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The 6-Pack Ring Fishing Experiment

The following is an article from the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research. Not actual science.

by Antoni Chan, Ithaca, New York Benjamin Stein, New York, New York Kenneth Bromberg, New York, New York

After purchasing six-packs of soda cans or beer cans, must we cut the plastic rings that hold the cans together? People say that if we discard these rings without first cutting them, birds and fish will get caught in them and die. We decided to test that claim.

The 6-Pack Safety Hypothesis
Is there really a significant problem? Does our environment -- and the survival of several species -- hinge on us snipping these plastic rings? Our goal was to prove that fish and birds will not get caught in 6-pack rings.

To do this, we used baited 6-pack rings to try our hardest to catch a bird or a fish.

Our Equipment
To purchase supplies for this experiment, we went to our local grocery store, the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. We noticed that outside the store there are both birds in the trees and fish in the water.

Here is a list of the equipment we used:
* 1 set of rings from a 6-pack of soda
* 1 worm (to use as bait for fish)
* bread (to use as bait for birds)
* string, a rock and a stick (for fishing rod)
* potato chips (to snack on while we waited)

And here is a cost analysis of our research project.
Item          Cost
soda          $3.00
worm         free
rock           free
stale          bread free
stick          free
bag of chips free

The Fish Experiment: Procedure
We then prepared the equipment by drinking all of the soda from both 6-packs. In retrospect, it seems we could have skipped this step. After downing twelve sodas, we were left with just the 6-pack ring.

Next we needed to bait our rings with worms. You might be surprised at how squirmy these worms are, but after a while we managed to get them tied securely into the rings.

We then obtained some string, a stick, and a rock, which we used to build a nifty fishing rod, Huck Finn style. Then we traveled to the docks to test our hypothesis. The Ithaca Farmer’s Market had a very nice pier, which we used.

The Fish Experiment: Results
We spent three hours fishing, and didn’t catch a damn thing. Part One of our hypothesis holds true. Fish do not get easily caught in 6-pack rings.

The Bird Experiment: Procedure
After failing to catch a single fish, we tried to catch a bird. We figured it would be much easier to catch a bird than to catch a fish. Birds are much less slippery than fish.

We baited the rings with stale bread, which is well known for being the best thing to feed birds.

We then found a low-hanging bird’s nest in a tree. There were babies inside, so we were sure the mother bird would be thrilled to have free food nearby. We hung the trap in the tree and waited.

An hour later, nothing had happened. This was horrible. We couldn’t catch a bird for the life of us.
We then tried a new approach. We laid the trap on the ground. Then we made a trail of crumbs on the ground leading towards the trap.

At first we were really excited because birds came right to the trail of crumbs and started following it down to the trap. But alas, they never got caught in the trap.

The Bird Experiment: Results
We spent two hours bird hunting, and didn’t catch a damn thing. Part Two of our hypothesis holds true. Birds do not get easily caught in 6-pack rings.

The myth is false. Birds and fish do not get caught in 6-pack rings. You can stop the laborious process of cutting them up. From now on you will never have to cut them up. Think of how much time you’ll save!


This article is republished with permission from the May-June 2005 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

Visit their website for more research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK.

Go to any state park, they will have a display of animals that have died horribly from human littler. PLEASE remove this article and/or post a retraction.
Maybe this is a joke and I just haven't had enough coffee to get it, either way, the internet would be better without it.
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Horrible. Just google 6 pack plastic rings and look at the images. A couple of idiots failed to catch a NESTING MOTHER BIRD in a a single experiment and then imply that these things are perfectly safe?

I guess I just don't get how this is funny.
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oh my. i love neatorama but this article is disappointing. please look up some more info on how devastating this garbage can be to wild life and consider a retraction or explanation. i live in Florida and a variety of seabirds can easily be ensnared and killed by the six pack rings.
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That conclusion cannot be made from this dinky experiment. This is weak science fraught with fallacies and not even "neat". Please take this down.
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This is bad science. They theorize that if they can't intentionally ensnare wildlife in the plastic rings, then it can't happen randomly? I've seen way too many photos of birds with the rings deeply embedded in their necks, injured and starving.
I will continue to cut the rings open, before placing them the trash.
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Misinformation, lack of understanding, potential to to cause harm by people that don't know any better. Please delete this post.
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Wow, I was totally going to try this at home but then I realized I'm not a gullible, humorless sad-sack who can't enjoy a little wit on a short work week.

Happy Thanksgiving to everybody who posted above, please remember if you enjoy turkey tomorrow, it goes in the oven not your head. -_-

Sorry for the reality check.
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  3 replies
Really??? Do you guys honestly not realize that this is supposed to be a joke? Did you not read : "The following is an article from the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research" ?! If that alone wasn't enough to tip you off, the content (if you actually bothered to read it) should have. Geez... >_>
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  1 reply
What's next? Humour pieces about holocost victims and lampshades?
Just because you call it humour does not make it true.

Shame on you. Just shame on you.
You have disappointed everyone.
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  1 reply
It hurts my brain how many people actually took this seriously.

On another note I very much enjoyed this article it was rather humorous. Thanks Miss C :-)
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Showing this would be a better approach to discourage people from throwing out whole six-pack rings.
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those people who were offended or suggested this article would reinforce ignorance are themselves ignorant of the truth. You fight so hard to get people to cut up these plastic rings, and condemn them if they don't, but you never wonder how the hell your household trash was ending up on beaches and in streams. A better use of your time would be attempting to find the source of the pollution.
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Jesus Christ there are a lot of thick humourless people here. also good job on comparing plastic sixpack rings to the holocaust, Mag Pie. You should go and put your head in an oven, unless you already have by confusing it with a turkey.
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It's interesting. Most of the people commenting in this thread I never have seen before. They have only signed in to bitch and cast laughable, humourless, negative aspersions and absurd, personal abuse and accusations.

Lowest Common Denominator is Lowest Common Denominator, doesn't much matter if liberal or conservative. Ideologues gonna Ideologues and all of that...
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I don't bother reading the Annals, but I had to read the comments on this one.
Again, I have to say that misinformation is a plague on the internet. Even though it's meant to be humorous, the Annals are usually just mildly unfunny. The guise of half-seriousness is dangerous because some people are gullible enough to believe some of the patent lies and half-truths and that's where we get crackpot theories like WTC conspiracies and dinosaurs living with people.

Amazing how the people defending the article have been uniformly condescending and abusive in their response towards those who don't appreciate the weak attempt at humour or who were fooled by it.

Let's be honest: nobody but English majors read A Modest Proposal, and only a handful of those actually enjoy reading it. And they only enjoy reading it because a) they're in love with their elbow-patch-tweed-jacket-wearing professors, or b) they're pretending to like it because they're trying to score with the chick in love with the elbow-patch-tweed-jacket-wearing professor.

A Modest Proposal addressed an incredible social issue. This article doesn't use satire as a tool for social change. It is one of many disingenuous articles written with less skill and humour than an Onion article. The Annals are like the viral video that just won't go viral because it's too damn lame.
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