Well, I admit it – I clicked on this Buzzfeed link someone posted on Facebook – 77 Facts That Sound Like Huge Lies But Are Actually Completely True. There are some pretty funny and interesting things on the list. However, I note – I did not click on the link per se for entertainment. I clicked on it to see if there was anything about microbes on the list. And happily, there was. Alas, what there was, was, well, a bit wrong:
Let’s start with #67. “There is 10 times more bacteria in your body than actual body cells“. Well, alas, this is a nice bit of information. But it is not based on facts. See Peter Andrey Smiths wonderful article in the Boston Globe about this issue. The Buzzfeed article links to a 2010 Discover Magazine bit about this topic. So they were trying to use facts. But alas, that was not based on facts itself.
Then, let’s go to #68. “And 90% of the cells that make us up of aren’t human but mostly fungi and bacteria.“. So – I am at a bit of a loss on this. First, isn’t this really just rehashing #67 with the addition of fungi to the story? Also – I note the math here is weird. #67 would lead one to conclude that 90.9% of the cells in your body are bacterial (10:1 = 10/11 = 90.9%). So then if one adds fungi to the picture the percent of cells in our bodies that are not human goes DOWN to 90%. How does that work exactly?
So not only do they get the 10x as many cells fact wrong, they do something really weird by basically repeating #67 and then doing some weird math.
Oh well, glad they have something on microbiomes. Too bad it came out a bit wrong.