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We are weird, we do some crazy stuff. Sometimes we ALL do really weird things...because other people are doing them, here’s a few.

1) Laughter Epidemic

laughWe all know laughter is contagious. Just watch any out take reel on your favorite comedy movie dvd, and you’ll notice that when one actor gets the giggles, the other will likely start giggling too. Sometimes you can even see the cameraman start giggling or hear people off camera starting. Some of the funniest moments on Saturday Night Live are when the actors just lose it and start laughing at their own ridiculous lines and characters. Bill Hader routinely losses it when acting Stefan with Seth Meyer. When he does, the audience does to (and so do we).

But this is on a small scale. Could, say, hundreds of people start laughing from one single event?

The answer, surprisingly, is yes.

On January 30th, In 1962, in a small town in Tanzania, three girls began laughing. Sixteen days later it had already spread to 95 students. The laughter got so bad, they had to close the school on March 18th, the students were sent home. In April and May, 217 people began untanganyikacontrollably laughing. Several months later, the epidemic died down, but not after 14 schools were shut down and 1,000 people were affected.

Why did it happen? Well, it wasn’t actually something funny that made them laugh. One researcher blames stress, another points to “intense religious and cultural changes that were happening to the town at the time due to its new-found independence and the replacement of old spiritual beliefs with western religion.”

I blame Stephan.

 

 

2) Sometimes we ALL get sick, ALL at the same time, for no reason...

tanzaniafaintingEver heard of sympathy pains? It's when the baby-dady has pains when the mother of his child is having legit pains 'cus there's another person growing inside her. He has no reason to feel actual pain, but humans are weird and randomly, unconsciously, fart out empathetic, sympathy pains. This is probably an automatic response to be more in tune with what's going on with the person or people you're with, and would make sense in an evolutionary way. But what about fainting or feeling really sick? The hell is that all about?

On September 21st 1973, 57 high school marching band members and an adult all experienced headaces, nausea, weakness or dizziness. Six girls fainted, thirty-six kids were brought to the emergency room. No organic causes (air pollution, poisoning or other) were investigated but nothing found. It was later concluded that a few people may have had mild heat stroke, while others that followed most likely succumbed to mass hysteria. Something similar happened in Tanzania (that’s just fun to say) where 20 girls just up and fainted. But girls in the West Bank thought they could do better. In 1983, 700 to 800 girls fainted, saying they smelled some type of gas. The New York Times reported a possible poisoning, but later wrote a retraction, apologizing for jumping to conclusions (just like the school girls did) and reported that this was another case of mass hysteria. Times ended the apology by saying ”The coverage gave more weight to the Arab charges than to the American and Israeli explanations. There was no journalistic justification for the disparity. “

The West Bank fainting incident is somewhat similar to the laughter epidemic, where the cause is the enormous stresses that exist in the climate of the given culture. If you live in a nation and region that is unstable and attacks DO happen from time to time, and someone says “I think I smell poison”, you might have a psychosomatic reaction, and ACTUALLY pass out because you believe you are poisoned.

Not sure what joke I could put here. Ah, fainting goats have nothing to do with any of this, but they sure are hilarious. They were breed to be the sacrificial goat. So, when a predator comes by, the fainting just..well, faints and yeah, gets munched on. But the rest of your flock is fine. Poor little fainting goat.

 

3) When enough people have the same bad idea, we all thinks it's the shit..

220px-TulipomaniaWhen your mom asked you "If you're friends jumped off a cliff, would you?" while trying to make a point that we should learn to think for ourselves and not do the stupid shit our peers are doing...well, the answer is yes. If they all had the same shitty idea to jump off a cliff...we would probably do it too.

In an experiment, 18 volunteers all looked up into the sky. At nothing. Half of the people who saw this looked up into the sky as well, causing traffic problems. This article goes onto the bigger question of herding behavior, where a few individuals have an idea, the rest follow with very little information to confirm the original idea. This seems to answer some big questions that people ask about market and investment behavior. Take the Tulip Mania during the 1600’s in the Netherlands. Before the whole thing came crashing down, similar to the housing bubble crash in our U.S. recent economic history, one tulip bulb could be sold for 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman.

Also, check out Cracked.com’s article about other market crashes, including the Tulip Mania
http://www.cracked.com/article_18397_5-economic-collapses-more-ridiculous-than-this-one.html

I thought the lady types liked flowers, but for that much, I’ll get you a box of chocolate, thank you very much.

4) Yawning more contagious among friends

We all know smiling can be contagious. And this makes sense, when someone else is happy, especially if they're really pretty, or someone we're close to, or both, that makes us happy and then we smile. But what about yawning? If someone else is tired, it doesn't mean that we're automatically also tired. So what the crap is going on?

“Turns out, close friends and family are more likely than acquaintances or strangers to catch someone's yawns, a new study finds.” Huh, this would be why Mythbusters had a heck of time getting complete strangers to yawn in their episode that tried to test this. (the first time they failed miserably).


So why are we more likely to yawn if a close friend yawns than a stranger? Campbell, the researches, explains by theorizing: “By mimicking the yawn we see, we become better able to understand how tired, perhaps, or bored the other person is.”

I hope just by reading this, I made a few of you yawn. Ha ha!

 

 

5) Let's all get Divorced

divorceEver heard of someone who got divorced, and then another one of your friends decided to get divorced as well a little bit later? That's not rare, in fact, it's way more common than you think. People are getting divorced in packs all across the country. They’re called “Cluster Divorces”, here’s the numbers.

The study, published by Brown University, explains:
“The study concluded that, when close friends or family divorce, we are a whopping 75% more likely to decide to end our own marriages. Couples with already-divorced friends in their larger social circles are 147% more likely to eventually get a divorce than couples whose friends are all married. And if you have a divorced sibling, your chances of divorce go up 22%. It’s almost as if divorce turns people into sheep who can’t resist joining the herd.”

However, these are not happy, perfect marriages (which is what, exactly?) that just up and quit because their friends got a divorce.  These are marriages that are stressed and not doing quite as well and when a friend of theirs gets a divorce, the idea is now in their head as an option where it might not have been before. Researches and marriage counselors  encourage people who are having marriage difficulties to try to work on their marriages, not just jump on the divorce bandwagon.

The article continues
“Psychologists argue that almost any human behavior can be contagious—including positive things like marriage and having babies.”

This leads us to the next one:

6) Getting Fat and Being Sad (and also the opposites)

Ever noticed that skinny people tend to hang out with more skinny people? Or how about fat people with other fat people? The assumption, of course, is that the skinny, beautiful, soulless, bitchy, mean, awful people hate fat and ugly people. Thus creating two sets of people, skinny and fat. Also, ever noticed that some group of people are just in general happier, but then another group might all want to eat their gun at any moment? You might think
that these are the same group of people, fat people are really fucking depressed because, well, they’re all fat. And skinny people are all happy...'cus they're all beautiful and skinny. There, we solved it.


guys

Pictured: Happy People

Nope.  As the previous entries of this article shows us, human behavior is contagious. If some of the people in your peer group are happy, then the rest probably will be too. If some of the people in your group are watching their weight, working out, eating healthy, then chances are this behavior will spread to the rest of the group. But the bad news is, the opposite is also true.

wedding“quitting smoking or staying slender or being happy — pass from friend to friend almost as if they were contagious viruses. The Framingham participants, the data suggested, influenced one another’s health just by socializing. And the same was true of bad behaviors — clusters of friends appeared to “infect” each other with obesity, unhappiness and smoking. Staying healthy isn’t just a matter of your genes and your diet, it seems. Good health is also a product, in part, of your sheer proximity to other healthy people. By keeping in close, regular contact with other healthy friends for decades, Eileen and Joseph had quite possibly kept themselves alive and thriving. And by doing precisely the opposite, the lone obese man hadn’t. “
-NYtimes.com

So, what have we learned? At any given moment we could all break out laughing uncontrollably for days, faint in the hundreds because of some perceived threat, all buy a shit load of tullips for some reason, give up on our difficult marriages because our friends told us to, and if we keep hanging out with our depressing overweight friends, we ourselves will become depressed and overweight.

But, there’s good news. YOU can be the changing factor in your social group. So, don’t get that divorce and tell your friends you’re gonna work on it. Start working out and eating better (and less ;). DON’T buy that tulip (or invest in something that is likely just a stupid bubble), and for God’s sake, stop laughing.

 

 

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