Fear and Loathing in the Time of COVID


In 1781, the Royal Academy of Science in Brussels issued a call for scientific papers on some obscure mathematical question. Our ambassador to France, Benjamin Franklin, wrote a letter to the academy suggesting it set its sights a bit lower. “It is universally well known, that in digesting our common Food, there is created or produced in the Bowels of human Creatures, a great Quantity of Wind,” Franklin observed. Permitting “this Air to escape and mix with the Atmosphere, is usually offensive to the Company, from the fetid Smell that accompanies it.”

Why not, therefore, investigate the scourge of farting?

Franklin’s cri de coeur for the carminative sciences, popularly known as “Fart Proudly,” was satirical. But he was actually on to something.

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