The paranoid reader finds an unnerving resource

Robert McGowan

Robert McGowan

Perhaps I should apologize to my readers for contents of today’s column.

What happened? I picked up a small hardback book yesterday with the interesting title (at least, to me) — “The Paranoid’s Pocket Guide — Hundreds of Things you Never Knew You Had To Worry About.”

Well, that’s just what I need, and knowing that you, too, could be aware of the same need, I felt a responsibility to share a few of the items with you. (Surely you know that I am writing that with tongue in cheek.)

Now, will you thank me for sharing, or feel a desire to kick me? The author of the above book, Cameron Tuttle, states a warning in the introduction of his book: “For best results, enjoy 'The Paranoid’s Pocket Book' late at night, with a flashlight under the covers, alone. And remember, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that someone isn’t out to get you.”


  • “Nearly a third of all bottled drinking water purchased in the United States is contaminated with bacteria.”
  • “Some 3.7 million Americans claim to have been abducted by aliens. Most found it a positive experience.”
  • “Last year, nearly 16,000 cheerleaders required emergency-room treatments for injuries, including sprains, torn knee ligaments, skull fractures, and even paralysis. One of the most dangerous routines---the Human Pyramid---has been banned in North Dakota and Minnesota schools.”
  • “Sulfur-based preservatives used legally to enhance the colors and crispness of certain vegetables found in salad bars can cause life-threatening allergic reactions.”
  • “Rats multiply so quickly that in 18 months two rats could have over a million descendants.”
  • “Lightning strikes the earth 6,000 times every minute.”
  • “Fifteen percent of the nation’s fatal accidents are caused by the 1% of drivers with revoked or suspended licenses.”
  • “One in three men over age 60 will suffer from impotence.”
  • “When you dry off with a towel, dead skin cells cling to its surface, providing protein to feed microorganisms, such as Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause infections and pustules. Even the clean towel used last night will be crawling with organisms by the time you use it this morning.”
  • “Fleas can jump 13 feet from a standing position.”
  • “The chance of contracting an infection during a stay in a hospital in the U.S. is 1 in 15.”
  • “Heading a soccer ball frequently {10 or more times per game} causes mild neuropsychological damage and lowers IQ.”
  • “Department stores now release scents into the air that make a person feel good and want to buy.”
  • “CIA spy satellites are equipped with 20 different types of sensors that are so powerful the government can identify you in your backyard, see if you’re barbecuing chicken or steak and hear how you like it cooked.”
  • “Hackers infiltrate Pentagon computers more than 160,000 times a year. Roughly 65% succeed on their first try.”
  • “Are you sure this is decaf?”

Written by Robert McGowan, a regular columnist for The Bartlett Express. He is a Bartlett resident and former professor of biology at the University of Memphis. Contact him at (901) 828-6039 or via email at