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This is a question Crap Gadgets

We wanted a monkey butler and bought one off eBay. Imagine our surprise when we found it was just an ordinary monkey with rabies. Worse: It had no butler training at all. Tell us about your duff technology purchases.

Thanks to Moonbadger for the suggestion

(, Thu 29 Sep 2011, 12:51)
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Dangerous Invention
I'm going to tell you about a household gadget you can find in nearly every home in South Korea. Before I tell you its name, just bear in mind that every single one comes with safety instructions so you will know how to use it without dying. Everyone knows these rules by heart except for foreigners coming to the country, and there will always be a helpful Korean at hand to explain it to you. Even so, every summer the newspapers report on the numbers of deaths attributed to this device. It's possible even you might have one of these in your home, facing you right now.

So, I guess I should let you know what dangerous contraption I'm talking about. Ready? The electric fan.

...Wait, you're probably wondering, how's that supposed to kill you?

Well, there's no one answer, but many theories. To be lethal, you must leave the fan on while you sleep. Also, there must be no windows open, and you're as good as dead. I'm sure you're as alarmed as I first was, as I'd spent every night in Canada sleeping with the fan on, even in the dead of winter, and of course I never opened a window.

So, how does a fan kill you in your sleep? There are many theories. Listed from least implausible to most, they are:
-the fan gives you hypothermia
-the fan consumes oxygen and gives you carbon dioxide poisoning
-the fan overheats, raising the temperature and killing you from too much heat
-the fan creates a vortex over your mouth and nose, preventing air from reaching your lungs
-fan blades are able to chop O2 molecules in half, rendering the oxygen unbreathable

And many more, but this covers the spectrum from pretty crazy to pretty damn crazy.

I was pretty surprised by this, so I asked a medical doctor. He backed up the story, and I believe cited the hyopthermia explanation. Even fan manufacturers, who have a vested interest in not having their product classified as lethal, print all sorts of warnings in the instruction manuals.

A few years ago, there was a newspaper article about a group of guys who made a suicide pact. They rented a motel room and went to sleep with the fan on. They were still alive in the morning, so they rented the room for one more night. Sometime in the night, one of the guys decided he wanted to live, so he switched off the fan. The article quoted the chief of police crediting him with saving all their lives.

Of course fan death is not real. One Korean news station even did an interesting experiment on the topic, and discovered that sleeping with a fan on helps you sleep deeper and improves oxygen absorption. Still, almost every Korean believes in it, and dozens of deaths every year get attributed to fan death, leaving the real cause unknown.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 9:43, closed)
But, importantly...
... do you own one?
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 9:50, closed)
All countries have their own version of this.
In Indonesia thay believe swimming and playing basketball make you taller. It's even in their science textbooks.

In the UK we beleive MSG is somehow bad for you, and that a large number of the population suffer adverse affects from eating it.

Americans have creationism.

You should never point the finger at another nation, as your own will always have some farcical belief.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 11:02, closed)
Culture-bound syndromes
Martin Robbins from the Guardian has done some studies of these so-called "Culture-Bound Syndromes", and did an amusing presentation for the Pod Delusion podcast, Episode 51. His report is about 30 minutes in.

Edit: WARNING NSFW due to discussion of Penis Theft.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 11:10, closed)
People do have a proper bona fide reaction to MSG
but it's only because they're sensitive to glutamates in general apparently. It seems to be used rather liberally as well, so dishes e.g. chinese takeways with it added may have much higher glutamate levels than general meals.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 11:12, closed)
Well, off course some people do,
but you could say that of just about anything. My point was it's no worse than say bread or eggs.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 11:16, closed)
Whether it's worse or not depends what your attitude to Sodium is.
If you believe the UK governmental advice on salt intake you should avoid MSG like the plague as it's a source of blood-pressure increasing sodium.
The Glutamate allergy aspect is just a small part of the reason MSG is demonised.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 13:41, closed)
That makes no sense.
MSG is often used a salt substitute, and food containing MSG is likely to contain less sodium, as less or no sodium is added.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 16:51, closed)
Erm "... used as a salt substitute ...".
Salt isn't supposed to be used in cooking as it's "Bad, hmmkay!?" -- so food laced with salt or MSG is supposed to be bad. I'm also not convinced that MSG laden food does not have any salt added?
Personally I couldn't care less as I have a cavalier attitude to salt in my food, so I'm just pointing out that it's sodium that's demonised not MSG alone.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 17:36, closed)

MSG is monosodium glutamate - one sodium per glutamate. Even though there isn't any more salt added in the familiar form of sodium chloride, the addition of MSG necessarily means the addition of sodium.
(, Fri 30 Sep 2011, 22:30, closed)
I understsnd MSG contains a lot of salt.
The point is it's a 'better' flavour enhancer than salt. You need less of it to make shit food taste good. As a general rule food flavoured with MSG tends to have an overall lower salt content than food that is flavoured with just salt.

Also, salt isn't all bad. It's an important part of ones diet. If you had no salt you would die.
(, Sat 1 Oct 2011, 5:02, closed)
Some counter-examples I wouldn't have thought of. MSG might contribute to shortening your life, but a fan will kill you in your sleep. There's quite a big difference there. I have no qualms about knocking on fan death.

Also, creationism is dumb, but it isn't a gadget.
(, Sun 2 Oct 2011, 4:29, closed)
I have cheated death!!!
I slept with my dirty great fuckoff 'sounds-like-the-chopper-scene-in-apocalypse-now-but-without-the-Ride-of-the-Valkyries-blaring-out' ceiling fan on ALL LAST NIGHT! I am invincible!!

(, Sun 2 Oct 2011, 9:04, closed)
A click for
"The article quoted the chief of police crediting him with saving all their lives."
(, Sun 2 Oct 2011, 11:17, closed)

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