Pharyngula

This is an amazing “discovery”! Someone named JA Tetro has been selling interviews and articles to women’s magazines and other credulous sources, claiming that your microbiome is the key to compatibility.

Tetro says that when you kiss your date, his or her germs make their way into your mouth’s ecosystem. And if it’s a match, you’ll want to keep smooching.

This study does one amazing thing, it shows you that kissing is the best way to find a mate for the long term. It might sound really gross but if the bacteria from the other person harmonizes with your bacteria, your immune system is all good. You feel a sense of calm and happiness, maybe even addiction, he explained.

But if the bacteria don’t align with your microbes, you actually feel disgust and revolt. Your immune system is rejecting that person as a possible mate.

Pathetic. Tetro might be getting a few bucks with these gushy, goofy stories, but he’s missing the real opportunity for fame, riches, and power. We need to weaponize this concept.

If just a little smooch that shuffles a few bacteria back and forth can affect your mind and influence your behavior, we clearly have a tool that can shape national and world affairs. Rather than exchanging oral bacteria, we need to take a step upwards: one way transfer, and massive bombing of the gut with whole new bacterial colonies. We need to do fecal transplants.

None of this grade school crap of making people just like each other, either. I have bigger goals. How about if we hit Rush Limbaugh with a little time-release pill packed with Rachel Maddow’s poop? Let’s fill him with a sense of calm and happiness derived from a liberal lesbian. I can think of a way to get John Boehner addicted to Barack Obama now.


Except, well…Jonathan Eisen says it doesn’t work. He’s actually mocking JA Tetro’s ideas. And he’s quoting papers with real data.

This study indicates that a shared salivary microbiota requires a frequent and recent bacterial exchange and is most pronounced in couples with relatively high intimate kiss frequencies of at least nine intimate kisses per day or in couples sampled no longer than 1.5 h after the latest kiss. The microbiota on the dorsal surface of the tongue is more similar among partners than unrelated individuals, but its similarity does not clearly correlate to kissing behavior. Our findings suggest that the shared microbiota among partners is able to proliferate in the oral cavity, but the collective bacteria in the saliva are only transiently present and eventually washed out, while those on the tongue’s surface found a true niche, allowing long-term colonization.

So there’s no evidence that bacteria have a mechanism for mind control, and what data there is suggest that it’s mostly a transient colonization that requires frequent sustained activity to get any change in the bacterial population. Dang. Back to the drawing board.

Comments

  1. #1 Chuck
    Northeast
    February 17, 2015

    This sounds like a Farscape episode…

    “…and what data there is suggest that it’s mostly a transient colonization that requires frequent sustained activity to get any change in the bacterial population. Dang. Back to the drawing board.”

    You missed your opportunity right there, PZ. What you need is to get grant funding from DARPA (or CIA) to conduct trials into the efficacy of mind control through bacterial colonization pathways via frequent, sustained osculation between researchers and test subjects.

  2. #2 Tim H.
    February 18, 2015

    It does suggest the possibility of confirming the rumors of the nature of the “Networking” going on… though on second thought, I don’t want to know.

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