The Great Experiment pt 1

As I mentioned in my last installment, I’ve been toying with the idea of testing the adage “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.”. Thanks to one of my readers, MaryLynne, I now have a solution to my dilemma of how to actually determine if a fly is caught. With that solution in mind, I’m moving forward with the experiment planning stages.

I have contacted the nice people at GrubCo about purchasing fly larvae. They guarantee a disease-free batch of larvae. By buying flies I know I won’t be getting a bunch of sickly insects that just up and die for the helluvit.

So here’s what I have so far: I will be releasing a predetermined number of flies into a 25 gallon aquarium with a screen lid. In the aquarium there will be three wide mouthed mason jars with  inverted paper cones duct taped to the top. The tops will have small holes big enough for flies to get in. One jar will contain two ounces of honey. Another will contain two ounces of white vinegar and the third, set between them (my control) will contain two ounces of filtered tap water.

After 24 hours I will count the number of flies in each container.

Then I’ll repeat the experiment to make sure that the first results weren’t an error.

Any extra flies will be released into the wild.

If anyone has suggestions or ideas on how to improve the experiment, I would love to hear them. I plan to video tape the experiment and time lapse the 24 hour period. The video will be played during my presentation at DragonCon on Skepticism in Daily Life.



  1. Myk said,

    May 5, 2010 at 2:21 am

    Sounds like a decent experimental methodology, though repetition by other experimenters would obviously be necessary to confirm your findings.

    • May 5, 2010 at 11:04 am

      I would LOVE to see others repeat the experiment!

      And you said “decent methodology”. Is there a way I could improve on it?

  2. Myk said,

    May 5, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Oh, precise placement of the mason jars to ensure no bias is introduced that way, with rotation of placement over successive runs. Or randomised placement. How are you measuring out the honey and vinegar? By weight or volume? What kinds of vinegar and honey are you using? Will your results be applicable to other types of vinegar and honey? Just a few quick ideas to tighten up the experiment design. As I said, it sounded good as it was, though.

    • May 5, 2010 at 4:26 pm

      Thanks for the input on jar placement. I had planned on placing them equidistant from each other and the sides of the aquarium. The rotation hadn’t occurred to me though. Thanks for pointing that out.

      I will be purchasing new bottles of white vinegar and plain honey from the local grocery store. Those and the water will be measured by volume in the same Pyrex measuring cup. I’m going to document all of this. I’m planning on doing a video and presenting it as part of my Skepticism in Daily Life presentation at DragonCon.

      Thanks for the suggestions!

  3. May 7, 2010 at 12:07 am

    […] } I was inspired by Myk Dowling and his comment on The Great Experiment pt 1. He stated that my findings in The Great Experiment would have to be confirmed by other […]

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