As children, we all form simplistic ideas about the way things work, such as “chocolate milk comes from brown cows” or “voters decide how the government is run.” But then along come truth-lobbers like comedy websites and Neil deGrasse Tyson to destroy our childlike view of the Universe with crushing waves of irrefutable science.
Except sometimes it works the other way around. Sometimes, science reveals that the seemingly crazy things we believed as children were in fact 100 percent correct.
#5. Yes, Your Parents Did Have A Favorite Child
If you grew up with brothers or sisters, odds are you grew up with the constant feeling that your parents favored one of your siblings over you — unless, of course, you were the favorite, in which case fuck you.
You entitled little shit.
But this perceived favoritism was probably us projecting our own insecurities onto our family situation, right? After all, once we mature and reach adulthood, we realize that parents don’t play favorites; they simply try their best to give each child what they need when they need it, and sometimes one child needs more than another. For instance, a toddler is obviously going to require more attention than your 10-year-old self, because at that age, your needs are fully met by Van Damme movies on cable and Chef Boyardee.
Well, we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but according to science, Mom really did love your older brother more than you. Studies have shown that 65 percent of mothers have a favorite child (usually the oldest boy), while 70 percent of fathers claim to have a favorite (usually the youngest girl). And seeing as how admitting to loving one of your children more than the others isn’t something people traditionally take pride in, those numbers are most likely underreported. In other words, science completely backs the “mama’s boy” and “daddy’s little girl” stereotypes. Another stereotype that science can totally get behind? Middle children are endlessly put upon. That show with Frankie Muniz was pretty much a documentary.
“Dad, can you buy a tripod so I can be in the picture too?”
“Son, you’re nature’s tripod.”
Don’t believe us? Just ask your mom. And if she’s hesitant to answer, wait until she’s around 70 years old and ask again — moms tend to be much more honest about their parental favoritism at that age. Because when you’ve been alive for seven decades, who the hell cares anymore? But if you don’t like her answer (and you won’t), try not to hold it against her — she’s following an instinct that evolution has hardwired into our brains, causing us to favor those children most likely to successfully pass our genes on to future generations. So put your mind at ease by telling yourself that it’s not your brother’s personality which makes him Mom’s favorite; it’s the fact that his genetic advantages are far superior to yours.
#4. Medicine And Vegetables Really Do Taste Worse When You’re A Kid
Remember how bad everything that wasn’t candy and Cookie Crisp tasted when you were a kid? You’d have rather transformed your larynx into a shuriken than choke down so much as a single drop of cough syrup, and things like spinach and Brussels sprouts were boiled manifestations of the evil currently living beneath your bed. Meanwhile, the adults of the household gleefully slurped that shit down while insisting that it was good for you and promising that they would lock you in your room for the night if you didn’t finish every steaming, hideous bite that they had so generously placed before you.
But that’s immaturity, right? You demanded nothing but candy all day every day because you were a kid, and kids are bratty and stupid. You also wanted to go to school dressed like Batman. All of your opinions were bullshit.
“Oh, we should get a unicorn to cure grandma’s cancer? Thanks for the medical tip, Katie.”
But according to science, you weren’t being whiny. Well, not just being whiny, anyway. Some things simply taste worse to kids. See, kids are born with mouths like an audience at Bonnaroo — they’re positively filthy with taste buds, each one scrambling to get a better view of the next act (and also to lick it). By the time we’re adults, however, around two-thirds of those taste buds have bailed to look for a nearby Waffle House, partly due to our tendency to start doing things like smoking and enjoying Starbucks beverages at temperatures approaching “the Earth’s core.”
That’s why sweets are the very best thing in a kid’s life, and it’s also why things with a bitter note taste so much worse to them — more taste buds means more bitterness. Medicine often tends to taste bitter (as do many vegetables), which is why science is hard at work figuring out ways to make children’s medicine more palatable. And speaking of medicine, remember your first beer? If you were young enough when you tried it, you damn well do. When your dad/uncle/parental figure with questionable judgment told you that it was an “acquired taste,” what they meant was that you’d be able to tolerate it once enough of your taste buds had committed mass suicide.
“And then you won’t need to take that bitter medicine, because you can self-medicate!”
And while we’re on the subject of kids’ dumb demands at meal time …
#3. Your Body Will Make Room For Dessert (Even If You Were “Too Full” To Finish Your Vegetables)
Every kid in history has pulled this trick. Little Susie says she can’t eat one more bite of the nutritious meal Mom or Dad painstakingly prepared (of which she has eaten precisely one bite). But the very moment pie comes into play, she’s magically ravenous again. So which is more likely: That children have a second stomach reserved especially for dessert, or that they’re spoiled little brats who lie so that 90 percent of their dinner will be in pie form?
According to science, it’s closer to the first one.
“We have a backup pancreas for insulin too.”
There are two factors at play here. First off, your stomach is not a rigid organ. It expands and contracts, and it turns out that glucose causes the muscles in the wall of your stomach to relax. The simple act of seeing or smelling a sweet treat can trigger this reflex, along with delightful thoughts of eating ice cream and a desire to watch cartoons. Then, the act of chewing and swallowing that first sugary bite causes your stomach to expand even more, tempting you to gulp down the entire dessert. This is why the Swensen’s ice cream buffet qualifies as both a miracle invention and a crime against humanity.
The second factor is something called sensory specific satiety, or SSS (we assume all three S’s are meant to be pronounced at once, like a snake). This phenomenon is a seed that’s planted deep within our evolutionary makeup, and it’s tied to the fact that humans are designed to be omnivores. When we eat too much of one thing — even, or perhaps especially, if it’s a thing we love — a switch in our brain flips to tell us we’ve had enough. Offer it a different thing, however — say, a slice of pumpkin pie after you’ve devoured three-quarters of a turkey — and suddenly that switch flips off. It’s the body’s way of tricking us into getting the variety of nutrients we need to survive, because the only way to get people to do things that are good for them is to employ layers of deception.
If you look closely, you’ll see that’s carefully disguised cauliflower.
Fortunately for those of us who refuse to let our dumbass bodies tell us what to do, SSS can be easily tricked right back with something as simple as a subtle change in flavor, or even color. In one study, researchers had test subjects eat red Smarties until they couldn’t possibly eat any more (presumably at gunpoint). But when presented with yellow Smarties (which, despite what that kid on the bus once told you, taste exactly the same), the subjects suddenly discovered that maybe they could find room for just a little more.
So basically, what we’re saying is that you should dye your kids’ vegetables different colors and cover them with chocolate sauce. They will never complain about being too full for Brussels sprouts again. And if they do, they’re liars.
#2. Reading/Watching The Same Things Over And Over Again Is Good For You
When you were a kid, was there a book you made your parents read every single night at bedtime? (If you don’t remember your early childhood but have become a parent in the last 10 years, the question becomes, “How many times have you seen Frozen?”) Yeah, as anyone who has ever owned a small child can attest, there is nothing little kids enjoy more than repetition. They don’t want a variety of entertainment options — they want their favorite things, over and over again, forever. It doesn’t matter if you have a bookshelf full of children’s DVDs; you’re watching Shrek 2 on an eternal recurrent loop, for time and space are infinite.
“Honey, you’re starting to look … different in our photos.”
“This is how it always began. This is how it always ends.”
But as much as repeated viewings of the Alvin And The Chipmunks franchise make us wish otherwise, science says this is a valuable exercise for young children. Repeating an experience — be it revisiting a favorite vacation spot, rewatching a favorite TV episode, or rereading a favorite book — is known as “hedonic volitional reconsumption,” which is an asshole way of saying that we repeat enjoyable experiences in order to actively search for a deeper, more emotional meaning. Not only is this compulsion not abnormal, but it’s important for our mental well-being.
You can still add the odd robot fight to Peter Rabbit for your personal sanity, though.
Of course, the benefits go beyond attempting to achieve a higher plane of consciousness by revisiting the Madagascar films for the 40th time. From an educational standpoint, rereading is utterly crucial to development. Studies have shown that kids who read the same book repeatedly perform better in terms of both reading comprehension and vocabulary than kids who read three different stories about the same material. We assume this benefit increases exponentially depending on how many irritating rhymes the book contains (which can actually be quite challenging, regardless of your reading level).
#1. Sucking On An Injury Helps It Heal
Anyone who was ever a human child remembers getting a cut or a splinter and feeling the immediate impulse to plop the affected area of skin into your mouth, because sucking on a wound inexplicably made it feel better, and we all secretly love the taste of blood. Hell, maybe you still do that now.
Well, though your mother probably demanded that you stop doing it immediately, research has revealed that drooling all over our wounds fast-forwards the healing process, like Wolverine climbing into one of those face-repairing beds from Elysium.
So start sucking as much that movie did.
Scientists created artificial wounds in two separate Petri dishes, and then treated each with a different solution. One was bathed in human saliva, the other in a plain isotonic fluid. Less than a day later, the slobbery sample had almost completely mended its wound, while the control sample had taken a year off to backpack through Europe to see if “healing” was what it truly wanted to do.
After running the super-saliva through their radly-named “wound model,” Dutch scientists identified a compound in our spit — histatin — that dramatically ramps up the speed of healing. So, tetanus aside, cramming that sliced finger into your mouth was the exact healthcare step to take back when you fell off the swing set during recess.
It doesn’t do shit against cooties, though, so make sure you stay vaccinated.
On a similar note, shitty Little League coaches worldwide will be happy to hear that the seemingly negligent childhood remedy of “rub some dirt on it!” has some real-world merit, despite outwardly appearing to have all of the wisdom of shitting into the wind. While examining treatments described in ancient medical texts, researchers at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute recently stumbled upon a family of antibacterial clay capable of killing pathogens which range from simple old E. coli clear on up to MRSA, otherwise known as the antibiotic-resistant bacterium currently staging an uprising against humanity.
While dirtying up a wound to help it heal seems entirely counterintuitive, the treatment takes advantage of the absorptive characteristics of clay and Mother Nature’s rich cocktail of metallic ions to seal out pathogens, absorb devitalized tissue, and deliver devastating antibacterial doses that would humble even the most flagrant Purell junkie. Though this admittedly involves special healing dirt, and not some random clump out of your back yard that a squirrel might have ejaculated on minutes earlier.
So yeah, probably better to suck on it until you can get a Band-Aid.
For more ridiculous but kind of awesome things science has confirmed for us, check out 6 Elaborate Science Experiments Done Just For The Hell Of Iy and The 6 Most Baffling Science Experiments Ever Funded.
Read more: www.cracked.com