Flashback Friday: Why Do So Many People Hate the Word “Moist”?

By Seriously Science | May 11, 2018 6:00 am
Moisture. (Credit: PRO Stock Professional/Shutterstock)

Moisture. (Credit: PRO Stock Professional/Shutterstock)

Are there certain words that really get under your skin? If those words are “moist,” “crevice,” “slacks,” or “luggage” then you’re not alone. In fact, People magazine voted “moist” as the “most cringeworthy word” in English and actually made a video of their “sexiest men alive” saying the word. But why is “moist” so objectionable to 10-20% of the population? Is it the sound of the word, or is it the meaning? This author set out to answer that question, and he found that the meaning is the key. People associate “moist” with sexual connotations, which explains the recent rise in aversion to the word. Be sure to check out the table below: it’s not every day we see a scientific paper that includes such salty language.

A Moist Crevice for Word Aversion: In Semantics Not Sounds

“Why do people self-report an aversion to words like “moist”? The present studies represent an initial scientific exploration into the phenomenon of word aversion by investigating its prevalence and cause. Results of five experiments indicate that about 10–20% of the population is averse to the word “moist.” This population often speculates that phonological properties of the word are the cause of their displeasure. Read More


The Girl Who Puked Up Live Slugs

By Seriously Science | May 9, 2018 12:13 pm
Wikimedia commons

Wikimedia commons

This oldie but goodie from 1883 (probably the oldest article we’ve featured to date!) comes from the annals of the distinguished medical journal The Lancet. Here, the author, one Dr. David Dickman, Esq, describes a 12-year-old girl who came to him complaining of vomiting up live slugs. Yup, you read that right: “[she] complained of feeling sick at times, particularly after meals. On the 5th of August last, she vomited up a large garden slug, which was alive and very active. On the 6th, she brought up two, both alive; and on the night of the 7th she was seized with violent vomiting and relaxation of the bowels, and threw up five more, of various sizes, the smallest two inches long [(!)], and all alive.” Apparently, Sarah had a penchant for eating lettuce straight from the garden, without much chewing. The doctor speculates that she swallowed several young slugs in the process, which somehow were not destroyed by her stomach acid and so fed and grew bigger on her love of vegetables. When she started feeling a slug in her throat halfway between her mouth and stomach, the doctor decided to intervene: “As expulsion by vomiting seemed hopeless, it occurred to me that ammonia and camphor might destroy the creature, and that the digestive powers of the stomach would do the rest when the animal was dead.” This approach worked, and “she now appears as well as she ever was.” The doctor also was able to obtain 5 of the live slugs in question, and he found they preferred cooked vegetables over raw–perhaps due to what they were used to eating in the stomach? Finally, in true 1883 fashion, the last paragraph is a gem:“Another circumstance connected with my interesting patient is, that she was born without the left hand. During pregnancy the mother was frightened by a porcupine that an organ boy had in the street; and an impression ever remained on her mind that something would not be right with the child’s hand.”

Can the garden slug live in the human stomach?

Click here to read the full text

All Mammals Take About 12 Seconds to Poop

By Seriously Science | May 5, 2018 6:00 am
(Credit: Bernhard Richter/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Bernhard Richter/Shutterstock)

If the above image disturbs you, move along; this post is not for you! In this study, published this week in the journal Soft Matter (yes, seriously), scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology report their detailed studies of the pooping habits of a wide variety of mammals. Using video recordings of the fecal extrusions and measuring the resulting turds, they deduce that “Despite the length of rectum ranging from 4 to 40 cm, mammals from cats to elephants defecate within a nearly constant duration of 12 ± 7 seconds (N=23). We rationalize this surprising trend by the model, which shows that feces slide along the large intestine by a layer of mucus, similar to a sled sliding through a chute. Larger animals have not only more feces but also thicker mucus layers, which facilitate their ejection.” If you are interested in pooping, be sure to check out the Supplementary Movies — we had no idea that Panda poop is green!

Hydrodynamics of defecation.

“Animals discharge feces within a range of sizes and shapes. Such variation has long been used to track animals as well as to diagnose illnesses in both humans and animals. However, the physics by which feces are discharged remain poorly understood. In this combined experimental and theoretical study, we investigate the defecation of mammals from cats to elephants using the dimensions of large intestines and feces, videography at Zoo Atlanta, cone-on-plate rheological measurements of feces and mucus, and a mathematical model of defecation. The diameter of feces is comparable to that of the rectum, but the length is double that of the rectum, indicating that not only the rectum but also the colon is a storage facility for feces. Despite the length of rectum ranging from 4 to 40 cm, mammals from cats to elephants defecate within a nearly constant duration of 12 ± 7 seconds (N=23). We rationalize this surprising trend by the model, which shows that feces slide along the large intestine by a layer of mucus, similar to a sled sliding through a chute. Larger animals have not only more feces but also thicker mucus layers, which facilitate their ejection. Our model accounts for the shorter and longer defecation times associated with diarrhea and constipation, respectively. This study may support clinicians’ use of non-invasive procedures such as defecation time in the diagnoses of ailments of the digestive system.”

Related content:
Rectal salami.
Accidental condom inhalation.
Scientists use dog sh*t to protect crops from hungry sheep.

Where In the Body Have Leeches Been Found? Far Too Many Places

By Seriously Science | May 3, 2018 6:00 am
Image: Wikimedia Commons/GlebK

Image: Wikimedia Commons/GlebK

Pop quiz: where in the human body have leeches been found?

A) Inside the nose
B) Inside the ear
C) Inside the urethra
D) All of the above

If you answered “D”, then congratulations, you are correct! Blood sucking leeches may be used for valid medical reasons, but that doesn’t mean we have to feel good about case reports that vividly describe finding wild leeches in our orifices… especially our urethras and bladders. Here, doctors pulled a 9-cm leech out of a man’s urethra, an ordeal that took 10 days. And before you go ahead and say this is a single case, here is another article describing 43 additional leeches taken out of bladders. And how do you get a leech out of your bladder? The same way it got in: through the urethra. Ouch!

Reach the Leech: An Unusual Cause of Hematuria.

“Leeches are found in fresh water as well as moist marshy tropical areas. Orifical Hirudiniasis is the presence of leech in natural human orifices. Leech have been reported in nose, oropharynx, vagina, rectum and bladder but leech per urethra is very rare. Read More

Flashback Friday: A scientific study of binge TV watching finds that yes, you’ll probably regret it

By Seriously Science | April 27, 2018 6:00 am
(Credit: Shutterstock)

(Credit: Shutterstock)

Binge-watching TV is a relatively new phenomenon — 10 years ago, the only way you could do it was via box sets of DVDs or the occasional marathon on TV. Now, Netflix, Hulu, and many other providers let you watch as many episodes of “Battlestar Galactica” as you can handle in one sitting. In this study, scientists used an online survey to measure how much TV qualifies as a “binge” and how binge-watching makes people feel. They found that watching more than two episodes of the same show in a sitting puts you in binge territory, and binge-watching is correlated with “anticipated regret” (I’m gonna regret this in the morning) and “goal conflict” (binge-watching is keeping me from doing other activities I’d like to do). To address the problem of binge-watching, and associated sedentary behavior, the authors suggest that “online streaming services include in-built interruptions after a number of consecutive episodes have been viewed.” We throw this to you, dear readers — good idea, or just a party pooper?

‘Just one more episode’: Frequency and theoretical correlates of television binge watching

“Binge watching is a relatively new behavioural phenomenon that may have health implications. The aim of this study was to estimate the frequency of, and identify modifiable factors associated with, TV binge watching. A total of 86 people completed an online questionnaire assessing self-efficacy, proximal goals, outcome expectations, anticipated regret, automaticity, goal conflict and goal facilitation, and self-reported binge watching over the last week. Read More


“Alice in Wonderland Syndrome” is a Real Medical Disorder

By Seriously Science | April 25, 2018 6:18 am
Photo: wikimedia/wikimedia

Photo: wikimedia/wikimedia

Hairy elbows syndrome. Foot orgasm syndrome. Clown nose. Baboon syndrome. Occasionally doctors get less jargony and more creative (or at least more literal) with their naming of new medical disorders. Case in point: “Alice in Wonderland Syndrome”, which is the whimsical name given to a syndrome whose symptoms include “metamorphopsia (seeing something in a distorted fashion), bizarre distortions of their body image, and bizarre perceptual distortions of form, size, movement or color. Additionally, patients with Alice in Wonderland Syndrome can experience auditory hallucinations and changes in their perception of time.” The cause is yet unknown. Other illness names inspired by children’s stories include Rapunzel syndrome.

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome: A real life version of Lewis Carroll’s novel.

“Alice in Wonderland Syndrome was originally coined by Dr. John Todd in 1955. The syndrome is named after the sensations experienced by the character Alice in Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome consists of metamorphopsia (seeing something in a distorted fashion), bizarre distortions of their body image, and bizarre perceptual distortions of form, size, movement or color. Additionally, patients with Alice in Wonderland Syndrome can experience auditory hallucinations and changes in their perception of time. Read More

Flashback Friday: Yes, Cats Do Have Facial Expressions

By Seriously Science | April 20, 2018 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/liz west

Photo: flickr/liz west

If you’re a cat owner, then you probably have a pretty good sense of whether your cat is happy, angry, or frustrated. But do cats, like humans, actually have common “facial expressions” that accompany these emotions? People have actually been studying questions like this for decades (and even back to Charles Darwin), but not always in a scientifically rigorous manner. Enter these scientists, who set out to create a “facial coding system” for cats, which they term “CatFACS” (fortunately not related to putting cats into a flow cytometer). This type of framework can help link up behaviors and emotions in cats, as well as other related animals. Be sure to check out the figure below for a handy guide to cat expressions!

Facial correlates of emotional behaviour in the domestic cat (Felis catus).

“Leyhausen’s (1979) work on cat behaviour and facial expressions associated with offensive and defensive behaviour is widely embraced as the standard for interpretation of agonistic behaviour in this species. However, it is a largely anecdotal description that can be easily misunderstood. Recently a facial action coding system has been developed for cats (CatFACS), similar to that used for objectively coding human facial expressions. This study reports on the use of this system to describe the relationship between behaviour and facial expressions of cats in confinement contexts without and with human interaction, in order to generate hypotheses about the relationship between these expressions and underlying emotional state. Read More

Study claims beans don’t make you fart after all.

By Seriously Science | April 18, 2018 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/Marco Verch

Image: Flickr/Marco Verch

Beans, beans, the musical fruit! The more you eat, the more you toot! Well, not according to this oldie-but-goody study (published in 1984, doubleplusgood!). Here, scientists had 12 men eat kidney beans for 23 days and measured how much they farted. It turns out that the gas quantity didn’t change during that time, no matter if the men typically ate a lot of beans or not. However, the longer they ate the beans, the better they felt (less discomfort). So let’s eat beans for every meal!

Influence of frequent and long-term consumption of legume seeds on excretion of intestinal gases.

“The objective of this study was to determine the influence of long-term and frequent consumption of legume seeds on the excretion of fermentation gases. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: eat me, ha ha poop

Flashback Friday: Who was a real U.S. president, Alexander Hamilton or Chester Arthur? Most Americans get the answer wrong.

By Seriously Science | April 13, 2018 6:00 am

1024px-Alexander_Hamilton_portrait_by_John_Trumbull_1806Americans aren’t exactly known for our knowledge of history (or geography, for that matter). But we should at least know our own presidents, right? Enter these researchers, who used an online survey to measure how well people can distinguish real U.S. presidents from others with well-known or presidential-sounding names. They found that, while people were actually able to recognize 88% of U.S. presidents by name (the exceptions including lesser known presidents like Franklin Pierce and Chester Arthur), they were also likely to incorrectly identify several non-presidents, including Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin. Of course, the researchers point out that the study was performed before the popularity of the Broadway musical “Hamilton”, which might make people more aware of Alexander Hamilton’s place in history. Maybe for the sake of public education, the next hit musical should be “Pierce”?

Recognizing the Presidents: Was Alexander Hamilton President?

“Studies over the past 40 years have shown that Americans can recall about half the U.S. presidents. Do people know the presidents even though they are unable to access them for recall? We investigated this question using the powerful cues of a recognition test. Specifically, we tested the ability of 326 online subjects to recognize U.S. presidents when presented with their full names among various types of lures. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: reinforcing stereotypes

Flashback Friday: Does watching porn make people less religious?

By Seriously Science | April 6, 2018 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/teofilo

Photo: flickr/teofilo

If you had to guess, you’d probably say that people who watch a lot of pornography are less likely to be religious. And you’d be right — to a point. But according to this study, which looked at the connection between porn viewing and later religiosity, there actually appeared to be a more complicated relationship between porn and religious sentiments. More specifically, people who watched no porn were likely to be religious, and religious levels declined with more frequent porn use up to “once a week.” But as viewing got more frequent — up to “once a day or more” — religiosity actually went back up. This just might be the best use of our “Holy correlation, Batman!” blog post category to date!

Does Viewing Pornography Diminish Religiosity Over Time? Evidence From Two-Wave Panel Data.

“Research consistently shows a negative association between religiosity and viewing pornography. While scholars typically assume that greater religiosity leads to less frequent pornography use, none have empirically examined whether the reverse could be true: that greater pornography use may lead to lower levels of religiosity over time. I tested for this possibility using two waves of the nationally representative Portraits of American Life Study (PALS). Persons who viewed pornography at all at Wave 1 reported more religious doubt, lower religious salience, and lower prayer frequency at Wave 2 compared to those who never viewed porn. Considering the effect of porn-viewing frequency, viewing porn more often at Wave 1 corresponded to increases in religious doubt and declining religious salience at Wave 2. Read More


Seriously, Science?

Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
Follow us on Twitter: @srslyscience.
Send us paper suggestions: srslyscience[at]gmail.com.

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