Saturday, April 22, 2006

Kinda disturbing perhaps, but actually very cool indeed

Well. We are all doomed.
I have borrowed *cough* this from Mattley but I can't think of people to whom it more applies.
Yes, we are all doomed! But that, apparently, is a good thing... Read on.

You have a 50/50 chance of having a specific parasite in your brain.
Specifically, the Toxoplasma gondii bacteria.
Which is fine, of course, because the human immune system will kick it's ass, so if you've got it, you'll probably never know. It doesn't even particularly want to be there, since it can't lay eggs, or transfer to it's preferred hosts or vestors.It prefers to live in a cat's digestive system, eating cat food, and laying eggs. So when the cat does it's business, the eggs end up on the ground waiting for other animals - let's call them vectors. Like, say, rats.

When Toxoplasma infects a rats' brain, you see, it makes changes to the rat's brain. Normally, if a rat bumps into anything smelling like a cat, it'll freak and run away. Toxoplasma infected rats, though, actually like the smell of cats. Cat pee makes them curious. They'll hunt for hours looking for the source.
Which is a cat.
Which eats them.
And that makes Toxoplasma happy, since it *really* wants to live in the stomach of a cat.

But nothing like that works on humans, right? Well, here's the strange thing. No one's *quite* sure what Toxoplasma does to human beings. But: when researchers observed a bunch of people with and without Toxoplasma, gave them personality tests, watched them, interviewed people who knew them, that kind of thing, this is what they learnt.
Men infected with Toxoplasma don't shave every day, don't wear ties that much, and don't like following social rules.
Women infected with Toxoplasma like to spend money on clothes, and they tend to have lots of friends. Apparently the rest of us think they're more attractive than non-infected women.
In general, the researchers found that infected people were considered more interesting to be around.

In contrast, people without Toxoplasma are more likely to follow the rules. If you lend them money, they're more likely to pay you back. They show up for work on time. The men get into fewer fights. The women have fewer boyfriends.

Maybe it's just that people who like having cats around always hated getting to work on time, and cats wouldn't if they had any work to go to. They adopted cats, and then got Toxoplasma.

Either way, it's fascinating.

So. Hands up?

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