This is commitment to one’s research. Also asinine. And amusing.
Smith was methodical. He collected bees by grabbing their wings “haphazardly with forceps” and pressing them against the body part of choice. He left the stinger there for a full minute before removing it, and then rated his pain on a scale of 1 to 10. Pain is very hard to measure, but psychological studies have found that numerical scales do a decent job of putting numbers on an inherently subjective experience.
He administered five stings a day, always between 9 and 10am, and always starting and ending with “test stings” on his forearm to calibrate the ratings. He kept this up for 38 days, stinging himself three times each on 25 different body parts. “Some locations required the use of a mirror and an erect posture during stinging (e.g., buttocks),” he wrote. If you are chuckling at the image of a man twisting around in front of a mirror to apply an agitated bee to his butt, I assure you that you are not alone.