We all know the term bogeyman — a fictional monster that empowers its inventor. According to Wikipedia, “parents often say that if their child is naughty, the bogeyman will get them, in an effort to make them behave.” I always think of the Falkland Islands. In 1982, by acting as if the Argentine invasion actually mattered, Margaret Thatcher got herself a big boost in popularity. In the 1960s, by acting as if Berkeley student protests were dangerous, Reagan got elected president. The day after 9/11, I said my big fear was overreaction. I doubt the persons behind the bombing understood how useful they were to those in power. Bush got a boost in popularity that lasted years.

When it comes to health, cholesterol is one of the biggest bogeymen. Hyperlipid begins a post about LDL cholesterol like this:

You would be forgiven for thinking that the apoB100 protein (which defines the LDL or VLDL particle) has been evolved over the past 4.5 billion years to cause cardiovascular disease and the less of it you have the longer you will live. Listening to a cardiologist that is (or a BBC reporter on the Today Program grovelling before a cardiologist). The lower the better. It’s impossible to have too low an LDL concentration. Statins in the drinking water. You know the patter.

The scientific paper on which his post is based concludes:

Apolipoprotein B at homeostatic levels in blood is an essential innate defense effector against invasive S. aureus infection.

Thanks to Dave Lull.