How the carrot/vision myth got started

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A couple weeks ago I posted a story about a man who accidentally blinded his wife by throwing a carrot at her. After getting plenty of jokes from readers about carrots supposedly helping vision, one of our brilliant readers, David K, sent in a link to an interesting article on Snopes. There's a really interesting explanation as to how the carrot lore got its start.

In World War II, Britain's air ministry spread the word that a diet of these vegetables helped pilots see Nazi bombers attacking at night. That was a lie intended to cover the real matter of what was underpinning the Royal Air Force's successes: Airborne Interception Radar, also known as AI. The secret new system pinpointed some enemy bombers before they reached the English Channel.

British Intelligence didn't want the Germans to find out about the superior new technology helping protect the nation, so they created a rumor to afford a somewhat plausible-sounding explanation for the sudden increase in bombers being shot down. News stories began appearing in the British press about extraordinary personnel manning the defenses, including Flight Lieutenant John Cunningham, an RAF pilot dubbed "Cats Eyes" on the basis of his exceptional night vision that allowed him to spot his prey in the dark. Cunningham's abilities were chalked up to his love of carrots.

And from that campaign the British public began eating carrots to help them see more clearly during blackouts.

So while carrots may not work any magic, I hear the claim that rubbing peanut butter all over your head to prevent baldness is true. But you have to do it for 3hrs a day. So go ahead and give it a shot, men.

 

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August 1, 2006 - 7:16am
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