Pica: It’s OK, Eating Playdough is Non-Toxic

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If you ever have the urge to chew ice you may have an iron deficiency. If this is the case you’re lucky – other mineral deficiencies create far more bizarre urges.

 

Mineral deficiencies often create uncontrollable urges to eat dirt, wood, drywall, chalk, styrofoam, clay, and many other materials.

 

Pica is the adorable name for this condition.

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People who experience it cannot explain it. They know how ridiculous it is, but the biological urge is uncontrollable, like a reflex. Biologically this is an adaptive behavior. These flavorless and nutritionally empty objects contain loads of minerals.

 

We like to think that as humans we are in ultimate control of our actions, but how do you decide what to do for the day, what to eat, or what movies you like? We control our actions, but the desires that compel us to action, the motivations that lead to our actions and behaviors, like and dislikes, are completely unconscious.

 

One day I may have the urge to go golfing, and I may choose to give in, but where did that urge originate?

 

We may control thoughts once they’re in our head, but where do they pop up from to begin with? Our actions and behaviors are dependent on whether our brain tells us something will feel good or bad. We control the action itself, but not the underlying desire.

 

If I choose to buy a new shirt I may choose the action, but I have no control over what led my brain to desire that shirt in the first place.

 

Likewise, when these mineral deficient individuals reach for a lump of clay to chew on they voluntarily choose that action, but are compelled by an underlying desire that says “You will enjoy this, so do it! Do it now!”.

 

This is a relatively new field of study, but there is growing consensus that mineral deficiencies are a contributing factor to the development of many behavioral disorders like autism. Toxic substances like lead, cadmium, and mercury can displace mineral distribution and then cause pica, and eventually permanent behavioral disorders.

 

Infrasound: Lions, And Volcanoes, And Tsunamis Oh My!

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If you blast a person with infrasound (sound just below our hearing threshold) they will become fearful, anxious, uneasy, nervous, feel chills in their spine, pressure in the chest, and extreme sorrow.

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Sound waves in this range also resonate with our eyes natural vibrations creating undistinguishable and imaginary shapes in our peripheral vision. Most major scientific discoveries are complete accidents, and the story behind this discovery is no different.

In a lab, experimenters kept experiencing a gray shape sitting next to their desk in a specific area of the room. They also consistently felt feelings of dread, depression, anxiety, and feelings of someone watching them in that area.

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They eventually discovered that a “silent” exhaust fan was emitting sound waves of 18.9Hz (infrasound). The fan was fixed and the mysterious gray shape and strange emotional experiences ended.

Stunned by the implications, this clever scientist went to a well regarded haunted cellar in a local home. People who entered the cellar often reported feelings of fear, nausea, nervousness, chills, seeing apparitions, and feeling apparitions watching them. It was found that the cellar had a particular resonant structure that created infrasound waves at, you guessed it, 18.9Hz.

Why do humans feel these sensations when these “silent” sound waves hit our ears?

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Lions, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, large ocean waves, elephants, and other dangerous things produce sounds in the infrasound range. It is the hypothesized reason that many animals know ahead of time about tsunamis and earthquakes. In fact, if humans weren’t so caught up in our own thoughts (detached from our bodily intuition), we’d probably be able to sense these events too. The sensations created are an evolutionary adaptation that intuitively says “Don’t be here! Get somewhere else NOW!”.

 

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Woolly Mammoths Live Long and Prosper

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Woolly Mammoths still roamed the wilderness when the Pyramids of Giza were being built.

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In fact, the Giza Pyramids were over 1,000 years old before the last woolly mammoth on Earth died. For comparison, the Eiffel Tower will have to stand for another 874 years to achieve such a feat

 

A solitary population of Woolly Mammoths survived on Wrangel Island, off the coast of Siberia, until  ~650 B.C. The weather finally got a bit too balmy, and their species finally went the way of the Ice Age.

 

Mad props to that population of hard headed mammoths that held on for so long in the face of massive change.

 

Mirror, Mirror: Appearance Matters More Than Talent

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I’ll start by discussing people, self-appearance, and how it affects our lives.

A major study in 2013 revealed that when rating a musicians performance visual information reigns supreme over the music itself. When attending a concert presenting classical music humans rate the performance not by what they HEAR, but by what they SEE. This was found to be true for both novices and professional musicians. Even the experts unknowingly judge music by sight instead of sound. Incredible.

If we unknowingly rate musical performance through appearance, then it is a safe bet that appearance affects the way we evaluate EVERYTHING.

The mind is constantly on the lookout for identifying and assimilating patterns. Everyone unconsciously evaluates how I dress, my hair style, my vehicle, how I walk, if I mirror another’s body language, and an array of other non-verbal cues.

All this non-verbal information becomes the foundation of others perceptions of us. Our verbal communication and behaviors have impact, but only as a scaffolding built upon the foundation of appearance. This is because our words and actions are evaluated in the context of our non-verbal cues.

Put more bluntly, our non-verbal cues anchor peoples perceptions of us. Our words and actions allow those perceptions to shift, but only a certain distance from the anchor point.

This does not just concern initial impressions, but is a lasting effect that very slowly loosens over time. Once a perception is anchored all incoming information is judged relative to that anchor. Two people can behave identically, but be judged radically differently because judgments are always made relative to the anchor point.

If Mother Teresa volunteers at a soup kitchen she would be perceived as a caring individual due to her anchor point. If a person you don’t like does this the mind will quickly conclude it is for self-serving reasons.

This is why when making a radical life change it is useful to change jobs, locations, or friends. The people we regularly interact with have a set anchor of who we are, and the way they act reinforces that perception. People treat us according to how they see us, and the way we perceive ourselves is strongly affected by how others behave toward us.

I hold in my head the notion that any person, on any given day, can choose to change themselves. I am not the same person I was 5 years ago; no one is. This allows my to loosen my instinctual desire to evaluate someone today based on who I decided they were 1 year ago.

Even more profoundly, if you reinforce through language the idea that a specific person is noble and moral, they will begin seeing it in themselves and reflecting that. This psychological effect is called “priming”, and it is a significant driver of our daily actions and perceptions. If you continuously communicate to someone how that they’re not to be trusted they will in time begin reflecting that idea.

We frame other peoples realities every day, and most of the time we do it unconsciously by acting in a way that validates how we perceive them. Take control of your mind and your perceptions of others. Speak the good you see in them, and they’ll begin acting in accord with that evaluation.

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The Tape of Superman: Scotch Tape and X-Rays

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Scotch tape emits x-rays when peeled in a vacuum.

How many x-rays? Enough to take an x-ray of a finger!
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Even under standard atmospheric conditions (STP) peeling Scotch tape emits a flash of light visible to the naked eye in a dark room.

Scotch tape is the Clark Kent of tape; it seems weak and feeble compared to any other tape, but it has hidden x-ray vision super powers. For instance, duct tape, the meat-head of the tape world, does not have this property. What exactly is going on to make this unassuming tape emit powerful and damaging radiation?
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This phenomena was confirmed just 6 years ago in 2008, and there are no conclusive answers – mostly because 3M keeps a tight lip on it’s secret adhesive formula for Scotch tape.

Soviet scientists reported discovering it in 1953, but no one seems to have believed them. To put this in perspective, the U.S. spent $20 million on remote viewing and clairvoyance research when they discovered the Soviets were doing the same. But when the Soviets said that Scotch tape may emit x-rays? The U.S. said no, freaking, way; not possible; not even worth testing.

Scientists do have a loose understanding of what is occurring. The visible light emitted when you step into a dark room and peel the tape is strikingly similar to what happens during a lightning strike:

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As the layers are peeled apart a difference in electric charge forms between the two separating pieces. Hundreds of strings of adhesive stretch then snap apart – this locks in the charge differential. A massive charge difference builds and builds until the laws of physics say it has gone too far, a single line of air molecules form an electric circuit by ionizing to transfer the charge, and ZAP lightning flashes. The view for an ant on the roll of tape would be no different than you observing an intense lightning storm.
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The mechanism for the x-ray emission in a vacuum is identical, but much more powerful for a simple reason. The strength of the charge difference that builds before the release is proportional to how easily charge can travel through a medium (air, water, metal, space, etc). The moment a charge difference is strong enough to travel the gap it does so.

This is why lightning has its odd zig-zag form – out of the hundreds of trillions of paths the charge could travel it automatically and instantaneously finds the easiest, laziest route. Think you’re lazy? The universe is lazier.

The Oyster – Nature’s Ugly, Edible Water Filter

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An oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day, and a single acre of oysters filters 150 million gallons of water a day.

   

Put a single oyster in a fish tank of dirty water, and the water will become crystal clear before your eyes. Oysters act as a natural and free filter for pollutants, algae, dirt, and nitrogen in waterways.

 Closeup of up-ended oysters surrounded by sponges and anemones.

People of this generation complain that the Chesapeake Bay is murky and dirty, but in the past the Chesapeake was known for its pristine, clear water. It should come as no surprise – the Chesapeake Bay has less than 1% of its original oyster population due to overharvesting.

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It isn’t all bleak though. The problem is well known, and significant restoration efforts will soon come a long way to restoring the crystal clear beauty that the Chesapeake once symbolized.

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Oysters use those murky bits they filter out to build their tissue. Mmmmm tasty!

 

Red Lobster Revolution

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In the 1800s lobster was considered so disgusting that it was served only to servants and prisoners.

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Lobster was considered such a revolting dish that it led to a servant rebellion – the servants felt they were force fed this wretched concoction too often.

 

This rebellion caused Massachusetts to pass a law stating that lobster could be fed to servants and prisoners no more than twice a week – to eat lobster more often was legally defined as cruel and unusual punishment!

 A Great Article On This Subject

People once found this food revolting because their culture and society told them it was. Today we find it to be an expensive delicacy, mostly because our culture and society tell us it is.

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History is littered with examples of fads that are considered high brow in one place or time, and laughable in the next.

 

The amazing thing is that these influences are so strong it can make a “delicacy” like lobster taste utterly revolting. When you eat lobster the same flavor molecules that led to rebellion hit your tongue’s palette.

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On an absolute level the flavor is precisely the same, but our mental evaluation is starkly different depending on how our culture told us to experience it. If this is true with something as easy to evaluate as “does this taste good?” then it is true of nearly EVERYTHING in your life.

 

Now that’s some food for thought.