McDonald’s chicken McNuggets are made with mechanically processed chicken (eyeballs, ligaments, guts, etc) that are squeezed into a pink paste and dipped in vats of ammonia. It’s not such an outrageous claim when you consider the McDonald’s company, a business that is accused of having unnaturally preserved burgers that are made by cutting down rain forests. There’s only one problem – the claim isn’t true.
Nuggets may not be the healthiest treat on the menu, but McDonald’s has used all white meat chicken (no guts or eyeballs) since 2003. And while ammonia is used to prevent bacteria, they are hardly soaked in a bath of it.
I wouldn’t have even thought twice about trashing the nugget production habits of everyone’s favorite fast food pariah until I heard the same mistake corrected on Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, one of my favorite podcasts. Then I saw the same claims about McNuggets being forwarded around on facebook with a picture that is sure to cause revulsion…
If you ever receive a forward via email or facebook that makes claims (even ones you assume are true), check with the urban legend website Snopes first… just to be safe. And even though you are confident in sites like Snopes, you should also question anyone who has all the answers (even yourself).
On the flip side of questioning assumptions, you should also question facts that you assume are true because you want them to be true. For instance, the PTA at my daughter’s school was eager to spend a lot of money on an “Accelerated Reading” program, and I was very on board with the idea without checking the facts.
AR is a points-based reading system that helps to encourage kids to read books that are appropriate to their age level, which sounds like a great idea until you analyze the system and it’s claims a little closer. Luckily for me, there are a few skeptical librarians and reading lovers who have voiced their objections. Some of their complaints are the following:
- The points are unfairly (or arbitrarily) assigned so that Harry Potter earns 40 points while Shakespeare’s Hamlet only receives 7 points.
- By offering points and rewards, the system discourages a true love of reading and teaches kids that reading is a chore worthy of bribery.
- Many kids spend far more time thinking about how to game the system rather than actually reading naturally.
- There hasn’t been much research on the subject, and the little research that has been done is inconclusive and misrepresented.
I’m sure that Accelerated Reader has many anecdotes of how they have encouraged reading in younger kids, but I’m always fascinated when my assumptions are challenged.