Cats Turning Us Into Pod People
#1
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This would explain a lot. Yes. From ABC News:  
 
 
Cat Parasite Affects Everything We Do
Research shows that cat parasite impacts our behavior and mood

 
 
 
Aug. 9, 2006 — Kevin Lafferty is a smart, cautious, thoughtful scientist who doesn't hate cats, but he has put forth a provocative theory that suggests that a clever cat parasite may alter human cultures on a massive scale.
 
His phone hasn't stopped ringing since he published one of the strangest research papers to come out of the mill in quite awhile.
 
The parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, has been transmitted indirectly from cats to roughly half the people on the planet, and it has been shown to affect human personalities in different ways.
 
Research has shown that women who are infected with the parasite tend to be more warm, outgoing and attentive to others, while infected men tend to be less intelligent and probably a bit boring. 
  
Quote:So many jokes, so little time...

But both men and women who are infected are more prone to feeling guilty and insecure.
  
Other researchers have linked the parasite to schizophrenia. In an adult, the symptoms are like a mild form of flu, but it can be much more serious in an infant or fetus. Oxford University researchers believe high levels of the parasite leads to hyperactivity and lower IQ in children.
 
Lafferty, who is a parasite ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is an expert on the role parasites play in the ecology of other animals.
 
Building on research by scientists in the Czech Republic, Lafferty took a long look at areas of the globe where infection levels are quite high, or quite low. In Brazil, for example, two out of three women of child-bearing age are infected, whereas in the United States the number is only one out of eight.
 
Lafferty argues in a research paper published Aug. 2 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biology, that aggregate personality types, or what cultures tend to be like, fit neatly with the effects that the parasite causes on an individual level.
 
So that led to a basic question:
 
Can a common cat parasite account for part — even if only a very small part — of the cultural differences seen around the world?
 
From Lafferty's perspective, that's quite likely, although he admits his theory is a bit off the wall.
 
"It's kind of way out in left field," he says. "I think it's the strangest thing I've ever worked on."
 
Bizarre, perhaps, but less so considering the wily parasite that lays the foundation for Lafferty's theory.   Toxoplasma, he notes, is "frighteningly amazing."   It can change the personality of a rat so much that the rat surrenders itself to a cat, just as the parasite wanted.  
Quote:Clever, clever pusses! This is probably how they've arranged things whereby they can be totally arrogant ingrates and still get us to feed them and clean their boxes. And pet them in exchange for the honor.
  The parasite's eggs are shed in a cat's feces. A rat comes along, eats the feces, and becomes infected. The behavior of the rat undergoes a dramatic change, making the rat more adventuresome, and more likely to hang out around cats.   The cat eats the rat, and the parasite completes its life cycle.   That manipulation of the local ecology is not unusual for a parasite, Lafferty says.   "This is something that many parasites do," he says. "Many manipulate hosts' behavior."   So it wasn't much of a jump to the next question.   "We have a parasite in our brain that is trying to get transmitted to a cat," he says. "This changes an individual's personality."   So if enough personalities are changed in a given society, will the culture of that society also be changed?   He's not suggesting that it's a big player in cultural evolution. Lots of other things are more powerful, ranging from geography to weather to the availability of natural resources.   But if enough of us are infected, and undergo personality changes, will that also alter our combined personalities, or our culture?   Lafferty admits anthropologists are not likely to embrace his theory. A single powerful leader can have a dramatic impact on a culture. We can all think of examples. But can the collective personality have a similar effect?   "Anthropologists are not in agreement that you can drive a culture from the bottom up," Lafferty says.   But he sees that happening throughout the parasitic world, involving many types of animals, so why is it inconceivable that it could also be happening among humans?
 
It will be a long time before we have the answer to that, if we ever do, but in the meantime here's a bit of good news.   Cat lovers need not get rid of their cats. The chances are not great that a modern cat, kept on a diet of safe cat food and not left to feed off rats, will transmit the parasite to humans. It's possible, but not likely, Lafferty says.   He ought to know. As a kid he had cats, so after he got into this line of research he assumed he had been infected with the parasite.   "So after I submitted the paper I put down my 30 bucks and got a blood test," he says. "It came out negative. I was so surprised."   And that leads him to this final comment:   "This isn't about trying to freak cat owners out," he says. "Simply having a cat as a pet doesn't mean you're going to get infected, for sure."   Of course, maybe some other parasite is making him say that.  
Quote: Hahahaha!
But what I don't get is how this zombie parasite is allegedly transferred to humans. Rats eat cat poop and therefore, it is said, want to play with cats. Big whoop. Is the moral of this story "don't snack at the cat box"? As if we needed scientists to tell us that!
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#2
VoxClamantis Wrote:<META content="MSHTML 6.00.2800.1555" name=GENERATOR>
 Big whoop. Is the moral of this story "don't snack at the cat box"? As if we needed scientists to tell us that!

whats wrong with that?
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#3
Marty Wrote:whats wrong with that?
  
Marty, everybody knows that that particular snack clashes with beer, so why bother?
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#4
what the....
 
I fail to see how it is possible for a parasite to make me like cats more or less. It might conceivably be possible in a rat, but I would think the brain is quite a bit more complex in a human than in a rat, and the whole concept seems particularly far-fetched. (It is not, however, far fetched to think of a cat being compelled by some parasite to be excessively friendly to humans, I couldn't get rid of Taffy this morning, she was becoming quite the annoyance!) Furthermore, I fail to see how I would have the parasite, (or anyone else for that matter,) because unlike rats, I and most sentient humans do not make a habit of ingesting whatever happens to be in the cat box.
 
I thought this article was a joke, at first.
 
 
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