This “beards” story was full of crap: Why you couldn’t resist sharing it

May 13, 2015

Photograph: WestEnd61/Rex Features

By Torkel Ødegård

There was this news story: Some beards as dirty as toilets. And it riled people up causing them to share many and various links with pictures of beards. Well, it was crap.

No need for men to get flush-faced about faeces in beards.

According to multiple news sites, beards can contain more poo than a toilet.

However, as far as I can tell there was no proper study, no team of microbiologists and no poo in beards. The origin of the story appears to be this segment from a TV news network in New Mexico, which involved a reporter swabbing a “handful” of men’s beards and then sending the swabs to a microbiologist in a lab to culture any microbes present.

The reporter then interviewed the microbiologist, John Golobic, who identified a few of the bacteria present as “enterics”, that is they are bacteria that normally live in the intestines.


Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.

9 comments on “This “beards” story was full of crap: Why you couldn’t resist sharing it

  • 3
    Vladimir says:

    Well, the mouth and intestines are both apart of the digestive system. So, of course a microbiologist would discover enterics near the opening of the digestive track.



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  • The origin of the story appears to be this segment from a TV news network in New Mexico, which involved a reporter swabbing a “handful” of men’s beards and then sending the swabs to a microbiologist in a lab to culture any microbes present.

    There was a similar myth about faecal organisms on toothbrushes kept in bathrooms.
    MythBusters did tests on this, and found that there were indeed faecal organisms on toothbrushes – including the ones nowhere near toilets, – kept as experimental controls in the office!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MythBusters_%282004_season%29#Toothbrush_Surprise
    Adam builds a rack to hold 44 toothbrushes at various distances from the toilet in the shop, as well as two controls kept in the office. Each day, Adam and Jamie exposed the brushes to toothpaste and rinsed with distilled water, with brushing with a pair kept right above the toilet bowl. Fecal coliforms were indeed found on all the test brushes, including the control ones, but none at a level high enough to be dangerous. A microbiologist from UCSF confirmed that such coliforms were impossible to completely avoid, and that there was no significant difference in the number of bacteria based on where the toothbrushes were placed in respect to the toilet bowl.

    Perhaps for a proper OP – test, they should also have tested pony-tails, pigtails, fur-coats, bowler-hats, the flag up the flag pole, and the lounge curtains!!??



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  • As the saying goes, “Shit Happens.” Once a day if you are regular. The latest social media myth is funny. (Perhaps we should stop using the obsolete designation “urban myth.”). We hygiene-obsessed westerners who equate cleanliness with flush toilets should be fascinated to learn that about half of India’s population defecates outdoors. That’s about 600,000,000 people NOT using toilets connected to sewers to relieve themselves.



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  • Melvin
    May 16, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    That’s about 600,000,000 people NOT using toilets connected to sewers to relieve themselves.

    . . . . and many Indian sewers take raw sewage directly into rivers for mixing with industrial effluent, before being reused as irrigation and drinking water!

    http://www.all-about-india.com/Ganges-River-Pollution.html
    The Ganges River Pollution is now at such a high level that the amount of toxins, chemicals and other dangerous bacteria found in the river are now almost 3000 times over the limit suggested by the WHO as ‘safe’.

    The river directly and indirectly affects the largest population of any river in the world with over more than 420 million people who rely on it for food, water, bathing and agriculture. And that is not to mention the tens of Millions of pilgrims who venture to India’s most holy of rivers each year to bathe and worship.

    Yep! – Those with the Hindu gods delusions, bathe in this stuff to “purify” themselves!!



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