Tag: Mythbusters

Day 991: The Subjective Science of Getting Friendly With Your Water

Header

Good morning, water. You look lovely today. The way you have meticulously extracted the energizing essence of those crumbly brown nuggets of Sumatra in my coffee maker really brings out the glimmer in your droplets. Look, I’m a married man, but if I wasn’t, I would totally be gettin’ up in dat aqua, you feel me?

According to Dr. Masaru Emoto, I may have just created a more healthy and vibrant cup of coffee. Dr. Emoto is a revolutionary oracle of scientific knowledge, inasmuch as he has concocted his own definitions of the words “scientific” and “knowledge”. Dr. Emoto has “proven” (and it’s hard to find a source for his work that doesn’t nestle that word between the comforting pillows of quotation marks) that positive energy makes water better.

Not better-tasting, not more nutritious or refreshing… just better. Happier. More wholly fulfilled. Dr. Emoto unearthed that line where metaphysics and alternative medicine cross over into crazed Lynchian fiction, then leaped across it like a doped-up Olympian. He landed among the Technicolor bobbles of the absurd, cultivated his own particular brew of ludicrous reasoning and slapped a price tag on it.

And we bought in. Oh, how we bought in.

How could we not trust that sincere face?

How could we not trust that sincere face?

Masaru Emoto earned his doctorate at the Open University for Alternative Medicine in India, though I feel “earned” should be yet another resident of Quotes-Marks Manor, as I have unearthed a couple of sources which claim that such a degree can be bought for around $500. But Dr. Emoto’s doctorness is relatively moot, as he immediately set out to sail the vague ocean of alternative medicine, which contains far more fetid flotsam than it does navigable current. Read more…

Day 813: Biting The Bullet

Header

To my fellow fans of tweaked reality, I ask: what is the ultimate magic trick? Is it David Copperfield sending the Statue of Liberty into a temporary netherworld? David Blaine bending the laws of logic and physics two inches from a spectator’s nose? Jim Belushi keeping his garbage sitcom on the air for eight whole seasons?

When I was a kid, before the sombrero of skepticism had planted its weighty brim upon my cranium and killed off much of my wondrous buzz of rapturous imagination, I used to gape over the illusions that would court the most danger. Saws, swords, sickles – the puncture of flesh and the damning of imminent destruction, only to reveal that – whew! – Doug Henning’s mystical mustache and frilly mullet were safe after all. I hadn’t yet developed my appreciation of up-close street magic. To me – and I credit my mother for conveying to me this belief, even in the present – it was all magic. And like any young boy who swam in Star Wars and targeted Space Invaders with the subtle nudge of a joystick, danger was king.

The bullet catch fascinated me. Could someone snag a full-speed bullet in their hands or between their teeth without being blown to shreds? Of course the answer is no – like anything else performed by magicians, it’s not real (except for David Blaine – I’m convinced that guy is deep down the rabbit-hole of the dark arts). It’s just a magnificent magic trick. Sorry – illusion.

No article about magic is complete without a GOB shot.

No article about magic is complete without a GOB shot.

The first recorded grab of a bullet from the air came courtesy of a French magician named Coullew of Lorraine, sometime in the late 16th century. Reverend Thomas Beard told the story in his book, Theatre of Judgment. This was the same tome in which he related the death of Christopher Marlowe, whom he’d dubbed the first modern atheist. In a similar moralistic twist of one who would challenge God’s laws, Reverend Beard explains how Coullew of Lorraine was ironically clubbed to death with his pistol by one of his assistants. Read more…

Day 684: Ig-Nobly Speaking

Header

Every so often when perusing scientific news we come across a study that seems, to the layman observer, to be mildly superfluous. Do we need to know which phase of the menstrual cycle will bring in better tips for a lap dancer? Are horses so finicky with food that we need a study of their favorite flavors? Is it going to affect my day to know that attractive men tend to have longer ring fingers?

Those are all actual studies, and I have no doubt someone has already commissioned and researched a meta-study on how these dumb scientific studies affect the public’s perception of the scientific community. That’s why I’m glad we have the Ig Nobel Prize.

Handed out each October, these awards are to the science world what the Golden Raspberries are to the movie business, only the selections tend to be less awful and more amusing. The community has subsequently embraced the dubious honors, and actual Nobel Laureates hand out the prizes at a lavish ceremony conducted at the Sanders Theater at Harvard. Here are some of the ignoble Ig Nobel winners worth mentioning:

Zipper

It seems destiny is steering me this week toward medical maladies that have until now drifted beyond the fringes of my radar. Yesterday I wrote about cello scrotum – though that was revealed to be a hoax. But the 1993 Ig Nobel Prize for Medicine is about something very real: “Acute Management Of The Zipper-Entrapped Penis.” Three men who aim to secure our schlongs from the wrath of the gnashing teeth of our hungry Levis’ gaping maws penned this article from their home base of the Naval Hospital in San Diego. Read more…

Day 166: Let’s Make A Probability Puzzle

I may have unearthed the most lengthy and mind-taxing article in Wikipedia about goats. Seriously, this thing reads like a textbook chapter, delving into variants, theorems, and something called the quantum version. It even features math like this:

I’ll be ignoring that portion.

Today we’re dealing with logic and, to a lesser and more manageable extent, math. For anyone old enough to remember Let’s Make A Deal, you may have heard this one before. If you don’t recall the show, here’s a little refresher.

Let’s Make A Deal was a game show that originated in the early 1960s, and which exemplified more than any other game show on television the you-might-get-screwed-over tenet of capitalism. Contestants were chosen at random by the host – originally Monty Hall, now Wayne Brady – and offered prizes. They were then offered the opportunity to exchange prizes with other audience members, or for the mysterious contents of a box. Sometimes that box contained a better prize, sometimes it contained nothing, or a gag prize. Then the contestant would have to go home knowing they blew a good deal by getting greedy, and have nothing to show for dressing up like this on national television:

The big moment in the show came when a contestant would be offered three doors to choose from. Behind one would be a huge prize, like a car or a trip. Behind the other two, nothing. Here’s where our story picks up. Read more…

Day 114: CandyShock

Sometimes controversy is a good idea. A racy ad gets people talking, a scandalous drunken escapade can bring a ton of publicity. Sometimes you can beat up your girlfriend and people will still buy your music and treat you like something other than the piece of human garbage everyone knows deep down you are.

Shortly after the photo was taken, Chris Brown ate this puppy.

Then there are some controversies that just scream “Bad Planning.” Take, for example, the brain-queef behind Hippy Sippy candy.

In an attempt to cash in on the drug culture of the late 1960s, some clever confectioner decided to package a bunch of multicolored candies in a syringe-like container with the youth-like proclamation “I’ll Try Anything” on the outside. I’m not sure if the intent here was to provide a viable alternative to mind-altering substances (“All the fun of getting high, but candy!”), or simply a catapult-lob of controversy for some quick cash.

This is perhaps a more appropriate way of selling sugar through shock value. Kids love eating ridiculous foods, and advertising a sweet treat as pretend radioactive poison is a great trick. Kids used to dare each other to eat bugs, why not cash in on that urge to shove inappropriate things in one’s mouth?

The candy’s container included a challenge, for kids to compete to see how long they can keep the candy in their mouths without swallowing. Smart, because this encourages the friend to buy some as well, and turns the snack into a sport. Not so smart for those who bought the American product in 2011, shortly before it was recalled due to high amounts of lead. There’s a delightful piece of irony for you to chew on.

Designed to appear like a stick of deodorant, yet to provide a realistic simulation of gliding one’s tongue along the inside of another person’s skull, Brain Licker is another sour treat. The lickable portion is actually just a ball-shaped dispenser of candied liquid, so the kids will have to use their imaginations a little if they want the real brain licking experience (and what kid doesn’t?).

The real flirtation with danger comes in the form of small cuts, burns and blisters which can appear in one’s mouth if they consume too much Brain Licker juice. How much is too much, no one knows. The liquid is roughly as acidic as lemon juice, so it’s a question of how sensitive your child’s mouth is. My advice is to force-feed them Brain Licker, toughen them up. Read more…