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February 13th, 2006


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04:14 am - parasites + mind control = crazy delicious
i was indirectly turned on to this subject by sarah. i remember reading a speculative article about this awhile ago, but i lost the link and forgot about it, as i tend to do. but anyway!

so scientists are starting to think that maybe parasites are way more important to the ecosystem/evolution/life in general than we had thought. not your normal everyday parasites, like ticks, that just chill out and suck blood and cause gross diseases. we're talking about evil MINDCONTROL parasites here. there is plenty of info about parasites taking over other creatures - for example: some wasps make cockroach zombies which they steer into their burrows, where the roach will then docilely wait while the wasp larva eat it alive; this article talks about a barnacle slug thing that neuters crabs and pseudo-impregnates them (both male and female - it physically alters the males to be better hosts) with its babies which the crabs then take care of until birth, and a fluke that makes fish kill themselves and controls a marsh's ecosystem; worms that make grasshoppers jump into water and drown; a fungus that makes bugs go to the tops of trees and patiently sit until they explode; etc. not to mention the more blatant examples, like rabies making animals freak out and start biting everything. '28 days later' was essentially extreme rabies.
now, the question becomes: with all this craziness going on, are any parasites affecting human behavior? perhaps more importantly, would we know? caveat to the 1st question is that it has to be a beneficial change for the parasite. rabies gives people, among other things, delusions, anxiety, insomnia, and hydrophobia, but none of that is of any use to the rabies. i suppose, biologically speaking, this may not be an important distinction, but i am looking for puppet masters here. so anyway, the first question seems to be a fuzzy yes - it could be argued that a cold makes you sneeze to help it spread to other people, and there is some water-borne thing i forget the name of that infects people, who after incubation get sores which burn terribly, and when they put the sores in water to sooth the burning the sores burst open and the babies come out. (yes this isn't control per se, but it's close, and yes the parasites aren't consciously deciding to do any of this, but shutup it's cool).

BUT. what have we here?? are some people being secretly controlled by parasites living in cat poop? not just some people, THREE BILLION PEOPLE. that's almost half the fucking species. and according to doctor nameiforgot, "those infected... show a small, but statistically significant, tendency to be more self-reproaching and insecure. Paradoxically, infected women, on average, tend to be more outgoing and warmhearted than controls, while infected men tend to be more jealous and suspicious." so uhhhhh yeah this is an even less interesting effect than rabies, and about as useful for the parasite. maybe it encourages people to get more cats? you know, being too insecure to be with other people so they get pets instead. and the men's jealousy further decreases okay this is all bullshit. but, the reason this is interesting to me (and watch as i contradict myself here) is that not only are they possibly changing our behavior, but nobody has noticed. who knows what else we are unnaturally being forced into doing. maybe icecream is disgusting and we are tricked into liking it by evil cowbugs! or maybe depression is caused by parasites. or happiness is. but you get my point, there is no way to tell what's 'real' behavior and what isn't. or is there no difference? if the people doing it can't tell and the people they interact with can't tell, well what of it? after all, we're already full of parasites (no, there's another term for creatures that aren't harmful, but i forget it) that do wonderful things for us (oh, i remember, symbiotes! they are symbiotes). for example, our guts are full of various bacteria that help us digest all the weird shit we eat. i read once that if you count up all the various teensy organisms that live on/in us and do various things we're not consciously aware of but depend on, less than half of the functional DNA that controls our bodies is actually human. i'm not sure how accurate that is, but it's something to ponder. if we are more bug than human, if parasites are influencing us in who knows what ways, are we colonies more than people? forests more than trees?
if that's not enough, there are also some links being investigated between these catpoop parasites and schizophrenia. on that front i don't know what to say.

ah ha! here's a cite for that forests more than trees bit. "There are some estimates that say 90 percent of the cells on our body are actually bacteria."

sidenote: lactose intolerance is not a disease or condition, historically speaking. lactose tolerance is the mutation: most mammals lose the ability to digest lactose upon reaching maturity.
np: alice in chains - unplugged - sludge factory

(19 shots upside the head | en garde!)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:ratkrycek
Date:February 13th, 2006 12:48 pm (UTC)
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Hey, thanks for the link and discussion; I'd been curious about this very thing since coming across it in Breaking the Spell - whether these parasites could affect humans - and there is that Toxoplasmosis warning they give to pregnant women - and I just find it intriguing and fascinating to think about.

I knew there was something I liked about you. :)
[User Picture]
From:kingnixon
Date:February 14th, 2006 05:13 am (UTC)
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breaking the spell?
From:(Anonymous)
Date:February 13th, 2006 12:51 pm (UTC)

parasites

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Hi Daniel,

Very interesting. If you recall, I told you I had a fish tapeworm, which I got from sushi. For all you sushi lovers out there, happy eating! It grew to between 15 and 20 feet and happily lived in my large intestine until it was discovered. No shit and no pun intended. Speaking of mind control, maybe that's why you and your brother and I turned out so weird. EEEOOOOWWWW!!!

Love, Mom
[User Picture]
From:kingnixon
Date:February 14th, 2006 05:22 am (UTC)

Re: parasites

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the evolution of the widrews comes down to some bad fish
[User Picture]
From:ardentdelirium
Date:February 13th, 2006 01:08 pm (UTC)
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toxicplasmosis blinded my grandmother but it did not make her or her mother do anything else.
[User Picture]
From:kingnixon
Date:February 14th, 2006 05:21 am (UTC)
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... it blinded her? i didn't know that could happen. eep
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From:xpuella8x
Date:February 17th, 2006 04:38 pm (UTC)
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my roommate is actually having surgery on an abnormally large lymph node next week. the doctor doesn't know what it is, but said that they should take it out and test it for cancer and such to be sure she's ok. my roommate's aunt is a nurse and said she might actually have "cat scratch" (there's some technical term, but i don't know it). it happens when a kitten scratches you and they haven't had their shots and what not they can give you diseases, which makes sense because they've been in the wild and what not. and all of our cats have been stray kittens! so that is my story and it makes me want to go to the doctor, but i'm scared!
[User Picture]
From:kingnixon
Date:February 17th, 2006 07:58 pm (UTC)
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the technical term appears to be "fever" or "disease" :p
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_scratch_fever
it says while complications can happen, if you have a weak immune system, usually the disease goes away after a month or so. after all, if you both have any symptons then it's probably that and not cancer. and if you're scared, casey can go with you and hold your hand
[User Picture]
From:xpuella8x
Date:February 17th, 2006 04:39 pm (UTC)
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in other news (which happens to be my favorite phrase as of late), have you seen the movie sawII and if so, what did you think of it?

also, i need a life change, maybe i should move to seattle and we can be roomates again. or at least i can visit you this summer or something.
[User Picture]
From:kingnixon
Date:February 17th, 2006 08:07 pm (UTC)
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i prefer 'speaking of which' to 'in other news' (especially when the subjects are actually totally unrelated and it's not really speaking of which at all). i never saw saw II (saw saw, har har har). i thought the first saw was really crappy, like se7en minus everything good. on the other hand, apparently saw II was a totally unrelated script that they adapted to be a sequel after the first saw did so well. personally i am waiting for grind house (two 1 hour horror stories, one by tarantino and one by rodriguez)

either of those options would make me fantastically happy. you can visit and see if you like the area. i will buy you an icecream cone. we have really good icecream places in bellingham.

oh i forgot to say, but when i looked up cat scratch fever, i discovered that ted nugent had a kid with some lady in dover nh.
[User Picture]
From:mathfu
Date:February 13th, 2006 06:46 pm (UTC)
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You post about the craziest strangeoid things. I will feel so betrayed if evil cowbugs have been leading me on about ice cream all this time.
[User Picture]
From:kingnixon
Date:February 14th, 2006 05:25 am (UTC)
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parasites on a plane.
[User Picture]
From:xstarburnx
Date:February 14th, 2006 03:07 am (UTC)
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my mom was just telling me about mind control parasites! she works at an animal hospital and is legitimately afraid :) hahah
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From:kingnixon
Date:February 14th, 2006 05:25 am (UTC)
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oh man, she must see all sorts of weird things there i'll bet
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From:melley
Date:February 15th, 2006 12:26 am (UTC)
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this is a lot freakier after i found that thing in the sink.
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From:kingnixon
Date:February 17th, 2006 12:05 pm (UTC)
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get an exorcism.
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From:coconutcaat
Date:September 4th, 2006 09:03 pm (UTC)
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"maybe it encourages people to get more cats?"

No. If you actually read some of Carl Zimmer's work, instead of turning valid research into tabloid trash, you'd know that Toxoplasma's goal is to make the host get themselves eaten by a cat. It doesn't encourage the purchase of cats, but for one to put their self in physical danger around a cat that atually could take them out.

I'd jump down your throat about the other parasites and concepts you're demeaning, but frankly, I have better things to do.
[User Picture]
From:kingnixon
Date:September 4th, 2006 09:30 pm (UTC)
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gee, making fun of an idea i myself called bullshit a second later, you sure showed me! and to address your point, it makes rats get eaten by cats; it makes people neurotic.
as for this wonderful research i have callously demeaned, so far you have said 2 facts about toxoplasma, both of which contradict the article i read. if you want to be an elitist douche so badly, go yell at them.
and oh wait, what's this, an article BY the esteemed carl zimmer, where he says basically the same thing i just fuckin said.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:June 14th, 2008 06:57 pm (UTC)

rabies....you had it, but missed it.

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the psychotic aggression of the rabies infected host does serve a VERY important role for the parasite.---reproduction!

when the deranged and enraged rabid creature runs around biting everything in its path its spreadeing the disease...pretty important for the rabies.

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