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Sci-Fi Science

Mind Control Parasites in Half of All Humans 625

Posted by Zonk
from the it's-in-me-mind! dept.
iiii writes "According to a Yahoo News story, half of the world's human population is infected with Toxoplasma, a parasite shown to alter the brain function of rats, inducing them into behavior that benefits the parasite but is suicidal for the rat. So what affect does it have on humans? Article comes complete with Heinlein 'Puppet Masters' reference. I call dibs on using Toxoplasma as a name for my rock band."
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Mind Control Parasites in Half of All Humans

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  • by satcomdaddy1 (938185) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:32AM (#14698958)
    Insert Political/religious/OS statement here.

    Really should be more insightful than funny, but that's not for me to decide.
  • Welcome... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Elitist_Phoenix (808424) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:33AM (#14698962)
    I for one have ALREADY welcomed our parasitic overlords.
    • Re:Welcome... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dolphinling (720774)

      Actually, according to someone I'm talking to at the moment, this has been known for a long time and Yahoo is dumb for reporting it as "news". That, and 1/2 of humans is a very conservative estimate.

      So it's more than likely you have already welcomed our parasitic overlords.

      • Re:Welcome... (Score:5, Informative)

        by packeteer (566398) <packeteer@su[ ]m ... m ['bdi' in gap]> on Sunday February 12, 2006 @06:06AM (#14699059)
        http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/thisweek/story/0,12 977,1048642,00.html [guardian.co.uk]

        Dated Thursday September 25, 2003

        Ive read that these parasited are more common in the UK or perhaps we only know of more cases there becuase people are looking harder. Im not exactly an expert on the topic but i know this has been "news" for years now.
      • Half infected? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by QuaintRealist (905302) <quaintrealistNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:10AM (#14699315) Homepage Journal
        Before we get too carried away, note that the numbers indicate the number of people with the antibodies to toxoplasma gondii, not the number of people with active infection. Antibodies just mean you have been infected at some point in your life - and the mental status changes seem to be primarily in those infected as infants or born to infected mothers. This connects well with the known etiology of toxoplasmosis, and is why the MD tells your pregnant wife/girlfriend/mom to stay away from cats.

        Still, it is really interesting how many diseases have been found recently to be of infectious etiology - ulcers (no, it's not the pizza), many forms of heart disease, and now possibly some forms of schizophrenia. Makes prevention at least plausible...
        • Re:Half infected? (Score:5, Informative)

          by porcupine8 (816071) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @10:34AM (#14699647) Journal
          This connects well with the known etiology of toxoplasmosis, and is why the MD tells your pregnant wife/girlfriend/mom to stay away from cats.

          Specifically, cat poop. Sorry, it may sound like nit-picking to you, but you should see the number of cats who wind up in shelters because their owner got pregnant. Pregnant women do NOT need to stay away from cats - they just need to stay away from the litter box. They shouldn't clean it, and should avoid inhaling dust from it. If your cat has something wrong with it and can't clean its bum properly, someone (who's not pregnant) should be keeping it clean for them. Only single pregnant women with no one to take care of this stuff for them might need to actually rehome their cats - and they can usually wear gloves and a surgical mask when cleaning the litterbox.

          • Cat "poop" (Score:5, Informative)

            by QuaintRealist (905302) <quaintrealistNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday February 12, 2006 @12:20PM (#14700147) Homepage Journal
            I get your point, and love my cat, too, but the precautions need to be a bit more than you make out. Cats who "clean up" themselves by licking the fur around their rectum just push the infectious material around their fur. After the saliva dries, T. gondii remains infectious for some time afterwards. Really, pregnant women should wash their hands after handling cats.

            That said, nobody should "re-home" an animal just because they're too lazy to take a little extra effort for 9 months, unless you're talking about "re-home" as in "here mom, take care of my cat for a few months and I'll take her back".

            I do understand that the chance of becoming infected is low. It's important too to acknowledge that the damage of infection is catastrophic. (Pun fully intended)
        • by Valdrax (32670) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @11:13AM (#14699808)
          Actually, there is another hypothesized threat from Toxoplasma gondii that is a deadly risk even for people with just a dormant infection. (Toxoplamsa doesn't get eliminated by the immune system; it just goes dormant in cysts in the muscle tissue and brain and continues to effect its host for life.)

          Latent toxoplasmosis seems to give people a significantly higher risk of getting in a car accident than people who do not have it. [biomedcentral.com] People with latent toxoplasmosis have slower reaction times and a tendency towards more risk-seeking behavior than people without, just like rats with the disease.
        • No, that's not true (Score:5, Informative)

          by maynard (3337) <j...maynard...gelinas@@@gmail...com> on Sunday February 12, 2006 @11:47AM (#14699972) Journal
          There are numerous studies which indicate that latest T. gondii cyst infection produces a noticeable drop in motor skills and intelligence. I wrote an article [kuro5hin.org] on this over at K5 a couple weeks ago. One of the comments [kuro5hin.org] linked to a study [biomedcentral.com] which showed a significant increase in risk of traffic accidents for those with latent T. gondii infection.

          However, the notion that this is a "mind control" parasite in humans is completely off base. A previous study showed that mice infected with T. gondii had increased risk of cat predation. Researchers believe that may be caused by increased dopamine levels in mouse brains as a result. But that is still speculative.

          I could add that I submitted this story to /. almost three weeks ago and was rejected within an hour... but that would be off topic.
          • I understand your point, and read the article you link for professional reasons some time ago. When they talk about the relative risk decreasing with time after infection, this poses a significant question - does the infection cause the problem, or does the immune response cause the problem (like arthritis following streptococcal infection)? Also, long latent cysts (again, reference the article you linked) present a diminishing relative risk over time. The study is not designed to determine whether that
      • Re:Welcome... (Score:5, Informative)

        by alicenextdoor (910558) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @09:51AM (#14699496)
        Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan which has cats as its definitive host. It has a wide range of intermediate hosts, and is capable of infecting all warm-blooded vertebrates, including humans. Toxoplasma lives inside the epithelial cells lining the intestine of its feline host. Eggs are shed with the faeces, and can survive in soil for several months. Toxoplasma cells can also penetrate work their way out of the intestine and infect almost any other cell type, eventually forming cysts in the host's brain, liver and muscles. Intermediate hosts are infected either by eating food or water contaminated with infected cat faeces; by eating undercooked meat from other intermediate hosts containing Toxoplasma cysts; or, in the case of some unfortunates, via the placenta from an infected mother.

        Back to the rats. Rats are easily infected with Toxoplasma, and have been the subject of a lot of experimentation. Infection tends to lead to the establishment of Toxoplasma cysts in the brain, and alteration of the rat's behaviour. Infected rats tend to be more active and less afraid of novelty, both of which behaviours are likely to place the rat at increased risk of predation by cats. The changes go further than that, however. Rats are inherently, and understandably, afraid of the odour of cats. Even lab rats which have not been exposed to cats for generations will avoid areas marked with cat urine. Toxoplasma infected rats do not, however, share this aversion; in fact, rats tested in pens marked with different types of scent (rat urine, cat urine, rabbit urine and water) actually seemed to be suicidally attracted to the cat-scented areas . The infected rats appeared to be completely healthy in all other ways .

        The implications of this research are enough to send a frisson of fear down the spine of anyone, devoted parasitologist or otherwise. Toxoplasma infection is common amongst humans. It has been estimated that 30% of the global human population may be infected, with prevalence in specific countries ranging from 22% in the UK to 84% in France. Can the parasite affect human behaviour in the way in which it affects that of rats? The answer appears to be "yes". One manner in which this happens is via direct damage to the host's brain and central nervous system. Babies born to mothers infected with Toxoplasma early in fetal development can suffer from widespread disease, including mental retardation . Infection later in development can lead to a persistant infection with no apparent symptoms, with the parasite forming cysts in the brain. With any luck the immune system can keep the parasite under control; depression of the immune system, however, can result in its reactivation, with consequent neurological or psychiatric effects.

        It has also been suggested that prenatal exposure to toxoplasmosis can increase an individual's susceptibility to schizophrenia , but because of the difficulty of experimenting in this area, there is little supporting evidence , although it is interesting to note that several of the drugs used in the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder inhibit the replication of Toxoplasma . Does the manipulation hypothesis hold in humans? If it does, it must be only as a non-adaptive side effect of the ability to manipuate hosts such as mice and rats, since, as Joanne Webster points out in a fascinating review article on the subject , humans are rarely preyed upon by cats. There does appear to be some evidence that human personality traits are affected by Toxoplasma infection, but the one study that has specifically looked for an effect is less than wholly convincing. Flegr and Hrdý, found that men with chronic Toxoplasma infections had a greater tendency to disregard rules and were more suspecting, jealous and dogmatic than non-infected controls . However, the number of males tested was only 195, of whom 56 were infected, and the effect disappeared entirely if the male and female subjects were analyzed together. This research provides a fascinating, if somewhat disturbing, hint of an effect, but it seems safe to say that most of us are more than mere parasite-controlled robots.

    • I for one have ALREADY welcomed our parasitic overlords.

      It's them parasites that made you do it in the first place.
    • Toxoplasma gondii is a common parasite found in the guts of cats

      Sheesh, c'mon, as folllowers of gondii, they're peaceful toxoplasma.
  • by helioquake (841463) * on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:34AM (#14698963) Journal
    Shhhhh, be quiet! Don't give DARPA any idea!

    I wonder how many people are going to blame their inability to work harder (if at all) on this parasite on Monday.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I wonder how many people are going to blame their inability to work harder (if at all) on this parasite on Monday.


      Not me. I'm going to blame the parasite who hired me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:34AM (#14698969)
    HYPNOGERMS!!!
  • by TheCreeep (794716) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:34AM (#14698970)
    ...of God's Intelligent Design(TM) here on Earth!!
  • by waterbear (190559) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:36AM (#14698976)
    'Mind control parasites':

    'Toxoplasma'? I thought they were called politicians ...

    (if only it was _only_ half of all humans ...)

    -wb-
  • by croddy (659025) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:36AM (#14698978)
    I favor unreasonably huge subsidies to the brain slug planet.
  • Bushoplasma (Score:3, Funny)

    by dangitman (862676) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:39AM (#14698988)
    Does it happen to affect 51% of Americans?
  • Name taken (Score:5, Informative)

    by lysergic.acid (845423) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:41AM (#14698989) Homepage
    There's already a German punk band called Toxoplasma [toxo.de].
    • Re:Name taken (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dolphinling (720774) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:44AM (#14699004) Homepage Journal
      Interesting that you should post here with that username, because at least according to a straight dope article [straightdope.com], Toxoplasma produces LSD.
      • Just imagine all the hippies endulging in cat feces...
      • Re:Name taken (Score:5, Informative)

        by lysergic.acid (845423) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @09:35AM (#14699462) Homepage

        So Toxoplasma triggers the production of LSD in the host organism's brain, and this is believed to be a major cause of schizophrenia in humans? Are there any other sources that support this claim? LSD is somewhat difficult to test for in humans, and even then the link between schizophrenia and LSD is a rather contentious subject in the medical community. The article itself also seems to question the verity of this hypothesis:

        "A word of caution: our authors' impressive theoretical edifice is built on some pretty thin evidence. It's simplistic to say T. gondii works by triggering the production of LSD--among other problems with the idea, acid mainly gives rise to visual hallucinations, whereas the delusions of schizophrenics are primarily auditory (e.g., hearing voices)."

        As you can probably guess, I am a big fan of acid and psychedelics in general. I've taken many psychedelic drugs, including but not limited to: Cannabis, LSD, Psilocybin Mushrooms, Mescaline, MDMA, AMT, 2C-E, 2C-I, 2C-B, 2C-T-7, 5MeO-AMT, 5MeO-DiPT, Ketamine, DXM, LSA, Salvia, and many others. I've taken traditional psychedelics (Tryptamines and Phenethylamines such as LSD, Psilocybin, Mescaline, MDMA, 2C-*, 5MeO-*, etc.), dissociatives (PCP, DXM, Ketamine, Nitrous, Salvia, etc.), and even deliriants (Dramamine, Datura, Amanita Muscaria, Bella Donna, etc.) on occasion, so I'm pretty well-versed in the various categories of psychedelic drugs and their effects.

        Out of the 3 main categories of psychedelic drugs, I would say that the most dangerous is probably the deliriants, typically anticholinergenic deliriants [erowid.org]. Strong dissociatives such as PCP may induce prolonged psychotic states, possibly even causing long-term brain-damage with chronic exposure, but they are unlikely to cause full-blown hallucinations as with anticholinergenic drugs. Conventional psychedelics such as LSD, pot, Mushrooms, Mescaline, etc. are even less likely to induce psychotic/delusional episodes compared to strong dissociatives like PCP. Typically, people on traditional psychedelics such as acid may see OEVs(opened eye visuals) or CEVs(closed eye visuals) but they are not hallucinations in the strict sense. They are more accurately described as perceptual illusions, such as moving patterns, altered spatial perception, synesthesia, etc. Only deleriants cause full-blown hallucinations that one can't distinguish from reality. This is why there is a very high incidence of "bad trips" on deliriants, many of which resulting in ER visits or stays in the psychiatric ward.

        While I don't doubt that a bad trip on acid can be the springboard for schizophrenia, these are usually cases where the individual is already predisposed towards mental illness, and the acid simply triggers it by inducing a traumatic experience. Most people, however, walk away from their bad trips relatively unscathed. Some naive users may continue to be haunted afterwards by embarassing things they did while they were tripping, but few suffer any long-term psychological effects from their bad trips.

        I have simply known too many people who have done acid or similar hallucinogens and have never exhibited any psychotic behavior to believe that LSD can cause schizophrenia. In fact, I don't think that LSD plays much of a role in the etiology of schizophrenia or any other mental illness. It's more likely that most people who develop schizophrenia after taking LSD would have still developed the mental disorder eventually even if they hadn't taken any drugs.

        I've only met 3 individuals whom I've witnessed really bizarre behavior from after they took psychedelic drugs. One appeared to experience acute psychotic episodes after smoking pot or drinking alcohol, but this seemed to be due to his being socially maladjusted more than anything. The second individual behaved very strangely after consuming mushrooms on 2 different occassions, but otherwise he was perfectly normal even when he smoked weed or

  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:43AM (#14698998) Homepage Journal
    Its no wonder so many are infected.

    Us males can't stop licking pussy!
  • Wowa, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by XMilkProject (935232) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:44AM (#14699001) Homepage
    All the posts so far seem to be joking about this, but it sorta freaks me out!

    It seems to be strong evidence that parasites can control the behavior of a host in fairly complex ways, which opens up alot of sci-fi movies for a real life encore.

    Anyone familiar with these parasites in more detail? Any information? Are there other parasites that humans have that do cause changes of behavior?

    How do these things evolve? Are they complex lifeforms, or very very simple?
    • Re:Wowa, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 1u3hr (530656) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @06:09AM (#14699066)
      It seems to be strong evidence that parasites can control the behavior of a host in fairly complex ways

      "Influence" rather than "control". TFA originates in a site that looks for SF in the news, sometimes they look rather too hard. But consider how you act when you have a cold -- sneezing, for instance, creating a nice aerosol spray to spread the virus. Many skin infections casue itchiness, making you scratch and distribute flakes, containing spores; etc. (If this is Intelligent Design, I'd like to ask who is the Chosen Race -- us or the parasites?)

  • by skillet-thief (622320) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:44AM (#14699002) Homepage Journal
    ...or at least it doesn't matter. Toxoplasma has been around and known for a long time. The only real news is that infection rates are *down* (from something like 90% iirc not so long ago) because humans are spending less and less quality time with rodents. This mostly concerns pregnant women, who risk losing their fetus if the *catch* toxoplasma during the pregnancy. So it is far better to be part of the 50% who is already infected so that your antibodies are prepped. So yeah, move along.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:45AM (#14699005)
    Or not. From the Wikipedia:

    Toxoplasma gondii is a species of parasitic protozoa that lives in cats and other warm-blooded animals and can cause the disease toxoplasmosis in humans. It belongs to the Apicomplexa and is the only known member of the genus Toxoplasma.

    and under "Toxoplasmosis"
    Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. It infects most animals and causes human parasitic diseases, but the primary host is the felid (cat) family. People usually get infected by eating raw or undercooked meat, or more rarely, by contact with cat faeces.

    At least one third of the world population may have contracted a toxoplasmosis infection in their lifetime but, after the acute infection has passed, the parasite rarely causes any symptoms in otherwise healthy adults. However, people with a weakened immune system are particularly susceptible, such as people infected with HIV. The parasite can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and neurologic diseases and can affect the heart, liver, and eyes (chorioretinitis).


    Much less interesting than TFA's speculation based on Toxoplasma's pathology in rats, but more credible.

    What's more, TFA does not give any indication about how they came up with the "half the human population" figure.

    Posted AC to avoid charges of Wikipedia-karma-whoring.
    • by BarryNorton (778694) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:18AM (#14699198)
      "T. gondii may cause schizophrenia and may do so by producing or triggering the production of an hallucinogenic chemical" ('Genes, Germs, and Schizophrenia: An Evolutionary Perspective', Ledgerwood et al, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 46(3):317-48, 2003).

      But, hey, why keep up with current research (at least via credible objective surveys in reputable journals) when you can just read Wikipedia?

      • "But, hey, why keep up with current research (at least via credible objective surveys in reputable journals) when you can just read Wikipedia?"

        Especially reputable journals whose page title is "Inventions and Ideas from Science Fiction Books and Movies at Technovelgy.com:"

        • Especially reputable journals whose page title is "Inventions and Ideas from Science Fiction Books and Movies at Technovelgy.com:"

          No, I was talking about:

          Perspectives in Biology and Medicine

          E-ISSN: 1529-8795 Print ISSN: 0031-5982

          Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

          Perspectives in Biology and Medicine publishes articles of the highest scientific and literary merit on a wide range of biomedical topics such as neurobiology, biomedical ethics and history, genetics and evolution, and ecology.

  • Is the article implying that it's NOT normal for someone to seek out cat urine-marked areas in one's house???
  • by Belseth (835595) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:48AM (#14699015)
    a parasite shown to alter the brain function of rats, inducing them into behavior that benefits the parasite but is suicidal for the rat.

    Look on the brightside. At least we know now what's driving the current administration.

  • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:49AM (#14699021)
    Since toxoplasma makes rats unafraid of or even like cat urine, I think it's all a diabolical scheme by the cats. I used to think cats only tolerated us until they could figure out how to operate a can-opener, but now I've realised its a much more cunning scheme - to make humans the slaves of cats!

    Old ladies are obviously the most affected after a lifetime of exposure, but its only a matter of time before we all become food suppliers and grooming slaves to our cat overlords. Just look what happens to people when you show them pictures of fluffy kittens [google.co.uk], they go all gooey and unable to think straight - my girlfriend is a typical example, she defends her cats against any criticism, because they're so 'cute'.

    We must act now, while some of us can still see what the cats are up to. We must destroy the cat menace!
    • Since toxoplasma makes rats unafraid of or even like cat urine, I think it's all a diabolical scheme by the cats. I used to think cats only tolerated us until they could figure out how to operate a can-opener, but now I've realised its a much more cunning scheme - to make humans the slaves of cats! Old ladies are obviously the most affected after a lifetime of exposure, but its only a matter of time before we all become food suppliers and grooming slaves to our cat overlords. Just look what happens to peop
    • by Lisandro (799651) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @06:04AM (#14699052)
      Well, it does make sense. For a dog, you're God and the universe revolves arround you. Cats wouldn't give two shits about you if you weren't the one feeding them - in fact, they always have this "leave me alone, dumbass" look on them after they're done with their meal. The ungrateful bastards :)
  • by ettlz (639203) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:55AM (#14699036) Journal
    The term "bio-rootkit" is not one I wish to see in common usage!
  • And... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kaenneth (82978) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @05:59AM (#14699045) Homepage Journal
    And don't forget those worms in Africa the tunnel through living human flesh, causing burning pain to make the host seek water for relief; only to continue it's life cycle. I heard recently that a type of virus may be linked to obesity; like the bactiria linked with ulcers.

    However, cause and effect may be reversed; perhaps the virus likes fatty foods (fat humans); and perhaps that bactiria prefers the chemical balance in a bleeding stomach. But this is good research; seeing that elimiating the parasite from the rats changes behavior.

    But, for the ultimate in behavior changing infections, you only have to look at your own mouth. Language. and the other aspects of human "culture"... "culture" is an interesting word, in that it can refer to fashionable art; or parasitical organisms.

    Really, humans are not much more than hosts for self replicating information. everything from the English language to Hula Hoops. I bet if you imagine living forever inside a machine; you probably think of your 'mind' being preserved; instead of a machine that pumps fluids through a mindless body (insert Republican joke here)

    All that being a Funny, Japanese-Speaking, Mozart-loving, Cat-loving, Slashdot-reading fellow is, is a combinatation of contaigous memes.
    • Really, humans are not much more than hosts for self replicating information...All that being a Funny, Japanese-Speaking, Mozart-loving, Cat-loving, Slashdot-reading fellow is, is a combinatation of contaigous memes.

      Bringing up "Memes" as a useful model of how the world works is so 1990s. Get with the times.

    • Re:And... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rich0 (548339)
      perhaps that bactiria [sic] prefers the chemical balance in a bleeding stomach

      I believe that h. pylori excretes urease which breaks urea (found naturally in tissues as a byproduct of metabolism) down into ammonia. Ammonia is much more basic than urea, and as a result it reacts with stomach acid to create a more neutral pH, which is better for the organism. Ammonia is also very toxic, which is why the body converts it to urea in the first place (the direct product of metabolism is ammonia, and it is quickl
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 12, 2006 @06:02AM (#14699049)
    Oh my god, this is a scientific explaination for the crazy cat lady phenomenon... I'm serious RTFA!!!
    • I always thought it had something to do with being compassionate and tender-hearted. Some people just can't stand the thought of animals suffering in any way, whether by being out in the cold or going hungry, because they consider them to be more innocent than humans (a typical anti-social trait, in fact).
  • by rdwald (831442) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @06:07AM (#14699062)
    Cecil Adams wrote a article [straightdope.com] discussing toxoplama's effect on birth defects and schizophrenia, including the possibility that toxoplasma floods the human brain with LSD.
  • by Ambush (120586) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @06:11AM (#14699069)
    C'mon guys, this isn't a duplicate story. This one is referring to the other half of the population. The truth is that we're all infected. ;-)
  • by eclectro (227083) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @06:12AM (#14699071)
    Toxoplasma is actually the eggs for body thetans. If you do not want to believe this, read this link [cdc.gov]

    The earth is a battlefield, my friend. I'm going to get audited errrr tested.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    More info here: Parasite infection from cat shit linked to schizophrenia [kuro5hin.org].

    A citation from the article: T. gondii cyst infection appeared to decrease novelty seeking behaviors and reduce psycho-motor intelligence in men.

  • woah (Score:4, Funny)

    by Jesus IS the Devil (317662) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @06:38AM (#14699120)
    For a minute there, I thought the article was talking about women...

  • Most women are cat lovers.
    Most men will say most women are schizo.
    The prosecution rests your honor. ;)
  • How does one tell if they are infected?
  • Move along (Score:2, Funny)

    by LiquidEdge (774076)
    These aren't the droids we're looking for.
  • by Dexter77 (442723) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:19AM (#14699202)
    What makes mind control interesting, that is not usually thought of, is awareness of it. Since our brain is controlling everything we do, altering its functioning would propably go unnoticed. In movies characters usually try to fight againts mind control and even in everyday thoughts we imagine mind control to be something that is againts our will. When you think of it a bit further, you might notice that what mind control actually does, is make our emotions balanced in the way that we actually want to do what it wants us to do. As stated in the article, rats repeatedly did things againts logical behaviour. Now, if you think how many of your actions is based on logic and how many on emotions, you might be able to guess my point.

    But then again, this is just my theory. I hope your can prove it wrong. Only variable that would definately prove it wrong, would be existence of a soul. It would provide us something that can't be affected by change of chemical balance in brain. But more likely is that each and every one of us is under some kind of mind control. Everything affects our emotions, from food to movies, regardless of if it resides physically in our brain or affects through our senses.
  • There's varying evidence, but the infection rate in the US is somewhere around 23% according to a report by the cdc [cdc.gov]. The infection rate also appears to be dropping.
  • by Council (514577) <rmunroe.gmail@com> on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:27AM (#14699219) Homepage
    Every day, I wake up. I get a drink and read the paper, I check my blog feed, and then I look at Slashdot. Across the board I see headlines like "Microsoft hires person X" and "GM cuts this and that" and "Drought in Borneo" and "Economic growth at risk". Or even the supreme dullness indicator, the dreaded "trade summit".

    Suffice it to say I've been waiting to see a headline like "brain-controlling parasites control 50% of the human population" for a long time. Thank you, Slashdot editors.
  • by sgent (874402) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:50AM (#14699268)
    There is now at least more than a casual link between Toxoplasm and Schizophrenia.

    Stop to think about that for a second.

    This has profound implications far beyond the childish and disappointing messages listed above.

    Haldol and an antimicrobial have the same effect on Toxoplasm infected human tissue. Even the implcations in this are staggering -- regardless of whether this pans out or not. Million's of people worldwide could be saved a tortous life, higher suicide rates, due to a pathogenic cause (and cure) of a mental illness. Don't dismiss that mother's with this are more likely to have kids that develop schizophrenia.

    An australian recently won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering that a bacteria was responsible for the majority of stomach ulcers. What used to be a life long and potential dangerous disease is now cured with weeklong course of antibiotics.

    This facinating discovery deserves more respect than it has gotten on slashdot.

  • Old news. (Score:3, Funny)

    by nege (263655) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @11:47AM (#14699974) Journal
    Hermes Conrad: Onto new business. Today's mission is to go to the brain slug planet.
    Dr. Zoidberg: What are we going to do there?
    Hermes Conrad: Nothing. Just walk around not wearing a helmet.

  • by deuterium (96874) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @12:34PM (#14700195)
    To label the effects of a parasitic infection on an organ as mind control is an unnecessary distinction. It's simply one of many possible parasitic infections that alter the functioning of the the body. If what we're evaluating is altered behavior, a typical flu offers a more immediate demonstration. Typical flu vicitms will (for a time) become less active, communicate less, etc. I think that what intrigues many about this particular instance is the concept of invisible, "subconscious" control... that something we're not aware of may be nudging us into different thoughts and feelings. This, however, implies that there is some uncorruptable state of free will which one ideally operates within, which simply isn't established [amazon.com]. Our thoughts and actions are in situ the result of numerous interactions not apparent to our conscious consideration. We're just along for the ride, parasite or no.
    Beyond this, if Toxoplasma gondii infection is indeed so prevelant, it's likely been a factor in the dynamics of human evolution, anyway. Our brains perhaps already assume the potential for such influence in their normal operation.

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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