Spot the REAL Hypothesis

This April Fool’s Day, put your BS-detector to the test. Can you spot the REAL hypothesis?

Many news outlets will be trying to pull the wool over your eyes this April Fool’s Day, and we here at Science Friday are no exception. This Friday on the show, we’re talking to Zach Weinersmith, webcomic artist and founder of BAHFest, the annual festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses (or “BAHs”).

Related Segment

Festival of Fake Hypotheses Generates Real Laughs

Held every October, this satirical festival brings together bona fide scientists and science groupies to present well-argued, thoroughly researched, but completely incorrect evolutionary hypotheses. How incorrect? Consider this hypothesis, presented by BAHFest 2014 winner Michael Anderson, which attempts to scientifically explain the existence of middle-aged men’s “spare-tires”:

Don’t quite buy Anderson’s argument? That’s a sign of a BS-detector in working order. But just how good are you at detecting Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses? We cooked up an April Fool’s Day quiz to put your BS-detecting abilities to the test.

The Quiz:

Each question below presents three possible evolutionary hypotheses. One of these is a REAL hypothesis that scientists are considering, and that we’ve covered here on Science Friday. The remaining two hypotheses are complete fictions made up by our SciFri staff.

Your Task: Spot the real hypothesis amid the BAHs.

Which of these is a REAL hypothesis scientists are considering?

(1) That long flap of skin that hangs off of a male turkey’s beak is called a “snood.” (Now you know!)


The REAL Story: Hot for Turkey


(2) After two elephants mate, nearby elephants often make loud, rumbling calls as part of a phenomenon scientists call elephant “mating pandemonium.”

The REAL Story: Listening In on Elephant Mating Pandemonium


(3) This Australian “sequined spider” looks more like a disco ball to us.

Photo by Nicky Bay
Photo by Nicky Bay

The REAL Story: How Is a Spider Like a Disco Ball?

Meet the Writer

About Annie Minoff

Annie Minoff is a producer for The Journal from Gimlet Media and the Wall Street Journal, and a former co-host and producer of Undiscovered. She also plays the banjo.