Where you come from -- be it your hometown, home state, home country, or home planet -- has a big influence on everything from your physical health to your mental well-being to your opinion on the acceptability of wearing Crocs and a bath towel to church. Of course, sometimes where you come from also subjects you to bizarre mental or physiological abnormalities which seem to defy any logical explanation, causing science to shrug its collective shoulders and take the rest of the afternoon off. For example ...
6Got PMS? It's Probably Because You're From The West
Eva Katalin Kondoros / iStock
Premenstrual syndrome is responsible for more anguish and hacky jokes than probably any other syndrome in existence. First, there are the aches and pains that are a body's way of throwing a tantrum because someone selfishly decided not to launch a smallish human through their naughty bits that month. Then there's the irritability and mood swings which comedians compare to everything from demon possession to schizophrenia. PMS is an easy excuse men everywhere can use to dismiss any female anger. "Ah, must be that time of the month!"
"It has to be your babymaker. Otherwise, I might be the problem, and that can't possibly be right."
Well, not "everywhere." PMS -- that is, the part where women turn into uncontrollable rage-monsters -- only affects women in Western society.
Anthropologists and psychologists increasingly view PMS as a culture-bound syndrome. This means it's a psychosomatic condition that only occurs within a particular culture -- in this case, Western culture. Sure, women in all times and places have had the physical symptoms ... but not the emotional/psychological ones. In fact, none of the hormonal changes that take place should influence mood at all -- a 2012 meta-analysis of published research found zero correlation between "PMS symptoms" and the actual premenstrual phase of a woman's cycle.
Ekem / Wiki Commons
It's an egg, not a time bomb.
Experts believe that those symptoms may be an expression of the frustration caused by the expectations put on women in Western society. Specifically, the expectation that they be both productive and reproductive members of said society. Women already get tagged with the "hysterical" label if they express emotion in the workplace, so PMS becomes an "express your frustrations for free" card. She didn't call the guy in the next cubicle a dick because she has PMS -- she did it because she does indeed think he's a dick. Saying, or even thinking, that it's the PMS talking is a way to give herself permission to express it.
That's their best guess, anyway.
Wavebreakmedia / iStock
The freedom to rip up his shitty budget plans is positively intoxicating.
To be absolutely clear, they are not saying that PMS is a big scam by Western women to call people dicks once a month with impunity. It's just that everyone conforms to society's expectations to a degree, especially when they give us an opportunity for the kind of release we should have all the time. Slip somebody a nonalcoholic drink and tell them it's full of liquor, and after an hour they'll be running around with their pants on their head. Beyond the placebo effect, you're mainly giving them a chance to let go for a bit.
5People From Certain Small Towns Are Basically Immortal
Every culture has their old wives' tales about how to live longer -- drink eight glasses of water a day, laugh frequently, consume the blood of the innocent. But no one knows for sure why only a lucky few live to an almost supernaturally long age. Hitting the triple digits seemingly happens at random.
Except, that is, on the remote Italian island of Sardinia, where it's practically a given that you'll live past 100. Sardinia's rate of centenarians (people over age 100, not bore-headed mythological creatures) is twice that of the rest of the world. Scientists have attributed the island's fountain of youth to everything from an undiluted gene pool to their pure and simple diet of foods like red wine, fresh olive oil, and organic vegetables -- this latter explanation helped kick off the Mediterranean diet craze.
Jake Whitman / Today
These men are 90 years old, drunk as fuck, and can kick your ass without breaking a grape-scented sweat.
But clearly, it's more than the food, because people around the world eating like Sardinians has mainly resulted in more wine headaches and exactly as many people dying in their 70s. There is no consensus as to why Sardinians live longer than the rest of us. It's a freak occurrence that only happens in one place.
But wait, it also happens in Okinawa, Japan. Nicknamed the "land of the immortals," the city of Okinawa formerly had the highest percentage of centenarians in the world, before being booted off the top of the mountain by Sardinia. Not only do people in Okinawa live longer, but compared to Americans, they have lower rates of dementia, Alzheimer's, and hip fractures. But the average American eats way more Moons Over My Hammys, so it feels like an even trade.
Blake Patterson / Flickr
At least until the super-dementia kicks in and we forget how to eat.
And speaking of Americans, we too can hop on this longevity bandwagon -- but only if we live in the city of Loma Linda, California. Located in San Bernardino County, Loma Lindans regularly live into their 90s and beyond, easily outliving their neighbors in the San Bernardino-Riverside metro area. And Loma Linda has roughly the same median income and racial makeup as said metro area, ruling out genetic and economic factors. Researchers do, however, have some idea as to why its residents live longer, and you could say it's because they pray for good health.
See, Loma Linda was founded in the 19th Century by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. In addition to proclaiming that the rest of the world goes to church on the wrong day of the week, the religion encourages a plant-based diet and discourages smoking and drinking. The big supermarket in town doesn't even sell meat, seafood, or anything that contains caffeine. So maybe they have discovered the secret to long life, but the rest of us have decided it isn't worth it.
On the other hand, Sardinia's secret -- booze and isolation -- sounds right up our alley.
Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the spectrum ...