10 Astonishing Near-Death Experiences

A feeling of weightlessness. A bright light at the end of a warm tunnel. The ability to see your own body below you, and friends or loved ones—who passed away years ago—now surrounding you in absolute peace. These are just a few of the things described by people who have had a near-death experience. And not all of them are as positive. Some recount a visit to hell, where they were overcome with fear and hopelessness, and even tortured by demons.

While many in the scientific community are skeptical of these accounts, others believe they offer the most definitive proof of life after death we might ever encounter. And though the debate continues, one thing is for certain: These people insist what they went through was life-altering. But by all means, feel free to judge for yourself.

10 Veronika-Ulrike Barthel

Veronika-Ulrike Barthel

Veronika Barthel says that, after being struck by lightning while driving her car one day in 1981, she was instantly transported into hell, where she found demons escorting her into a big waiting room.

“The creatures that I saw there were more terrifying than anything I even saw in a horror movie. Today I know that they were demons. As soldiers they where marching past me, and in the middle of them were people that were screaming with pain. It was very difficult to breathe down there, because of the terrible smell of this place. I saw a lake, which looked like the inner part of a volcano, where people were cursing because of great pain.”

She says that she saw people being thrown into caves, which were guarded by demons, who threw spears at them as they screamed. She also recalled snakes being present all over the ground, which were there to frighten and intimidate the people in hell.

After her experience, Veronika found herself transported back into her car, where for a moment, she saw her own burning hands gripping the steering wheel.

9 Howard Storm

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Once a self-described “double atheist” and “know-it all college professor,” Howard Storm was leading a three-week European art tour with his students when he retired to his hotel room in France on the last day of the trip. Without warning, he suddenly screamed and dropped to the floor, prompting his wife to call for help. At the hospital, the news was grim: Howard had a perforated stomach that required surgery, and if he didn’t get it soon, he would die.

The wait for a doctor to arrive at the hospital was lengthy—so much so, that Howard turned to his wife at one point and said his final farewell to her, insisting that he was moments from death. That’s when he recalled finding himself standing next to his own body (which was still on the hospital bed) and feeling more alive than ever, with no more stomach pain. Soon after, he heard unfamiliar voices calling to him.

“Come with us,” they said. “Hurry up, let’s go. We’ve been waiting for you.”

After calling out to his wife and getting no response, he began to follow the voices, which led him out of the room and down a long, dark hallway. He followed them for so long, and became so increasingly terrified, that he told the voices he wasn’t going any further. Then they attacked him.

“We had a big fight and the fight turned into them annihilating me, which they did slowly and with much relish,” he says. “Mostly they were biting and tearing at me. This went on for a long time. They did other things to humiliate and violate me which I don’t talk about.”

Collapsed on the ground, Howard began reciting The Lord’s Prayer, after hearing a soft voice tell him to “Pray to God.” After saying a few other other prayers, he said that Jesus personally saved him from the demons, and sent him back to Earth, telling him to live his life differently. Storm’s book, My Descent Into Death, was published in 2000.

8 Dr. Mary Neal

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During a kayaking trip in 1999, Dr. Mary Neal became pinned under the water when her kayak capsized, making it impossible for her to breathe for anywhere between 15 and 25 minutes. That’s when she says she experienced a near-death experience that brought her into the presence of God, Jesus, and angels.

During the experience, God told her that her family would be facing an upcoming tragedy and would need her to help them through. Specifically, her nine-year-old son Willie was going to die—but she wasn’t told when, where, or how. Ten years later, at age 19, Willie was killed in a car accident in Maine by a driver who was on his cell phone.

Mary is convinced Jesus helped her under the water, making it possible for rescue workers to revive her following the kayaking accident. She awoke with two broken legs and lung complications, and spent a month in the hospital, followed by six weeks in a wheelchair. She wrote a book called, To Heaven And Back, which was published in May 2012.

7 Ben Breedlove

When 18-year-old Ben Breedlove of Austin, Texas began posting a series of videos on YouTube telling the world about his rare heart condition, they instantly went viral, attracting millions of viewers. In one of them, he tells the story of being wheeled down a dark hall by nurses to the surgery room, and seeing a bright, peaceful light near the ceiling. He was four at the time it happened.

Through a series of index cards in the video, he wrote: “There were no lights on in this hall. I couldn’t take my eyes off it, and I couldn’t help but smile. I had no worries at all, like nothing else in the world mattered.” He talks of different times when he “cheated death,” including an incident where he fainted in the hallway at school.

“While I was still unconscious, I was in this white room; no walls, it just went on and on. There was no sound, but that same peaceful feeling I had when I was four. I was wearing a really nice suit, and so was my favorite rapper, Kid Cudi. I then looked at myself in the mirror—I was proud of myself, of my entire life, everything I have done. It was the best feeling. I didn’t want to leave that place. I wish I never woke up.”

Ben’s videos attracted the attention of rapper Kid Cudi, who apparently “broke down” after viewing them. He responded: “I broke down, I am to tears [sic] because I hate how life is so unfair. This has really touched my heart in a way I can’t describe, this is why I do what I do. Why I write my life, and why I love you all so much.”

On Christmas Day 2011, one week after posting the videos, Ben Breedlove suffered a heart attack and died. A family friend stated, “There are times that [the family is] overwhelmed by the pain and the loss of Ben, but then it’s replaced with knowing that he was at peace with what was going to happen.” The final index cards in Ben’s last video stated, “Do you believe in angels or God? I do.”

6 Colton Burpo

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Colton Burpo wasn’t quite four years old when his appendix burst, landing him in a hospital for emergency surgery. And when he awoke two hours later, he had an amazing story to tell. He said he had been to heaven, where he met Jesus, John The Baptist, God, and even family members who had passed away previously—including a baby sister that his mother had lost due to a miscarriage. Neither of his parents had ever mentioned the miscarriage to him.

He also met an old man he called “Pop,” whom he had seen as a young man. Later, he was able to identify Pop in a family photograph as the man he had seen in heaven. It was his paternal grandfather. And while the surgery was taking place, Colton told his father that he had seen him in another room, where he had gone to pray.

His father, Todd Burpo, said, “We knew he wasn’t making it up, because he was able to tell us what we were doing in another part of the hospital. Not even Sonja had seen me in that little room, having my meltdown with God.”

Todd wrote a book called Heaven Is For Real that recounts the entire story of his son’s incredible experience in detail. Colton Burpo now travels the country with his parents, sharing his story with others.

5 Betty J. Eadie

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In November 1973, Betty Eadie underwent a partial hysterectomy, after which she says she floated out of her body and passed through a tunnel to heaven. She said she was guided by three hooded, monk-like figures who claimed to have always been her guardian angels and informed her that she had died prematurely.

In an excerpt from her book, Embraced By The Light, she recalls:

“I saw a pinpoint of light in the distance. The black mass around me began to take on more of the shape of a tunnel, and I felt myself traveling through it at an even greater speed, rushing toward the light. I was instinctively attracted to it, although again, I felt that others might not be. As I approached it, I noticed the figure of a man standing in it, with the light radiating all around him. There was no questioning who he was, I knew that he was my savior, and friend, and God. He was Jesus Christ, who had always loved me, even when I thought he hated me.”

Following its publication in September 1994, her book became a No. 1 best seller and remains in print today.

4 Don Piper

Don Piper

Following a pastor’s conference in January 1989, Don Piper was driving over a bridge when a Texas Department of Corrections tractor-trailer truck crossed the center line and ran into him head-on. He said he was “instantly transported to Heaven,” where he found himself surrounded by dead relatives and friends, and a large pearl gate.

“The gate of heaven was a magnificent edifice, the one that I saw. It looked no less like a giant gate that had been sculpted from mother-of-pearl,” he said. “Behind that portal was such a light that I don’t conceive of how you could see it in an earthly body. It could only be envisioned in a heavenly body because it was too bright.”

As he lay there crushed in his vehicle on the bridge, a pastor came by, who prayed over him. The EMS staff had told him that Don was deceased. After the pastor prayed, he instantly found himself back in his vehicle, staring up at a tarp that had been draped over him. At the hospital, it was revealed that, although he suffered no major head trauma, nearly every bone in his body had been broken or shattered. Don wrote a book called 90 Minutes In Heaven after his recovery.

3 Bill Wiese

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In his book 23 Minutes In Hell, author Bill Wiese tells the story of laying in bed at 3:00 AM and being suddenly thrown into the depths of hell, where he was tormented by demons. He said he was placed in a small cell with vicious “beasts” who looked like reptiles. He recalls understanding that they had been assigned to torment him, which they did, throwing him against the walls and piercing his flesh with their claws. The pain became so bad that he wished for death but was not obliged. He said that he heard the cries of millions, who were either burning in hell, or being tortured as he was.

When he awoke, his wife noted that the clock read 3:23, so his book is titled 23 Minutes In Hell.

2 Crystal McVea

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Following a simple medical procedure for pancreatitis in 2009, Crystal McVea of Oklahoma went into full respiratory arrest on the operating table. When that happened, she says she experienced a trip to heaven that renewed her faith in God, whom she met in person. She described him as “an immense brightness,” one that she could “feel, taste, touch, hear, and smell,” and recalled having 500 senses while in heaven, as opposed to the traditional human five.

“I had angels, I had God, and I fell to my knees in front of him,” she said, adding that she’d always been a doubter prior to the experience. When she was asked twice by God if she’d like to return to Earth, she chose to stay both times. But despite her insistence, God sent her back—though not before relieving her of her guilt and shame.

McVea released a book about her experience called Waking Up In Heaven in April 2013.

1 Ian McCormack

Ian McCormack

While diving for lobster one day on the island of Mauritius, Ian McCormack was stung on the arm by a box jellyfish. He says that, by the time the ambulance arrived, he already felt completely paralyzed and necrosis had begun to set in. As he lay dying, Ian saw a vision of his mother praying for him, and after he made it to the hospital, he was clinically dead for a period of 15–20 minutes. That’s when he found himself in a very dark place and began to hear people screaming.

“From the darkness I began to hear men’s voices screaming at me telling me to ‘shut up’—that I ‘deserved to be there’—-that I was ‘in Hell.’ I couldn’t believe it, but as I stood there a radiant beam of light shone through the darkness and immediately began to lift me upward. I found myself being translated up into an incredibly brilliant beam of pure white light—it seemed to be emanating from a circular opening far above me (I felt like a speck of dust being drawn up into a beam of sunlight).”

As he walked toward the light, Ian says he could feel it giving off a “living emotion,” and that God then spoke to him. McCormack hasn’t written a book but has shared his story with several news outlets and talk shows.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/09/15/10-astonishing-near-death-experiences/

10 Reasons You Aren’t In Control Of Your Own Decisions

If there’s anything in the world that should be ours and ours alone, it should be our thoughts. They’re in our heads, after all, and if there’s any place that should be sacred and private, it’s there. Turns out that’s not exactly true, though, and there are so many outside influences shaping your thoughts that you might be left wondering just how many of your emotions, beliefs, and feelings are actually yours.

10 Your News Feed Can Change Your Mood

Facebook's Influence In Consumer Consumption Of News Growing
For all its popularity, Facebook isn’t without its share of scandals. In the latest one, details came out of an experiment conducted on 700,000 Facebook users over the period of a single week in 2012. News feeds were manipulated to contain positive or negative news and content, then users were monitored to see if the change made them use more positive or negative words in their status updates. And it worked—people’s status updates showed a change in emotion that went along with the kind of news that they were exposed to. The term used was “emotional contagion,” and it confirms something pretty frightening.

According to the study, people don’t even have to be physically around another person in a bad mood to absorb the negativity into themselves—negativity can be “caught” just from looking at a computer screen. There doesn’t need to be a personal, emotional connection for emotional contagion to happen. Not surprisingly, the study has brought up a number of disturbing questions, and it’s now being investigated by organizations like the Information Commissioner’s Office in Dublin. Those questioning the ethics of the study state that it’s nothing less than psychological manipulation. As if that’s not shady enough, Facebook users were unaware that they were having their emotions and moods manipulated through another party controlling just what was popping up in their news feeds.

9 Facts In Story Form Are Much More Effective

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You’re sitting in a sales meeting, and you’re presented with a first-person story about how the boss locked down the first tough sale of his career. You’re also presented with a bullet-point list of all sorts of statistics, facts, and numbers. Which are you more likely to remember? Even if the bullet-point list contains all the same information as the story, you’ll be able to remember more details more accurately from the story. That’s because storytelling is an insanely powerful thing, and there’s some pretty amazing science behind just why we find a story a much more interesting way to receive information.

When we’re looking at a list, the parts of the brain called Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area are activated and receive the information—and that’s all that happens. A good story activates all different parts of the brain, from the parts that interpret language to the parts that relate to our own sensory perception. Storytelling establishes something that a plain list doesn’t—a connection with the speaker. And that connection can make all the difference in the world when it comes to remembering what a presentation was about. More than that, we become invested in the story. We see characters instead of dry facts, and we want to know how it all ends.

This craving for closure has another effect, too: It lowers some of our inhibitions. We become less critical of the information, we allow for improbabilities for the sake of storytelling, and we suspend skepticism without even realizing that we’re doing it. If it’s a good story, we’ll excuse a little bit more. If it’s a dry assortment of facts, we’re left picking it apart if only for some way to entertain the parts of our brain that are getting bored. So great is the power of storytelling that some researchers put forth the idea that fiction is more effective at completely changing our views and belief systems than data dumps of scientific facts.

8 Subliminal Messaging Works

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In the 1950s, a man named James Vicary was the first to experiment with subliminal messaging, flashing “Drink Coca-Cola” on movie screens while films were playing in a few theaters. While he claimed that it worked and that sales increased in those theaters, science has long been doubtful about just how effective the use of subliminal messaging is. Researchers at the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research have shown that, in spite of the later finding that Vicary’s results were bogus, subliminal messaging does work.

Volunteers in the Netherlands study were exposed to the subliminal messages “drinking” and “thirsty,” and then researchers measured how likely the volunteers were to accept a drink. Variations in the study led researchers to the conclusion that subliminal messaging really only works as long as a handful of conditions are present: There needs to be a pleasurable reward for giving in to the subliminal message, thoughts need to be planted ahead of the chance for fulfillment, and there needs to be a pre-existing association with the reward that makes it pleasant. Other studies, including one by University College London, supports the idea that the human brain is subconsciously aware of things that happen too fast for us to consciously register—especially negative emotions. Volunteers in a study were exposed to a variety of subliminal messages, then asked to indicate whether the message was neutral or emotionally charged. Volunteers were surprisingly accurate, and they were most accurate when the words were negative.

7 We’re Programmed To Be Gullible—Especially If We’re Smart

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It seems contradictory, we know. But how many times have we heard of the most intelligent among the human population being taken in by some scam that, in retrospect, seems so obviously fake that it’s painful? Today, we cringe at the gullibility of an entire army dragging the gift of a Trojan Horse inside their gates, and we shake our heads at people who lost millions investing in the welfare of a Nigerian prince. But psychologists suggest that we can’t help but believe the hoaxes. In fact, the smarter we are, the more gullible we might be, and many hoaxes are designed to play off these weaknesses in our defense system.

Part of it has something to do with ego; the smarter we are, the less likely we are to believe that we can be fooled. We assume we’ll see it coming a mile away, and that overconfidence means we might just outright miss it instead. Another part of it is that we’re programmed to trust sources that have always been reliable, and put our faith in people with titles like “Professor” and “Doctor”—that’s why we believe the priest who found Heaven on Earth or the astronomer who told us gravity was going to go away for a bit.

There’s also the idea that there are different types of intelligence—the intelligence that has allowed a person to create a successful career for themselves might not be the same type of intelligence that allows them to see through a scam. According to psychologist and author Stephen Greenspan, intelligence can often bow in the face of the social pressure exploited by many scams, or when the person is confronted with the possibility of an outcome that either seems too good to be true or just modest enough to be reasonable. Intelligence can also lose out to another factor: kindness. No matter how smart a person may be, they also might be too kind to outright shut down a personable scam artist, or decline an offer after they’ve been sitting in a meeting for several hours. And intelligence is certainly no match for emotion, either, especially the emotion that comes with promises of riches.

6 We’ll Believe Some Fonts Over Others

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Comic Sans. The mere mention of it is enough to conjure images of a child’s birthday party invitation or an announcement for the local garden club. It’s not used in academic journals or in reputable newspapers, and there’s a reason for that (aside from aesthetics). The font used for any given news story, blog, or essay influences how likely we are to believe it. In 2012, New York Times columnist Errol Morris tried an experiment. He took a passage from a book on the likelihood of a cataclysmic event happening on Earth, had people read it, and then asked how many of them believed the passage (under the guise of an optimism vs. pessimism questionnaire). The questionnaire was programmed to display in one of six random fonts: Trebuchet, Computer Modern, Baskerville, Georgia, Comic Sans, or Helvetica. At the end of the sample period, 45,524 people had taken the quiz.

Numbers and data were crunched, and in the end, Baskerville had about a 1.5 percent advantage over the other fonts in getting people to agree with the passage. It also out-performed other fonts in terms of strength of agreement. The quiz was weighted (from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”), and once those numbers were factored in, it was found that Baskerville also had the highest rate of agreement and the lowest rate of disagreement. And while 1.5 percent might not seem like much, the results could be potentially staggering when they’re viewed in the context of elections or sales. The psychologists that analyzed the study, including Cornell University’s David Dunning, believe that it happens because we lend more credibility to something that looks formal, and we unconsciously process that information. Or, in the case of people around the world flaming CERN for releasing earth-shattering news about the Higgs boson particle in Comic Sans, sometimes it can be a conscious thing, too.

5 We’re More Likely To Commit A Crime In A Questionable Neighborhood

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No matter how moral you think you are, it turns out that you can be influenced by your surroundings into some less-than-honorable acts. It’s called the “Broken Windows” theory, developed by psychologists James Wilson and George Kelling. The theory states that the more run-down an area is, the more lawless it will be perceived as being, and, in turn, the more likely people are to assume that breaking the law is at least somewhat acceptable. An experiment conducted in the Netherlands supported the idea, finding that people were twice as likely to take money out of a mailbox if there were signs of neglect in the surrounding property.

Other studies, such as one done by a Stanford psychologist in Palo Alto, California and the Bronx in New York, also substantiated the theory. Untouched cars were left alone, but a car that had already been vandalized and left to sit was stripped within a day. Even the car that had sat untouched and undisturbed was destroyed within hours after researchers smashed it once with a sledgehammer. As a result of the theory, many police departments have made literally cleaning up the streets a part of their duties. In many places, increasing foot patrols has made a significant difference, not so much in crime rate, but in how safe people feel.

4 Our Plate Size Changes How We Eat

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It’s called the Delboeuf illusion, and it’s been well documented since 1865. The principle is most effectively measured now in relationship to how much we pile on our plates in a single serving. Take two portions of equal size. Put one on a large plate and one on a small plate, and the serving on the small plate will look bigger. When studies have asked people to portion out a serving size for themselves, those who are given bigger plates will pile on 13 percent more food on average than those who are given smaller plates. The same thing happens when we’re pouring ourselves a drink. Pour yourself a shot, then try to pour the same amount of liquid into a pint glass—it’s difficult to do, because our brains can’t overcome the illusion of relative size and amounts. And it’s extra difficult for the human brain to judge vertical lengths; even longtime bartenders will generally think that a narrow, tall glass holds more liquid than it actually does. Interestingly, the size of the average dinner plate in America has increased almost 25 percent in the last century, coinciding with a slowly progressing obesity epidemic.

3 Colors Can Change Everything

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Interior decorators say that we’re supposed to choose room colors based on the feelings we want the room to have, but there’s considerably more to it than that. According to an article in Forbes magazine, business owners can influence a lot more than the moods of their customers by careful color selection. Warm colors, such as browns and reds, can actually make a person feel warmer, while cool colors like blues can make them feel cooler—which can actually mean saving on heating and cooling bills. And colors can cause the above-mentioned Delboeuf’s illusion as well. When plate color contrasts with food color, you’re more likely to think you’re eating more and, in turn, take smaller portion sizes. When the plates are the same color as the food, you’ll eat more.

It’s also been hypothesized that lighting color can have an even more drastic effect on influencing people’s actions. In 2000, the city of Glasgow, Scotland changed some of their streetlights to emit blue light, a color that’s traditionally been thought to have a calming effect. According to city officials, crime in the areas of the blue lights dropped dramatically. Japan followed suit. Crime was reported down 9 percent after blue lighting was installed in Nara, and the Keihin Electric Express Railway Company later installed blue lights on a railway platform that was a notorious suicide spot. According to the station, there was a significant reduction in suicide attempts at the Gumyoji Station after the lighting was installed.

2 Advertising Works, Even When We Don’t Think It Does

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Of course advertising works: Companies wouldn’t spend huge amounts of money on it if it didn’t. They also know what works best, and that’s why we see so many random commercials with messages seemingly unrelated to the product they’re trying to sell. A study done by George Washington University and the University of California, Los Angeles presented volunteers with advertisements that used actual facts about a product as well as commercials that used feel-good ideas or random images that seemed to have nothing to do with the actual product. When viewing the list of facts, the amount of electrical activity in the brain was significantly lower than it was when the person was looking at the advertisement with more fun imagery. Feel-good imagery, no matter how nonsensical it might be, ended up eliciting more of a response from the brains of the target audience.

Advertising is also designed to work even if you fast-forward through most of it. With the invention of digital video recorders, it was originally thought that television ads were going to lose their effectiveness because people were skipping over them. Studies by the Harvard Business Review have shown that’s absolutely not true—while you might think you’re skipping the ads, you’re still being influenced by them. In order to fast-forward, you need to be looking at the screen to know when to stop again. And that means you’re paying attention to the advertisement, even more than you would be if you simply left the room or did something else during the break. When you’re fast-forwarding, your brain sees a Big Mac flash up on the screen, and even though you’re not watching the whole thing, thoughts of a Big Mac are still planted in your mind. And because we’re likely to still watch television shows as they’re broadcast, we still have some exposure to advertisements. Once we’ve seen something once, our brains can recognize it from seeing only snippets as we think we’re skipping over it. Nielsen ratings from 2009 found that only about 68 percent of commercials are fast-forwarded through, leaving plenty of raw advertising materials to be stored in our brains for a later nudge.

1 Some People Physically Can’t Resist Peer Pressure

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Peer pressure is more commonly thought of as a bad thing than a good thing. It can be good, encouraging people to learn from each other and explore new ideas and hobbies. Yet the connotation remains bad, and we tend to think of friends encouraging friends to try a new drug or shoplift. And as much as we think we can guard against peer pressure, it’s still an influence, usually without us even realizing it. It turns out that peer pressure taps into a specific part of the brain—the part that signals a reward.

According to a study by Temple University, brain scans conducted on teens who knew their friends were watching them carry out rebellious actions—in this case, running yellow lights in a driving game—show that the act of breaking the law ignites the pleasure and reward centers in the brain. The same study conducted with adults found that there was no corresponding trigger, suggesting that peer pressure is a bigger factor for teens. The trigger happened with the knowledge that someone else was watching; there was no reward center activation when the volunteer was just playing, and there was also no need for the watcher to interact directly with the teen being studied.

It also suggests that when teens are aware that they’re being watched by others, their behavior changes drastically—whether they know it or not. There is a way to help make the brain more prepared to fight the effects of peer pressure, though, and that’s to teach your teen to argue. Teens who are prepped at home to be able to stand up for themselves and express their own opinions are more likely to be able to resist—and recognize—peer pressure.

+ Background Music Affects How Much We Buy

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At first listen, the background music that’s being played in a store might seem like an arbitrary choice at best, and certainly one that doesn’t have much of an impact on shoppers. But studies have shown that that’s absolutely not the case—there are a number of different ways that the music being played is changing your behavior. Part of the effect comes from your perception of time. Songs with faster beats and tempos will make you think you’ve spent less time shopping that you actually have, and in turn, you’ll spend more time browsing and finding things to buy. The same thing works when you’re on the phone and on hold—faster songs make people report shorter wait times. Part of the phenomenon is that listening to music, even in the background, takes a little bit of brainpower. That’s less of your brain to focus on how much time you’re spending in the store or on whether or not you should make a purchase, and it makes you more susceptible to the pitch of a salesperson.

Other studies have found that the type of music played also has a significant impact on shopper’s habits. One in particular measured the types of wines that customers bought when different types of music were being played. On days when French music was broadcast, sales for French wines increased. When German music was played? The sales of German wine increased. Interestingly, customers in the study didn’t remember the music at all, and some even denied that it was a factor in the choices that they made, suggesting that music is one of the best types of subliminal messages that can be broadcast.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2014/07/08/10-reasons-you-arent-in-control-of-your-own-decisions/

10 Of The Most Mysteriously Talented People In The World

Most people have basic talents like singing, dancing, and so on. But some people can do much more than that, and most of them can’t even control it themselves.

10Orlando Serrell

As sad as brain damage is, a tiny percentage of people who suffer from it come out the other end with an unusual new ability. People who gain special abilities through a form of head trauma are called “acquired savants.” In general, savants have extreme mathematical capabilities or can, say, draw the entire city of Rome in striking detail.

In 1979, Orlando Serrell was playing a baseball game in elementary school when a stray ball slammed into the side of his head. However, this didn’t faze him, and he kept playing. For one year, Serrell experienced headaches that would last for hours. By the end of that year, he realized that he could perform superb calendar calculations, such as knowing how many Mondays there were in 1980. Along with this incredible skill, he could remember every detail of every day, much like a hyperthymesia sufferer. In Serrell’s case, this was obviously a much less severe form of brain damage, yet it was still head trauma.

When it comes to savants, regular people are often jealous of their skills. In reality, the reason savants are able to have such great brains is because they take everything literally and look at the tiny details that we don’t focus on. This is why savants have great difficulty in taking tests, like the ones in school. Those tests ask much broader questions and don’t reflect the focused way savants think.

9Thai Ngoc

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Vietnamese farmer Thai Ngoc suffered a fever in 1973, which seemed like nothing much at first. When the fever cleared up, he had developed a bad case of insomnia. Thinking it would go away in a week, he didn’t give it much thought. Now, over 40 years later, he hasn’t slept since the night of the fever. After over 12,000 nights of no sleep, you would think he’d be dead. However, after examinations, the only thing wrong with him were minor liver problems. The only complaint from Ngoc was that he’s a little grumpy from not experiencing sleep for over three decades. He tried countless home remedies and even tried drowning himself in alcohol. Nothing seems to work. So why is his insomnia persisting for so long?

One of the explanations could be a phenomenon called “microsleep.” Micro naps occur when a part of your brain gets tired and decides to quickly take a few seconds to nap. Most everyone has probably experienced these when tired—our brain temporarily shuts off and then goes back on again. Falling asleep while driving is a good example of microsleep. This could be how Ngoc has been getting by for so long.

8Most Tibetans

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Sherpas are known for guiding people up Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. The Sherpas of Nepal and most Tibetans have traits that allow them to survive up in the mountains at around 4 kilometers (13,000 ft) above sea level. Just a few years ago, researchers had no idea why they were able to do this. Now, they know that 87 percent of Tibetans have a specific gene that allows them to use up to 40 percent less oxygen than the average human.

The EPAS1 gene is responsible for Tibetans being able to live at such high altitudes for so long. For most people, going up as high as 3 kilometers (10,000 ft) causes their hemoglobin levels to rise. Hemoglobin is the substance in our blood that helps carry oxygen throughout the body. The EPAS1 gene doesn’t let Tibetans’ hemoglobin levels rise beyond a certain extent, which prevents heart-related problems that normal people would experience.

According to researchers, Tibetans gain this ability from now-extinct beings called the Denisovans. The Denisovans lived around the area where Tibetans live now, and their fossils have been found to contain the same EPAS1 gene. Tibetans (along with some Pacific Islanders) seem to be the only ones with this gene, because the Denisovans interbred, forming a pool of the same genes over and over until extinction.

7Elisabeth Sulser

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By now, most people know about the incredibly strange condition called “synesthesia,” which is when someone’s senses are crossed. For instance, when they eat a red skittle, it may taste like cherry, even if it didn’t actually have a flavor. Some people can feel colors with their eyes closed. For Elisabeth Sulser, her sight, hearing, and taste have been mixed, allowing her to see colorful sound waves and taste music. Assuming that this was a normal thing, she had been living her entire life thinking other people could also taste and see music and sounds. However, when Sulser realized no one else had these capabilities, she felt alone because she couldn’t share what she was feeling with anyone. Synesthesia isn’t all good, though. People who can see sounds are constantly distracted in noisy areas and—as you can imagine—get headaches quite frequently.

Luckily, Sulser is a musician, so these abilities help her out significantly, letting her form symphonies and melodies out of colors. While still a mysterious condition, Sulser’s synesthesia doesn’t seem to have any adverse affects, especially since she only sees music (instead of regular sounds).

6SM

Known anonymously as “SM,” this woman suffers from an unknown disease that has caused her amygdala (part of the brain that controls fear) to completely deteriorate. Now a mother of three, SM is not able to feel fear, no matter how scary the situation is. In a study that tested her fearing abilities, SM watched the scariest of scary movies and touched a snake’s tongue.

When SM was a child, however, she remembers being afraid of the dark, but by the time she’d reached early adolescence, her amygdala was already destroyed. In fact, she even describes an encounter with a man when she was walking through a park at night. He ran up to her and put a knife to her throat. Instead of being terrified, she calmly told him he would have to go through her guardian angel first, which scared him off. Today, she describes the experience as “strange.”

5Dean Karnazes

Anyone who has ever taken part in a marathon knows that at some points you have to take a quick break. Yet for Dean Karnazes, something about his muscles allows him to run forever.

Normally, the human body gets energy from glucose, which also produces lactate. If the lactate buildup gets to be too much, the body will produce lactic acid, which causes it to shut down. Dean’s body isn’t affected by the lactate buildup, allowing him to never get tired. Dean started running in high school when he joined a track team. While the rest of his team could only do 15 laps, he did 105 before he was told to stop. Since then, he had stopped running completely until he turned 30.

Obviously interested, some scientists in Colorado tested his endurance. They said the test would take maximum 15 minutes, but he kept going on a treadmill for over an hour. Because of this unique ability, he once ran 50 marathons in 50 days.

4Tibetan Monks

In Southern Asia, specifically Tibet, monks claim to have learned how to control their body temperatures using an ancient form of meditation called “Tum-mo.” According to Buddhism, the life we live is not all there is; there is a sort of alternate reality. By practicing Tum-mo, these monks are supposedly reaching that other world. When they do Tum-mo, they generate a significant amount of heat.

When tested for this weird phenomenon, scientists were astounded to find the temperature of the monks’ fingers and toes rising by an incredible 8 degrees Celsius (17 °F). Tum-mo is not the only form of meditation Tibetan monks practice. Other types of meditation allow the monks to lower their metabolism. Metabolism controls how fast the body breaks down calories. People with a slow metabolism gain weight faster, because their body can’t break down the calories quickly enough. Through meditation, the monks can lower their metabolism by around 64 percent. This allows them to conserve their energy, unlike regular people. In comparison, average humans lower their metabolism by only 15 percent when asleep.

3Chris Robinson

Chris Robinson woke up one day after an extraordinarily vivid dream in which he saw two planes crash in midair. Since that day, he has allegedly been able to see the future in his dreams. Robinson can also wake up exactly when he wants and record his dreams in a dream journal he keeps.

Stan Lee himself (with the help of Daniel Browning Smith) tested Robinson by setting up an experiment. He told Robinson that they would take him to 10 places the following day, and his job was to dream about the locations they were going to visit. The next day, Robinson wrote down each of the locations he dreamed about and put them in envelopes. As they drove to each location, they opened the corresponding envelope and sure enough, Robinson had gotten everything right.

This seems incredibly suspicious, and it may just be. Robinson was tested again. This time, he had to guess what item was placed inside a box. Over the course of 12 days, Robinson took 12 separate guesses about as many different items. He only got 2 out of 12 right, which wasn’t significant enough to prove the existence of psychic powers.

2Eskil Ronningsbakken

One of the most death-defying and incredible performance artists in the world, Ronningsbakken first got into the art of balancing when he was just five years old. His interest was sparked when he saw a person do one-of-a-kind feats on TV. When Ronningsbakken was 18, he ran away to a circus and performed there for 11 years. He knew that balancing was exactly what he wanted to do.

Now in his early thirties, Ronningsbakken puts his life on the line by riding a bicycle upside down on a tightrope over a canyon and doing handstands on a bar that hangs under a flying hot-air balloon. In the video above, you can see him ride a bicycle backward down one of the curviest roads in Norway. Ronningsbakken isn’t fearless, however, admitting that he gets anxiety before some stunts. He claims that fear is part of what makes us human and that if he ever lost his sense of fear, he’d immediately quit; he’d be afraid of not being fully human.

1Natalya Demkina

In Saransk, Russia, a young girl named Natalya Demkina suddenly began seeing inside people’s bodies. Since a young age, Demkina had people come to her apartment to have her look inside of them and figure out their sicknesses.

Interested in this “X-ray girl,” Dr. Ray Hyman decided to fly her to New York City and run some tests. One of the tests involved six patients who had various conditions—like a removed appendix or a metal plate in the skull from a brain tumor—and one control patient who didn’t have any medical conditions. They gave Demkina six cards with all the different conditions on them and then sent the patients in one by one. She got four of them right, which sounds fairly impressive (even though she claims to be able to see down to a cellular level).

Interestingly, however, she mixed up the metal-plated skull and the appendix, which are pretty bad mistakes for someone who can allegedly see inside of people. In the end, the choice is yours as to whether you prefer to see a doctor or someone with supposed X-ray vision.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2014/09/07/10-of-the-most-unique-people-in-the-world/

10 More Bizarre Psychological Disorders

We’ve all heard of the most famous psychological disorders: schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and so on. But there are many disorders that most people haven’t heard of—some of which are rather bizarre, to say the least. We’ve already seen a couple of lists on mental disorders, which you can read here and here; here are ten more:

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Landau-Kleffner Syndrome is an odd disorder; children who suffer from it—generally between the ages of five and seven—frequently lose the ability to properly express and understand language. Some people with this syndrome also suffer from seizures, and scientists are yet to understand why the disorder occurs.

It’s all made stranger by the fact that the children usually develop their language skills just fine, and then seem to lose them randomly. Certain speech therapies can be helpful in managing the condition, but it is fairly difficult to treat.

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Aboulomania isn’t a very well-known disorder; essentially, it involves the occasional onset of crippling indecision.

Aboulomania sufferers are normal in practically every other way, physically and mentally—they simply run into very serious problems whenever they’re faced with certain choices, to the extent that they struggle to regain normal function.

Some aboulomania sufferers face incredible difficulties in everyday life, finding it nearly impossible to do simple things; even wondering whether or not they should go out for a walk can paralyze them with indecision. Many sufferers report that their incapacity to do what they want comes in spite of that fact that they’re aware of being physically fine—and so they seem to be imprisoned by the inability to fulfill their own will.

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If you wanted bizarre, then you’re about to get it. It turns out that there are reported cases of people experiencing seizures upon hearing the voice of Mary Hart, a TV personality.

A doctor who studied one of these claims said that the woman concerned really did fall into a seizure at the sound of Hart’s voice; he reported that the woman would also grip her head, looking distracted and confused. It is important to note, however, that this strange syndrome seems only to affect those who already have seizures for other reasons.

Anxiety

Caffeine can induce serious anxiety, and a good portion of the world is high on caffeine at any given time—which means there is a good chance that many people are suffering from this right now.

While researchers have long acknowledged that caffeine increases the chances of anxiety, they have additionally found that people who already have a regular anxiety disorder are far more susceptible to the psychological effects of caffeine. So if you’re already prone to panic attacks, ingesting caffeine could well lead to an even greater risk.

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Boanthropy is a strange delusional disorder whereby a person believes himself to be a cow or an ox. Some people think that the disorder usually starts out as a dream and goes on to pervade the waking mind, eventually taking hold as a full-blown delusion. It’s also possible that the condition can be induced by hypnotism, provided that the subject is more than a little suggestible.

Nebuchadnezzar, King of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, is generally thought to have suffered from this condition—at least according to the Book of Daniel, which states that he “was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen.”

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You might want to put your food away for this one. Autophagia refers to the condition of eating yourself, or parts of yourself—often by simply biting and chewing impulsively. This disorder doesn’t have an official place of its own in the DSM-IV, but it would fit in with impulse control disorders in general.

One man apparently began by merely biting his own nails—but ended up with such a problem that he severely mutilated his fingers. As with most disorders, this one can range from very mild to life threatening.

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Alien hand syndrome sounds really cool, but it is hard to imagine it being anything but extremely frustrating for the person experiencing it. Basically, it occurs when an arm seems to have a mind of its own; it moves around, grabs hold of things, and responds to to the touch of another person—but it does this without the control of the person to whom it belongs.

As you’d expect, this nightmare syndrome can lead to great distress on the part of the sufferers, who often refer to their rogue arm as though it were a separate entity.

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This phenomenon is most widespread in Japan, or more specifically, among those who grew up according to the customs and social expectations of Japanese culture. Taijin Kyofusho is characterized by a crippling fear of social interactions, and a vivid awareness of everything that could possibly go wrong, such as having an offensive body odor or doing something that will offend someone in any other way. That the condition should arise in Japan is in many ways unsurprising, since Japanese culture is well known for placing importance on keeping up appearances and etiquette in social situations.

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Erotomania is a pretty strange disorder; essentially, it refers to people who are deluded into thinking that someone else is in love with them. But what makes this disorder especially bizarre is that the person who is supposedly in love with the sufferer is usually someone of much higher status than themselves—and often a celebrity.

This delusion can be difficult to break; even if the supposed lover directly denies any feelings of love, it is often not enough to convince the deluded individual. Unfortunately, there isn’t much known about this particular disorder, especially in regard to its treatment.

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Riley-Day Syndrome is also known as Familial Dysautonomia; and it’s a disorder that is genetically inherited. To actually show signs of having the condition, however, the relevant gene has to be passed on by both parents.

Basically, Riley-Day syndrome affects the autonomous nervous system. While there are many extremely unpleasant symptoms (such as frequent vomiting, and difficulty swallowing), it does also have some arguably cool features. Chief among these is the fact that many people with the condition are almost entirely insensitive to pain.

Of course, though a painless life sounds great in theory, it doesn’t work so well in practice. Pain is actually your friend; it sends signals to your brain to let you know when something needs fixing—so to go without it altogether isn’t necessarily going to be a pleasant experience.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/05/06/10-more-bizarre-psychological-disorders/

10 More People Who Survived Your Worst Nightmares

We all like to think we’d be the very face of implacable calm in the face of disaster. At the very least, if faced with certain death, we like to think we’d face it with dignity, or perhaps a kind of defiant resignation—but certainly not abject terror and sheer panic, because we are fully grown adults who– oh, fine. Nobody wants to die, but absolutely nobody wants to die under nightmarish, out-of-control, excruciatingly painful circumstances. But like those on our previous list, the following people did more than just stare down death with courage under just such circumstances—they stared it down until it backed right off, and then they walked away.

10 Joan Murray
Fell 14,500 Feet Onto Mound Of Fire Ants

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You may think we slipped that subheader in there just to see if you were paying attention, and that we’ve been watching too many Road Runner cartoons. Well, here are the facts. In September of 1999, 47-year-old Joan Murray experienced failure of her main chute during a skydive from over 4,400 meters (14,500 ft). By the time she got her reserve chute to deploy, she was less than 305 meters (1,000 ft) from the ground. She spun out of control, her reserve chute lost most of its air volume, and she smacked into the ground traveling at 129 kph (80 mph), landing directly on a large fire ant mound.

Joan broke most of the bones in her entire right side, and fillings shot from her teeth upon impact; yet she somehow was alive, though unconscious. The whole situation didn’t go over well with the fire ants. Joan was bitten over 200 times before paramedics were able to assist her. Incredibly, her doctors (one of whom scrawled “miracle” on her chart) think the ant bites may have aided in Joan’s survival by causing an extreme adrenaline response. Several years, and more than 20 reconstructive surgeries and countless physical therapy sessions later, Joan returned to work, life, and skydiving—taking her 37th dive in 2002.

9 Louis Nell
Attacked By Two Pit Bulls

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At first, it was just a dog owner’s worst nightmare: Louis Nell’s golden retriever, Chrissy, was being attacked in their home by two aggressive pit bulls that had come out of nowhere. Then Louis made an attempt to defend his dog, and it quickly turned into a situation that could have spelled the end for Louis himself.

The pit bulls, the dogs of one of Louis’s neighbors, had burst in through their screen door and set upon Chrissy before anyone knew what was happening. His wife, Linda, frantically dialed police as Louis fought with the animals “for a good five to 10 minutes,” sustaining a profusely bleeding bite on one hand after he toppled over while trying to pin one of the dogs beneath a chair.

Fortunately, police arrived quickly and shot one of the dogs dead on the scene (the other was later euthanized). Chrissy was killed in the attack. “They tore her throat completely open,” said Linda. But if not for Louis’s bravery and the quick response of police, it could have turned out much, much worse.

8 Geary And Suzan Whaley
Picked Up By A Tornado

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In late May 2013, a series of tornadoes rocked the central United States; Oklahoma, it could be argued, took the worst of it. On May 20, a twister that devastated the town of Moore killed 24 people. By May 31, nine more had died as multiple twisters tore across central Oklahoma. One of these tornadoes, an E4 tornado—the second-most powerful rating, was sighted near the town of Shawnee by husband and wife Geary and Suzan Whaley as they were heading home on the highway. They don’t remember much else about the rest of the day, but investigators think they tried to pull under an overpass (bad idea), where the twister met them, picking up their truck and sucking them both right out the windows.

Suzan had been shooting video of the twister on her cell phone when it struck, and it continued shooting through the entire incident. She says she can barely remember waking up on the ground, cell phone still in hand, her husband missing. She found him over 15.2 meters (50 ft) away, with about a dozen broken bones but somehow still alive. They now know that the structure of an underpass can amplify a tornado’s winds, but hopefully it’s knowledge they won’t need to use again. Amazingly, their dog Rocky was also with them at the time and went missing afterward . . . until he was found four days later, trapped under some debris and also alive.

7 Theresa Christian
Locked In A Freezer For 5 Days

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Yes, twisters are to be avoided at all costs . . . well, almost. For the claustrophobic among us, here’s an example of how some methods of protecting yourself from a tornado can potentially turn even scarier than the tornado itself. Investigators believe Theresa Christian, 59 at the time, was attempting to take shelter in a deep freezer when she accidentally locked herself inside. And she remained there for five days.

Unbelievably, her sons dropped by on day four and turned over the apartment, calling their mother’s name, to no avail. On Wednesday, they and an apartment maintenance crew returned. This time, Theresa’s son Stewart heard a very faint cry for help. They discovered her sitting upright, conscious, inside the deep freezer—which was itself inside a closet. The lid was cracked, but she was unable to move. She had severe frostbite on her legs and was hospitalized in serious condition. Oddly, no inclement weather was forecasted for the area at the time—it’s just the only explanation authorities could come up with, and Ms. Christian wasn’t talking.

6 Janis Ollson
Cut In Half For Cancer Treatment

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A diagnosis of cancer is never good, but Janis Ollson’s diagnosis was of the type that would make most people simply crumble. There was cancerous bone tissue in the middle of her pelvis, and doctors told her that her only option was essentially to be disassembled to get at the problem area, then put her back together again like a puzzle. She would lose her left leg, and her right would have to be . . . well . . . totally detached during the procedure. And they weren’t sure if they would be able to reattach it.

Basically, the surgery involved cutting Janis Ollson in two, and it was her only hope. Despite the procedure never having been attempted on a living patient, doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota were willing to give it a shot. Since the treatment would leave “no bony continuity between her torso and her remaining leg” (in the words of Dr. Michael Yaszemski, who originated the treatment), bone from her amputated left leg was used to reattach the right, closer to her spine in the center of her body. Over two surgeries of 28 hours, with 240 staples used to piece Janis together, the groundbreaking procedure was done—and it was successful. Obviously, there was incredibly demanding rehabilitation, and lots of it, required. And Janis requires a bit of hardware to get around, but she isn’t complaining. Since her lifesaving treatment, it has been attempted on three other patients—two of whom died.

5 Rita Chretien
Stranded In Wilderness For 7 Weeks

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Rita Chretien and her husband, Albert, set out for Las Vegas from their home in British Columbia in their van in March 2011. She would later tell journalists that the couple had little experience on such a trip, and they were relying on their GPS to guide them accurately. On March 20, their van became bogged down in the snowy Nevada wilderness, unable to go any further. There it remained until May 6, when it was found by hunters on ATVs. The search had been on since March 30, when they had been expected home by their children. May 6 was the very day, Rita said, that she felt the last of her energy slipping away after surviving on a small amount of trail mix and hard candy for the past 49 days. When she heard the hunters’ engines, she had just laid down to prepare to die.

Albert had set out for help two days after the van became stuck, but he unfortunately did not get anywhere near it—he was over eight kilometers (five miles) from the nearest town when his frozen body was finally found in late September 2012. He had, however, made it roughly the same distance from the van, a valiant effort in unforgiving conditions. Sheriff’s Deputy David Prall said, “Once he [Albert] lost the ability to use that GPS, due to the snow drifts, he couldn’t tell where the road was. He did a lot of unnecessary climbing. He was heading literally for the summit of the mountain . . . where he made it to was far beyond what he was equipped for . . . this man had tremendous courage and inner strength to get where he was.”

4 Randal McCloy Jr.
Trapped By Sago Mine Explosion

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On January 2, 2006, an explosion at the Sago mine in West Virginia trapped 13 miners for two days. According to Randal McCloy Jr.—the only one of them to make it out alive—at least four of the miners’ emergency breathing devices failed. And that was only the nail in their coffin, as many oversights were eventually found to have contributed to the blast.

For one, McCloy also reported after his rescue that about three weeks prior to the incident, he and a coworker had come upon a pocket of methane—which, for the record, is explosive—while drilling in the roof of the mine. After reporting this, they found the next day that the leak they had reported had been plugged up with glue used for sealing bolts in the mine walls. And that was the last they heard of it.

McCloy came very close to the same fate as all of his coworkers—death by carbon monoxide poisoning. Even with all of the emergency breathing devices functioning, his survival would have been improbable. They provide an hour’s worth of oxygen, and help did not arrive until 41 hours after the explosion. Unbelievably, some news outlets reported erroneously during the incident that one miner had died and 12 had been rescued, prompting relief from a dozen families whose hearts were broken when the numbers were reversed just hours later.

3 Regan Martin
Abducted By A Serial Killer

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David Alan Gore was a rapist and serial killer who was active in the late ’70s and early ’80s in the United States. He was executed for his crimes in 2012, and his accomplice Fred Waterfield was sentenced to consecutive life sentences in prison. In all, Gore killed six women. He and Waterfield abducted their final two victims on July 26, 1983. They were 14-year-old Regan Martin and 17-year-old Lynn Elliott, and it’s a day Regan will never forget: She’s the only one of Gore’s victims to survive.

It began when Gore and Waterfield picked the girls up at the beach, planning to bring any who were willing to go back to Gore’s parents house (they were out of town) and rape them. After getting Martin and Elliott in the car, the glove box popped open, revealing a .22 pistol, which Gore used to threaten Martin. At first taking it for a joke, it quickly became apparent that it was not. They were taken to the house, where both were sexually assaulted.

In all likelihood, Elliott saved Martin’s life—and sacrificed her own—by attempting to escape. While Gore was assaulting Martin, Elliott slipped out of the house, naked and handcuffed, and was running down the driveway when Gore spotted her, having heard the door. He shot Elliott in the head in full view of a child witness, and it was her murder that he was convicted of and sentenced to die for in 1984. The witness called police, who were able to arrive in time to rescue Martin.

2 Anna Hjelle
Attacked By A Mountain Lion

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Mountain lions are notoriously territorial animals. The one that attacked 30-year-old ex-Marine Anna Hjelle in 2007 had killed before—in fact, it had killed another victim earlier that day—and it was going for seconds. Anna had been mountain biking in the wrong place, and if not for the quick thinking and immense bravery of her friend Debi Nicholls, she would likely not be here to tell her story.

Debby refused to let go of Anna’s legs as the giant cat was attempting to drag Anna by her face into the wilderness. Anna remained conscious throughout, and distinctly remembers thinking that she should really just die. “You think about the fact that your face is ripped off,” she said. And roughly half of it was. Two more bikers heard screaming and came to help, fending off the lion with rocks while Debby held on. The lion eventually acquiesced, and the men carried Anna up the trailhead while continuing to be stalked by the lion.

Police shot the big cat as it was hovering near the body of Mark Reynolds, whom it had killed and partially eaten earlier in the day. Anna was airlifted to an Orange County hospital, where she received some 2,000 stitches over five hours of surgery.

1 Eugene Han And Kirstin Davis
Shot In Colorado Movie Theater Massacre

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Finally, we have a couple who picked the worst possible time and place to go to a movie: They were present at the notorious theater massacre carried out by James Holmes in July 2012. A dozen people died in the Aurora, Colorado mass shooting. Eugene and Kirstin were among 70 who were injured but survived the massacre, but their story is unique for one awesome reason.

The couple were attending the midnight screening after Eugene’s 12-hour shift at work, and as such, he fell asleep during the previews. As he woke, Holmes entered through the exit door, a mere three meters (10 ft) or so away. Eugene saw the outline of his gun against the movie screen, and knew there was about to be big trouble. Then the tear gas canister came, and the shooting started.

Eugene, of course, pushed Kirstin under the chairs and wedged himself between her and the wildly firing gunman, which we assume any of our male readers would also do. He watched as bullets sprayed about, he says he saw “pieces of flesh fly,” and then he took one in the hip and another in the knee. Then he heard the gun click and figured this was their chance to make a run for it. They dragged themselves out the door as Holmes reloaded, locking eyes with Eugene briefly as he did. The bullet in Eugene’s hip was too dangerous to remove, and it took months of physical therapy for him to regain use of his leg, but the couple was able to turn one of the most harrowing experiences imaginable into a positive. Eugene proposed in April 2013, and they were married on July 20—a year to the day after the shooting.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/09/12/10-more-people-who-survived-your-worst-nightmares/

10 Studies That Reveal Depressing Facts About Humanity

Hopefully, many of our readers still think that humanity, at its core, is a good thing. We share that same belief; but every now and again, researchers come up with results that reveal rather unsettling facts about our species. For example:

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If you happened upon a lost wallet full of cash, would you return it? That’s the question researchers in Edinburgh wanted to answer—but they added a few extra conditions, to make it more interesting. As part of the experiment, they left a whole bunch of wallets lying around the city, complete with the address of the fictional owner who’d lost it. And along with this information, the researchers put a picture into the wallet to see what was most likely to ensure its safe return.

The pictures ranged from new-born babies to cute little puppies and adorable old couples. In the interest of science, they also left out some control wallets that contained no pictures, as well as a few wallets that contained evidence that the owner frequently gave money to charity.

The results were reported by the wider media with the information that having a baby picture in your wallet was the best way to encourage strangers to return it. But the results also found that wallets containing evidence of charity donations were returned less often than all of the others (with the single exception of the control wallets, which contained nothing).

The wallets which suggested that the owner was a keen supporter of charity were only returned in twenty percent of cases, while the wallets containing a picture of a dog were returned in fifty-three percent of cases. For comparison’s sake, the control wallets which contained nothing but money were returned fifteen percent of the time. So according to this data, you’re thirty-three percent more likely to have someone return your wallet if you advertise that you love dogs, rather than charity. And speaking of charity:

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Giving to charity is always a good thing, unless it’s a charity for eugenics or something—but for the most part, sticking your hand in your pocket and giving some of your hard-earned money to a needy cause is something you should be applauded for.

But when some researchers at the university of Kent decided to find out what actually motivated people to donate money to charity, their results were surprising. They found that people were naturally inclined to donate to charity purely based on their own views and tastes; one person donated to dog charities, for example, purely because they hated cats.

It was also discovered that people were likely to automatically justify not donating to an objectively important charity simply because it conflicted with their own personal views, regardless of how informed such views were. One interviewee refused to send any money overseas—for example to the Sri Lankan Tsunami victims— because such money went to “supporting Mugabe and people like that.”

Of course, giving to charity is generally a very good thing—but you have to admit that it’s a little disheartening to learn that one of the most selfless things a person can do, is so easily affected by a person’s own self-oriented interests and views.

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The chances are that on any given day, you’ll walk past the kind of person who would intentionally run over an animal on the side of the road. In an experiment conducted by Mark Rober, an engineer for NASA, a bunch of rubber snakes, tarantulas, and turtles were placed by the side of a highway, just to see what would happen. Apparently NASA wasn’t busy that day.

Rober found that out of one thousand passing cars documented, as many as sixty went out of their way to squash them. The drivers made a conscious decision to swerve beyond the roadside boundaries in an attempt to kill the rubber animals. Perhaps unsurprisingly, eighty-nine percent of such cases involved SUVs.

On the flip side, a good number of people did pull up in an attempt to help the animal—but that doesn’t change the fact that when presented with a innocent little snake just trying to go about its business, more than one in twenty people risked their own lives to destroy it.

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The bystander effect has already been mentioned on Listverse. And it now seems that this effect is so strong, we’ll even risk our own lives to conform to it.

In a joint experiment by members of the universities of Columbia and New York, subjects were placed into a room under the assumption that they had to fill in a questionnaire. After the subject had been in the room for a pre-determined amount of time, thick smoke was pumped through an air-vent. Astonishingly—and despite the very real threat of other people and themselves burning to death—the more people who were present in the room, the less likely anyone was to report it.

In some cases, people actually sat and completed their questionnaire while the smoke was making them cough and wipe their eyes in discomfort. When later asked about their reasons for staying silent, it appeared that many people had reasoned that it probably wasn’t a fire—and some had even assumed that the smoke was more likely to be “truth gas.”

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Volunteer work, like charity, is something that should be rewarded. But apparently it shouldn’t be rewarded with money.

Researchers tested people’s willingness to volunteer their time for a cause, if they were paid for doing so. Amazingly, when the person was given a monetary incentive to complete the work, the amount of time they volunteered plummeted.

Though this may suggest that people are more likely to do something nice when there’s no question of financial reward, it also means that the ability of organizations to increase volunteers is largely limited to whether or not people feel like volunteering. You only need to refer to the second item on this list to know why that’s a kind of a bad thing.

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Gender inequality is certainly a hot topic—and since you’re reading this online, you’re presumably already aware of how divisive the issue can be. In spite of the general enlightenment concerning sexism, it appears that gender discrimination is so ingrained in our heads that we’ll generally assume an unknown figure is a man—regardless of what the evidence tells us.

In an experiment published last year, it was found that when presented with computer simulated images of a human body, the majority of people assumed these images were of a man—even when the images shown depicted a female body or silhouette.

If you’re wondering why this is important, think of all the times you’ve seen God—who supposedly lies beyond our imaginations—portrayed as a male. And think of all the times you’ve assumed that a doctor is going to be a man. Our habit of automatic male identification goes partway to explaining why that may be the case; and it presents a problem for anyone who values gender equality.

Milgram-Shock-Box

If you’ve ever heard of Milgram’s experiments, you’re probably already aware of the concept of submission to authority.

The really surprising thing is how little actual authority a person needs in order to persuade people to do evil things. In one of Milgram’s most famous experiments, for example, participants were asked to administer tiny doses of electricity to another human being from a remote location, as part of a study. As the voltage increased, the actor being “electrocuted”—who had originally given his consent—began to beg for the experiment to stop.

The ordinary people involved in the experiment expressed doubts about the safety of the person they were electrocuting; but all that was needed to make them continue was a man in a lab coat.

If you’re wondering if this weird obedience is exclusively reserved for men in lab coats, it’s not: hustlers in the UK informally tested this theory of social compliance, and figured out that masquerading as an authority figure can be as simple as putting on a fluorescent jacket.

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“Practice makes perfect” is one of the oldest sayings out there. But in 2013, someone tested whether or not this were actually the case. And as it turns out—it isn’t.

In an experiment aimed at finding out how quickly people were able to grasp the skills behind chess and music, it was found that thousands of hours of practice didn’t necessarily mean that a person would become an expert. In other words, practice alone isn’t enough to learn a skill fully; innate ability and natural talent play a far bigger role than many of us like to think.

Though the researchers stressed that practice does allow a person to become fairly adept at a given skill, the difference between “good and great” doesn’t come down to much you practice—instead, it’s determined by whether or not you as a person are predisposed to have a natural affinity for that skill. Think about what that means: a good many of the kids out there, practicing guitar in the hope of emulating their idol, will never achieve their goal.

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Feeling sad, or having otherwise low self-esteem, makes us more likely to do bad things—or at the very least, to justify them more easily.

One of the more famous experiments relating to this theory involved giving a bunch of students a small boost to their self-esteem in the form of a personality test, quickly followed by another experiment in which they’d be presented with an opportunity to cheat another student to earn money.

The results found that students who’d been given positive feedback on their personality tests were far less likely to cheat than those who’d been given bad feedback—for example by being told the test revealed that they were uninteresting. Just think of how often insults much worse than that are thrown around online.

So what was responsible for the correlation? Well, the research concluded that the phenomenon was due to something they dubbed “self-esteem dissonance.” Basically, a person with a high opinion of themselves found it much harder to justify an immoral action, as it clashed more strongly with the way they perceived themselves. It’s easier to justify lying to someone when you have the mindset that no one cares what you do.

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As part of an Italian study on pain relief, both black and white people were asked to watch a short clip of hands being pricked with needles, while scientists monitored the observers’ brain activity and heart rates. Importantly, some of the pricked hands were black, and others were white.

It was noted that both the black and white participants reacted more strongly when they saw a hand of their own race being pricked. To eliminate the possibility that the participants were merely imagining their own hands, the researchers also showed clips of a bright purple hand being pricked. Both the black and white participants had a stronger emotional reaction to the pricking of the purple hand, than to the pricking of the hand belonging to the other race.

Though the experiment was mostly conducted to gauge whether doctors would have more trouble identifying the pain of a patient of a different race, it inadvertently found that we subconsciously draw a distinction between races in our emotional responses.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/05/26/10-studies-that-reveal-depressing-facts-about-humanity/

Top 10 Misconceptions About Neanderthals

Once depicted as brutal, grunting, slouching sub-humans, Neanderthals are now known to have had brains as large as ours and their own distinct culture. They buried their dead, tended their sick and co-existed with our own ancestors in Europe for thousands of years before becoming extinct just as modern humans flourished and began to spread throughout the continent. This list looks at ten of the most persistent myths about Homo neanderthalensis.

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The myth: Neanderthals couldn’t speak; they grunted

It has been long believed that Neanderthals couldn’t speak like humans – having only a basic capacity for sound in their throats, but in 1983, scientists found a Neanderthal hyoid bone at a cave in Israel (the hyoid bone is part of the vocal mechanism) which was identical to that of modern humans. This means that their capacity for speech (at least physically) is the same as our own. There is no reason to believe that they did not have at least a basic system of vocal communication.

477Px-Neanderthal Child

The myth: Man is descended from Neanderthals

In fact, Neanderthals and modern men existed side by side as two separate groups. Recent DNA studies have found that the Neanderthals are a distinct evolutionary line – a line which was ultimately a dead end as they all died out around 30,000 years ago. The extinction of Neanderthals was most likely caused by slightly lower birth rates and higher mortality rates, combined with an increasingly unstable climate.

Adult Male Neanderthal

The myth: Neanderthals were hairy

There is absolutely no reason to believe that Neanderthals were any hairier than modern man. Computer models have shown that excess hair on neanderthals would have caused over-production of sweat which would have frozen on the neanderthals potentially leading to death.

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The myth: Neanderthals exclusively used clubs as weapons

Actually the Neanderthals had many highly developed tools and weapons – such as spears for killing mammoths and stone tools. They are thought to have used tools of the Mousterian class, which were often produced using soft hammer percussion, with hammers made of materials like bones, antlers, and wood, rather than hard hammer percussion, using stone hammers. Many of these tools were very sharp. There is also good evidence that they used a lot of wood, objects which are unlikely to have been preserved until today.

Neanderthal

The myth: Neanderthals had bent knees and walked like chimps

This is one of those very unfortunate cases of a discovery leading to much confusion. A skeleton of a neanderthal was discovered at the start of the 20th century that had bent knees giving rise to the popular belief that all neanderthals did. In fact, it turns out the skeleton was of a Neanderthal that suffered from arthritis. Neanderthals walked upright in the same manner as modern humans; they were generally only 12–14 cm (5–6 in) shorter than modern humans, contrary to a common view of them as “very short” or “just over 5 feet”.

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The myth: Neanderthals were savage

There is actually much evidence to show that Neanderthals cared for the sick and old in their communities. There has been fossil evidence that shows potentially life-threatening injuries which were completely healed, indicating that the Neanderthal who suffered the injuries was nursed by to health by another member of his group. There is also evidence (via fossilized musical instruments) that Neanderthals enjoyed and played music. You can listen to a clip of a Neanderthal tuba here [Source] and a Neanderthal flute here [RAM format, Source, More Info]

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The myth: Neanderthals were ethnically equal

Because we use one term to describe all Neanderthals, we tend to think of them as a single group of people sharing identical traits and features, but it is most likely that there were different ethnicities in Neanderthals just as in humans. A recent study has determined that there were probably three racial groups within the Neanderthal family. From the study: “The conclusions of this study are consistent with existing paleoanthropological research and show that Neanderthals can be divided into at least three groups: one in western Europe, a second in the Southern area and a third in western Asia.” [from Genetic Evidence of Geographical Groups among Neanderthals]

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The myth: Neanderthals lived in caves

Okay – this is partially true – some Neanderthals did live in caves (hence “cavemen”), but many of them lived in huts: “Winter homes were Ice Age huts, built teepee style, from branches and mammoth bones, covered with animal skins. These huts were used for many years, so they built them carefully. Holes were dug, deeply into the ground. Poles were inserted into these holes, and then tied tightly together at the point of the teepee, at the top, with string made from animal guts. Warm furs were laid over this structure and sewn tightly in place. Large rocks were piled around the bottom, to help hold the hut together.” [Source]

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The myth: Neanderthals had faces like Apes

This misconception came about through poor reconstructions from largely arthritic skeletons. In 1983, Jay Matternes (a forensic artist who did much work in fleshing out skulls for homicide investigations) performed a reconstruction on a much better specimen than had been seen before. The result is in the photograph above. It clearly shows that the Neanderthals looked virtually the same as us. If you saw the man above in a suit walking down the street, you would not think anything of it. The same is true of the other reconstructed neanderthal pictures on this list.

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The myth: There are certain questions about the physical attributes of Neanderthals that we will never know

As of 2009, the complete Neanderthal genome has been mapped. The most important implication of this is that it now becomes technically possible to clone a Neanderthal – to raise them back from the dead so to speak. The current estimated cost of doing this is $30 million US and no one is putting up the cash. There are ethical questions that are always going to be raised regarding cloning and this is also a hindrance. But there is absolutely no reason not to believe that we will – one day – be able to give birth to and raise a Neanderthal (or at least the closest thing possible to one).

Read more: http://listverse.com/2009/06/16/top-10-misconceptions-about-neanderthals/

10 Modern Cases of Feral Children

A feral child is a human child who has lived away from human contact from a very young age, and has little or no experience of human care, loving or social behavior, and, crucially, of human language. Feral children are confined by humans (often parents), brought up by animals, or live in the wild in isolation. There have been over one hundred reported cases of feral children, and this is a selection of ten of them.

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In May 1972, a boy aged about four was discovered in the forest of Musafirkhana, about 20 miles from Sultanpur. The boy was playing with wolf cubs. He had very dark skin, long hooked fingernails, matted hair and calluses on his palms, elbows and knees. He shared several characteristics with Kamala and Amala: sharpened teeth, craving for blood, earth-eating, chicken-hunting, love of darkness and friendship with dogs and jackals. He was named Shamdeo and taken to the village of Narayanpur. Although weaned off raw meat, he never talked, but learnt some sign language. In 1978 he was admitted to Mother Theresa’s Home for the Destitute and Dying in Lucknow, where he was re-named Pascal and was visited by Bruce Chatwin in 1978. He died in February 1985.

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The wild girl of Champagne had probably learned to speak before her abandonment, for she is a rare example of a wild child learning to talk coherently. Her diet consisted of birds, frogs and fish, leaves, branches and roots. Given a rabbit, she immediately skinned and devoured it. “Her fingers and in particular her thumbs, were extraordinarily large,” according to a contemporary witness, the famous scientist Charles Marie de la Condamine. She is said to have used her thumbs to dig out roots and swing from tree to tree like a monkey. She was a very fast runner and had phenomenally sharp eyesight. When the Queen of Poland, the mother of the French queen, passed through Champagne in 1737 to take possession of the Duchy of Lorraine, she heard about the girl and took her hunting, where she outran and killed rabbits.

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One day in 1991, a Ugandan villager called Milly Sebba went further than usual in search of firewood and came upon a little boy with a pack of monkeys. She summoned help and the boy was cornered up a tree. He was brought back to Milly’s village. His knees were almost white from walking on them. His nails were very long and curled round and he wasn’t house-trained. A villager identified the boy as John Sesebunya, last seen in 1988 at the age of two or three when his father murdered his mother and disappeared. For the next three years or so, he lived wild. He vaguely remembers monkeys coming up to him, after a few days, and offering him roots and nuts, sweet potatoes and kasava. The five monkeys, two of them young, were wary at first, but befriended him within about two weeks and taught him, he says, to travel with them, to search for food and to climb trees. He is now about 21 years old, and in October 1999 went to Britain as part of the 20-strong Pearl of Africa Children’s Choir.

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Jean-Claude Auger, an anthropologist from the Basque country, was traveling alone across the Spanish Sahara (Rio de Oro) in 1960 when he met some Nemadi nomads, who told him about a wild child a day’s journey away. The next day, he followed the nomads’ directions. On the horizon he saw a naked child “galloping in gigantic bounds among a long cavalcade of white gazelles”. The boy walked on all fours, but occasionally assumed an upright gait, suggesting to Auger that he was abandoned or lost at about seven or eight months, having already learnt to stand. He habitually twitched his muscles, scalp, nose and ears, much like the rest of the herd, in response to the slightest noise. He would eat desert roots with his teeth, pucking his nostrils like the gazelles. He appeared to be herbivorous apart from the occasional agama lizard or worm when plant life was lacking. His teeth edges were level like those of a herbivorous animal. In 1966 an unsuccessful attempt was made to catch the boy in a net suspended from a helicopter; unlike most of the feral children of whom we have records, the gazelle boy was never removed from his wild companions.

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Oxana Malaya (?????? ?????) (born November 1983) was found as an 8-year-old feral child in Ukraine in 1991, having lived most of her life in the company of dogs. She picked up a number of dog-like habits and found it difficult to master language. Oxana’s alcoholic parents were unable to care for her. They lived in an impoverished area where there were wild dogs roaming the streets. She lived in a dog kennel behind her house where she was cared for by dogs and learned their behaviours and mannerisms. She growled, barked and crouched like a wild dog, sniffed at her food before she ate it, and was found to have acquired extremely acute senses of hearing, smell, and sight.

P-01 Aviary

The most recent case of Mowgli Syndrome was that of a seven-year-old boy who was rescued by Russian healthcare workers after being discovered living in a two-bedroom apartment with his mother and an abundance of feathered friends. It would appear the small apartment doubled as an aviary with cages filled with dozens of birds. In an interview, one of his rescuers, Social Worker Galina Volskaya, said that his mother treated him like another pet. While he was never physically harmed by his mother, she simply never spoke to him. It was the birds who communicated with the boy

“He just chirps and when realising that he is not understood, starts to wave hands in the way birds winnow wings.” Quote from Social Worker, Galina Volskaya.

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A leopard-child was reported by EC Stuart Baker in the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society (July 1920). The boy was stolen from his parents by a leopardess in the North Cachar Hills near Assam in about 1912, and three years later recovered and identified. “At the time the child ran on all fours almost as fast as an adult man could run, whilst in dodging in and out of bushes and other obstacles he was much cleverer and quicker. His knees had hard callosities on them and his toes were retained upright almost at right angles to his instep. The palms of his hands and pads of his toes and thumbs were also covered with very tough horny skin. When first caught, he bit and fought with everyone and any wretched village fowl which came within his reach was seized, torn to pieces and eaten with extraordinary rapidity.”

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The most famous wolf-children are the two girls captured in October 1920 from a huge abandoned ant-hill squatted by wolves near Godamuri in the vicinity of Midnapore, west of Calcutta, by villagers under the direction of the Rev JAL Singh, an Anglican missionary. The mother wolf was shot. The girls were named Kamala and Amala, and were thought to be aged about eight and two. According to Singh, the girls had misshapen jaws, elongated canines, and eyes that shone in the dark with the peculiar blue glare of cats and dogs. Amala died the following year, but Kamala survived until 1929, by which time she had given up eating carrion, had learned to walk upright and spoke about 50 words.

Bear And Girl Pam Cox

In 1937 George Maranz described a visit to a Turkish lunatic asylum in Bursa, Turkey, where he met a girl who had allegedly lived with bears for many years. Hunters in a mountainous forest near Adana had shot a she-bear and then been attacked by a powerful little “wood spirit”. Finally overcome, this turned out to be a human child, though utterly bear-like in her voice, habits and physique. She refused all cooked food and slept on a mattress in a dark corner of her room. Investigations showed that a two-year-old child had disappeared from a nearby village 14 years earlier, and it was presumed that a bear had adopted her.

Peter

The first really famous feral child was Wild Peter, “a naked, brownish, black-haired creature” captured near Helpensen in Hanover in 1724, when he was about 12. He climbed trees with ease, lived off plants and seemed incapable of speech. He refused bread, preferring to strip the bark from green twigs and suck on the sap; but he eventually learnt to eat fruit and vegetables. He was presented at court in Hanover to George I, and taken to England, where he was studied by leading men of letters. He spent 68 years in society, but never learnt to say anything except “Peter” and “King George”, although his hearing and sense of smell were said to be “particularly acute”.

You can read more about feral children here.

This article is licensed under the GFDL because it contains quotations from the Wikipedia article: Oxana Malaya.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2008/03/07/10-modern-cases-of-feral-children/

Another 25 Words you Don’t Know

Following on from our first list of words you don’t know, we present another 25. Learn one a day and impress your friends!

Words 25 – 21

Dictionary

25. Girn – To bare your teeth in anger and sadness

24. Yerd – To beat with a stick.

23. Dendrofilous – Loving trees enough to live in them.

22. Wamfle – To walk around with flapping clothes.

21. Ribazuba – Ivory from a walrus.

Words 20 – 16

Dictionary2

20. Franch – To eat greedily.

19. Nazzard – A lowly or weak person.

18. Cachinnate – To laugh noisily.

17. Sesamoid – Having the size and shape of a sesame seed.

16. Yerk – To tie with a jerk.

Words 15 – 11

754Px-Latin Dictionary

15. Mullion – A vertical dividing piece between window lights or panels.

14. Labrose – Thick-lipped

13. Misodoctakleidist – Someone who dislikes practicing the piano.

12. Hesternal – Having to do with yesterday.

11. Crurophilous – Liking legs.

Words 10 – 6

Dictionary Thumb[1]

10. Glabella – The space on your forehead between your eyebrows.

9. Fample – To feed a child.

8. Coprolalomaniac – Someone who compulsively uses foul language.

7. Onychotillomaniac – Someone who constantly picks his or her nails.

6. Glossolalia – Gibberish; babble

Words 5 – 1

Dictionary-1

5. Gash-gabbit – Having a protruding chin.

4. Sneckdraw – A sneaky or mean person.

3. Hircine – Something that smells like a goat.

2. Wallydrag – A completely useless person.

1. Onygophagist – A person who bites his or her nails.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2007/11/25/another-25-words-you-dont-know/

10 Strange Non-Sexual Ways People Have Orgasms

Look, I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, but the way some people have sex is different from the way you have sex. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but . . . well, actually I’m going to go into a lot more detail, and it might get a little awkward and uncomfortable, but you’ll make it through. Or maybe you won’t—some of these people have orgasms in really, really strange ways.

10 Brushing Your Teeth

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Epilepsy probably isn’t the most fun disorder to suffer from, but the symptoms are probably a little bit more manageable when they come with mind-blowing orgasms. A few years back, one woman reported that she would occasionally experience orgasms while brushing her teeth that were so powerful they left her in a “state of temporary impaired consciousness.”

I’m not going to make any jokes though, because this actually sucked for the poor woman. Years earlier she had undergone a botched surgery that had left her incapable of achieving orgasm at all—at least until the toothbrushing thing manifested. After that, doctors probed her enough to learn that she wasn’t capable of achieving orgasm any way that wasn’t toothbrushing. She eventually switched to mouthwash.

9Haircuts

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I really hope there’s a barber reading this. Hello, barber! Sorry for making it so hard to concentrate while you’re at work tomorrow.

It’s called “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response,” and yes, it’s a real thing. ASMR is a phenomenon in which you experience an orgasm-like experience that happens entirely in your head, and it can be triggered by all kinds of weird things: Some people get them from haircuts, others from watching YouTube videos of people acting out various fantasies like pretending to check for lice or applying makeup.

And then people watch them and have orgasms in their brain. This is a thing that happens. Maybe even right now, in the cubicle behind you. No, don’t look. This isn’t the kind of thing you want to know for sure.

8 Yawning

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While under the influence of a certain medication, some patients suffer from a strange side effect where they achieve a mind-blowing (probably) orgasm every time they yawn. Of course, yawns are also contagious. And sometimes, people suffering similar symptoms start support groups for each other. There’s a huge potential for a ridiculous viral prank video, is what I’m saying.

7 Foot Stimulation

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No, this has nothing to do with Quentin Tarantino–style foot fetishes: At least one woman in the Netherlands can get off just by walking around barefoot. The change happened after she suffered nerve damage that left her spine unable to differentiate between her vagina and her foot, which is kind of like forgetting the difference between the shelf where you keep your running shoes and where you keep your vagina but hey—cut it some slack. It’s just a spine.

Oddy enough, this isn’t that odd: Doctors say that this kind of problem isn’t that uncommon, and the reason we don’t hear about it more is because the sufferers are too embarrassed.

6 Exercise

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If you’ve ever wondered why there are such a disproportionate number of women at the gym, then maybe you can stop now: Scientists recently discovered that roughly 40 percent of women have experienced orgasms induced purely by exercise—no direct stimulation or even fantasies involved. (I don’t know anything about gyms, because I’m a comedy writer and don’t take care of my body.)

The weirdest part is that no one involved in these studies could figure out why it was happening. The female body isn’t supposed to work like that, but apparently it does. Which just proves that we don’t understand the female body all that well. Thanks a lot, science.

5 Thinking Really Hard About It

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Not only is it possible to get yourself off just by concentrating, there’s an entire culture built around it. Barbara Carellas not only “thinks herself off,” but she teaches others to and encourages it as a safer alternative to sex.

Yes, it’s even a group activity: Remember that scene in Coneheads where Chris Farley and the Coneheads’ daughter have Conehead sex with their Conehead sex machine? It’s like that, only without the machine or Chris Farley—just a lot of concentration.

4 A Brain Chip

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Scientists have just come out and admitted what we’ve all suspected for years: They’re working on a brain chip that will give you a climax. Not just by stimulating the proper nerve endings, but by recording experiences and replaying them in your head or by downloading the experiences of others.

This may be the absolute creepiest thing I have ever heard in my life, but hey, if scientists had moral compasses, we’d never make any progress.

3Giving Birth

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Giving birth is either the least sexual or the most sexual activity on Earth, depending on how good you are at connecting cause and effect. Either way, no getting around the reality here: As many as 0.3 percent of births at some point involve the woman having an orgasm while she expels the person whose life is, at that moment, beginning.

That means that 0.3 percent of you reading this gave your mother an orgasm once. Are you one of them? Go ask her! And then let us know in the comments. Please. I promise to write an article about you.

2 Yoga

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Well, that’s not surprising. Yoga is only popular for one reason—yoga pants, which make everyone look great (or are only worn by great-looking people; I honestly can’t tell). But it turns out that when people indulge in the “downward-facing dog” or “leftward seagull” or whatever, they may also secretly be indulging in the famed “I’m right now climaxing.” Some yogis are actually encouraging it as a stress-relieving practice.

1 Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder

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PGAD is one of those diseases that sounds like an ironic punishment plucked right from Dante’s Inferno. “So you like sex, eh?” says the Devil. “Then how do you feel about climaxing constantly, every day, forever?” The worst part is it must be nearly impossible to get sympathy from people, and you probably have to keep hearing the “Well, isn’t it kinda awesome sometimes?” question more than you’d ever want to.

Naturally, it sucks, and everyone who suffers from it is bummed out forever. Luckily, there have been recent breakthroughs and maybe the sufferers of this disease will one day be able to reliable enjoy orgasms the way we’re all meant to: Shamefully. With strangers. In truck-stop bathrooms.

JF Sargent is an editor at Listverse. Follow him on Twitter or read his free sci-fi novel.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/08/12/10-weird-and-non-sexual-ways-people-have-orgasms/