A story about carrots

I heard a great story about carrots today; they’re being so good for the eyesight is just a red herring to distract the Germans from the British competence in radar in WWII being the reason the British were so successful at finding and shooting down Germans.

Here’s the Snope blurb on it:

While carrots are a good source of vitamin A (which is important for healthy eyesight, skin, growth, and resisting infection), eating them won’t improve vision.

The purported link between carrots and markedly acute vision is a matter of lore, not of science. And it’s lore of the deliberately manufactured type.

In World War II, Britain’s air ministry spread the word that a diet of these vegetables helped pilots see Nazi bombers attacking at night. That was a lie intended to cover the real matter of what was underpinning the Royal Air Force’s successes: Airborne Interception Radar, also known as AI. The secret new system pinpointed some enemy bombers before they reached the English Channel.

British Intelligence didn’t want the Germans to find out about the superior new technology helping protect the nation, so they created a rumor to afford a somewhat plausible-sounding explanation for the sudden increase in bombers being shot down. News stories began appearing in the British press about extraordinary personnel manning the defenses, including Flight Lieutenant John Cunningham, an RAF pilot dubbed “Cat’s Eyes” on the basis of his exceptional night vision that allowed him to spot his prey in the dark. Cunningham’s abilities were chalked up to his love of carrots. Further stories claimed RAF pilots were being fed goodly amounts of this root vegetable to foster similar abilities in them.

The disinformation was so persuasive that the English public took to eating carrots to help them find their way during the blackouts.

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