From our e-pal P.D. Mangan (who, as people who used to read his now-defunct blog will know, already has the mens sana part covered), here is a list of 20 principles for good health and longevity.
Many of these principles are obvious common sense. A controversial one, though, is number ten:
The cholesterol hypothesis of heart disease is nonsense. Statins have tiny effects on mortality with the potential of large, deleterious side effects.
Mr. Mangan, who has a professional background in the biological sciences, and who has done his homework on this, has over the years persuaded me of the validity of this claim. Your doctor, however, is not likely to agree.
On nearly every topic of importance, you have a choice: outsource your opinions to the established contemporary priesthood, or try, to the best of your ability, to make an independent assessment of whatever theories and data are available. (Sometimes none of the available theories will turn out to satisfactory, and if you are able to do so you may need to create a radically new and original one. This talent is very rare, but we have a word for people who are able to do it especially well: we call them “geniuses”.)
Often such independence of mind will make your life difficult, and depending on the questions you focus on may have significant social costs — but if you are constituted a certain way you really won’t have much choice, and once you cultivate the habit there’s no going back. Once you get good at it, though, you may have the satisfaction of seeing your contrarian notions validated as time goes by. (Don’t expect to get much credit for it, however. Everything that a society comes to accept as truth always seems obvious in hindsight.)
Mangan has always been an independent thinker of this sort. I miss his old blog, but I’m glad he’s turned his attention to something as important as the proper care and maintenance of our bodies.