5 Post-Truth ‘Life-Hacks’

[And a real solution to the problem…]

It’s official, the international Word of the Year is: ‘post-truth’.

Arguably grimmer than last year’s ‘smiling with tears of joy’ emoji, ‘post-truth’ nonetheless neatly summarises a year in which thousands have been willingly misled by lies in the media, represented as fact.


Although most commentators have jumped on the recent election race in America for context for this particular (Britain’s exit from the EU was another good example of ‘post-truths’ skewing public opinion), this kind of things has been going on for much longer on the internet. 

This week, we’re going to be debunking some less harmful forms of ‘post-truths’. Life-hacks, in the form of memes, have been proliferate for the past 10 years. They are the 21st century ‘urban myth’;  baseless classroom rumours which serve little purpose, other than to waste the user’s time.

Here are 4 Post-Truth ‘Life-Hacks’ along with a better solution to the problem:

Use a Dishwasher Tablet To Clean Your Oven

A contributor known as ‘Wittery Twittery’ reported this hack on Mumsnet in September this year:


Although she denies coming up with the idea herself, commentators were quick to assert that this did not work. Cleaning your oven is something that should be done at least once a year. High temperatures and food with high-contents of fat will often cause a thick crust of grease to form all over the sides, requiring some serious elbow grease or some caustic cleaning chemicals to cut through.

In case your curious as to whether this will work – stop. Wetting a dishwasher tablet will lead to tablet breaking up in your hand. Attempting to scrub a dirty oven with a dishwasher tablet will result in the aforementioned tablet crumbling into nothing as it’s too small to grip and has zero-structural integrity.

You may feel like attempting a cheap, quick solution is the best option – but it’s not. Just call an oven cleaning professional, they can come out once a year – charge a small fee – and get the job done better than you ever could have hoped to.

Urinate on jellyfish stings to reduce the pain

Other than this being kind of disgusting (where exactly are you meant to be doing this, anyway, just on the beach?), it will also not work.

The cells that cause pain from jellyfish stings, called nematocysts, are more likely to release more poison if you and you’ll also smell of urine. Swimming in the seas around Australia, South East Asia and Americas comes with the problems of rising jelly fish populations. They can vary greatly in the amount of physical pain they cause (certain species can even kill), but this much used wives’ tale will not help you.

The current consensus is currently being shared in a variety of graphics (see below) – the most important tip to remember is to avoid touching the stings with your hands – this will just lead to your hands being stung as well.


Take a used loo roll and make a cheap iPhone speaker

Nope. This is perhaps one of the dumbest ideas, perpetuated by many sources and emulated by eager beavers looking to ‘bring the party’ to their next camping trip.


Modern smart phones are designed to project music as best as they can – people are paid very well to get the job done as best as they can – to think that something as simple as a cut up loo roll will improve on their work, is foolish. And before you consider trying any different configurations, just don’t. Most smartphones project music through their bottom – planting them in a loo roll will only serve to block the sound waves from reaching your ears easier.

If you’d like to amplify your music, just buy a good speaker.

Wooden Spoon Boiling Over

There is some grounding for this much shared meme:


Essentially, the science is sound. The idea is that the bubbles of hot water, being made of hot water, will burst on impact with a colder surface (such as the wooden spoon).

This hack will work to a certain extent – if you simmer your water instead of boiling hard, the spoon will do it’s job. Turn the heat up, however, and you’ll soon find your wooden spoon being hopelessly ineffective – simply because the spoon will eventually rise to the same heat as the water.

This hack was created to stop pasta water, especially, from boiling over and covering the hob surface in starchy water. A great way to avoid this is simply simmering your pasta, instead of boiling it like an idiot.

As the amended adage goes: “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.”

October Progress Report

A busy month for us here as Pamela was back in China, lobbying for the use of new Power Converters in domestic households. Jason was getting to grips with his new Research Team and Nastiya had her hands full with a new strain of plant DNA from Africa.

Power Converters for Beijing

“China has a bad reputation throughout the Western world for being one of the largest contributors to global pollution – with it’s CO2 emissions estimated at being over twice that of the United States and three times as much as the entire European Union put together. This has been the case for some time but, instead of the Chinese authorities looking at the figures as a catalyst for change, it has simply become a fact to be stated. Despite pressure from the international community, it appears like the problem is not going to cease any time soon.


Last month, I travelled back to my home city of Beijing to speak to my family, old colleagues and research partners about trying to empower change in behavioural patterns – for the sake of the planet’s well being. The main thrust of my argument centred around the use of AC/DC Power supplies, when approaching domestic power consumption. Instead of relying on wasteful chemicals and petroleum to supply energy, I hoped to start a grass-roots movements that would ignite a passion for the environment amongst the local communities. Only time will tell if these communities will embrace change and start having a positive impact on their environment.”

New Research Fellows Cause Headaches

“We’re a relatively small team here at AVP – but we have grand ideas, so we often need to enlist help to ensure that we have half a chance of executing them. Luckily we’re based in the centre of Liverpool’s Academic Hub – just a stone’s throw away from thousands of well-trained science students, just itching to get some professional experience on their portfolios. Thanks to our connections with the local Science Departments, we were able to stick up a few flyers, so pretty soon our phone was off the hook with excitable students looking for work.


This is my first year in charge of students – I mistakenly thought it was going to be a cake-walk. I know now that it is immeasurably easier looking out for ‘number one’ compared to watching out for a handful of other underlings. The new team are wonderfully enthusiastic, but equally chaotic to have around. The equipment we use here is expensive and I’ve already lost count of the amount of test tubes that have been shattered. It’s going to be an interesting few months, bring on Christmas!

Tree Tumbo DNA Is Bizarre

“I’ve recently had a massive batch of welwitschia DNA sent through from our partner trust in Angola. Although it’s the only species in it’s genus, it’s a relatively safe species as the large majority of it’s population is confined to the Namib desert, which is spotted with land mines that keeps collectors at bay. Unfortunately, it also makes for a tricky specimen for scientists to study. Luckily, we have local knowledge in the area that gives us the edge over the dangerous terrain and allows us to study this fascinating plant.


The Tree Tumbo is a bizarre plant, with some specimens being recorded as being over 1’000 years old. The leaves that it grows are permanent, conserving the scarce water that can be found in the desert and converting it into giant receivers for the plentiful sunshine that beam down for nearly 13 hours a day.

We’ll try and keep you guys updated with as much as possible, but November’s looking to be one of our busiest yet!

Bio-Mass Research For Beijing

A Brand New Project Is Underway!

Since returning from her trip to Beijing, Dr. Ming has been intensely researching different avenues of energy sources that have the potential to be shipped to her home country of China. Now, with some funding from some local investors, we have the time and resources to start doing some research!

The Idea

In the next month, alongside the work that Dr. Ming has already conducted in the realms of AC/DC Power Converters, we are hoping to present important business and political forces in China with alternatives to the wasteful energy production methods that they are currently using. After taking a wide look at the state of energy production as it stands today, we’ve narrowed our options down to three possible resources. Over the course of the next month, we are hoping to rigorously test each method of energy production, so that Dr. Ming can return to Beijing with a selection of options for local communities to embrace

These are the 3 options that we are hoping to explore:

Gas From Landfills

Waste disposal is a huge issue in Beijing, with 45,000 cubic metres of garbage accumulating in the surrounding villages over the past few years. More than a thousand unauthorised dumps have sprung up in the areas outside the capital in recent years, leading to serious health risks as a result of water and soil pollution. Although the Chinese government began combating the increasing amount of urban waste in the 90s, they have been unable to keep up with the demand that the growing city population has created.


Although standardised landfills were initially built at a quick rate, this has slowed down in recent years – leading to unofficial dumps popping up. One of our ideas is to harness the natural methane gases that are produced by the waste here and re-purpose them into energy that can help local communities, rather than hinder them. 


Although China’s CO2 emissions have been recorded as the highest produced by any other country (three times as much as the entire European Union!), in order to decrease this we may well need to look into producing more in the short term – another way of dealing with Beijing’s rising mounds of refuse could be to burn it. Many countries have found that processing their burnable waste for fuel has been an effective measure in producing energy, as well as getting rid of excess waste.


The environmental effects of simply burning waste obviously needs to be investigated. We’re hoping to collect varying kinds of rubbish from the local council authorities and burn these using different methods – to see if incineration of refuse could be the way forward for China’s pollution problem. 

Wood Production and Burning

Lastly, the burning of wood – although evidently archaic – might just be the step backward that could bump down China’s pollutant heavy energy production methods. The use of Short Coppice Rotation methods have been used (and subsidised) for a long time in the UK. Willow trees can be grown in a relatively short space of time and can yield a high amount of energy, once processed and burned.


There’s been plenty of research put into the growing of Willow trees in the UK – what we’re interested in is the environmental impact of burning these wood pellets (which we’ll source from http://www.liverpoolwoodpellets.co.uk/) as well as the species of trees that could possible be cultivated in Beijing’s surrounding villages.

We’ll be pooling resources from all over the World for this project, but it’s something that we know Dr. Ming has a big passion for – let’s hope we can give Beijing the answer to renewable energy that is so desperately needs!