It’s no wonder why health care is in shambles in this country. Every two-bit researcher with a corporate-sponsored grant proposal collects their check, publishes their paper, and some low-wage PR grunt in their administrative office issues a press release. Major media, given their rip-and-read reporting laziness and blissful ignorance of science, publishes every piece of news release drivel that comes over the wire — not even pausing long enough to let it sink into their brains. Consumers read this regular stream of confusing and contradictory medical research and, from week to week, have no idea whether to drink ten cups of coffee a day or to swear it off altogether.

So what’s the latest idiot piece that doesn’t seem to go away, even as much as we may try to avoid it? Researchers at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas discovered that caffeine increases the female rat libido. So what do many of the newswires report?: “Is coffee the female Viagra?”

No, seriously.

Of course, if you’re hot to trot on a Saturday night and are looking to score with vermin, this is excellent news. Apparently you should be looking for love in the dumpster behind the local Starbucks. But chances are that you do not qualify for this group. Yet to spice up the story, people have made a leap of faith from rats to humans, from caffeine to coffee, from sexual interest to blood flow, and the next thing you know newswires, bloggers, and the like are eating it up like Hugh Hefner after word of a Viagra shortage.

Who cares if there isn’t any relevance, let alone truth, to this concept? And who cares if the university that performed this reputable and renowned medical research actually posted the following on their Premedical and Predental student section of their Web site?:

During its long history, Southwestern University has never “got anyone into medical or dental school.”

It doesn’t matter — all those pesky details just get in the way. This reminds me of my favorite old physicist joke, which illustrates the lunacy of postulating and debating for hours upon the foundation of a ridiculously erroneous assumption. The punchline goes, “We first assume a spherical chicken…” (Physicists live by the simplified mathematical abstraction.)

And to prove that things have a life of their own, here’s a press release today from Drinks Business Review: Java Sutra introduces libido-boosting coffee – Drinks Business Review. With the opening headline, “Java Sutra, a Portland-based company, has introduced a nutrient-infused coffee that is claimed to boost sexual energy in men and women,” it’s clear that there’s a market for spherical chicken if everyone just believes in it.