Author Archives: Jillian Nicole Beitter

Does Chewing Gum Impact Your Diet?

I rarely meet a person that doesn’t like gum and even when I do, it’s usually that they don’t like one flavor over another. I always find myself chewing gum when I have it with me (as I’m writing this I am in fact chewing gum). There are many reasons why people chew gum. Some people chew gum to get rid of bad breath, others chew it because they believe it helps them concentrate more (check out my other blog on chewing gum and academic performance correlation!) and other simply chew gum because they enjoy it! How many people though would chew gum more if they knew it helped with their diet? I’ve heard rumors that chewing sugar-free gum helps your physical health and may even cause you to lose weight. After hearing that, I decided to do some research and see what I could figure out!

First off, let me explain the four situations we have here:

  1. Chewing sugar-free gum has a positive effect on your diet (direct causation).
  2. A good diet causes you to chew sugar-free gum (reverse causation).
  3. A third variable may cause you to chew sugar-free gum and improve your diet.
  4. The correlation between chewing sugar-free gum and improving your diet may just be due to chance alone.

Chris Gajilan’s article titled Chew on this: Gum may be good for body, mind, he mentions a student conducted at Louisiana State University. In this study, the researchers specifically chose 115 students who they knew chewed gum habitually. They then fed the students lunch. After lunch they found that students who chewed gum three times an hour after eating ate lunches with less calories. Those same students claimed they weren’t hungry as much either (Gajilan 2009). Although this is an experimental study, there still needs to be more studies conducted and evidence collected. There is always a chance that another variable besides chewing gum can have an effect on the food consumption.


Making a Bubble

According to WebMD, chewing gum can help you decrease your cravings for food. Zelman, writer of the article Diet Myth or Truth: Chewing Gum for Weight Loss, says that this doesn’t mean if all you do is chew gum, you’ll lose all the weight you want. You need to follow a diet on top of the gum chewing. Gum chewing is essentially just an extra thing to help out with your diet. If you’re adding gum to your diet, Zelman recommends that you try sugar-free gum because it has around 5 calories in comparison to a regular pack of gum that has around 10 calories. But she also warns us that like many things in the world, there is such thing as too much. If consumed too much, gum may have you spending a lot more time in the bathroom than expected to a laxative effect (Zelman 2010).


Sugar-Free Gum

Similar to what was mentioned in the previous paragraph, it is said that sugar-free gum is the one people should chew if they want to try to lose weight. According to Tracii Hanes, writer of the article Does Chewing Sugar-Free Gum Help You Lose Weight?, sugar-free gum contains artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol and xylitol. Although these two ingredients give the gum some taste, they also have an effect when consumed in large quantities. The laxative effect was mentioned above and basically what that means is that too much consumption of gum can actually cause irregular bowel movements. That being said, a very large consumption of gum will lead you to dispose of waste, while losing weight in the process (Hanes 2013). If you want to lose some weight (we are talking minimal weight here), then grab yourself a pack of sugar-free gum, but make you don’t eat too much.


Measuring of Waist

According to the article Can Chewing Gum Help You Drop Pounds?, by Casey Gueren, chewing gum is found to have a negative effect on your diet. In the article Gueren includes a study from the University at Buffalo. In the experiment, 44 participants were put through three sessions. In the first session, the participants chewed mint gum, in the second session the participants chewed fruity gum and in the third session, the participants didn’t chew any gum (having this session act as the control). After each session, the people were asked a series of questions in regards to hunger and then given the choice to eat healthy or unhealthy food. According to the article, like other studies, people felt less hungry after the sessions of chewing gum. Here is where the problem appeared though. Although they were less hungry, they were found to have consumed less of the healthy foods (and the same of the junk food). The Women’sHealth article goes on to explain another experiment. Gueren explains that this experiment contained 54 participants who were told to document what they ate for the next few weeks. They were told to chew Ellipse gum for one week, Nutratrium gum for another week and no gum for the last week. According to the article, the studies found that participants consumed less snacks and nutrients but more calories. At the end of the study, researchers claimed that mint gum doesn’t taste good with fruits and vegetables so that’s why they were avoided more (Gueren 2013).

What I’d take away from this experiment is that although some studies have proven this to be true, there are still other studies that say sugar-free gum has no influence on your diet. Much more studies would need to be conducted in order to come to any final conclusions. There are also some harmful effects to consuming sugar-free gum (mostly when consuming too much) so putting yourself through situations like the laxative effect to lose weight might not be something you necessarily want to do. Right now, studies are inconclusive and vary too much to make a statement as to whether the correlation is causal or not. Don’t depend on gum to keep your diet going well and to help lose weight just yet!


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Does Chewing Gum Improve Academic Performance?

My high school had some pretty strict rules, one of them pertaining to gum. We were never allowed to chew gum in class and if we were caught chewing gum teachers would call us out on it. If you were constantly getting caught, then you might even be given a detention. I never understood though why the rule was so strictly applied. Yes, gum is a choking hazard and some people can be irresponsible as to how they dispose of their gum, but there are benefits to chewing gum! Chewing gum might not be the best for your dental health, but I’ve always heard that gum helps focusing. If that’s true, then why is such a helpful thing turned down in many schools?

There have been claims that chewing gum during class/tests leads to better academic performance. That being said, we have four possible situations:

  1. Chewing gum directly increases your academic performance (direct causation).
  2. Increasing your academic performance causes you to chew gum (reverse causation).
  3. There is a third variable that’s causing you to chew gum in class and increase your academic performance.
  4. The correlation between gum chewing and increased academic performance is due to chance alone.

According to the article, Chew on this: Gum may be good for body, mind, a study was conducted at the Baylor College of Medicine. Researchers selected 108 8th graders at a Houston school. From there, the researchers took the 108 students are randomly allocated them into two groups. For the next 14 weeks, the students in the experimental group would chew gum during tests and while doing homework. On the other hand though, the control group would continue on with their studies, minus the gum of course (Gajilan 2009). Note that allocating the students was not random at first, but when they were split into groups, that process was totally random. In this experiment, we can see that the null hypothesis is that chewing gum has no effect on a student’s performance in school. According to the CNN writer of the article, Gajilan states that the results were quite shocking. The researchers found that the students who chewed gum did 3% better on their math tests than those who didn’t. They also had better final grades as well (Gajilan 2009). Going off what we learned in class, 3% is less than 5% so we can conclude that something is truly going on. That being said, we can reject the null hypothesis that gum chewing doesn’t cause an increase in academic performance.  Although reverse causation and confounding variables are unlikely, there is still a chance they can have an effect. We also must take into consideration that some students are just naturally smarter. It’s extremely hard to measure someone’s intelligence, so we wouldn’t be able to know definitely if it was the gum alone that gave those students a slight edge over the control group.


Chewing Gum

Another study was conducted in 2009 that had to do with the correlation between chewing gum and one’s academic performance according to Marc Abrahams, writer of the article Does chewing gum improve our mind and our productivity? According to the article, Uwe Tänzer and two friends conducted a study with 8 and 9 year olds through the University of Oldenburg. They randomly allocated the students into two groups, testing their concentration by giving one group gum to chew and none to the other group. The other group is considered the control group of the experiment. The one’s who chewed the gum chewed Wrigley’s Extra Fruit sugar-free gum. After conducting the 16-minute experiment, the researchers found that the students who chewed gum did much better with concentrating (Marc 2014). I still think that more studies need to be conducted to make any conclusions.

In a more recent study, another experiment was conducted at St. Lawrence University according to Livescience’s article Gum-Chewing Improves Test Performance, Study Suggests. In the 2011 study mentioned in the article, 224 students were selected to participate in the study. They were then randomly allocated into three groups. One group was advised to chew gum before and during the tests, another was advised to chew before and the third did not chew gum at all. The third group is considered our control group. Researchers found some pretty surprising results. They found that a student’s performance did increase when chewing gum before the test, but only for a certain time. The effect only lasted for about the first 20 minutes. After that the students in the second group (chewing beforehand) performed as well as the two other groups. How much better the second group performed in those first 20 minutes was not significantly higher than the two other groups though (Welsh 2011). That being said, the small difference makes it harder to say that gum chewing plays a significant role in increasing academic performance in students. This is why more studies are necessary in order to collect more data.

Benjamin Torrevillas, 13, writes down what he learned during a marijuana support class focusing on health effects at the Juvenile Justice Center in Garden Grove. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Focusing in Class

According to Jennifer Welsh’s article Gum-Chewing Improves Test Performance, Study Suggests, the researchers in the St. Lawrence University study have a theory for why chewing gum only had an effect for a short period of time. Researchers at the school believe to claim that chewing stimulates the brain by pumping more blood to the heart. That stimulation gets your heart rate pumping. All that but the researchers did not see any improvement in the students who chewed before and during the test. The article mentions that the researchers actually believe this stimulation took the focus away from the task at hand: taking the test. That being said, any effect of chewing gum before, did not show in the grades because those students in the first group were continuing to ”distract” their brains with the continual chewing (Welsh 2011). I think that based off of just this study alone, I would still choose to chew gum beforehand. The cost of chewing the gum beforehand is very small and although the benefits don’t last extremely long, it’s better than nothing!


Mint Gum

Take home message: From this research, I would conclude that although many studies have shown some improvement in grades when chewing gum, the causation is not definite. There needs to be more studies done in the future to make any solid assumptions about whether the correlation between the two is causal. If I were to research more into this topic though, I would want to know whether the type of gum or flavor has any more of an effect on one’s academic performance. In the end though, I’d say that it wouldn’t hurt to chew some gum before a test, even if the benefits are minimal, it’s still better than no benefits at all!


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Is Flossing Necessary to Prevent Cavities?

Every time I go to the dentist I get badgered on how I need to floss more. Floss, floss, floss and every time I leave the dentist I tell myself I’m going to floss every single day. That usually lasts for about eh… a week. I’m horrible at staying on top of my flossing habits. From a person who has never had any cavities though (jinx, knock on wood!), I wonder if there is truly any correlation between flossing and getting cavities. My mom always tells me to floss so I don’t get cavities but so far, for 18 years I’ve been doing pretty well with minimal flossing.

Here we have four possibilities:

  1. Lack of flossing causes cavities (Direct Causation).
  2. Cavities cause a lack of flossing (Reverse Causation).
  3. A third variable like poverty causes both cavities and a lack of flossing.
  4. The correlation between flossing and cavities is due to chance alone.




First let me explain to you why dentists insist on flossing. According to bbs’s article titled Should you floss or not? Study says benefits unproven, dentists claim that flossing between your teeth removes plaque and food build up. They believe that the removal of plaque will decrease the chances of getting cavities or gum disease. According to the bbc article though, the Associated Press says that the American Dental Association’s claims about flossing are old.

So where did flossing come from? According the bbs’s article Should you floss or not? Study says benefits unproven, flossing began being promoted in 1908. Way back in the 1800’s though is when Levi Spear Parmly invented flossing. So as you can see, flossing has been around for a very long time.


Levi Spear Parmly

In a recent Washington Post article by Timothy Levine, he mentions that the ADA (American Dental Associate) and the American Academy of Periodontology admitted that there is a lack of knowledge when it comes to the history behind flossing, but they still recommend it. Sounds a little weird right? Even though flossing was invented a long time ago, there is still no scientific reasoning behind it. It’s based on an anecdote alone (Levine 2016). Keep in mind that Andrew mentioned in class how anecdotes tend to be weak inferences and lack a lot of certainty.

In 2006, there was a study conducted to test the correlation between flossing and the chances of a cavity according to a Forbes article titled Dentists Say You Need to Floss. Science Says You Don’t. According to the author, Steven Ross Pomeroy, the study was conducted with children ages four to thirteen. Half of the students got their teeth flossed professionally for 5 days of the week for 1.7 years. Those kids had a 40% decrease in the chance of getting cavities in contrast to the kids who were taught to floss and did it on their own. Those kids had no reduction. This shows that letting kids go off and floss on their own is as beneficial as having them not floss at all. The problem they found with this study though was that they could not trust that everyone was brushing correctly with fluoride. That made it hard for them to determine if flossing did anything as an addition to brushing well with fluoride (Pomeroy 2013).

Tooth decay


In 2012 an experiment was published, seeing the effects of flossing in addition to brushing on gingivitis and plaque buildup (Levine 2016). In the scientific study, mentioned in the Forbes article by Steven Ross Pomeroy, there were 582 participants who were flossing and brushing in opposition to the 502 (the control group) who were just brushing. Of the 12 trials that were conducted, only 7 of them had no big bias. From the results, the study in the Forbes article showed that flossing and brushing was better in prevention of gingivitis (but very minimal). When it came to plaque reduction, there wasn’t really much evidence to support that flossing in addition to brushing helped with plaque reduction according to the study mentioned in the Forbes article by Pomeroy.

In the end though, although the studies are unreliable, you should still floss. For the sake of avoiding gingivitis and for precautionary measures just floss because there’s really no cost and a few low risk to flossing, according the bbc’s article. In a way, the reasoning behind why you should still floss is similar to the pop quiz we had on the mice and if exposure to dim light at night caused depression. It’s extremely easy to just close the blinds, just like it is extremely easy to floss to avoid a possible future issue. Again, we should keep in mind that flossing has been proven to cause gingivitis according to The evidence for flossing’s benefits is not good enough. But it’s all we’ve got by Timothy Levine. Beyond that, it has been said that gingivitis leads to periodontitis, an intense gum disease, that can easily be avoided with flossing (Levine 2016). Floss your teeth as a precautionary measure, but don’t freak out if you haven’t been flossing all along!


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Does Meat Cause Cancer?

Cancer is the word you never want to hear come out of a doctor’s mouth after getting tests done. It is one of the top things that kills people each year and unfortunately, we all know someone who has cancer. Despite how healthy you are, there’s no way to avoid cancer in its entirety. For example, one would think that the only people who get lung cancer are those who smoke. That’s not true at all. A past teacher at my high school was one of the healthiest people around. She exercised and ate right, yet she was diagnosed and lost the battle to lung cancer! There are so many other cases like this with different types of cancer around the world. We’re always hearing about a new food or action that may cause cancer. It’s so hard to figure out what’s actually a possible cause of cancer and what’s just a fluke. In recent news though, a very shocking claim came out: meat causes cancer. A common American food causes cancer?! That’s the first thought that popped into my head when I read those headlines. So it is really true???

Before going into the headline itself, let’s look at the possibilities:

  1. Meat eating could be directly causing cancer (direct causality)
  2. Cancer could be causing meat eating (reverse causality)
  3. A third variable like obesity could cause cancer and continued consumption of meat.
  4. The correlation between meat consumption and cancer could be due to chance alone.

According to, on October 26, 2015, the World Health Organization announced their finding that meat consumption causes cancer. Now I know what you’re thinking when you see another discovery like this… all meat causes all types of cancer?! No, not exactly. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared that processed and red meat can cause cancer according to Stacy Simon’s article called World Health Organization Says Processed Meat Causes Cancer. To clarify, the International Agency for Research on Cancer is a group of highly claimed experts who are well known, according to Casey Dunlop’s article Processed meat and cancer- what you need to know. In the’s article by Stacy Simon, it further explains that processed meat has been declared as a carcinogen and that red meat is a possible carcinogen. For those of you who don’t know, a carcinogen is a substance that can likely cause cancer, according to


Colon Cancer

Now let me explain to you what actually makes up the categories of processed and red meats. According to The International Agency for Research on Cancer study on THE LANCET Oncology, red meat refers to beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse or goat meat. On the other hand, processed meats include pork or beef (2015). The scary part about this is that that’s a significant amount of meat! The study published by the IARC claims that the meat consumption is linked with colorectal cancer. According to, colorectal cancer is cancer developed in the colon or rectum.

According to THE LANCET Oncology, the study done by the IARC found that 7 of the 14 cohort studies found a positive correlation between red meat and colorectal cancer. They also found that 7 of the 15 informative cases saw a positive correlation between cancer and red meat again. When it came to processed meat, 12 of the 18 cohort studies and 6 of the 9 informative studies had a positive correlation between processed meat consumption and cancer. According to the article by Annette Gerritsen, titled Cohort and Case-Control Studies: Pro’s and Con’s, cohort studies start with a random group of people. Gerritsen explains that this group has no disease, so in this case, no cancer. After the group is selected, they are separated into groups who have been exposed to the cause and those who haven’t. They then watch the results unfold. Gerritsen then explains that a case-control study is one that selects people already with cancer and those without cancer. The group who doesn’t have cancer though has still been exposed to meat, they just haven’t gotten the disease (Gerritsen). We need to take into consideration that these studies found by the IARC were all observational. That being said, reserve causation and third variables should be taken into consideration. Since it is observational, you can’t definitely conclude that direct causation is the correlation between red meats/processed meats and cancer. The problem with this correlation is that it’s pretty unethical to have an experiment be conducted. Forcing certain people to eat a lot of meat just to see if they’ll get cancer is cruel and nothing anyone would want to be involved in. That’s one of the reasons why finding a cure to cancer is so hard.


Processed Meat

After this report was announced in late 2015, there was a misunderstanding as to if people should stop meat consumption. A few days following the announcement, the World Health Organization (WHO) put a statement out titled Links between processed meat and colorectal cancer. In the statement, it clarified that the report is encouraging people to decrease processed and red meat consumption, not stop it in its entirety. In that statement they also mentioned that they were experts in their field.


Red Meat

After the report was released, the meat industry lashed back in annoyance at the WHO for stating the correlation according to Forbes article by Geoff Williams. The article titled WHO’s Report On Processed Meat And Cancer Not Likely To Hurt Meat Industry explained that the companies (specifically, Personal Trainer Food) in the meat industry fired back claiming that they always make known to their customers there can be correlation to cancer, so don’t consume too much. The day after the announcement came out, Personal Trainer Food claimed they got no phone calls in relation to WHO’s announcement (Williams 2015).

In the end, the report announced by the IARC rejects the null hypothesis stating that nothing is going on, when in fact researchers say there is. We can’t fully say though that this statement is true, but we can say that there is definitely a small effect when it comes to meat consumption and colorectal cancer. Even with all that being said, it’s very hard to convince people to stop eating meat, especially when the correlation being causal can’t be determined 100% true. It’s a year later and people are still consuming meat!


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Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis?



For many years now, there has been a claim that cracking your knuckles leads to arthritis in the future. Although this is a common belief, I still question if it is actually true. I’ve cracked my knuckles for years, despite my mom constantly telling me not to. My mom even went as far as to tell my doctor to tell me to not crack my knuckles. To my surprise though, my doctor said that cracking your knuckles has no correlation with arthritis. Although that made me happy to know, it made me question why such a common idea that arthritis can be caused by knuckle cracking was so easily rebuked by my doctor.




First of all, let me explain why people crack their knuckles and what they are actually doing when they crack them. Amanda Montell, author of the article The Real Reason You’re Addicted to Cracking your Knuckles explains that cracking your knuckles is basically a way to relieve pressure. After sitting in a position for a while, you want to stretch, and this is just a way some people do it. It’s similar to stretching your entire body, but instead it’s your joints. It gives the person a nice feeling, making it habitual and sometimes addictive (Montell 2016).  That nice feeling is felt when the person stretches their bones apart, popping the bubble of fluid that builds up between the bones according to Harvard Health Publications’ article called Does knuckle cracking cause arthritis?



If cracking your knuckles is a pressure reliever than why do people associate it with such a bad thing like arthritis? That made me wonder whether if the correlation with arthritis is actually causal or not. There are four possibilities:

  1. Cracking knuckles directly causes arthritis.
  2. Arthritis causes one to crack their knuckles (reverse causation).
  3. There is a third variable that causes both arthritis and the cracking of the knuckles. For example, having a family history of arthritis might cause your arthritis and also stress you out, causing you to crack your knuckles.)
  4. The correlation between knuckle cracking and arthritis is due to chance alone.


According to Steve Mirsky, author of Crack Research: Good news about knuckle crackingDonald Unger published a study in 1998 to see if knuckle cracking really causes arthritis. He cracked his left knuckles in his hand twice a day for fifty years. He used the right hand as the control. After all those years, he found that both of his hands were fine, despite the difference in knuckle cracking. This study that he conducted earned him an Ig Nobel Prize (Mirsky 2009.) This study ruled out the direct and reverse correlation between knuckle cracking and arthritis. He established that there is no correlation between the two. Here, Unger failed to reject the null hypothesis, that nothing was going on. Similar to smoking, a person might not smoke but still get lung cancer. Having it only being tested on one person can make the results ultimately due to chance alone. Still though, it is possible that a third variable could cause arthritis and knuckle cracking in another person. Although Unger’s study was long, it was only experimented on one person, himself. If he had conducted it on more than one person, he may have had different results. That being said, although this was experimental, it wasn’t large enough to 100% conclude anything.


Donald Unger

That being said, after researching more into this topic, I found a study conducted in 1990 by Jorge Castellanos and David Axelrod. In the study, they gathered 300 people 45 years old or older. They took into consideration third variables like evidence of possible muscular diseases, making sure no participants had them. Of the 300 tested, 226 did not crack their knuckles habitually and the other 74 were knuckle crackers. They took into consideration sex, smoking history, strength and other factors. After taking in all the factors, they concluded that there wasn’t a greater chance of arthritis in the habitual knuckle crackers over the non-knuckle crackers. They did do a further study that found habitual knuckle crackers had greater hand swelling, less strength, did more laborious things, were more likely to be smokers and drink alcohol. They did find that more non-knuckle crackers bite their nails (Castellanos, Azelrod 1990). The fact that non-knuckle crackers were found to bite their nails more may indicate that biting their nails is a way to relieve stress in imposition to relieving stress by cracking their knuckles. This study was observational because they didn’t ask certain people to crack their knuckles, but instead they just observed the effects.

Since the studies above are either observational or experimental but lacking enough evidence, I would want to conduct my own study. The study would be experimental, allowing me to manipulate the x variable. In the experiment, I would randomly select 1,000 students from Penn State. Each of the students would be asked the question, “Do you habitually crack your knuckles?” Based on that question, I would allocate the students into two groups. I would record the students age, history of arthritis, gender and muscular strength. I would then have them crack their knuckles every day for the next seven months. After the seven months, I would record the students hand strength again and also see if there are any possible signs of arthritis. I have to take into consideration though that not all the students may follow the instructions completely. Also I must keep in mind that signs of arthritis will probably not show up, that’s why I will make sure to look for decreasing muscular strength and any swelling that may appear in addition. Although this study is not perfect, you must keep in mind that the correlation between knuckle cracking and arthritis is like cancer and smoking. You won’t see any of the effects right away. That being said, it’s extremely hard to conduct an experiment over many years with many participants. You can’t trust that all the participants will follow the experiment’s rules or even stay in the experimental study for its entirety.

From these studies, I can conclude that knuckle cracking does not directly cause arthritis. Although reverse causation is unlikely, it is still a possibility. There isn’t enough information conducted to conclude that reverse causation is not possible. Both arthritis and knuckle cracking also may be both caused by a third variable like family history that indicates arthritis. Although this has been concluded, I still think that if one can, stopping or decreasing knuckle cracking is a good idea. Although knuckle cracking does not cause arthritis directly, it does cause other things. In an article by Mr. Mercola called Is Cracking Your Knuckles Harmful? he mentions the 1990 study mentioned above. He further explains that knuckle cracking can lead to swelling in the hands and essentially a decrease in grip strength (Mercola 2014). If possible, I think it’s best that one chances their habits to avoid hand issues in the future.


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Is The “5-Second Rule” True?

Have you ever dropped something on the floor and quickly picked it up saying “5 SECOND RULE!?” You tell yourself that the food is still edible and that within those five seconds the food has still remained salvageable. Personally, whenever I drop something on the floor, I don’t eat it. I sort of just stare at it, looking at the nice piece of food that I now can’t eat. Never though do I pick it up quickly and eat it as if it never fell on the floor. Other people do that though, believing the myth and continuing on with their day as if nothing happened. Although I don’t believe in the “5-Second Rule,” I always wonder whether the rule is real or just a myth. Is the food you just dropped on the floor truly still clean and safe to eat?


This “5-Second Rule” myth has been around for as long as I can remember. After investigating more into this phenomenon, I found an interesting story about Julia Child that sources like CNN(link) claim to contribute to the “5-Second Rule.” PBS describes Child as a well-known cook who brought her skills into the kitchens of homes around America through her shows. According to Paul Dawson, the writer of the article Is there really a five-second rule about food on the floor? the story of Julia Clarke is very unclear. Rumors were spread as to what actually happened, so false information was spread. Dawson describes that during a taping of Child’s show, she dropped the food she was making on the floor and picked it up, proceeding with the show. Apparently Child thought that if no one was around to see it fall, then it didn’t matter if you picked the food up and continued cooking with it. This was the rumor spread, but in reality the CNN article clarifies that Julia Child actually dropped it on the stovetop. Even though that’s the true story, the rumored one still continues to be talked about, further encouraging the myth (Dawson 2016).


      With much debate over whether food is still safe to eat within 5 seconds of dropping, Aston University’s School of Life and Health Sciences in England decided to research into the topic. Scientific American’s Larry Greenemeir (2014) explains that the group found evidence that if you pick up the food faster, it will have less bacteria. But another confounding factor also plays a huge role: the surface in which the food is dropped on. Larry Greenemeir (2014) mentions that Anthony Hilton and his team of researchers at Aston University found that even though the amount of time effects how much bacteria is transferred, bacteria is still spread from the initial touch of the food on the surface. He also found that surfaces like carpets are less likely to transfer bacteria as much as surfaces like tiles. Aston University’s studies also showed us that the type of food determines how much bacteria is transferred. For example, jello is going to obtain much more bacteria than a cracker because jello has a lot more moisture. Greenemeir (2014) mentions that Hilton and his team of researchers also took a poll to determine who actually uses the rule. Hilton and his team found that 81% of males and 64% of females use it. This means that more men tend to think that savoring that piece of food within five seconds is safe (Greenemeir 2014).


The truth behind the “5-Second Rule” leaves everyone curious, especially high school senior Jillian Clarke. In hope to find the answer behind whether one could safety eat something that has fallen on the floor within five seconds, Clarke conducted an experiment. According to Dawson (2016), Jillian swabbed the floors of the college to see if any microorganisms transferred. According to Skarnulis, writer of 5-Second Rule’ Rules, Sometimes, Jillian found barely any microorganisms. Even after doing the experiment again- nothing. It seemed as if the floor was too clean to have microorganisms. With much surprise, Jillian moved on and continued to test the rule in a different way. Since that didn’t work, Skarnulis further goes on to explain that Jillian proceeded to test gummy bears and cookies. He explains that she placed them on different types of tiles that had a certain amount of E. coli on them. There, she concluded that the instant the food touches the surface, bacteria is transferred (Skarnulis). What Jillian concluded was that it doesn’t matter how long the food is on the floor. Think of it like this, whenever you go and post something on the internet, the instant you post something you know that you are putting yourself out there. You are making yourself vulnerable, allowing everyone to see you. This is similar to when food touches the ground. The instant the food touches the ground, its vulnerable to all types of bacteria and it doesn’t take long for it to transfer. Given the type of surface and food, and the amount of bacteria on the floor, you may or may not be giving yourself a sickness. According to Dawson (2016), a sickness from food can take up to a week to kick in.

Essentially, no surface is truly clean. Dawson (2016) mentions that at The Art Institute of California, the culinary school teaches the students that even things like the countertop and stovetop contain germs. In the end, what I would take away from this article is that dropping your food on the ground is like Russian Roulette. You need to take into consideration that time is not the only factor that plays a role. Now whether you’ll get sick or not, is also inconsistent and depends on many factors. So is the “5-Second Rule” just a myth?! Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that bacteria is always transferred. No, in the sense that you can eat something picked up off the floor and avoid any sickness. It all depends!!!



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Does Having Cellphones Near Our Heads Cause Cancer?

In this day and age, cellphones are practically attached to us. It is almost impossible to be out in public and not see almost everyone with a smartphone in hand. Cellphones are with us 24/7 and after a long day, most of us lie down in bed with our cellphones in hand. We sit in complete darkness with a bright screen over our head (occasionally dropping the phone on our face) and sit there for a long time- sometimes even hours. We often tend to fall asleep with our phone beside us. In my room I have a night stand beside my bed, but for some reason I always go to sleep with my phone on my bed-often very close to my head.


My mom always tells me, “Don’t sleep with the phone by your head, it’ll cause cancer!” Now, every time I hear her say that, I wonder whether what she is saying is true, or it’s just because her intuition is so narrow that she, like most of us do, believe everything we hear. Newspapers, magazines and all other forms of media are always coming out with new phenomenon. One day, you’ll hear that drinking that extra cup of coffee will cause cancer, and the next day you’ll hear that drinking coffee is actually good for you!

There has and will always be skepticism when it comes to cellphones and our health. Just like any other technology, there always seems to be something good and bad about it, but is there really a correlation between having a cellphone close to your head and cancer?

After doing some research, I began to think that maybe my mom was right. I know that too much cellphone use is not good for you, but cellphones causing cancer, now that was something I truly never really considered. After scrolling through the scary google searches and reading into the articles more, I discovered some information. According to Camille Chatterjee of cellphones do give off electromagnetic radiation. But Chatterjee explained that the radiation that is emitted is small. So having a phone next to your head for the night  is not going to give you cancer immediately. That small emittance of radiation is not exactly great for you though. That being said, I decided to look into what this electromagnetic radiation was exactly (Chatterjee 2014).

Whenever you go to the doctor and need to get an x-ray, the doctor will give you a jacket to slip on. Those jackets are called lead vests. They protect you from the same electromagnetic radiation that cellphone’s project, except x-ray radiation is ionized (Hull 2008). According to Janet Starr Hull of ionized radiation has a much greater chance of harming humans, so that is why we wear the vests to protect us. On the other hand, radiation from cellphones is non-ionized just like the radiation from your microwave. That means that exposure to this type of radiation is not terrible. So that makes me wonder why some people associate cancer with cellphones near your head if the radiation emitted is minimal and not life-threatening? The University of Twente explains in an article titled Working With Non Ionizing Radiation that if one person has too much exposure over time, then the threat increases and the chance of a disease like cancer is more likely. What I think everyone should take away from this is to try to keep cellphones away from your head and off (look at the picture below to see the difference in radiation in one’s head overtime due to cellphone use). If you must have it on, Alex Stadtner, author of an article called Cell Phone Safety Tips For Limiting Radiation urges that you have it on “airplane mode,” especially when you sleep. Cellphones close to your head CAN cause cancer overtime. Even if it’s not cancer, according to’s article  it could be a non-cancerous tumor, but either way avoid the risk of any kind of tumor! For more tips about how to reduce emitted radiation from cellphones, even beyond lying in bed with it near your head can be found HERE.


If microwaves and electromagnetic radiation are both non-ionized forms of radiation, then why is it that we focus so much on the use and closeness of cellphones to our faces, when microwaves have been around longer?  This type of question is something I would answer if further research was conducted. I know that the average human does not use the microwave as much daily, but microwaves are something very commonly used, so the question now, do microwaves cause cancer?


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Why Do Dog Owners Look Like Their Dogs?

Do you ever see a dog owner and their dog waking down the street and think to yourself, “the owner looks just like their dog!?” This has happened to me multiple times and for some reason I have thought nothing about it until now. Now obviously we all know that dogs are not created by the owner like babies, so why is this phenomenon something people see so often?

Being able to say that a dog owner looks like their dog is easy, but the hard part is being able to explain why. With much curiosity, I began to do some research. The coincidence of a dog owner looking like their dog obviously has nothing to do with genetics. When further researching, I found that it all has to do with something else and that something else is what Stanley Coren of Psychology Today calls “familiarity.” According to Coren (2013)  a lot of the time, people chose certain things because of the familiarity of it. They are able to relate to it, so therefore it is easier to connect and be comfortable with it. This idea is carried over when dog owners are figuring out what dog to buy. Coren also makes a point to say how familiar we are with our own faces. How many times a day do we look in the mirror or look at a picture of ourselves? Being so familiar with our faces often influences what dog we chose. To further enhance his point, Coren conducted a study at the University of British Columbia using 104 female students enrolled. For each woman, Coren would show four different breads: An English Springer Spaniel, a Beagle, a Siberian Husky and a Basenji (Coren 2013). He asked them to rate how much they liked the dogs. Coren then asked the women which were their favorite hair styles when shown pictures. After conducting this experiment, Coren found that women who liked certain hairstyles often liked the same type of dogs. According to Coren, women with long hair covering their ears liked the Springer Spaniel and the Beagle. On the other hand, women with shorter hair who showed their ears preferred dogs like the Siberian Husky and the Basenji. What he had concluded from this experiment was that humans often find comfort and familiarity with dogs who “look” like them. Of course though, there were a number of woman with long hair who preferred short eared dogs and vice versa, but the statistics for familiarity in dogs with similar looks was much greater (Coren 2013).










In a Huffington Post article titled “People Really Do Look Like Their Dogs, And Here’s Why” writer, Dominique Mosbergen talked about a psychologist, Sadahiko Nakajima and his experiment. Nakajima conducted an experiment with dogs and their owners. In a few photos, Mosbergen covered certain facial features in either the dog or the owner. He then asked people to identify the dog owner and dog who resembled each other. The results showed that when the eyes of the dog and dog owner were covered, it made it extremely hard for people to pick a dog and dog owner who had resemblance. From this experiment Nakajima concluded that people find familiarity in the eyes (Mosbergen 2014). I think that it’s really interesting that we are attracted to dogs because of the familiarity in our eyes. It’s funny because my friends and I have discussed before that when we first meet someone, the first thing we notice is their eyes. Eyes are something we tend to connect to and clearly that connection is the same with dogs.


Who would have thought that it all comes down to familiarity when choosing a new four legged friend? Well that’s science for you! We even see this phenomenon in movies, like Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Click HERE to see an entertaining scene where the dogs and dog owners are very similar as they walk down the street. Although it is exaggerated, it definitely brings a comical aspect to the similarities between dogs and their owners.


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Science Major? No.

Hi everyone, my name is Jillian and I’m from New York. Honestly, I took this course because it was something that stood out to me when choosing my classes. I needed a general education class and nothing seemed to catch my interest. Psychology, religious studies or any science class didn’t catch my attention. Personally, I’m not a big fan of science. In high school I would take the courses because I had to, not because I wanted to. When choosing my classes, I specifically said to my advisor that anything science I did not want to take. A little after telling him that, he showed me this course. He said it was specifically for students who were not science majors. Once I saw that, I knew that was the class for me. After reading the summary of the class, I was hooked.

Being a science major was something I knew from the start I did not want to do. Science has never been something that interested me because it was always a subject where there was one way of doing something right. There are too many formulas, rules and definitions for me. I’m more into digital design, where the creativity is endless. This class interests me though. For the first time ever, I’m in a science class where we are trying to figure out something that does not necessarily have an exact answer!

Although being a science major is not for me, occasionally I think to myself how great it would be to be a doctor… that though is only when I’m watching Grey’s Anatomy. Who doesn’t think they have the ability to be a doctor just from watching Grey’s?







A link I figured  could share with you all was this one, click here to check it out. It’s odd yet kind of interesting at the same time!