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Apr. 01, 2015

Spot the REAL Hypothesis

by Annie Minoff

Click to enlarge images
Many news outlets will be trying to pull the wool over your eyes this April Fool’s Day, and we here at Science Friday are no exception. This Friday on the show, we’re talking to Zach Weinersmith, webcomic artist and founder of BAHFest, the annual festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses (or “BAHs”). Held every October, this satirical festival brings together bona fide scientists and science groupies to present well-argued, thoroughly researched, but completely incorrect evolutionary hypotheses. How incorrect? Consider this hypothesis, presented by BAHFest 2014 winner Michael Anderson, which attempts to scientifically explain the existence of middle-aged men’s “spare-tires”:
 
 
Don’t quite buy Anderson’s argument? That’s a sign of a BS-detector in working order. But just how good are you at detecting Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses? We cooked up an April Fool’s Day quiz to put your BS-detecting abilities to the test.
 

The Quiz:
Each question below presents three possible evolutionary hypotheses. One of these is a REAL hypothesis that scientists are considering, and that we’ve covered here on Science Friday. The remaining two hypotheses are complete fictions made up by our SciFri staff.
 
Your Task: Spot the real hypothesis amid the BAHs.
 
Which of these is a REAL hypothesis scientists are considering?
 
(1) That long flap of skin that hangs off of a male turkey’s beak is called a “snood.” (Now you know!)
 
{"input":{"width":"250","photo":"turkey","row":"5103","table":"DOCUMENT"}}

 
The REAL Story: Hot for Turkey
 
 
(2) After two elephants mate, nearby elephants often make loud, rumbling calls as part of a phenomenon scientists call elephant “mating pandemonium.”
 
 
 
 
(3) This Australian “sequined spider” looks more like a disco ball to us.
 
{"input":{"width":"250","photo":"spider","row":"5103","table":"DOCUMENT"}}
 
 
 
Tune in this Friday at 3:20pm ET to hear how BAHFest winners come up with their Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses…and find the data to support it.

 

About Annie Minoff

Annie Minoff is Science Friday’s SciArts producer. She's visited Olympic ski jumps and a nuclear reactor in the name of science.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Science Friday® and SciFri® are registered service marks of Science Friday, Inc. Site design by Pentagram; engineering by Mediapolis.

 

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