Alter our bodies
In 2015, Americans spent more than $13.5 billion on surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. That’s a lot of nipping and tucking.
Why do humans feel the need to alter their bodies with surgeries or permanent ornamentations, like tattoos and piercing? Scientists think the answer is quite simple: People think plastic surgery and other cosmetic procedures will make them look better and therefore, feel better.
“There’s this idea that if you look better you’ll be happier. You’ll feel better about yourself,” said psychologist Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women & Families. “And logically that makes so much sense, because we live in a society where people do care what you look like.”
However, some body alterations, specifically plastic surgery, don’t necessarily make you appear more attractive to others, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery in 2013.
If you’re like most humans, then you’ve probably been on at least one end of the grapevine a few times. Like it or not, gossip is a part of everyday life. In fact, scientists speculate that gossip may actually bring humans closer.
Robin Dunbar, a primatologist at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, likens gossip to the constant grooming of other primates. Baboons pick bugs out of each other’s back. We humans talk about others behind their backs. It’s the verbal glue that keeps our social bonds strong, according to Dunbar.
Other researchers, such as Jennifer Bosson, a professor of psychology at the University of South Florida, agree that sharing our dislikes of others helps develop a bond between the gossiper and the listener.
“When two people share a dislike of another person, it brings them closer.”.
Have brain farts
Forgetting titbits of information isn’t weird at all, but forgetting facts that you really ought to know — like why you just walked into a room or the name of your own child — is definitely a little odd. Yet, these so-called brain farts occur rather frequently for us humans.
Lots of things can cause your memory to lag, according to researchers. Some of the most common culprits are stress and sleep deprivation. But you don’t have to be going through a rough patch to forget important stuff; something as simple as opening a door can trigger a brain fart, according to a study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology in 2011.
And lots of other random things can also cause your brain to experience tiny blips in memory recall, including spinning tires and shadows.
Think about dying
Ever think about dying? If you answered “no” to that question, then you’re not like most folks, for whom thoughts of death and dying are “very common and very natural,” according to Pelin Kesebir, an assistant scientist and psychologist at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
While obsessing over one’s own mortality isn’t necessarily normal, us humans do tend to think of our own demise (or that of loved ones) from time to time. People might think about death a lot because of our sophisticated brains, Kesebir told Live Science in September 2016. Our minds “make us painfully aware of inevitable mortality, and this awareness clashes with our biologically wired desire for life,” she said.
This morbid pondering causes anxiety for some, while for others it can be a source of “immense clarity and wisdom,” she added.
While many Americans nowadays are opting out of organized religion, billions of people around the world practice the world’s major religions, which include Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.
But where did religion come from in the first place? While each faith has its own origin story, the story behind how religious thought first cropped up in humans can also be explained by science. One of the most popular religious origin theories has to do with what researchers call the “god faculty.”
Early humans lived in a world in which they had to make quick decisions to avoid peril — the ones who sat around wondering whether that sound they heard behind them was a lion or just the wind in the grass were quickly dispatched. Early peoples that survived to procreate had developed what evolutionary scientists call a hypersensitive agency-detecting device, or HADD, according to Kelly James Clark, a senior research fellow at the Kaufman Interfaith Institute at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.
But HADD didn’t just help people avoid encounters with hungry lions, it also may have planted the seeds of religious thought, by reinforcing the idea that outside forces have agency, or the ability to act of their own accord, according to Clark.
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