“”Dumbbell flys aren't an exercise because that doesn't contain the word "bench".
|—Dom Mazzetti, the Brofessor himself|
Broscience (or less commonly bromeopathy[note 1]) is a derogatory term for misconceptions and ideas of questionable scientific credibility, passed around among laymen by word-of-mouth as if factually true.
Most examples of broscience pertain to biology, fitness, and sports, and it most often circulates in fitness, athletic, and bodybuilding circles, where many people want to know how to most effectively work out but are either ignorant of or do not fully understand the actual science. In general, such beliefs rely on anecdotal evidence and gain their popularity more from if the speaker even lifts than from proof or references.
Bodybuilders know all about hard work and effort being necessary to get the reward. But if you don't have a proper understanding of how to apply your hard work and effort, then it will amount to little more than repeatedly banging your head against a wall.
The word broscience is a compound of the word science with the word bro, a truncation of "brother" often used among friends in the social groups where such ideas circulate. It is (probably) a coincidence that broscience abbreviates to BS. One populariser of the term says:
“”Bro-science is when someone makes a completely unsupportable claim, not backed by either science or any form of reasonable speculation, and when challenged on that lack of support, the person instead points to his pictures, his lifts, or the phenomenal number of Olympic athletes he’s trained as support for the claim.
As the name implies, the term "broscience" is usually applied to such notions passed around among men. Among women, a better term might be "support group science" or, historically, "wives' tales." "Broscience" originally started to take off in 2008 and spread further post 2010.
According to Stephen Barrett, the thing we now call "broscience" is largely due to one Bob Hoffman, a bodybuilding promoter, Olympic coach, and founding member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. He was also involved in the National Health Federation and had a supplement business on the side, which got in trouble with the FDA many times.[note 2]
Examples of broscience
- Fat can be directly converted into muscle.
- Spot reduction: the fat in a body part can be individually reduced by exercises using that body part.
- Starving yourself is the only/the best/a good way to lose weight.
- Anything about "toning" muscles
- Anything that promises results in a few weeks
- Most bodybuilding woo
- Amateur opinions that unusual range of motion / pace / source of resistance makes an exercise more effective
- A diet that worked for one guy so he writes a book telling everyone it's the one true diet
- Amateur opinions on when it's best to take creatine, and how much to take
- Anything about an ECA stack (ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin)
- The urban caveman movement
- Soy turns you into a girlyman.
- Listening to the wrong music also has the same effect as soy, only metal music can produce testosterone.
- Dudes doing weird shit with their junk, like "testicle tanning"
Exploring the limits of logical fallacies
In 2022, as part of a show called "The End of Men" that alleges that somehow men are less masculine than they used to be, Tucker Carlson had a bro named Andrew McGovern who advocated testicle tanning[note 3] using infrared light for its alleged ability to increase testosterone. As it is normally understood, using infrared light is not tanning since tanning is caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. Carlson responded to his guest's claims by saying:
“”Half the viewers right now are like, ‘What? Testicle tanning? That’s crazy!,’ But my view is, okay, testosterone levels crash and nobody says anything about it? That’s crazy. So, why is it crazy to seek solutions?
So, Carlson's argument goes something like this:
- P1: X happened and it is 'crazy'.
- P2: (unstated) X should be taken seriously.
- C1: Y is also 'crazy'.
C: Y should be taken seriously.
It's a crazy argument, right? Maybe we should take it seriously. Well, Carlson did by repeating the argument to justify taking seriously his show that explored the claim that extraterrestrials cause cattle mutilation. The argument consists of several fallacies: four-term fallacy, enthymeme fallacy, overgeneralization, false equivalence, and probably others.
- Argumentum ad baculum, the generally implicit standard of evidence for broscience.
- Common sense
- Jack Dorsey, a proponent of techbroscience
- Urban legend
- 'Broscience' as defined by Urban dictionary
- Broscience.com — a forum dedicated to this sort of thing as if the term didn't mean "idiocy"
- The history of some popular broscience terms
- Everybody sing along!
- Bromeopathy is portmaneau of "bro" and "homeopathy" though it is not actually homeopathy.
- Stephen Barrett's Quackwatch wrote::
“”Bob Hoffman, who died in 1985, published bodybuilding magazines and sold bodybuilding equipment and food supplement products through his company, York Barbell Co., of York, Pennsylvania. In 1960, the company was charged with misbranding its Energol Germ Oil Concentrate because literature accompanying the oil claimed falsely that it could prevent or treat more than 120 diseases and conditions, including epilepsy, gallstones, and arthritis. The material was destroyed by consent decree. In 1961, fifteen other York Barbell products were seized as misbranded. In 1968, a larger number of products came under attack by the government for similar reasons. In the consent decree that settled the 1968 case, Hoffman and York Barbell agreed to stop a long list of questionable health claims for their products. In 1972, the FDA seized three types of York Barbell protein supplements, charging that they were misbranded with false and misleading bodybuilding claims. A few months later, the seized products were destroyed under a default decree. In 1974, the company was again charged with misbranding Energol Germ Oil Concentrate and protein supplements. The wheat germ oil had been claimed to be of special dietary value as a source of vigor and energy. A variety of false bodybuilding claims had been made for the protein supplements. The seized products were destroyed under a consent decree.
Despite his many brushes with the law, Hoffman achieved considerable professional prominence. During his athletic career, first as an oarsman and then as a weightlifter, he received over six hundred trophies, certificates, and awards. He was the Olympic weightlifting coach from 1936 to 1968 and was a founding member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. These activities helped make Hoffman a major factor in the growth of nutritional fads for athletes.
- or "nut roasting", as wags call it
- Dumbbell flys aren't an exercise because that doesn't contain the word "bench". by Dom Mazzetti Quotes (7:37 PM · Apr 17, 2013) Twitter (archived from 28 Aug 2015 14:50:54 UTC).
- Tucker Carlson Goes Nuts For 'Testicle Tanning' And The Internet Has Questions by Jazmin Tolliver (Apr. 18, 2022, 02:24 AM EDT) Huffington Post.
- Observations, and Bro-Science (February 5, 2010) Myosynthesis (archived from 7 Jul 2013 13:02:47 UTC).
- Be Wary of the National Health Federation (1993) by Stephen Barrett (July 15, 2012) Quackwatch.
- The Lincoln Project's tweet - "Quick! Call Tucker’s Testicle Tanning Salon to book your appointment today. Trendsmap.
- Given endless resources, Tucker Carlson zeroes in on UFOs and testicles by Philip Bump (April 18, 2022) The Washington Post.