The Luv Doc: Science FTW

Like the 45th president, some things really are simpler than they seem

The Luv Doc: Science FTW

Dear Luv Doc,

For the last few months my roommate has been dating a guy she met through an online app and he seemed almost too perfect. He has a great job, he's smart, good-looking, humble, thoughtful, and one of the first guys she has dated in a long time that I enjoy being around. Sadly, it was too good to be true because the week before Thanksgiving she went to her doctor because she thought she had a UTI and tested positive for chlamydia. When she confronted him about it, he said he didn't have it but she made him get tested and he did. He claims he hasn't been with anyone else since they have been together, but I know for a fact she hasn't slept with anyone in at least a year. So, after a lot of arguing and anguish they are back together, but I think this is a mistake. He either knew he had it (disturbing) or didn't know he had it and slept with enough women to get it (gross). I think she should cut this guy loose before she gets too attached, but she thinks he deserves another chance. Why? Just because he's nice? I think she's making a mistake. What do you think?

– Disgusted Roomie

First of all, this guy may indeed be a real asshole, but I think it might be wise for you to back off on the STD shaming. If we've learned anything in the last three years, it's that diseases don't really infect people based on morality judgments. As maddeningly abstruse as they may be, science has pretty well proven that bacteria lack the requisite sentience to get all judgy about people's sexual history. To a chlamydia bacterium, there is no difference between the Pope's penis and Wilt Chamberlain's. Seems impossible, right? But that's only because your noggin's juggling way too much data. Like the 45th president, some things really are simpler than they seem.

Similarly, your roomie's new boyfriend might be exactly the person he has presented himself to be except with this one added, and yes, somewhat disturbing, feature. Yes, it's entirely possible that he was the carrier, but unless your roommate has been testing for STDs regularly, she could have been hosting chlamydia asymptomatically for years. In fact, 70% of women and 50% of men are asymptomatic at the time of diagnosis, so unless the chap has a pile of voice messages from other women telling him to get his wanker checked, you might want to back off on the finger pointing as well. This fellow – and your roommate – testing positive isn't proof of anything other than that they both have chlamydia.

So what do you do with a suspicion that isn't grounded in empirical truth? Well, you could start a religion, but that takes a lot of good marketing. Plus, most folks who start modern religions end up in embarrassing Netflix documentaries. The prophet disappears. The spaceship never arrives. It's always just a sad remainder of strangely dressed, confused people with empty bank accounts staring blankly into the gaping maw of existential nothingness. How could they have known? How indeed?

There's also the scientific method. Though much maligned in recent years due to a fundamentalist-funded fundamental degradation of the American educational system, the scientific method nonetheless continues to get problems solved without the help of Jesus or that other dude we can't draw pictures of. You got your suspicion, you test that suspicion, you gather evidence to support that suspicion, and then you check in with others to see if you've cocked up the process by letting your suspicion override your observations. It's fucking genius, really. Just look at your iPhone if you're suspicious of the methodology. He might be your screen saver, but Jesus didn't make that. Some Malaysian preschooler did. (p.s. You might want to check that last bit on your iPhone.) The point is that you now have a data point, and agreed it's a pretty big one, but it's still just one data point. I say let this guy prove he isn't lying, and if it all blows up, he will have proved your hypothesis! Science for the win!

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