Are you gonna eat that?

Interesting how easily you can turn something completely backwards by selectively quoting the bits you like. For instance, high-school student Justine Clarke ran an experiment while on a summer internship at the University of Illinois on the five-second rule — you know, if you drop something on the floor, it’s safe to eat if you pick it up within five seconds because the germs don’t have time to jump onto it from the floor. This research earned her an Ig Nobel prize.

So, is the five-second rule true or not? Through experimentation and an electron microscope, Clarke found that if bacteria are present on a floor, they can jump to a piece of food in contact with the floor in less than five seconds. So far so good, but by “swabbing 1-inch squares of floors in a variety of locations on the campus, including floors in high-traffic areas” she discovered that the average floor even somewhere as filthy as a university (and you know what those degenerate student types get up to) contained no detectable bacteria.

However, those serial killjoys at Snopes.com reported the first half of the findings — that bacteria can make the jump in under five seconds — while completely ignoring the second half — that there aren’t any bacteria on the average floor to do any jumping. Now why on earth would they do that?

One can’t help but think of all those disinfectant ads where the mother archetypes go around the house wiping “germs” off everything before the baby archetypes try to eat them . . . and be reminded of Brad Pitt’s character in 12 Monkeys, Jeffrey Goines, who remarks:

I go in to order a burger at this fast food joint, and the guy drops it on the floor. James, he picks it up, wipes it off. He hands it to me like it’s all okay. “What about the germs?” I say. He says, “I don’t believe in germs. Germs is a plot made up so they could sell disinfectants and soaps.”

Are those shady characters at Snopes.com part of the germ conspiracy?

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