Grunge: Real Phenomena That People Used to Think Were Fake

Climate change isn’t the only scientific phenomenon that took people a long time to accept the reality of. Would you believe that until the past few centuries, meteorites were considered a fairy tale? Or that one dedicated researcher, upon figuring out that ulcers were caused by bacteria, rather than stress, had to take it upon himself to go all Bruce Banner on it — I.E., testing it upon his own body — to prove his point?

Sometimes, the Nobel prizes only come decades after the controversies. Read on, in my new piece on Grunge, for more scientific realities that people used to be skeptical about!

Real Phenomena That People Used to Think Were Fake

Back in the day, people believed in some funny things. Seriously, go back a few centuries, and you’ll find ordinary folks thinking that every shot of sperm contained a tiny, pre-formed human inside. Not silly enough? How about the popular belief that mice “spontaneously generated” from mud? Yeah, that didn’t age well.Now, that doesn’t mean these folks were stupid. Honestly, give it a few decades, and everybody today will look stupid, too. Perhaps the craziest thing, though, are those moments in history where some crazed genius pops up out of nowhere, points to a scientific truth … and the establishment shreds them to pieces. Remember what happened to Galileo when he was audacious enough to point out that the Earth rotated around the sun? Not pretty. Heliocentrism has hardly been the only scientific reality that got mocked in its time, sadly, and the world is full of all-too-real phenomena that people used to think were fake.

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Real life people who had medical conditions named after them

Everyone wants to leave their mark on history, and there’s no better way to do that than having something important named after you. A bridge? Awesome. A new invention? Great! An obscure scientific theory? Well … everyone who understands it will appreciate it. It’s no different when it comes to the world of medicine and psychology, where long and unique names like Alzheimer, Klinefelter, Münchausen, and Tourette now fly off any nurse’s tongue as easily as a kid spouting Latin dinosaur names. While critics oppose the practice of naming medical conditions after people, it’s definitely easier for non-medical folks to remember a unique name than a string of letters.

This raises a question, though: What does an ambitious person have to do if they want a medical condition named after them? The answer isn’t so clear. Sometimes doctors get the credit, sometimes it goes to a well-known patient, and sometimes, telling a few exaggerated stories will do the trick.

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Soylent, You Say?


Eating is one of those simple, mechanical tasks that is so easy in principal, but so time-consuming in reality.

Eating at home is certainly the cheaper option, but it requires the time spent shopping and preparing the food, plus the even more time-consuming, ghastly and horrific climax of having to wage war against a sink full of dishes.  Eating out is less work, of course, but this benefit is negated by it being more expensive.  The time spent working, so that one can afford for eat out regularly, renders this option equally problematic.  However, there’s no beating our need to consume.  Eating is an addiction we can’t really be freed from.

But what if there was an easy solution?

To understand exactly what Soylent is, the best way to start is to watch the informative video here on their website.  Don’t worry, it’s short – and packed full of interesting information!

From the official website:

Soylent™ was developed from a need for a simpler food source. Creator Robert Rhinehart and team developed Soylent after recognizing the disproportionate amount of time and money they spent creating nutritionally complete meals.

Soylent is a food product (classified as a food, not a supplement, by the FDA) designed for use as a staple meal by all adults. Each serving of Soylent provides maximum nutrition with minimum effort.

While we’re at it, let’s take a look at Rhinehart’s interview on The Colbert Report.  Good stuff, and pretty informative.  Also, some information here from the official website’s FAQ:

Soylent is:

1. Healthy: Soylent’s nutritional makeup includes protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, and vitamins and minerals such as potassium, iron and calcium. It includes all of the elements of a healthy diet, without undesirables such as sugars, saturated fats, or cholesterol.

2. Easy: Soylent is a convenient powder that is mixed with water.

3. Cheap: Healthy food can be expensive and takes time to prepare. At around $3/meal, Soylent is affordable.


So by now, we all understand the basic idea.  Soylent (the name of which is, yes, inspired by Harry Harrison’s Make Room!  Make Room!) is a substance that’s intended to replace food for at least one meal a day, or all three meals for the more ambitious among us.  Minimal preparation, low cost, bland flavor and barely any time consumption whatsoever.  While opinions differ wildly—at least one writer for The New York Times called it “the most joyless new technology to hit the world since we first laid eyes on MS-DOS” —I think that this view misses the point.  Nobody eats something like Soylent for the taste, and Soylent clearly isn’t intended to be pleasurable; it’s a product made for purely functional reasons, for people that are so busy and pressed for time that they don’t care about the more pleasurable aspects of food.  Admittedly, this isn’t everyone, but the growing popularity of Soylent does point toward a sizable audience.


As for me?  Soylent certainly holds a strong appeal.  I’m so continually busy that I often will grab at the quickest, least involved item of food available, more for the sake of filling my stomach than enjoying it.  Now, I wouldn’t want to survive off of only Soylent, as I do love eating; occasions like dinner and lunch are important social rituals that shouldn’t be left behind, and there are few things as amazing as a well-prepared meal. That said, I can’t imagine that most people are interested in a Soylent-only diet; reportedly, even Rhinehart still supplements his Soylent intake with regular food.

While I’m still on the fence, I’ll admit to being very tempted by the idea of using it to replace some of the more rushed meals of the day, such as breakfast.  As someone who is definitely not a morning person, my so-called “breakfast” is usually a rushed and sordid affair that involves jamming unappetizing items into my stomach as quickly as possible, until the hunger stops. Soylent would offer a nice, easy alternative.  That said, I don’t want to rush it into it.  My current feeling is that I’d rather wait until some more research studies are done reflecting the effects of Soylent on health.  In the meantime, I’ll keep tabs on it for a year or so.


The other potentially wonderful benefit of Soylent is that its creation could be an amazing new development in the fight against world hunger, which is something Rhinehart intends to use it for.  Cheap, nutritious and easily produced, Soylent could potentially change the game in a big way.

So what do you guys think?

To Soylent or not to Soylent?