OK but I’m still going to wear one

Scientists debunk myths including one on the importance of wearing a hat in the cold:

They traced the origins of the hat-wearing advice back to a US army
survival manual from 1970 which strongly recommended covering the head
when it is cold, since “40 to 45 percent of body heat” is lost from the

Rachel Vreeman and Aaron Carroll, at the centre forhealth policy at Indiana University in Indianapolis, rubbish the claim in theBritish Medical Journal
this week. If this were true, they say, humans would be just as cold if
they went without a hat as if they went without trousers. “Patently,
this is just not the case,” they write.

The myth is thought to
have arisen through a flawed interpretation of a vaguely scientific
experiment by the US military in the 1950s. In those studies,
volunteers were dressed in Arctic survival suits and exposed to
bitterly cold conditions. Because it was the only part of their bodies
left uncovered, most of their heat was lost through their heads.

Read on for the other myths exposed


7 thoughts on “OK but I’m still going to wear one

  1. Um, I can verify my OWN results – if it’s cold out and I am not wearing a hat (and scarf), but just a coat…I am chilled to the bone. If I wear hat/scarf, I am warm (frikkin’ comfortable). I can forego a coat for a little bit if I have the hat/scarf going on.
    Did the anti-millner lobby fund that study???
    Vive La Modistes!!!

  2. I think this notion predates the 1950s. I remember reading somewhere that the French supposedly noticed that in their ill-fated 1812 assault on Moscow, the balding men froze to death first.

  3. Then how come I am warmer when I wear a hat? Also, why am I warmer when I wear a scarf? (European friend taught me the scarf trick–often, if it is a bit chilly, you can be warm enough without a jacket, but with a scarf.)

  4. Ahem, if I may… The debunked notion is that 40+% of body heat is lost through the head, *regardless of other clothing*. The debunkers aren’t saying you won’t be any warmer with a hat than without one. They’re saying the hat isn’t going to save you 40% of your body heat if you’re naked.
    The difference is a matter of degree (pun intended). Those with hats are always going to be warmer than those without, simply because it’s one more spot of bare skin (or near it) through which *some* body heat will be lost. The debunkers are simply saying the *some* is less than 40% of your overall body heat loss that is typically claimed.

  5. Oh great another damn thing we always knew to be true has been debunked. Wearing hats in the cold joins taking salt tablets when you sweat, putting butter on burns, rubbing snow on frostbitten fingers and toes, and cutting open legs to suck out rattlesnake venom. What’s next? BB guns won’t really put kids’ eyes out?

  6. I always assumed that the “40% lost through your head” was because of all the heat lost through breathing.
    I mean, taking in air at 10 degrees, expelling air (or gases, etc.) at 98 degrees means you’re losing a pretty fair amount of heat through your mouth/nose.
    And wearing a hat ain’t gonna change that.

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