Study finds that conservatives pretend they’re happy, but liberals actually are.

By Seriously Science | March 19, 2015 11:37 am
Image: Flickr/Anna

Image: Flickr/Anna

Can your political views predict your happiness? Well, according to this study, published in the top journal Science, the answer is “Yes!”. Previous survey results have suggested that conservatives rate their own happiness higher than liberals. However, such studies are difficult to interpret because people tend to be unreliable sources of information about themselves. So these scientists went beyond using such subjective measures, and instead extracted emotional content from publicly available pictures of conservative and liberal members of Congress, as well as the text of the 2013 Congressional Record. Their analysis suggests that despite conservatives’ higher self-reported happiness, liberals actually display greater happiness in real life. Happy now?

Conservatives report, but liberals display, greater happiness.

“Research suggesting that political conservatives are happier than political liberals has relied exclusively on self-report measures of subjective well-being. Read More

Who is more comfortable pooping in public: men or women? (The answer may surprise you.)

By Seriously Science | March 17, 2015 2:20 pm
Image: Flickr/Matti Mattila

Image: Flickr/Matti Mattila

Everyone farts…but some of us are more comfortable blatantly cutting the cheese in public. Here, researchers studying fecal habitus–the part of our culture that involves farting and pooping–calculated the differences between men’s and women’s feelings about letting it rip in front of others. It probably comes as no surprise that men are more comfortable farting in public than women. However, these craptastic scientists went a step further, asking how men and women feel about being overheard while pooping. It turns out this depends on who the eavesdropper is (see Table 3, below, for a fantastic breakdown based on sex, sexual orientation, and relationships); people are generally OK with having their spouses listen to them poop, but a crush is another matter.  But not everyone is as bothered–non-heterosexual women are apparently the most at ease with this, even more so than straight men.  And boy, are people willing to go the extra mile to avoid being overheard on the throne: “Some persons controlled their sphincter muscles to let out gas or excrement slowly, thus decreasing the sound of their bowel movement. One heterosexual man stated: ‘If it is going to be loud, I would stop and go, meaning let it out in intervals so it would not be a big kerplunk sound’. Other techniques to prevent people from hearing included having a bowel movement early in the morning or late at night, going upstairs if people are downstairs (or vice versa), doing it as fast as you can, pulling out the toilet paper roll to make a cover-up noise, turning the fan on, and not using public restrooms at all.'”

Fecal Matters: Habitus, Embodiments, and Deviance.

“This article examines fecal matters—namely, the social concerns that can accompany defecation and flatulence. Researching 172 university students, we show how aspects of the socio-cultural context as “embodied” in four groups of participants (heterosexual women and men and non-heterosexual women and men) mediate the operation of the “fecal habitus”—that part of culture that interprets and organizes fecal events. Read More


Flashback Friday: Three words to haunt your dreams: nasal leech infestation.

By Seriously Science | March 13, 2015 10:37 am
Photo: flickr/therealbrute

Photo: flickr/therealbrute

Would you rather have a leech in your nose or your ear? Well, thanks to the medical literature, we have plenty of gory details about each to help you choose! Previously we featured a story about ear leeches, and this study reviews several cases of nasal leech infestation. The most detailed description involves a Taiwanese man who had an occasional nosebleed for three months before the leech was discovered. We’ll let the doctors finish painting the picture: “We performed nasal endoscopy… and found a gray-brown, twisting leech hidden laterally to the left inferior turbinate. Under local anesthesia, we successfully removed the nasal leech with forceps despite the leech trying to escape into the oropharynx during the procedure. The leech was about 12 cm in length. Tracing back his history, he had gone to a mountain area and washed his face with spring water 1 month before his first visit to our hospital.” Still curious? We included a photo of the leech in question below. You’re welcome!

Nasal leech infestation: report of seven leeches and literature review.

“Nasal leech infestation rarely occurs in society today and it is usually reported as an anecdote. In this study, we present seven nasal leeches in six patients from 1984 to 2008. Read More

Drinking alcohol actually makes your face more attractive.

By Seriously Science | March 10, 2015 11:36 am
Photo: flickr/azrainman

Photo: flickr/azrainman

As we’ve previously reported, beer goggles are a real phenomenon. Well, according to this study, drinking doesn’t just make other people more attractive–it also makes you more attractive. Here, researchers asked (sober) participants to look at photos of people who had been drinking and rank their attractiveness. Turns out that drinking a moderate amount (equivalent to two small glasses of wine) made people more attractive, whereas doubling that amount made them less attractive. The authors hypothesize that the increase in attractiveness after drinking could be related to “an increase in red colouration, which in turn is known to be perceived as healthy and attractive.”  Hot! (perhaps literally?)

Increased Facial Attractiveness Following Moderate, but not High, Alcohol Consumption

Aims Alcohol consumption is known to be associated with risky sexual behaviours, but this relationship may be complex and bidirectional. We explored whether alcohol consumption leads to the consumer being rated as more attractive than sober individuals.
Methods Heterosexual social alcohol consumers completed an attractiveness-rating task, in which they were presented with pairs of photographs depicting the same individual, photographed while sober and after having consumed alcohol (either 0.4 or 0.8 g/kg), and required to decide which image was more attractive. Read More


How does your penis size measure up?

By Seriously Science | March 4, 2015 12:44 pm
Image: Flickr/mararie

Image: Flickr/mararie

If you’ve ever wondered if your junk is objectively large, boy is it your lucky day! Here, London-based researchers answer the oft-asked question “Am I normal?”. And the answer? Based on over 10,000 penises, the average flaccid penis is 9.16 cm (3.6 inches) long, and the average erect penis 13.12 cm (5.16 inches). Be sure to see below (ahem) for additional stats.

Am I normal? A systematic review and construction of nomograms for flaccid and erect penis length and circumference in up to 15 521 men.

“Objective: To systematically review and create nomograms of flaccid and erect penile size measurements.

Methods: Study key eligibility criteria: measurement of penis size by a health professional using a standard procedure; a minimum of 50 participants per sample. Exclusion criteria: samples with a congenital or acquired penile abnormality, previous surgery, complaint of small penis size or erectile dysfunction. Synthesis methods: calculation of a weighted mean and pooled standard deviation (sd) and simulation of 20 000 observations from the normal distribution to generate nomograms of penis size.
Read More

Scientists make “species-appropriate” music just for cats. Listen here!

By Seriously Science | March 3, 2015 11:53 am
Photo: flickr/jorbasa

Photo: flickr/jorbasa

We know that babies like to dance to music from a very early age. But do other species appreciate our music as much as humans do? These researchers hypothesized that “in order for music to be effective with other species, it must be in the frequency range and with similar tempos to those used in natural communication by each species.” In other words, for maximum effect, music should be tailored to what each species likes to listen to. Here, the scientists made (pretty trippy) music specifically for cats, determining that the cats liked their “species-appropriate” music more than human music. Curious what “cat music” sounds like? Check out a clip below!

Cats Prefer Species-Appropriate Music

“Many studies have attempted to use music to influence the behavior of nonhuman animals; however, these studies have often led to conflicting outcomes. We have developed a theoretical framework that hypothesizes that in order for music to be effective with other species, it must be in the frequency range and with similar tempos to those used in natural communication by each species. We have used this framework to compose music that is species-appropriate for a few animal species. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals

Flashback Friday: Penguins on treadmills. Need we say more?

By Seriously Science | February 20, 2015 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/liamq

Photo: flickr/liamq

We all know penguins are cute, especially when they waddle around on land. So the idea of putting penguins on a treadmill, like they do in this study, sounds like an easy way to rack up YouTube hits (e.g., see video below). Well, apparently this cute activity also has a scientific purpose. In the study, the authors measured the metabolic rates of penguins on treadmills, comparing males, breeding females, and moulting females. Because metabolic rates are related to food consumption, the results of these measurements can be incorporated into models of the food chain in Antarctica. Hey, as long as it means more penguins on treadmills, I’m on board!

Heart rate and rate of oxygen consumption of exercising macaroni penguins.

“Twenty-four macaroni penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus) from three groups, breeding males (N=9), breeding females (N=9) and moulting females (N=6), were exercised on a variable-speed treadmill. Heart rate (fH) and mass-specific rate of oxygen consumption (sVO2) were recorded from the animals, and both fh and sVO2 were found to increase linearly with increasing treadmill speed. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals

Can you be allergic to your own semen?

By Seriously Science | February 19, 2015 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/Chris Costes

Photo: flickr/Chris Costes

We’ve featured many unfortunate allergies on this blog, from a peanut allergy transferred via lung transplant to a magician who was allergic to his own rabbit. But perhaps none is as unfortunate as the allergy described in this study. Here, the authors examined 45 Dutch men suffering from “postorgasmic illness syndrome” (POIS), which is characterized by a series of flu-like symptoms that come on about 30 minutes after ejaculation. After testing the men for allergies, the doctors conclude that the men with POIS are actually allergic to their own semen. Fortunately, the doctors successfully treated these poor fellows in a follow-up paper. The treatment? “Multiple subcutaneous (SC) injections with autologous semen.” That’s right–they gave allergy shots using the men’s own semen. At least it wasn’t someone else’s?

Postorgasmic Illness Syndrome (POIS) in 45 Dutch caucasian males: clinical characteristics and evidence for an immunogenic pathogenesis (Part 1).

Postorgasmic illness syndrome (POIS) is a combination of local allergic symptoms and transient flu-like illness. In this study, the investigators propose five preliminary criteria to establish the diagnosis.
To describe the clinical details in 45 males being suspected of having POIS and to test an immunogenic hypothesis as the underlying mechanism of their presentations. Read More

Facial attractiveness is predicted by parental income during childhood.

By Seriously Science | February 18, 2015 11:31 am
Photo: flickr/stewtopia

Photo: flickr/stewtopia

If you’re like most people, you probably think that looks are mostly genetic–either you’re genetically “blessed” with good looks, or you’re not. But apparently it’s not as simple as that. According to this study, facial attractiveness in high school yearbook photographs increases with paternal education and parental income, “with the latter effect being stronger for female subjects.” In other words, rich kids tend to be more attractive, and especially girls. Whether the parents themselves being rich was related to their looks (which might make the effect genetic after all)…well, we’ll leave that for another study.

Effects of parental socio-economic conditions on facial attractiveness.

“Socio-economic conditions during early life are known to affect later life outcomes such as health or social success. We investigated whether family socio-economic background may also affect facial attractiveness. We used the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (n = 8434) to analyze the association between an individual’s parental socio-economic background (in terms of father’s highest education and parental income) and that individual’s facial attractiveness (estimated by rating of high school yearbook photographs when subjects were between 17 and 20 years old), controlling for subjects’ sex, year of birth, and father’s age at subjects’ birth. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: duh, holy correlation batman!

Dogs can tell if human faces are happy or angry.

By Seriously Science | February 17, 2015 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/instantvantage

Photo: flickr/instantvantage

Some dog owners swear that they can tell whether their dog is happy or sad by the expression on the pooch’s face. But how about the reverse — can dogs tell whether their owner is happy or sad just by their facial expression? According to this study, the answer is yes: in a series of experiments, dogs were able to distinguish between photos of happy and angry humans, even when the pups had never seen the photo before. This is actually the first study to demonstrate that an animal can distinguish between emotional expressions of a different species; the authors propose that dogs developed this special skill during the domestication process. We think it probably helps them know when to look guilty as well.

Dogs Can Discriminate Emotional Expressions of Human Faces

“The question of whether animals have emotions and respond to the emotional expressions of others has become a focus of research in the last decade [ 1–9 ]. However, to date, no study has convincingly shown that animals discriminate between emotional expressions of heterospecifics, excluding the possibility that they respond to simple cues. Here, we show that dogs use the emotion of a heterospecific as a discriminative cue. Read More


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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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