Why Men Get Sick And Must Lie On The Couch Whenever The Game Is On

By Douglas Main | October 21, 2011 3:25 pm

He may be smiling, but it’s no laughing matter: he’s got the man-flu the game is on.

Either British women are, uh, kind of slow, or English guys are more persuasive than we realized. According to Reuters, a survey found that one in five British ladies believe that “man-flu” is real, a condition which leaves afflicted gentlemen laid up  on the couch watching sports. If I had known this could work, I would have caught this fictional bug long ago. This silly survey of 2,000 British adults found that many believed in a surprising amount of myths and old wive’s tales—although perhaps the “man-flu” would be better described as an “old husband’s tale.”

The survey also found that almost half of the people agreed that men exaggerate their symptoms to get attention. Apparently, though, this doesn’t apply to imaginary diseases, in which they prefer to bask in the curative radiation of sports television.

One in 10 Brits supposedly believe that eating more carrots can improve your night vision. This myth allegedly comes from World War II British propaganda that said as much to explain the increased numbers of German fighters being shot down. The borderline-plausible explanation was meant to prevent the Nazis from finding out about their new radar technology, which was the real secret to the British successes.

According to “study leader” Mike Smith, a “large majority” of the population also believes that your eyes can become square-shaped from watching too much television. Really, English people? I’m going to guess that most Brits don’t actually believe this, since that’s not the only eyebrow-raising tidbit. Apparently the survey was “specially commissioned to mark the release of Hollywood thriller ‘Contagion.'” Multiple searches for more about Mike Smith or the survey turned up nothing, nor did a Twitter message or an email to the Reuters editor.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t have fun with this story, or slide a little science your way while I’m at it. The most common misconception, subscribed to by 37 percent of the population, is that we lose most heat through our heads. While that isn’t true, it isn’t that far off. According to University of Thessaly researcher Andreas Flouris (interviewed for an unrelated story several months ago), people in the cold lose about one-third of their body heat through the head. And covering up any body part is not equally as effective as covering the head, as the Reuters story incorrectly states. Blood flow to extremities becomes limited during cold exposure via vasoconstriction, in order to keep the vital organs and brain warm. Obviously blood flow to the head/brain cannot be limited, since it, uh, is kind of important. Come on, Reuters. Use your head!

But maybe I’m just taking this too seriously. As one of the Reuters commenters pointed out, 50 percent of people do have below average intelligence.

[Via Reuters]

Image: Furryscaly / Flickr

  • Isgrimnur

    50 percent of people do have below average intelligence?  It may be a few years since my statistics class, but I’m pretty sure this is not necessarily true.  Now if you wanted to state that 50 percent of people have below median intelligence, then I might be inclined to agree with you.  

    • Michelle M.

      If average intelligence is supposedly an IQ of 100 as an absolute
      benchmark, maybe 50 percent does have “below average intelligence.” But average is now supposedly 2 standard deviations above or below the means, which means that most people fall in that range (20 IQ points). It used to be 1 standard deviation, but it was getting too expensive to care for all those people with IQs between 80 and 90, so with a magical POUF! a whole lot of people stopped being developmentally disabled.

    • Anonymous

      When you have a normal distribution,  you can say, “50 percent of people do have below average _______.” If you want to get nit-picky, complain that IQ score is normalized and could hide skew that would make the quoted statement false.

  • Georg

    Of course carrots improve eyesight! Did You ever see a rabbit with glasses?

  • Moomin Papa

    In other news, 80% of the British intentionally try to screw with surveys that ask stupid questions

  • Guest

    My definition of man-flu is just over exaggerating your illness’ symptoms to get what you want (time off work, sympathy, watching tv under the bed covers). It’s got to the point that whenever a man gets ill the women tell them to man up because they just have ‘man-flu’. I winds me up that women think that they’re the only ones who get properly ill…


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