Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hydrating ourselves to death

If you have ever endured one of those tiresome mini-sermons from a well-meaning friend in which you are exhorted to drink 8 glasses of water a day because some study (which, interestingly, he can never actually cite) has shown that this is essential to the human body, you will appreciate the fact that is not actually true.

And you may also enjoy the debunking of other "hydration" myths, such as that caffeinated drinks don't provide you with sufficient "hydration."

In fact, if your personal health advisor (who you never actually invited to serve in that role) uses the term "hydration" in his everyday speech, you should immediately flee his presence and avoid him in the future. This is a sure sign that he is familiar with the language of the Health Nazis, who, if you take their medical advice, will have you wearing one of those pretentious water bottle collars and overdosing on dietary supplements.

If this friend is important to you, just send him an occasional greeting card to maintain the relationship.

Note that I have placed the word "hydration" in quotation marks. I have a policy here at this blog that there are certain words that should always appear in double quotes to emphasize their ideological character and their propensity to hypnotize you into unconsciously assenting to any statement in which they are included. "Hydration" is one of these words.

There are even whole complex expressions that must be set off in this way, such as "scientific studies have shown..." In fact, even the post I have here linked to, which says that 8 glasses of water a day are not required to sustain adequate human life is itself subject to this caution. It too is based on some other, more recent study, equally questionable. Next year "scientific studies may show" that we need 25 glasses of water a day for our bodies to operate properly.

Just make sure your plumbing is sound and that you're not planning on taking any long car trips.

We've experienced this same phenomenon of shifting recommendations with admonitions about coffee, eggs, and which way to turn the baby when he sleeps. You wouldn't think it would be this way.

I mean, what with science being so certain and all.


KyCobb said...


Actually, that "eight glasses of water a day" myth came from a pseudo-scientist, much like the good folks at Answers in Genesis or the Discovery Institute.

Lee said...

That's the great thing about Creationists and IDers. They're convenient bad guys for just about any issue under the sun, if you can just figure out how to work them into the conversation.

KyCobb said...


Don't blame me. Martin chose to take a gratuitous poke at science, when just a little research at would have revealed the utterly unscientific nature of the "8 glasses of water a day" claim. So I poked back at the cdesign proponentsists, who, like water guy (he's got a long indian name I can't spell), don't do any research on their pet ideas.

Art said...

Um, Martin, you're not going to give up liquids, are you?

Lee said...

> Don't blame me.

I would never do that. You know me.

I just wondered what Creationists and IDers had to do with the topic of hydration.

Martin Cothran said...

You wish. :)

Anonymous said...

Obviously the schools must TEACH THE HYDRATION CONTROVERSY. So what if some snooty pointy-headed arrogant intellectual scientist says we don't need this much water! CAN'T A NON-SCIENTIST HAVE AN OPINION ON THIS? We must preserve our precious bodily fluids!

I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids!

KyCobb said...


"I just wondered what Creationists and IDers had to do with the topic of hydration."

The topic wasn't really hydration. The topic was how those pointy-headed scientists are always coming up with silly ideas then changing their minds later. Its the sort of argument that cdesign proponentsists and other pseudo-scientists make when actual scientists reject their vacuous notions out of hand.

Lee said...

> The topic wasn't really hydration. The topic was how those pointy-headed scientists are always coming up with silly ideas then changing their minds later.

But you don't need Creationists of IDers to realize that pointy-headed scientists are always coming up with silly ideas and then changing their minds. And there's nothing wrong with that. If a human being changes his mind, at least it shows he's capable of realizing he made a mistake.

The problem is all the folks who worship science like it's a religion. It's the old, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" thing. The only thing missing is the white robes. "Scientists say..." should never settle an argument; all it really means is, "Scientists say today...."