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The Official Ken Jennings 'Because I Said So!' Parenting Quiz

Jennings2Even Jeopardy! didn’t prepare me for being a dad. Nobody, not even Alex Trebek, can ask more perplexing questions in a half hour than a curious five-year-old can. For many years, I found myself authoritatively repeating all the same things my parents told me: no, you shouldn’t sniff your magic markers. Yes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you have a nosebleed, lean your head back. Or, wait, forward? One of those.

I talked a good game, but I honestly had no idea if I was ever right or not. Parenting, famously, doesn’t come with an instruction manual, so if and when we kids, all we have are these half-remembered bromides from our own childhoods. Last year, I’d finally had enough, and decided to write my own instruction manual. The result was Because I Said So!, which uses actual science to verify or debunk over 120 of the most persistent bits of helicopter-parent paranoia I could come up with.

Do you know fact-checked parental love when you hear it? Try the Official Ken Jennings Because I Said So! Quiz™. Which of these deathless Mom clichés are actually good advice, and which are parenting poppycock?


  1. “Don’t sit so close to the TV.”
  2. “Eat chicken soup when you have a cold.”
  3. “Don’t flip the light switch on and off—it wastes money.”
  4. “You need eight glasses of water a day.”
  5. “Swallowed gum sits in your stomach for seven years.”
  6. “Put on a hat! Most of your body heat escapes through your head.”
  7. “Don’t chew your ice, it’s bad for your teeth.”
  8. “Don’t pop your knuckles, you’ll get arthritis.”
  9. “If you pee in the pool, there’s a chemical that makes it turn blue.”
  10. “Don’t feed the dog chocolate.”

  1. FALSE.  Ophthalmologists say any eyestrain will be temporary, no matter how close you sit or for how long.
  2. TRUE.  Two recent studies show that chicken soup actually does ease cold symptoms better than other hot liquids.
  3. TRUE.  Whether fluorescent or incandescent, a lightbulb uses much more power to start up than it does to stay on.
  4. FALSE.  That’s how much you’d need if you didn’t get any water in your diet.  Thirst is the best indicator of when to drink—it kicks in well in advance of dehydration.
  5. FALSE.  It’s true that gum base is indigestible, but your body is pretty good at getting rid of it in the normal way within a day or two.
  6. FALSE.  The head cools off at the same rate as any other uncovered part of the body.
  7. TRUE.  Cold temperatures and hard surfaces are the two biggest contributors to cracking a tooth.  Chewing ice combines them both!
  8. FALSE.  Several studies show no correlation, though people who pop show a slight tendency toward decreased grip strength in old age.
  9. FALSE.  Despite what you’ve seen in movies like Grown Ups and Take This Waltz, there is no such chemical.  Pee at will.
  10. TRUE.  If Fido isn’t very big, just a few ounces of chocolate can be all it takes to make him very sick or even send him to doggy heaven.


0-2    Please do not ever reproduce

3-4    Parental guidance suggested

5-6    Growing up brainy

7-8    Home run

9-10 World’s Greatest Mom/Dad



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About chocolate poisoning in dogs, it's the Theobromine (a stimulant)in the chocolate that's toxic. Dog's bodies take longer to clear it from their systems (and cats are even more vulnerable). Concentrations are higher in "GOOD" chocolate, dark chocolate and bakers chocolate.

One ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight is a potentially lethal dose in dogs.

@Dan, Mythbusters tested it, but they tested based on leaving the light on for a lengthy period of time vs. turning it off, then on later.

Ken is talking about rapid off/on behaviour kids do when they "play" with the switch. On/off cycles are fractions of a second. Mythbusters showed that the time to leave it on to be around a second for most lights, but 18 seconds for full size fluorescent lights. So it could very well be better to leave it on in that scenario.

Finally, you've gotten to the bottom of my Grandpa's mostly empty threats. I learned the chocolate one the hard way.

Would have to disagree with the chocolate one. It's not GOOD for your dogs, but my boyfriend, a vet of 25 years, has seen dogs down pounds of chocolate with indigestion being the only side effect. He's literally never seen chocolate poisoning.

I got 8/10, but I'm surprised by #3. I seem to remember Mythbusters testing that and busting it.

Interesting! I happened to buy this book for my mom for her birthday this year. I'll have to borrow it when she's done now. I think she's used almost all of those lines on me at one point or another.

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