Super disappointingly, that's not because they are a race of badass cyclopes.
While driving with Kenge, Turnbull's young Mbuti assistant, the pair spotted a herd of buffalo in the far distance. Kenge, having lived his entire life within densely packed vegetation, lacked the concept of size constancy, and asked Turnbull what type of insects they were. He even accused Turnbull of witchcraft when they drove closer and -- to Kenge's eyes -- the beasts rapidly grew in size. Kenge, quite literally, couldn't see the forest for the trees.
Kenge wasn't stupid -- he had depth perception down within days of his buffalo mishap -- it's just that much of what we consider innate about our perception of the world is actually, at least to some degree, subjective. Kenge had never seen anything farther away than his bow and arrow could reach, and thus his brain hadn't yet downloaded the size constancy app. It's not like we Westerners aren't without similar visual deficits -- ever seen the Muller-Lyer illusion?
If so, you know that the two horizontal lines above are, in fact, the same length. But because we grew up in a world of cubic buildings and right angles, our brains tell us that the top line is longer. Just like the Mbuti, our environment defines our perception. We laughed at Kenge, and in turn, somewhere out there is a race of round people, laughing at us and our inability to distinguish simple lines.
Kissing Is Not Universally Sexy
Why do we kiss? Theories range from it boosting our immunity, to it being a leftover behavior from when our mothers passed us pre-chewed food from mouth to mouth (hot), to "well, we gotta do something with our lips." But not every culture regards it as a sexy practice, and to some, it's downright disgusting.
"That's one of the two filthiest parts of the human body!"
A recent ethnographic analysis found that, of 168 cultures studied, less than half of them practiced romantic kissing. And in spite of what Mentos commercials may have led you to believe, North America is not the world's kiss capital (well, Detroit notwithstanding). That distinction belongs to the Middle East, where a full 100 percent of cultures are practitioners of first base shenanigans. Asia comes in second at 73 percent, North America (despite our ample make-out points and roomy back seats) slips into third at 55 percent, and tailing the list with a big fat zero is Central America.
The Costa Rican tunnel of love ride is this basically.
And not all kissing is the same: The Oceanic kiss, for example, involves moving open mouths near one another without actually touching, like they're all saying "I'm not touching you; you can't get mad." Still other cultures, from the Tsonga in southern Africa, to the Melanesian Trobriand Islanders, to the Brazilian Tapirape, simply don't kiss at all. They regard it as a puzzling -- even silly -- behavior, and when they first witnessed European kissing they were appalled, wondering why people would want to "suck each other," and "eat each other's saliva and dirt."
Nobody tell them about the internet.
For more things that get lost in translation, check out 5 Innocent Gestures That Make You Look Like A Dick Overseas and 7 Innocent Gestures That Can Get You Killed Overseas.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out The 4 Ways We Travel In The Modern World (Are About To Suck) and other videos you won't see on the site!
Follow us on Facebook, and let's be best friends forever.
Check out Robert Evans' A Brief History of Vice: How Bad Behavior Built Civilization, a celebration of the brave, drunken pioneers who built our civilization one seemingly bad decision at a time.
Through November 26, 2017, use Amazon promo code GIFTBOOK17 at checkout to get $5 of a printed book purchase of $20 or more! (excludes products sold by third-party sellers)