Weird Universe Archive

July 2021

July 31, 2021

The Penile Plethysmograph

I had to post this item today, to accompany Alex's "pot-sex" post, only because how often does one get to use the great word "plethysmograph?"



Posted By: Paul - Sat Jul 31, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Medicine, Science, Sexuality, Technology, Genitals

The Marijuana Sex Experiment

1975: There was a public hoo-ha when details of Dr. Harris Rubin's planned "marijuana sex study" leaked to the press. As described in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Dec 7, 1975):

Harris Rubin, a university psychologist, has proposed a $121,000, two-year, federally financed investigation. He plans to pay adult male volunteers $20 a session to smoke Government-supplied marijuana and watch erotic films while an electronic device attached to their genitals monitors physical reactions. Rubin hopes to learn whether the drug enhances or inhibits sexual activity.

The New Scientist noted that, despite the moral outrage, the purpose of the study was actually to generate anti-marijuana propaganda by demonstrating that marijuana inhibits sexual response. At least, that was the anticipated result. But the experiment was never conducted.

Dr. Harris Rubin of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine at Carbondale



Morton Hunt gives more details in his 1999 book The New Know-Nothings:

Both the subject and the methodology of Rubin's study were catnip to the media. Rubin and his colleagues planned to encircle the penis of each volunteer with a strain gauge transducer and then show him erotic pictures; any resultant engorgement of the member would be accurately measured and recorded. By conducting the experiment with two groups, one given either alcohol or marijuana and the other nothing, Rubin would be able to determine whether either drug increased or decreased sexual arousal, and to what extent.

On July 18, the Bloomington, Illinois, Daily Pantagraph, which had somehow become aware of the study, ran an article about it, and from then on Rubin's project was in trouble. Newspapers in Illinois, St. Louis, Washington, Chicago, and many other cities ran stories about what quickly became known as the "sex-pot study" or "pot-sex study," a topic so interesting that they ran follow-up stories about it for many months. Displaying suitable outrage, the Christian Citizens Lobby, Illinois governor Daniel Walker, a federal prosecutor, and various Illinois state officials all denounced the study, calling it "disgusing," "pornography," "obscene," and "garbage," and threatening to take action against Rubin.

This was mere growling and snapping, but Congress had the teeth wherewith to bite. Senators William Proxmire and Thomas Eagleton, Democrats but sexual conservatives, attacked it, as did Representative Robert Michel, the ranking Republican member of the House Appropriations subcommittee. Although the secretary of HEW and the president's National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse defended and supported the project, Michel sought to prevent NIDA from funding the Rubin study by tucking an amendment to that effect in the $12.7 billion-dollar 1976 Supplemental Appropriations Bill for HEW, and Senators Proxmire and Warren Magnuson inserted a similar provision into the Senate's version of the bill. The funding of HEW was so crucial to the national well-being that both houses passed the bill with the anti-Rubin provision intact. President Ford signed it into law on May 31, 1976, keeping the vast Social Security system, NIH, and other essential endeavors going—and cutting off Rubin's minuscule funding and putting an end to his research. Rubin had already gathered the alcohol data and he eventually published his results, but the marijuana study died a-borning.

The Sedalia Democrat - Feb 4, 1976

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jul 31, 2021 - Comments (6)
Category: Drugs, Smoking and Tobacco, Experiments, 1970s, Moral Panics and Public Hysteria

July 30, 2021

So easy a four-year-old can do it

From Newsweek - Jan 2, 1950:

The Phillips-Jones Corp. was sure last week it had found the answer to the declining market for men's dress and business shirts in its Van Heusen Century. The Century's collar, the company says, cannot wrinkle, curl, or wilt. Dec. 21, as Phillips-Jones salesmen gathered in a New York hotel for a sales convention, the company proceeded to show how easy it was to iron the shirt by having a young miss of 4, Pamela Gaughan, take the stage and wield the iron.

Pamela doesn't look like she's having fun.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jul 30, 2021 - Comments (6)
Category: Publicity Stunts, Children, 1950s

July 29, 2021

Octogenarian Teetotalers

Published by the National Temperance League of London in 1897. It contained 113 portraits of teetotalers who were over the age of 80.

Unfortunately, there was no companion volume of Octogenarian Tipplers.



image source: Bizarre Books

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 29, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Elderly and Seniors, Inebriation and Intoxicants, Books

Currier and Ives Toiletries

Many cultural touchstones of my youth have vanished, and mean nothing now to new generations.

"Currier and Ives" is one such.

At one time this name meant "nostalgic popular culture invocations of the nineteenth century." But given that meaning, what kind of smells would you necessarily associate with it? Horse manure? Coal fires? Unwashed longjohns? Was that what was meant by "manly elegance?





Posted By: Paul - Thu Jul 29, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Advertising, 1960s, Perfume and Cologne and Other Scents, Nostalgia

July 28, 2021

The Mystery Girl from the World of Autodynamics

In late 1956, a celebrity in disguise as the "Mystery Girl from the World of Autodynamics" toured car shows and dealerships. The public was challenged to guess her identity to have a chance to win a new 1957 Dodge.

Can you guess who she was? The answer is below in extended.

Here's a hint. She's not an A-list celebrity, but we've posted about her before on WU.



North Hollywood Valley Times - Nov 24, 1956



More in extended >>

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 28, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Publicity Stunts, 1950s, Cars

July 27, 2021

Disco Felon

A "disco felon" is a medical condition caused by snapping one's fingers too much to disco music. It was first reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The original article is behind a paywall, but Edward Nash provided some details in the journal Science Year 1982:

"Disco felon"... was reported to NEJM by Frederick W. Walker and other doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in July 1979. "A 17-year-old girl came to the emergency room complaining of an infected finger," they wrote. "Physical examination showed... a classic felon [a painful inflammation of the finger, usually near the fingernail] of the left middle finger... the patient had noticed a small crack on her finger... She thought that the crack might have resulted from snapping her fingers while she was disco dancing..."

The doctors treated the girl by draining and bandaging the inflammation. She recovered, but Walker and his associates sounded a dire warning to other disco dancers and their doctors. "Disco dancing may eventually be shown to damage a variety of body systems: namely visual, auditory, orthopedic, and nutritional. [Nutritional] damage might result from self-imposed starvation in an attempt... to wear the latest outfits."

A correspondent to the NEJM later suggested that "disco digit" might be a less confusing name for the condition.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jul 27, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Health, Music, 1970s

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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.

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