Rumor Flies

We got the sauce

Rumor Flies comically addresses the origins, evolution, and veracity of your favorite rumors, myths, and misconceptions. Tune in every week for more research, stories, and unsolicited commentary! Participation encouraged. 

Rumor Flies is a member of the Dark Myths collective. Check out these amazingly talented people and their awesome shows!

 

Snap Judgment #8: Ye Olde Spam

Snapple Fact #950: The first spam message was transmitted over telegraph wires in 1864.

  goo.gl/bDsSye

 

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Verdict: True

YUP. According to The Economist, it was an advertisement for dentistry. “Messrs Gabriel, of 27 Harley Street, advised that their dental practice would be open from 10am to 5pm until October.”

We've had to deal with this nonsense for 150 years and it's as annoying now as it was then. Time also verifies this, though not the specific example given by The Economist: “the first unsolicited messages came over the wires as early as 1864, when telegraph lines were used to send dubious investment offers to wealthy Americans.” It appears that people and institutions would in fact receive unsolicited telegrams. 

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Now here's another interesting part: "Spam" (according to the same Time article) came about as a term in 1980 as a result of a Monty Python sketch. Definitely worth a watch - vikings and insanity abound. 

Now back to our 1864 example. According to Curiosity.com and the above linked The Economist article, people dealt with it with far more indigence than we do. While we usually accept as an unavoidable reality of email, phone calls, etc., someone went as far as to write a complaint in The New York Times: "I have never had any dealings with Messrs Gabriel and beg to know by what right do they disturb me by a telegram which is simply the medium of advertisement?"  

Cheers!

Snap Judgment #7: Incessant Bloodhound Gang

#435: Bloodhounds can track a man by smell for up to 100 miles

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Verdict: True (more or less)

Here we are discussing smell again, but whatever. BLOODHOUNDS ARE SO COOL. Seriously. They are crazy good at sniffing things out. The specific claim "up to 100 miles" is hard to pin to the very number, but they have reportedly tracked a scent for up to 130 miles according to PBS, so Snapple probably played it somewhat conservative at 100 miles. In addition, "their extraordinary ability to discern a cold trail has sent them on fruitful missions, following tracks over 300 hours old.”

Bloodhounds have up to 230 million olfactory cells (40 times more than humans). Their sense of smell is so good and so reliable that it is admissible in court as evidence. According to that same PBS article, one famous dog, “Nick Carter” (yup, Nick Carter), led to the capture and conviction of over 600 criminals. 

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In order to really put them to the test, Mythbusters took a crack at trying to fool bloodhounds as shown in movies: running in random directions or zig-zags to throw off a pattern, running in a stream or other body of water to throw off the scent, and other commonly depicted techniques. Despite their best efforts, they were unsuccessful, and the ever capable Morgan tracked him with little issue. Having learned their lesson that bloodhounds are friggin' awesome at finding people, they tried again. This time, Jamie threw fish on the ground to throw off the scent and distract his pursuer. He also attempted to mask his scent with various products and suits as well as cross an even larger body of water than the first time. Once again, the able Morgan found him with little trouble. 

So there you have it. Bloodhounds are coming to get you - AND THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT. 

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Cool technical piece by CIA on usefulness of scent in investigations

Snap Judgment #6: Dolphins like to think their &*%$ don't Stink

SNAPPLE FACT #970: DOLPHINS ARE UNABLE TO SMELL

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Verdict: True

This is a pretty short one mostly because it's true - that being said, there are some interesting extra elements to this, as is generally the case with the "Real Facts" we choose from Snapple's list. According to Whale Facts, this is true, despite the fact that dolphins do appear to have olfactory tracts during fetal development. There seem to be no olfactory nerves, however, meaning it is functionally useless. 

What I found interesting was the relationship between their sight and echolocation. For those who are not aware, dolphins use echolocation - similar to bats - under water. Many (if not most) animals that use echolocation have very poor eye sight, but this is not the case with dolphins. What isn't clear (at least in my research) is how good their eyesight actually is. 

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The above article from Whale Facts claims that dolphins have particularly acute vision, while this Business Insider piece diving into the various testing (really interesting) they did to figure out dolphins visually perceive their world claims they have pretty poor visual acuity. That being said, they are able to recognize and point out various shapes and appear to perceive the world similarly to other mammals both under and out of water. They had particular trouble, as did chimpanzees, with discerning shapes that were similar (such as a D-shape and U-shape), and were often confused during the testing.

As always, thanks for reading and supporting the show! Please let us know what you think of this patreon bonus content - do you like it? Should we swap it out with something else and make these public? Feedback is always appreciated! 

 

Image sources (in order of appearance):

http://www.letsplaysega.com/wp-content/uploads/images/gen/Ecco_the_Dolphin_II.png

https://images.vice.com/vice/images/articles/meta/2015/10/27/there-must-be-something-in-the-water-my-nightmare-of-ecco-the-dolphin-325-1445952536.jpg?crop=1xw:0.9485164512338425xh;center,center&resize=1050:*

https://visuals.zoomph.com/Visuals/VisualFile.ashx?id=4tcsp6ks2ORNErq02A5kyg_2_2&key=whitebg

Snap Judgment #5: Freaky-Deaky Jelly-Fishy

Snapple Fact #18: A Jellyfish is 95% water

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Verdict: True

Jellyfish are really fucking weird, man. Have you ever actually seen a jellyfish in the water? And I don’t mean on tv or in pictures. I mean in actual person. They just drift and blend in seamlessly.

I’ve heard this rumor before but didn’t give it much credence. The simple truth is that this is true. Jellyfish are indeed about 95% water. For reference, humans are about 60% water. So what’s the other 5%? Glad you asked Ryan.

Jellyfish are composed of three layers: the epidermis on the outside, the middle layer which is filled with jelly (huehuehue) called mesoglea, and the inner layer called the gastrodermis. They do also have a very basic nervous system which allows them to smell, detect light and some other basic functions.

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Oh and they have an ass. And a mouth. It’s the same hole. Jellyfish always go ass to mouth because they don’t have a choice essentially. These assmouth eats zooplankton, small crustaceans, and sometimes even other jellyfish. Bottom line here: jellyfish are carnivorous assmouths. Have I mentioned their ass and mouth are the same hole yet?

Lastly, jellyfish do have separate sexes as well. They release the sperm or the eggs into the water at the same time which is how babies are made. So while there isn’t much to these little critters, they manage to stay alive and function like most animals on a very basic level. It’s crazy to think of something that consists 95% of one substance is able to function in such a big and scary environment like the ocean.

Sources:

https://water.usgs.gov/edu/propertyyou.html

https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/jellyfish.html

http://eu.oceana.org/en/feature-about-jellyfish

Image sources (in order of appearance):

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/f8/54/de/f854de5c04d3ee5d413c8e9fe04fd678.jpg

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/44/Jelly_cc11.jpg

Snap Judgement #4: Honey, I Ruined the...Honey

Fact #25: The only food that does not spoil is honey.

Verdict: False

I love honey with a passion and could do an entire series on it, but I'll try to keep this short.

Of all the facts Snapple could "retire," this was the most surprising, because I didn't even know it was wrong until literally yesterday while listening to Foodstuff. Honey is, in fact, an amazing product. It tastes great, can be made into booze, has some supposedly healthy enzymes, and it can be antimicrobial, which is why it "doesn't spoil" and can be used for preserving foods. I store everything in honey: fruits, some veggies, jerky, cash, dreams, the list goes on.

However, the very reason why honey is good for food preservation is the same one that guarantees it can spoil: hygroscopy.

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Hygroscopy is the ability for a substance to attract and hold onto water in its  surrounding environment. This, along with honey's natural acidity, is what sets up a poor environment for microbes to inhabit. it sucks the water right out of them. As long as honey stays under 17% water content, it will indeed have a nearly limitless shelf-life. However, honey being so hygroscopic, it is hard to maintain these conditions. Water can be introduced into honey by not sealing the container well enough, opening the container too many times, or worst of all, adding fruit to it for preservation. Though the honey will stay pretty acidic, the water content raises the chances of some spoilage critters up shop.   

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Now, I'm not disparaging this wonderful bee snuff. It still is a tried and true preservative, semi-antibiotic, and general treat. This particular fact only happens to be very conditional, which is not a term that qualifies a "never" to be used. Good on Snapple for retiring this one, though.

Last Note: crystallized honey ≠ spoiled honey

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygroscopy
https://steemit.com/food/@apismellifera/honey-never-spoil-true-or-false-or-or-miod-nigdy-sie-nie-psuje-prawda-czy-falsz
https://io9.gizmodo.com/why-honey-is-the-only-food-that-doesnt-go-bad-1225915466

Snap Judgment #3: Eye-Popping Orgasms?

Snapple Fact #58: "A sneeze travels out of your nose at 100mph."

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Verdict: False

This is an oldie but a goodie, one I'm sure most (if not all) are familiar with. There are many variations of this myth, such as you close your eyes to keep them from popping out from the sheer force of the sneeze (called "subluxing").

A funny bit we also found in that same article:

Dr. Rachel Vreeman, co-author of Don’t Swallow Your Gum! Myths, Half-Truths, and Outright Lies About Your Body and Health says she discovered an 1882 story in the New York Times about a woman whose eyeball popped out...after sneezing. 

This myth is literally over a century old, it turns out, making its way from The New York Times to the myths and tales we still tell each other to this day. Our inspirations over at Mytbusters actually explored this subject as well, for those who are interested. 

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Some fun extra reading: 

Snopes has an interesting theories on the origin of “Bless you." These include such gems like, "'Bless you!' was a protective oath uttered to safeguard the temporarily expelled and vulnerable soul from being snatched up by Satan," and, "the sneeze itself [is] the expulsion of a demon or evil spirit which has taken up residence in a person."

A related (and hilarious) myth was also found on Snopes as well: sneezing 7+ times can induce/feel like an orgasm. Before you go grab some pepper for a "totally scientific experiment," no, it's not true. Sorry, fam. 

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Benevolent Cabbagepatch Image Source

Pope Sneeze Image Source

 

Snap Judgment #2: Slippery Myths

SNAPPLE FACT #110: “FROGS NEVER DRINK”

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Verdict: True

Snapple is now batting a .500! Frogs have a thin, permeable skin they use to absorb water. This makes it so they do not need to consume water orally, meaning that technically they do not "drink" water as we would define it (though they do consume water). Take it as you will, but we are counting this as a "true" fact for Snapple - so points on the board for them. 

They also breathe via their skin, which means they can drown like we do (their lungs fill with water). They do in fact breath underwater via their skin, but if the oxygen content isn't high enough, this can cause problems. They also can die if their skin dries out, so frogs are just finicky and picky (obviously). Due to how specific conditions need to be for their continued survival, over 50% frog species are actually in danger of extinction. Small, simple changes to their ecosystems/habitats can be lethal. 

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We also found a cool video about a poisonous frog in the Amazons that secretes a chemical many times more powerful than morphine - a secretion that is now actually used by a pharmaceutical company. I found it interesting. If you don't then...well...yeah! 

Sorry to double-dip on reddit, but out of curiosity I went ahead and looked up r/frogs on reddit. They are a small, nice community with lots of resources on how to help save frogs! So we encourage you to check them out if you're looking to learn more or are already passionate about our slimy little buddies who, apparently, don't drink water!

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Snap Judgment #1: Bananas, Mosquitoes, and Health Insurance (Sort of) Fraud

Welcome to the first ever Snap Judgement! As described on Patreon, you will receive super special news letters from us over at the show. A mainstay will be semi-regular write ups about an interesting true or false (or somewhere in between) Snapple factoid. In addition, we will frequently feature a write up about some current event or topic that caught our interest. So without further ado, let's get to it!

Snapple Fact #10: “Mosquitoes are attracted to people who just ate bananas”

The illusion of safety

Verdict: False

This one is interesting right out the gate, as during my research I found claims that it attracts or repels. Both claims listed the exact same cause: Octenol, which is found in bananas. Octenol, also known as “Mushroom alcohol,” is a chemical that attracts insects and is commonly found in mosquito traps (along with carbon dioxide). I found this myth particularly interesting given the completely contradictory application of bananas (some claim it's an attractant, others claim it's a repellant).

According to NBC, it is nothing more than "old wives' tales." ABC also cover this topic, with Susan Paskewitz, an entomologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, claiming that they found no correlation in their lab studies – though interestingly enough, different people were inherently more or less prone to attracting mosquitoes at different times throughout the day. For good measure, this CNN article also discusses how there seems to be zero connection between what you eat and/or drink and how attractive or disgusting you may be to mosquitoes.

Our New Favorite/Horrifying Subreddit:
Unethical Life Pro Tips

Lucky you! On this first “Snap Judgment” I will be tackling a (sort of) current topic. If you haven't seen it before, there is a subreddit that is awful and hilarious called Unethical Life Pro Tips. They are terrible and funny and we sincerely hope no one actually does this stuff. That being said...I looked into two of our favorite “pro tips.”

1. A nice outlandish starter: “Do you have a chronic medical condition (e.g., MS) that costs your insurance company $20,000 per month? Great! Tell them you'll switch insurance companies if they pay you $10,000 per month. (Obamacare makes this possible) Repeat as needed to fund the life of your dreams.”

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Alright. This one is a little whacky. It's one of those, “I see why you would think that's a good idea, but there's a reason probably no one is doing it...” type of ideas. Nothing I could find online - across several search variations and many search pages deep – even hinted that insurances would agree to pay you to not insure you anymore. And why would they? Sure, there may be individual cases where perhaps it's worth considering, but the moment you do it, you risk others asking for the same options. If you took this to its logical extreme, you would wind up in a situation where insurance companies are literally not insuring anyone and just paying people to not insure them anymore. I'm going to label this one a big negative, Ghost Rider.

2. “Brake fluid will !&% up a [car's] paint job much better than paint stripper will.

*deep breath* First off: DO NOT DO THIS TO SOMEONE. You're better than that! *end lecture*

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I chose this one because it's actually really interesting and while researching if it is true (it is for the most part, some argue really good paint can take it for a relatively short duration) I found some suggestions for what to do if it happens to you. That being said, it is really bad. If you do not act quickly and carefully your paint will come right off.

According to Car Care Guide (linked above): “Try to use a towel to soak up the fluid instead of wiping with a rag, since you don’t want to spread the fluid around and make the problem worse. Then clean the area immediately with soap and lots of water, as water can help neutralize brake fluid. Although these steps likely won’t stop the damage already inflicted, it may help mitigate the destruction.” If you do mess up, get your car to a shop immediately so they can properly remove it and to prevent it from eating through to the metal.

Hope you awesome patrons enjoyed this first edition of Snap Judgment! If you have any questions, additions, or suggestions, let us know!

 

 

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