#3. Suicide Rates Dropped (in England)
Over in England they have something called the "Blitz spirit," a reference to the can-do attitude of perseverance and national pride experienced in the midst of the Battle of Britain during World War II. So in the days and weeks following September 11, British scientists saw an opportunity to study the phenomenon firsthand. What they found was significant: a 40 percent drop in suicides following al-Qaida's plane-shaped sucker punch.
The theory is that massive tragedy tends to unite people, making them feel like they're struggling against something as part of a team. When you feel like a part of something, you're much more likely to feel a sense of duty, obligation and (more importantly for this study) support, like there are people out there who need you and would give a rat's ass should anything happen to you. The U.S. and Great Britain have had their differences (see the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812), but dammit, we're still friends, and killing yourself when your friends need you is just lame.
"The Americans are there for us whenever a royal gets married or dies. And, by British God, we'll be there for them."
So if a tragedy that hit an ally an ocean away galvanized the suicidal mopesters of Great Britain, you'd expect an even more prominent reaction when something terrible happened at home. But while suicides did drop 40 percent after the 7/7 bombings in London, the suicide rate only stayed "depressed" for two days. By comparison, the drop in suicides after 9/11 lasted four weeks.
Which, incidentally, is how long the people in that stock photo managed to hold their pose.
There are two possible explanations for this. One is that the infinitely more massive media reaction to September 11 gave it an exaggerated impact that resonated much more deeply than the transit bombings in London. The other possibility is that huge disasters are like Batman sequels: We get so worked up over one that by the time the next one comes along, we just don't care anymore.
"Pssht. Bomb in a train. Totally called it."
#2. Ecstasy (the Drug) Took a Hit
Anyone old enough to remember flying before 9/11 probably recalls the infinitesimal shit security used to give back in those days. It was a golden age of sprinting to your gate, flying with your own shampoo and (apparently) smuggling Ecstasy.
"Yes, I'll be carrying it on. I want to roll face through a storm cloud."
In those days, Ecstasy was typically brought in from Europe, easily hidden in a mule's carry-on luggage or just plopped in their goddamn pockets and walked right out of the airport to a taxi cab and a night of Daft Punk and glow-in-the-dark pacifiers. Remember, these were the days when people could go all the way up to the gate without going through security, provided they were just seeing someone off and not actually getting on the plane.
We've lost many freedoms to the War on Terror.
After 9/11, the TSA ramped up the ol' wand-and-tickle in light of new and exponentially stricter security regulations, and the years following saw a record number of people getting busted with Ecstasy. Painkillers like OxyContin rode in to fill the sobriety gap as drug dealers began to increasingly rely on the more challenging task of smuggling Ecstasy in on the ground through Mexico and Canada.
As a result, the drug is now much more difficult to come by, and more expensive -- 2001 ended up being the peak year for Ecstasy, with its popularity and relevance steadily declining each subsequent year (much like Staind). In a way, that's kind of inspiring. 9/11 might have forced Americans to change their drug habits, but it couldn't stop them from doing drugs. We think that means the terrorists lost.
Every good high is a victory against the forces of evil.
#1. It Traumatized a Generation ... of Unborn Children
Over a half million New York City residents suffered from some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the years following 9/11. Among the multitude of people directly affected by the events of that day were roughly 1,700 pregnant women, and some of them expectedly went on to suffer from PTSD. However, their yet-to-be-born children were also found to be afflicted.
"He's shouting something about ragheads. Ma'am, this is easily the third most racist fetus I've encountered."
Scientists at the Mournfully Weeping Institute of World-Souring Bleakness measured cortisol levels in pregnant women who were near Ground Zero during the attacks. Cortisol is kind of like a chemical marker in PTSD victims -- if cortisol is low, it indicates that the person more than likely has PTSD. The scientists found that all of the pregnant women they tested who developed PTSD had an abnormally low cortisol level.
In a follow-up study, they went on to prove that Tupac is dead and fairies don't exist.
Acting on a little-known but mind-blowing phenomenon known as epigenetics (basically the passing down of a person's experiences to subsequent generations), they decided to test the children of the mothers with PTSD. This research had previously been applied to survivors of the Holocaust, and had shown the effects of that tragedy reaching the victims' children. The 9/11 study only made the phenomenon more concrete -- at 1 year old, the children of the women with PTSD exhibited the same low cortisol levels as their mothers.
So now we have infants afflicted with PTSD without ever having experienced any trauma in their lives. What's more, the scientists have observed epigenetics passing down traits in mice to at least two subsequent generations, meaning that all the kids born with PTSD from 9/11 might very well give birth to children decades from now who also have PTSD.
It's a shame those Navy SEALs didn't have a gun capable of choking a man to death with thousands of unwashed penises.
Robert Evans heads up Cracked's workshop moderator team and manages the article captions. He writes about world travel and dangerous adventures for Vagabondish. Contact him at revanswriter @ gmail . com.
For more odd things that changed the world, check out 6 Uneducated Amateurs Whose Genius Changed the World and 6 Mistranslations That Changed The World.