When I was a child, I knew some things: I knew I needed to do my homework, to wash my hands after going to the bathroom, to wear a coat in the winter, and to move to the side of the road when a car was coming. I had most of the information I needed.
Today I know nothing because I have too much information. Just when I think I’ve found an immutable truth, some authority labels that truth a lie and purports a totally different truth.
Take the egg for example. When I was a child, people ate eggs often: scrambled, fried, and boiled. We ate them as deviled eggs and in egg salad sandwiches. We dyed and decorated them at Easter and ate the ones that didn’t get smashed in the hiding and finding process. We ate eggs without thinking about it.
Then we learned that eggs contained cholesterol which contributed to heart disease. Experts urged us to eat no more than one egg per week. We complied.
Then a few years ago scientists announced that eating eggs does not endanger one’s health. In fact, the egg may be nature’s perfect food, they said.
I Googled the question: Are eggs good or bad for your health? In 0.66 seconds, I was given access to 12,000,000 answers. I couldn’t read all of them, but I read a few and got differing answers. Which of the answers was the right one?
A few years ago as I made sugar water for my hummingbird feeder, I debated on whether or not to put red food coloring into it. One expert told me that if female hummingbirds consumed red food coloring, their eggs would not hatch. Another expert promised that food coloring would do no harm. Again, I turned to Google and asked the question: Is red food coloring harmful to hummingbirds? This time I received 400,000 answers in 0.88 seconds. Which answer was the correct one?
Should I feed a fever and starve a cold or feed a cold and starve a fever? 367,000 answers in 0.89 seconds.
Do we lose half of our body heat in the winter when we go outside with our heads uncovered? 717,000 answers in 1.2 seconds.
Should fresh tomatoes be refrigerated? 1,540,000 answers in 0.62 seconds.
Are the pale yellow flowers that bloom around Easter called jonquils or daffodils? 203,000 answers in 1.19 seconds.
With this abundance of information at my fingertips, I still don’t know whether or not to eat eggs regularly, or if putting food coloring into my hummingbirds’ sugar water is okay. I don’t know whether to eat when I have a cold or when I have a fever, and I have no idea whether or not I lose half of my body heat in the winter if I go outside with my head uncovered.
I do not put fresh tomatoes into the refrigerator because that is just wrong, regardless of what the experts say. And I call Easter flowers jonquils one day and daffodils the next.
In all my research, I learned nothing.
A little knowledge may be a dangerous thing, but too much knowledge is useless.