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Book Review

‘Because I Said So!: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids’


Book 020713Courtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Harriet Leitch

Scribner Book Company

Dec. 4, 2012


CNA - Stop HIV Iowa

237 pp.

Answer: “Because I Said So!” Question: “What do parents say when they are tired of answering the question, ‘Why?’ ” The title is so appropriate for this book, which is a compendium of common sayings used by parents all over the country. The author, Ken Jennings, (the champion of the game show “Jeopardy”) has investigated the sayings and evaluated them as true, false and gradients in between.                

He has covered such diverse sayings as the one from the holiday movie, “The Christmas Story,” “You’ll shoot your eye out!” (possibly true), and “If you crack your knuckles, you’ll get arthritis” (false). Each evaluation includes citations of studies and statistics and opinions from experts in the field. It is very interesting.                

Some results he has found were surprising to me, such as “you need hydrogen peroxide on that” (false), or “you need eight glasses of water every day” (false). And many of them are very enlightening: “Don’t feed the ducks” (true). The bread that is commonly used is not a normal diet for ducks and results in the ducks fouling the water and surrounding territory. Some communities have even outlawed the practice. It’s a fun activity, but maybe not such a good idea.                

My personal favorite is, “Always wear a helmet when riding a bike” (true). Our son’s parents enforced this rule in the 1980s before it was common and before helmets were stylish. We are sure there are residual traumatic effects from being the sole helmet-wearer among his friends, but Ken Jennings (and the AMA) agree — kids protect their noggins by wearing helmets.                

This book is going in our library alongside the dictionary, home medical guide and crossword dictionary to complete our reference section. CV

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