Show Mobile Navigation
Facts |

10 Useful Science And Behavior Facts You Wish You Knew

by Carlos Arango
fact checked by Jamie Frater

From health to the paranormal, we all have an opinion on many things. Maybe you’re convinced that aliens are real. Perhaps you’re not into quinoa. And maybe, just maybe, you liked The Dark Tower this summer.

Whatever your opinions, they’re probably based on knowledge. Well, here is a list of things you may or may not know that will simply make you wonder and maybe change your opinion on certain topics. One thing is sure—this list will make you go, “Whaaaaaat?”

10 Do You Have HIV?

Let’s start with a culprit responsible for the deaths of millions. No biggie, right?

Human immunodeficiency virus, better known as HIV, is no picnic. Terrible symptoms and a slow decline for the infected were a common fate. Now, many believe it to be something hard to catch, especially since sexual education has advanced so much in recent years, but recent studies have shown that around 30 percent of new HIV infections in the US are transmitted by people who have no idea they have the virus.[1] To this day, the only way to know if you carry the virus is to get tested.

9 Antibacterial Or Regular Soap?

Do you wash your hands every time you go to the bathroom? Do you reflexively gag when you find there is no antibacterial soap but instead only that old regular soap—or even worse, an old bar of soap?

Well, if your argument for preferring antibacterial soap over regular is that it kills more bacteria, we’ve got bad news for you. New studies have shown that antibacterial soap containing triclosan (a very common compound in antibacterial products) is no better than regular soap when it comes to killing germs.[2] So the next time you can’t find your favorite antibacterial soap, give that old soap bar a try; anything is better than not washing your hands.

8 If You Want To Study Better, Hit That Coffee Shop

Have you ever been to your favorite coffee shop and wondered why there are so many people studying or concentrating on anything other than drinking coffee? Well, you’re not the only one; for a long time, I wondered the same thing. The allure of a coffee shop to anyone who needs time to do work or study is undeniable, and now science tells us why.

Turns out that the best noise level to carry abstract thought and any creative task is 70 decibels.[3] Care to guess where can you find said level of noise? Why yes, that is the average noise level in that coffee shop you love.

7 Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way

One of the hardest things to do is overcome a temptation, be it avoiding that piece of chocolate cake when you’re on a diet or wasting your time in Stumbleupon or Netflix instead of studying. Procrastination is a beautiful delight to indulge in, but sometimes, we really need to do whatever it is we’re supposed to be doing. In those cases, telling yourself or others “I don’t eat unhealthy food” instead of “I can’t eat unhealthy food” will help you stick to your goal.[4]

This simple change in the way you express your blocks or goals changes the way you think about those same things.

6 Go For An Actual Walk

Walking is one of America’s favorite exercises. It even has its own magazine, yet it’s something that you would hardly consider a worthy exercise to burn calories or fill those activity rings on your iWatch. If you only have time for a walk instead of time at the gym, fear not: You can burn significant calories by just walking.

The trick is in varying the speed at which you walk. Doing so burns more calories than getting on a treadmill and setting a speed; you can burn up to 20 percent more calories by changing the speed you walk frequently rather than keeping a steady pace.[5] So toss away that treadmill, go for a walk, and smile—you’re burning more calories and enjoying the outside.

5 Grab A Burger, Not A Protein Bar

This one will come as a surprise without a doubt. For any who like to follow an athletic lifestyle, this will sound like heresy. Usually after a heavy workout or everyday exercise, people reach for energy bars, recovery drinks, and protein powders, generally because we tend to believe that dietary supplements provide a better boost than any normal food would. Well, here comes science to bring the roof down on you. When it comes to exercise recovery, supplements don’t hold a candle to fast food, a study has found.[6]

In a heavy blow to the sports supplement industry after spending millions of dollars in campaigns showing top athletes working out and preparing clever taglines and banners to convince people to use their products, it turns out that you can just go to McDonald’s to get the recovery energy you need. Who would have thought that fries, hamburgers, and even hash browns fare better against Gatorade, PowerBar, and Cytomax?

However, this doesn’t mean that you can replace your post-workout supplements and just go on a chicken nugget binge. For the body, energy is energy, and a simple carbohydrate is just a simple carbohydrate. But the next time after working out when you face the decision between a burger or Muscle Milk, you can smile knowing that choosing the golden arches every once in a while isn’t bad for you.

4 Teach Kids To Be Kind

As some parents might tell you, children have an innate feeling of good and wrong, and the role of their parents is to reinforce the good. In other words, teach empathy and kindness. But once the child goes to school, it falls to the teacher to keep the practice going. A study has shown that students (aged nine to 11) who were prompted by their teachers to do three acts of kindness a week for an entire month showed an increase in well-being as well as becoming more likable to others.[7]

Happy people have more satisfying friendships and are more likely to engage in prosocial behavior, so teach your kid to be kind. It will make them more happy and popular.

3 It’s Not A Ghost; It’s Just Your Brain Messing Up

Have you ever been in an old room and felt the sensation that something or someone is close by when no one is around? Have you ever thought that there is a ghost around you? Well, turns out that’s just your brain messing up. For a long time, science has struggled with finding out why we believe in ghosts and in determining what leads people to feel that something otherworldly was around them.[8]

Now, we finally have an answer. Scientists have found the parts of the brain that are responsible for generating these weird sensations, such as feeling someone is around when nobody is there. The brain essentially misreads signals from the body and then tries to attribute those signals to something external instead of internal.

2 If You Want To Smell Good, Eat Garlic

We’ve all heard of the benefits of garlic, from helping to cure infections to warding off vampires. But in the smell department, garlic has another property: the ability to ward off others. Think of the warnings to avoid eating garlic on a date unless you want to drive them away or the advice to not eat garlic before an interview. Well, it turns out that if what you want is to attract the opposite sex, then eating garlic might be the thing for you.[9]

During studies, researches concluded that women actually find the odor of a male more alluring after eating garlic, so much so that the men who ate two servings of garlic smelled better and had less pungent body odor. So fear not, garlic lovers, you can enjoy that savory meal knowing that your smell will attract more than repel.

1 Generous Welfare Makes You More Likely To Work

A big source of argument is whether welfare good is for society or just creates moochers. This subject is ranked high in social debate and has been a hot topic in the US for quite some time. Many believe that a society that gives generous welfare is just creating people dependent on the government.

For a surprising view, we turn to Europe. It turns out that European countries that give generous welfare benefits have populations more committed and motivated to work.[10] If you want to make people work and make the economy climb, give better benefits. Welfare with generous benefit levels makes people who aren’t employed more likely to want to work rather than the contrary. As social spending gets more generous for the population, there is an increase in employment commitment.

Graphic designer and photographer, currently working as a macro photographer and content writer.

fact checked by Jamie Frater