JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).



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Toxoplasmosis: could that latent infection affect people’s behavior?

This is disturbing news. What if eating undercooked meat, gardening, or having a cat could give you an infection which stayed with you for life, nested in cysts in your brain? Worse, those cysts somehow affected your personality, possibly putting you at increased risk of suicide, schizophrenia, or car accident? And here’s the stop-you-in-your-tracks point: up to one third of humanity may harbor this protozoan. That is one very successful parasite.

Infection rates are frighteningly high: as much as 10-20% of the population in the US, 30-40% of Czechs, and 55% in France.

Sounds like a plot for a bad sci-fi but we know that Toxoplasma gondii makes small mammals take life threatening risks – an infected rat finds cat-urine “attractive” and runs about more, being fearless, but getting eaten: good for the parasite, not so good for the rat. Our brains may be  larger but they are made with much the same building blocks and tools.  Rabies is known to stir larger mammals into a rage, and there are “a truckload” of examples from the insect and fish world of parasitic mind control. Hmmm.

Toxoplasmosis is thought to be a nasty parasite that affects pregnant women and immune-compromised people, but evidence of an insidious nature is accruing. Jaroslav Flegr, an evolutionary biologist from Prague, has a theory that this protozoan might be rewiring our brains.

‘There is strong psychological resistance to the possibility that human behavior can be influenced by some stupid parasite,” he says. “Nobody likes to feel like a puppet. Another more obvious reason for resistance, of course, is that Flegr’s notions sound an awful lot like fringe science, right up there with UFO sightings and claims of dolphins telepathically communicating with humans.’

Flegr has been ignored or years, but other researchers are now getting results that support his theory. Studies show that mental illness is 2-3 times as common in people who have the parasite compared to people in the same region who don’t. It could be that schizophrenia runs in families because of a genetic predisposition to a weaker immune response to parasites.

According to psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey, schizophrenia did not become common until around the same time as people started having cats for pets. Schizophrenia did not rise in prevalence until the latter half of the 18th century, when for the first time people in Paris and London started keeping cats as pets. The so-called cat craze began among “poets and left-wing avant-garde Greenwich Village types,” says Torrey, but the trend spread rapidly—and coinciding with that development, the incidence of schizophrenia soared.”

Now that I ponder the unpleasant implications, it seems inevitable that evolution could toss up a parasite-host relationship which shifts human behavior. If Toxo isn’t doing it, sooner or later something else will. (Another reason we ought throw more money at medical research, rather than at bat-killing windmills.)

Those who test positive for the latent infection have significantly delayed reaction times and here’s an especially weird effect, infected men are more likely to be introverted and suspicious and to disregard rules, but infected women are the opposite: more trusting, outgoing and obedient.

‘Compared with uninfected people of the same sex, infected men were more likely to wear rumpled old clothes; infected women tended to be more meticulously attired, many showing up for the study in expensive, designer-brand clothing. Infected men tended to have fewer friends, while infected women tended to have more. And when it came to downing the mystery fluid, reports Flegr, “the infected males were much more hesitant than uninfected men. They wanted to know why they had to do it. Would it harm them?” In contrast, the infected women were the most trusting of all subjects. “They just did what they were told,” he says.’

‘Why men and women reacted so differently to the parasite still mystified him. After consulting the psychological literature, he started to suspect that heightened anxiety might be the common denominator underlying their responses. When under emotional strain, he read, women seek solace through social bonding and nurturing. In the lingo of psychologists, they’re inclined to “tend and befriend.” Anxious men, on the other hand, typically respond by withdrawing and becoming hostile or antisocial. Perhaps he was looking at flip sides of the same coin.’

Because reaction times were slowed he looked at car accident statistics and found that people who tested positive for Toxoplasmosis were 2.5 times more likely to have a car accident. Turkish studies showed similar results.

To put this in perspective Flegr says he cannot say who is infected and who is not by doing a personality test. He needs at least 100 people to find a statistically meaningful disparity. (Only 100 thinks Jo?)

“The vast majority of people will have no idea they’re infected.” It may be that the parasites most detrimental effects occur in a smaller genetically susceptible part of the population. One quarter of a group suffering from schizophrenia showed shrinkage of their cerebral cortex in MRI scans, and these were the same people who tested positive for Toxo. So most schizophrenia is caused by something else, but some cases appear to be caused by the parasite.

Joanne Webster, a parasitologist at Imperial College London:

‘I don’t want to cause any panic,” she tells me. “In the vast majority of people, there will be no ill effects, and those who are affected will mostly demonstrate subtle shifts of behavior. But in a small number of cases, [Toxo infection] may be linked to schizophrenia and other disturbances associated with altered dopamine levels—for example, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and mood disorders. The rat may live two or three years, while humans can be infected for many decades, which is why we may be seeing these severe side effects in people. We should be cautious of dismissing such a prevalent parasite.’

Flegr has the infection himself, and this was part of what got him interested in studying the area. He noticed that he seemed unusually happy to take risks that others around him did not, getting honked at while crossing roads, being calm when gunfire broke out in the strife torn region.

‘He also made no effort to hide his scorn for the Communists who ruled Czechoslovakia for most of his early adulthood. “It was very risky to openly speak your mind at that time,” he says. “I was lucky I wasn’t imprisoned.’

So an odd side effect, a potential benefit in a weird way, is that a large slab of the population might be less afraid to speak up against tyranny. Common Toxo infections might make at least males in the population more likely to rebel.

The bottom line

For meat eaters: if you like it rare, better make sure that meat was frozen before you cook it; otherwise, learn to like it well done (freezing and cooking both kill the parasite). For gardeners: wear gloves. For cat owners, change that kitty litter daily, wash your hands. (Cats don’t post that great a threat. Indoor cats don’t have it, and outdoor cats are only infectious for the first three weeks after they catch it, not to mention that there are plenty of studies showing benefits from pet ownership.)

Do read the full (much longer and well written article) in a The Atlantic. Gripping, provocative stuff — an example of a real problem we ought be dealing with instead of all the faked ones. There is no treatment for Toxo, no way to remove those cysts, not yet.

H/t to Tim Blair who found this report in, and called it SCHIZOKITTIES.

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165 comments to Toxoplasmosis: could that latent infection affect people’s behavior?

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    Truthseeker

    Just one more reason to be a dog owner …


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      KinkyKeith

      Just come back from a walk.

      Was passed by a guy on a skateboard who was being pulled along the boardwalk by his happy fluffy well groomed dog.

      You don’t see cats doing this.


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    Mark

    It does make me wonder what wonderful and useful things Science might have found if we had not been wasting so much money and effort on Climate “Science”. Just how did our system find itself led down such a blind alley?


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    • #
      Queenslander

      This could explain a lot about Keating and Rudd.

      Both of them have a “cat’s bum” expression when upset.


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      Rosco

      As an ex Environmental Health Officer I can tell you the dangers of consuming undercooked meats has been well understood for a long time.

      The current fascination with cooking shows is extremely concerning – apparently “rare” means cooking to no more than 55 degrees C as I heard on MKR the other night. It used to be an offence to serve food that had been held at less than 60 degrees C – that being the minimum temperature necessary to kill pathogens.

      Whilst cooking and serving in a short time frame reduces the time for pathogens to multiply to an infective dose number this does not apply to parasites where one cyst infect – the only defence is ti thoroughly cook the meat.

      There is a potential for more episodes of parasite infection as our food safety survelience systems appear to be underfunded BUT also being undermined by non qualified experts promoting less than thorough cooking of meats.


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  • #
    Gee Aye

    Sorry Jo… I didn’t see where to send this other than in comments.

    Please change “toxoplasma gondii” to Toxoplasma gondii

    cheers


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    • #
      Gee Aye

      Sorry to be the formatting police but I got a bit confused with the indented quotes as to what is a quote and what is comment. Some quotes open and don’t close- that sort of thing.

      As to an actual comment. It is not surprising that we have parasites that have evolved to influence behaviour in specific ways. Flegr is possibly overstating the scientific scepticism – I’d suspect that scientific elitism (he is from a scientific backblock and was an active scientist during the communist period) is at play with why he was ignored.

      The main reason that no one is really surprised by the proposed role of this parasite in influencing behaviour is that it has been shown to occur in many taxa (including experimental studies) with a variety of parasites in some very unusual ways (and in many ways). The surprise I think is that it is happening right under our noses (so to speak) with hints that it is happening at a high rate.

      Just to add a thought of my own – most organisms we harbour are symbiotic or neutral with respect to their actions. Many behaviour affecting microbes are symbionts in other species. I don’t see anything in the literature that refutes the notion that T. gondii does not have a net positive action. No one has looked for links with behaviours that are positive for humans.


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      • #

        Gee Aye, I agree that it doesn’t seem surprising that parasites could affect our behaviour. There is no biological reason why we would be immune to the chemical or genetic effects, though I imagine a lot of people might hope they could “rise above” those reckless impulses when a rat might not (and I hope that’s true).

        Thanks for the formatting points. I’ve edited to make it clearer what is a quote and what is not. I’m trying out a new format for quotes. I’m not there yet.

        Jo


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  • #
    keith

    Despite being a male I have become very obedient to my cat.


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  • #
    KinkyKeith

    I might just leave this one and Stand Mute.

    And watch.


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  • #
    Kevin Moore

    It is well known that the ingestion of fluoride lowers immune efficiency. A daily dose of fluoride therefore must raise “Toxoplasma gondii” infection rates.

    International Anti-Fluoridation Database

    by Floyd Maxwell, BASc
    Principal, http://www.just-think-it.com

    “We would not purposely add arsenic to the water supply. And we would not purposely add lead. But we add fluoride. The fact is that fluoride is more toxic than lead and just slightly less toxic than arsenic.” (source)

    “The federal maximum contaminant level (MEL) for lead is 15 parts per billion (ppb), 5 ppb for arsenic and 4000 ppb for fluoride.” (source)


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  • #
    wes george

    It’s tempting to blame some of the online insanity that is becoming more and more common on the Internet to a plague of schizokitties, but I’m afraid it’s probably more complicated than that.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWdz_pWYNzY&feature=related


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    • #
      wes george

      Almost 30 years ago, as he was reading a book by the British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, Flegr was captivated by a passage describing how a flatworm turns an ant into its slave by invading the ant’s nervous system. A drop in temperature normally causes ants to head underground, but the infected insect instead climbs to the top of a blade of grass and clamps down on it, becoming easy prey for a grazing sheep. “Its mandibles actually become locked in that position, so there’s nothing the ant can do except hang there in the air,” says Flegr. The sheep grazes on the grass and eats the ant; the worm gains entrance into the ungulate’s gut, which is exactly where it needs to be in order to complete—as the Lion King song goes—the circle of life.

      So, natural selection favours genetic traits in parasites which can manipulate their host’s behaviour to give some survival or reproduction advantage to the parasite.

      I wonder if a parallel evolution is going on in the cognitive ecosystem of human culture only now vastly accelerated and enhanced by the WWW?

      I wonder if (otherwise ludicrous) ideas that spread on the Internet behave like cognitive parasites and are shaped by natural selection to not only to be easily transmitted, but to alter their host’s cognitive perception of the world in a way that gives the parasitical idea an advantage over more rational, but less communicable concepts?

      Once infected with one of these parasite ideas the host’s cognitive gestalt might be tweaked to be more receptive to other parasitical ideas and more prone to rejected reason and the complexity of rational inquiry over the lure of powerfully simple and one-dimensional parasitical ideas. Moreover, parasitical ideas might be shaped by natural selection to have cognitive “hooks” which allow them to link with other parasitical ideas into broad motifs which the gives the infected mind a “chill” of pattern recognition confirming the parasitical idea and thus assuring its propagation.

      I wonder if the Internet — being the vast memetic pool in which we all swim, many without the cognitive prophylactic of a proper education — is a medium teaming with memetic parasites that are eroding our ability to reason and think rationally about the world and the nature of reality?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BipazRmzwaQ


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  • #
    Amfortas

    Feminists like cats, and they rant.


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  • #
    Streetcred

    “There is strong psychological resistance to the possibility that human behavior can be influenced by some stupid parasite,” he says. “Nobody likes to feel like a puppet. Another more obvious reason for resistance, of course, is that Flegr’s notions sound an awful lot like fringe science, right up there with UFO sightings and claims of dolphins telepathically communicating with humans.”

    The evidence is plainly seen in the behaviour of the illegitimate Laborgreen government and the CAGW movement on any day. Clearly, this is manifest in the current anti-government and anti-CAGW sentiment amongst the people of Australia.


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  • #
    Rereke Whakaaro

    The so-called cat craze began among “poets and left-wing avant-garde Greenwich Village types,” says Torrey, but the trend spread rapidly—and coinciding with that development, the incidence of schizophrenia soared.

    Say after me: Correlation does not imply causation.

    One quarter of a group suffering from schizophrenia showed shrinkage of their cerebral cortex in MRI scans, …

    Which means that three quarters did not. But schizophrenia is often diagnosed as a “catch-all” reason for behaviour abnormality, so that might be valid within the profession.

    … and these were the same people who tested positive for toxo.

    Right, so we have an apparent correlation between toxoplasmosis and shrinkage of the cerebral cortex. But what is the mechanism?

    So most schizophrenia is caused by something else, but some cases appear to be caused by the parasite.

    Or we are not talking about schizophrenia at all, but two alternative conditions?

    If this was on the subject of climate change, we would be all over a report like this, pointing out its poor reasoning and logical fallacies. Let’s not have a double standard.


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    • #
      Gee Aye

      You’d also be looking at the primary literature.


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    • #

      Rereke, I had a line in my draft saying that I didn’t like that weak epidemiological reasoning for exactly that sentence. I took it out when I read the whole Atlantic article, because it seemed an unnecessary caveat given the evidence. Apologies if you thought that piece of info was there as supporting “evidence”. It’s not. (There were something like 70 studies exploring the links between Schizophrenia and Toxo. Plus those MRI scans which strongly suggested the cysts caused measureable brain damage). I put that “correlation” there for interests sake. It was curious. I didn’t realize that schitzophrenia was rarer in earlier times. (In as much as we can tell, it’s not like we have diagnostic records from say, Africa in the 1700s.)

      What’s extraordinary from a study of human infectious disease is to wonder what the Toxo prevalence rates were 200 years ago. Has it really infected 30% of the population since then? That seems unlikely.

      “Epstein-Barr virus, mumps, rubella, and other infectious agents, they point out, have also been linked to schizophrenia—and there are probably more as yet unidentified triggers, including many that have nothing to do with pathogens. But for now, they say, Toxo remains the strongest environmental factor implicated in the disorder. “If I had to guess,” says Torrey, “I’d say 75 percent of cases of schizophrenia are associated with infectious agents, and Toxo would be involved in a significant subset of those.” ”

      The Full Atlantic Article has a lot more information.


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      • #
        Rereke Whakaaro

        Jo,

        I assumed you would have been disappointed if I had let the opportunity pass. I presumed (as did KinkyKeith – below) that we were being tested. :-)

        I am skeptical of anything to do with epidemiology. You can prove anything you like with the “science”, as long as you choose the appropriate set of data correlations.

        The book, “Sorry Wrong Number”, by Dr John Brignell, has a clown on the front playing a poker machine until he gets a result of P < 5 (95% confidence level).

        That book cover sums up epidemiology quite nicely. Most of it is snake oil.


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      • #
        Gee Aye

        Very interesting the general low level of rejection makes one wonder whether toxo (as we call affectionately call it) was endemic and tolerated in our* recent history. There are means and ways now to test this question.

        * not sure that there is enough info to know if the disease has ethnic or geographic variability


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        • #

          I guess we could look at the mutation rate of Toxo to figure out (maybe) how recent the explosion of Toxo was. Given the number of species it seems to affect I would have thought it has been around a long time…


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          • #
            Gee Aye

            the pattern genetic variation in the toxo collected from humans and from other beasts could be different. An explosion as you put it (a star phylogeny, with recent coalescence times) is a pretty simple signature.

            When I get a few moments I’ll do a literature search… there is no way that this has not been done as it is trivial lab effort once you have the samples.


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  • #

    I think the rise in insanity amongst the political class and elsewhere is due to jet aircraft. Cabin air is taken from the first couple of stages of the compressor of the engines. If the front bearing oil seal leaks you get a mist of jet oil in the cabin air. These are known in the industry as “fume events”. Why does this matter? Modern high performance oils contain a substance known as TCP (tri cresyl phosphate) at around 2 – 3 % concentration which is a neuro toxin. There are 3 chemical isomers which apparently differ vastly in toxicity but all work equally well as a pressure resisting lubricant and the ratios apparently aren’t controlled. There seems to be a vastly differing threshold for effects on individual people.

    Interestingly, such a convenient source of high pressure air is not used in the Boeing 787 which uses electrical generators on the engines and electric motors to drive cabin pressure pumps. The official excuse is that bleed air off the compressor reduces fuel economy.

    Choose your own story.


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    • #
      Grant (NZ)

      I suspect a fair proportion of the political class may have been affected by THC. A lot seem to consider admitting to having inhaled or to have experimented to be a badge of office.


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  • #
    KinkyKeith

    Are we being tested to see if we can recognise the parallel between CO2 induced Global
    Warming Theory and Toxoplasmotically Induced Schizophrenia?

    This new paradigm says that Cat carried Toxoplasma Gonadii causes schizophrenia in some people.

    Against this we have the “Man made CO2 causes Global Warming”.

    In both situations we are looking at a phenomenon with an associated factor that may not

    be “causal” but is simply associated with the whole process.

    In the case of Schizophrenia the high incidence of cats may be due to loneliness and lack

    of human interaction leading to people seeking comfort in a pet. Cats probably are less

    trouble in small Parisian apartments.

    The schizophrenia is more likely caused by loneliness, isolation and lack of human

    interaction in the new style high rise accommodation that is a marked change from earlier

    village life where there was less emotional pressure.

    Better mental health is more likely in a village atmosphere where you don’t need a cat

    because you constantly bump into people.

    As we have seen in CO2 induced Global Warming theory, association does not prove causation.


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    • #
      Graeme No.3

      “As we have seen in CO2 induced Global Warming theory, association does not prove causation”.

      But shouldn’t we test the believers in CO2 induced Global Warming theory for Toxo infection, just to be safe.

      After all, they are prepared to risk the economy, the future of our children, the tropical rain forest (despoiled for biofuel) and, under geo-engineering the climate. Not to mention their own physical well being when the whole scam collapses. Infected men tended to have fewer friends, and are more reluctant to change their opinions. Yes, I think we could make a case that they are infected.

      If this proves right, then I suggest they be allowed out only when wearing a placard (labelled Unclean) and ringing a bell to warn people to avoid them.


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    • #
      KinkyKeith

      The predisposition towards schizophrenia is hereditary but mostly needs triggers related to

      emotional pressure.

      An example is reported in a group study of Caribbean Islanders who migrated to London.

      At point of origin they were apparently OK.

      In the confusing, threatening “new” and frantic location of twentieth century London there

      was a high incidence of schizophrenia.

      Does London make people sick?

      Now, is it London, the Cats or Toxoplasma Gonadii.


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  • #
    Markus Ftzhenry.

    “As we have seen in CO2 induced Global Warming theory, association does not prove causation.”

    The pathogens are excited when they bump into each other and associated groups of human hosts, causing swelling of the brain, with a rising temperature.The symptoms continue unless treated with common sense.

    Often, the infected group together in NGO’s, eco-friendly protest groups and quasi-science State granted Campuses. It causes the infected minds confusion, continual bumping in occurs at fund raising meetings.

    Once the bright green neurological receptor reaches saturation, the virus becomes inconvertable, spreading slowly until the brain explodes, unless they turned upside down.


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  • #
    Amfortas

    I didn’t realize that schitzophrenia was rarer in earlier times

    Prof Julian Jaynes of Princeton made a strong circumstantial case for supposing that schitzophrenia was the ‘default’ mental state until approx 7000 years ago. (Origins of Consciousness in the breakdown of the bi-cameral mind)


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    • #
      John Brookes

      Interestingly enough, schizophrenia is more prevalent among migrants. For example West Indians who move to the UK.

      I have no problem with the causation thingy – the research is still interesting.


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    • #
      wes george

      Amfortas,

      A closer reading of Jaynes would be that he thinks primitive peoples actually heard the voices of gods and spirits that manifest themselves in inanimate objects like trees, streams or mountains talking to them, giving them guidance. Jaynes points out that if a modern person was to literally hear voices this would be diagnosed as a schizophrenic condition, but in an ancient pre-rational human culture it doesn’t make sense to think of their mental state as a kind of morbidity, but rather as a natural way of relating to their world that goes back maybe a 100,000 years and is, of course, entirely lost to us, because we no longer speak a language that is grounded in that kind of narrative.

      Michel Foucault in his famous book “Madness and Civilisation” traces the definition of insanity in France over a period of centuries and it turns out that the definition is highly variably. So the fact that schizophrenia seems variable through time is more a product of cultural attitudes and fashion rather than objective measurement.

      Personally, I believe that insanity is well and truly on the uptick by any standard, with 2012 being the most insane year yet since the mid-1930′s.

      …modern man no longer communicates with the madman [...] There is no common language: or rather, it no longer exists; the constitution of madness as mental illness, at the end of the eighteenth century, bears witness to a rupture in a dialogue, gives the separation as already enacted, and expels from the memory all those imperfect words, of no fixed syntax, spoken falteringly, in which the exchange between madness and reason was carried out. The language of psychiatry, which is a monologue by reason about madness, could only have come into existence in such a silence.

      Yeah, well old Foucault wrote that before the Age of the Internet. The times are a changin’ again.


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      • #
        KinkyKeith

        An interesting point:

        “So the fact that schizophrenia seems variable through time is more a product of cultural attitudes and fashion rather than objective measurement.”"

        Differences in the definition /diagnostic criteria of schizophrenia mean that the rates in the US are different to many other parts of the western world.

        Using a common approach to diagnosis would probably show that rates are very similar through all modern societies.


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        • #
          wes george

          That’s true Keith.

          But the salient point in Foucault and Jaynes is that the diagnosis of insanity is in practice an arbitrary line in the ever shifting sands of human conscious awareness. Of course, extreme cases are easy, but what about the rest of us?

          Are you sure that you aren’t insane? Many of us believe things that would be considered mad or delusional paranoia when examined rationally, point by point.

          I love those old movies where a mentally healthy person is committed to the insane asylum and finds it impossible to prove his or her sanity to the satisfaction of the presiding psychiatrists who mistake the prisoner’s sanity for symptoms of madness.


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          • #
            KinkyKeith

            Yes.

            You read through the diagnostic criteria for most mental disorders and you would believe you had them all.

            Diagnosis is a matter of degree of each indicator.

            This is not too scientific compared with physics, but then the brain, and people are extraordinarily complex.


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            Tristan

            Yeah, the cut-offs for mental illness seem impact related. ie How much impairment can be attributed towards indicators x/y/z.

            If mental properties have a roughly gaussian distribution, then given the amount of mental properties we have, a great deal of people would evidence some sort of extreme if properly measured (as wes sez).


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  • #
    Afizzyfist

    http://www.medicinenet.com/toxoplasmosis/article.htm
    quoted from

    “Toxoplasmosis can be treated medically. The drugs used most often are pyrimethamine (Daraprim), sulfadiazine (Microsulfon), and folinic acid. Patients with HIV usually need lifelong treatment to keep the parasites suppressed.

    Pregnant women are treated with spiramycin (Rovamycine) and leucovorin (Wellcovorin) in addition to the drugs listed above.

    Other drugs occasionally used are clindamycin (Cleocin), azithromycin (Zithromax), or atovaquone (Mepron).”

    quoted from


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  • #
    gnome

    I find the best way to avoid parasites is to maintain a hostile environment. Alcohol in the bloodstream is a seriously toxic substance which few (any?) parasites can survive.

    (Declaration of interest- dog, small, friendly, undisciplined.)


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  • #
    NoIdea

    A message from the cats.

    Please, do not panic.
    While it is true that we have been controlling you since we first gave you fire, we are a benign race who wish only well for our human pets.
    As the superior intelligence on the planet, we had decided three of your centuries ago, that we would no longer require worship or build you any more pyramids or henges.
    Unfortunately, since the decision was made by the grand council of cats to allow humans to be free range, we have had to reconsider. To be frank, you have made a mess of things.
    Normal service will be resumed soon.
    Do not panic.

    Was that me typing that?
    Or my cat-planted brain-controlling schizophrenic parasitic cyst bug?

    NoIdea


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  • #
    theRealUniverse

    Sounds like another science scare story again. Not sure who’s side it benefits, the people or the NWO.
    Moral is don’t have pets of either sort! Ill stick to my python.


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  • #

    Uh … “more likely to wear rumpled old clothes” ? Better get tested.
    But hang on … “obsessive compulsive disorder” (aka anal retentive syndrome) nah that’s not me …
    ” … a large slab of the population might be less afraid to speak up against tyranny.” Uh-oh. Warmists don’t manifest that, but skeptics do.
    So, being the snottier and more arrogant group, warmists are likely to claim that skeptics are the ones who should be tested for this thing.
    Don’t forget, they are out to take over any idea that preserves their creed, and are happy to move into anyone’s area of expertise …
    Strange sideline on Caribbean migrants to the UK and schizophrenia.
    When I was there they were 35 times more likely to be diagnosed schizophrenic. Could have been the ganja I suppose, but that was nowhere near as bad as hydroponic dope that’s around these days. More likely explanation is simple prejudice …


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    Tristan

    I can’t remember when I first heard about toxo, could have been psych 201, could have been attenborough.


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      Andrew McRae

      Oddly enough, I remember exactly where I first read about Toxo. It was in NonScientist many moons ago.

      I am still trying to figure out what new evidence, if any, has emerged in the intervening 10 years. It’s still just a hint of possibility of a something. And by epidemiologists no less. Why should I take any notice of this scare story now if I ignored the scare story ten years ago? It’s just not stabbing any panic buttons for me. Of course that’s exactly what someone with Toxo would say…

      Well I’m off to grab a late Snappy Tom.

      Y’all come back meow.


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    KinkyKeith

    Hi Martin,

    “When I was there” Where was that Britain or Carib?

    “More likely explanation is simple prejudice …”

    Why don’t you expand on this?

    Who is prejudiced?


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    • #

      [responding to KinkKeith]

      “When I was there” Where was that Britain or Carib?

      Britain

      “More likely explanation is simple prejudice …”

      Why don’t you expand on this? Who is prejudiced?

      Brit medical profession.

      Against whom I have considerable prejudice, and for very good reasons.

      Spouse affected by the worst type of Pernicious Anemia (damage to the melanin sheath of the nervous system). Ended up paralysed because the cause was assumed to be “functional” eg psychological. When spectacularly proved wrong, local medical administration turned on us, made threats of black-listing, placed the medical records in the hands of a 3rd party MD where they couldn’t be reached by legal process. My construction workmates had to resort to pickaxe handles in my defence on one occasion. We were advised by a supporter (the local mayor) to try the “usual” alternative – hire someone to ram-raid the location of the records.
      We told the perpetrators we knew how hard it was to get them into court, but we needed the records because we were leaving the country. They actually had a meeting to determine this was “folie a deux”.
      The holder of the records was at the time a prominent member of Amnesty International, but had refused to hand them over, while at the same time preaching publicly about freedom of information, justice for all blah blah.
      So, we ended up in PNG, where we were able to apply the appropriate pressure, and were less easy to get at. There followed a short spate of dire threats, eg charges of criminal blackmail etc – to which we replied “fine – go ahead”. (“Make my day” wasn’t common parlance at that time.)

      2 weeks later the entire set of medical records arrived by registered air parcel.

      Dunno what has happened since 1986, but from what I hear from the UK PA Society, things haven’t improved much.

      Enough expansion I think …


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        KinkyKeith

        Martin

        You have my complete understanding.

        I think most of us here are driven by the CO2 scam but mainly we see a failure of government to govern properly.

        By-passing due process undermines the whole society and only politicians and their friends and relatives benefit.

        Having said that they have to live in the society they create.

        One notorious “payback” for a local left wing politician whose party was “soft on personal responsibility” and drugs underscores that point.

        He lost two sons to drug death.

        A terrible price to pay for misunderstanding your role as a defender of law and order.


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    I said ” … warmists are likely to claim that skeptics are the ones who should be tested for this thing.”

    And the next thing I read was

    http://www.australianclimatemadness.com/2012/02/german-article-sceptics-are-like-viruses/

    must be psychic eh …


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    Considerate Thinker

    One needs to be careful where such notions are taken is there a group ethnic or otherwise that we can demonize or other-ize to build up a lysenko revival, humans are easily so manipulated to suspect, despise, hate.

    And I have come across some loopy cat hater’s in my time, and it would not take much to push them over a tipping point.


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      KinkyKeith

      Hi CS

      Every ethnic group is susceptible to schizophrenia and environment is an important factor

      so giving examples of schizophrenia ” outbreaks” in certain ethnic populations only occurs

      because they have undergone a “change of environment’ that is worth studying.

      In the right hands there is nothing racist or demonizing about that.

      Same for the discoveries that arose from the Dutch winter hunger at the end of WW11. It

      was not about the Dutch, it was about the entire human population.

      :)


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    Sonny

    Hey Jo,

    Can you please do a short piece on the dozens of people dying daily in Europe due to the extreme freeze there (-40C). People need to be made aware of this latest threat from global warm


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    Shevva

    I just read a similar report or was it a book called World War Z (thought I’d read it before the film comes out).

    Don’t forget to destroy the brains.


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    This reminds me of ZOMBIE ANTS

    ant

    This fungus takes control of the ant, keeps it alive until a suitable location for fungal growth is reached, then kills it.

    Ants are the ultimate collective. They don’t think as individuals, they don’t stray from the group narrative and are zealots for their cause. They remind me of……….he hehe hehe (you fill in the dots)


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      Manfred

      Baa Humbug states: “Ants are the ultimate collective.”

      For myself, I always thought it was “The Borg” – that fascinating lot that went around the galaxy, announcing their arrival with: “Resistance is futile.”

      I agree with Baa Humbug, such galactic collectives have the uncanny ability to remind one of terrestrial variations which, whilst much smaller, more fragile and unstable are pernicious, vicious little things that have a strange assimilating and spongiforming effect on the CNS of politicians, bankers and policy analysts.


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      wes george

      That picture of a fungus taking control of Mr. Ant creeps me out.

      Back in the 1980′s I met this brilliantly mad ethnobotantist charismatic in California named Terence McKenna who had this pretty convincing theory for how language and religion began.

      On the savanna of north Africa before the last ice age Homo erectus roamed following the herds they hunted. Naturally, their women folk gathered mushrooms growing on the dung of the herds and these shrooms had chemicals in them that produce a mental effect called synaesthesia where the brain short circuits confusing sight with sound and vice versa. Sounds can be seen and sights can be heard.

      McKenna reckoned that this reliably reproducible psychedelic effect triggered a cognitive breakthrough for hominids by allowing the symbolic connection to be made between an object and its “sound.”

      Bluntly put, Mckenna imagined that a stoned hominid picked up a rock and heard the sound of the rock speaking and was then able to form that sound with his mouth. ROOOOOCCCCKKKKKKK. And this set in motion a whole cognitive cascade that led to full blown symbolic language. Thus began human cultural evolution as a distinctly new phenomena riding on top of biological evolution. The ability to form language and think symbolically was a phase shift far more important than the relatively minor technological breakthrough of capturing fire, because language allowed human history to begin.

      I know it sounds crazy, but there it is. No one actually has put forward a better explanation for how the cognitive breakthrough for symbolic thought began to this day.

      But Terence being a botanist and amateur evolutionary guru type fascinated with the symbiotic relationship between various kinds of organisms, including parasitical relationships couldn’t let it just end there.

      No, Mckenna figured something much more “intentional” was going on. He reckoned that mushrooms being fungus were other worldly. Neither plant nor animal, their fossil record was very vague. They seem to appear in the geological record fully formed with no evolutionary precursors. Moreover, spores, the fungal seeds, are unique. Most animal seeds can’t survive outside the body, certainly not outside of water. Plant seeds are much more hardy and can be stored sometimes for many decades. But spores are almost indestructible. Spores have been collected off the top of the stratosphere at the edge of space. Spores are so light that our planet is thought to be shedding trillions of spores into space each day as it orbits around the sun.

      So Terence theorised that fungal spores originally came from interstellar space, since there is evidence they could survive perhaps for thousands of years in the vacuum of outer space. He reckoned they float from planet to planet terraforming the indigenous life to suit their needs. To achieve their ends they “seed’ planets like Earth with the gift (curse?) of intelligence by cross connecting neural networks that were originally discreet.

      What Mckenna was suggesting way back in the 1970′s was that the whole course of human civilisation was guided along by the chemical interactions of a fungal symbiotic (parasitical?) relationship.

      I remain skeptical. But that ant with the fungus antenna creeps me out.

      Btw, Terence Mckenna always figured that something really really big was going to happen in 2012.

      Maybe 2012 is the year we all climb up trees and lock our arms in the branches and wait for giant ungulates from outer space to arrive and while grazing swallow us whole, thus completing the circle of life for a million year old mushroom.


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        Dave

        Wes

        brilliantly mad ethnobotantist

        Correct!

        He reckoned that mushrooms being fungus were other worldly. Neither plant nor animal, their fossil record was very vague.

        False!

        On the savanna of north Africa before the last ice age Homo erectus roamed following the herds they hunted

        False

        their women folk gathered mushrooms growing on the dung of the herds

        False

        Your point?


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        Bluntly put, Mckenna imagined that a stoned hominid picked up a rock and heard the sound of the rock speaking and was then able to form that sound with his mouth. ROOOOOCCCCKKKKKKK.

        Hey Wes, are we sure it was ROOOOOCCCCKKKK?
        Maybe it was…..

        ROOOOOOCCCCCCCAAAAAA….(Spanish)
        SSSCCCCCEEEKEEEEMMBB….(Albanian)
        POOOOOOOOKKKKKKKKKKK…..(Bulgarian)
        TAAAAAAAAAAŞŞŞŞŞŞŞŞŞ…..(Turkish)
        SCCCHHOOOOOKEEEENNNN…..(Dutch)
        CAAARRRRAAAAIIIIGGGG……(Irish)

        I wonder what language rocks speak/sound?


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          wes george

          That’s a good question, Baaaaa humbug….. Hey Wait A Minute!….OMG! Why didn’t I notice this before?? I’m getting chills…..aa is one of the original phonemes, so is b, h, uu, mm and g, which is solid evidence YOU are in on the conspiracy too!!!

          So you already know all Rocks originally spoke interstellar mushroom…eh Bä ˈHəmˌbəg?

          Lep.

          Sorry to have to blow your cover, mate, but me think it’s time the world knew the truth!

          * * *

          Today, thousands of scientists are toiling (tax-payer funded no doubt) to crack the primeval language. Sure, there are no practical purposes for this research now, but once NASA invents a time machine, speaking interstellar mushroom will be as invaluable as, say, Kevin Rudd’s knowledge of Mandarin is today. Absolutely priceless!

          Professor Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist at Oxford University, said the origin of language could now be pushed back to between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago.

          ‘The study shows that ancestral language came from somewhere in Africa,’ he said.

          Of course, Prof Dunbar of Oxford is keeping the fact that human civilisation is really a parasitical mushroom conspiracy with an unknown objective under his hat. No pun intended.

          But we’ll all soon find out:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAIQJmE75vg&feature=related


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            Professor Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist at Oxford University, said the origin of language could now be pushed back to between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago.

            I live on a small farm where I observe on a daily basis the rich variety of fauna “talking” to each other.
            From the rooster who clucks distinctly when he finds a worm, and the chickens rush over to him, to the maynah birds screaming alarm at the sight of a hawk and to the horses with their body language and rich variety of gestures.

            The above personal experience tells me that the 100k – 200k figure is bunkum.

            p.s. damn you for outing me


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            wes george

            I live on a farm too and my sheep love to signal each other but are luckily incapable of symbolic thought.

            There’s massive chasm that divides biological signaling and human symbolic syntax, which can construct extremely abstract high order reasoning systems such as mathematics. Human and animal chatter are much further apart then they seem at first glance. We love our animals and in unguarded moments tend to project our reason processes upon their activities.

            There’s the “Bow Wow” theory of linguistic evolution. Basically, that the chatter of animals was imitated by hominids and through a gradualistic process somehow language emerged. The problem is that outside of human cognition there are no real examples of syntax (although whale songs exhibit unexplained complexity.)

            The Bow Wow theory just hand waves away the vast empty chasm between animal communication and abstract symbolic language. It’s like there is a big blank spot in the fossil record so we just draw in a smooth line connecting proto-Indo-European to Chimpanzee chatter.

            That’s not a very useful approach since it ignores questions like how did symbols arise, how did the human voice evolve, why did the larynx descend and how did cognitive thought and consciousness come to be?

            Evolution is not a ‘gradualistic’ process that occurs without environmental forcing but more like ‘punctuated equilibrium’ occurring in fits and starts with steady states held in place by strange attractors. This isn’t to deny ‘phyletic gradualism’ because genetic mutation is always drifting away in the background. But if there is no reason to evolve away from an ecological niche then dramatic evolution guided by natural selection won’t happen. Sharks and cockroaches are a good example. So is the global monetary system, which is resisting evolutionary change until it is forced by a dramatic phase shift.

            But what we are talking about is the phase-shift from hominid beastie to humanity. It seems to have happened quite rapidly and to a very small population. Maybe the chasm was leapt over in single bound. More of a revolution, than an evolution.

            So what we are looking for are possible forcing agents, which caused human conscious awareness to leap up, jump starting human cultural evolution. Parasites that alter behaviour are definitely something to consider. So are psychoactive botanicals, which were quite literally to be found on the hunting tracks of hominids following the great herds.


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    “Morgellons” – Follow the white rabbit…


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    BobC

    What seems to be missing from this discussion is any acknowledgement of the extreme usefulness of cats to the human race. They have been traditionally kept for vermin control, at which they excel. Rats and mice also carry diseases that Humans can get — some of which (Hantavirus) are much more directly lethal than toxoplasmosis.

    Having been raised on a farm where we stockpiled grain for livestock feed, I always saw cats as necessary to safeguard the grain from rats and mice. It is, in fact, impossible to have a farm with livestock without acquiring cats, like them or not. Where they come from, I’m not sure.

    Also, having lived in the mountains in a cabin, I can testify to the extreme lengths to which field mice will go to penetrate your domicile — unless you have a cat or two.

    Where I currently live, we have a surfeit of gray wolf spiders, some of which approach 7 cm in length. Yes, I know that the 9 most poisonous spiders in the world live only in Australia, so you aren’t going to be impressed, but these spiders are dangerous to children, and a good cat will completely eliminate them from your house.

    I don’t have any personal experience with it, but I imagine that cheap apartments in the city could also benefit from a good hunting cat.

    Anyone who keeps cats (or any other pet) should keep them vaccinated against common deseases, and there is a vaccine for toxoplasmosis.

    We had ~35 cats on our farm, because my father insisted on feeding them. The theory (which worked) was that, if we fed them we would get a lot of cats and the rat and mice population would be wiped out. We vaccinated our farm cats once a year. Because approximately half of them were feral, this required good planning, courage, and body armor (but that’s another story).


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    gordon

    Subtle changes to our minds and genomes as a result of infections with all sorts of micro-organisms will be the hot topic of the next few years. Gut flora can affect brain behaviour, all manner of viruses have unexpected long term effects on the host, chemical from plastics have oestrogenic effects which modify development – it’s endless …

    But it has always occurred – see here: http://www.nature.com/news/parasites-drove-human-genetic-variation-1.9345


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    pat

    happy Valentines Day folks:

    13 Feb: Fox News: Valentine’s Day Destroyed by Climate Change?
    That’s right. Global warming is very bad for chocolate…
    http://nation.foxnews.com/global-warming/2012/02/13/valentines-day-destroyed-climate-change#


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      MadJak

      Pat. Good Spotting,

      And woddya know, the person behind it is the science molester - Peter Gleick.

      Now some may say that my use of the word Molester might be a bit harsh, but I can use the same flawed logic to justify calling Peter a Molester as he does calling people a Denier.

      Is anyone going to try and deny that the logic is any different?


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      Sonny

      On the one hand hundreds of people freeze to death In Europes worst winter in decades, an on the other hand cocoa might be mire difficult to grow as the world warms…

      Either way… ITS CLIMATE CHANGE, IT’S YOUR FAULT AND YOU NEED TO PAY UP NOW!


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    Roy Hogue

    Can I have CAGW back again?


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    Gee Aye

    Fascinating (referring back to 10.2.2.1). The broad spectrum infectious strains are recent (last 10,000 years) and global. It is hard not to think that humans had a big role. It is also a reminder that diseases can appear rapidly and have major affects on species. So many must have raged through human populations and disappeared and so many to look forward to.

    One publication of many on the evolution and popgen of T. gondii is pasted below (just the abstract!).

    Globalization and the population structure of Toxoplasma gondii
    Author(s): Lehmann, T (Lehmann, Tovi); Marcet, PL (Marcet, Paula L.); Graham, DH (Graham, Doug H.); Dahl, ER (Dahl, Erica R.); Dubey, JP (Dubey, J. P.)
    Source: PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Volume: 103 Issue: 30 Pages: 11423-11428 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0601438103 Published: JUL 25 2006
    Times Cited: 111 (from Web of Science)

    Abstract: Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite that infects nearly all mammal and bird species worldwide. Usually asymptomatic, toxoplasmosis can be severe and even fatal to many hosts, including people. Elucidating the contribution of genetic variation among parasites to patterns of disease transmission and manifestations has been the goal of many studies. Focusing on the geographic component of this variation, we show that most genotypes are locale-specific, but some are found across continents and are closely related to each other, indicating a recent radiation of a pandemic genotype. Furthermore, we show that the geographic structure of T. gondii is extraordinary in having one population that is found in all continents except South America, whereas other populations are generally confined to South America, and yet another population is found worldwide. Our evidence suggests that South American and Eurasian populations have evolved separately until recently, when ships populated by rats, mice, and cats provided T. gondii with unprecedented migration opportunities, probably during the transatlantic slave trade. Our results explain several enigmatic features of the population structure of T. gondii and demonstrate how pervasive, prompt, and elusive the impact of human globalization is on nature.


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      Mark D.

      So now to “be green” we cannot travel?

      Never mind that birds and a great number of non Homo mammals ranged wider than Homo Sapiens.

      Nope, everything bad is because of humans. Right Gee?


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        Gee Aye

        might help if you read my comment… but I’ll repeat it, “It is hard not to think that humans had a big role. ” So I agree, birds too could have had a big role. The question to ask is then which birds and when.

        There are other aspects of the biology of the organism and the disease and the timing of its radiation in different places (for an example see the abstract above) that have been published that implicate human activities as an agent in its spread. I have no idea why you feel the need to confect anti-green ire on the basis of my comment.


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          Mark D.

          I did read your comment. See, I am able to notice key words like “globalization” as in:

          Globalization and the population structure of Toxoplasma gondii

          Perhaps you haven’t yet been able to shake the effects of an Agenda on such word selection.

          I have.


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            Gee Aye

            Globalization refers only to the fact that the Tox somehow became global. It is not referring to human financial systems nor even humans in particular. Anything that becomes global has globalizes. It is jargon not an agenda. I never joined the agenda so never had to shake it.


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            Mark D.

            Globalization refers only to the fact that the Tox somehow became global. It is not referring to human financial systems nor even humans in particular. Anything that becomes global has globalizes. It is jargon not an agenda. I never joined the agenda so never had to shake it.

            That’s funny Gee “jargon” you say? I though you were smarter than that…..

            From the study you quote:

            Our evidence suggests that South American and Eurasian populations have evolved separately until recently, when ships populated by rats, mice, and cats provided T. gondii with unprecedented migration opportunities, probably during the transatlantic slave trade.

            Sure that sounds benign doesn’t it? No agenda there at all. The big business of human globalization and slavery all rolled into science you pass off as “jargon”.

            Semantics is a hobby of mine. So is vigilance against anti-libertarian propaganda. So let me pass on a little education via that bastion of truth Wiki:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Globalization

            whereapon you can scroll down to “environment”

            On your way down check out all the other related “jargon”.


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            Gee Aye

            even so, it refers to the gloabalization of the parasite. The word is common in referring to organisms that are found thoughout the world or even a niche. Good luck with improving your abilities in your hobbies.


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            Mark D.

            Denial at it’s finest.

            Good luck in what ever you do. You’re going to need it.


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            Gee Aye

            Mark, I can’t work out whether I was being too subtle or what you were doing. Anyway, I enjoyed the interaction.


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            Mark D.

            Gee, I get that were apparently offering more fascinating information to Jo’s post. What I’m attempting (driven no doubt by the parasites in my head) on a different tangent, is to point out to you the language used by the authors of the study you quoted. I do this for no other reason than to expand your mind, open it to what a deep skeptic (me) sees. Your reaction is interesting to me too. You either don’t want to take up the discussion or you simply can’t see what I see. The study authors clearly are using language that perpetuates the “man is bad globalization is bad” meme. You argue that that authors chose the word out of editorial brevity, I argue that they had an deeper intent.


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      Mark D.

      How about we commission a study of all the world domination characters owned cats. (think James Bond)

      For example was Hitler cat person?
      [No Mark, Hitler was a dog person, German Shepherds to be precise. His first was called Prinz, his second called Muckl and ofcourse his last and well known one from documentaries was called Blondi who was euthenased in the bunker shortly before Hitler did himself and Eva in. mod oggi]


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        Gee Aye

        He was a dog person


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        Mark D.

        I know he had dogs, do we know he didn’t have cats? Especially when he was an “artist” in his early years? This relates to the story:

        According to psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey, schizophrenia did not become common until around the same time as people started having cats for pets. Schizophrenia did not rise in prevalence until the latter half of the 18th century, when for the first time people in Paris and London started keeping cats as pets. The so-called cat craze began among “poets and left-wing avant-garde Greenwich Village types,” says Torrey, but the trend spread rapidly—and coinciding with that development, the incidence of schizophrenia soared.”

        C’mon people, do I just think too fast and type too slow?


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          C’mon people, do I just think too fast and type too slow?

          Well, one would hope you think somewhat quicker than 60 words per minute :)


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            Mark D.

            Ha Ha!

            Baa, I have much more leeway; I type at around 30 WPM.

            When I try really hard, I can out-think what I’m typing. :)

            My problem is that I think by visualizing concepts not words. Then I have to convert my vision into words. Sometime I don’t get it quite right or I leave out details that I think are obvious.

            Alas, the protozoa in my head have taken me this far I wonder where they’ll dump me…….


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    Kevin Moore

    Insects have mind control problems too -

    http://livelonger.hubpages.com/hub/parasitic-mind-control-of-insects

    Cordyceps fungus turns ants into zombies
    One particular type of cordyceps fungus develops an unusual parasitic relationship with ants (other varieties parasitize other insects and arthropods). The fungus, when it infects an ant, begins to affect its nervous system, effectively making it into a zombie. The ant will abandon all normal activity, start acting confused, and make its way up to the top of a tall plant or tree, the fungus instructing it to do so.

    When it reaches the top, it will grab onto the plant with a death grip and eventually die. Then the cordyceps fungus will grow out of its head (see pictures!), consuming the poor dead ant’s innards, and release its spores. The position at the top of the plant, of course, helps the fungus spread its spores as far and wide as possible.

    Other ants will recognize the strange behavior of an infected ant, and will usually grab it and throw the demented ant far away from the colony, knowing that if it stays, it could pose a danger to the whole colony when the fungus emerges from its head.


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    mullumhillbilly

    “>..here’s an especially weird effect, infected men are more likely to be introverted and suspicious and to disregard rules
    >[according to] Flegr, “the infected males were much more hesitant than uninfected men
    >Flegr has the infection himself, … he seemed unusually happy to take risks that others around him did not
    >Toxo infections might make at least males in the population more likely to rebel.”

    Perhaps one of the other side-effects is an ability to unquestioningly adopt mutually exclusive positions.
    Has no-one else here noticed the contradictions?


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      Yes, fair point mullumhillbilly, personality indicators are a mess, and the bell curves of infected vs uninfected have a large overlap. So within each group there will be many contradictions. The piece you sliced ““the infected males were much more hesitant than uninfected men” is out of context – they were hesitant to drink an unidentified fluid. That requires trust. So they can be fearless (in Flegrs personal case anyway) about bullets, but trusting other people fits with the introvert profile and the lack of obedience.


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    Truthseeker

    Jo, something to be really outraged about …

    A US Bill to stop public funded science to be available to the public.

    The article says that it will affect Australian research as an outcome.


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    Well, I have had cats for more than 50 years, and wouldn’t want to be without one or two. If this is a sign of madness, then I’m mad.


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    Peter Miller

    If you are looking for conspiracy theories, the relationship between child asthma and the introduction of lead free fuels is an excellent one. Apparently unburned (when engine was cold) ring chain hydrocarbons (benzenes, toluenes & toluenes) were the cause of the problem These have now been removed by the oil companies and it seems the incidence of asthma has now started to fall.

    Problem is: has anyone kept a 30 year old sample of lead free gasoline/petrol to see what was in it?


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      Graeme No.3

      Methyl benzene which used to be touted as making one brand of petrol superior to all others is usually called toluene. It wasn’t added, it was there already.

      The refineries take a ‘cut’ based on temperature range. That is, everything boiling between temperature A and temperature B goes into the tank. A selected range is designated petrol, another (higher boiling) ‘cut’ is called kerosene, and so on. The composition can vary a bit depending on the feed stock (crude oil). Nor is the range always the same. Petrol supplied in winter is much more volatile (and lower boiling range and flash point) than that supplied in summer.

      In the old days of multiple petrol companies, the refinery just filled each companies tank in turn, from a common main. There was no difference between any companies petrol.

      The boiling range always includes the boiling point of benzene, so that is, and has always been present. (about 2-3% in Australia). It is just possible that they could exclude toluene, but why bother?

      I would think you would have to work very hard to see any difference in petrols in the last 30 years (subject to above comment on feedstocks and seasonal changes).


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      Another Ian

      For those outside the bowser dealing with ULP most things in it won’t be in short order – e.g. advice to ditch unused chainsaw fuel unless you have added fuel stabiliser.


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    Michael Larkin

    Heh. I did research in parasitology for three years. Parasites can be utterly remarkable. One wee trematode beastie, Dicrocoelium dendriticum, at one stage of its life cycle infects snails, which exude a sweet-tasting foam that ants like to slurp on. Trouble is, within the foam are larvae that infect the ant – one of them becomes the “brain worm”, affecting the ant’s behaviour so that towards dusk, it feels compelled to crawl up to the top of a blade of grass, and its mandibles become locked on it. Normally, ants would go back to their nest at dusk.

    Sheep like to graze at dusk, so they come along and eat the ant along with the grass, thus getting infected; the next stage, the adult parasite, lives in the sheep’s intestines. There it lays its eggs, which pass out in faeces and produce another larval stage when ingested by snails, and so back to the beginning of the life-cycle.

    We think we are very clever. Some of the parasitic flatworms like Dicrocoelium are in some ways cleverer.


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    Siliggy

    Don’t worry the toxo infected parts of your brain should be harmlessly destroyed by your mobile phone leaving no evidence of either problem unless the bread preservatives, ritalin and prozac upset the balance. Who took the funding away from this research and gave it to climate scammers?


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      John Knowles

      One thing which will kill Toxo is AC 395kHz from a small 9 volt battery. You need a frequency generator circuit and some short copper pipe hand electrodes wrapped in wet cloth to attach the wires to. Most paracites have a frequency which upsets them and you only need to do it for about 5 mins/day.
      Interestingly the AC current opens the cell membrane ‘pumps’ so if you are on (say) Prozac you end up with over 10X the dose crossing over into your cells, – bad news.
      In about 1996, for about A$40 I built a +ve off-set square wave-form DC pulser and over the years it’s been used to great effect on myself, children and horses instead of antibiotics. Various people have researched this including Dr Bob Beck and Dr Hulda Clark but the earliest reference I found was at the US Patents Office to Dr Steven Kaali in 1993 (No. 5,188,738) His original work detailed cleaning a patient’s blood of HIV in vivo.


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    J Knowles

    The late Hulda Clark PhD (paracitology) says on page 263 of “The Cure For All Disease” that ergot mold is associated with schitzophrenia. Ergot makes LSD. Clark reckoned that paracites and some form of chemical pollution are behind many diseases including cancer and AIDS.
    It should be quite easy to research schizophrenia within the massive US prison population where consumption of moldy food could be monitored and compulsory medical testing for T.gondii and ergot would be easy.


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      Markus Fitzhenry.

      “”It should be quite easy to research schizophrenia within the massive US prison population where consumption of moldy food could be monitored and compulsory medical testing for T.gondii and ergot would be easy.”"

      OMG, J Knowles, do they already get served moldy food in US prisons, or are you really suggesting the prisons should be classed as no more than Lab rats?


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        J Knowles

        I’m not suggesting we deliberately trial prisoner on bad food but the large prison population does:
        1. afford controlled study conditions which are difficult to repeat in the general community and
        2. prisons have very high numbers of behaviorally impaired subjects.
        3. In reality when we test some so-called "fresh" foods they reveal traces of molds, aflatoxins, paracites and eggs.

        Ultimately the prisoners might benefit enormously.


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    See also Carl Zimmer’s “Parasite Rex”.

    BTW dogs seem to cause deafness in their owners.


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    wheresmyak47

    Probably explains your paranoia and why you so easily believe a complex conspiracy theory rather than a simpler logical answer to everything.

    Off to the doctor with you jo.

    ————

    REPLY: Denying MRI scans and dozens of peer reviewed research also eh? Jo


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    kim:)

    I’m almost certain Brussels Sprouts…cause brain damage.


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    manalive

    The primary host of these beasties is the cat.
    I’ve owned a few cats over the years and found them to be a most affectionate and useful domesticated animal.
    Another common characteristic I’ve noticed is their love of classical music, particularly Beethoven. At present, for instance, Fred is displaying what appears to be ecstatic delight in the Opus 20 Septet.
    I’m wondering if, as well as the other human behaviour changes (increased risk of traffic accidents etc.), Toxoplasmosis might also cause Beethoven addiction.


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    MattB

    We’ve had cats as popular pets at the exact period that global civilisation has advanced beyond wildest dreams, and the global population has boomed. What’s the problem.


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      Dave

      MattyB

      You state:

      We’ve had cats as popular pets at the exact period that global civilisation has advanced beyond wildest dreams

      What period are speaking of? The Roman Warming period? The 2000BC Egyption period? The Asian 4,000 BC period?

      Your statement of “Exact period of global civilation” maybe incorrect! Help!

      There’s no problem with cats – just the timeline you speak of!


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    Rereke Whakaaro

    MattB

    What’s the problem? We still have the bloody cats!


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    Paul S

    Affectionate, cuddly and pleasant creatures they are – and are also a wild animal the moment they walk out your door, viz the dead sugar glider I found next to my car this morning. And the kids wonder why I won’t agree to another “cute” kitten!


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      memoryvault

      If you truly love our distinctive wildlife, then get down on your knees every day and give thanks that we have cats.

      If it weren’t for cats our birdlife, and much of our distinct marsupial species, would have been rendered extinct long ago.


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        Andrew McRae

        Well MV that is a puzzler. I’ll have a go.

        The bird is in the tree. The cat is on the ground. The cat can climb the trunk, and maybe a branch, but it will never get out to the leaves without giving away its position. Ergo, cats have great difficulty catching birds.

        Snakes, on the other hand, can slither up to the smallest of branches, devour a bird egg, and.. be caught by the cat when it reaches the ground.

        Is that it? Do I win a prize?


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          memoryvault

          In the right direction Andrew, but not close enough for a prize, I’m afraid. Being cold-blooded, in the grander scheme of things, snakes just don’t eat that much. Birds and snakes had reached some sort of balance long before the first European settlers – and their cats – arrived.

          The first ships had cats on them to control the rats. And when the first ships arrived so did the rats. Unlike a snake, which will consume an entire egg or two, and then curl up and go to sleep for a few days, a rat will climb a tree and systematically work its way through EVERY nest, breaking and destroying EVERY egg. The only explanation I can offer for this is that maybe rats view birds as competitors for food. Most native birds have no defense against this form of slaughter.

          For this very reason birds in the wild will actively seek out places with a healthy cat population because they know there will be no rats.

          Thumper and I have been married for over thirty years, and most of that time we lived in the bush. We also always had cats. It was fun to watch the male adult Willy Wag-Tails fight over the best nesting spots in the eaves around the verandah where the cats sunned themselves.

          Cats hunt birds opportunistically. That is, if a bird is stupid enough to land within pouncing distance of a cat then it’s fair game, but outside of that, cats don’t bother. There are lots of things easier to catch. I’ve never seen an adult cat climb a tree all the way up to the small branches hunting birds. Cats, by and large, are too smart for that. The closest I’ve ever seen was a friend who had a cat that used to sleep in a low, shrubby tree frequented by Finches, but even then, the rare catches were opportunistic rather than deliberate stalking.

          Birds will actually use cats to train their young. I used to watch as Willy Wag-Tails would teach their young to fly. Then one day Mum and Dad would bring the two or three young ones to the fence, and Dad would go and find Bear, our beautiful jet black cat. The bird would dive-bomb Bear until finally Bear would give half-hearted chase, and Dad would lead Bear to where the family were waiting on the fence.

          Then Mum and Dad would take turns flying down to the ground, grabbing a seed, and then immediately return to the perch on the fence to eat it. With much chattering and flapping of wings Mum and Dad would eventually get the young ones to copy them.

          The lesson continued until, inevitably, one chick would get interested in something on the ground, and dally for a just a moment too long. In that moment it became Bear’s breakfast. Lesson learned, Mum and Dad would lead the surviving chicks back to the safety of the trees.

          It was during that period of my life that I learned tomato plants were more intelligent than chooks, but that’s another story.


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          Byron

          It`s actually a case of the introduced small herbivores i.e. mice , rats and rabbits , wildly outperforming the local ones .

          A case in point is the new holland mouse which is timid , with a low breeding rate and a narrower selection of suitable food types compared to the introduced mouse . The end result of this sort of competition for a particular ecological niche is almost a forgone conclusion untill You introduce an “equaliser” in the form of the feral cat . The timidity of the new holland mouse now becomes an advantage as the more adventurous nature and higher breeding rate of the introduced mouse now just increases the probability of it being lunch .

          Not surprisingly , the trend seems to be that the NHM is holding it`s own against it`s competitor where there are feral cat populations and losing where there aren`t . One of the numbers often cited by felinaphobic Greens is ” up to 15% of the stomach contents of feral cats are native animals ” the other side of the coin not mentioned is that 85% to 95% of the stomach contents of said cats are introduced species and even after the trophic cascade that happened on Macquarie island one question that is never asked is ;

          “What would happen if those individual members of that introduced species were out breeding instead of being digested in a cat`s stomach”

          As usual , real ecosystems , which run on blood , guts and crap are vastly more complex than the ones which run on rainbows and pixie dust that exsist in the heads of the MSM and Greenies


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    Tel

    A successful parasite never takes more than it needs, and that’s where Big Government went off the rails.

    Another common characteristic I’ve noticed is their love of classical music, particularly Beethoven. At present, for instance, Fred is displaying what appears to be ecstatic delight in the Opus 20 Septet.
    I’m wondering if, as well as the other human behaviour changes (increased risk of traffic accidents etc.), Toxoplasmosis might also cause Beethoven addiction.

    Well I’m safe then , I much prefer Bach to Beethoven… I’m rather partial to peace and quiet as well.

    So an odd side effect, a potential benefit in a weird way, is that a large slab of the population might be less afraid to speak up against tyranny. Common Toxo infections might make at least males in the population more likely to rebel.

    Hmmm, interesting that this is much more of a benefit to the women than the men, given the different effect on the two genders. Possibly there’s a much older pathway in the human brain that originally served the purpose of standing up to tyranny (men get defensive and rebellious, women get pliable and obedient), and the bug just activates what is already there.


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    KinkyKeith

    Restecp

    New respect for cats.

    Different from dogs but good for the environment and natural balance.


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    Picking up on a couple of sidelines again – sorry …

    Jo: “I didn’t realize that schitzophrenia was rarer in earlier times … ”
    In traditional societies, apparent mental aberration is sometimes treated differently.
    In PNG for example, there is (or was?) the concept of the “long-long” [person]. They are a bit odd, but are granted a degree of tolerance because (a) they might have a better connection with the spirit world than the rest of us, and (b) may therefore enjoy a degree of protection from that world.
    I saw evidence that supported the concept, but believing it or not is not the point; it is a healthier social construct than the alternative provided by the west.

    “Vitamin D is also implicated in Schizophrenia … ”
    Could be something in this I guess.
    As residents of the UK, if we wanted to holiday somewhere with guaranteed sun (and enough customers that year had paid cash) we would go to the south of France. Fellow holidaymakers from the UK, of Caribbean extraction, would sometimes laugh at “whitey” slapping on sunscreen. Laugh was on them – within 24 hours they would be rushing to pharmacies for their own supply – their assumed immunity had entirely disappeared.


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    JMD

    Worse, those cysts somehow affected your personality, possibly putting you at increased risk of suicide, schizophrenia, or car accident?

    The question that needs to be asked here though Jo is what selective advantage confers to the parasite by inducing such behaviour in humans.

    Does suicide perpetuate Toxoplasma gondii? Or is infection of humans an evolutionary dead end?


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      wes george

      In the olden days, before ambos and latex gloves, when people went splat they tended to get bodily fluid on their neighbours.


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      BobC

      JMD
      February 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      The question that needs to be asked here though Jo is what selective advantage confers to the parasite by inducing such behaviour in humans.

      I think that it is commonly accepted that, for Humans, it is advantageous to have at least some of the males willing to take risks. This is not necessarily good for them as individuals, but can provide a lot of value to their group (tribe, nation, etc), in terms of both seeking out new opportunities and protecting the group from dangers.

      From an evolutionary point of view, many males (maybe most) are surplus — that is, not needed to propagate the race — while few or no females can be so considered. It is interesting, therefore, that this parasite makes males less social and take risks, but females become more socially connected.

      This parasite might actually be partially responsible for a fair amount of the progress of civilization!

      So, the answer to JMD’s question above might be: If the parasite helps Humans to be come more successful and populous, then the parasite also becomes more successful.


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    Brendon

    I knew there was a reason why I only eat well done meat…..

    As for those cooking programs that keep promoting only barely cooking meat, you have to wonder whether they deliberately want human beings to be infected by Toxoplasmosis.

    Man invented Fire for a reason – To COOK meat!


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    papertiger

    I’ve heard of bat shit crazy.
    Recently I was adopted by a peacock. It just flew in one day. Liked the look of our tree.
    So I’m wondering how long it’ll be until I’m pronounced bird shit crazy?

    It’s got kind of an ‘invasion of the body snatchers’ feel to it.
    Can’t we get Dr. McCoy to put a test subject in the isolation tank, bombard them with theta rays until the parasite is removed?


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    Raiden

    Well, I guess I’ll be safe then. I wear gloves when gardening, cook my meat very good, and only like one kind of pussy (it certainly ain’t the kind mentioned here). ;)


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