(Eric Shansby)

My editor, Tom the Butcher, recently forwarded me the results of a medical study in Germany concluding that if men are permitted to stare at women’s breasts for just 10 minutes a day, their blood pressure drops, their hearts get healthier and their lifespans will increase by as much as five years.

Instantly, I sent this to my feminist-professor friend, Gina Barreca. We’re on the phone now. What do you think, Gina?

Gina: Still reading.

Gene: Okay.

Gina: Wait, the German scientist is “Karen Weatherby”?

Gene: She could be an American married to some German! You know, Horst. She kept her last name.

Gina: This scientific report appears to use the term “ample-sized melons.”

Gene: Are you suggesting it is bogus? It says it’s going to be published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. It has been reported by Fox News, MSNBC and various other outlets. I am watching an MSNBC video on it right now.

Gina: What’s it saying?


Gina: Hello?


Gina: It’s mostly breasts, isn’t it?

Gene: Yes. But there is some voice-over, too!

Gina: This is a complete, total hoax.

Gene: How can you know that?

Gina: Because I am looking at multiple credible sources on the Web exposing it as a complete, total hoax. There is no Karen Weatherby. The editors of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, whose most recent study was of “chorioretinal toxoplasmosis,” chortled at the suggestion that they would ever consider publishing this. The hoax first appeared online in 1999 and has resurfaced every few years in newspapers, Web sites and TV stations when some terminally gullible male editor or male producer or male humor columnist decides it must be true on the ancient, revered journalistic principle of HUBBA HUBBA.

Gene: Oh. Well, it sounded plausible. You know. Breasts.

Gina: Yes. Men look at them and feel good.

Gene: Exactly!

Gina: I almost wish this report were true.

Gene: Really?

Gina: Yes. If this report were true, it would end the gridlock in Washington. The tea party and progressives would come together over the need for affordable breast observation clinics. Obamacare would cover both it AND breast augmentation, and become an instant success. Men’s Health magazine would become indistinguishable from Hustler.

Gene: That all?

Gina: Are you kidding? It would just be the beginning. Because the NIH would fund million-dollar studies, with control groups and standard deviations, to discover if the “breast effect” could be replicated or even surpassed by staring at buttocks.

E-mail Gene at weingarten@washpost.com. Find chats and updates at washingtonpost.com/magazine.

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