WTF Fun Fact 13597 – Unique Perception of Soccer Goalkeepers

In the dynamic world of soccer, goalkeepers have always been seen as outliers. While they defend their posts, these players face the arduous task of making quick decisions under pressure, often with fragmented information. New research sheds light on the exceptional way goalkeepers perceive their surroundings, revealing significant differences in their multisensory processing capabilities.

Enhanced Multi-Sensory Processing of Soccer Goalkeepers

Michael Quinn from Dublin City University, himself a former professional goalkeeper, embarked on this study to validate a longstanding soccer belief. He, alongside his team, found that, unlike other players, goalkeepers have an intrinsic knack for making swift decisions. This is the case even when faced with limited sensory data. It’s not just a feeling within the soccer community; now, there’s scientific evidence supporting the notion that goalkeepers genuinely “see” the world differently.

In an innovative approach, Quinn and his team examined temporal binding windows among professional goalkeepers, outfield soccer players, and those who don’t play soccer. This window represents the time frame within which individuals combine sensory data from various sources.

A Deep Dive into the Goalkeeper’s Brain

The study had participants discern visual and auditory stimuli that appeared in different sequences and intervals. Interestingly, goalkeepers exhibited a more refined ability to discern these multisensory cues, indicating their superior estimation of timing. This precision stands in stark contrast to outfield players and non-players.

Furthermore, goalkeepers demonstrated less interplay between visual and auditory cues. This suggests they tend to separate sensory information rather than blending them. This unique ability stems from their need to process various cues simultaneously. The trajectory of a ball, combined with the sound it makes when kicked, are essential inputs for a goalkeeper’s split-second decision-making.

Origins and Future Explorations into the Perceptions of Soccer Goalkeepers

While the current findings illuminate the distinct perceptual world of soccer goalkeepers, the cause of these differences remains a mystery. Does intense, specialized training from an early age shape their multisensory processing? Or are inherent abilities leading young players to gravitate toward the goalkeeper position?

David McGovern, the study’s lead investigator, expressed curiosity about other specialized soccer positions. Could strikers or center-backs also exhibit unique perceptual tendencies? The team at Dublin City University aims to unravel these questions in subsequent studies. They will explore the development and influences on a goalkeeper’s extraordinary sensory processing capabilities.

 WTF fun facts


WTF Fun Fact 13594 – Benefits of the Snooze Button

There are more benefits of the snooze button than just getting an extra few minutes of sleep.

For many, the snooze button been branded as the ultimate “sleep disruptor.” But new findings from Stockholm University’s Department of Psychology may be about to turn this common belief on its head.

Snoozing: A Maligned Habit?

It’s a widely held belief that tapping that tempting snooze button might be doing us more harm than good. Critics claim it disrupts our sleep patterns, making us groggier and less alert when we eventually rise. But, is there any scientific basis to this belief?

The recent study led by Tina Sundelin of Stockholm University is turning this narrative around. Contrary to popular belief, hitting the snooze button might actually support the waking process for those who regularly find solace in those few extra minutes.

A Deep Dive into the Benefits of the Snooze Button

This comprehensive research involved two phases. The initial study surveyed 1,732 individuals on their morning habits. Findings highlighted that a significant number, especially among young adults and night owls, lean heavily on the snooze function. Their main reason? Feeling overwhelmingly fatigued when the first alarm rings.

The second phase delved deeper. Thirty-one habitual snoozers spent two nights in a sleep lab. On one morning, they had the luxury to snooze for an additional 30 minutes, while the other morning demanded an immediate wake-up call. Results revealed that most participants actually enjoyed more than 20 minutes of additional sleep during the snooze time. This had little impact on the overall quality or duration of their night’s rest.

What Does the Snooze Button Really Do?

Here’s the kicker: not only did the snooze function not disrupt the participants’ sleep, it also ensured no one was jolted awake from deep slumber. Moreover, those who indulged in that extra rest displayed slightly sharper cognitive abilities upon waking. Factors such as mood, overall sleepiness, or cortisol levels in the saliva remained unaffected.

Sundelin points out, “Our findings reveal that a half-hour snooze does not negatively impact night sleep or induce sleep inertia, which is that groggy feeling post-wakeup. In some instances, the results were even favorable. For example, we noticed a reduced chance of participants waking from deep sleep stages.”

While these findings might be a relief for serial snoozers, Sundelin adds a word of caution: “The study primarily focused on individuals who habitually hit the snooze button and can effortlessly drift back to sleep post-alarm. Snoozing might not be a one-size-fits-all solution.”

For those who relish those additional moments of rest in the morning, this research brings good news. Snoozing, at least for regular snoozers, doesn’t seem to steal away the quality of our sleep. On the contrary, it may subtly boost our cognitive processes during the waking stage.

So, the next time your alarm sounds and you’re contemplating another round with the snooze button, remember: You might not be losing out at all by grabbing those few extra minutes of shut-eye.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “You don’t lose if you snooze” — ScienceDaily

WTF Fun Fact 13590 – Choosing Ignorance

When faced with moral decisions, many people are choosing ignorance about the repercussions of their actions. Recent studies explore why individuals might select the path of willful ignorance, and the findings are illuminating.

The Study of Choosing Ignorance

What makes a person deliberately overlook the consequences of their actions? According to the American Psychological Association, 40% of individuals, when given the choice, will opt for ignorance. More intriguingly, they often do so to give themselves leeway to act selfishly.

As lead author Linh Vu, MS, from the University of Amsterdam, describes it: “Everyday scenarios frequently show people choosing ignorance. A classic instance is when customers disregard the ethically questionable origins of products they purchase.” The pressing question that Vu and her colleagues grappled with was the extent and implications of such intentional ignorance.

The findings stem from a meta-analysis of 22 individual studies, encompassing a whopping 6,531 participants. These studies either took place in a research lab setting or online. A majority of these research initiatives followed a design where participants received information about the ramifications of their decisions, while others had the discretion to know or not.

Consider this example: Participants had to select between a $5 reward and a $6 reward. Choosing the former meant an anonymous person (or charity) would receive the same amount. If they opted for the latter, the anonymous entity would get a mere dollar. Some participants could decide whether to know the consequences, while others were informed outright.

A consistent finding across these studies? An astounding 40% actively chose ignorance. Furthermore, those who opted not to be informed were significantly less altruistic. There was a 15.6% greater likelihood of individuals showing generosity when they were cognizant of the results of their decisions.

Benevolence or Self-Image?

The research suggests that this inclination towards choosing ignorance could be linked to one’s desire to project a positive self-image. Willful ignorance permits individuals to retain this self-perception, even if they don’t act altruistically.

Study co-author Shaul Shalvi, a behavioral ethics professor at the University of Amsterdam, further shed light on this phenomenon. Individuals who sought to know the consequences were 7% more inclined to show generosity than those automatically provided with information. It indicates genuinely altruistic folks prefer to be in the know about their actions’ aftermath.

Shalvi points out, “A vast portion of altruistic tendencies we notice stems from societal expectations. While many willingly make ethical choices when informed of the outcomes, their motivation isn’t always altruistic. Societal pressure and the urge to perceive oneself positively play a significant role. Since righteous deeds often come with sacrifices, such as time, effort, or money, choosing ignorance becomes a convenient escape.”

However, one limitation to note: all studies under this meta-analysis were conducted in Western Europe or the US, or on platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk. This hints at the need for more diverse research settings in the future. After all, understanding this behavior in its entirety requires a broader perspective and could provide clues on countering such deliberate oversight.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “‘I’d rather not know’: Why we choose ignorance” — ScienceDaily

WTF Fun Fact 13568 – Smoking Math

Smoking math? No, it’s not a typo. Researchers at Ohio State University found a surprising correlation during a research study in 2020. Smokers with better math skills are more inclined to quit smoking.

Crunching the Numbers on Smoking Math

To kick things off, researchers gauged the mathematical abilities of 696 adult smokers using a standardized test. After this assessment, participants encountered eight diverse cigarette warning labels, each paired with risk statistics. For instance, one of the statistics presented was, “75.4 percent of smokers will die before the age of 85, compared to 53.7 percent of non-smokers.”

Brittany Shoots-Reinhard, the study’s lead author, shared a crucial observation: individuals with heightened math skills retained more of the risk statistics. This increased retention directly influenced their perception of smoking dangers and their intentions to quit.

Math, Memory, and Momentum

While all participants saw the same warning labels, memory retention varied. High-emotion labels, like images of diseased lungs, seemed less memorable initially compared to low-emotion ones, such as cartoon gravestones.

However, a follow-up after six weeks revealed the high-emotion warnings stayed more vivid in participants’ minds over time.

The Role of Numeracy in Smoking Math

A pivotal revelation from the data was the role of numeracy. Smokers with higher math abilities remembered smoking-related risks better, which in turn elevated their intentions to quit.

Shoots-Reinhard emphasized the need to re-evaluate how we present risk data to smokers, especially those who may struggle with understanding numerical information. Simplified communication strategies, like infographics, might bridge the comprehension gap for the less numerate.

The Road Ahead

This research shines a spotlight on the importance of effective risk communication. As Shoots-Reinhard asserts, understanding risk equips smokers to make informed decisions. The ultimate aim? To empower more smokers with the knowledge and resolve to quit.

In a nutshell, Ohio State University’s research reveals a profound insight: the road to quitting smoking intertwines not just with understanding health risks but also with one’s ability to comprehend numbers. For many smokers, the motivation to quit might well be a matter of math.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Smokers good at math are more likely to want to quit” — Science Daily

WTF Fun Fact 13014 – Movies Don’t Really Burn Calories

A popular claim that watching scary movies burns as many calories as a walk re-circulates each year around during spooky season. But in reality, movies don’t really burn calories. The claim wasn’t the results of a rigorous study and was misleading. In fact, it was only made for publicity purposes.

What’s the claim about movies burning calories

From clickbait site to serious websites like The Guardian, it’s common to the headline once a year that watching movies like The Shining burn calories because they get your heart racing. And while that’s not false, the claim that watching a scary movie is somehow equivalent or better to exercise is untrue.

According to The Guardian’s piece the year the study came out:

“Those who watched a 90-minute horror film were likely to burn up to 113 calories – the same sort of figure as a half-hour walk. Some movies were more effective than others, however: of the 10 films studied, the top calorie-burners were the classic Stanley Kubrick chiller The Shining (184 calories), Jaws (161 calories) and The Exorcist (158 calories).”

For starters, sitting and doing nothing for 90 minutes can burn anywhere from 60 to 130 calories, depending on the person. You get those points for just existing. So go ahead and watch Steel Magnolias because scaring yourself silly isn’t going to help you lose weight.

The “study” is not really a study

What’s even more problematic is that while there is an academic behind the claims (and metabolism measurements):

  1. He didn’t set out to perform a rigorous scientific study.
  2. The data was never published in a scientific journal (which is important because that requires a study to be worthwhile, constructed correctly, and subjects it to peer review).
  3. The results are unimpressive at best (and genuinely misleading at worst).

The source of the info is Dr. Richard Mackenzie, listed as “senior lecturer and specialist in cell metabolism and physiology at the University of Westminster in London” at the time. He is cited as saying (via university press release, not a journal study) that:

While the scientists did measure heart rate, oxygen intake and carbon dioxide output, the study involved just 10 people and was commissioned by the movie rental firm Lovefilm (now owned by Amazon).

Mackenzie noted that:

“As the pulse quickens and blood pumps around the body faster, the body experiences a surge in adrenaline. It is this release of fast-acting adrenaline, produced during short bursts of intense stress (or in this case, brought on by fear), which is known to lower the appetite, increase the basal metabolic rate and ultimately burn a higher level of calories.”

The top 5 movies he asked people to watch (with calories burned during viewing) were:

1. The Shining: 184 calories
2. Jaws: 161 calories
3. The Exorcist: 158 calories
4. Alien: 152 calories
5. Saw: 133 calories

No, movies don’t burn calories in any helpful way

When Snopes (cited below) checked up on the even more bombastic claim people had made after hearing about the study (that watching horror movies could help reduce obesity), the noted: “The study was neither peer-reviewed nor published (nor, apparently, meant to be taken seriously). No follow-up studies replicating its findings, and people who wish to lose weight are probably better advised to get some exercise.”

Snopes then went on to point out the obscenely small sample size, the lack of replication of the study (mandatory of a study to actually make its way towards being considered scientific), and the failure to follow-up with subjects’ actual weight loss.

But the most important point is that even if everything had been done properly, the results aren’t impressive.

The average length of a feature film is around 90 minutes, during which the average person sitting on their butts and doing nothing burns 60 – 130 calories. If you stand, you might burn 100 – 200 calories, more than the 184 that people watching The Shining burned. The person watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the “study” only burned 107 calories – so we’re pretty skeptical of all of these measurements at this point.

The best we can say is that maybe some people burn a couple of extra calories watching scary movies that they would if they were just watching a blank wall. In other words, get your exercise if you want to burn calories in a meaningful way.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Does Watching Horror Movies Reduce Risk of Obesity?” — Snopes