Rebecca Wescott

207 Added | 10 Magazines | 8 Following | 14 Followers | @RebeccaWescott | I like scientific oddities, weird diseases, pointless factoids, mocking pseudoscience, and pretending I'm going to be a writer when I grow up. . 

Bad language: why being bilingual makes swearing easier

Bilingual reduced emotional resonance is fairly well-established, but why does it happen? And does that have a knock-on effect for different communities?<p>My dad had a liberal philosophy of childrearing, but he would always tell us off for swearing. As a result, I grew up feeling very uncomfortable …

Language

This woman suffers from a disease that makes her smell like fish

Kelly Fidoe-White got complaints about her odor her entire life, to the point where she would take multiple showers a day. In 2015, she was diagnosed …

Health

Ancient technique can dramatically improve memory, research suggests

Cultivating a ‘memory palace’ can make long-lasting improvements to recall, say scientists, suggesting many of us have untapped memory reserves<p>A memory technique invented by the ancient Greeks can make dramatic and long-lasting improvements to a person’s power of recall, according to research that …

The Brain

The dark psychology of dehumanization, explained

As anti-Muslim rhetoric increases under Trump, more Americans are seeing Muslims as less than human.<p>You can think of human psychology as a series of overlapping mental programs. One program identifies faces as individuals we recognize. Another is working memory, which allows us to make quick …

Religion

Why Ancient Greek Temples Were Full of Disembodied Clay Limbs

Arms and legs and eyes and ears and genitals, oh my!<p>In ancient Greece, guys with STDs didn’t have a ton of options when it came to medical …

Ancient History

Not Regular Kittens

In 2008, a farmer in the Chita region of Russia (north of Mongolia) found that a new litter of kittens had been born in his barn. They were unlike …

Cute Animals

Are Viruses Alive?

Viruses are infectious, tiny and nasty. But are they alive?<p>Not really, although it depends on what your definition of "alive" is, two infectious …

Biology

There's a 'Doorway to The Underworld' in Siberia So Big It's Uncovered Ancient Forests

A doorway to 200,000 years ago.<p>It's no secret that Siberia's permafrost is on thin ice. Conditions are varying so much that huge holes are appearing …

Facts About Tardigrades

Tardigrades, often called water bears or moss piglets, are near-microscopic animals with long, plump bodies and scrunched-up heads. They have eight …

Images of new bleaching on Great Barrier Reef heighten fears of coral death

Exclusive: Coral bleaching found near Palm Island as unusually warm waters are expected off eastern Australia, with areas hit in last year’s event in mortal danger<p>The embattled Great Barrier Reef could face yet more severe coral bleaching in the coming month, with areas badly hit by last year’s …

Great Barrier Reef

Biologists Are Figuring Out How Cells Tell Left From Right

In 2009, after she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, Ann Ramsdell began to search the scientific literature to see if someone with her …

Three-way dance between herbivores, plants and microbes unveiled

What looks like a caterpillar chewing on a leaf or a beetle consuming fruit is likely a three-way battle that benefits most, if not all of the …

Penn State

Fed up with honking and pooping, Denver gets a 'goosinator' to help disrupt Canada goose population

On a chilly morning in Denver's City Park, some 600 Canada geese floated like a drab armada atop an icy pond.<p>A truck pulled up, and a collective murmur rose from the gaggle, suspicious but not alarmed. Scott Bartell, a technician with the parks department, hoisted out a 3-foot-long, orange …

We Might Have Been Wrong About What Makes People Left- Or Right-Handed

It might not be our brains.<p>Scientists have long been intrigued by why people tend to naturally favour the use of one hand over the other. We still …

Neurophilosophy

The Cognitive Bias President Trump Understands Better Than You

Americans born in the United States are more murderous than undocumented immigrants. Fighting words, I know. But why? After all, that's just what the …

Ronald Reagan

Secret Behind Rorschach Test: Why We See Images in Inkblots

Whether you see a butterfly, dancing elephants, bloody humans or some other imagery when peering at one of the abstract blobs that makes up the …

Creationist Ken Ham's Giant 'Noah's Ark' To Feature Dinosaurs vs. Giants Diorama

A new display going into the creationist Noah’s Ark attraction in Kentucky shows what appears to be gladiator-style fights involving humans, giants and a dinosaur.<p>Ken Ham, founder of the group that runs the attraction, tweeted images of the new diorama on Thursday:<p>The dinosaur is visible in the far …

Paleontology

Deadly Cocktail: Mammal-Like Reptiles Were 1st Venomous Vertebrates

<i>This story was updated Feb. 16 at 12:48 p.m. EST.</i><p>The world's first land-dwelling venomous vertebrate wasn't a snake, but a mammal-like, cat-size …

I was skeptical that the anti-vaccine movement was gaining traction. Not anymore.

Trump has energized the vaccine skeptics, and that’s dangerous.<p>If there was ever a moment to fear the anti-vaxxers could win, this is it.<p>Consider the following:<p>The president courts known anti-vaccine crackpots like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and makes the same kinds of pseudoscience claims about …

Public Health

Exploding testicles, penis-fencing and dung-flinging: Ten weirdest animal mating rituals

These animals have a different approach to Valentine's Day.<p>It's the most romantic day of the year, the day when most of us will attempt to woo our …

10 Fascinating Cave Finds That Will Blow Your Mind

Caves have served as homes, storage sites, and sacred spaces throughout history. This makes them rich and rewarding hunting grounds for …

Archaeology

'Relieved' Family Writes Scathing Obituary For 'Evil' Father

The obituary of a 75-year-old Galveston, Texas, man who died of cancer last month is getting a lot of attention for its brutal description of the deceased.<p>Leslie Ray “Popeye” Charping lived “29 years longer than expected and much longer than he deserved,” begins the obituary, which states that …

Hobbies

Here's How Magic Tricks Short-Circuit Your Brain

The psychology of manipulation.<p>We all know magic tricks are just that—tricks. They're not actually magic. Yet we're still astounded by them, and they <i>seem</i> otherworldly. Is it just that we're suspending disbelief, like we would at a <i>Star Wars</i> movie? According to this handy video from Digg, featuring …

Want to Make a Lie Seem True? Say It Again. And Again. And Again

You only use 10 percent of your brain. Eating carrots improves your eyesight. Vitamin C cures the common cold. Crime in the United States is at an …

ACLU

The world's most unloved, underappreciated wildlife – in pictures

Do you like pangolins or silky sharks? How about the black-legged kittiwake? Vote for your favourite in the Wildscreen Arkive’s Valentine’s Day campaign to help protect underappreciated species from poaching and climate change

Wildlife

Warm ocean water triggered vast seabird die-off, experts say

A year after tens of thousands of common murres, an abundant North Pacific seabird, starved and washed ashore on beaches from California to Alaska, …

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Rude, Cruel, and Insulting ‘Vinegar Valentines’ of the Victorian Era

Nothing like getting surprise hate mail from a would-be lover on February 14.<p>In the 1840s, hopeful American and British lovers sent lacy valentines …

Apparently Dolphins in Australia Like to Get Stoned by Chewing on Toxic Blowfish

Some scientists believe that the toxin in the fish can produce a numbing or narcotic effect, putting the dolphins in a trance-like state.<p>Just as humans have figured out how to harness the hallucinogenic properties of just about anything, dolphins seem to have found a vice of their own. A group of …

Numb

No wildlife charity campaigns to save parasites. But they should

We tend to think of parasites as harmful, itchy, nasty, creepy crawlies. But these strange, beautiful creatures have many uses – and they need our help<p>Until very recently, the skies of North America played host to one of the largest birds on earth: the Californian condor (<i>Gymnogyps californianus</i>). …

Immune System