Flashback Friday: The funniest stand-up comedians are more likely to die young.

By Seriously Science | July 13, 2018 6:00 am
Photo: Wikimedia/John J. Kruzel

Photo: Wikimedia/John J. Kruzel

From Lenny Bruce to Robin Williams, many great comedians have suffered untimely deaths. But is this actually a hazard of the job? In this study, the authors investigated whether stand-up comedians were more likely to die young compared to comedic or dramatic actors, as well as whether funnier stand-up comedians were more prone to death than less funny comics. The answer to both questions was, unfortunately, yes. Talk about killing it onstage! (Clearly I’ll be living for a long time.)

Is the last “man” standing in comedy the least funny? A retrospective cohort study of elite stand-up comedians versus other entertainers


This study aimed to confirm, in a large, diverse cohort of elite Stand-up Comedians and other entertainers, that there is an inverse association between comedic ability and longevity.


This retrospective cohort study included 200 Stand-up Comedians (13% women), 113 Comedy Actors (17.5% women), and 184 Dramatic Actors (29.3% women) listed in the top 200 in each category in a popular online ranking website. Longevity within each group was examined adjusting for life expectancy by year of birth and within-group ranking score.
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CATEGORIZED UNDER: holy correlation batman!

Flashback Friday: Scientists analyzed orgasms in the 50 most-viewed videos on PornHub. Here’s what they found.

By Seriously Science | July 6, 2018 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/Colby Stopa

Photo: flickr/Colby Stopa

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that watching pornography can give unrealistic expectations of what sex is really like. But how skewed is this representation? These heroic scientists took it upon themselves to find out. To do so, they watched the top 50 most-viewed videos on PornHub, and recorded “the frequency of male and female orgasm, orgasm-inducing sex acts (and whether activity inducing female orgasms included some form of clitoral stimulation), and auditory (verbal, vocal) and visual (bodily) indicators of orgasm.” They found that 78% of men but only 18.3% of women were shown reaching orgasm in popular porn videos, and thus concluded that “representations of male and female orgasm in mainstream pornography may serve to perpetuate unrealistic beliefs and expectations in relation to female orgasm and male sexual performance.” Ya think?

Consuming Ecstasy: Representations of Male and Female Orgasm in Mainstream Pornography.

“Social representations, which appear in a variety of media, can influence the way sexual experiences are perceived and understood. While pornography is not the only medium in which orgasm is portrayed, it is the most explicit, and it is widespread and easily accessible. As such, pornography is an ideal medium for examining representations of male and female orgasm. PornHub’s 50 most viewed videos of all time were viewed and coded for the frequency of male and female orgasm, orgasm-inducing sex acts (and whether activity inducing female orgasms included some form of clitoral stimulation), and auditory (verbal, vocal) and visual (bodily) indicators of orgasm.  Read More

Study finds that “Thank you” might be more meaningful than you think.

By Seriously Science | July 3, 2018 6:00 am

Telling people how we really feel can be… well, tricky. Even when it comes to writing a simple thank you note: “What if it’s too much? Will they think I’m weird? Is it going to be awkward?” If only there were a surefire way to know how it was going to turn out! Well, this study is getting as close as we are likely to get. Here, scientists tracked how senders and receivers felt about thank you letters, and the results suggest that you should get your pen out: “Expressers significantly underestimated how surprised recipients would be about why expressers were grateful, overestimated how awkward recipients would feel, and underestimated how positive recipients would feel.” So, that’s one interpersonal interaction simplified. The only question left is whether we should send a thank you note to the authors for this?

Undervaluing Gratitude: Expressers Misunderstand the Consequences of Showing Appreciation.

“Expressing gratitude improves well-being for both expressers and recipients, but we suggest that an egocentric bias may lead expressers to systematically undervalue its positive impact on recipients in a way that could keep people from expressing gratitude more often in everyday life. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: domo arigato, rated G, told you so

Flashback Friday: Did Mozart have Tourette syndrome?

By Seriously Science | June 29, 2018 6:00 am

Wolfgang-amadeus-mozart_1When you think of Mozart, you probably imagine an 18th century gentleman who was always thinking about music. Well, it turns out that when not composing musical masterpieces, Mozart liked to talk about “shooting off his rear-end gun”.  He was such a huge fan of potty humor that some historians, after reading a series of letters that Mozart wrote to his female cousin (the Bäsle letters), have proposed that he suffered from Tourette syndrome. Here, the author refutes that interpretation, instead arguing that Mozart’s “frequent mention of erotic topics and, in particular, intensive use of scatological terms” were not uncommon for his time. Be sure to read the hilarious excerpt from the Bäsle letters below, and think of it the next time you hear “Eine kleine Nachtmusik.”

Do features of Mozart’s letter-writing style indicate the presence of a neuropsychiatric disorder? Controversies about the Bäsle letters

“In recent decades, several scientific publications have come to the conclusion that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart might have had a Tourette syndrome. Other papers, however, have questioned this hypothetical diagnosis. The evidence for this diagnosis was mostly based on the so-called Bäsle letters, letters that Mozart wrote to his cousin when aged around 20 years. The letters have common stylistic characteristics such as frequent mention of erotic topics and, in particular, intensive use of scatological terms. Read More


Can smelling your poop diagnose colon cancer?

By Seriously Science | June 27, 2018 8:01 am
Photo: wikimedia commons/William Lawrence

Photo: wikimedia commons/William Lawrence

Scientists are looking everywhere for less invasive cancer diagnostics…including, apparently, in the toilet. Here, researchers tested whether patients with and without colon cancer could be classified based on the “volatile organic compounds” (i.e., smelly molecules) in their poop. The scientists were able to correctly ID the cancer patients 75% of the time with this method, which is not bad for such a non-invasive test. Smart cancer-screening toilet, here we come!

Use of the Analysis of the Volatile Faecal Metabolome in Screening for Colorectal Cancer.

“Diagnosis of colorectal cancer is an invasive and expensive colonoscopy, which is usually carried out after a positive screening test. Unfortunately, existing screening tests lack specificity and sensitivity, hence many unnecessary colonoscopies are performed. Here we report on a potential new screening test for colorectal cancer based on the analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the headspace of faecal samples. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: diy medicine, ha ha poop

Flashback Friday: Parrot ‘Laughter’ is Contagious

By Seriously Science | June 22, 2018 6:00 am


(Credit: Chris Greig Photography/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Chris Greig Photography/Shutterstock)

Instead of parroting the author’s own words (below), we will leave you with a video showing the contagious laughter-like vocalization of Kea parrots. We hope it doesn’t ruffle any feathers.

Positive emotional contagion in a New Zealand parrot.

“Positive emotional contagions are outwardly emotive actions that spread from one individual to another, such as glee in preschool children or laughter in humans of all ages. Read More

Study shows that wearing a “fatsuit” makes women snack harder.

By Seriously Science | June 21, 2018 11:36 am

Overeating is a growing problem. But what makes us overeat? Obviously, delicious food can be hard to resist, but that’s clearly not the only factor. Here, scientists explored whether feeling overweight changes how we eat. It turns out that wearing a suit designed to make one feel obese did change participants’ eating habits — but only for women. Women, but not men, ate more snack food when wearing the fatsuits, even in private. The scientists were not able to determine why this was true, but it’s true.

The psychosocial experience of feeling overweight promotes increased snack food consumption in women but not men.

“Self-identification of being overweight has been associated with overeating and weight gain in observational studies, irrespective of whether the individual in question is objectively overweight. The aims of the present studies were to examine whether experimentally manipulating the psychosocial experience of feeling overweight impacted on snack food consumption and to identify mechanisms explaining this effect. In Study 1, to manipulate the psychosocial experience of feeling overweight, 120 women wore an obese body suit or control clothing in public or private settings, before consuming snack foods. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: eat me, feelings shmeelings

Flashback Friday: Bumblebees detect electric fields with their body hair.

By Seriously Science | June 15, 2018 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/Bert Heymans

Photo: flickr/Bert Heymans

We’ve already covered some of the amazing things that bees can do, from making perfectly hexagonal honeycombs to doing “the wave” to scare off predators. And it turns out they even have the power to detect electric fields! Although it was known that bees can detect electric fields around flowers, how they achieve this amazing feat was a mystery… until now! According to these scientists, bees are actually covered with small hairs that respond to electricity. Be sure to check out the video below to see the hairs in action!

Mechanosensory hairs in bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) detect weak electric fields

“Electroreception in terrestrial animals is poorly understood. In bumblebees, the mechanical response of filiform hairs in the presence of electric fields provides key evidence for electrosensitivity to ecologically relevant electric fields. Mechanosensory hairs in arthropods have been shown to function as fluid flow or sound particle velocity receivers. The present work provides direct evidence for additional, nonexclusive functionality involving electrical Coulomb-force coupling between distant charged objects and mechanosensory hairs. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals

Tinder Users Don’t Have More Casual Sex

By Seriously Science | June 13, 2018 3:20 pm
Photo: wikimedia commons/Santeri Viinamäki

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Santeri Viinamäki)

Are certain types of people more likely to use Tinder? These researchers set out to determine which characteristics differentiate people who use “picture-based dating apps” (aka Tinder) from those who don’t. By surveying over 600 Norwegian university students, they found a few obvious things — like men were more likely than women to emphasize “desire for sex” as a reason for using dating apps. But they also found some surprising things, like no evidence that people who used the apps actually had more casual sex partners. Swipe right on this study!

Individual differences in sociosexuality predict picture-based mobile dating app use

“This study investigates individual differences, sex differences and predictors of current and prior use of Picture-Based Mobile Dating Apps (PBMDA), including level and type of PBMDA activity, and reasons for PBMDA use. Six hundred and forty-one Norwegian university students aged between 19 and 29 years completed a questionnaire in lecture breaks. Nearly half of the participants reported former or current PBMDA use. One in five was current users. Read More

MORE ABOUT: sex & reproduction

Flashback Friday: Does wearing tighty whities kill your sperm count?

By Seriously Science | June 8, 2018 11:00 am

Boxers versus briefs: it’s a personal question that might have big consequences for your future. That’s because warming up your testicles can seriously screw up sperm development–so seriously, in fact, that polyester ball cozies have been shown to be an effective form of birth control. So if briefs are (literally) hotter than boxers, they may reduce your fertility. But before you go burn your briefs, check out the study below. These scientists actually tested the testicular temperatures of men wearing both styles of nut huts, and they found that there was no significant difference. Don’t just rely on our brief (!) summary, though–go read the paper for yourself!

Are boxer shorts really better? A critical analysis of the role of underwear type in male subfertility.

“PURPOSE: Elevation of testicular temperature may result in arrest of spermatogenesis, abnormal semen parameters and sterility. It has been proposed that brief style underwear may produce scrotal hyperthermia and lead to clinical subfertility. Although this idea is regarded as dogma by many in the lay community and the changing of underwear type is a therapy frequently recommended by medical practitioners, there is a paucity of data measuring scrotal temperature as a function of underwear type.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Scrotal, core and skin temperatures were measured in 97 consecutive men presenting for evaluation of primary clinical subfertility. These cases were categorized by underwear type to boxer or brief group. 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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