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Something fascinating happened after these male baboons died. Men should keep this in mind.

The baboons show up halfway through. Just go with me here for a bit.

Something fascinating happened after these male baboons died. Men should keep this in mind.

Men.


(Men)


We're awesome.

Totally awesome.

We like sports.

Cars.

Sports cars.

And car sports.

(We invented sh*t like this.)

So yeah, we're pretty much the best. Cut and print.

And sure, men are responsible for a lot of really awful, terrible, messed-up things in the world.

Like war. And poison gas. And Bumfights. (Do not Google Bumfights, dear God).

But we can't help it.

After all, we're naturally aggressive and violent.

(MANLY YELLING!)

And kind of thickheaded. And dominant. And emotionless.

It's just common knowledge.

It's how we're wired. Biologically.

It's in our DNA.

It all goes back to monkeys, you see?

Because we were monkeys once. And obviously, if you were a dude monkey, you had to be the biggest, baddest, most thickheaded, most dominant monkey. Because only the biggest, baddest, most thickheaded, most dominant monkeys got to mate with the lady monkeys and produce little monkey babies, who then went on to be big, bad boy monkeys themselves. And so on and so forth.

It's just, like, natural selection, bro. Evolution. Evolution and natural selection.

(Or maybe survival of the fittest? All those things are the same, right?)

Or so we've been told.

Except, well...

Have you ever, like, met any monkeys?

Like, some actual monkeys?

(Actual monkeys)

Like the baboons in that picture.

Baboons and humans share about 92% of our DNA. We're pretty close relatives. And, like humans, baboons are highly social animals. They travel in big packs called troops. And within each troop, there's a clear hierarchy. The biggest, most aggressive males are in charge.

And they're basically terrible jerks.

They hog all the resources. They pick on the smaller males. They mate with any female whenever, wherever they want. You know, just like you'd expect from a bunch of dude monkeys.

But here's the thing.

One day way back in the day, biologist Robert Sapolsky was studying a particular troop of baboons. And basically, they were just going along being their normal, gross selves. Until they were hit by a nasty strain of tuberculosis.

But weirdly, it only affected certain members of the population...

Specifically, the alpha males, who all died.

(Thus fulfilling the LiveJournal fantasies of every nerdy middle-school baboon.)

The females and the beta males? They survived.

And what's kind of amazing is what happened next. The relevant part starts at 44:30.

Basically, Sapolsky expected the troop to return to normal, with the remaining male baboons sliding into the roles of the alphas who had died.

But that didn't happen.

Instead, the surviving male baboons were like...

And the females were like...

So they just decided, as a group, to chill the heck out...

...and spend a lot more time grooming and feeding one another rather than beating each other up, and just generally be more respectful of one another.

Each time a new baboon joined the troop and tried to be a violent, aggressive jerkweed, the existing members of the troop shut it down.

They developed a culture.

(SFW!)

A culture that was different than 99% of all other baboon troops, and contrary to everything we thought we knew about them.

So where does that leave us men?

(Men!)

Well, we're told that we're programmed to be just like monkeys.

(The majesty!)

That it's burned into our DNA. That the only way to get to the top is to be violent, aggressive, and dominant.

(No, sir, you can't upgrade to business class with a bunch of expired Chuck E. Cheese's tickets.)

But it turns out that monkeys might not even be like monkeys.

(Though chasing those giant pelican-y things sure seems like a good time).

Not like we think they are, anyway.

Not necessarily.

And no, one case study doesn't "prove" that nurture is more important than nature or vice versa.

(That's not how science works, yo.)

But it does prove that we're not fated to behave any one certain way. We're not.

And it suggests that culture might be just as important, if not more important, than biology.

Which is great news.

Because culture, unlike biology, can change.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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