Here’s your reading for the day: a blog post by Dawn Pedersen, outlining ten Facebook pages whose content you should never, ever share, along with the reasons why:
The Facebook fan pages below have a habit of spitting scientific inquiry and reason in the eye. They also have an unreasonably high number of fans who share their inanity. Shares from the following pages deserve a serious eye roll and shaking of one’s head.
Of course, Food Babe made the list.
But this valuable rundown also reminded me of less suspicious content which rears its uninformed, misleading head even from the most well-meaning and otherwise-okay pages.
It’s usually an image and an accompanying text with a did-you-know factor and a little titbit of advice attached. Not necessarily outrageous, or even scandalous, these gems are nevertheless highly shareable while being completely, utterly false.
Take capsicum gender, for example. It’s probably my favourite bit of this type of nonsense I’ve seen, because, well, it’s just so damn silly, and yet carries the airs of plausibility – if you didn’t pay attention in biology class.
Above is just one instance of this image, with a tremendous amount of shares, as you can see. Others I found also had shares in the thousands. Meanwhile the alleged copyright holder is a blog that no longer exists.
Now, if you ever see someone in the supermarket inspecting their capsicums and counting the lobes, you know they have been duped by this treasure of ‘folk wisdom’. Capsicums (Capsicum annuum) belong to the nightshade family of plants, most of which reproduce through what are known as ‘perfect’ flowers. In biology, a perfect flower is one that contains both male and female reproductive organs, which for flowers are stamens and carpels respectively. In fact, most flowering plants possess perfect flowers. So, of course, all capsicum, regardless of the amount of lobes formed during the growing process, is the same – genderless.
And even if a plant keeps the male and female organs in different flowers, and sometimes even on different plants – kiwifruit vines do this, for example – to produce fruit the pollination process still needs to happen. Even though only female vines produce kiwifruit, you can hardly say that all kiwifruit is ‘female’.
But hey, which story is more shareable – the quick life lesson that lets you pick capsicums according to cooking purpose, or the quick biology lesson that… teaches you something about flowers and fruit?
You can see the problem here.