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Put in scientific terms doesn’t make it any less funny


Here’s what a friend from the lab brought to my attention: a paper that appeared in 1998 in a journal called Gut Online – a reasonably high-rated journal for publishing gut-related articles.


After she showed me this we both laughed for about 10 minutes. Then we downloaded the article, read some of it and laughed some more. And I really don’t know why.

I mean I do: it’s because you have this concept in your mind and you always associate the word “fart” with bad jokes so reading it in a journal, although referred to by a much formal term is somewhat disturbing – “the worlds are colliding! You’re killing independent George!”. [If you don’t know what this means, do your homework and watch some Seinfeld!]

So you can imagine that we did not stop at the title. Here are the first sentences of the introduction.

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Fascination? Really? That’s overestimating it a tad.

Then as in any paper the authors present the materials and methods. In the Methods part there was this paragraph describing the diet of the subjects.


Again: flatus OUTPUT? I wonder if “output” was the first word that came to mind when the author was writing this paragraph. Or did he go “Hmm… ensure flatus… production? No, not scientific enough. Output, yes, much better!”.

I also wonder how much money they paid those subjects. It must have been a lot because they went through a lot of humiliating stuff. Do you think after this experiment was done they went and bragged to their friends “Dude, you know what I did yesterday? I ate beans and farted into a tube!”. No, they were probably lured into this study with something in the lines of “If you participate in our study we offer a generous financial reward plus 200 grams of our complementary pinto beans”.

You think this was gross? Read the next excerpt.


Never mind how much they paid those who had to eat the beans, how much did they pay those who had to “take several sniffs” of the result of bean digestion?

These judges are not regular people – they appear to have a certain amount of expertise in the area of gas sniffing, they’re like the hounds of rectal gas, one would say. I am very tempted to allude to wine tasting here but I’m not going to because it would be gross and I do not want any weird connections to be formed in anyone’s head.

“It’s a normal reaction, much like sneezing or coughing or burping” some may say. Yes, maybe it’s just me who’s acting a bit retarded. Hypothetically speaking if I were asked to work on this kind of experiment I would say NO! Not for all the contents of Fort Knox, not for all the tea in China. Well maybe for all the contents of Fort Knox. Maybe.

What I’m saying is you have to draw the line somewhere. I would probably draw mine before working on the ASS1 gene.


Comments (1)

  • A friend of mine just emailed me one of your articles from a while back. I read that one a few more. Really enjoy your blog. Thanks


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