My friend Larry sent me an email message with the 2008 Mensa Word List, posted in the Washington Post. Each year, the Post asks readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. One of the words on the list this year was Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
The Dopeler Effect was certainly at play when I told Anna Mae (and then reported here for all to see) that black skin didn’t really need sun screen. Boy was I taken to task on that one. Though no one actually commented ON the blog, I got plenty of email messages telling me that I had that all wrong. A quick search on Google turned up this site—Brown Skin and Sunscreen-- that reports a bit of research on the matter. There was good news for me at this site. The writer’s conclusion is that “there is very little research on sun protection for dark-skinned people.” Sounds like a research project in the making as almost all of the studies have been performed on fair-skinned people probably because of the racial differences in skin cancer rates. Research is generally first pointed in the direction of problems. Anyway this is a crisp informative article.
The bottom line for me: Don’t speak quite so quickly on matters I know nothing about, especially to children. My son and his family have an unflattering name for this phenomenon. If you know them, you know I was speaking from the BOA when I made my pronouncement about Leon and Aliou not really needing sunscreen. In fact, at least one site reporting on skin care for African Americans recommended daily use of sun screen (while also noting that dark skin can be particularly sensitive to skin care products).
My humbling lesson of the day reported live on twilightme.