I'm sure scientists did all sorts of important stuff this year. But they also did all of this...
I went through a myriad of studies from this year and plucked out 11 that had disappointing, perspective-shattering, ridiculous or otherwise 2016-worthy results. I'll never double dip a chip, sit on the toilet, merge in traffic or do volunteer work again.
Double dipping chips literally kills people. I'm a serial double dipper. And also would be a cereal double dipper, if people shared bowls of cereal. Does that make me a serial killer? (Nope, just a bad writer, apparently.) According to a study out of Tulane University, that analyzed 35 years of flu data and found cities that had a team in the Super Bowl saw an 18 percent increase in flu deaths. They traced the cause to Super Bowl parties and, specifically, people double dipping and infecting the guac or bean dip with their flu germs. (Source)
Peeing in a pool can damage your genes or cause cancer. A study out of the University of South Carolina in June changed the status of peeing in the pool from "gross" to "cancer." And you never want to be promoted to cancer. The team found when pool cleaning chemicals interact with urine, they form byproducts that can cause asthma or, in rare cases, genetic damage or bladder cancer. The caveat: You have to swim a lot (and in a lot of urine-infested pool water) to be at risk, and even then the odds are low -- but they're not zero. (Source)
Flossing is ineffective. I guess it's time to stop lying to your dentist about flossing, because it seems he or she has been lying to you about its efficacy. In August, the Associated Press examined the history of studies on flossing, found they were roundly inconclusive, and even got the Department of Health and Human Services to admit, "The effectiveness of flossing has never been researched, as required." The NIH, however, stood by a governmental endorsement of flossing in the past and future: "It's low risk, low cost. We know there's a possibility that it works, so we feel comfortable telling people to go ahead and do it." Something something climate change deniers. (Source)
There's no point in volunteering before you turn 40. A British study from August found that volunteering doesn't provide you any benefits before you turn 40. (Sure, it provides benefits to society and the world, but meh.) The researchers found until you're older, the good feelings and benefits to your wellbeing that come from volunteering don't outweigh the selfish feeling that it was a chore. The pendulum doesn't swing over to the "this isn't a chore and it only makes me feel better" until approximately age 40. (Source)
Cuddling with kittens can kill you. More proof that people living in hermetically sealed bubbles have it right: A CDC study from September found cuddling with sweet little kittens is potentially quite hazardous because cat scratch fever is more prominent than they realized. So, in an extreme cases, cuddling with kittens -> cat scratch fever -> complications -> death -> your cats eat your corpse. (Source)
Merging like a dick is the right way to do it. When two freeway lanes are merging into one, I -- and everyone else in the world -- hate the people who speed past all of the cars waiting patiently to jump the line. So I loathe the Department of Transportation in Kansas (what an odd addition to my enemies list, right?) for a study in September that determined those dicks are actually merging properly. The research found if everyone waited until the last second to merge, almost creating a zipper pattern, traffic would move 35 percent faster. (Source)
Grunting makes it harder to move your bowels. When you're sitting on the toilet, it's the wrong time to channel Monica Seles. (Another wrong time to channel her: When you're around someone with a knife.) A gastroenterologist out of Denmark found that grunting does not help your bowels move -- in fact, it makes it harder to get them out. The excretory process requires pressure but "that pressure decreases when we let air and noises out of our mouth." (Source)
Covering a toilet seat with toilet paper makes it less sanitary. Sticking with the scatalogical motif for a moment, last month, an expert from the British Toilet Association -- which inexplicably is a real thing -- confirmed you shouldn't cover a public toilet seat in toilet paper to shield your pristine buttocks from the germs left behind by other people's assuredly filthier buttocks. By covering the seat in paper, you just give the bacteria more surface area to cover -- and the toilet paper itself is covered in fecal particles that swirl in the air whenever someone flushes one of those lidless public toilets. (Source)
Axe body spray works -- and makes men more attractive. Axe body spray is a fairly loathed product, but that loathing was always tempered by the categorical knowledge that women found Axe to be a huge turnoff. Not so, apparently. The University of Sterling in England found the pheromones in Axe are surprisingly effective at making less handsome men seem attractive. (Source)
Staying friends with an ex means you're a psychopath. When people break up and say, "Let's stay friends," they normally don't stay friends. And it turns out that's because they're sane. A study out of Oakland University in Michigan found people who stay good friends with their exes (1) only do it because they still want something from them, ranging from emotional support to on-call intercoursal dalliances and (2) demonstrate psychopathic personality traits like narcissism. (Source)
Instagramming your food makes it taste better. One of the go-to reductive ways to describe Instagram is "pictures of people's food." (Which is so inaccurate. The real reductive description is, "People's boring modern lives filtered to look like boring '70s lives.") But a study out of St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia (motto: Hey, remember that one basketball season?) advocated for wanton food porn posts, finding that your food tastes better if you pause to take and share a photo of it. And just to drive the negativity of the study home, they found the effect was only present with unhealthy food. Photographing your jicama still just makes it taste like jicama. (Source)
This post was originally published on Friday, December 16, 2016 at 11:00:00 AM under the category Web & Tech.