WARNING: Vicious, dangerous hoax in alt science archives

Terrance Hodgins semisys at teleport.com
Tue Jan 9 17:21:16 EST 1996


I hesitate to post this message in alt.sci.physics, because it
seems to deal a little more with biology, but I found it while
researching alternate physics on the great archive in Sweden at
http://nucleus.ibg.uu.se:80/elektromagnum/physics/

They have an archive there that has everything from
anti-gravity to over-unity to Tesla. You name it, there is info
on it. Wonderful.  They also mirror KeelyNet, a BBS in Texas
that specializes in alternate science information.  KeelyNet
has a "biology" subdirectory.  I wandered into that, and found
the following vicious hoax article, which has no author's name,
so it was apparently uploaded to KeelyNet annonymously.

The exact location of the document is:
http://nucleus.ibg.uu.se:80/elektromagnum/physics/KeelyNet/biology/
priapism.asc

This article is also mirrored in Australia at:
http://zeta.cs.adfa.oz.au/KeelyNet//Biology/priapism.asc


**** BEGINNING OF HOAX ARTICLE ****

                      Taken from KeelyNet BBS (214) 324-3501
                           Sponsored by Vangard Sciences
                                    PO BOX 1031
                                Mesquite, TX 75150

                       There are ABSOLUTELY NO RESTRICTIONS
                  on duplicating, publishing or distributing the
                                files on KeelyNet!

                                    May 4, 1991

                                   PRIAPISM.ASC
       --------------------------------------------------------------------

                              Frog Legs and the Boner

       Frog's legs are  a true aphrodisiac, say researchers.  In fact, they
       can give a man an erection that won't GO AWAY!

       Cornell University researchers  answered  a  call  from  the  French
       Foreign Legion, which complained that its soldiers  in  North Africa
       were being stricken with PRIAPISM - the medical term for an erection
       that won't go away.

       The problem turned  out to be frog's legs, which are PACKED with the
       chemical CANTHARIDIN.

       Also known as SPANISH FLY, the compound  is  found  in  beetles  and
       prized as an aphrodisiac.

       When frogs eat  the beetles, canthardin is absorbed  and  passed  to
       anyone who eats the legs.

       "One meal can  contain  enough  of  the  chemical  to give the diner
       PROLONGED PENIL ERECTIONS," said a Cornell researcher.

       But he warns too much canthardin CAN BE FATAL.

       --------------------------------------------------------------------

         If you have comments or other information  relating to such topics
         as  this paper covers,  please  upload to KeelyNet  or send to the
           Vangard  Sciences  address  as  listed  on the  first  page.
              Thank you for your consideration, interest and support.

           Jerry W. Decker.........Ron Barker...........Chuck Henderson
                             Vangard Sciences/KeelyNet

       --------------------------------------------------------------------
                     If we can be of service, you may contact
                 Jerry at (214) 324-8741 or Ron at (214) 242-9346
       --------------------------------------------------------------------

**** END OF HOAX ARTICLE ****


The warning bells went off in my head when I read "Spanish
Fly." Spanish Fly is not an aphrodisiac, it is a poison.  My
reaction was, "My God, I thought we dispelled that horrible
myth 30 years ago." Cantharidin is indeed the active ingredient
in Spanish Fly, and it causes blistering and inflamation of all
the alimentary and urinary tract mucuous membranes, even in low
doses.  Spanish Fly got the reputation of being an aphrodisiac
because some fools used to slip it into a girl's drink to make
her horny (or so they thought).  But what would happen was the
girls would be in so much pain, with such intense blistering
and itching in the vaginal area, that there were horror stories
of girls even trying to use the stick shift of a car to scratch
the itch.  No, she wasn't "really horny, and really wanting
it." She was poisoned, and needed to go to the hospital.

There is absolutely no way that Spanish Fly is "prized as an
aphrodisiac."

If you doubt my opinion, check out the following references: I
immediately fired up Lycos, and did a search on cantharidin,
and got:

This link is, unfortunately, broken, but the summary was on Lycos:
gopher://gopher.ext.vt.edu/00/vce-data/ansci/horse/nutrition/hay/324
BLISTER BEETLE POISONING
Blister beetles get their name from a chemical toxin they
contain called cantharidin. This toxin causes inflammation and
blistering on any tissue it comes in contact with. It is highly
toxic to horses. As few as 15 or 20 blister beetles can cause
death in a small horse. The cantharidin causes damage to the
esophagus, lining of the intestines and the urinary track if
consumed by horses.
The most toxic blister beetles are primarily found in alfalfa
hay from the Southwestern United States. However, there are
several species of blister beetles that can be found throughout
the US.

The following links work:
http://a.cvm.okstate.edu/cai/kocan/vpar5333/5333ot4l.htm
ORDER COLEOPTERA - TRUE BEETLES BLISTER BEETLES - 
Adult blister beetles contain cantharidin which can cause
necrosis and tissue damage following ingestion.  Equines are
especially sensitive but reports occur in many species.  The
cantharidin remains toxic even after the death of the beetle.
Beetles are often found in improperly bailed hay. Clinical
signs are characterized by abdominal pain, depression, frequent
urination, and shock. Laboratory findings include
hemo-concentration, neutrophilic leukocytosis, hypercalcemia,
hematuria, and low urine specific gravity.  Necropsy findings
include sloughing of stratified squamous epithelium of the
stomach, hemorrhage and ulceration in the urinary bladder, and
myocardial necrosis.

Interestingly, the one practical use I found for cantharidin is
to blister warts right off of your body:
gopher://gopher.uiuc.edu:70/00/UI/CSF/health/heainfo/diseases/warts/derm
A DERMATOLOGIST TALKS ABOUT WARTS
Warts can be treated with a solution containing cantharidin, a
substance that causes blistering.  It is obtained from the
dried, powdered "blister beetle".  A week or so after the
solution is applied, the physician will remove the wart and
surrounding skin with a knife or scissors.


The hoax article above is not just misinformation, it is a
total fabrication, with apparent malicious intent: to tempt
guys (particularly alternate science buffs and researchers, who
are the audience of KeelyNet) to try taking some cantharidin.

I would write the whole thing off as a joke, and just recommend
that it be re-filed in the "humor" subdirectory, if it weren't
for the potential harm that could come out of this hoax.  If it
prompts one more young fool to give his girlfriend Spanish Fly,
then it isn't a funny joke.

Consider this:

There is no French Foreign Legion in north Africa.  The French
Foreign Legion was pulled out of North Africa when Algeria got
its independence from France back around 1957 or '58.  The
French Foreign Legion was officially disbanded around 1964 or
'65, if I remember correctly.  That article is dated 1991.
There is no way that a commander of Legion troops called from
North Africa to Cornell in 1990 or '91, asking for some
"researchers" to help him with a big problem that his men had.

Notice the style of writing.  It reminds me of the National
Enquirer.  Unnamed "researchers say".  There are no verifiable
names, addresses or phone numbers anywhere.  (I am not
including KeelyNet in that statement; I'm not blaming them for
some bozo uploading a vicious hoax to them.)

What about the frogs? Blister beetles seem to like arid climates,
such as the Southwestern part of the USA, or the Northern
Sahara.  Frogs like water.  When are the frogs going to walk
across the Sahara looking for blister beetles?  Could a frog
survive eating a blister beetle? I doubt it. And cantharidin
does not seem to be the kind of chemical that a frog could
concentrate or store in his tissues.

And anyway, there aren't going to be any French Foreign
Legionaires eating them...

Even the last line of the article is a real insult, in an
underhanded way:
       "But he warns too much canthardin CAN BE FATAL."
Which will of course spark some sophmoric jokes about, "Well at
least you'll die with a big grin on your face, right?"  Wrong.
You will die in absolute agony, with all of your mucuous membranes
blistering and hemorrhaging out of your body.  Even a little 
cantharidin will make you wish you were dead.


Some of the writers who have articles and theories on KeelyNet
are a bit on the paranoid side, always talking about government
plots to stop alternate science research, and secret agents
breaking into their labs and stealing everything...  Well this
should add some fuel to their paranoia, because it seems that
someone thinks that it would be real funny if they would kill
themselves by consuming a poison, while hoping to have a fun
night in bed....

Have a good day anyway....  Later, friends.

*               Terrance Hodgins                *
*   Chief Boohoo of Semi-Intelligent Systems    *
*           semisys at teleport.com                *
*      http://www.teleport.com/~semisys/        *




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