4 Scientific Facts Rational People Should Refuse to Believe

If we told you someone’s hiding edible microchips in your cheese, you’d think we were nuts
4 Scientific Facts Rational People Should Refuse to Believe

We love telling you unbelievable facts. When we call a fact “unbelievable,” though, we still do expect you to believe it. You’re supposed to say, “I didn’t know this was true before, and it’s surprising, but I believe it now because I trust you.”

Not all facts receive that kind of reception, though. Some are so bizarre that we remain skeptical no matter how much evidence supports them. 

Note: We’re not telling you the following facts are untrue. Some of them definitely are true, and they’ll remain true whether you believe them or not. That doesn’t make believing them any easier. 

Baby Animals Evolved to Look Cute So We’ll Protect Them

Baby animals are adorable. Puppies are adorable, kitties are adorable and even when the adult animal will kill you (say, a lion), its cubs will be adorable. Move away from cuddly mammals, and the rule still often holds true. Chicks and ducklings are adorable. Baby snakes are adorable. The baby shark is so adorable, it got its own song, even though humans had never seen an actual baby great white shark at the time. We saw one for the first time this year, and it turns out baby sharks are adorable. 

Baby alligator

Leo Reynolds

Here's a baby gator. It’s adorable.

Scientists have an explanation for this. These cute baby animals share a specific set of characteristics, which we’ve dubbed kindchenschema. They have large eyes and small mouths. Adults find these features cute, and that’s why animals evolved to look like that when they’re young. Cuteness inspires their parents to care for them, and babies who lacked these features were more likely to be abandoned and never to grow to pass on their genes. 

Okay. But...: Isn’t it kind of insane that these extremely different animals all have the same standards when it comes to what’s cute? You have completely different standards than a lion or a crocodile when it comes to deciding (say) what tastes good. You have completely different standards when it comes to deciding what’s sexually attractive, we hope. But when it comes to the concept of cuteness, this is a constant across different species?

Chickens (Baby Chicks) at the Houston Livestock Show

Kristen Ortwerth

Psychology varies from person to person, but is the same from person to poultry?

Also, the scientist who first described kindchenschema was a full-on Nazi. That doesn’t mean we have to dismiss everything he said (the guy did go on to receive a Nobel Prize), but it does mean we’ll mock his authority when it comes to emotion and love. 

So, What If, Instead…: What if so many animals are born with big eyes and small mouths just because they’re still growing into their parts, rather than as a specifically evolved survival trait? You know, much like how fetuses of different species look so similar? And what if we humans find baby animals cute simply because they’re small and helpless? And what if cuteness isn’t universal across species, which explains why animals so readily kill and eat other species’ babies?

Or, how about this: What if kindchenschema is real, but it doesn’t result from evolution? Maybe it was designed — by toy companies. Companies such as Hasbro and Squishmallows conspired to engineer baby animals this way, as part of their scheme to teach us what cuteness is and make us buy more plush toys. 

Muscles Grow More When You Concentrate on the Mind-Muscle Connection

The fitness industry is full of new and exciting science explaining the right way for you to build muscle. How many repetitions should you do in one go? How many sets should you do every week? How far should you swing your arms during each individual movement? The answer to each of these questions is not “as much as possible” — they all have interesting answers, backed up by clinical studies. 

One of the strangest factors here is something called mind-muscle connection. You will see more muscle growth if you think very hard about the muscle you’re exercising. 

leg press

Scott Webb

If you’re able to think of anything else, you need to add more plates. 

“Oh, that makes sense,” says the reasonable listener. “When you think about what you’re doing, that ensures you do the exercise properly.” But that is not what mind-muscle connection means. Mind-muscle connection means if you take two people, and they each do the same exercise perfectly, with the same weights and the same form and the same range of motion, the person who thinks harder about the relevant muscle will experience more muscle activation. Legitimate research supports this idea

Okay. But...: Doesn’t that sound like the most ridiculous hippie bullshit? Muscles are muscles. They grow after you fatigue them. You rip them apart when you lift weights, and then your body builds them back stronger when you’re asleep, when you’re not even conscious. Surely mental vibes should play no role in this.  

Most of all, we’re inclined to dismiss the concept because they named it “muscle-mind connection.” That’s how you name something when you just made it up, and you’re looking to appeal to people who “aren’t religious, but are very spiritual.” It’s like when you refer to something as wellness instead of medicine, since medicine is regulated. If this were real, surely it would be named after some expert, or have a name with Latin roots.

Lidia Valentín 2008

Primo Romero

Or be named for some expert with Latin roots.

So, What If, Instead...: What if this is a conspiracy, whose sole goal is to occupy your full attention when you exercise, so you’re oblivious to all else around you? This way, the conspirators can take sips out of your water bottle when you’re distracted, saving them from having to walk all the way to their own bottles, which are on the other side of the room. Of course, this would require all the scientists who’ve studied mind-muscle connection to collude on this and fabricate study results. That makes sense, though. Scientists need water, too. 

They’re Putting Microchips in Parmesan Cheese

If you buy some parmesan cheese in the United States, the word “parmesan” on the label means basically nothing. We don’t regulate the usage of that term. That cheese that the manufacturer considers parmesan may actually be Swiss, mozzarella or white cheddar. Often, “parmesan” is just a way of conveying that you’re buying cheese that’s been dried and grated. Oh, and that dried stuff in the can might be 40 percent wood pulp, because who can tell the difference? 

Kraft Seasoned Grated Parmesan Cheese

theimpulsivebuy/Wiki Commons

You’re just going to sprinkle it over Chef Boyardee anyway.

Europe is a different story. In Europe, that parmesan cheese you buy had better be the real thing, made in northern Italy. Otherwise, it’s counterfeit, according to laws lobbied for by the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium. Counterfeiting parmesan remains a big business, with some $2 billion of fake stuff sold every year, versus $2.7 billion of the real thing. 

The blessed cheesemakers from Parma and Emilia-Romagna have a new tool to let you distinguish their wares from fakes: microchips. They insert a chip the size of a grain of salt into the cheese wheel, and you’ll be able to scan this to determine the cheese’s provenance. The chip is edible. You probably won’t eat it, since it’s embedded in the rind, but if you do, that’s cool, and it won’t hurt you. 

Okay. But...: That entire story sounds like the ramblings of a crazy person. Indeed, we first heard of it passed around as something an actual crazy person said, which turned out to be true. 

To be fair, everything about the international cheese industry strikes us as crazy, so this new detail is just icing on the cake (or, as the Italians say, microchip sul formaggi). Like, did you know that in 2008, back when the U.S. was bailing out the auto industry, Italy was bailing out its cheese industry — by spending €50 million on 100,000 wheels of parmesan cheese and donating them to charity? And that a bank in Italy holds half a million parmesan wheels, which it holds as collateral from borrowers? 

So, What If, Instead...: We’re going to find it hard to invent a conspiracy to explain this story, since our whole issue with it is it already sounds like a conspiracy. If we try, we’ll probably end up concluding that every other piece of food we eat also contains microchips, and the Parmigiano Reggiano ones only got so much attention because they got caught. 

Balls Hang Outside the Body to Keep Cool

The human body is a work of art. You’ve got the face, which has all sorts of bumps and moving parts that we’re hardwired to like, because of kindchenschema. You’ve got the muscles, which are big and strong, thanks to the mind-muscle connection. You’ve got a bunch of comfy squishy parts made of fat, especially if you eat a lot of cheese. But then, roughly half of people have this wrinkly bag hanging between their legs, containing a couple of organs that clearly aren’t supposed to be there. What’s with those?

Truck Nutz

The359/Wiki Commons

Those should be in the trunk, where they’d be safe.

Testicles hang outside the body because they create so much heat that they need somewhere cooler than the body’s interior to leave them at the optimal temperature for sperm production. So, keeping testicles in an external sack may not be very pleasant for anyone, but it’s necessary. We need sperm, or it’s game over for the human race. 

Okay. But...: Why couldn’t we have evolved sperm that works at a higher temperature? It’s not like there were some unbreakable Rules of Sperm already in place back when we were single-celled organisms trying to invent sexual reproduction. We animals were the ones who evolved sperm. Why couldn’t we have done a better job at it?

Or, if there’s really no wiggle room on the temperature (because of the Rules of Sperm), why couldn’t we have evolved some way of keeping testicles cool while also burying them out-of-sight, deep within the body? Consider everything else we managed to evolve. We evolved testicles themselves, evolved them from earlier gonads that were internal. We evolved ways to synthesize chemicals, kill pathogens, heal injuries and create original thoughts. We evolved kidneys, lungs, a spinal cord and a heart — all shielded from the outside world with many layers of tissue, sometimes including bone. 


Sabina Music Rich/Unsplash

Why no skulls for the testicles? Why no testiskulls? 

The evolutionary advantage of internal testicles would be huge. As far as evolution is concerned, if a male gets his testicles ripped off, that’s as bad as getting his heart diced. He can’t pass on his genes, and passing on genes is all natural selection cares about. 

Granted, animals who walk on all fours aren’t as vulnerable to ball-wrenching as upright humans, but they’re pretty vulnerable compared to our hypothetical alternative mammal whose testicles are as buried as ovaries. Think about all those poor wildebeest who surely received orchiectomies from packs of wild dogs. Evolution responded to this threat by making testicles very sensitive to pain, so animals know to protect them, but it could have done more. Elephants evolved internal testicles after having previously had external ones (which in turn had evolved from internal ones). Why couldn’t the rest of us? 


Nam Anh/Unsplash

Oh, to have an elephant’s genitals.

So, What If, Instead…: Clearly, testicles couldn’t have ended up the way they did through evolution alone. They are proof of intelligent design. No, not design by a benevolent god. They were created by Xolotl, the Aztec god of monstrosities, who designed balls as a cruel joke. 

Either that or they’re proof we live in a simulation. External testicles serve as an obvious weak point you can target when you attack enemies. They don’t make much sense, but gameplay trumps logic. 

Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for more stuff no one should see.

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