A week or two ago I was listening to MoreFM when radio host Simon Barnett discussed something he had read on a “science” related website about how to tell which end of a worm is which. Apparently you put the worm in flour and wait until it farts.
This sounded strange to me, and even to my partner who has no science background asked “Don’t worms burp then?” But we laughed it off without much further thought.
Yesterday a scientist named Charlotte rang More FM and told them that what Simon had described is actually an old joke and that there are much simplier ways to determine which end of a worm is which:
1) To put it down and see which direction it moves in (worms don’t reverse)
2) To look for bristles at the mouth end ?? (Couldn’t find any more information about this, can any invertebrate experts elaborate?)
3) Look for the position of the saddle (clitellum) which is closer to the front than the back
It was interesting listening to this whole interaction on the radio. First the radio hosts seemed surprised that they would have any listeners who are scientists. Also, it made it clear how difficult it can be to tell the genuine scientific information from pseudoscientific information (or old jokes) which is strewn all over the internet.
So what I would like to suggest is that if there are any other scientists out there who listen to MoreFm, that you email and tell them you are a listener. I’m not quite sure how they are stereotyping scientists in assuming none listen to their show?
Also given the confusion over what is scientific fact and what isn’t I’d also like to suggest that any readers use the email above to send Mr Barnett any interesting and scientifically valid science facts or stories so that he isn’t put off talking about science again.