Recently, redditor u/rui_xox33 asked, "What are some creepy facts about human nature?" Because I love a fun fact and for some reason love to terrify myself, I clicked that link immediately. Odds are, you're probably in the same boat, right?
Here are 15 facts about human nature that are equally interesting as they are creepy:
1. "On a recent date with a CSI, I learned that a lot of people die naked on or near the toilet."
"Paramedic/RN here. I've pulled a lot of guys out from the bathroom to start resuscitation. The vagus nerve is stimulated by 'bearing down.' This results in a slowing of the heart rate which can cause someone’s heart to slow or stop. In fact, one of the treatments for a tachycardia (super fast heart rate) is to have someone 'bear down' — or try to breathe out with their stomach muscles without letting air out of their nose or mouth — as if they are taking a dump or trying to push out a baby."
2. "We possess the genes for regeneration similar to starfish and salamanders. They are on the same chromosome as the genes for scar tissue formation. However, they are not turned on for us, whereas the scar tissue genes are."
"So technically, we could regenerate limbs like a starfish. But we don't, probably because it would be waaaay too metabolically demanding and take too much energy. If we could do it, you'd likely shave years off of your life in exchange. Instead, we make scar tissue to reinforce the injured area."
3. "I remember reading that if you look at pictures of sick people, your immune system will automatically give itself a little boost just by looking at the pictures."
According to National Geographic, Mark Schaller from the University of British Columbia did a small study looking into this. What he found was that people who looked at pictures of people sick or sneezing "had a stronger immune response to later infections" than people who hadn't looked at such photos. The logic behind this is that, much like an emotional reaction you might have to an image like that of feeling gross or unclean, your brain and immune system also have a reaction. Subconsciously, you might be on high alert now thinking about it, and avoid coming into contacts with a possible contaminant. This is a behavioral reaction. He also suggests our immune systems may simply react to these images as well, and give us a boost in anticipation of illness or potential threats. You can read about this more in depth here.
4. "Most people that die due to hypothermia get naked before dying. This is because, blood stops flowing to your extremities, so your core stays warm. Just before death, the brain kinda 'gives out' and allows blood flow to return to normal. This sends warm blood to your cold limbs, making you feel very hot and sweaty, so you strip."
This phenomenon is called "paradoxical undressing" and may occur in nearly 50% of hypothermia and cold weather-related deaths. When blood flow decreases to the body's extremities, people often experience something called "cold stupid," meaning it becomes difficult to think clearly and logically. So, when the blood flow returns to their extremities and they start feeling hot, they begin removing their clothes without truly thinking about the consequences of those actions.
5. "If you happen to have a brain injury, there is a condition that makes you unable to recognize objects around you. Like, you will see a fork, the colors and the shape of it, but you can’t know how to use it, if it’s edible or not, etc. Pretty scary thing to imagine."
This is called Visual Agnosia. It's a rare, often permanent condition that affects the way our brains process the things we see. Someone with this condition is able to physically see a person, place, or thing in front of them, but their brain will not register what it is.
6. "Aphantasia. Almost 4% of people do not have visual imagination. Their brains do not visually see things they are thinking or imagining. Their imagination works via either language, abstracts and raw emotions, or on imagining sounds and tactile input."
"Imagine how absolutely creepy and alien their thoughts must be to a regular, phantasic person. It's like their minds work more like hyper-advanced AIs than like those of other homo sapiens."
Here's what a redditor who experiences aphantasia themself has to say about what it's like: "I can’t visualize. I have the idea of what something is supposed to look like in my mind, but I can’t actually see it in any way I can relate to how others describe it to be. Like, I know a freshly washed apple is red and wet, and I have an idea of what that looks like, but it is black when I close my eyes. I’ve had many conversations with friends and family about how they see things in their mind that just does not compute with my reality."
Essentially, aphantasia is mind blindness. Some people are born with it, whereas others may begin experiencing it after a stroke or surgery. It's not a neurological condition so much as it is just a variation in human experience."
You can read more about it here.
7. "You're not as perceptive to touch as you might like to think. This is particularly true in areas like your back. I could poke you with two fingers inches apart, and you'd think I was only using one finger."
The finger test is actually called a Two-Point Discrimination test. Different parts of our bodies have different numbers of receptors. More sensitive parts of our bodies — like our fingertips — have more densely packed receptors than less-sensitive parts — like our backs. Feeling two fingertips means that different receptors have been activated, so our bodies are able to differentiate one from another. You can read more about this here.
8. "The call of the void. This occurs when humans are on high places, like rooftops or cliffs, and get the urge to jump. Not everyone experiences it, but many do."
This is not a condition, but more so a sensation people sometimes feel. It's approximated that about 50% of people feel it. It comes from the French term l'appel du vide. Associate professor of Psychology at Miami University April Smith, who co-authored a study about the call of the void, explains it as a "miscommunication in your brain." Basically, when you're in a dangerous scenario like being high up, your brain is alerting you to be careful. In turn, this sometimes makes you react, doing something like stepping back or paying more attention to the things around you. After the fact, you start trying to process why you did that, assuming it was out of fear that you were going to do something harmful. You can read more about it here.
9. "You want a weird design flaw? Our retinas are 'backwards.' Meaning our cones and rods (cells that react to light) point to the back of the eye. This is evident by the blind spots everyone has which are where the retina connects to the optic nerve, and then to the brain."
While we initially felt our eyes were wired "backwards," it actually turns out to be a good thing! Researchers believe that this helps us see color better during the day and have more clarity overall.
10. "'Cute Aggression.' Have you ever seen a cute little puppy, or a soft fuzzy chinchilla, or a cute tiny little baby, and gotten this urge to squeeze it? The reason for this is not nearly as innocent as you might think. It's highly speculated that the reason humans develop this urge is because when we see something 'too cute,' our sensors go kind of haywire. Because of this, we have a subconscious urge to 'destroy' this cute entity to relieve us of the distress we are experiencing as a result of its existence."
When people who experience cute aggression see something they think is cute, there is greater activity in the areas of the brain involved in emotion. With increased feelings of 'cute aggression,' there is more activity in the brain's reward system. This together can feel especially overwhelming, and it's believed that the aggressive thoughts are our attempt to regain control of these feelings. So, if you've ever seen something really cute and been shocked that your brain wants to squeeze it super tight or pinch its cheeks, it doesn't necessarily mean you want it hurt it. Likely, you're just overwhelmed. You can read more about cute aggression here.
11. "Learned or false memories, aka people being 100% sure they remember things that never actually happened. Oftentimes, they were told about them repeatedly by media, memes, or other people."
Memories are easily manipulated, and can easily be affected by untrue information, whether or not one experienced the "memory" firsthand themselves. It's also possible for a person to be convinced that something that never happened at all actually did occur, even if their own experience suggests it shouldn't have.
Learned memories also offer an explanation for things like the Mandela Effect, where large groups of people overwhelmingly swear they remembered things like a TV episode or a brand logo being a certain way in their minds, but in reality, it's something totally different. Sometimes, if enough people are loud about something, you feel yourself starting to believe it, too.
One instance of this is the microbiome–gut–brain axis. According to a study by Oxford University’s Dr. Katerina Johnson, she believes there's a relationship between the composition and diversity of bacteria living in people's guts and differences in personality and social behavior.
13. Our eyes have something called "immune privilege." This protects the eye and our vision from our body's immune responses. Normal immune responses to the majority of the body include things such as swelling and change in temperature. Immune privilege prevents our immune systems from doing this to our eyes and putting our vision in jeopardy.
Suggested by: u/DeadWombats
14. "One of my favorite aspects about human nature is how there are things in nature that we are the best at. Sure we’re not the fastest, strongest, or most agile. But out of everything in the animal kingdom, we can run the longest. We can outrun almost any animal."
"Humans are adapted to do what very few animals can do, which is run for extended periods of time. Here’s where it gets creepy. I saw it explained like this:
Imagine you’re a gazelle on the plains of Africa early on in human history. You see some hairless apes running toward you, but fuck are they kind of slow. So, your instincts kick in and you sprint away. Once they’re out of sight, you relax and go back to eating grass or whatever you’re doing. But fuck, there they are again, running slowly toward you. How’d they figure out where you went?
You don’t know, you’re a gazelle. So, you sprint away again and think you’re safe, again. Then, here come the hairless apes, slowly coming for you once again. You keep repeating this until you can’t sprint anymore. You aren’t adapted to continuously run long distances, but they are, because they cool themselves down by sweating rather than panting like you do. Eventually, you collapse, and they get you.
That’s creepy to me. A slow moving predator who somehow always finds you and chases you until you can’t run anymore."
15. And finally, "We do not have any undeniable way of proving that ANYTHING going on right now is real. This might all just be an illusion made by the mind. In the grand scheme of the universe, every event that led to this exact moment are all very unlikely to happen."
Do you have a creepy human nature fact like these? If so, share it with us in the comments below!
Note: Submissions have been edited for length, clarity, and accuracy.