It’s pretty normal for humans to experiment – especially children. As I kid, I used to catch tadpoles, bring them home in plastic bags, transfer them to glass jars and pretty much made a mess of the kitchen area where I also kept different species of worms and insects. I also played around with baking soda, vinegar, bleach, batteries, light bulbs, shoe polish and it’s really fortunate that I didn’t get anywhere close to inventing an explosive.
While all my little experiments might seem rather pointless in the eyes of the adults, I often knew the outcome of these experiments. Witnessing science in action reinforced and reaffirmed the theories I learned from books. For instance, I knew that if I added vinegar to baking soda, I would get a bubbling, fizzy mixture. I didn’t bother to mix the baking soda with oil as I knew that there would be no reaction – and I would have wasted my limited supply of baking soda for more meaningful experiments.
After so many lessons on Physics and Chemistry, I no longer need to do such simple experiments to satisfy my curiosity. I’ve grown more pragmatic. If a product can be bought cheaply and conveniently, I don’t have to prepare it in a lab at home. That’s especially the case if the process comes with opportunity costs.
But there are adults who continue to “experiment” – except that they experiment randomly without any purpose or scientific theory. What would you get if you hang a netted bag of mangosteen husks (with bits of mangosteen flesh still stuck to them) around for days? You guessed it – a stinking mess swarmed with flies. Amazingly, the 40+ experimenter didn’t predict that.
What is the objective of this experiment? To create dried mangosteen husks? Then the experimenter should have washed and trimmed the husks to remove all traces of flesh, spread them out flat under direct sunlight for several days. Hang the untreated husks this way? No way. But to be fair to the influencers and easily influenced, mangosteen husk does have quite a number of interesting health benefits as those touted on this site. In fact, the author there claims that there are 75 health benefits! The “HIV drug” claim really did it for me, but as Carl Sagan once said, “extraordinary claims must be supported by extraordinary evidence. The experimenter had probably stumbled upon the site but had absolutely no clue as to how to process the husk.
The bad English aside, I have absolutely no confidence in any of the claims. It’s quite inconceivable how folks who have seen all sorts of scams can do silly things like this with the hope of making a panacea. The stinking mess hanging there is a worthless product of a random experiment that has not even been properly thought out in the first place. I could have done a better job at age 10. But the experimenter stubbornly clings to this belief and the method, getting aggressive or even violent when her belief and ability to conduct this experiment are questioned. I wonder if there is a name for this condition.
© Chan Joon Yee