It is a headline so tantalizing you can’t help but hope it’s true. “NASA will pay you $18,000 to stay in bed and smoke weed for 70 straight days,” is perhaps something you’ve seen pass through your Facebook or other social media feeds at some point. If you haven’t seen it before now, you’re probably praying it’s true and wondering how you could sign up.
Unfortunately the story is nothing but a twisted rumor gone viral, according to the people at FactCheck.org. The nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” website is dedicated to sniffing out possibly fraudulent stories and determining their veracity for readers.
“NASA Will Pay You $18,000 To Stay In Bed And Smoke Weed For 70 Straight Days” was first posted on SolExchange.com and since remixed on various other websites. On SolExchange, a website dedicated to sneaker news and release dates, the article is highlighted with a screengrab from the original Alien movie, which should’ve been indication enough.
However, as FactCheck.org pointed out, the claim is rooted in some truth. NASA does host “bed rest studies,” where they pay testers to deduce the effects long-term space travel could have on the human body. First-person accounts of individuals being paid $18,000 to stay in bed for 70 consecutive days—sans the marijuana—appeared in Plaid Zebra and VICE.
The fraudulent story that included smoking weed stole details from these stories to construct a realistic-enough portrait. Since the original, FactCheck.org found the story posted in numerous other websites, sometimes on the same publication twice. Yet it continues to go viral, even though the original SolExchange piece is listed as a “humor” piece on its site.
“We find that viral stories that are too good to be true never die,” FactCheck.org writes. “They just get reposted again and again and again.”
It is possible that the story will continue to go viral as NASA bed rest studies will soon go international, as their future testing will occur at the :envihab facility in Cologne, Germany. Though they are yet to begin, the studies will focus on various aspects of astronaut health, especially what happens when humans go beyond the low Earth habit.
So unfortunately, no, NASA won’t pay you to smoke weed and lie in bed. You’ll just have to continue doing that on your own.