FROM THE EDITOR
BY DAVID ZINCZENKO
OST OF US LIKE TO THINK OF
ourselves as men of action.
Whether it’s in business, in
romance, or in Vegas over a
long weekend, the smart money
says big payoffs come from making calculated risks.
But increasingly, we’re losing our ability to properly
calculate those risks. And nowhere is our judgment
more blurred than in the field of health. When it
comes to knowing the best ways to take care of ourselves, we’re about as sure of the real risks as those
crazy British traders at JP Morgan Chase & Co.—you
know, the ones who managed to make $5.8 billion
just sort of evaporate?
The biggest risk I’ve taken in my life: accepting the
editorship of this magazine at the ripe old age of 30.
Was I ready? All evidence said no. And I was soon
wondering whether I had made a terrible mistake, or
if the company that gave me the job had. The fact is,
the odds were against me. But why let facts stop you,
when improbable success is possible too?
To quote Ronald Reagan, “Facts are stupid things.”
Ironically, Reagan was misquoting John Adams at the
time; he’d meant to say, “Facts are stubborn things.”
But our 40th president’s flub was, in many ways, more
insightful than our second president’s original version.
As our access to information has grown, so has our
access to bad information. Facts taken out of context
can lead us astray from the truth; they become “
stupid” the way people who believe in superstitions and
refuse to look objectively at science become stupid.
For example, I’ve used this statistic myself to prove
a point: According to a 2004 study, men who are
obese earn $4,772 less than normal-weight men.
That’s a fact. But it’s kind of a stupid fact because
we don’t know what it really means. Is it a fact that
becoming obese will increase your risk of making less
money? Or is it a fact that making less money will
increase your risk of becoming obese? Or is it neither—
is it a fact that the cost of living is more likely to be
significantly lower, and hence wages lower, in areas
where obesity happens to be more common? We don’t
know. But if you use this “fact” to decide that the best
way to get a raise is to invest your money in a Stair-Master, you might be climbing the wrong stairway to
heaven. (Although you’ll definitely be decreasing your
risk of going there prematurely.)
Don’t make a sucker bet on your health
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That’s why Men’s Health is more important than
ever. Our job is to sort through all the stupid “facts”
to reach the truth: What’s really going to improve our
health, our fitness, and our chances of living to a ripe
old age? In this issue, T.E. Holt, M.D., offers an explanation of just what “risk” means as it applies to
health, and points out how a lot of us are engaging in
risky behaviors while paying attention to stupid facts.
I’m all for taking risks. Go talk to that hot girl.
Make a play for that big job. Test out whitewater kayaking or ice climbing or wreck diving. Those are
smart risks, with clear consequences and obvious payoffs. But you get to take the smart risks only if you
avoid the dumb ones. Turn to page 146 to learn how
to tell the difference.
Enjoy the issue.
found people who ate
slowly digestible carbs
fared better on mood &
memory tests than those
who ate simple sugars.
Jack in the Box’s bacon
milkshake has 1,081
calories—and no bacon!
(It’s vegetarian, in fact.)
WHAT WINNERS KNOW
If you want to be more
DREAM IN BLUE
with blue tones
Red improves accuracy.
Two biggest weight-
gain culprits are french
fries & potato chips,
says Harvard report.
Cut back, lose big!
People enjoy books more
after reading scenes that
gave all away, says
U Cal San Diego study.
⅓ of CT scans may be
unnecessary & expose
you to needless radiation,
reveals new study.
Photograph by NINO MUÑOZ , grooming: Scott McMahan
WHAT WINNERS KNOW
The best way to teach
yourself how to
succeed at something
is to fail at it first.