The Secret of Freckles

Hello and welcome back to Factually Deficient! I apologize that today’s post is somewhat later than usual– I would love to be able to have a specific time of day that these go up, but I just don’t find that realistic. I also want to say a huge thank you to everyone who answered my plea for questions with such a generous outpouring of them, both here and elsewhere. I now have a wealth of questions to answer! (This is not to say not to send more questions; questions are always welcome, and I will get to everything eventually, so by all means continue to ask me all your questions about science and history and botany and such things that you would like to see answered with shameless falsehoods.)

This week, I would like to answer a question from the inimitable Melissa:

What causes freckles?

My dear Melissa– and all my dear readers– it is my sad duty to inform you that freckles are nothing but a myth, perpetuated by a cruel and cunning scam. When you think about it, you will realise this truth to be self-evident; how could it be possible for something as adorable and endearing as little light brown spots mottling the flesh, caused by exposure to the sun, to actually exist? The answer is that they don’t, of course.

This is where we get to the scam part of it. For even though there are no such thing as freckles, can never be such a thing as freckles, we have all seen individuals who appear to be sporting that very mythical pigmented skin! This, too, is self-evident, because if there were not good reason to believe that they do in fact exist, Melissa would not have asked about their cause.

The scam, then: It is a little-known scientific fact that if one dots one’s skin with a calligraphy pen (a ballpoint pen will not work, nor will a pencil, a marker, a crayon, or acrylic paints applied with a paintbrush), and then goes out into the sun, a chemical reaction will take place whereby the light from the sun transforms the calligraphy ink into a light brown shade, causing the inkspots to appear to be “freckles”.

This reaction, of course, is not permanent; it will last only until the third sunset, the second bath, or the first full moon– whichever comes first. Thus it is that individuals who have discovered this secret, and walk around appearing to be richly endowed with freckles, often sequester themselves for even hours at a time with a calligraphy pen immediately following the full moon.

A possibility occurs to me: what if Melissa asked this question not envying the freckled few, but rather in search of explanation for so-called freckles that she herself bears? If I am to assume– as I of course do– that my readers ask their questions out of earnest and not deviousness, then I must assume that Melissa is not a freckled scam artist; how, then, can I explain her alleged freckles?

The explanation, however, is fairly trivial. In order to make their own “freckles” seem more plausible, or in order to pull off a practical joke, or even in order to grant a secret kindness to their loved ones, freckle scam artists will occasionally sneak up on someone who is sleeping, and draw dots on that person’s skin with a calligraphy pen, so that the victim, being none the wiser, will appear to develop freckles upon stepping into the sun.



Disclaimer: Most or all of the assertions in this blog post are extremely false. The author does not recommend drawing on oneself or others, with a calligraphy or other type of pen, regardless of the proximity to the full moon.


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