Ice Bath Science: Facts, Myths, and Mysteries

Knowledge comes from both systematic investigation and individual experience


Thomas P Seager, PhD sitting on a window ledge with a mobile phone pressed against his ear.
In my experience, the only scientists who wear white lab coats are the ones you see on TV. I'm a scientist, and most of the time, I look like this.

There has been an explosion of biohacking articles available online that repeat the same claims about ice baths, cold showers, cold plunges, cold tubs, and deliberate cold exposure. Most of them say the same exact thing, because they are all copying from each other in a competition for higher Google search rankings.


There are two things absent from these search-engine optimized articles with click-bait headlines: 1) true stories of what has worked for others, and 2) real scientists.


The advantage of personal stories is that they are rich in context, and inspiring to others. The disadvantage is that they are viewed as anecdotal, and rather than being accepted as helpful for generating new scientific hypothesis, too many people with college-level educations will often complain "Well, there's no proof in anecdote."


Science is about knowledge (not prestige)

I spent more than six years in graduate school earning my Ph.D. in environmental engineering. I have published over 100 scientific studies in peer-reviewed journal articles, dozen