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Book review: Ken Jennings debunks childhood warnings in 'Because I Said So!'

By Connie Lewis

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Jan. 26 2013 2:00 p.m. MST

"BECAUSE I SAID SO! The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids," by Ken Jennings, Scribner, $19.99, 237 pages (nf)

It is a parent’s job to keep kids safe and over the years advice has been passed down to help with that job. From admonishments about running with scissors to advice about shaken pop cans, it seems that there are warnings that cover every aspect of life.

In “Because I Said So! The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids,” author Ken Jennings examines all the things mom used to say and tries to discover which ones are true and which ones are false.

Everyone has heard that you shouldn’t go swimming for an hour after eating. According to Jennings, that one happens to be mostly false. He writes, “It is true that when we eat, our body diverts blood to the stomach to aid in digestion, but, as you may have noticed after every meal you ever ate in your life, that doesn’t immediately immobilize your arms and legs.”

The ones that do turn out to be true can be downright scary. Jennings looks at the famous five-second rule and finds that food dropped on the floor can be contaminated immediately. “A piece of bologna dropped on germy tile,” he writes, “managed to gather 99 percent of the bacteria in the first five seconds!”

“Because I Said So!” is a fun and informative book. It is apparent that Jennings did a lot of research to prove some of the crazy childhood advice everyone hears is just not true.

In 2004, Jennings appeared on “Jeopardy!” winning 74 games and $2.52 million. He lives just outside Seattle with his family.

The book does contain very minimal use of light profanity, and parents should be aware there are sexual references toward the end of the book that may not be appropriate for children.

One question remains: Now that Jennings has debunked everyone’s favorite myths and warnings, what will there be left to worry about?

If you go ...

What: Ken Jennings book signing

When: Wednesday, Jan. 30, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com, ken_jennings.com

After attending BYU and the University of Utah for five years and not being able to settle on just one major, Connie Lewis decided to be a writer so she could keep studying all things wonderful and new.

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