Rumor Flies

We got the sauce

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

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Snap Judgment #23: Happy birthday, you're not special!

#74: You share your birthday with at least 9 million other people in the world.

Verdict: False on a technicality

Let's open with why it says "False on a technicality." Really...that means false, but I'm giving them just a few points (JUST a few) for making a simple mistake. According to ThoughtCo, the odds of you sharing your birthday with anyone should be approximately 1/365 in any population (0.274%). This assumes ~7 billion people at time of article (though it's more accurately around 7.6 billion). Since we now know you share it with .274% of the population, we do the math (.274% of ~7billion): you share your birthday with over 19 million people around the world (19,178,082). So this means that yes, technically Snapple was right saying you shared with over 9 million people (even if it was understated), right? WRONG. Leap Year, yo! 

If you are born on February 29th, you should share your birthday with 1/1461 of the population (0.068%). That means you share your birthday with 4,791,239 people, making Snapple officially wrong. Now this was a fun but short math adventure accented with pedantry and literal interpretations, so I wanted to add a little something extra to the topic. I went ahead and researched some of the most and least popular birthdays. 

Fun Fact: September is the most popular birthday with Winter being the least popular as a whole (Dec-Feb).

Researchers at Harvard University examined births between 1973 and 1999, and found that the most common birth date for those years was Sept. 16 (2006 report), but more recently, Matt Stiles at The Daily Viz created a visualization based on data FiveThirtyEight compiled on births from 1994 to 2014, updating that to Sept. 9th. The data is from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Social Security Administration.

So there you have it. A short one, but we love finding ones where we get to be SUPER petty about why they are wrong, so we couldn't resist. Ok, not "we," me. 


Snap Judgment #11: "We're having a Bay-Bee"

#775: “Bees are born fully grown”

Verdict: False

I remember seeing this in a commercial not too long ago. It was a very weird setup where a husband and a wife are dressed in bee costumes in the delivery room of a hospital. Next thing you see, a big beautiful baby boy pops out…except he’s not a baby boy. He’s an adult. The fact that Snapple was advertising this to be true means that it can’t be false, right? Whomp whomp. It’s bullshit.

Funny enough, I had a hard time tracking down this commercial. They got a ton of backlash over something that seems really trivial and takes minimal effort to seek the validity of a statement. Bees, like most other insects, undergo the normal process from eggs to larvae to big beautiful bee. While the growth from larvae to a fully grown bee can take as little as ten days, there is a cycle that all bees undergo. If I had to guess, people say bees are born adults because of how quickly they go.

What also bugs me about this statement, as with many different topics we cover in this podcast, is the vague and broad “fact” that this applies to all bees. Why is it bees and not a specific type of bee? Not all bees are the same. They’re just like people in the regard that they have different cultures, environments, and lifestyles. Don’t paint all the same bees with the same brush. Actually, just don’t paint bees at all. They don’t like it 


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Snap Judgment #8: Ye Olde Spam

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

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.

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 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?"  


Snap Judgment #7: Incessant Bloodhound Gang

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


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. 


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



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. 



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! 


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Snap Judgment #5: Freaky-Deaky Jelly-Fishy

 #18: A Jellyfish is 95% water


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.


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.


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

#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.

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.

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

Snap Judgment #3: Eye-Popping Orgasms?

#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. 


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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Snap Judgment #2: Slippery Myths



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. 


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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