Ask A Scientific Ethicist: Drunk Ex Husband, Hungry Girlfriend

Ask A Scientific Ethicist: Drunk Ex Husband, Hungry Girlfriend

Due to underwhelming demand, and something not entirely dissimilar to the silence of a distant clamour, I announce the periodic return of the Ask A Scientific Ethicist column.

These columns (example, example, example) are penned by the renowned Scientific Ethicist, PhD, MD, and many more such letters. He draws upon the awesome powers of Science to solve the everyday problems we all have.

Drunk Lovers

Dear Scientific Ethicist,

I had a seven-year relationship with a man who I thought was the love of my life. I had been married twice before — once for 17 years — to an alcoholic, and I was in a 10-year relationship with a man 15 years older than me.

I have one daughter, who is now 40, and he has a daughter with whom he is estranged. She is 43. He has been married three times, the longest for seven years, with one marriage lasting for only a month.

Now, after almost 10 months of no contact, I received a box while I was in Europe traveling on a retirement celebration trip. I opened it now that I am back home, not knowing who it was from, and lo and behold, it was every personal gift that I had given him over the last few years, including a watch and a shirt and some paintings that I had done at his request.

Now I am having trouble getting this out of my mind and am wondering just what he hoped to accomplish by sending this stuff back. What are your thoughts? Should I respond or ignore and move on? Send the stuff back and tell him to throw it away?

Confused on the West Coast

Dear Confused,

It’s funny you should mention alcohol. Which is, of course, scientifically known as ethanol, which is written C2H5OH, though some write it CH3?CH2?OH. Many scientists label this ethyl alcohol, but I find ethyl hydrate better conveys the subtleties of this amazing molecule.

Its boiling point is 78.23 Centigrade, the most scientific temperature scale. The good news is that it’s rarely that hot in nature, so beakers of ethyl hydrate will rarely spontaneously combust. Though it is, of course, flammable, which some used to write inflammable, but that latter word was found to be confusing.

Here’s the real point. It’s LD-50, or the dose at which there is a 50% chance of death, is 7340 milligram per kilogram, taken orally. However, that figure is deduced from mice, which means there is uncertainty in the dose when applied to humans.

You didn’t mention your ex-husband’s weight, but the CDC scientifically determined the average weight of a man is 88.7 kg, and kilograms are more scientific than pounds. That makes the LD-50 651,058 mg, or about 2 and 3/4 cups. Now since most “hard” drinks are about 40% ethyl hydrate (the rest being water and other chemicals not important to us today), you’d need 6.875 cups of bottled “hard” liquor, or 1.71875 quarts. This is also 1.6265441 liters. Since many bottles are sold as “fifths”, or 750 ml, you’d need 2.168725 bottles to reach the LD50. Of course, since you can’t buy fractional bottles, you should buy three.

All of this naturally leads to our scientific conclusion: you and your ex need to be double vaccinated and boosted. Your daughter, too. It’s Science!

The Scientific Ethicist

Hungry Hungry Harridan

Dear Scientific Ethicist,

Every year my girlfriend and I take each other out for dinner on our birthdays and bring a gift. This year, even though I am currently experiencing financial hardship, I bought her a gift and offered her dinner.

At the restaurant, she ordered the largest portion of what she wanted. She stated it’s what she always orders in that restaurant. I responded that she always takes half of it home, and that I had offered to buy her dinner for that night, not for two days. She got very angry and said I was ruining her birthday.

She then said she’d pay for her own meal. I declined her offer and paid, but now I’m wondering if I was wrong. She did pay for half the appetizer, which I didn’t want or eat, and she left the tip. Should have told her before we went out to dinner that I was on a tighter budget? Can our relationship be saved?

Losing in Las Vegas

Dear Losing,

Although many doubt it, science shows us the average weight of an adult human female at 35 years old is now about 170 pounds (or, scientifically, 77.4 kg). That same average woman, science insists, needs about 2,265 calories a day to maintain that weight.

The good news is that amount of calories can easily be had from nearly all restaurant menus.

The Science Ethicist

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  1. John B()

    Dear Scientific Ethicist

    I hate it when the word processor I’m using doesn’t know I want to drop superscripts or subscripts (try Publisher’s Clearing House for the subscription issue and just maybe you can quit your day job?)


    Is that why Alice Cooper tempered his quart of whiskey with a case of beer

    Then there was Roger Daltry who was a total teetotaler while Keith Moon ‘tempered’ his drinking with horse tranquilizers and whatever pretty colored tablets and pills that struck his fancy (you could actually prove the LD-50 concept with his death)

  2. John B()

    You COULD NOT prove

    I hate when that happens as well.

    We need more AI

  3. Briggs


    I think my enemies are AI.

  4. Ann Cherry

    Really enjoyed this column, Professor Briggs. Thanks for posting links to those three older ones along the same lines. I think my favorite was from 5/16/14:

    “Bobby’s Bad Behavior”

    “Dear Scientific Ethicist,

    Our eight-year old child has been acting out, speaking out of turn, making shapes of weapons with zis fingers, and is firm that ze has gender identified as a “boy”. As forward-thinking parents we want to make sure all of zir needs have been met and ze is developing appropriately. We have given zim only the best gender neutral toys but ze still insists on turning these toys into armies that fight!

    What can we do to correct zis behavior?
    -Parent at Wit’s End

    Dear Wit’s End,
    About half of human babies are born with a Y chromosome, a very few are born with two, while nearly all the remainder are born without. An almost vanishingly small contingent are born with chromosomes that don’t fit either of these categories well.

    As contrary to common sense as it seems, human mating requires one human with a Y chromosome and one without to reproduce. That they do mate is what accounts for the occasional pregnancies in the humans without the Y chromosome.

    Science has proven beyond all doubt that the humans with the Y chromosomes can sometimes recognize the humans without. This mechanism is still not fully understood: more research is needed. But deduction tells us it must be present or the mating process could never begin.

    This shows, once again, that Science is found everywhere!
    -The Scientific Ethicist”

  5. Hagfish Bagpipe

    This is great — finally ethics and morality are placed on a rational scientific basis instead of foundering in a swamp of superstition. All hail the God Particle! — what’s that thing called again? — oh yes, the Briggs Hosin’.

  6. daiva

    ? Just caught a thought it’s a scientifically valid and ethically justified endeavour to make some distant clamour heard ? ?

  7. Tracy

    This is the value of using science as the foundation of your ethics. Stupid unethical people just do what they want and justify it after. Smart unethical people redefine unethical as scientific and then do what they want. This particular Scientific Ethicist may need just a –little– more work in disguising the redefinition or someone might catch on to his game.

  8. daiva

    To let you sleep at night: those bland question marks above are miserable stand-ins for gorgeous emojis from comment box: :rofl: :clap: :joy:, in this order. The Post button (ie your enemy AI behind it) did it! 🙁

  9. David Beckham

    For real though, the fact that the average woman in the US is about 170 lbs is just crazy. I know Americans fat, but wow.

  10. Nate

    I’ve been waiting for this! If only This Week in Doom returns…

  11. Johnno


    You should have advised the young lad to take his half wit, the girlfriend, to the best BUGS’N’BREAKFAST that money can buy! If the Beyond-meat dishes are not made of bugs, it’s plants! Try the wine! Even the wine is plants, and I don’t mean grapes! It is sap! And I don’t mean maple! I mean the white stuff! Mix it with the cream of big juicy caterpillars and recycled sewage water (this costs extra) and Mmmmmhmmm! Goes well with a side of kale crackers slowly toasted under a solar panel! The wine doubles as a dip!

    See how much your date orders now!

    It is gentlemanly to insist on seconds!

  12. Uncle Mike

    Dear SE,

    Please thank you for your answer to this question:

    If E = MC^2, then C = sqr root(E/M). Does this not prove, scientifically, that Old Joe is actually the Anti-Christ?

  13. JH

    I have a dear friend who loves to talk about the exciting experiments conducted in her lab. No matter what question I have, her answers tend to end with what she has done and happened in her lab. I imagine the conversation between the Scientific Ethicist and my friend would be hilarious.

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