Sometimes you'll see a piece of incredible scientific or medical news that's so crazy and so unbelievable, you'll SWEAR it's not real. But then you click the story and you STILL can't believe it. "There's just no way," you say to yourself. But lo and behold, you poor cynical reader, you're too afraid to open your eyes and see the light of tru- op, never mind, you were right. The thing you swore was bullshit was bullshit. So how did everyone fall for it?
From journalists totally misrepresenting scientific stories to make them sound cooler to good old-fashioned failures to read the research correctly, here are five recent science stories the internet really bungled, even by internet standards.
You Can Survive Without Food! Wait, Nope, All Of Human History Was Right
In 2017, a story went viral about a couple that claimed they didn't need to eat food because they lived off "the energy of the Universe." This might immediately sound implausible to you, because you're one of those crazy jaded skeptics who isn't a tabloid editor cranking out 40,000 of these stories per millisecond with no regard for how eyeballs get on them, but THERE'S THE EVIDENCE RIGHT THERE IN PRINT, ya ingrate. These human beings didn't need to eat or drink because the Universe gave them "cosmic nourishment."
GizmodoBeing able to absorb energy from the Universe would solve about half the world's problems, but nah, let's use it to save on groceries.
The story ran in the British tabloid The Sun, then spread to The New York Post and outward into the gossipsphere, with dozens of sites straight up taking these peoples' word at face value. After all, it's more fun to print the story, make people mad, cash in on hate-clicks, then quietly retract it than it is to do the many, many hours of exhaustive research it surely would've taken to disprove their claim. Who's telling the truth? Every organism that's ever lived since the beginning of time, or these two randos? As with any story, we gotta hear both sides.
Turns out the couple was lying. Snopes printed an almost-immediate refutation, and The New York Post then printed two retractions to their earlier story after a full news cycle of eating up those sweet, sweet clicks (not that they needed to eat). The couple amended their story to say that they "do eat solid foods on a regular basis, just not as much as the next guy." So that's pretty much the same thing. "We've transcended the need for food and water" and "We do eat and drink, but probably less than some people" -- same difference. And definitely just as newsworthy. Who knew people ate different amounts?? Get them one of those long-ass Economist profiles.
The couple also identified as "Breatharians," which sounds like some race from a '60s Star Trek episode that's a heavy-handed metaphor for pollution. But really it means "people who absorb their energy from the Universe." And also eat and drink totally normally and all of this is nothing.
An Astronaut Came Back From Space With MUTATED DNA!!!
Astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year on the International Space Station. When he returned, he underwent some tests, and doctors compared his body to that of his twin brother ... with TERRIFYING RESULTS. While Kelly was in space, 7 percent of his DNA ... CHANGED.
Daily MailIt's like if Gene Roddenberry had given up Star Trek to write Lifetime movies.