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Supermyths Concept Becomes a National Newspaper Story

Identity VerifiedThinker in Science / Social Sciences / Sociology
Mike Sutton
Mike Sutton
Dr Mike Sutton is the author of 'Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret'.

 
Posted in Science / Chemistry / Biochemistry

Supermyths Concept Becomes a National Newspaper Story

May 10, 2015 11:22 am
Categories: CounterknowledgeDysology
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Mike Sutton King of the Nerds
Today, the British Sunday Times Magazine reported on the Supermyth concept   , which was first reported here on BestThinking in my unique busting of the Spinach Popeye Iron Decimal Error myth.
'Child A announces he no longer has to eat spinach. His teacher told him a 19th-century scientist got the decimal point wrong when they recorded its iron content, inadvertently exaggerating it tenfold.
Popeye's superpowers were founded on a myth he claims.
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The Sunday Times Magazine May 10th 2015Attribution
Article by Matt Rudd, Senior Writer for The Sunday Times.
Wait there while I check, I say. Four days later, I have an answer. It is possibly the most convoluted answer in the history of this column, but I'll give you the short version.
The decimal point error was first mentioned in an article by Professor Bender in 1971. it has since been used as an example of the importance of accuracy in science.Which is ironic, because there never was a decimal point error in the first place.
Dr Mike Sutton of Nottingham Trent University spent many, many weeks getting to the bottom of the myth. The confusion comes from the fact that dried spinach conatains a lot more iron (44.5 mg per 100g) than fresh spinach (2.7mg per 100g). It was this, rather than an errant decimal point, that caused the initial muddle. There was another muddle involving iron oxide.
And then Professor Bender came along with his decimal point story, and now we have a myth about a myth.
Or a SUPERMYTH, as Dr Sutton calls it.
Popeye, by the way, got his superpowers from the beta-carotene in his spinach. Iron had nothing to do with it. To confuse matters much further, spinach still has a relatively high iron content, even without moving any decimal points. But it's still no good. As Sutton points out: "Spinach contains oxalic acid and oxalic acid is an iron blocker."
So Child A's teacher was right for the wrong reason. And Child A is now trying to find a reason to avoid broccoli.
- Matt Rudd's Sunday Times Magazine article ends -
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Popeye cartoon from 1932.

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Matt RuddAttribution
Matt Rudd - Senior Writer of The Sunday Times newspaper and magazine
The Sunday Times Newspaper and its Magazine has a weekly readership of more than two million people.   
I am delighted that it has played a role in popularizing my discoveries in the history of science. Many thanks to Matt Rudd - who is perfectly followable on Twitter @MattRudd   
Visit the Supermyths website    to find out what others have been discovered.
 
Author's Favorite
Sude
May 12, 2015 at 11:46 am
Well done, Mike, congratulations!
The Clean Air act or the thinning of the P(eculation)supers has got underway!
Sude
May 12, 2015 at 11:46 am
Well done, Mike, congratulations!
The Clean Air act or the thinning of the P(eculation)supers has got underway!
 

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