Reprinted from Uncle John's Bathroom Reader: Fast-Acting Long-Lasting.
There are scientific findings that expand our knowledge and make life better for mankind. These, however, aren't such findings, but they are darned interesting. Here are a few things that science has proven:
E-mail Rots Your Brain
Study: In 2004 scientists at the King's College, London University were commissioned by Hewlett-Packard to see what toll compulsive e-mail checking and Internet chatting have on a worker's "functioning IQ." Eighty volunteers participated in clinical trials and another 1,100 people were interviewed for the study.
Findings: Sixty-two percent of the interviewees were "addicted" to checking e-mail and exchanging text messages, which they did not only at their desks, but also "during meetings, in the evenings, and on weekends." The scientists dubbed this phenomenon "infomania." Infomania takes a noticeable toll on productivity. "An average worker's functioning IQ falls 10 points when distracted by ringing telephones and incoming e-mails ... more than double the four-point drop seen in studies on the impact of smoking marijuana," the scientists concluded. A 10-point drop is the equivalent of trying to put in a full day of work after missing an entire night of sleep.
Traffic Jams Can Kill You
Study: Researchers with Germany's National Research Center for Environment and Health interviewed 691 people who'd suffered heart attacks between 1999 and 2001. The researchers asked them to describe all of their activities in the four days leading up to their heart attacks. The results of the study were published in the November 2004 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Findings: People who've been stuck in traffic in the past hour are nearly three times more likely to suffer a heart attack than people who haven't been stuck in traffic. Overall, nearly 1 in 12 heart attacks was linked in some way to traffic congestion. Men are at a greater risk than women, and people over age 60 are at a greater risk than those under 60. If you have to be stuck in traffic, you're actually better off in a car than you would be riding the bus, the subway, or a bicycle. Heart attacks were 2.6 times more likely for people stuck in a car, 3.1 times more likely for people on public transportation, and 3.9 times greater for bike riders. "Because the association was also observed for persons who used public transportation, it is unlikely that the effect is entirely attributable to stress linked with driving a car," researchers say. So is it the stress associated with being stuck in traffic that causes heart attacks, or is it the exhaust fumes - or some other factor? Who knows? "Given our current knowledge, it is impossible to determine the relative contribution of risk factors such as stress and traffic-related air pollution," the researchers say.
Dudes Say "Dude" More Than Dudettes Do
Study: In 2004 University of Pittsburgh linguist-dude Scott Kiesling published a paper in the journal American Speech on the word "dude" and its many uses. Findings: Blame it on Spicoli, dude: Kiesling traces the current popularity of the word "dude" to the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, featuring that Sean Penn dude. Men are more likely to use the word "dude" than women are. They're also more likely to use it with men than with women. When they do use it with women, the woman is usually just a friend; women with whom dudes are intimate are rarely if ever referred to as "dude." According to Kiesling, "dude" owes much of its popularity to the fact that it connotes "cool solidarity" - young men use it to express friendship or closeness, without being so close as to invite suspicion that they are gay. Dude!
Crosswords and Sex Grow Brain Cells
Study: Conducted by Dr. Perry Bartlett of the University of Queensland's Brain Institute, in Australia.
Findings: In April 2004, Dr. Bartlett announced that mental and physical exercise may delay the onset of brain disease such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's by creating and nurturing new brain cells to replace ones that have been lost. Brain cell creation and growth appear to be stimulated by a chemical called prolactin - and prolactin levels rise during mental and physical exertion. (They're also high when you're pregnant.) "Perhaps one should run a long distance or do crossword," Dr. Bartlett suggests. "Prolactin levels also go up during sex," he says, "so one could think of a number of more interesting activities than going jogging in order to regulate the production of nerve cells."
Parents Favor Cute Kids Over Ugly Ones
Study: Researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada went to 14 different supermarkets and observed the interactions between 400 different parents and their children. They also ranked the "physical attractiveness" of each child on a scale of 1 to 10.
Findings: When Mom did the shopping, 13.3% of the children judged "most attractive" were secured with the seat belt in the shopping cart seat; only 1.2% of the "ugliest" children were. With Dad the disparity was even greater: 12.5% of the "most attractive" children were belted in; none of the ugliest children were. Ugly children were allowed to wander away from their parents more of then than attractive kids, and were allowed to wander farther away than attractive children were. Good-looking boys were kept closer to their parents than pretty girls were, although the researchers concede that this may be because girls are perceived to be more mature and responsible than boys of the same age. What does all this mean? Scientists aren't sure. Some speculate that evolution may play a role: parents may unconsciously perceive attractive children as being genetically more valuable. But Emory University psychologist Dr. Frans de Waal disagrees. "If the number of offsprings are the same for ugly people and handsome people, there's absolutely no evolutionary reason for parents to invest less in ugly kids," he says.
Dumb Blonde Jokes Slow Blondes Down
Study: German researchers at Bremen's International University asked 80 women with different hair colors to take intelligence tests, then monitored them carefully as they took the tests. Half of the women were told "dumb blonde" jokes before they took the test. (Jokes like: "Why do blondes open containers of yogurt while they're still in the supermarket? Because the lid says, 'Open here.'")
Findings: No word on how well the blondes or anyone else did on the intelligence tests - that wasn't the point, and the university didn't release the results. But it did keep track of how quickly the women completed the tests: The blondes who were told dumb blonde jokes took longer to complete their tests than the blondes who weren't told jokes. Did the dumb blond jokes make blondes dumber? No, the researchers say: the jokes made them more self-conscious, which caused them to work more slowly and cautiously so they wouldn't make mistakes. "The study shows that even unfounded prejudices generally dismissed as untrue can affect an individual's confidence in their own ability," says Jens Foerster, one of the social psychologists who administered the study.
Germans Prefer Money to Sex
Study: In December 2004, the German edition of Playboy magazine commissioned a poll of 1,000 Germans. The pollsters asked participants if they were given a choice between more free time, more money, and more sex, which one they would choose.
Findings: 62% of Germans said cash, 26% said more free time, and only 6% said more sex. (That might explain why Germany has a declining birth rate.)
|The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Fast-Acting Long Lasting Bathroom Reader. Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!|