Monday, May 17, 2010

The so-called sugar high that isn't

The "Chemicals in Your Food" class had a debate: Sugar rich foods make kids off-the-wall. Or not. Students randomly drew sides to argue or respond to, and they had a week and a half to research and prepare their arguments. Students were warned not to base their arguments on the "everybody knows" type of argument, but to search for, evaluate, and base their arguments on scientific and behavioral studies. When I described this plan to a friend, she said - "What's to debate? Of course it does."
But guess what? Even though "everybody knows" that foods high in sugar drive kids right up the wall and back again, controlled, well designed scientific studies show that what "everybody knows" seems to be wrong. People may talk about kids being on a "sugar high", but the behavior might better be called a "party high", or a "recess high", or a "I love to play with my friends high," or an "I really love this stuff" high.

I have known this contradiction for quite a while, but I no longer raise my eyebrows or open my mouth when people rant about the kids being on a sugar high, because people don't want to hear it and don't want to believe it - that maybe the "sugar high" is more what people want to believe than what can be supported by research. Students were very surprised by what they found, even though some still chose to believe - well - what they wanted to.

So the question is - why and how do we believe what we believe? From the little things to the big cosmic issues - what data do we trust? And why? And what do we do when we discover that what we want to believe may not turn out to be be believable?
Awaiting the lighting and the blowing out of the 100 candles, 
and especially the eating of the100th birthday cakes.
(Count the candles!)

No comments:

Post a Comment