Eating spicy food might help you live longer.

By Seriously Science | January 18, 2017 9:35 am
Photo: flickr/Lauren G

Photo: flickr/Lauren G

We know from previous research that testosterone levels are correlated with spicy food consumption. But how does all that spicy food actually affect your health (if at all)? These researchers used a large population-based survey that took place from 1988 to 1994 to examine the relationship between chili pepper consumption and mortality. They found that chili pepper consumption is correlated with a statistically significant 13% reduction in “instantaneous hazard of death.” While this remains a correlation (and not causation), we think it couldn’t hurt to (judiciously) dump more hot sauce onto your next meal. At the very least, you’ll be more manly.

The Association of Hot Red Chili Pepper Consumption and Mortality: A Large Population-Based Cohort Study

“The evidence base for the health effects of spice consumption is insufficient, with only one large population-based study and no reports from Europe or North America. Our objective was to analyze the association between consumption of hot red chili peppers and mortality, using a population-based prospective cohort from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) III, a representative sample of US noninstitutionalized adults, in which participants were surveyed from 1988 to 1994. The frequency of hot red chili pepper consumption was measured in 16,179 participants at least 18 years of age. Total and cause-specific mortality were the main outcome measures. Read More


Scientists perfect a microbiological recipe for artificial farts.

By Seriously Science | January 16, 2017 6:00 am
Image:Flickr/Ashley Taylor

Image:Flickr/Ashley Taylor

I don’t know about you, but after accidentally farting in a stranger’s face during a math lecture (don’t ask), I dream of a future where fart-neutralizing pants are readily available. But before we can design these desperately needed products, we must first develop realistic artificial farts with which to test them. That’s where these Danish scientists come in. They used common lab strains of different species of bacteria to develop a “recipe” that yields a realistic fart odor when grown anaerobically. Artificial fart scientists, we salute you!

Design of artificial foetor flatus based on bacterial volatile compounds.

“INTRODUCTION: Excessive flatulence can be a huge social problem. The purpose of this study was to design artificial flatus from bacterial volatile compounds to stimulate research into neutralizing measures. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: ha ha poop, Scat-egory

Flashback Friday: The mysterious dancing epidemic of 1518.

By Seriously Science | January 13, 2017 6:10 am

Figure 1: Half bird’s-eye view of Strasbourg by Franz Hogenberg, contained in Georg Braun and Hogenberg’s Civitates Orbis Terrarum published in 1572.

In their free time, some scientists and doctors like to try to figure out causes of medically-related historical events. For example, the authors of this study investigate what may have caused the crazy dancing “epidemic” of 1518 in Strasbourg: “Some time in mid-July 1518 a lone woman stepped into one of its narrow streets and began a dancing vigil that was to last four or even 6 days in succession. Within a week another 34 had joined the dance. And by the end of August, one chronicler asserts, 400 people had experienced the madness, dancing wildly, uncontrollably around the city.” And this wasn’t a sedate affair; the dancers’ feet often ended up bruised and bloody. The authors were not able assign a biological cause to the epidemic (it seems unlikely that hallucinogenic compounds from the rye fungus ergot were involved), but they suggest that hunger and psychological stress were the likely culprit, with a healthy dose of religious belief thrown in: “In times of acute hardship, with physical and mental distress leaving people more than usually suggestible, a fear of St Vitus could rapidly take hold. All it then took was for one or a few emotionally frail people, believing themselves to have been cursed by St.Vitus, to slip into a trance. Then they would unconsciously act out the part of those who had incurred his wrath: dancing wildly, uncontrollably for days on end.” The description of the events, and the government’s (likely unhelpful) response, is fascinating. We have included our favorite bits from the full text below. Enjoy!

In a spin: the mysterious dancing epidemic of 1518.

“In 1518, one of the strangest epidemics in recorded history struck the city of Strasbourg. Hundreds of people were seized by an irresistible urge to dance, hop and leap into the air. In houses, halls and public spaces, as fear paralyzed the city and the members of the elite despaired, the dancing continued with mindless intensity. Seldom pausing to eat, drink or rest, many of them danced for days or even weeks. And before long, the chronicles agree, dozens were dying from exhaustion. What was it that could have impelled as many as 400 people to dance, in some cases to death?” Read More


Study concludes that conservative politicians are more physically attractive.

By Seriously Science | January 12, 2017 6:00 am

Photo: flickr/Gage Skidmore

It’s been known for a while that people (or at least men) tend to vote for more attractive political candidates. Not only that, but a previous study found that Republicans and Democrats can be differentiated from their faces. Well, this study brings those results together, reporting that conservative politicians tend to be more attractive, and that voters presented with an unfamiliar candidate use attractiveness level to gauge conservatism. Why are beautiful people more conservative (or vice versa)? According to the researchers, “Our explanation is that beautiful people earn more, which makes them less inclined to support redistribution.” We’re not sure how this explains Trump, but we assume there are plenty of ongoing studies aiming to do just that.

The right look: Conservative politicians look better and voters reward it

“Since good-looking politicians win more votes, a beauty advantage for politicians on the left or on the right is bound to have political consequences. We show that politicians on the right look more beautiful in Europe, the United States and Australia. Our explanation is that beautiful people earn more, which makes them less inclined to support redistribution. Read More

A new thing to fear: sinus “fungus balls”.

By Seriously Science | January 9, 2017 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/David Goehring

Image: Flickr/David Goehring

We thought we hit rock bottom with intranasal leeches and intranasal teeth. But this is (amazingly) even more nauseating: paranasal sinus fungus balls. Apparently, it’s not terribly uncommon to have balls of fungus, often species of Aspergillus, grow in your sinuses. The fungus balls sometimes migrate around in there, and they can become a cause of sinus headaches. Luckily, they can be removed surgically with few side effects. Click through to the photo below… if you can stomach it. (You’ve been warned!)

Paranasal sinus fungus ball and surgery: a review of 175 cases.

“To analyze the surgical results after Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS) in patients with paranasal sinus fungus ball.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Retrospective analysis of the results of FESS performed in 175 patients suffering from paranasal sinus fungus balls. Read More

Flashback Friday: Shocking study finds New Year’s resolutions work better than procrastination!

By Seriously Science | January 6, 2017 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/Jeff Golden

Photo: flickr/Jeff Golden

Auld lang syne: success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers.

“New Year’s resolvers (n = 159) and comparable nonresolvers interested in changing a problem later (n = 123) were followed for six months via telephone interviews to determine their self-reported outcomes, predictors of success, and change processes. The two groups did not differ in terms of demographic characteristics, problem histories, or behavioral goals (weight loss, exercise program, and smoking cessation being the most prevalent). Read More


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the “Star Wars Scroll Illusion” was discovered.

By Seriously Science | January 4, 2017 6:00 am

If you believe everything you see, you are unwise to lower your defenses! You will find that it is you who are mistaken… about a great many things. IT’S A TRAP! Now, witness the power of this Illusion:

The Star Wars Scroll Illusion.

“The Star Wars Scroll Illusion is a dynamic version of the Leaning Tower Illusion. When two copies of a Star-Wars-like scrolling text are placed side by side (with separate vanishing points), the two scrolls appear to head in different directions even though they are physically parallel in the picture plane. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: rated G, Space & Aliens Therefrom

Travelers act more immorally when abroad — and it’s not just students.

By Seriously Science | January 2, 2017 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/Guillaume Speurt

Photo: flickr/Guillaume Speurt

If you’ve ever gone on an overnight field trip, you know that kids tend to go wild when they’re away from home. According to this study, that effect holds when people travel abroad — and it’s not just students. These researchers show that people of all ages tend to display more “immoral behavior” (think, drinking and promiscuity) when traveling abroad. They conclude that this effect is due to increased moral relativism (the belief that morality is not absolute): “As individuals are exposed to diverse cultures, their moral compass may lose some of its precision.” And that’s what I told my mom when I got sent home early from the band trip. (Not!)

The dark side of going abroad: How broad foreign experiences increase immoral behavior.

“Because of the unprecedented pace of globalization, foreign experiences are increasingly common and valued. Past research has focused on the benefits of foreign experiences, including enhanced creativity and reduced intergroup bias. In contrast, the present work uncovers a potential dark side of foreign experiences: increased immoral behavior. We propose that broad foreign experiences (i.e., experiences in multiple foreign countries) foster not only cognitive flexibility but also moral flexibility. Read More

The top 10 best-clicked posts of 2016: from infidelity to poop-eating sloths, and some moist places in between!

By Seriously Science | December 30, 2016 2:04 pm

124912234_796570e7ab_z2016 is (finally) ending, and that can only mean one thing: the Seriously, Science? Top 10 of 2016, as voted on by you, our dear readers (and by “voted,” we mean “clicked”). Here are your top 10 favorite posts from 2016: apparently, y’all love sex, cute animals, and disgusting things… as do we! (Yes, these are exactly the same topics as last year–some things never change.) Happy New Year!

11. Why do so many people hate the word “moist”?
“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 the words ‘fuck’ and ‘pussy.'”

10. Study finds women try to hide their hot men from other (fertile) women.
“…they wondered whether women would be more likely to try to protect their mates from fertile women versus non-ovulating women. It turns out that, yes, they do… but only if their partners are ‘highly desirable’!”

9. Think sloths are cute? How about when they crawl into a latrine and eat your poop?
“It was scooping with one hand from the semi-liquid manure composed of faeces, urine and toilet paper and then eating from the hand.”

8. Whose cheating is more likely to doom a marriage: husband or wife?
“These researchers dug through decades of survey results and found that although husbands are three times more likely to cheat, the marriage was equally doomed if either partner got some on the side.”

7. Want to avoid dying from a rattlesnake bite? Wear jeans.
“Turns out the snakes were only able to inject a third of the venom into the be-jeaned limbs, leaving venom to be harmlessly absorbed by the denim fabric.”

6. Study finds that obese women have more sex.
“It turns out that over 40% of the women sampled had sex at least twice a week, and that obese women were more likely to have sex at least three times a week.”

5. The funniest stand-up comedians are more likely to die young.
“These data reaffirm an adverse relationship between comedic ability and longevity, with elite Stand-up Comedians more highly rated by the public more likely to die prematurely.”

4. Scientists catch male spiders giving oral sex.
“That is, if you define oral sex as ‘salivat[ing] onto female genitalia pre-, during, and post-copulation.’ I know I do.”

3. Scientists finally figure out why whales like to jump out of the water.
“These scientists watched 94 different groups of whales to discover that loud noises made by jumping and slapping the water may actually play a role in communication between nearby groups of whales.”

2. Chickens prefer beautiful humans.
“Surprisingly, they found that the chickens preferred the same faces as did human volunteers.”

1. Case report: woman gives herself a C-section and saves her baby.
“She took 3 small glasses of hard liquor and, using a kitchen knife, sliced her abdomen in 3 attempts in the right paramedial region, cut the uterus itself longitudinally, and delivered a male infant that breathed immediately and cried.”

Related content:
The top 10 best-clicked posts of 2015: from gorillas to female ejaculation!
The top 10 best-clicked posts of 2014: from fart germs to conception by oral sex, and some odd places in between.
The year in silly science: the top 10 posts of 2013… and beyond!
Top 10 most popular posts of 2011!
Top 10 most popular posts of the year! (2010)
Top 10 absurd papers of 2009.

Women are better doctors than men.

By Seriously Science | December 22, 2016 12:14 pm
Photo: flickr/James Palinsad

Photo: flickr/James Palinsad

Want to have a hospital stay that does not end in your own death? If so, you might want to request a female doctor when you check in. According to this study, female physicians had (slightly) lower mortality rates and readmission rates compared with male doctors in the same hospital. The reason? “Literature has shown that female physicians may be more likely to adhere to clinical guidelines, provide preventive care more often, use more patient-centered communication, perform as well or better on standardized examinations, and provide more psychosocial counseling to their patients than do their male peers.” Nice work, ladies!

Comparison of Hospital Mortality and Readmission Rates for Medicare Patients Treated by Male vs Female Physicians

“Question Do patient outcomes differ between those treated by male and female physicians?

Findings In this cross-sectional study, we examined nationally representative data of hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries and found that patients treated by female physicians had significantly lower mortality rates (adjusted mortality rate, 11.07% vs 11.49%) and readmission rates (adjusted readmission rate, 15.02% vs 15.57%) compared with those cared for by male physicians within the same hospital.
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]

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