Experiment I'd like to see (what are yours?)

Take a normal office building (one company), and get one person to agree to be a “sick person” You can tell the rest of the people they are going to be conducting some research into communicable diseases soon (keep it semi-ethical), but not the hows (you could give the impression that it will just be a survey…)

Have this person apply to their hands an ultra-fine glitter that is invisible in regular light, but glows under black light, just before coming in to work, and a couple of times just before going to the bathroom.

Late afternoon, before people start going home, you start bringing in people and showing them where they have glitter - hands, face, etc. This is where they would have been exposed to a virus, had the original volunteer had an actual disease.

So, do y’all have any experiments you’d like to see run?

I’d suggest throwing bound GOP politicians into a pond to see which sink or float but that might be misinterpreted.

Sir! Who are you, so wise in the ways of Science?

In the 70s, a study was done in Nebraska, to find correlation between academic performance and about a hundred lifestyle questions.
Only one had a significant correlation – children whose family at their meals together correlated highly with good grades.

I’d like to see a lot more studies like that, that could be done at very little cost. I keep hearing about $5-million grants to do studies with 200 respondents, which is $25k per questionnaire, asked by graduate students. How can they cost that much?

Are you familiar with the website Spurious Correlations?

Not that I think a relationship between “a family eating their meals together” and children getting good grades is spurious, only that I think it’s probably a matter of common cause rather than one causing the other.

All that to say, studies pitting phenomena against each other without some consideration as to actual causal factors are not the sort of thing I personally would like to see resources going to.

What I would love to see, if this is a no-holds bar thought experiment, is two versions of America in an America simulator, one with gun control as it is, and one with the second amendment repealed and guns outlawed. Failing that (being as that is predicated on science fiction and all), I’d settle for just funding research looking at similarly situated/suited communities in terms of size/education levels/median income/etc/etc with varying degrees of gun control and how gun violence (to include accidents and suicides) tracks over a number of years. Maybe the best way to go about it would be to start from the ground up: build two model cities out of volunteers, set them up in a remote part of the country (and remote from each other, too), and randomly assign the volunteers to one or other city for a period of years, one with “everyone gets a gun who wants a gun and can have one according to our current gun control laws” as the mantra and the other with “no one gets a gun” as the mantra. See how things turn out.

You’re right, of course, buy a large enough sample size (in this case, I believe, every pupil in Nebraska) ironed out the other 99 spurious correlations. If there had been a couple dozen correlations, I would have also suspect common factors.

But my point was not the validity of this one finding, but that there so few such inquiries. Very often obstructed by privacy issues or protected classes not being expected to excel.

We actually did this where I worked once, not glitter but UV powder, as you described one person had the powder applied to his hands in the morning then he just went about his normal day, by lunch time just about everyone had traces of the powder on them, from what we could tell shared keyboards and door handles were the biggest contamination points

The OP’s experiment could seriously wig people out.

Didn’t mythbusters do the experiment in the OP? Or similar, anyway. With dripping nose goo that lit up undo black light…

Here’s a thought I had back in the days when we had high unemployment in this country (UK). They were really bad times - no jobs, and a lot of people living on “the dole”, basic, subsistence level welfare. And nothing much ever seemed to be done about it other than (certain) members of parliament proclaiming that welfare was a terrible thing and people should (famously) get on their bikes and look for work. Great. Thanks.

So, the experiment: every six months, all members of parliament must enter a ballot. The purpose of the ballot is to randomly select MPs, at a rate equal to the unemployment rate, to be suspended from parliament. During these 6 months they and their family must live in a council flat on the dole. No additional funds are permitted, and cheating results in immediate imprisonment for the remainder of the six month period. At the end of six months, the ballot is repeated. You get the idea.

I just want to know, under these conditions (a) do welfare payments improve? And (b) does the unemployment problem get solved?


Here’s a more scientific experiment than my last offering (because it’s properly controlled), one that I actually carried out.

Problem Statement: My feet get very cold cycling in the winter. This can be partially alleviated by wearing two pairs of socks. But would wearing a third pair be more effective than two pairs?

Study design: The study is a crossover design with intra-subject contralateral control*. The study is performed on two days of equivalent coldness, with a bike ride following the same route on each day. On study day 1, the ride is performed with 3 socks on my left foot and 2 socks on my right foot; on study day 2, the ride is performed with 2 socks on my left foot and 3 socks on my right foot. Evaluation is based on subject reports. Well, subject report, really, as it’s just me.

Results: The third sock offers no advantage.

Recommendation: Stick to two pairs of socks.


    • Intra-subject contralateral control is unusual, but it does exist and can be very useful. I’ve only been associated with one study in which it was employed – with 2 different types of local analgesia in volunteers who had just undergone breast reduction surgery. Essentially the subjects reported comparative pain levels, left tit vs right tit.

Mine are evil…

Raise a child in complete isolation. Never allowing them to see another human being. No pictures of humans, no videos… nothing!

Then as an adult, introduce them to an attractive human. Is there a physical attraction? Especially if it’s the opposite sex. Do they look attractive? Or just weird?

Didn’t Dr. Marvin Monroe do that one?

But not entirely novel - see Language deprivation experiments - Wikipedia.


We have plenty of data already on ‘supply side’ economics/tax cuts for the wealthy as a means of creating jobs and wealth. How about an experiment where the wealthiest portion of the population gets their taxes substantially increased to pay for an enhanced safety net for the entire country and we see what it does to our economy?

The probable physiological explanation is that the extra sock jammed between the foot and shoe starts compressing the foot, slowing blood flow (and therefore heat flow) into the foot. I’d advise instead trying a windproof (or even windproof and insulated) covering over the shoe, and/or better leg insulation. And make sure the first two socks are loose enough not to restrict blood flow at all.

My experiment involves business management.

I would have a company implement the following policy: Every employee can, on a certain fixed date, fire any other employee in the company, working from the lowest pay-grade upwards. In other words, managers and executives can be terminated if they treat other staff and personnel poorly. The procedure would be for all employees to submit sealed envelopes in which they have named another person they want fired. The envelopes are opened in a strict sequence. If the first (lowest-paid) employee wants to fire John Smith, he’s gone. If another employee names John Smith, too bad…he’s already gone and you don’t get another chance.

I personally think this will increase company morale substantially, as well as improving management techniques.

I’ve thought of something similar. Employees have a yearly review of their direct supervisor. Together, they would vote if they want to keep him/her or not.

Yes, they did. Adam had a tube running right next to his nose with clear fluid that would glow under a black light. They didn’t tell any of the testers what they were doing and after the dinner, they turned on the black light to show us how much snot was on everything. Granted, Adam made a point of touching his nose/face every few seconds and he was passing plates, forks, food etc as much as possible. It may have been overboard and not especially scientific, but it made the point.