Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Let the sun shine in

Every time I think that the "natural health" movement has plumbed the absolute depths of credulous stupidity, I find out there's plenty of room down below.

It turns out that "down below" is an apt metaphor, because as I found out from about a dozen loyal readers of Skeptophilia, the latest craze is "perineum sunning."  For those of you not well-versed in anatomical terminology, the perineum is the region between the genitals and the anus.

So, yes, it's exactly what it sounds like.  You're supposed to take off all your clothes, and expose your nether orifice to the direct sunlight.

I would like to be able to say, "ha-ha, I made that up," but sadly, I didn't.  Practitioners claim that exposing your butthole to the sun activates the vibrational frequencies of your chakras, or something like that.  "In a mere thirty seconds of sunlight on your butthole, you will receive more energy from this electric node than you would in an entire day being outside with your clothes on," said one guy in an informational YouTube video.

"My experience with perineum sunning has been profound," said another enthusiast.  "I have been practicing this for a few months now.  I start my day with five minutes of perineum sunning and feel energized for hours.  I no longer rely on coffee for energy to start my day because I am getting my energy from the sun."

I have just a few things to say about this:
  1. What the actual fuck?
  2. Given the choice of a nice cup of coffee and lying on my back with my ass in the air, I think I'll stick with the coffee.
  3. As dermatologist Nazanin Saedi pointed out in an interview with Health, the perineum is a thin and very sensitive bit of skin, which you'd think most people would already know.  A sunburned perineum would hurt like a mofo, and it's also not a place you'd want to risk skin cancer.
  4. As far as absorbing usable energy through your skin -- what do you think your asshole is, a plant?
  5. Not only is your anus not photosynthetic, it is also not an "electric node."  The very idea makes me wince.
  6. Despite my being dubious about the practice, I have to say that "Butthole Sunshine" would make a great name for a band.  Maybe they could be like the Butthole Surfers, only more upbeat.
  7. At the risk of repeating myself: what the actual fuck?
Look, it's not that I have anything against nudity.  Given the choice, I'd never wear swim trunks while swimming, and when the weather's warm I enjoy a nice outdoor naked romp as much as the next guy.  But deliberately and repeatedly exposing one of the most sensitive parts of the body to the direct, harsh rays of the sun is not "alternative health," it's "absolute nonsense."

And potentially dangerous as well.

So by all means shuck the clothes if you want to and have an opportunity that will not result in your being arrested for indecent exposure.  But take care not to scorch your naughty bits.

And for cryin' in the sink, learn a little actual science so you can tell the difference between a healthful practice and the latest idiotic fad.  Because I can nearly guarantee that if you think this is as stupid as it gets, all you'll need to do is wait awhile and see what they come up with next.


Long-time readers of Skeptophilia have probably read enough of my rants about creationism and the other flavors of evolution-denial that they're sick unto death of the subject, but if you're up for one more excursion into this, I have a book that is a must-read.

British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has made a name for himself both as an outspoken atheist and as a champion for the evolutionary model, and it is in this latter capacity that he wrote the brilliant The Greatest Show on Earth.  Here, he presents the evidence for evolution in lucid prose easily accessible to the layperson, and one by one demolishes the "arguments" (if you can dignify them by that name) that you find in places like the infamous Answers in Genesis.

If you're someone who wants more ammunition for your own defense of the topic, or you want to find out why the scientists believe all that stuff about natural selection, or you're a creationist yourself and (to your credit) want to find out what the other side is saying, this book is about the best introduction to the logic of the evolutionary model I've ever read.  My focus in biology was evolution and population genetics, so you'd think all this stuff would be old hat to me, but I found something new to savor on virtually every page.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

[Note: if you purchase this book using the image/link below, part of the proceeds goes to support Skeptophilia!]

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