The animal we fear most? Spiders.
- Researchers in the Czech Republic ranked 25 animals we fear most in a new online survey.
- While predatory animals evoke fear, they rarely raise our sense of disgust.
- By contrast, parasites, spiders, and snakes make us fearful and repulsed.
Psychopaths are manipulative, violent, impulsive, and lack empathy — but research suggests that psychopathy may be an evolutionary strategy rather than a disorder.
- It's tempting to think of psychopathy as a kind of aberrant mental condition, but several studies suggest that it may be an evolutionary strategy.
- A study compared the genetic profiles of psychopaths with individuals who were more likely to have children younger and more frequently and found significant overlap.
- This suggests that the qualities that bring about psychopathy are also qualities that encourage more frequent reproduction, making psychopathy an advantageous strategy.
In general, birds of a feather do tend to flock together.
- It's common for people to form groups of like minded individuals who also have similar abilities.
- Evolution confers advantages on heterogeneous groups of people and groups with diverse talent sets.
- Prizing individual identity ahead of group identity also helps counteract tribalistic politics.
A long-ridiculed theory about humankind's early leap of consciousness is revived.
- Terence McKenna first proposed psychedelic mushrooms as the trigger for our rapid cognitive evolution.
- McKenna's theory was called the "Stoned Ape Hypothesis."
- The hypothesis is being revisited as a possible answer to a vexxing evolutionary riddle.
Spicy foods are enjoyed the world over, but scientists don't know why people partake in culinary masochism.
- Humans are the only animals known to willingly eat foods that cause irritation, discomfort, and even pain.
- Theories for why range from thrill-seeking behavior to an evolutionary adaptation for seeking foods that reduce pathogens.
- Taste results from an interplay of genes, culture, memory, and personality, a complex design that scientists are only now beginning to understand.