Sunday, November 25, 2012

Popeye Lied. Mom too

I got a dose of a failure to absorb changes in scholarship and human knowledge when I pointed out a brontosaurus in the OG's colouring book a decade ago. "It's an apatosaurus, dad." she declared.

In a review of a recent book, The Half-Life of Facts, the WSJ reveals that spinach is not the iron-delivery powerhouse that mothers everywhere and longtime Popeye fans had thought:
In 1870, German chemist Erich von Wolf analyzed the iron content of green vegetables and accidentally misplaced a decimal point when transcribing data from his notebook. As a result, spinach was reported to contain a tremendous amount of iron—35 milligrams per serving, not 3.5 milligrams (the true measured value). While the error was eventually corrected in 1937, the legend of spinach's nutritional power had already taken hold, one reason that studio executives chose it as the source of Popeye's vaunted strength.
Another argument to stop memorizing stuff and focus instead on how to find the information when you need it. Call it cloud-based learning, if you want to package it for sale.

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