Just as there are slow news days, it seems there are also slow science days— the American Journal of Infection Control today released a very important study alerting us that the fist-bump is a more sanitary greeting than the handshake. Seems reasonable.

The study was done, probably hilariously, at the Institute of Biological, Environmental, and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom, where "researchers performed trials to determine if alternative greetings would transmit fewer germs than the traditional handshake." You won't believe what they found!:

In this experiment, a greeter immersed a sterile-gloved hand into a container of germs. Once the glove was dry, the greeter exchanged a handshake, fist bump, or high-five with a sterile-gloved recipient. Exchanges randomly varied in duration and intensity of contact.

After the exchange, the receiving gloves were immersed in a solution to count the number bacteria transferred during contact. Nearly twice as many bacteria were transferred during a handshake compared to the high-five, and significantly fewer bacteria were transferred during a fist bump than a high-five. In all three forms of greeting, a longer duration of contact and stronger grips were further associated with increased bacterial transmission.

Ideally, of course, we would stop insisting on touching each other at all. We won't, though, as the salutatory pressing together of extremities is the only thing that separates us from animals.

“Adoption of the fist bump as a greeting could substantially reduce the transmission of infectious diseases between individuals,” said David Whitworth, PhD, one of the study's authors. “It is unlikely that a no-contact greeting could supplant the handshake; however, for the sake of improving public health we encourage further adoption of the fist bump as a simple, free, and more hygienic alternative to the handshake."

What could possibly go wrong? Oh.

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