Not So Moldy Oldies

I’m a sucker for scientific studies. Who doesn’t enjoy a good p-value and confidence interval? (Ha ha, pee-value.) But I often wonder if the money used to fund certain projects would be better spent elsewhere. And by certain I mean ridiculous.

Case in point: Did you know that during a GOP presidential debate, Rick Santorum blinked more than twice the average rate of the other competitors? Those Republican eyelashes netted an impressive 61 bats per minute. That’s more times a minute than Donald Trump annoys me.

More recently, another study snagged my senses. And with a subject matter of old-person smell, how could it not?

In this essential study, 41 lucky volunteers sniffed jars containing underarm pads “steeped” in five days’ worth of other volunteers’ body odor, the idea being to determine if the inhalers could identify the scents of 20- to 30-year olds, 45- to 55-year olds, and 75- to 95-year olds. You know, to see if old people really do stink more than the rest of us.

Not to be deterred by their foul assignment, the olfactory-blessed volunteers shined in their duty, sniffing out age groups “better than would be predicted by chance.” There’s that pee-value again (te hee, te hee).

And guess what? Old folks’ odors rated the “highest for pleasantness and lowest for intensity.” Ha! Take that, you young whippersnappers.

Why does an octogenarian smell sweeter? According to the study, perhaps because of reproduction. You see, we determine how closely related we are to someone with scent. This, in turn, results in reproductive success. Kind of like survival of the fittest fragrance.

Make sense? Don’t feel bad. It doesn’t to me either. But I’m sure glad someone invested time and money to tell me Grandma smells better than Timmy, which, for anyone who’s suffered the scent of a little boy after he’s played outside, is common knowledge already.

So for those of you older than 75, celebrate. Your underarm odors put the rest of us stink balls to shame.

Any studies you think are stupid? Have you ever been in a study? Did you sniff armpit pads? Does Donald Trump annoy you? Would you sniff Donald Trump’s armpit?

Images from Microsoft Clip Art

104 Responses to “Not So Moldy Oldies”

  1. Kourtney Heintz

    I love studies that purport to prove something is bad. Like low carb diets. Everyone starts gorging on carbs. But they never realize who funded the study–producers of high carb foods. One thing I learned in statistics is you can make the numbers say whatever you want. :P

    Like

    • crubin

      So true. And you hit on a key point–who’s funding the study? It can shine a whole new light on the perspective.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Kourtney.
      :)

      Like

  2. IntrovertedSarah

    There isn’t enough enticement to have me smelling the soggy pads of armpits. It just wouldn’t happen. What are we doing to our poor uni students? This could seriously hurt their brains.

    Like

    • crubin

      I know, right? Can you imagine consenting to that? Likely poor university students as you suggest. Maybe the investigators gave them free deodarant as reimbursement.
      :)

      Like

  3. Vladimir (@socialmediatry)

    hehe …” Vote for Barack ! He smell so much better than Mitt.”

    Like

    • crubin

      Perhaps you were in a study that required you to sniff the armpit pads of politicians? If so, I like your conclusion.
      :)

      Thanks for stopping by. Good to see you again!

      Like

  4. starlaschat

    They could have saved a whole lot of money if “they” would have just come and asked me. I know that older people don’t smell bad because I worked in a residential care place And someone told me. And it’s true older people smell better than younger folks unless they have bad teeth issues. I didn’t know about the whole mating thing or what did you say reproductive thing. :+) Donald Trump doesn’t really annoy me much which is good because there a plenty of things in life that can annoy me. You don’t want to get on the Trumpsters bad side because he can hold a grudge for a really long time.

    Like

    • crubin

      Yeah, I better watch out, or The Donald won’t buy my book…
      ;)

      As long as hygiene is maintained, I think most people smell just fine. But it is nice to know I’ll become more fragrant as I age.
      :)

      Like

    • crubin

      Oh, I bet it was. I hope for your sake, as well as the sake of any potential offspring, that electrodes and shocks weren’t used in the most private of places…

      Like

  5. Arizona girl

    I always wonder about the people who keep sports statistics and who gets to count the number of passes made, received, intercepted, ….. It boggles the mind!

    Like

  6. Carol Wuenschell

    Without knowing why the studies were done, it’s hard to dismiss them out of hand as “silly” although they appear silly at first glance – How’s that for maintaining my scientific open-mindedness?

    Seriously, a study aimed at diffusing society’s prejudice against the elderly does not seem to me entirely worthless.

    And since we cannot rely on the news media to report to us what is the truth is rather than merely playing “he said – she said” with politician’s statements, the eye-blink barometer for deceitfulness might just be the salvation of democracy in America.

    Like

    • crubin

      I agree with you, and I’m actually a fan of research. I spoofed these studies, but I’m sure if broken down, most will have merit. The elderly smell study may be important for neurochemical or neurobiology reasons. And yes, maybe counting eye blinks would be a better truth detector in politics!

      Thanks for stopping by.
      :)

      Like

      • Carol Wuenschell

        I get what you were doing, Carrie. It was a very funny post (as usual!) It’s just that, having been a researcher (never did anything like these studies), make me feel like playing devil’s advocate a little bit.

        Like

        • crubin

          I hear you. I loved doing research. If I hadn’t transitioned into writing, my plan was to transition into research full-time. Of course, given the challenges of writing, I may end up there after all…
          :)

          Like

    • crubin

      Thanks for stopping by! I checked out your post. Very funny. It always drives me crazy when people say, “It will be in the last place you look.” No duh!

      Like

  7. lbtk

    My Granny Brook was 88 at her death and I swear you could still smell the “White Shoulders” on the clothes in her closets for the two years my grandfather lived after she died. He, on the other hand, was not one to use deodorant often. By the time he died, the sweaty farmer smell and the “White Shoulders” smell was enough to make you gag.

    Makes me miss my Granny and Grandaddy. I’d take them smelling any old way if I could just talk to them again.

    Very funny — but then again, you usually are. Sandy

    Like

    • crubin

      Thanks, Sandy. And I agree, if I could spend another day with my grandparents, I’d take them no matter how they smelled. But my grandmother always smelled good–like yummy baked goods. I wouldn’t mind going out with that as my signature smell.
      :)

      Like

  8. Daniel Nest

    These are all invaluable insights into the world we live in! I’m happy you shared this research with me so I can wow people with new ice-breaker material. Armpit smell – always a hit topic at house parties! Also…poor Timmy.

    Like

    • crubin

      Well, don’t let it ever be said that I don’t educate around here. Eye blinking and body odor are two things everyone should know about.

      I’m glad you stopped by, because when I saw your little Gravatar head, it dawned on me I didn’t have you on my blogroll yet, a situation that must be rectified. Also, since you gave me permission, I’m going to link to your glass door post on Monday the 11th. I’m too lazy to write a post on vacation days, and yours should provide readers with a good laugh.
      :)

      Like

      • Daniel Nest

        Glad to drop by. I’m quite enjoying your posts too – great to meet fellow humerers…witterers…joke-telling-people. Awesome, looking forward to getting the link love for the post :) Have an awesome vacation when you get that far!

        Like

  9. jeandayfriday

    Funny topic and post! I would now like to read a study on perfume choices for the different ages, or, it could be called, Why the heck is Shalimar still for sale?! (Sorry to my grandma who bought me some recently which I promptly returned it).

    Like

    • crubin

      Oh, I’m with you on that one. There definitely is a group of perfumes out there to which I like to call “old lady perfume.” Ick. Hope I never end up choosing one of those scents. But in the event our sense of smell changes as we get older, I’ll have my granddaughters (if I have any) choose my perfume for me.
      :)

      Like

  10. Polly Robinson

    One of our Prime Ministers, Benjamin Disraeli, had a wonderful saying to describe the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments, he said: “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”, this saying was popularised by your own Mark Twain.

    I wouldn’t dream of arguing with either one of them!

    Research comes in handy sometimes though … and we’re totally addicted to our WordPress stats …

    Heartened to think that age will become me – even if the whole thing is utterly absurd!

    Like

    • crubin

      I do enjoy research. Have done a bit of it myself. It just seems some studies are a little pointless. But I suppose if one digs deeper, they all might have some relevance. And yes, I think the elderly won this round.
      :)

      Like

  11. RescuedFromTheBottomDrawer

    Interesting that some people think old people smell more than younger. There are certain scents that I associate with my grandparents, and most of them are actually quite pleasant. I don’t remember being repulsed by any of them, even when my maternal grandmother was confined to bed and had to rely on someone else to help her with her bathing and hygiene.

    I usually try to avoid reading about studies, though, just for that very fact that it’s mind-boggling that anyone would waste time and money learning certain things. I feel the same way about certain surveys, too, that just state the obvious.

    Like

    • crubin

      Yes, there are some ridiculous surveys out there such as “What percentage of Americans would like to live on Mars if it was possible?” Really? Who cares?

      My grandma smelled good, too. Always like baked goods. Yum!

      Like

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