Hopefully you're not reading this while you're hauling ass down the highway, but if you are, what the hell... take a quick peek at the cars to your left and to your right. Now think about this: The odds are that one of those drivers--who really seem to have you sandwiched in there--has a gene that makes them a shitty driver. Better go ahead and buckle up too while you're at it.
The human body produces a protein called BDNF which is responsible for maintaining the health of our synapses. Scientists refer to this function as neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to renew itself and retain information.
Ben Stein has tons of that shit.
Driving, being one of those tasks that requires attention, decision-making and good motor skills, depends heavily on this. Good drivers' brains have high levels of BDNF production which allow them to learn faster and perform better during tasks that require advanced motor function. Bad drivers, sadly, do not.
And BDNF production is tied to one single gene variant which scientists have romantically dubbed Rs6265. If someone suffers from low BDNF levels, it doesn't 't necessarily mean they're going to go all Tiger Woods on a tree with their SUV every time they get behind the wheel. They're just more likely to do it than someone whose brain is virtually oozing BDNF like grease from a Fatburger.
That's what BDNF looks like, right?
OK, maybe not literally like shit. It's probably more like a wet Labradoodle covered with havarti cheese. Either way, bad odors have an adverse affect on your driving ability. So that's what those goddmaned pine tree air fresheners are for. We thought it was for guys to cover up the smell of weed in case they get pulled over.
In that case, don't get this kind.
Anyway, according to scientists at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, a nice big whiff of something nasty can induce feelings of hostility, cause you to drive more aggressively and increase your chances of being involved in an accident.
"You just get a warning since it smells like eggy ass out here."
And secondly, smells are processed by the limbic system in your brain, which also governs emotions and long-term memories. A foul odor can evoke any number of long-buried memories and the emotions that come with them. The smell of rotting garbage may bring back memories of that year you lived in a dumpster.
Hard not to miss the old place.
At its most harmless, this leads to an inability to fully concentrate on the road. But if the smell is irritating enough, it can trigger a response in your trigeminal nerve which runs smack dab through the center of your skull.
A nerve response like this is typically accompanied by an adrenaline release that instantly puts you in a tense and angry state. "Tense and angry" tends to mean "asshole" to other motorists, and means you are more likely to start driving like one.
In many ways, we are prisoners of the culture we grew up in. We're social creatures, we can't help it.
For instance, we all know that children are itty-bitty little profanity sponges. Let a couple of F-bombs slip around a three-year-old, and next thing you know it's "Fuck you Tinky-Winky" this, and "Eat a dick, Bob the Builder" that.
According to psychologist Dr. Leon James children are also quite the little assimilators of our driving habits as well. He has postulated that a childhood of riding with parents who do inconsiderate things--like screaming obscenities, following too closely, attempting vehicular homicide--has a profound effect on the way that we will drive in the future. In other words, if your parents were assholes behind the wheel, it's a good bet you will be too.
And it's not just your parents that fuck you up. Oh no, it's our entire gasoline and car-chase addicted culture. Car chases look freaking awesome on screen and we've been cramming them into movies ever since the camera was invented. Ask a cop how much he likes the Fast and the Furious franchise. He'll be torn between his love for Vin Diesel and the way street racing deaths doubled the year the first film came out. Think it's ridiculous when panicked moral crusaders talk about how movies influence our youth? Tell that to members of the LAPD who have to do extra patrols around theaters showing Fast and Furious sequels just to keep teenagers from squealing off into the distance and smashing head-on into a tanker truck.
Do not attempt to be this homoerotic in real life.
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Now find out what science has to say about the loving actions of our pets, in 6 Insane Dog Behaviors Explained by Evolution and 6 Adorable Cat Behaviors With Shockingly Evil Explanations.
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