Lord Winston and centenarian nuns

A jumping brain

My commute allows me plenty of time to read books, and I’m getting through them at a rate of knots. I’m currently reading Robert Winston‘s “The Human Mind”, and I’m finding it really interesting.

Today I was fascinated to learn about the research performed on the nuns of Mankato. Apparently, for whatever bizarre religious reason, they consider idleness to be a sin1. To remain sin-free they fill every available moment with puzzles, games, debates and other intellectual pursuits. The surprising thing is that a very high number of the nuns make it to a hundred years old, and they suffer far less than the average population from dementia and Alzheimer’s. More information available on the web.

Nice to see a studied case of the old adage of “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” Even though there’s obviously something quite different about someone’s mind if they actively choose to become a nun, I suppose.


  1. I subscribe to the idea that any time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. 

Filed under: Blog
Posted at 22:26:50 GMT on 8th January 2009.

About Matt Godbolt

Matt Godbolt is a C++ developer working in Chicago in the finance industry.