No, Sniffing These Mushrooms Will Probably Not Give You an Orgasm
October 16, 2015
For a week or so now, the Interwebz have been abuzz with an amazing "scientific" discovery: that a species of Dictyophora mushroom found on Hawaii will give some women an "instant orgasm" merely by sniffing it. The story has been getting reposted and retweetered like crazy, as we often see with such miraculously sensational products or discoveries. But is there anything to it?
For me, the first red flag on this story was that it was (originally, so far as I can tell) posted on IFLScience -- which, years ago, was the forum for science fan Elyse Andrew to showcase neat sciencey stuff, but has devolved today into just another dime-a-dozen clickbait website where platoons of semi-anonymous authors post anything that looks like it can be presented sensationally to generate site clicks and ad revenue. Its reputation among science journalists has essentially gone down to zero. This tale of the orgasmic mushroom is symptomatic of that decline.
But at least four other red flags made the story even more suspicious:
The story's appeal is undeniable, thus its popularity. Can we, as responsible science promoters, find a way to convert this appeal and mass-retweetering from promoting bad science into good science? A return to Elyse Andrew's original mission of promoting public interest in science -- as opposed to personal interest in web ad revenue -- would be a good start.
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