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Parasites Makes Us Dumber or Sexier

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the that-explains-hollywood-zing dept.

Biotech 240

odie_q writes "It has long been known that the Toxoplasma gondii parasite alters its host's behavior, but now it seems the way it alters it depends on the sex of the host. From the article: 'A common parasite can increase a women's attractiveness to the opposite sex but also make men more stupid, an Australian researcher says ... Infected men have lower IQs, achieve a lower level of education and have shorter attention spans. They are also more likely to break rules and take risks, be more independent, more anti-social, suspicious, jealous and morose, and are deemed less attractive to women. On the other hand, infected women tend to be more outgoing, friendly, more promiscuous, and are considered more attractive to men compared with non-infected controls.'"

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So long, Saddam you worthless shit (-1, Offtopic)

The_Fire_Horse (552422) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407358)

Let this be a lesson to the other religeous dictators which think that oppression can work.
The free thinking countries of the world (ie those not bound by that stupid koran rubbish) will deal with you - one way or another.

- We will gather evidence of your tyranny and war crimes
- We will invade and hunt you down like a dog
- We will trial you in your own country
- We will kill you
- Your countrymen will cheer when you are gone

(personally, I think it would have been better to assassinate him - but whatever)
Anyway - Ta, ta saddam - say high to mohamed for me. What's that? He isn't there - gosh, what a suprise!

Re:So long, Saddam you worthless shit (5, Funny)

Scoria (264473) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407380)

Clearly, this is a textbook case of toxoplasmosis. You should keep your hands out of the litter box.

Re:So long, Saddam you worthless shit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17407386)

Anyway - Ta, ta saddam - say high to mohamed for me. What's that? He isn't there - gosh, what a suprise!

Hey islamofreak, at least get it straight, Saddam was a secularist. Just like Karl Rove, he knew exactly how to manipulate people through their own faith, but he wasn't a religious man himself.

Re:So long, Saddam you worthless shit (0, Offtopic)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407432)

Don't worry, they only hanged one of the dozen surgically-altered clones. He'll show up in Gaza or the like 5 years from now to stir things up.

Re:So long, Saddam you worthless shit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17407718)

Hehe, or how's this for a conspiracy theory: The video only shows two guys putting a rope around his neck, it stops just before he is actually hanged. And we are told he "insisted" on being unmasked. Sounds like a photo op to me :)

Careful there (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17407400)

Most of your ranting could easily apply to GWB. As it is, once GWB, Cheney, and rumsfeld are out of office, I suspect that all 3 will be persona non-gratius in most countries throughout the world. In fact, I would guess that it will be only dictatorships that will welcome them.

Re:So long, Saddam you worthless shit (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17407586)

Substitute Bush for Saddam, Bible for Koran, and Jesus for Mohammed and your post just might make sense.

Re:So long, Saddam you worthless shit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17407604)

Slashdot is in real need of blow-the-user-out-of-existence

Not only your post is offtopic, it is a islamophobic (is that a word?) troll too.

PS:checked your history, yup, it is islamophobia (or you are plain asshole).

Re:So long, Saddam you worthless shit (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17408294)

Let this be a lesson to the other religeous dictators

- We will gather evidence of your tyranny and war crimes
- We will invade and hunt you down like a dog
- We will trial you in your own country
- We will kill you
- Your countrymen will cheer when you are gone


So, uhh, when are we going after Bush?

Finally! (4, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407384)

A scientific explaination of Jocks and blondes.

Pish Tosh (3, Funny)

Senjutsu (614542) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407406)

The whole thing sounds like a load of cat crap to me.

Ah HA! (5, Funny)

Terminal Saint (668751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407388)

So THAT's what happened to me. Suddenly everything makes sense, and it's all Smokey's fault.

Mod Parent +5 Funny (1, Informative)

mikeisme77 (938209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407468)

For those who didn't RTFA, one of the ways of catching this disease is by accidentally digesting cat feces (if the cat is effected with the bacteria). Smokey is a fairly common name for a grey cat here in the States.

Re:Mod Parent +5 Funny (0, Flamebait)

joto (134244) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408016)

Thank you Captain Obvious. I have one further question: Does the grandparent poster thus indicate that he may have been affected by the parasite, and that this infection could somehow have come as a result of his gray cat? Please explain if my reasoning is right...

Duh (1, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407396)

Me hate stupid article. Me go fly off tall building now.

Re: it belongs to frylock (4, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407462)

Hey oog, make sure to give back the OoGhiJ MIQtxxXA super computer before hurling yourself off the tall building.

Re:Duh (1)

EinZweiDrei (955497) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408204)

Me am Superman!

Lo-is!

thought this was interesting (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407404)

combined with the extremely high incidence of human infection in both developing and developed countries

fits with old "hot blooded" stereo types.

Re:thought this was interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17407728)

Thanks for the thinly veiled racism.

Parasite? (3, Funny)

Stephan Seidt (803125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407414)

They are also more likely to break rules and take risks, be more independent, more anti-social, suspicious, jealous and morose, and are deemed less attractive to women.

Hum, if you add "addicted to an internet news site" it would perfectly match the Slashdot syndrome.

Re:Parasite? (4, Funny)

arun_s (877518) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407438)

A common parasite can increase a women's attractiveness to the opposite sex but also make men more stupid
So that's what they're calling alcohol these days, is it?

Free parasite with every bottle. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407542)

I knew there was a reason that my friends told me not to eat the tequila worm ... if only I had known.

Makes women more attractive and men more stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17407416)

I thought those were linked, but I didn't realize you needed a parasite in both people! Whenever I see a hot gal I suddenly become more stupid and whenever I get drunk (and become stupid) all of the women suddenly become hot. Who needs a parasite for this?

Nah, would it? (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407422)

Do you think HR will buy my parasite excuse for what I did to that girl? I know where to get a phony doctor note [alibinetwork.com] .

What are the odds... (3, Insightful)

css-hack (1038154) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407424)

What are the odds that guys with low IQs, short attention spans, and an affinity for risks are just more likely to eat undercooked meat, and that the more outgoing promiscuous women catch it because of them.

Re:What are the odds... (1)

HappyEngineer (888000) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407442)

The article states that mice alter their behavior when exposed to the parasite. They then alter their behavior back when treated with drugs that kill the parasite.

Re:What are the odds... (2, Insightful)

Nirvelli (851945) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407678)

I don't think it's just undercooked meat those people are eating:

"A Toxoplasma infection occurs by:

* Accidentally swallowing cat feces..."

Re:What are the odds... (2, Interesting)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407714)

Unfortunately it's true. What happens is, cats can carry the parasite on their fur from contact with feces, then brush up or rub against something you touch. Example, cat wipes its parasites off on your couch. You sit down unaware it did that. Your hand touches the couch, picks up some very small toxoplasmosis eggs; you sit there watching TV, eating popcorn, not having washed your hands. You've been pwned by the parasite. Worse, very worse, is that small children can get it by touching the cute kitty then sticking their fingers in their mouth. Cats are a big vector for this.

I believe that antiparasitic drugs can't cross the blood-brain barrier and kill the parasites in your brain, only in other parts of the body. So you can get this creepy parasite and be stuck for life with it breeding inside your brain. This is why I just don't put up with cats in the household. The risk is too high, the reward too small.

And finally, if I wanted a brain parasite sucking out my intelligence, I'd learn .NET programming.

That doesn't bode well for me... (2, Funny)

ravenlock (693538) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408010)

I've got two cats at home and I do .NET programming at work!

What's wrong with .NET? NT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17408372)

NT

Re:What are the odds... (1)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408480)

The Wikipedia article on toxoplasmosis puts this pretty well:

Although the pathogen has been detected on the fur of cats, it has not been found in an infectious form, and direct infection from handling cats is generally believed to be very rare.


So, you're not likely to get the parasite from touching everyday objects.

Re:What are the odds... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408258)

and that the more outgoing promiscuous women catch it because of them.

      Because you can't get toxo from another human? Unless of course, that human is your mother and you're in her womb.

Goa'uld tag... (4, Funny)

sadler121 (735320) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407426)

Wheres the damn Goa'uld tag when you need it?

Re:Goa'uld tag... (4, Informative)

MWoody (222806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407612)

Re:Goa'uld tag... (1)

tehSpork (1000190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408146)

They don't usually live on their own, they take control of 'host' tags and use them to further their goals.

Start searching for the names of ancient gods, such as CowboyNeal. There will you find these Goa'uld you seek. :)

Getting a cat was the worst decision of my life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17407434)

...apparently.

My (ex)girlfriend becomes infinitely more promiscuous and more attractive.

While I degenerate into a morose, unattractive piece of shit.

Fucking cats and their fucking toxoplasma.

George W. Bush (3, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407440)

Seriously. He used to be quite articulate. I just saw a youtube snippet of him talking fast, articulate, and using big words in the mid 90's. It was like a different man. Something changed him into a stubburn bumbler. Some speculate drug abuse, but everyone around him says he swore off substance abuse decades ago.

Re:George W. Bush (1)

jovius (974690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407506)

That's the outcome of politics.

Re:George W. Bush (1)

name*censored* (884880) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407554)

That's the outcome of politics
So that's what they're calling alcohol these days, is it
Aplogies to arun_s (read about 10 posts up) :)

Re:George W. Bush (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17407544)

Supposedly he's still like that in a personal setting. My bet is some sort of social anxiety disorder.

Re:George W. Bush (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17407564)

He is consciously trying to talk and behave like the people who vote for him. He was just kidding when he called a room full of rich old guys his "base." There aren't enough of them to elect a President, even when they try really hard (cf. George Soros).

It's nothing but an act.

Re:George W. Bush (0, Flamebait)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407664)

I doubt Bush _is_ stupid or inarticulate. He does it on purpose. How many times have you heard people say he's a good man doing a hard job, or say he at least knows to surround himself with intelligent people, or discuss his mispronunciation of "nuclear" instead of the fact that America is the first nation on Earth to allow a first nuclear strike? It's extraordinarily unlikely that someone could pull the crap he pulled, AND STILL GET REELECTED, without careful planning. Stupidity appeals to Americans, and Bush used it very successfully. He accomplished most of his and the Republicans' goals, stayed in office for two terms, and did it in such a way that Republican leaders could distance themselves from him in time for the '06 and '08 elections, keeping 50% of Congress. Amazing.

Re:George W. Bush (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407768)

A better explanation, of course, is that he's a sock puppet. That fits the rest even better, without resorting to Bush doing a brilliant portrayal of stupid.

Re:George W. Bush (completely offtopic) (2, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407878)

"Never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence".

I so hoped that George W. Bush would win the 2004 elections to make sure he is still president when the failure of his presidency becomes more clear. So no one can blame the ongoing breakdown in Iraq and the reappearing Taliban in Afghanistan to a liberal and weak Democrat administration which messes anything up the Bush Administration has started.

I was starting to wonder if the strategies of the Bush administration might just be based on complete incompetence and ignorance after them closing in on Iraq in connection to 9/11. I had a teacher who was in Iraq on a development project in the 1970ies with still some connections there, and according to her Iraq had a mainly agnostic government based on arabic-nationalist and socialist ideas (e.g. arabic nationalsocialism). Tariq Aziz, the former second man in Iraq, is a maronite christian, not a muslim after all. So all alleged connections to a fundamentalist muslim group were doubtfull at best. Saddam Hussein was trying to play the muslim card after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union, because Socialism was no longer fashionable, but with the Gulf War in 1992 the Muslim Card also failed because all neighboring states (both baathist/fascist like Syria and fundamentally islamic as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Sheikdoms) were telling him off.

In the end Saddam Hussein seemed to me just a dictator which tried to cling on power with all means, and I guess he was completely unideologic except for the ideology that he was not to be toppled.

A big hint to the complete misinterpretation of the situation in Iraq was to me that the development of the war was so different from the predictions. The South, which was considered pro-intervention and expected to greet the U.S. troups with flowers and celebration, was fighting hard, and the Sunni Triangle, which was suspected to be strongly defended and determined for a last stand, was taken within the matter of days. When the toppling of Saddam's statue in Bagdad was mainly watched with lethargy by the people (compare the video footage with that of the Berlin Wall in 1989!) and only a U.S. tank managed to pull it down finally I knew: The invasion was utterly botched, and the Iraqi population was at best waiting how it would work out in the end. The plundering and looting in the following weeks might have finally tilted the balance against the U.S., and at this very moment I was sure that the cause of "bringing democracy to the Arab world" was lost.

It just took two hundred thousands dead Iraqis, the Abu Guraib scandal, the Guantanamo disaster and another three years of ongoing insurgence in Iraq to let the U.S. electorate figure out the same thing. And the Bush administration seems only to have changed course to avoid a complete election catastrophe in November 2006. So this movement seems not to be not based in a thinking process within the administation, but just a tactic maneuver to stay in power.

Re:George W. Bush (2, Insightful)

Marcos Eliziario (969923) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408014)

As I've said here before, the similarities between Brazil's president Lula and George Bush are astoundingly big.
Both of them find out that there's a huge proportion of their electorates that are people who don't like to read, and are resentful of intelectuals. Both of them realized that this people constitute the majority of the people of their countries. And both of them discovered that the best way to capitalize those votes was to *act* just like that people. So, whenever they are in public or TV they *intentionally* mispell words, use stupid arguments like bad-taste analogies and from time to time make some comment about how intelectuals and scientists are not really that smart. The masses exultate with that, thinking that finally they have "someone just like ourselves" in the office.
Curiously enough, both of them have a sinister, and very inteligent figure behind them. For Bush, it's Dick Cheney, for Lula, it's José Dirceu. Those figures serve the purpose of being the resident "evil" brains to take the blame when things go wrong. After all, they are portraited as over-intelligent figures, and for the dumb masses, this is always something kind of sinister.
Lula become president of Brasil being the leader of the workers party. Most of the college professors and intelectuals where once members of that party, so if Lula always managed to keep his leadership it's not reasonable to think he is not very, very intelligent.
The same can be said about George Bush. It's plain fuck stupid to think that someone dumb would get this far, and it's plain fuck stupid to believe that someone that came from Yale can't spell nuclear.
They are acting, and their acting have being very succesful so far. Everytime someone calls them dumb, they win. Because this makes their target electorate even more affectionaly bound to them, and it helps to spread the lie that they can't be really responsible for their wrongs. Everytime a comedian makes a sophisticated joke about Bush's or Lula's supposed dumbness, he/she is only contributing to the myth of "someone just like us in charge". think about it.

Umm.. (1)

adityamalik (997063) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407444)

Can I have 5 of those, please? or maybe 10...

Interesting effects, interesting causes (4, Interesting)

Knutsi (959723) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407456)

I found this piece of news very interesting. Is it known how the parasite affects our behavior? If it secretes a chemical that has the effect, I'd say this could be used for treatment in a variety of medical conditions. If it "attacks" specific areas of the brain, it may reveal interesting things about it.

Things such as this hints to how our minds work, which is possibly one of the most fascinating things in the universe (:

Beer == Parasite ??? (5, Funny)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407464)

'A common parasite can increase a women's attractiveness to the opposite sex but also make men more stupid,...
I get the same parasite whenever I go to the pub.

Bicamerial mind breakdown (3, Interesting)

zoftie (195518) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407472)

Maybe it is the next phase, of mind evolution? Snowcrash popularized tower of babel, where humans evolved through infection by a meta-virus, that had real life counterpart with same effects(Nam-shub evolution into real world). The virus broke down barriers between clearly separated brain parts and made them more equal in reasoning on how to behave.
links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Origin_of_Conscio usness_in_the_Breakdown_of_the_Bicameral_Mind [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_Crash [wikipedia.org]

Also if you haven't read snow crash, you must do so immediately. ;)

Re:Bicamerial mind breakdown (3, Interesting)

rs232 (849320) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408324)

"The virus broke down barriers between clearly separated brain parts and made them more equal in reasoning on how to behave"

The barriers are required for consciousness as your first link clearly describes. If you want to see what the world looks like without the barriers then injest some psilocybe. You won't actually be doing any reasoning though. The next true phase of mind evolution will be the combination of computers with the brain, as to how that will happen, I don't know.

Yeah sure (3, Funny)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407474)

I can deal with being stupider as long as I can play the holophoner.

Re:Yeah sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17408248)

mod up parent for the futurama joke :P

But can we play the holophone? (3, Funny)

Zaphod2016 (971897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407482)

  • break rules and take risks...check
  • independent...check
  • anti-social...suck it
  • suspicious...who wants to know?
  • jealous...check...but not as jealous as you
  • morose...check
  • deemed less attractive to women...posting on /. on Fri night...check


So how come I can't play the holophone [futurama-madhouse.com.ar] ?

VLAD FARTED (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17407490)

have you ever head of the town of pineville, north carolina?

you won't anymore. vlad farted there a month ago and killed the whole town. even the young and able-bodied dropped dead of gas poisoning. the cops tried to arrest him but there really isn't a law on the books regarding killing a whole town with your fart. just know this: vlad is a sick and sorry son of a bitch, and he really ought to be fed to a blender, provided that a blender capable of handling a 500-pound man can be found

oh that's the other thing, vlad nails fatties. he has sex with women that are so grotesque and so inhuman that it ought to be a crime. he even had children with one horrific whore who weighed upwards of 800 pounds and smelled like a barnyard. she was just a real horrible person. biggest whore on the planet. mod me down, i don't care, i'm just telling the truth. and the truth is that vlad is a fucking sick son of a bitch that ought to just keel over and croak

Remember, kids! (2, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407494)

Correlation != causation.

Even since the last time this came up, I haven't seen anything done to differentiate between "symptoms of infection" and "traits of average cat owners."

Re:Remember, kids! (2, Informative)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407556)

Wow, thanks for the science lesson!

Actually, real science is done by noting correlations, hypothesizing a mechanism that explains the correlation, and testing it.

The researchers have tested the mechanism. RTFA.

Re:Remember, kids! (2, Interesting)

lagfest (959022) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407594)

I don't see any correlation between Crazy Cat Lady and being more attractive. So there's your proof.

Re:Remember, kids! (1)

dircha (893383) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407666)

"Correlation != causation."

"Even since the last time this came up, I haven't seen anything done to differentiate between "symptoms of infection" and "traits of average cat owners.""

1. Control groups (although no source is given the claims in this article).

2. Most infections result from eating undercooked meat, not from owning cats.

And quit with the juvenile "correlation/causation" business. Yes, if you want to be obtuse, we can never "prove" causation. But down here in the world of reality and common sense, we're pretty sure that the Sun will rise tomorrow.

And who are you calling "kids"?

Re:Remember, kids! (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407686)

Actually, I don't see why that particular effort would help. Obviously, being a cat owner would be a risk factor (assuming you were exposed to the cat's feces during the period when it is infectious, which is a few weeks after the cat is infected, so I gather). But so is gardening or exposure to rodents and other small animals. A better comparison would be of people who are infected with toxoplasma yet who aren't cat-owners. Being a cat owner involves a complex situation (eg, economic factors like living in a place where you can have a cat).

Further, if we're going to pull out the correlation != causation thing, we should also consider Occam's razor. What's a simpler reason for behavior differences? Infection by a parasite that is already known to modify behavior *in the same way* in mammal species or some vague effect of cat ownership (especially given that the infected population includes a lot of people who don't own cats)?

Re:Remember, kids! (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408224)

Occam's razor. What's a simpler reason for behavior differences?

      The Pygmalion Effect [wikipedia.org]

Re:Remember, kids! (2, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408472)

Actually, if you want to bring up Occam's Razor, what about the explanation that the parasite merely makes both sexes stupider, and the higher attractiveness in women is because men like stupid (ditzy) women.

Think about it.

Re:Remember, kids! (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407692)

I haven't seen anything done to differentiate between "symptoms of infection" and "traits of average cat owners."

I didn't own my cat, she just lived here, and it didn't make me stupid.

All I did was let her move in and act as if she owned the joint, fed her so she wouldn't have to bestir herself by making a living, gave her affection whenever she demanded it but didn't expect any in return and cleaned up her shit after her. . .

Oh, wait. . .

Maybe I should go read Prachett's Lords and Ladies again.

KFG

Re:Remember, kids! (5, Informative)

Sique (173459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407704)

Remember, kids! RTFA!

The article clearly states that the changed behaviour could be seen after infecting the mice with toxoplasmose and be reversed by treating the infection. So we have something that looks a lot more like a causation and less a pure correlation (with currently unknown relation).

And now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17407500)

The two female slashdottians hunt down these parasites, breed them to extremes, and infect both themselves and their intendeds...

Woops.... Time to get off the Toxoplasma diet (1)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407516)


And all this time I thought I was getting sexier.

Antibiotics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17407526)

This might sound like baloney, but I swear (no joke) that the last time I took
antibiotics I felt amazingly clear-headed. It could also of course have been
the fact that the antibiotics were curing me as they're supposed to -- but
I was convinced that there was something more to it.

Could this be a case of Toxoplasma infection? Are antibiotics effective against it?

Re:Antibiotics (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407754)

Your doctor gave you sugar pills.

KFG

Ahh Toxoplasma gondii (5, Insightful)

GrumpySimon (707671) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407540)

I believe this is one of those news stories that sits around waiting for a slow news day. The original paper was released in November. It's written by Kevin Lafferty [usgs.gov] and was published in Proc. Roy. Soc. B [royalsoc.ac.uk] .

It's a really quite fascinating paper - I recommend tracking it down if you can get access. Here's how it goes: Toxoplasmia gondii is adapated to live in cats and reproduces in felid intestinal cells & is shed, encysted, in their feaces. Then it can directly infect cats who come into contact with the cysts, or it encysts in brains of smaller mammals, and moves up the food chain as they get eaten until it hits a cat, and can reproduce again.

Fascinatingly, T.g. appears to affect rodent behavior to increase predation risk - i.e. the rodents become more active, less fearful of cat/cat smells, and have increased dopamine levels (which supposedly leads to novelty seeking behavior and neuroticism-type behaviors, or at least, they do in humans).

Despite humans not having any major cat predators, it could still affect us as a byproduct type of thing. Particularly that whole dopamine increase - this is should increase neuroticism levels.

So - the big question - does prevalence of T.g. correlate with cultural variation in neuroticism in humans? Lafferty finds a fairly strong correlation ( r2 of 0.38 ) between population aggregate neuroticism (as measured by the fairly standard NEO PI-R [wikipedia.org] personality inventory ).

Unfortunately I think the populations he uses for his stats are a little bit suspect (always the problem with worldwide analyses though), but it's definitely worth a read. You should also keep in mind that so far it's only an interesting correlation and not a direct demonstration that T.g. causes large scale cultural differences.

Re:Ahh Toxoplasma gondii (2, Insightful)

JKR (198165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407846)

Lafferty finds a fairly strong correlation ( r2 of 0.38 ) ...

Only in the social "sciences". Anywhere else, an r2 less than 0.95 is considered unimpressive, and 0.38 would definitely be "poor".

Re:Ahh Toxoplasma gondii (2, Insightful)

Paradigma11 (645246) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408436)

this is a field study, not an experiment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

38% of the variance in the observered behaviour (answers in the fpi) is explained by the predictor variable.
an r2 of 0.95 would mean, that the maximum correlation of another predictor could be 0.22 and you would have explained all human behaviour regarding the setting. think of zombie movies.

that said, i am not a big fan of the neo-fpi. it is a questionaire which means it reports how people see themself or want other to see them. plus, it is based on classical test theory which has some major methodological issues and is outdated for more than half a century. this is something to critize the social "sciences" for, not an r2 of 0.38 :)

Re:Ahh Toxoplasma gondii (1)

eeyoredragon (674402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408148)

Slow news day indeed... this was brought quite some time ago earlier than November and talked about in a book recommended by a fellow slashdotter in the same article post: Parasite Rex (which I loved).

How do I get Toxoplasma? (1)

iamnafets (828439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407548)

# Accidentally swallowing cat feces from a Toxoplasma-infected cat that is shedding the organism in its feces. From TFA.

Jesus, women are lucky (3, Funny)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407550)

Is there any parasite that makes MEN more attractive?

As if we didn't have enough biological disadvantages in the mating game, this one is nature's way of applying the final curb stomp.

Re:Jesus, women are lucky (5, Funny)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407610)

"Is there any parasite that makes MEN more attractive?

Yes, but she will take all your stuff.

Re:Jesus, women are lucky (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17407748)

Is there any parasite that makes MEN more attractive?

Yeah, it's called World of WarCraft. Simply tell attractive females about your level 70 Paladin with a flaming sword that does +100 Bonus Damage to Demons and your courageous exploits into the Undead lands, they will flock to you like bees to honey.

If it makes you more attractive... (1)

s-gen (890660) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407894)

...its a symbiant not a parasite.

So the real story here is that women have symbiants that parasitise men.

Zonk infected with Toxoplasma gondii? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17407580)

Title: "Parasites Makes Us Dumber or Sexier".

You're a fucking editor. Learn some grammar you dumbass.

Where can I get it? (4, Funny)

kjart (941720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407590)

Based on the description, this parasite will turn that ugly girl next door into a hot, promiscuous girl who might stop pepper spraying me! Sign me up for two!

Re:Where can I get it? (5, Funny)

eugene_roux (76055) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407966)

You've already got it. That's why she's pepper-spraying you...

Get rid of the parasite? (1)

Sibko (1036168) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407598)

Alright, fantastic. A parasite that might be able to change my behaviour. Possibly for the worse. Naturally, I don't particularly relish the idea that there's a parasite in my brain effecting the way I think and act.

So, assuming one has such a parasite, are there treatments to get rid of it?

Re:Get rid of the parasite? (2, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408114)

A parasite that might be able to change my behaviour.

      A lot of them do. For example, Enterobius vermicularis will have you scratching your butt all day and all night. I supect that this behaviour will render you definitely UNSEXY to most people, as well as rather smelly and angry :)

dupe from last year ? (don't mod up) (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407622)

I am pretty sure this is a dupe and was already discussed to death. I am trying to fight the slashdot search engine but up to now "parasite" and "toxoplasm" did not give any search result back... Maybe someone can point out what article it was ?

DUPE (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407998)

here you go [slashdot.org]

Last year, someone mentioned [slashdot.org] it works by producing LSD to control the host.

Are you serious? (1)

ctid (449118) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408034)

The second link in the story is to the previous Slashdot coverage. It's not a dupe because more information is presented here.

testosterone (1)

Oniros (53181) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407668)

I didn't know testosterone could be spelled Toxoplasma gondii

An enemy within (1)

Artem Tashkinov (764309) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407760)

From the wikipedia [wikipedia.org] article:

Acute toxoplasmosis

During acute toxoplasmosis, symptoms are often flu-like: swollen lymph nodes, or muscle aches and pains that last for a month or more. Rarely, a patient with a fully functioning immune system may develop eye damage from toxoplasmosis. Young children and immunocompromised patients, such as those with HIV/AIDS, those taking certain types of chemotherapy, or those who have recently received an organ transplant, may develop severe toxoplasmosis. This can cause damage to the brain or the eyes. Only a small percentage of infected newborns have serious eye or brain damage at birth.

Treatment

The vast majority of patients with a normal immune system require no treatment.

Patients with HIV/AIDS or patients who are immunosuppressed should be given sulfadiazine and pyrimethamine. Pregnant women who become ill with acute toxoplasmosis should be treated with spiramycin. Folinic acid (leucovorin) is administered in all cases to reduce the bone marrow suppression caused by pyrimethamine (ref: Montoya JG, Liesenfeld O. Toxoplasmosis. Lancet. 2004 Jun 12;363(9425):1965-76. )

Latent toxoplasmosis

Most patients who become infected with Toxoplasma gondii and develop toxoplasmosis do not know it. In most non-immunodeficient patients, the infection enters a latent phase, during which only bradyzoites are present, forming cysts in nervous and muscle tissue. Most infants who are infected while in the womb have no symptoms at birth but may develop symptoms later in life.

Treatment

The cysts are immune to the standard acute treatments as the antibiotics do not reach the bradyzoites in sufficient concentration.

The antibiotic atovaquone has been used to kill Toxoplasma cysts in situ in AIDS patients.[3] In mice, a combination of atovaquone with clindamycin seemed to optimally kill cysts.

Written by a woman? (5, Funny)

Shadow-isoHunt (1014539) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407776)

"A common parasite can increase a women's attractiveness to the opposite sex but also make men more stupid"
What do you mean by more stupid?

Re:Written by a woman? (1)

NiroZ (964916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408000)

Indeed There is even proof at wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxoplasma_gondii#Hum an_prevalence [wikipedia.org] (from the article) "According to Sydney University of Technology infectious disease researcher Nicky Boulter in an article that appeared in the January/February 2007 edition of Australasian Science magazine entitled "Alley Cats & Sex Kittens", she said Toxoplama infections lead to changes depending on the sex of the infected person."

Re:Written by a woman? (3, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408088)

There is even proof at wikipedia
Can't resist:

      Toxo makes girls sexy - Wikipedia confirms it!

      What does netcraft have to say, btw?

Re:Written by a woman? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17408292)

I wonder ... would the parasite make women more stupid and men even more atractive if the piece was written by a man? :P

Surely there's a conspiracy...

So it's the parasitical analoge of beer? (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#17407814)

I keep telling you people there has to be something in the water making humanity stooooopid.

Marketing challenge (5, Funny)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408070)

...infected women tend to be more outgoing, friendly, more promiscuous, and are considered more attractive to men

Perhaps it's just me, but my first thought after reading the summary was that the best and brightest the world of cosmetics marketing has to offer are probably working on the advertising campaign right now. "New, from L'Oreal: toxoplasmosis, the only parasite derived from cat shit that's /guaranteed/ to make you MORE ATTRACTIVE to the opposite sex. Because you're worth it!"...

Given the crap they already get women to shell out fifty quid for a couple of ounces, parasite-infected cat shit would be a relatively easy sell.

Great Pickup Line (5, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408126)

Damn you're sexy, you have parasites don't you ?

What if (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17408194)

it had the same effects regardless of sex, and what differs is the social perception? As in, it makes both men AND women stupider, most men find stupid women attractive, but most women prefer smart guys? Disclaimer: I'm not a heterosexual.

Re:What if (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17408538)

Disclaimer: I'm not a heterosexual.

WTF. Only a fag would say that. Get away from me.

FTA (3, Informative)

eneville (745111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408270)

It doesn't look to me as this is a terminal illness, the infection is gone in a few weeks to months, so it's hardly an explanation for the world's stupidity.

infected women tend to be more .. promiscuous (3, Funny)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408534)

I, for one, welcome our new Toxoplasmosis overlords.

Citations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17408546)

I don't have access to this "Australasian Science" magazine and it doesn't seem to contain the original research anyway. Does anyone have the references for the claim that the change in personality depends on the sex of the host?

Researchers tying one on? (1)

frdmfghtr (603968) | more than 7 years ago | (#17408584)

Gee, this bears remarkable similarity to a guy's night out getting hammered at the local watering holes.
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