Monday, May 14, 2012 Rochester, NY - It seems to me that in the case of this article in particular, an introduction is superfluous. The truth may not always be stranger than fiction, but it is certainly more important. So, here goes:
* The Mayan allegedly predicted long ago that the end of the world would occur on December 21, 2012. Not so, say experts. An archaeological team from Boston University recently visited crucial Mayan ruins and examined artifacts in Guatemala. According to their findings, it is not true, and never has been true that the Mayans specified any date, ever, relative to a prediction regarding the end of the world (Source: William Saturno and Franco Rossi, Boston University).
* A new medical study has determined that placing a zinc lozenge in one's mouth will not prevent the common cold, or lessen its duration or severity (Source: Dr. Jack Gwaltney, University of Virginia).
* Many Americans have an irrational fear of crime, and distort the odds of dying from an act of violence. While America has a higher rate of violence than do Western European nations and countries like Canada, your odds of perishing as a result of, say, gun violence, are relatively low.
An American has only a 1 in 325 chance of dying from gunfire, yet Americans, on average, have a 1 in 5 chance of dying from heart disease; and a 1 in 7 chance of dying from cancer (Sources: National Center for Health Statistics, CDC; American Cancer Society; National Safety Council).
* On the other hand, Americans commonly fear certain activities and natural disasters that may seem dangerous, but are statistically far less often fatal than heart disease or cancer. For instance, the average American has only a 1 in 9,000 chance of drowning; a 1 in 20,000 chance of dying in a plane crash; a 1 in 60,000 chance of dying during a tornado, and only a 1 in 84,000 chance of dying due to being struck by lightning (Sources: National Safety Council; International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies).
* There is a myth being perpetrated among allegedly well-educated and enlightened Americans that average, every day citizens should eat a "gluten-free diet". Not so. Read:
"Long before its newfound popularity, the gluten-free diet was a medical staple -- a proven treatment for celiac disease. Perhaps someday, new scientific findings will show that gluten-free diets benefit other health problems, too.
"But for now, people need a gluten-free diet only if they have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, a condition that doctors once dismissed, but now are recognizing as legitimate. That's the advice of Stefano Guandalini, MD, director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center.
“People think that gluten-free diets are more healthy,” Guandalini says. “This is, of course, not the case.” In fact, the diet is hard to follow and may pose nutritional drawbacks when people have no medical reason to be on it." (Source: WebMD).
* One fallacy making the rounds over the last three decades or so is that parents who are highly involved in their children's lives exhibit better parenting skills than "more distant parents". Think again.
A study that looked at so-called helicopter parents asked participants to rate their level of agreement with statements such as, "My parents have contacted a school official on my behalf to solve problems for me," "On my college move-in day, my parents stayed the night in town to make sure I was adjusted," and "If two days go by without contact my parents would contact me."
About 10 percent of the participants had helicopter parents. The rate was higher in girls than in boys, with 13 percent of the females being helicoptered compared with just 5 percent of males. And it was mainly mothers doing the hovering, the study concluded.
Students with helicopter parents tended to be less open to new ideas and actions, as well as more vulnerable, anxious and self-consciousness, among other factors, compared with their counterparts with more distant parents.
"We have a person who is dependent, who is vulnerable, who is self-conscious, who is anxious, who is impulsive, not open to new actions or ideas; is that going to make a successful college student?" the study said. "No not exactly, it's really a horrible story at the end of the day." (Source: Neil Montgomery, a psychologist at Keene State College in N.H.; and, Live Science.com).
* Another myth is that if American parents sign up their children to participate on numerous sports teams and other after-school activities, this will have a very positive effect on their kids' present, and future. Maybe not, some experts say.
Millions of children across America feel overwhelmed and pressured. Alvin Rosenfeld, M.D., a child psychiatrist and author of The Over-Scheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper-Parenting Trap, believes that enrolling children in too many activities is a nationwide problem.
"Overscheduling our children is not only a widespread phenomenon, it's how we parent today," he says. "Parents feel remiss that they're not being good parents if their kids aren't in all kinds of activities. Children are under pressure to achieve, to be competitive. I know sixth-graders who are already working on their resumes so they'll have an edge when they apply for college." (Source: Psychology Today).
* And finally, this is not a myth: We all need mothers, whether they are biological, our adoptive mothers, our grandmothers, or simply surrogate moms (sometimes, these types of mothers are the best). My mom died when I was 15, so now I am lucky to have two surrogate mothers: My step mom, Diane, and my girlfriend's mother, Susanne.
I think Hillary Clinton was on to something: It really does take a village.
To all the moms out there, Happy Belated Mother's Day!
-Christopher J. Wilmot, Pittsford, NY
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