Home / Tech / News / Verge ESP: The crucial role of moms in the Ryan Lochte scandal AND in one's microbial communities

Verge ESP: The crucial role of moms in the Ryan Lochte scandal AND in one's microbial communities

Okay friends, bear with us here: some things have happened since we recorded the podcast. For those of you who didn’t know, Ryan Lochte claims he was robbed at gunpoint. Brazilian police say otherwise.

In conclusion, don’t lie to your mom Here’s what we know: on Aug. 14th, initial reports surfaced that Lochte had been robbed in Rio, while he and three friends were out for a night on the town. His mother confirms these reports to USA Today; then Lochte himself gives an account of the alleged robbery. The International Olympic Committee initially denies the reports, then apologies to Lochte and the others. But on Aug 16th, the police tell press, they can’t find any evidence that the robbery happened (hmm). On Aug. 17th, Lochte leaves Brazil; two fellow swimmers are detained at the airport by authorities. Lochte sticks to his story of a robbery, but the details change. By Aug. 18th, (the day we recorded) the authorities say the group was definitely not victims of a robbery: apparently, they caused a ruckus at a gas station and got into a fight with staff, and a security guard pulled a weapon. Aug. 19th (today), Lochte apologizes for his behavior and promises to be “more careful and candid” in describing the incident.

Liz’s personal theory of how this all spiraled out of control? Lochte told his mother a sanitized version of events — omitting vandalism, for instance — and characterized the altercation as a robbery. His mother, furious at the thought anyone might have done harm to her special boy, tipped off the press. And that’s how a lie Lochte told his mom caused an international incident. In conclusion, don’t lie to your mom.

Your mom’s done a lot for you, of course — but not just for you. She’s also done rather a lot for your bacteria! Later in the podcast, science writer Ed Yong of The Atlantic comes on to tell Liz and Emily about his new book, I Contain Multitudes, a book about how animals (including humans) and bacteria interact. Not only will you find out how your mom helped shape your gut bacteria, you’ll hear about the Russian nesting dolls of bacteria that live on bugs, and why it’s so difficult to alter one’s microbiome for the purposes of medicine. You aren’t just a person, you’re an ecosystem — in fact, several ecosystems. Tune in to hear why probiotics might not live up to their hype, how one type of bacteria is eliminating males of certain species, and why cooperation in nature is less friendly than it sounds.


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