3 Ritual Laying on of Hands Strengthens Communities
Sadly, a whole bunch of the world's religious ceremonies are off-limits to you if you don't like people touching you. Baptisms, confirmations, ordinations, exorcisms ... all require the "laying on of hands," the power of the spirit flowing through the paws of other practitioners. Hell, even the magical tree-worshiping religion in Avatar required everybody to join hands:
Alhough this may have been because the artists were tired of drawing two hands for every Na'vi.
So Why Do They Do It?
Experts say it actually doesn't matter what group it is, from co-workers at an office to members of a sports team -- touching releases chemicals that help us bond to others. Specifically, a friendly touch releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin and blocks the stress hormone cortisol. In other words, hugging someone isn't just a signal that you like them -- it actually makes them like you, by forcing the release of their trust chemicals.
"Yes, that's it. Feel all the red flags going off in your head melt away."
It makes sense -- as a baby, you had to have a way to know how to trust the huge, scary beings looming over your crib, despite not knowing their language. Touch was the only language you knew -- a hug or cuddle or caress were your signals to trust before your brain had developed enough to detect things like dishonesty or anger. In infancy, it's all about forming bonds. And what was important in infancy is just as important in a ritualistic setting (or basketball game, or mosh pit) -- touching strengthens those chemical bonds within the group. We're all in this together, we're all in the same group, we all trust each other.
Obviously, it has to be a loving touch if you want that oxytocin release -- you'd be able to tell right away the difference between a laying on of hands and a grab from an angry Centurion.
When you regained consciousness, of course.
And speaking of the laying on of multiple hands ...
2 Polygamy Makes Men Live Longer
Although it has its advocates, polygamy isn't an especially popular marriage arrangement. Not for women, anyway, and it's probably not that hot for the guy either when he comes home to find that his dozen wives are all pissed at him.
"Honey, I told you I was going to be busy today!"
So Why Do They Do It?
One benefit seems obvious -- back when rapid breeding was everything, one virile dude with 10 wives could get 10 buns in the oven instead of just one. But there's another, more unlikely benefit as well. A study finds that men from polygamous societies live, on average, 12 percent longer than those from predominantly monogamous ones.
Scientists aren't quite sure why, but there are theories. One possibility is that polygamous men take better care of themselves so they can keep attracting and impregnating younger women, whereas a monogamous man might just let himself go once his one brood of kids moves out and his wife's fertility clock runs out. In a monogamous society, a genetic predisposition to long life does you no good if your wife stopped breeding half a century ago.
"Your menopause is literally killing me."
Another possibility is simply that old polygamous dudes live longer because they have more wives around to tend to their crusty asses' every whim. Communities in which polygamy is the norm tend to be a little less progressive on the gender equality front, so in these societies, a woman's well-being tends to rely on her husband's social status. So taking care of his needs and keeping him healthy rather than making him bust his ass to build a pergola is in a woman's best interest.
In any case, it's good to know that there's some reason Hugh Hefner is still alive.
We'd suspect he was bathing in the blood of virgins, but we doubt that Hugh knows any.