From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A different kind of wombat, a furry kind.
We control what
you think with

Icon language.svg
Said and done
Jargon, buzzwords, slogans
Most bona fide scientists aren't interested in spending their valuable time testing what seem to be obviously bogus assertions.
Michael Shermer, Skepticism 101: How to Think like a Scientist[1]

WOMBAT is an acronym meaning "Waste Of Money, Brains And Time". Examples include spending three years and thousands of dollars studying homeopathy, reiki, acupuncture, or any other form of bullshit tooth fairy science.

The term also denotes any efforts spent investigating the purported therapeutic effects of any form of "healing" that has no plausible mechanism or is promoted by Dr. Oz.

At first glance, it might seem nonchalant or even Orwellian of scientists to ever refuse calls to either unconditionally study some issue when asked to or to step back and let cranks present their own "findings".

The fundamental problem, however, is that those refusing the scientific consensus only do so because they've got a dog in the race themselves. Besides, they wouldn't settle for anything but their favored conclusion anyways.

And to add insult to injury, it doesn't help when the proposed thing to be studied is already known to be fallacious, or is logically incoherent to begin with.

In short, a hypothesis being declared a WOMBAT can be taken as the scientific equivalent of a frivolous lawsuit being dismissed with extreme prejudice;Wikipedia the idea is so farfetched, logically flawed, thoroughly refuted and debunked, and either completely unfalsifiable or utterly disproven that one would have to be a clinical imbecile (or at least grossly miseducated) to even think of taking it seriously as something with any basis in reality, let alone formally studying it.


Alternative medicine[edit]

Great Britain spends more than 500 million pounds each year on disproven or unfounded therapies.[2] And that figure probably doesn't even take into account retail therapy.

Each year, the US wastes a quarter of a billion dollars on the National Center for Complementary Alternative Medicine and OCCAM, or whatever they have been rebranded as. After several decades and several billion dollars, these two organizations have yet to produce a single productive result.

Gravity Foundation[edit]

The Gravity Research Foundation was founded and funded by a successful businessman in the hopes of finding means of either harnessing or defeating gravity (yes, defeating — the founder, Roger Babson, wrote an essay titled Gravity — Our Enemy Number One). Since 1948, the organization has been doling out thousands of dollars for essay contests about gravity and funding research on materials that might dampen the effects of gravity (which isn't possible under general relativity).[3] The Gravity Research Foundation has, since the late 1960s, shed its crackpot atmosphere, and has attracted reputed contributors such as Stephen Hawking, who won their essay contest in 1971.[4][5]


See the main article on this topic: Morgellons

After a focused letter-writing campaign to the CDC, Congress, and other authorities, the CDC decided to do a study on the purported disease Morgellons. After two years and many, many lab tests, the CDC concluded that Morgellons was just delusional parasitosis.Wikipedia[6] The response by Morgellons-related associations was that it must surely be a conspiracy.[7]

Research on an actual wombats[edit]

"Did you know wombats poop squares?" - Olaf, Frozen II

While research on why wombats have cube-shaped feces may sound like a WOMBAT, having won the 2019 Ig Nobel Prize in physics,[8] there may be actual real-world applications in manufacturing based on the research.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. Chapter 8, 8:55 (Audiobook)
  2. Last Rites for Alternative Medicine? Thompson, Damian
  3. Martin Gardner, Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, second paperback edition, 1957 pages 92-100.
  4. List of 1971 winners
  5. S. W. Hawking, Black Holes, University of Cambridge, 1971.
  6. Clinical, Epidemiologic, Histopathologic and Molecular Features of an Unexplained Dermopathy
  7. Mystery skin disease Morgellons has no clear cause, CDC study says, by JoNel Aleccia, NBC
  8. The 2019 Ig Nobel Prize Winners Improbable Research.
  9. Presentation E19.1, How do wombats make cubed poo? by Patricia J. Yang, Miles Chan, Scott Carver and David L. Hu, (Nov. 18, 5:10 p.m.) 71st Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics Volume 63, Number 13.
  10. Wombats are the only animals whose poop is a cube. Here’s how they do it. The elasticity of wombats’ intestines helps to shape their distinctive poops by Laurel Hamers (November 18, 2018 at 6:00 pm) Science News.