This is Your Scalp on Science

April 25th, 2006 by Potato

This is Your Scalp on Science or The Science Diet: How to Gain Weight and Lose Hair Through Stress and Malnutrition.

From animal studies, we can definitively say that Science causes cancer in lab rats. We have also seen statistically significant correlations with maze-running, aversion, and strange weight-gain behaviours. Maze-running in particular is interesting as the correlation is non-linear. It is a behaviour virtually unknown without trace amounts of Science present, however, after a certain threshold the amount of maze-running behaviours begins to drop as more Science is added (this has been dubbed the “psychology” point).

In the current paper we discuss an investigation of Science on human subjects (ethics note: while this study has been approved by the ethics review board, informed consent was not obtained from our “background” subject group, who were forced into a single science class as a “balancing” requirement; the low dosage used as well as the generally accepted safety of Science justified these actions. For the more intensive dosages, the usual methods of informed consent and voluntary enrolment were followed.)

Three basic dosages of Science were examined: background, consisting of less than 60 hours of undergraduate-level instruction, with no exposure after age 24; undergraduate, consisting of 3-5 years of daily exposure, occasionally reaching acutely intense levels; and graduate, consisting of continuous Science exposure until the subject was no longer able to procreate (or, in very rare — and may we say, beautiful — cases, when successful procreation spawned a protective desire to withdraw from the study). As mentioned above, consent was not typically obtained from the background group. The undergraduate group was enrolled with the promise of a “chance” at an admission slot in medical school and vague predictions about job growth, employability, and potential income. The graduate group was, oddly enough, convinced to join the study with no more than the offer of a break from the real world.

Our results, in a word, are disturbing.

The background group often reported feelings of resentment and hostility towards Science following their exposure, and these subjective measures were backed up with a subsequent behavioural aversion. Otherwise, no long term effects, either positive or negative, were seen on the majority of the background group as a result of their Science exposure.

The undergraduate group often reported an “appreciation” for Science, although reservations were often held about particular branches and fields. Interestingly, while chemistry had the most complaints from subjects, there was no consistent pattern of resentment. We hypothesize that there may be patterns based upon the student’s area of study, for example biology students may dislike physics and chemistry moreso than biology, but we do not have the sample size in our data to make conclusions of that depth. Otherwise, the undergraduate group suffered a number of minor deleterious effects, including above-average weight gain (90%), impaired social integration (85%), vastly reduced courtship attempts (85%), poor sleeping habits (80%), poor social integration and networking (70%), periodic alcohol abuse (65%), excessive and often ridiculous highlighting practices (30%). Oddly enough, the reduced socialization and mating seen came despite significant increases in their driving factors (namely, lonliness and sex drive).

The graduate group, however, had the most severe reactions to Science. In addition to all of the social problems above, the graduate students suffered severely accelerated hair loss and/or greying, a vast reduction in real income and long-term income potential, a decrease in the number of and sucess rate of courtship behaviours, a oncomitant decrease in fecundity, and a virtually non-existant land-ownership rate (despite a 5-year job assurance, and a nearly 50% ownership rate in the age-matched controls). Furthermore, there were widespread cases of malnutrition, poor posture, nearsightedness, high blood pressure, and a general inability to calculate the tip on a typical restaurant bill. The positive effects of Science were extremely difficult to extract from the background noise: a general feeling of “warm fuzzies” was seen sporadically when Science appeared to be helping the world at large. These were fleeting, at best, and a dark humour bordering on brooding melancholy was more typical. A deeper understanding of the universe as a whole is, undoubtably, a nearly universal benefit. However, it was nearly always coupled with anger and resentment at “the idiots in charge of it all” and the “unwashed masses who follow them because they don’t know enough to act otherwise.” Which side the net benefit of this relationship falls on is difficult to determine.

Additionally, an increase in vocabulary was reported anecdotally. However, we could not quantitatively distinguish a difference between the Science students and those in English. This matter is still in doubt as there were significant questions surrounding the typical English structure of “like-like-like, like, you know” as it is unclear whether this should be counted as a hexasyllabic complex, or a string of monosyllabic gibberish.

In conclusion, while the cancer and maze-running rates were satisfyingly low in the human subjects exposed to Science, numerous deleterious effects were seen with little compensatory positive life changes. Thus, it can be said that long-term exposure to Science should be avoided on an individual basis. Interestingly, it appears as though Science has profound benefits for society as a whole, despite the cost in individual life quality [see Hawking, 1991, and Sagan, 1996]. Unfortunately, this study did not investigate altruistic characteristics in the Science group, nor the possibility that our volunteers may have been a self-destructive, self-selecting group. Further research in these areas is called for.

Figure 1: Hair loss and greying seen following 1 year of Science exposure at the graduate level. The hair was originally thick and black all over.

Degree of Hair Loss, 1 year into MSc

Figure 2: Hair loss and greying seen following 3 years of Science exposure at the graduate level. Note that ethical guidelines required us to intervene in this case in the best interest of the subject, so it should be noted that this degree of hair loss is subsequent to a year of topical Rogaine treatments. Initially, the subject in question exhibited the grocery list of side effects to the Rogaine, so the dosage was halved and no longer vigorously massaged into the scalp. This may have decreased its overall effectiveness, though despite those qualifications the hair loss is frightening.

Degree of Hair Loss, 3 years into MSc

One Response to “This is Your Scalp on Science”

  1. Potato Says:

    I should give credit where credit is due: The “how to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition” was originally the subtitle of the Hacker’s Diet by John Walker (slightly modified here since losing weight is rarely the problem for science students, despite poor nutrition).