You know that the people who raised you have played a huge part in shaping who you are, especially if you're unfortunate enough to be Chinese. What you may not realize is that this process began before you were born, and in some cases, before your parents even met each other. This is just another care package of horrors mailed directly to your brain from the scientific community.
7The Month She Gives Birth to You Determines How Good You Will Be at Sports
If 80s movies have taught us anything, it's that being a high school sports star requires only beefcake, a cheerleader girlfriend and a complete lack of basic human empathy. In reality, it takes a lot of hard work, but you still need to have the right birthday.
Researchers from The University of Queensland analyzed the birthdays of Australian soccer players and discovered that the month in which you are born plays a huge role in your athletic success. They found that there were 33 percent more professional soccer players than expected born in the month of January and 25 percent fewer born in December.
When his birth date kept him out of the professional leagues, he went with the next best thing.
The Australian school year starts in January (because their seasons are upside-down), so kids born in that month are almost a full year older than the December-born kids who join a team in the same year of high school. Because kids grow like crazy, the ones who are just a little older tend to crush their slightly younger opposition. It's enough of an effect that, by the end of schooling, graduating sports stars are toned, athletic, January-born supersoldiers, while their December-born classmates are broken shells of human beings who turn to accounting or Internet comedy writing.
Someone has to keep Wild Turkey in business.
The bad luck doesn't end there for those born on the wrong side of summer. A recent Michigan State University study shows that the youngest kids in a class are 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than their older peers. It's not due to brain injuries suffered by being held head-first in a toilet bowl by older jocks -- quite simply, the youngest kids are less mature than their older classmates, and some pediatricians make the mistake of diagnosing kids based on their grade at school rather than their age.
The effect is most noticeable in kindergarten. Kids born at the end of September, after the enrollment cutoff, wind up in classes with kids born at the beginning of September of the following year. So when playtime rolls around and Johnny picks up See Spot Run while Timmy just messes around with the hamburger phone, the teacher assumes that Johnny is a prodigy and that there's something wrong with Timmy's brain.
Teachers -- making the world a worse place one shattered dream at a time.
6If Your Mother Eats Black Licorice, It Can Lower Your IQ
Knowing your mother's favorite candy is extremely useful coming up to Mother's Day. Unfortunately, if you happen to know that the answer is "licorice," we're sorry to inform you that you are utterly doomed. Your mother's favorite candy may have lowered your intelligence and could have even given you a behavioral disorder.
On the plus side, it tastes like death!
A study on a bunch of 8-year-olds in Finland, where licorice is basically one of the food groups, found that the children whose mothers had consumed more than 100 grams of pure licorice during pregnancy performed worse than their peers on a variety of cognitive functions, including vocabulary, memory and spatial awareness. They were also more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.
But hey, at least they didn't have to eat any.
The culprit appears to be a component in the candy called glycyrrhizin, which, in addition to harboring a severe vowel deficiency, may impair the placenta and allow more stress hormones to pass from the mother to the fetus. This kind of makes the baby stressed by proxy, so the fetus starts producing a hormone called cortisol to deal with it.
This leads to the children having levels of cortisol up to one-third higher than their peers have. Cortisol increases your tolerance of stress, so it's beneficial if you want to be, say, a brain surgeon or a professional lion castrator. Unfortunately, too much of it is also linked to diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and all sorts of brain problems. Finally, we have somebody else to blame for our failing education system: the Finns.
Next on Cracked: Why British people are responsible for our high teen suicide rate.