RTW Trip


Lies Society Tells Us

Every society has lies that everyone agrees are true. They look at other cultures and think “that’s so weird!” without recognizing their own ridiculous views.

Vienna Street Art - Pink Devil
Street art we stumbled upon in Vienna, Austria

During the Salem Witch Trials, people burned women to death because of perceived sorcery. If you think society is so enlightened now, realize that people’s lives have been ruined if they dare to think outside the norm:

Here are some of the odd beliefs held today or relatively recently. Try telling these things to other people, and they might hunt you down like a Salem Witch too. Groupthink is strong.
We’ll start slow, and work our way up. I’m not trying to be a bastard by pointing these out. I’m trying to help. Many of these corrections can help you lose weight, save money, and live happier.
Lie: Smoking is healthy
There was once upon a time where smoking was seen as a healthy thing for adults to do. Science even backed it up… until people realized that the “science” was paid for by tobacco companies. Then the real evidence showed that smoking cuts ~8 years off of a person’s life.
Fun fact: smokers and obese cost the health care system LESS because they die so much earlier and suddenly.
Lie: Fruit Juice, Sports Drinks are healthy
Orange juice is experiencing a significant decline as people realize it’s nothing more than sugar water. Fruit juice of all kinds is just empty calories: just like soda pop. Drinking calories is strongly correlated with the obesity epidemic in the US.
Sports drinks are just sugar water too. “Electrolyte” is just a fancy word for sodium.
Lie: The United States is a Democracy
No I’m not talking about some conspiracy theory, I’m talking about the basic definitions of words. Did you know that the word “democracy” isn’t in the constitution? The US is a Republic: we elect officials to act on our behalf. A democracy would be if the public personally voted on every issue. Just like “literally” now means “figuratively”, the definition of the word “democracy” seems to have been lost.
Lie: Home Ownership is an Investment
Houses have not gained any value over inflation in the past 100 years. There is simply no way to prove mathematically that your personal home makes money. The people telling you that they are good investments are the same people selling the house/loan to you.

lake minnetonka home
Our old home on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota

Lie: Having sex with a virgin cures HIV/AIDS
Some college friends did a study-abroad in Africa. They said it was a very common belief there that having sex with a virgin would cure the disease. Very sad.
Lie: Cardio is how you lose weight
You lose weight in the kitchen, you get fit in the gym.
An hour on the treadmill burns 500 calories. That’s the same amount calories in a Starbucks latte that takes 5 minutes to consume. You can’t outrun a bad diet.
Lie: 220 lbs for a 6 foot tall male is normal
Look at the pictures of me on the site. I’m 185 lbs, 6 feet tall. Wherever I go outside the US, I’m the fattest guy there. The US is so big that our idea of what’s “normal” is warped.
220 lbs at 6 feet tall is obese on the BMI scale.
Lie: Insurance helps
Go back and look at how much money you’ve spent in home/health/car/other insurance over the years. It’s a lot.
Now go back and add up all the money you’ve received from it. It’s… a lot less.
I think I got a few hundred dollars off some dentist visits. But I’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars. To get nothing. People use insurance these days as a cash-flow smoother because they can’t afford a $500 surprise payment. But for that protection, they pay several hundred dollars more per month. For nothing.
When you make a claim, first you have to pay the deductible before insurance pays anything. Then your insurance goes up because you’re now high risk.
How to save money without feeling broke gives some advice on how to handle insurance.
Lie: Cellphones/Food Chemicals/Cleaning Chemicals cause cancer
Simple proof of why these are nonsense: 20-30 year-olds aren’t getting cancer despite using these products for decades. If the additives in food really caused cancer, then we’d see a big jump in young people getting it. But we don’t. It’s still [generally] people over 50 and with a family history of it that get cancer.
Between 2003 and 2012 overall cancer incidence rates continued to decrease among men and remain stable among women.”
While incidence rates of cancer among children have gone up, it’s statistically insignificant: 16 cases for every 100,000 children in 1985 vs 18 cases per 100,000 people in 2012. Assuming an overestimate of 100 million children in the US, 200 extra incidents of child cancer exist per year (with an 80% survival rate).
Lie: Steroids are a miracle drug to becoming fit
People think you can get these bodies by magic if you take steroids, and it’s ridiculous. Steroids allow you to work out longer and recover faster (so you can work out even more!). Becoming that lean to see the muscle striations takes extreme care in eating habits. Getting bodybuilder physiques requires insane dedication.
Lie: College is necessary to succeed
College is a scam. Don’t be mad about this, I’m just the messenger. And I fell for it too, if that makes you feel better.
Most college degrees are useless. Colleges have saddled a generation with debt that will follow them for decades, and gave nothing in return. There are more ways to make money than ever before.
Lie: Rich don’t pay taxes
The top 1% pay almost 50% of all income tax while the bottom 60% of wage earners are expected to pay 2% of all income tax.
Alicia and I are taxed at 47% of every dollar we earn. We cut checks to the government that are more than people make in a year. Refund check? What’s that?
CEO’s especially are underpaid.
Lie: Teachers are underpaid
From the bureau of labor statistics:

  • Engineering professions: $83,000/year
  • Teaching professions: $53,000/9 months, $70,000/year
  • Health Care practioners: $77,000/year
  • Computer and Mathematical operations: $86,000/year
  • Business and Financial operations: $73,000/year
  • Sales: $39,000/year
  • Personal Care: $26,000/year
  • Protective Services: $44,000/year

Prorated to a yearly salary, teachers are among the highest paid professionals in the country, right there with Doctors, Engineers, and Programmers.
Before the teachers among you can scream “teachers work more than that!”, I’ll remind you that every other profession works unpaid overtime as well. My dad says that in the hospital ER, they hire the interns that have to be told when to leave work or they wouldn’t. I lived in the office for a month to complete a project.
Lie: 2008 Financial Crisis was all Wall Street’s fault
The fault is 50/50 with Wall Street and the American people. Wall Street collapsed because people didn’t pay back their loans. Was Wall Street guilty of giving people loans that shouldn’t have gotten them? Absolutely! But the people took on loans they couldn’t possibly afford.
ARM Loans and interest-only loans never made sense in the past 10 years which have seen historically low interest rates. If the interest rate is at historic lows (and it was, and is), then you have to lock in because there was nowhere to go but up! It’s an amazingly simple concept that people failed to grasp. And it destroyed people’s lives, and the economy.
Lie: mutual funds or picking stocks are good investments
Warren Buffet has a bet since 2008 that a simple index fund (like the Vanguard Index) will always beat a managed fund or stock picking. The reason is because a managed fund has management fees to take out. Picking stocks doesn’t work because the average investor is woefully under-informed compared to the competition. If you think you can compete picking individual stocks, remember that Congress can legally do insider trades. The system is rigged against the individual.
No mutual fund has ever beaten the market over a 10 year period. Ever. Two thirds of mutual funds won’t beat the market in any given year. Go look at your retirement account and realize with horror how much money you’ve been throwing away.
Lie: Macs are better than PCs
Apple computers run on PC hardware using a free Linux operating system. Apple developed none of it. They just slapped their logo on the box. It’s all marketing. To get that Apple logo and a computer that will run a tiny fraction of all available programs, you have to pay a 30%+ up-charge.
Apple computers are a weird religion.
I’m sure there’s more lies that society told me that I still believe. It’s hard to figure out because these lies have been told to us since birth. And people get emotionally attached to the lies. The lies become part of who we are as a person. Once someone starts saying things like “I’m a Ford guy” or “I’m a [political party]”, they emotionally attach themselves to that position. Then it becomes a heated debate void of all logic on silly topics like “Ford vs Chevy”, “Paleo vs Atkins”, or anything sports.
Let go of emotional attachment to the lies. Just be you.


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