Science Facts That Will Ruin Your Day


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The science of human nature makes for some uncomfortable reading.

sad robot
Youtube/Raúl Martínez

Science has the ability to open our eyes to the wonders of the universe and the beauty of nature, but there’s a downside.

You can’t have light without shadow, and for every wonderful insight into the workings of the the world, we also get a large, healthy dose of reality. Spoiler: reality is always terrible.

Whether this is a moment of clarity on the state of the planet, or an uncomfortable glimpse into the human psyche, science doesn’t worry about whether we’re going to get upset by the results – it just sciences.

So, if you’re feeling morose, let’s take a look at a couple of uncomfortable truths.

9. Most People Can’t Go 10 Minutes Without Lying

Walt Disney Pictures

No offence, but you’re a liar.

Frankly, if you weren’t, then there’s a high chance that you have some kind of social disorder, because everybody lies. Just how much, though, might surprise you.

A study at the University of Massachusetts found that at least 60% of people told an average of two to three lies in a 10 minute conversation.

86% of people regularly lie to their parents, 75% to friends and 69% to spouses. 40% of people lie on their CV and an incredible 90% of people have told a lie on their online dating profile. Most shockingly of all, 30% of people lie about having seen The Godfather.

You’ve probably lied about something today, whether it’s a classic book that you claim to have read, or the reason you were 10 minutes late to work, we all lie all the time.

If you say otherwise, you’re a liar.

8. Having Kids Is One Of The Most Depressing Things Possible

outnumbered bbc

A “little bundle of joy”, that’s what they call those things, right?

Well, despite their reputation, having offspring has pretty disastrous effects on the happiness of both parents, in line with other joyous life events such as divorce, unemployment and the death of a partner.

A study published in 2015 followed over 2,000 childless German couples, regularly surveying them for their levels of life satisfaction. The experiment began more than two years before the birth of the first child.

70% of the couples surveyed reported a decline in their overall happiness levels following the birth of their first child. On average, new parents experienced a 1.4 unit “happiness drop”, compared to the 0.6 drop after losing a job and 1 unit drop experienced after the death of a partner.

Luckily for the human race, you’ve been honed by millions of evolution to continue to reproduce anyway, even if it does ruin your life.

Happy breeding.

7. The Earth Has Lost 50% Of Its Wildlife In The Last 40 Years

animals Myanmar endadngered

Since the 1970s, 50% of the world’s animal species, both on land and sea, have gone extinct.

In order for an extinction to count as a “mass extinction”, this figure has to reach 75% … which is predicted to occur in the next 200 years or so, putting humans on the same level of destruction as the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.

The difference is that it took the dinosaurs 33,000 years to die out after the impact, so we’ll have done it 165 times faster than a giant space rock.

This ongoing extinction event is known as the Holocene extinction, but some scientists refer to it as the Anthropocene due to the massive influence of human activity.

It is estimated that we’ll lose at least 200 species in 2016 alone.

6. We€™ll Probably Never Explore The Galaxy

Andromeda Collides with the Milky Way

When we imagine the future, we usually picture humans zooming around the galaxy, colonising far-distant worlds and generally living it up as a space-faring species.

However, given the sheer scale and size of of space there’s actually a pretty real chance that we’ll just never get out of this poxy solar system of ours. The nearest star to us, proxima centauri, is a mere four light years away. Sounds doable until you realise that, even in the fastest craft humankind has ever produced, it would still take 19,000 years to reach.

There are options such as generation ships, or even embryo ships, but even then we have to take into consideration something called “wait calculation”. This basically means that, due to the vast timescales involved, if humans sent off a ship of frozen embryos towards proxima centauri now, we’d probably invent something that could overtake it in the intervening years, wasting precious time and resources.

Expert calculate that the very soonest we might be able to leave our solar system is 1,104 years, and there are some who think that it is improbable that we will ever leave the solar system.

5. Your Brain Begins To Deteriorate At About 27

Brain switch

You know how 20-somethings have that annoying habit of exclaiming that they’re “so old” whenever a reference to the 90s comes up? Well they’re not far wrong.

A study from a group of researchers at the University of Virginia has found that people begin to experience cognitive decline around the age of 27.

According to their studies, peak cognitive ability occurs at around 22, and by the age of 27, powers of abstract reasoning, brain speed and puzzle-solving begin to decline. They also found that memory begins to go as early as 37, so it’s probably best to get all of your hard thinking out of the way before you hit 40.

On a positive note, vocabulary and general knowledge continue to improve until your 60s, you just won’t be able to remember any of it.

4. You Can’€™t Change Someone€™s Mind

Stubborn mule
Public Domain

It would be nice to think that, in a disagreement with somebody, you could just appeal to their logical side. Humans have supreme reasoning skills after all, right?

Alas, no. Humans are just frightened apes in shoes and asking someone to change their mind, particularly about something they are passionate about, is basically akin to asking them to change their teeth.

Unfortunately, it turns out that most people will stick to their guns, even when presented with evidence to the contrary and, what’s more, will only become more stubborn the more they are challenged.

In one particularly depressing test, American voters who disapproved of Obama’s economic policy were shown a graph that demonstrated a steady increase in employment – to the tune of around a million jobs – during his term in office.

When asked whether employment had gone up, down or remained the same, many people looked right at the graph and said down.

You may as well just give up now.

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