Since Monday’s news that a few thousand birds fell from the sky on New Year’s Eve over Beebe, Arkansas, the world has gone a little crazy with talk of the “aflockalypse”: the mass bird deaths that have been documented worldwide.
Bird die-offs have been reported in not only Arkansas but also in Italy, Sweden, Louisiana, Texas, and Kentucky. Die-offs of other animals, including thousands of fish in Arkansas, Florida, New Zealand and the Chesapeake Bay have also been noted, while dead crabs washed up on UK shores.
Causes ranging from UFOs, monsters (our personal favorite), fireworks, secret military testing, poison, shifting magnetic fields, and odd weather formations have been blamed for the deaths, but researchers are saying these types of die-offs are normal. It’s simply a coincidence that a few big ones happened right around the new year–and once the global media started paying attention to wildlife mortality, we saw examples everywhere.
BoingBoing quotes Smithsonian Institution bird curator Gary Graves on the Arkansas bird die-off that got the conspiracy theory ball rolling:
He doesn’t think these bird deaths are a sign of anything nefarious–or, at least, nothing more nefarious than local people taking it upon themselves to stress out a large roost of “nuisance” birds until it flies away. There’s a head count associated with that kind of thing, he says, and it’s not particularly odd to see a few thousand birds die this way. But, with roosts numbering in the millions of birds, that’s not a large percentage lost. The only thing different in this case, he says, is that the dead birds landed on lawns, rather than in the wilderness.
Drunk fights are a typical occurrence at some bars–but why does drinking make us more likely to fight? Kate Shaw over at Ars Technica gives us a good example of a typical confrontation:
If you’ve ever had one (or ten) too many drinks at a bar, you’re probably familiar with this scenario: a drunk guy stumbles past you, spills a beer all over you, and you get angry. You’re convinced he did it on purpose, and you start fuming.
New research from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that this “thinking he did it on purpose” is because alcohol makes you likely to interpret someone’s actions as intentional rather than accidental. In a bar situation, this can translate to a conviction that an offending act was aimed specifically at you–great, so alcohol essentially brings out the paranoid narcissist in all of us.
Something nasty is in the air in China, and it isn’t the infamous smog. Sweeping the country is a new paranoia, in which men become convinced that they’ve contracted HIV, often blaming their infection on a visit to a prostitute. Hundreds of Chinese men have reportedly been visiting doctors and have refused to believe the evidence of negative HIV tests. So strong is their fear that some men wear masks or refuse to interact with their families for fear of transmitting the disease.
Although the men say they feel sick, doctors don’t believe they’re dealing with a hitherto unknown virus, explains the BBC:
They suspect extreme guilt or anxiety about an act the men are ashamed of — sex with a prostitute — is affecting their immune systems, making them feel ill.
Chinese hospital authorities like Cai Weiping, who works in the southern province of Guangdong, are mildly annoyed at the steady trickle of patients who are paranoid that they are HIV positive.