Image: World Beard and Moustache championship (yes, this is a thing).

Of beards, feces and clickbait

Image: World Beard and Moustache championship (yes, this is a thing).

Image: World Beard and Moustache championship (yes, this is a thing).

  • “Shock new research reveals some beards contain more poo than a toilet” (NEWS.COM.AU)
  • “Science proves beards contain fecal matter” (NY POST)
  • “Some beards are so full of poo they are as dirty as toilets” (METRO)

These are just a couple of the headlines that flooded my feed in the last 24 hours. Apparently, a microbiologist called John Golobic analyzed samples from beards and found some bacteria you would normally find in your toilet bowl. Thing is, there’s no peer-reviewed study or anything that looks like a study. Basically, some reporter from a New Mexico local TV station sent swab samples and the scientist identified some bacteria classed as  “enterics”, which means they’re usually found in your intestines. Everybody jumped on the bandwagon on this point and basically called beards nothing short of toilets. I think its superfluous to say that this statement is both technically inaccurate and nothing to worry about since it’s not unheard of to find gut bacteria on human skin. Even if you diligently wash your hands after using the toilet, you’ll still trail away some. In fact, there’s a one in six chance that your iPhone harbors enterics.

“Those are the types of things you’d find in (fecal matter),” Golobic said, referring to the tests.

Beards may actually be a health hazard if you’re a doctor. A study found that beards shed significantly more bacteria than shaved faces or females, even with a mask on. Another study found that bearded microbiologists can contaminate hosts with pathogens. Suffice to say, if you’re neither a doctor or working in a lab (beards shed particles a thousand fold than shaved faces – this may be a concern if you’re building solar cells or work in a “clean room”) you have nothing to worry about. Apparently, these stories are more full of shit than your hipster, lumbersexual beard.

3 thoughts on “Of beards, feces and clickbait

  1. Platypi007

    Glad I’m not the only one who was doubtful of this. The clickbait headline made me question it, when it said, “Several beards contained normal bacteria, but some contained so much poo they were comparable to toilets.” I figured it was a small-scale study taken out of context. When I saw it had been reported by dozens of news outlets with no citations I began to think maybe it’d been made up out of whole cloth instead.

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