When I first saw Snopes’s debunk of a handful of viral clips showing magnets sticking to people’s arms after the COVID-19 vaccine, I scoffed. After all, as kids we all tried the “trick” where you stick a penny to your forehead or a spoon to your nose. No one was going to believe this, I thought, and I was wrong once again, as the comments on our social media channels were quick to demonstrate.
The handful clips exponentially multiplied as everyone and their dog replicated this experiment. The lack of design, protocols or even an actual hypothesis, however, has resulted in replications with magnets, small ferrous metal objects and even small non-ferrous metal objects, with adhesion occurring in only around two thirds of trials, definitively proving one thing and one thing alone:
Small smooth objects stick to some parts of some people some of the time.
Coincidently, this is exactly what would be expected from a combination of sebum, an oily, waxy substance produced by the body's sebaceous glands, and surface tension, the resistance of a liquid’s surface to external force as a result of molecular cohesion, and not really what would be expected from a magnetised human body, assuming such a thing was even possible.
The mistake being made by the proponents of the magnetic people hypothesis, if that is indeed the hypothesis, is assuming that repeating the same flawed experiment enough times will result in a compelling body of evidence. Whereas, what is needed here, as our old friend Karl Popper could have told them, if he hadn’t been dead for the best part of three decades, is falsification.
To falsifying human magnetism The Amazing Randi dried out the subject’s sebum with talc, while fellow skeptic Benjamin Radford checked for magnetic fields with a compass. However you do it, despite the claims of the commenter who stated that by trying to disprove the claims we disqualified our scientific neutral status, the only way to prove this hypothesis is by attempting to disprove it.