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Fart facts are like farts themselves: incredibly varied, potentially inconvenient, and not something you want to make a mistake with. Erin (@erincmccarthy) discusses the history of farts, from tasty Tudor-era cuisine to scientific research into the volume of a fart (you’ll have to watch the video to find out whether or not you could fit an average fart into a travel-sized toiletry bottle).

Farts are also discussed as a medium for artistic expression and a topic of political debate. You’ll learn about “The Crazy Toot Trial” and discover that James Joyce really didn’t mind a bit of flatulence.

And for those who need more farts (or at least fart-adjacent information) in their lives, we have this list of 25 Different Ways to Say "Fart" https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/621949/fart-slang-words

In case you forgot, The List Show is a trivia-tastic, fact-filled show for curious people. Subscribe here for new List Show episodes the first and third Wednesday of each month: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpZ5qUqpW4hW4zdfuBxMSJA?sub_confirmation=1

Website: http://www.mentalfloss.com
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Did you know that the world’s first recorded joke was a fart joke?

Hi, I’m Erin McCarthy, editor-in-chief of MentalFloss.com. Bathroom humor has a long history.

In 2008, researchers at England’s University of Wolverhampton identified an ancient joke, about a woman who may or may not have tooted in her husband’s lap, and traced it all the way back to 1900 BCE. The Sumerian quip is delivered as follows: “Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap.” Hey, we said the joke was old—not funny. And that’s just the first of many fascinating, hilarious, and silent but deadly facts about farts that I’m going to share with you today.

If you’ve ever encountered one of those people who swears up and down that they don’t fart, they’re lying. And you can tell them we said so. If you’re a human being who breathes, you’re a human being who breaks wind—gas is essentially the byproduct of the air you swallow mixing with the (generally healthy) bacteria and other organic compounds in your large intestine, then finding its way out of your body via your rear-end.

In other words: everyone farts. Accept it. Embrace it.

Besides, farts can be delicious. OK, let me explain. A popular English delicacy during the Tudor era were Farts of Portingale.

According to one 16th century cookbook, making the dish required mincing mutton, seasoning it, rolling it into little balls, and then cooking them in beef broth. So basically meatballs. But don’t worry—the two farts are etymologically unrelated.

If you want to avoid any ambiguity with your friends who love Tudor-era English cuisine, you’ll want to use the proper medical term for a fart: flatus. It comes from the Latin word meaning the act of blowing. The first known use of the word occurred in 1651 and is simply defined as “gas generated in the stomach or bowels.” If you want to take your toot talk up one notch further, try using borborygmus: That’s the word gastroenterologists use to describe the rumbling noise your stomach makes when you’ve got some gas brewing.

So just how much squeezing cheese is normal? Typically, adults produce about two pints of gas each day, which sneaks—or leaks—out via an average of 14 farts a day. If that number seems low to you, don't worry.

It's apparently perfectly normal to pass gas up to 21 times a day. Though it does sound exhausting. Ninety-nine percent of what constitutes a toot has no smell at all.

It’s made up of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane—all of which are odorless. It’s generally when sulfur makes its way into the mix, mainly via the foods you eat—think broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and dairy products—that things start to stink. No matter how sly you think you may be, you cannot “hold in” a fart.

Sure, they can rumble to the surface at inopportune moments and you can often comport your body in certain ways to prevent the little guy from screeching out, but that gas will escape. If you’re lucky, it will do so quietly and over an extended period of time to give you the best chance of not being suspected as the one who dealt it. But if you’re not so lucky, holding in a stinker could force it to come tumbling out louder than it would have in the first place.

According to Clare Collins, a professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Newcastle, So think carefully when making flatulence-dependent decisions. If you’re truly cursed, holding in a tail scudder for too long could mean that the gas will be reabsorbed into your circulation system and could be released out of your mouth. Let me repeat that: If you hold in a fart too long, it could actually LEAK OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!

Do not take any chances. Unleash the air biscuit. Just as it’s considered rude to pass gas in public, the word fart itself has long been considered a vulgarism, making it impolite to talk about bottom burps in certain company.

But that didn’t stop some of history’s most celebrated thinkers from writing about cutting the cheese. William Shakespeare was the master of the fart joke, as evidenced in works like The Comedy of Errors, where the character Dromio of Ephesus says the following: “A man may break a word with you, sir; and words are but wind; Ay, and break it in your face, so he break it not behind.” And Geoffrey Chaucer had a character, quote, “let fly a fart as loud as it had been a thunder-clap” in The Canterbury Tales. Dante’s The Inferno, Aristophanes’ The Clouds, Mark Twain’s 1601, and J.

D. Salinger’s The Catcher In The Rye are just a few other pieces of revered literature that waxed poetic about cheek squeaks. Which clearly puts us in some pretty esteemed company.

James Joyce’s Ulysses is another classic that didn’t shy away from fart talk, but Joyce himself took it one step further. He actually seemed to find something romantic in breaking wind. When he wasn’t busy writing some of the most influential works of the 20th century, Joyce penned some pretty raunchy missives to Nora Barnacle, his wife and longtime muse.

In one letter, written in December of 1909, he used the word “fart” a total of 10 times—and mostly in an X-rated context. He wrote, quote, “I think I would know Nora’s fart anywhere. I think I could pick hers out in a roomful of farting women.” He described it as a “rather girlish noise.” If Joyce was particularly enthusiastic regarding his wife’s...unique emission...he wouldn’t be entirely alone.

Farting can be a fetish. Case studies—including a 2013 paper in the Archives of Sexual Behavior—have been written about individuals who are aroused by flatulence—a proclivity known as “eproctophilia.” An obsession with squeakers isn’t always a fetish, though. In 1982, a pair of scientists at Georgia State University published a case study in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry about a 33-year-old respiratory therapist who could not rid her mind of obsessive thoughts about roaring from the rear.

In a rather unorthodox move, she was instructed to “intensify flatus emissions” or, in laymen’s terms: when she had to pass gas, she should just fart harder. This contradictory advice helped free her of the thoughts altogether. In November 2016, Canadian Parliament argued about the appropriateness of using the word “fart” on the chamber floor.

We discussed the kerfuffle in our recent list of Things That Will Make You Feel Better, but when you’re bringing together that rare marriage of flatulence and parliamentary procedure, I think it’s worth a second mention. The debate erupted after Conservative MP Michelle Rempel, in an impassioned speech, dared to ask, “Why does the government treat Alberta like a fart in the room that nobody wants to talk about or acknowledge?” Rather than answer her question, Green Party leader Elizabeth May admonished Rempel, labeling her question “distinctly unparliamentary” and requesting that her colleague withdraw the statement. May’s issue wasn’t with the political content of the conversation—it was, in her words, the use of the word "f-a-r-t.” Yes, she actually spelled it.

Eventually, the Assistant Deputy Speaker broke out the House of Commons Procedure and Practice rulebook, and read from the section on “unparliamentary language” then declared that, quote, And you thought political meetings were boring! Canada isn’t the only place where politics and pant rippers have come together in an explosive way. Gerald Ford supposedly had a reputation for using his Secret Service agents as scapegoats for his trouser coughs.

When the 38th President of the United States would let one rip, he’s said to have regularly blamed it on one of his Secret Service agents, very loudly saying things like “Jesus, was that you? Show some class!” Ford may have gotten away with placing the responsibility for his errant crowd splitters on his staffers, but not all bosses are lucky enough to be the leader of the free world. Case in point: Greg Short was a supervisor at an engineering firm in Melbourne, Australia, that got sued by David Hingst, a former employee, who claimed that he was continually bullied by his boss—or, more specifically, his boss’s gassiness—during the year he worked for the company.

Hingst claimed that between May 2008 and April 2009, Short would regularly amuse himself by coming into the windowless office, at which point he would “lift his bum and fart.” Hingst sued for 1.8 million Australian dollars in damages—equivalent to roughly 1.3 million USD. While Short denied being a serial fart attacker, he did acknowledge it was possible that he had let a few go near Hingst. In any case, the court sided with the company, deciding that hot boxing an office on occasion did not rise to the level of harassment.

Hingst vowed to appeal. A couple of words of advice if you’re visiting Germany: If a police officer asks to see your ID, do not fart at them in response. They hate that.

In 2016, Berlin police asked a group of people to show them some identification. One man floated a pair of farts their way instead. The farter in question was fined 900 euros for disrespecting law enforcement and started what became known as the "Crazy Toot Trial," which required the participation of 23 law enforcement officials and prompted a huge debate over wasteful public spending.

In the late 1800s, a French baker named Joseph Pujol would often entertain his customers by sucking air into his rectum, then expelling it in such a way that he could actually imitate different instruments and sounds. While not a fart in the most technical sense, Pujol decided to take his act on the road. He adopted the stage name Le Pétomane—which combined the French word for “to fart,” péter, with the suffix -mane, for maniac—and wowed the crowds with his talent for passing wind at will.

If you’d like to see a flatulist perform for yourself, at least one is still around: England’s Mr. Methane, a.k.a. the King of Farts. And while some scientists dedicate their lives to curing diseases or figuring out the answers to questions that have stumped us for years—like why we cry, laugh, or sleep—others have devoted their knowledge to gastrointestinal distress.

In 1991, gastroenterologists from the Human Gastrointestinal Physiology and Nutrition subdepartment of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffielld, England, published a paper in the trade journal Gut, that attempted to answer perhaps the most important question of all: How much space does a fart take up? To get to the bottom of the problem, they fed 10 volunteers 200 grams of baked beans in addition to their regular diet, then used rectal catheters to measure their flatulence over the next 24 hours. They determined that the volume of the average fart—regardless of gender, body size, or time of day—was between 33 and 125 ml, with a median of 90 ml, or about 3 fluid ounces.

So roughly the volume of an airport-approved travel bottle. Think of that the next time you’re packing your toiletry bag for a trip. Speaking of beans: You may have uttered that lasting legume-based poem, “Beans, beans, the musical fruit.

The more you eat, the more you toot” at one point in your life. Well, there may be something to that sing-songy refrain. A 2011 study in Nutrition Journal comprised of three feeding studies found that some subjects who ate beans did see an increase in gas compared to a control group.

The increases seemed to taper off after some time, though, and the paper’s authors argue that the health benefits of beans outweigh any temporary tooting. Let’s discuss the term “silent but deadly.” You’ve probably used it to describe a fart at some point in time, but firm scientific evidence establishing a relationship between the loudness of a fart and its resulting smell is lacking. Which isn’t to say that you’ve never experienced the horror that is an SBD—but if you want to tout a rigorously established connection between smell and sound, you may need to fund the necessary research yourself.

We’ve all heard stories, or seen YouTube videos, of people lighting a fart on fire. And yes, it’s true that a lit flame and a gaseous toot can make for an explosive combination. But here’s another fun, science-y fart fact: If a person cuts the cheese in cold weather with their pants down, it would likely be visible—in the same way that we can see our breath in cold weather.

It's not your imagination—your farts really do smell worse in the shower. The lack of clothing means there’s nothing to absorb the smell, and being in the shower means you’re in an enclosed space, so there’s nowhere for that stink burger to go. Plus, there’s some evidence that all that shower steam can actually enhance your sense of smell—which all adds up to one seriously potent bun-shaker.

Believe it or not, there’s a possible downside to burping out the wrong end with no pants on: getting someone sick. And not from the smell. Though it’s highly unlikely and would take a very specific situation—namely, a person carrying a disease would have to remove their pants and fart squarely at another person in rather close quarters—it is possible for disease to be spread through gas.

But enough about gaseous humans for a moment—let’s talk about pets who fart. As anyone who has a dog or cat knows, those adorably fuzzy little creatures can let off some serious stink bombs. Yet we love them all the same ... even if we do feel the need to move to the other side of the couch. (Sorry, Pearl.) But lots of animals fart, and for some of them, it can be a genuine matter of life or death.

The Bolson pup fish, a fish found in northern Mexico, feeds on algae and can accidentally ingest the gas bubbles that algae produces in warm temperatures. That becomes dangerous if the air finds its way into the fish’s intestines, which makes it difficult for the fish to swim. If it doesn’t fart to remove the air, it’s likely to die—either from being attacked by a predator when it floats to the top of the water, or because the gas bubbles rupture its intestines.

Frankly, neither of those options sounds like a fun way to go. One of the most notorious animal farters is the termite: They may be small in size, but they live in colonies of millions. So when each termite lets a half microgram of methane loose per day, it adds up to a lot: about 20 million tons of methane per year, or one to three percent of global methane emissions.

But not every animal farts: It’s thought that octopuses don’t, nor do soft-shell clams, sea anemones, or birds. Sloths don’t fart either—and they very well may be the only mammal that does not. Thanks to bogcom for cluing us in to the not-so-smell sloth situation.

Ok, back to air biscuits of the human variety. If you swear that your gas smells less offensive than anyone else’s, you’re not alone. The more exposed and familiar we are with something, the more likely we are to prefer it.

This goes for music, art, and, yes, even thunder from down under. Which means that while your farts may not register a blip on your own smell detector, the same can’t necessarily be said for those within the odor’s vicinity. Your brain may also anticipate an odor when it knows you just farted, creating a different perception compared to the smelly sneak attack of a surprise from someone else.

If you’d rather avoid the sulfur-like smell of any farts—and who besides James Joyce wouldn’t?—there’s a pill for that. In 2014, a French inventor named Christian Poincheval claimed he could turn your flatus from sour to sweet with a pill that would make your gas smell like chocolate. If chocolate isn't your thing, there are rose, violet, ginger, and lily of the valley varieties, too.

By the way, one of our video producer's significant other tried the pills for a video she made a couple years back. You'll be sad to know that neither of them can recommend the product. Well, if the pills are ineffective, maybe some fart-filtering fashion is a better bet.

There's an entire company, Shreddies, that uses activated carbon in its line of underwear, pajamas, jeans, and even seat cushions to block the more putrid smells associated with farts. If you happen to own any of their products, let us know how those are working out for you in our comments section. Finally: For those of you keeping count at home, I have used the word fart—or some variation thereof, like farts, farting, and farted— 51 times now in this video—55 if you count the four in this sentence.

Which is about how many times you’ll actually pass gas over the next four days: yes, even you. Our next episode is all about forbidden places. Leave a dangerous, walled-off, or otherwise forbidden place in the comments for a chance to be featured in that episode.

That’ll be up next Wednesday. We’ll see you then!