The stupidest sentence I’ve ever read was not written by a child. Not by a religious demagogue. Not by a YouTube user. Not by a politician and not by a political opinion blogger. Not by somebody who discovered a fun folk etymology.
All such people are expected to write stupid sentences, but they are all understandable in their context. Even the religious demagogue. I just don’t expect anything smart there.
No, the single stupidest sentence that I’ve ever read was written by a Harvard Medical School professor.
“We all know that exercise makes us feel better, but most of us have no idea why.”
This is the opening sentence of a book called Spark!: How exercise will improve the performance of your brain by John Ratey and Eric Hagerman.
The rest of this book may well be good, but I just couldn’t get past this. Seriously? Seriously? Opening a book that purports to be scientific, even if popular, with a sentence that is so easily falsified is a complete non-starter for me.
Exercise doesn’t make me feel better. And I damn well know why. It makes me feel like I’m tired and bored. It makes my body hurt. If makes me think that I’m investing time and effort in something exceptionally pointless and negative while I could do something useful. It does not make me feel anything positive at all.
This book, which is supposed to convince me to do exercise, does precisely the opposite with its opening sentence: It makes me hate the thought of exercise even more.
I first read that sentence a couple of years ago. Today I saw the book on the shelf, and I am still convinced that it’s the stupidest one I’ve ever read. I don’t care about “setting the mood”. I don’t care that that’s how book marketing works. I like things that have meaning, and sadly this book throws meaning out the window right from the start.
Feel free to call me a lazy ass, but you’ll be missing the point.