On Monday I wrote a bit about Overselling. Of course, these days, with all the internet competition for eyeballs, practically everything is oversold.
Case in point: An article from Yahoo — Why Is Stepping On A Lego So Painful? Science Has The Answer.
Actually, I have a different answer. Wussitude.
Actually, the article is just a reprint of a story from a website called “Today I Found Out”.
And boy do they oversell to make it seem all “science-y”.
They tell you how many special nerve endings our feet have. They tell you how rigid a Lego™ is. And then they tell you just how much pressure stepping on a Lego exerts on your foot (assuming you weigh about 165 pounds): 3,262,222 pascals. Yes, they even put it in bold.
Do you have any idea of what a pascal is? And even if you do, do you have a feel for that? No, of course not.
All you see there is a really, really, really big number there, to make sure you think it’s all science-y and painful.
That’s about 475 pounds per square inch. Doesn’t sound quite so bad if you put it that way, though, does it?
But it’s still something, right?
Well, yes it is. But it is also wrong.
When you step on things, your foot deforms. It actually molds itself around an object, making a bit of a pocket for the object to fit into.
[Yes, I stepped fully on the Lego, with all my weight, and no, it didn’t hurt at all.]
Your foot evolved that way, because ancient humans walked around barefoot on all sorts of surfaces and couldn’t stop every few seconds to “loudly curse all things Danish”.
And of course, there is that other thing happening: wussification.
When I go hiking, barefoot, so many people are always quite amazed that I can do it. They’ll tell me, proudly it seems, about how they could never do that and about how soft their feet are. They’ll tell me that they need to put on slippers just to walk around on their own floors.
I am polite in their presence, but really? It’s like somebody watching you carrying bags of groceries and proudly telling you how they could never do that and about how weak their arm muscles are (after all, all they use them for is to lift a phone for texting). Or it’s like somebody watching you climb a flight of stairs. And they proudly tell you have they always have to take an elevator or escalator, because their lungs just cannot handle the exertion.
As they say: use it or lose it.
When you go barefoot all the time, it builds up the bones and muscles and tendons and ligaments and the skin of the foot. It turns your foot into, well, a foot, instead of a shoe-appendage. And then all those special nerve endings are used for proprioception and for detecting the surface you are walking on (while building up the parts of our brain for doing so). The thicker skin protects from the Lego hurting you, while also allowing you to feel it (and maybe not step on it quite as hard).
The article could have presented some real science on how feet are supposed to work, and how shoes prevent that. Instead, it catered to wussification with big, fancy numbers designed to scare without enlightening.
But if you go barefoot a lot, you know differently.