Bacon Ruining Sperm, One Screen Isn't Enough, The Yeti Is A Brown Bear, And Other Surprising Studies

Once again, science is hell-bent on ruining all the fun. A team of Harvard researchers presented their findings linking diet and sperm quality at a conference thrown by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and it ain't good: while fresh fish made for healthier, larger numbers of sperm, processed meat (in particular, bacon) damaged sperm quality. The team defined "normal" sperm as that which stood a good chance of making healthy, smart kids. The men who ate processed meat every day saw significantly lower levels of normal sperm. Fish had the opposite effect, but goes far less well with eggs.

Processed meat is defined as any meat that isn't fresh from the butcher's and cooked from scratch — so that's ham, pre-cooked chicken and beef from the grocery store, and, worst of all, bacon. And there's more: "There is certainly now convincing evidence that men who eat more fresh fruit and vegetables have better sperm than men who don’t," said the study's author.

Bacon Is Making Sperm Dumb

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Once again, science is hell-bent on ruining all the fun. A team of Harvard researchers presented their findings linking diet and sperm quality at a conference thrown by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and it ain't good: while fresh fish made for healthier, larger numbers of sperm, processed meat (in particular, bacon) damaged sperm quality. The team defined "normal" sperm as that which stood a good chance of making healthy, smart kids. The men who ate processed meat every day saw significantly lower levels of normal sperm. Fish had the opposite effect, but goes far less well with eggs.

Processed meat is defined as any meat that isn't fresh from the butcher's and cooked from scratch — so that's ham, pre-cooked chicken and beef from the grocery store, and, worst of all, bacon. And there's more: "There is certainly now convincing evidence that men who eat more fresh fruit and vegetables have better sperm than men who don’t," said the study's author.

And in More Fruit & Veggie News...

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In an exhaustive, 12-year study just published in the Journal Of Nutrition, researchers discovered that people who ate high amounts of "polyphenols," a micronutrient in fruit and vegetables, lived longer than those who didn't. 30 percent longer, to be exact. To put that in perspective, that's making it to 100 rather than 70.

So, what should you be eating to outlive everyone you know? Well, it's a long list, but any plant-based food that has a darkish color is high in polyphenols. Also on the list: dark chocolate, olives, hazelnuts, plums, cherries, artichokes, berries, and spinach. We can handle that.

Spiders And Scorpions Are In-Laws

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Here's something you didn't know: back in the day, spiders and scorpions were all one big family, and probably ate Christmas dinner together. An investigation of a millenia-old fossilized species from China has discovered that both spiders and scorpions were derived from the same ancestor, which once existed as a creepy spider-scorpion combination. Later editions of Spider Scorpion, Part Two, were essentially spiders that had big claws and swam in the ocean.

Nobody tell the Spider-Man writers. This isn't a prequel we're interested in seeing.

What We Think About Homophobia Is All Wrong

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A new research paper from Boston and Ohio State researchers has found that society vastly underestimates the degree of homophobia in the United States. Researchers worked hard to ensue anonymity, going as far as to disengage the user with his or her answer, meaning that it was near-impossible to figure out who was saying what. They discovered that, when people knew that their answers were private, anti-gay sentiment was significantly higher than it had been when the control group was asked without anonymity. 70 percent higher, to be exact. The number of people who exhibited homophobia went up from roughly 14 percent to 25 percent — a quarter of the group.

The same study found that those who said they weren't completely heterosexual, or had had gay experiences, rose significantly under the veil of anonymity. The amount of people who reported being non-heterosexual was up 65 percent from the control group. A fifth of the study's 2,000 people identified as not being heterosexual, and more than a quarter said they'd had a gay experience, when only 17 percent had admitted that in the control group.

Social Anxiety Might Be In The Genes

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Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have discovered evidence of a dominant gene that seems to cause social anxiety, and reduce people's willingness to help others. The gene, catchily titled the "5-HTTLPR triallelic genotype," was examined in the study participants who were shown to have it: those people were more likely to feel a strong sense of anxiety in social situations, and to avoid coming to the aid of others — an extension of social anxiety.

Those who had the recessive version of the gene were more likely to be outgoing, to take social risks and feel comfortable, and to rush to others' aid when they were in need of it.

One Screen Just Isn't Enough

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It looks like the "two-screen chillout" is becoming a thing. Digital advertising researchers VivaKi has released a study, entitled "Two Screen TV Lane," which reveals that TV watchers are turning to their tablets or phones for entertainment during TV ad breaks. Participants' attention switched to the tablet, which was readily available in the study, about two-thirds of the time. This has freaked advertisers the hell out, because people aren't even concentrating on TV ads anymore — they're busy looking up more content on their tablets. VivaKi recommended hastily that advertisers focus on all kinds of mobile devices, but then what? People get a third screen? A fourth? A fifth?!

Guess what these second-screeners are called? The "Power Breakers." So, next time anybody asks after your hobbies...

Humans Love a Fancy Drink

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There's a reason Starbucks has been nicknamed "four bucks"; who can afford to spend that much on humble caffeine, even if it is the gloriously frothy, sugary type? Well, according to research by German neuroscientist Kai-Markus Müller, the brain responds well to a vision of "premium products" to the point that Starbucks could probably charge more, and wouldn't lose customers. The participants of Müller's study were willing to pay up to a third more for Starbucks coffee than it costs — $3.25 versus $2.44 — because in their head, it's just that premium.

Müller concluded that Starbucks “is missing out on millions in profits, because it is not fully exploiting consumers’ willingness to pay money.” Can no one tell Starbucks, please?!

The Yeti Really Is A Thing. Kind Of.

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Ah, the fabled yeti: up there with the Lock Ness in the hall of fame of Things That Don't Actually Exist. Or... wait. Wait. An Oxford University professor has unearthed the age-old mystery of the yeti, and concludes that it's actually ... a relative of the brown bear. Well, that was underwhelming.

The professor, Bryan Sykes, took hair samples of what was supposed to be the yeti — in other words, as-yet-unknown animals found in the Himalayas — and ran DNA and genome tests. The result? The animal widely assumed to be a yeti is actually a cross-species combination of the brown bear and the polar bear.

Next stop: science proves that Bigfoot is a combination of that brown bear, a human, and a chimp?