Poor Richard's Almanack, but it turns out ol' Ben wasn't exactly breaking new ground here in any way, other than his spectacularly assholish spelling of the word "almanac." He was simply rewording a bit of advice from Aristotle, the original East Coast party king, who said, "It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom."
"I wake at dawn to fight the manticore, as should you."
And it makes perfect sense when you think about it; someone who stays up until 3 a.m. binge-watching seasons of Friends and then passes out with both hands stuck in different Pringles cans until noon the next day isn't going to reap as much knowledge and success from life as someone who goes to bed too early to maintain meaningful relationships with their peers and wakes up at an hour that would make most people cry tears of blood. Success in any pursuit takes discipline, and there's no clearer demonstration of discipline than setting your alarm for 5 a.m. and resisting the urge to punch the snooze button into dust when it screams you awake in the morning.
But Science Says:
There's no direct connection between getting up inhumanly early and personal achievement. In fact, if there is any correlation between sleep schedules and a wealthier, healthier, and wiser lifestyle, it's quite likely the other way around.
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Hope you like studies defending your lifestyle. This article's full of 'em.
Multiple studies going back as far as the late '90s call thunderous bullshit on the benefits of being an early riser. One 2013 study on teenagers revealed that night owls tend to be better at inductive reasoning and get higher scores on intelligence and memory tests. Translated from scientific babblespeak, this means that teenagers who stay up crazy late are more likely to end up with "prestigious jobs and higher incomes." They do, however, tend to get slightly lower grades in school, presumably because paying attention is hard when you're struggling to keep your eyes open for half the day because you were up all night writing a novel.
That covers wealth and wisdom, but what about health, the third part of Benji Franks' famous old man advice? Well, one study went so far as to test all three claims, and found that (in addition to being no less wise or wealthy) night owls were about on par with early risers as far as their likelihood of shuffling loose their mortal coil. The exception to this seems to be Australia, where researchers found that teens who were night owls were more likely to be obese than their early-rising counterparts -- and that's a big fucking deal in a country where outrunning dangerous animals is an occasional necessity.
Over there, at night, salads turn to cake.
So getting up early doesn't really give you any solid advantage over people who burn the midnight oil and roll out of bed well after McDonald's stops serving breakfast. Take that, Ben Franklin.
4"The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease"
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No one's quite sure where this idiom originated. It first appeared in its current form in a story written by author Cal Stewart back in 1903, but the spirit of the phrase appeared (once again) in Poor Richard's Almanack, from America's favorite advice-dispensing dusty old pervert.
His version mentioned "moaning" and "lube," but it was the same basic thing.
This seems to make total sense. After all, it's been demonstrated time and again that fortune and opportunity smile on those who are not afraid to speak their minds. From Loudmouth Dave in accounting winning that promotion ahead of Meek Stanley, to that Starbucks customer who pitches a table-flipping fit over his jacked-up latte order and getting free coffee for a year, we know that brash, assertive people are the ones who get ahead in life.
But Science Says:
While extroverted job candidates may very well be better at grabbing the attention of prospective employers, there's a ton of evidence showing that the quieter, pre-greased wheels (i.e. introverts) end up achieving more business success in the end.
Their lattes aren't free, but they come without phlegm.
See, while Loudmouth Dave may make a great first impression because he's all about pumping up his strengths and making himself look good to others, over time his performance tends to diminish, and his ability to work with the rest of the team gradually crumbles (the fact that "loudmouth" is almost always followed by the word "asshole" might have something to do with that).
Meek Stanley, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. While it's true that quiet people who prefer not to rock the boat tend to have a much more difficult time getting noticed right off the bat, they generally work better in teams than their bombastic counterparts. Furthermore, their contributions get better and better over time, building up momentum like a timid, socially incapable steam engine.
"It's amazing how much you get done when you don't waste energy talking. Ever."
Many of the most successful CEOs in America, including Bill Gates and probably even Steven Spielberg, are introverts, meaning that although they excel at managing teams to solve complicated problems, they would much rather be doing the parts of their job that don't require them to speak to other human beings.