Why are people sexually attracted to cartoons? Evolution.

Nikolaas Tinbergen's concept of "supernormal stimulus" explains why humans are attracted to a heightened version of reality.

(Photo: Walt Disney Pictures)
  • According to Pornhub's annual statistics, "hentai" and "cartoons" were among the most popular categories in 2018.
  • Such pornography is a supernormal stimulus, an artificial object that triggers an animal's instinctual response more intensely than natural analogs.
  • Supernormal stimuli not only explain our heightened response to pornography, but also art, junk food, and social media.
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Researchers find how to add more "love hormone" to your relationships

A study looks at the chemistry of couples engaged in different activities.

Henri Leconte at art class. 2019. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)
  • Leisure activities can help release more oxytocin, say researchers.
  • Oxytocin is a hormone linked to social and sexual interaction.
  • Couples who took art classes and played board games together released oxytocin.
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Valentine’s Day: A watered-down pagan Lupercalia

Romans didn't do festivals half-way.

Image source: Public Domain / Wikimedia
  • Modern Valentine's Day is a far more restrained version of the pagan holiday it replaced.
  • During Lupercalia, Romans got naked, drunk, and there was whipping involved.
  • Romantic cards? How about simulated penetration?
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Why sex behind the Iron Curtain was better for women

A new book about life under communism reveals an unexpected benefit.

Kozarčanka ("Woman from Kozara"), a World War II photograph that became iconic in Socialist Yugoslavia. (Image: Public Domain /Big Think)
  • A new book by Kristen Ghodsee argues that women had much better sex in communist Eastern Europe than in the West.
  • She attributes this to steps those states took to empower women and their resulting economic independence.
  • While rebuilding the Iron Curtain isn't called for, the author suggests we can learn ways to empower women from these communist regimes.
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The future of male contraceptives? A layered cocktail.

"Dinner and drinks" may take on a new, more provocative meaning.

Photo credit: Keystone / Hulton Archive / Getty Images
  • Scientist propose a layered cocktail as a future male contraceptive.
  • Chemical layers block the flow of sperm and can be dissolved with near-infrared light.
  • Tiny umbrella not included.
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