"I hadn't given sufficient thought to the reverse operation."
August 3, 2022 4:20 PM   Subscribe

Climate scientist John Kennedy explains via an anecdote involving himself, an orange, and hubris that the phrase "some scientists think" should be taken with a shaker of salt. (SLTwitter)
posted by NoxAeternum (45 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
So beautifully described. So obviously lived through because of the whole "time has slowed down and I can describe all of this to you in detail". One of my favorite forms of twitter threads. Thanks so much for posting!
posted by hippybear at 4:24 PM on August 3 [5 favorites]


(Also, it's probably better he did this with an orange and not a cue ball. That often leads to ER visits to get muscle relaxants injected into jaw muscles to the the ball out.)
posted by hippybear at 4:31 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]


"some scientists think"

...but not necessarily enough...
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:32 PM on August 3 [5 favorites]


The thing with the cue ball version is that they start with one of the other balls, not realizing that the cue is just a bit smaller to enable the return mechanism...
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:33 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Oh my. That was … intense.
posted by obfuscation at 4:43 PM on August 3


A gripping story of personal stupidity told in lavish graphic medical detail! So many internet stories get a generic "LOL" response but I am actually giggling at this.
posted by Vatnesine at 5:31 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]


I imagined this read in the voice of the guy who has eaten shrimp exactly five times in his life. It really does sound like another one of Shrimp Guy's misadventures that ends with him ralphing his guts out in an Ernesto's bathroom while he thoughtfully muses on hubris and biology.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:20 PM on August 3


> the phrase "some scientists think" should be taken with a shaker of salt.

to be clear he doesn't mean you should attempt to put the shaker of salt in your mouth
posted by glonous keming at 6:26 PM on August 3 [13 favorites]


I don’t know which direction I expected this to go, but I do know it went somewhere else entirely.
posted by swift at 7:59 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Out through the eye sockets is certainly not an expected direction.
posted by hippybear at 8:13 PM on August 3 [12 favorites]


I have a visceral fear of choking/suffocating* so this story was terrifying, but also this guy is pretty funny and self deprecating so it also did make me laugh quite hard. The best part of course is that he had arranged an audience, who IMO thoroughly deserved their citric baptism because what kind of weirdo actually volunteers to watch someone do something as ill-advised and frankly dangerous as this??

*which is actually an extremely rational fear to have, I must point out
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:12 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Is there some context missing? I don't get why an adult person wanted to shove an entire orange in his mouth in front of an audience. Was this a demonstration of the flexibility of the human jaw? Or did he lose a bet? Or was it a "hold my beer I can top that" moment after an audience member successfully lit a fart? Or was he jealous that everyone in the room had done it?
posted by elgilito at 12:34 AM on August 4


The thing with the cue ball version is that they start with one of the other balls, not realizing that the cue is just a bit smaller to enable the return mechanism...

This is only true for some models of coin operated tables. Other coin ops (which I don’t think I’ve ever played on) have a slightly magnetized cue ball for return purposes.

“Regular” pool ball sets have all of the balls of identical size and weight.
posted by Warren Terra at 12:46 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Is there some context missing?

Could be any of those! I figure the reason the author was in this situation was unneeded for the purposes of the story. Which reason is your favorite or makes the best story?

I don't get why an adult person wanted to

In addition to laughter, my reaction to reading the comments here was to tell my partner that I could probably fit a cue ball in my mouth. We found an apple in the kitchen that was about the size of a cue ball. I decided maybe not. I then ate the apple. It was delicious. Fun and playful learning isn't just for children.
posted by aniola at 12:49 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


Holy fuck that was surprisingly horrifying and funny. Great post.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:57 AM on August 4


(Also, it's probably better he did this with an orange and not a cue ball. That often leads to ER visits to get muscle relaxants injected into jaw muscles to the the ball out.)

It was a million to one shot, Doc, million to one.
posted by fairmettle at 1:12 AM on August 4


This is an awful, awful story; I can all too easily imagine myself in his role and as one of his audience.

He could easily have died or suffered a stroke, they could easily have witnessed a friend or acquaintance die a horrible death as they dithered and didn’t know what to do, and then been tormented with self-recriminations for the rest of their lives.

The detail about the stuff coming out 'including around my eyes' convinces me this is completely authentic, because your eyes have a tiny tear drain located in the lower, inner corner of each eye which has an outlet in your throat. He clearly generated enough pressure to force orange juice back up that tiny tube, and I don’t think it would occur to anybody that such a thing was possible unless it happened to them or they saw it.

I can only guess at it because a friend told me a story of his Okinawan Karate class out for pizza in their Gis after a session, and a drunk harassing the very short, but very broad native Okinawan instructor along the lines of 'you don’t look so tough—c'mon, show me what you got, you little fucking [SLUR], [SLUR] punk!'

At which the instructor , aka 'Johnny', picked up a lit cigarette from an ashtray on the table, inhaled a lungful of smoke, grabbed the edge of the table and slammed his own forehead down on it, generating a shatter star in the polyurethane surface, then turned to the drunk and blew smoke out of the tear drains in the corners of his eyes into the drunk's face.

At which the drunk ran out of the tavern crying, of course, as any red-blooded American (not excluding myself!) would have done.
posted by jamjam at 1:18 AM on August 4 [22 favorites]


Is there some context missing? I don't get why an adult person wanted to shove an entire orange in his mouth in front of an audience.

Have you heard of alcohol?
posted by mmoncur at 3:16 AM on August 4 [5 favorites]


No alcohol necessary.

A certain person of my acquaintance once did exactly this, popped an entire orange in their mouth just to show it was possible. They were still triumphantly gumming the orange when another person present (not me) instantly and vigorously tickled the orange-gagged person in the ribs.
Which started them laughing / choking /panicking. Luckily the orange came out with minimal slobber.

All adults, no alcohol.
posted by Zumbador at 4:29 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


Well, the reason I asked about context was that the framing gave the impression that he had somehow done this FOR SCIENCE!!!, like Lazzarro Spallanzani swallowing metal tubes containing food to study the digestion process on himself. But if the story was just to show that scientists can be as stupid as everybody else, I'm fine with that.
posted by elgilito at 4:49 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


I don’t think it would occur to anybody that such a thing was possible unless it happened to them or they saw it.

I don't know that people will connect the dots in the moment, but literally anyone who's ever used eyedrops can tell you this. Some eyedrops put an absolutely awful taste in your mouth/throat.
posted by explosion at 5:07 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


I shared this with my wife under the general sharing category of self-deprecating humor, since I am sciency and a lot of our shared humor is around the flaws of sciency people.

She took it as a pretty deep metaphor for Scientific Man's fatal flaw of being more interested in whether one CAN do something than in whether it's a good idea to do it, and being heedless to the consequences and collateral damage of just going ahead with stuff Because Science.

Like many a great short story, it works both ways!
posted by bgribble at 5:29 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


Some of the follow up tweets, while not quite as hilariously well written as the orange story, are also worth a chuckle:

Hi. My name is Paul. I have a PhD and tenure. Today I decided to test if a bottle of super glue was open by squirting it into my hand.

Then I tried to clean my hand by wiping it on a box.

posted by ook at 5:44 AM on August 4 [11 favorites]


Temporarily blind and gasping in my own private world of consequences,

applies to so many everyday situations
posted by philip-random at 6:43 AM on August 4 [10 favorites]


I'm going down to the market tomorrow for normal reasons (if I get this right, I'll be having seafood chowder for dinner), and I'm dead-set sure that I'll be looking for the smallest orange there.

For no reason, specifically.
posted by pompomtom at 7:15 AM on August 4


Kumquat?
posted by obfuscation at 7:21 AM on August 4


Bless you.
posted by quinndexter at 8:16 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


An orange will be in pompomtom's future, kumquat may...
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:18 AM on August 4 [5 favorites]


the impression that he had somehow done this FOR SCIENCE!!!

They say the scientific method mimics the way children learn.
posted by aniola at 8:36 AM on August 4


After reading this, I’m thinking that maybe I could learn some science by watching that Jackass show…
posted by njohnson23 at 8:40 AM on August 4


Here is the thread unrolled via thread reader.
posted by VTX at 9:14 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


I can see how this happens, as a fellow scientist. Recently Mr Nat and I (both scientists) had the following exchange:

Me, complaining about the slowness of Covid recovery with asthma exacerbation:
I hate how long it takes me to take all these drugs. Pills use my mouth. Inhaler needs my mouth. And I can’t blow my nose while taking either.

Mr Nat: I’m sorry. Well, it’s not like you can blow out through your nose while your mouth is open.

snuffling noises from both parties

Me: Actually, it seems you can.
Mr Nat: Evidently so.

This one was consequence-free and did not involve orange juice using any unexpected exits, but it’s not like either of us had time to consider consequences before we tried it.
posted by nat at 9:59 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


I've always been vaguely proud of that; mostly for want of more tangible achievements

Will now be how I close any statement about my past.
posted by solotoro at 10:56 AM on August 4


Okay. You can stick a finger through an orange. It doesn't matter how it was loaded into the mouth. You can stick a finger in, enough to pull out about 1/3 of the orange, first try, then bend forward and juice the orange down to a more convenient size for retraction. I am writing this because high schoolers, junior high schoolers do challenges all the time. This is how you can be a help in a bad situation, even your own. Just breathe through your nose and don't panic, bend forward to expel juice. Get the victim to bend forward at once.
posted by Oyéah at 11:29 AM on August 4 [12 favorites]


This one was consequence-free and did not involve orange juice using any unexpected exits, but it’s not like either of us had time to consider consequences before we tried it.

I'm glad this was consequence free. Because reading your comment I got exactly as far as "snuffling noises" before I was trying it myself, even though I should have had the presence of mind to realize that the next paragraph might indicate if it was a regrettable idea.
posted by Superilla at 12:11 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


To add a soupçon of seriousness, isn’t putting things in mouths that don’t normally go into mouths subject to review before an publishable experiment is done? Human mouths, especially?
posted by clew at 1:27 PM on August 4


As someone who almost choked on a too-generous portion of deli roast beef snuck while making my wife a sandwich, I found this both frightening and hilarious. Humans are weird.
posted by lhauser at 5:37 PM on August 4


The funniest thing I read yesterday, and perhaps today as well.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:55 PM on August 4


My partner has some problems with impulsivity. I once peeled an orange for them, dropped it in their hand, and watched them stare at it for 5 long seconds. “You want to put the whole thing in your mouth, don’t you?” I said, seeing it in their eyes.

“Yes,” they said, guiltily.

It was only a clementine, so it probably would have been fine, but they didn’t actually do it. But the desire was so obvious to me, even if I’d never had the urge myself. A whole orange is one of the least surprising things I would expect an adult human to put in their mouth.
posted by brook horse at 7:39 PM on August 4 [3 favorites]


A whole orange is one of the least surprising things I would expect an adult human to put in their mouth.

I cannot believe this sentence was typed on the internet in 2022. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN OMG.
posted by hippybear at 7:48 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


On Tumblr and Metafilter almost exclusively, so I miss a lot. What am I missing here?
posted by brook horse at 8:28 PM on August 4


A man cumming orange juice out through his eye sockets? That's my best summary.
posted by hippybear at 8:34 PM on August 4


Isn't O.J. Cumming the less-well-known brother of Alan Cumming?
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:15 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


I'm not on that part of the internet either.
posted by aniola at 9:41 PM on August 4



Isn't O.J. Cumming the less-well-known brother of Alan Cumming?


the juice is loose, baby!
posted by lalochezia at 4:15 AM on August 8


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