Kenny's Blog

25 Feb 2015

On Human Perception

An interesting development has been floating around the interwebs recently; the fact that coffee may not be as bad for you as previously thought:

“I gave up coffee” is a refrain of the health conscious. But should it be? The idea that coffee is a dangerous, addictive stimulant springs mostly from 1970s- and 1980s-era studies that tied the drink to higher rates of cancer and heart disease, explains Dr. Rob van Dam, a disease and nutrition expert at Harvard School of Public Health who has examined coffee and its health effects. According to van Dam, that old research didn’t do a great job of adjusting for a person’s cigarette habit or other unhealthy behaviors.

Now what’s interesting to me is that plenty of people have bought into the idea that coffee is bad for you. I’ve heard it in college plenty of times: “Hey, you should drink less coffee because it’s really bad for you”. And there are those who have said that once they got off coffee, they feel so much better.

This is extremely interesting to me - the perceived harm of coffee may be outdoing the research. Generations of people have heard this fact over the course of their lives. And now it turns out that this may not be true? So what happens to all of the advice out there that says you shouldn’t drink coffee to maintain your health? What happens to all of the anecdotal support?

A Parallel

Now, I don’t think theres quite a black and white answer for the questions I posed up there. Maybe we’re all doomed to repeat this cycle over and over again, and with multiple topics.

My big thing is this - if people can be duped into thinking that coffee is such a detriment to your health, what else can they be duped into thinking? Assuming that the research for this recent development is sound and is actually true, it means that the overlying culture has such a huge affect on human behavior and health. Some people actually felt unhealthy drinking too much coffee, and adjusted their “health” to fit the popular definition of health.

What effect does this have when we apply this cultural bias towards education and learning? What’s actually right here? I’m really not sure anymore. Human perception seems to be so very important in the context of well, everything. Does inherient talent or skill even exist?