So, the correlation between wealth and education makes sense - the wealthier the nation, the more educated (presumably), therefore the more likely to believe in evolution. So why is the USA such an outlier? (*smacks forehead on table repeatedly*) - LINK
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal brings up an interesting point - there are lots of parasites that alter the behavior of their hosts, in many cases making their hosts more prone to predation, which ensures the parasite a new host. The Toxoplasma gondii protozoa is a brain parasite that likes to be in the gut of cats. So what happens when it gets eaten by a rat? It moves into the rat's brain, then "erases" the rat's fear of cats. Once the rat is no longer afraid of cats (though still afraid of everything else), it won't run away when a cat attacks it and eats it. Thereby eating the Toxo parasite. Thereby putting the parasite right where it wants to be: in the cat's intestines.
Funny thing is, the Toxo parasite has also infected a certain percentage of human brains (and hides pretty well). Infection varies by country - France and Germany, for example, have a high rate of infection while South Korea has a very low rate of infection.
What is to stop these parasites from changing human brains like they do to rats? Do they perhaps make people more prone to loving the primary host, the cat? Do they turn people into crazy cat ladies? If one parasite can do this, what other parasites are in our bodies altering our behavior? And finally, if they vary by country, are they to some extent influential on the culture of a people?
Speaking of Duke professors, Frank Stasio recently interviewed Duke University Professor of Conservation Ecology on WUNC's The State of Things. Pimm's book, The World According to Pimm, has long been on my AP Environmental book list. If you are thinking of reading the book, or have read it in the past, it's a good interview to listen to. Then go to Flyleaf and buy the book! - LINK
While I drove my kids to their summer camps today, I listened to Frank Stasio's The State of Things on WUNC radio. His guest was NC State ecologist/evolutionary biologist Robert Dunn, whose book is entitled The Wild Life of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today. Amid the discussion of bellybutton bacteria and forehead mites is an interesting look at the coevolutionary relationships we have with the ecosystems that thrive on and in the human body. I'm definitely putting it on my reading list for my AP students. - Link
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