In the past we have discussed techniques for concealing farts in public. It now feels appropriate to reveal that some members of the college have been running an informal set of experiments with the exact opposite goal: to maximize attention paid to farts, by strangers, in public.
The basic mechanism of the experiment involves emitting both live and pre-recorded farts of various types, durations, and volumes in the direction of a busy pedestrian throughway. We then count the number of indications that the fart was heard – usually taking the form of a head-turn or a smile.
It may come as a surprise to our readership to learn that it is shockingly difficult to get people to attend to farts, or to even notice them. Part of the issue may be due to just how well farts are concealed by ambient noise, or that we have been culturally trained to treat those who fart in public with a certain politeness.
While we do not (yet) have good data available, a reasonable guess would be that fewer than 1% of our farts result in a visual indication of having been perceived by the target. This is clearly an area of research that needs more attention, especially given the potential health benefits of smelling other people’s farts.