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FFS Blog: Does drinking gin speed up the body’s metabolism? And other tales too good to be true

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(Jenny Messenger) #1

It’s been a good week for peddlers of fake news in Scotland.

Glasgow’s Evening Times was hoodwinked by a 2015 article from satirical website the Daily Mash about a cat refusing to eat non-brand cat food, despite having also eaten a rat.

The newspaper’s website published a rewritten version of the story, and even quoted the Daily Mash as the source, seemingly unaware of its notoriety.

Quite how the story managed to pass through sub-editing procedure without being noticed is unknown, and if the original article’s domain name was not enough of a clue as to its satirical nature then the quotes attributed to Dustin the cat might have been a giveaway.

But they were not the only Scottish media outlet to fall for such a suspect story.

On Monday, the Scotsman’s Food and Drink website was taken in by a study supposedly claiming that drinking gin could increase the body’s metabolism and burn calories.

The report was attributed to researchers at the fictional University of Sigulda in Latvia, and published in the seemingly made up journal Food & Nature and authored by the transparently suspicious Professor Thisa Lye. It claimed that gin consumption produced “a marked increase in metabolic rate” when tested on mice.

A group of mice given a shot of gin allegedly had a 17 per cent uplift in their metabolic rate thanks to an “after burn” effect that maximised the body’s ability to burn calories for an hour afterwards, according to the ‘research’.

The article said there was no increase in the metabolic rates of another group of mice, who were only given water.

The Scotsman’s story was one of the most widely shared articles published by the Scottish media last week, showing the potential profit to be made in pandering to confirmation bias.

The paper was one of the many news outlets worldwide taken in by an April Fools’ Day prank article, from a magazine called Prima.

Blog by Jenny Messenger, Ferret Fact Service