- We've just been advised in the UK to spend more time in the sunshine, since this causes our bodies to naturally produce vitamin D. The problems caused by not doing so are described:
"In January the chief medical officer for England said she was concerned that young children and some adults were not getting enough vitamin D.
Figures show that up to a quarter of the population has low levels of vitamin D in their blood "
This current advice contradicts that which we have been given in the UK by the same scientific authorities for the previous one and a half decades to avoid the sun, to always cover up on going outside, or failing that apply factor 20 or above sun-block. I have always ignored this advice and instead allowed myself to gain a 'cautious tan' - one gained by avoiding over exposure and built up gradually over time, since I remembered learning in my youth about the advantages of sunshine for vitamin D creation and did not believe that the sun could have suddenly become 'dangerous', when we have had millennia of evolutionary adaption to it.
Similar stores of the vacillation of 'scientific opinion' can be recounted for advice on running, on the kind of exercise to stay healthy, eating butter and many other topics over the last few decades.
According to the likes of Dugan on WC, this kind of volte face on advice from the scientific community over fairly straightforward topics should not happen; but it does. This is where real 'critical thinking' comes under test: if 'scientific authorities' tell us things that contradict common sense, and are not correspondingly clearly grounded in 'adequate evidence and reason' - a difficult thing to assess- we should be suspicious of their advice and try and make up our own minds, using whatever common sense, established principles, tradition, folklore and other sources of evidence that we have. Dugan is currently advising people to be unconcerned about the possible effects of extended mobile phone use on the bodies and minds of growing children; they should be as sceptical of this piece of over-confident prognostication, that runs against common sense, as I was when the UK government told me to cover-up fifteen years ago.