What Was Fake on the Internet This Week: Date-Rape Nail Polish, ‘Two Moons’ and the Return of ‘Breaking Bad’
Ready? Here’s what was fake on the Internet this week:
1. Nail polish can’t actually prevent date-rape. The media, social and otherwise, cheered the invention of an “anti-date rape” nail polish at North Carolina State University, where students claimed their polish would change colors when exposed to common date rape drugs. Unfortunately, the “claim” is … just that. As my colleague Gail Sullivan noted in the Morning Mix, the vast majority of date rapes don’t involve the four drugs the nail polish detects. More problematic? In many a laboratory study, the chemical test used by the new polish often fails to detect the drugs in question, while turning up false positives for lots of other benign things. That makes the date rape polish a great headline, but a more or less useless tool. “We like simple fixes,” writes the drug columnist at Animal New York — but this one, alas, is “a false panacea.”
2. There are never — never! — “two moons.” Despite the repeated dissuasions of peeved astronomers, late summer marks the arrival of an annual Internet tradition: promises that Mars will soon be close enough to Earth that it’s as large and as visible as the moon. Needless to say, this makes zero scientific sense. (Just look at a scaled diagram of the solar system.) But the photos that circulate with this hoax are obvious frauds, too: In the popular image below, for instance, the “second” moon is a clear clone of the other. NASA has helpfully supplied a real photo of Mars approaching Earth — needless to say, it’s not quite so impressive.