Peer review for semen samples?
December 28, 2008 3:56 PM   Subscribe

A dispute between friends: is there any, say, peer-reviewed information out there about how a vegetarian diet impacts the taste of semen versus a meat-heavy diet?

The more science-y, the better. I've found lots of articles that sort of state things like "Broccoli and asparagus make semen taste worse!" but where's the clinical tries? The double-blind controlled taste tests? Longitudinal follow up?

You can see the problem. Any reliable source would be appreciated!
posted by palindromic to Science & Nature (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you're just trying to settle a dispute between friends, personal field studies might be definitive enough, and certainly more fun.
posted by sageleaf at 4:08 PM on December 28, 2008 [6 favorites]

There is a bunch of research looking at how diet effects semen quality particularly with regards to fertility (e.g. google scholar search) but no one is doing sensory testing looking at how the semen tastes (I spent a fair bit of time with google scholar and pub med confirming this, would be happy to see references if I'm wrong).

Which makes sense, why would someone fund such research let alone actually perform it? From a scientific point of view doing such a study wouldn't tell you anything useful about the health or well being of the research subject, there's no scientific or commercial rationale behind doing it (idle curiosity doesn't count). I think it would be incredibly difficult, probably impossible, to get past an ethics committee because of this - you're only allowed to research with humans if some good might come of the research.

You can probably infer all kinds of things about taste based on the quality studies I linked if you comb through them as they do sometimes look at what polyphenols etc end up in the semen, but it won't give you the whole story and in the end you'd just be cherry-picking data to fit your hypothesis. The question hasn't been researched so the answer isn't really there. The websites you see pushing the vegetarian = tastier (or not tastier, whatever) story are either making it up, repeating something they heard (which was made up) or basing it on biased anecdotal data.

Short answer: I don't think reliable sources for this story actually exist.
posted by shelleycat at 5:20 PM on December 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

I would love to see how one might sneak such peer-reviewed research past the IRB. "Hey, um, we want people to taste semen from subjects who eat different diets. We think that it will definitely contribute to humanity through a better understanding of why asparagus sales are down and so many church cookbooks have recipes for pineapple upside down cakes. We can't promise that any subjects won't be harmed because, you know, after the semen tasting we're having Johnny Knoxville and the Jackass crew punch them in the gut to see if they puke."
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:29 PM on December 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Seriously? Look for comments by gay male or straight female porn stars. That's as scientific as you're going to get.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:33 PM on December 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

When faced with such a quandary, ask yourself what Thomas Jefferson would do. Thomas Jefferson, when he was curious about what that big mound out there in rural Virginia was, dug it up and decided it was an Indian burial mound, and made notes about how the bodies and skulls were arranged, and decided that the bones had been collected elsewhere before being brought to be buried here.

Thomas Jefferson would find a guy who he could convince to eat a very controlled diet for a few weeks in exchange for daily blowjobs. That way, he'd know for himself. That's what Thomas Jefferson would do, and that's what you should do too.
posted by Casuistry at 6:37 PM on December 28, 2008 [20 favorites]

The Semen Taste Test
posted by euphorb at 12:42 AM on December 29, 2008

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