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Why are we all so prim and anxious about the sounds, smells, and substances that emanate from our keisters?

The obvious answer is that, well, poop and farts are gross. It is waste, after all, and full of (potentially harmful) bacteria. That's why other people's farts always smell worse than our own: to warn us of the impending intrusion of intestinal insalubrity.

But there must be another reason for our rear ends' rude and ribald reputation, right? Well, as it turns out, there's a lot of cruddy history behind our shame.


GIF from "Spider-Man."

Ancient civilizations believed our derrieres' disgusting discharge was indicative of defects and disorder within us.

Back around the 16th or 17th centuries BC, Egyptian medical texts — such as the Ebers Papyrus and the Edwin Smith Papyrus — helped popularize what's now known as autointoxication. Not to be confused with auto-brewery syndrome, the idea was that any undigested foodstuff that stayed in our system would end up rotting and poisoning us from the inside out and this was the primary cause of everything from schizophrenia to cancer.

That's right: The Egyptians believed that constipation caused cancer and that it was entirely your fault when it happened. Look, they were a little busy building those big fancy pyramids, so you can forgive them for a few anatomical oversights.

GIF from "The Simpsons."

The ancient Greeks took this one step further with the introduction of the Four Humors.

Humorism was a theory of medicine that tried to explain our health and personalities through an internal balance of four metabolic liquid elements. The choleric temperament — yellow bile — worked through the digestive tract and was said to be responsible for coloring our poop.

It was also associated with aggressive, impulsive, and obstinate behavior. These were good qualities for leaders to have — in moderation. But too much yellow bile and, well, you were probably full of sh*t.


GIF from "Hercules."

Then Christianity took the gluteus maximus and turned it into "Gloria in excrement Deo."

While there is some talk about fruit as food in the beginning of Genesis, the only thing that Adam and Eve ever actually eat in the Bible is that damn apple that got them into trouble in the first place. God cursed them with all kinds of pain and shame when He cast them out — and, well, it stands to reason that clippin' the biscuit would be among the awkward and uncomfortable bodily functions they were forced to endure. Just as they were ashamed of their own nakedness, they were probably ashamed of their stinky pebbles too.

GIF from Epic Rap Battles of History/YouTube.

This idea of poop-as-original-sin is also echoed in Deuteronomy 23: 12-14:

"12. Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. 13. As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement. 14. For the Lord your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you.

Basically, stool is a filthy human function, and you need to clean up your crap so that God doesn't step in it.


GIF from "Fist of Jesus."

But things changed in the late 1800s when the flush toilet started catching on.

As David Praeger explains in his book "Poop Culture: How America Is Shaped by Its Grossest National Product," hygiene became a hallmark of the elite, and the upwardly mobile Victorians saw their porcelain privilege as another way to set themselves above the lower classes.

Those with proper manners did not acknowledge the existence of their ... ya know. The social stigma asserted that only poor people pooped. (This probably compounded with Victorian concepts of purity and sexuality too, leading to that persistent and weirdly gendered notion that women don't poop.)

GIF from "Bridesmaids."

Our potty practices don't always agree with the pressure that the modern world places on our productivity either.

Good gut health can make our brains work better. But droppin' a deuce when you're supposed to be on duty doesn't always go so well. Even if your employer provides you with sick days and health care, they might take notice when nature calls and you're not at your desk when you should be.

"I try to time when I'm going to the bathroom at work based on when I expect that no one will be looking for me, so I can disappear for 15-20 minutes at a time," said Andy, a 30-year-old man with Irritable Bowel Syndrome who works in Washington, D.C., in an interview. Andy wasn't diagnosed until his mid-20s, when he was living on his own for the first time and realized that his heinie habits weren't like other people's, and it really wasn't funny anymore like it used to be in high school.

"But it's awkward when your boss sends you an email 'Where are you? I need this right now,' and you're in the bathroom. How do you say 'Hold on a minute, I'm pooping my brains out, but I'll get to it as soon as I can?' Suddenly you look like you're slacking off because people can't find you when they need you."

Unfortunately, these misinformed connections between virtue and our posterior pop'ems still linger like stink in our communal cultural bathroom. And that's a big problem.

To this day, our society still equates poopability with happiness and moral standing. So while yes, it's embarrassing and disgusting, this skewed sense of shame is preventing us from seeking the medical help we need to make our bodies function to the best of their abilities — poop and all.

For example, only about 22% of Americans seek health care for constipation, but it's one of the five most common gastrointestinal disorders. Meanwhile, we're spending $800 million a year on laxatives — and even more on emergency room visits for overstuffed bowels. The situation is so bad we barely know how to qualify what counts as a "normal" frequency of bowel movements because no one is willing to acknowledge they happen at all!

GIF from Spaceshroom/Deviant Art.

Don't get me wrong: Poop is gross. It's hilarious, but it's definitely gross — and it's something that everybody does.

So let's put a plug in the shame that comes from our butts and acknowledge the smelly struggles of everyone's poop chute.

Our physical well-being, not to mention our pride, may depend on it.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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You could say Marine biologist, divemaster and National Geographic Explorer Dr. Erika Woolsey is a bit of a coral reef whisperer, one who brings her passion for ocean science to folks on dry land in a fresh, innovative and fun new way using virtual reality.

Images courtesy of Meta’s Community Voices film series

Her non-profit, The Hydrous, combines science, design, and technology to provide one-of-a-kind experiential education about marine life. In 2018, Hydrous produced “Immerse 360”, a virtual underwater journey through the coral reefs of Palau, with Dr. Woolsey as a guide.

Viewers got to swim with sharks, manta rays and sea turtles while exploring gorgeous aquatic landscapes and learning about the crucial role our oceans play—all from 360° and 3D footage captured by VRTUL 2 underwater storytelling VR cameras.


Hydrous then expanded on the idea to develop two more exciting augmented adventures using Meta Quest 2 technology: “Expedition Palau,” a live event where audiences can share a “synchronized immersive reality experience”, which includes live narration from Woolsey, and “Explore,” a “CGI experience” to enjoy the magic of the ocean at home.


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“I’ve been extremely fortunate to explore and study coral reefs around the world,” Woolsey said, sharing that it was “heartbreaking” to see these important habitats decay so rapidly while the latest scientific reports did not clearly lead to widespread compassionate action.

“How do we care about something we never see or experience?” she reflected. As she discovered, virtual reality would be a powerful solution for eliciting empathy. “VR has the ability to generate presence and agency and make you feel like you’re there. It's that emotional connection that can bridge scientific discovery and public understanding”

The combination of virtual reality and the ocean’s natural breathtaking beauty is, as Woolsey puts it, a “match made in heaven” for getting people more engaged in ocean education. “When you’re floating you can look up and down and all around you…seeing a school of fish surrounding you and reefs in these cathedral-like structures. Rather than watching a video of a scientist, you get to become the scientist.”

Hydrous also has special kits to provide middle school students hands-on learning about ocean life. In addition to a journal, activity cards and a smartphone VR viewer, each kit includes lifelike 3D printed model pieces of a coral reef so that middle school students can try building their own.

These reef models even turn white when temperatures rise inside the aquarium, which mimics the real “bleaching” that corals endure when they die due to higher than normal ocean temperatures. Students really do become scientists as they figure out how to bring color back to their reef.

While it’s true that the health of our oceans affects us all, the growing threats our oceans face—pollution, overfishing, climate change—don’t always affect us on an empathetic level. Through the use of technology, Woolsey has created an innovative way to connect hearts and minds to one of the Earth’s most important resources, which can inspire real and lasting change.

“We can’t bring everybody to the ocean, but we’re finding scalable ways to bring the ocean to everyone.”

To learn more about Hydrous, click here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


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