WTF Fun Fact 13491 – Loneliness Kills

We can all think of a long list of stuff that’s bad for our health – but did you know loneliness kills as well?

Loneliness Kills in the Age of Connectivity

The dangers of smoking have been widely acknowledged and documented for years. From lung cancer to heart diseases, the repercussions of this habit are severe. Yet, there’s another rising health concern that many might not associate with physical harm: loneliness. Recent studies are revealing that the health risks of prolonged isolation might be as detrimental as smoking.

Ironically, we live in an era termed the “age of connectivity.” Technology has bridged continents, enabling face-to-face conversations without the need for physical proximity. Yet, as we increasingly immerse ourselves in the digital world, it seems we’re drifting apart in the real one. This paradox is contributing to what experts now call an “epidemic of loneliness.”

Loneliness vs. Being Alone

It’s vital to understand that loneliness and being alone aren’t synonymous. One can feel lonely in a crowded room, while another might cherish solitude without feeling isolated. Loneliness is the subjective feeling of being isolated, regardless of the actual social situation.

Loneliness does not merely affect mental well-being; it has severe physical repercussions. Just like smoking, prolonged feelings of isolation can lead to an array of health complications:

  1. Cardiovascular Issues: Loneliness can increase the risk of heart diseases. A lack of social connection has been found to be a significant factor in heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events.
  2. Reduced Immune Function: Chronic loneliness might diminish the immune system’s efficiency, making individuals more susceptible to illnesses.
  3. Higher Blood Pressure: There’s a growing body of evidence suggesting that lonely individuals might have higher blood pressure than their more socially-connected counterparts.
  4. Shortened Life Expectancy: Perhaps the most alarming revelation is that loneliness can shorten one’s lifespan. It’s on par with other well-established risk factors like obesity and smoking.

The Role of Dopamine

The human brain operates on rewards. Dopamine, the “feel good” neurotransmitter, plays a crucial role in this. When we engage in social interactions, our brain rewards us with dopamine. This encourages us to seek more interactions, fostering bonds and relationships.

When isolated, our dopamine levels can plummet. This can initiate a vicious cycle where the lack of dopamine makes us less inclined to seek out interactions, further exacerbating feelings of loneliness. The pleasure we derive from screens, though momentarily boosting dopamine, lacks the depth and warmth of genuine human connection, often leaving us feeling emptier.

The Modern Loneliness Epidemic

A report by Cigna, a global health service company, emphasized the modern loneliness epidemic, especially in the United States. The findings suggest that most Americans are classified as lonely. Younger generations seem to be at higher risk, which is surprising given their tech-savviness and online connectivity.

Factors contributing to this epidemic include increased screen time, decreased face-to-face social interactions, and the cultural shift towards individualism. The structure of modern life, where both family units and communities are less tight-knit than in previous generations, further fuels the crisis.

Tips for Combatting Loneliness

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Recognizing loneliness as a genuine health concern is the first step in addressing it. Here are some strategies to combat this silent epidemic:

  1. Community Engagement: Engage in community activities. Joining clubs, organizations, or even group fitness classes can foster new connections.
  2. Digital Detox: Allocate specific times in the day to disconnect from digital devices. Use this time to engage in hobbies, read, or take nature walks.
  3. Seek Professional Help: Just as one would consult a doctor for a persistent cough, seeking therapy for chronic loneliness is vital.
  4. Volunteer: Volunteering can provide a dual benefit. It can reduce feelings of isolation while giving individuals a sense of purpose.
  5. Pet Companionship: Animals, especially dogs and cats, can offer comfort and reduce feelings of isolation.
  6. Establish a Routine: Having a daily routine can provide structure, reducing feelings of aimlessness, which can compound loneliness.

Loneliness Kills: Don’t Let It Ruin Your Life

In an age where we can reach out to someone thousands of miles away with a click, it’s paradoxical to witness a surge in loneliness. Recognizing and understanding its profound effects on our physical and mental health is crucial. As with all health risks, prevention and early intervention are key. We must prioritize genuine human connections, value our well-being, and remember that our health encompasses not just our bodies, but our minds and souls as well.

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Source: “Loneliness Is as Lethal As Smoking 15 Cigarettes Per Day. Here’s What You Can Do About It” — Inc.

WTF Fun Fact 13488 – Police Training in Norway

Police training in Norway is notorious rigorous. Unlike many countries where law enforcement training involves a few months in a police academy, Norway makes a three-year commitment at the Police University College (Politihøgskolen) a must.

Norway’s Police University College

Yes, you read that right – a university college just for police training. The Police University College, situated in Oslo, Stavern, and Kongsvinger, is the heart of Norway’s police education system.

Aspiring officers embark on a three-year bachelor’s degree program where they learn far more than just the basics of policing. The curriculum is thorough and multi-faceted, including subjects like law, ethics, criminology, and even foreign languages.

The first and third years of the bachelor’s program mainly focus on theoretical studies. Cadets dig deep into the theory of police work, criminal law, ethics, and social sciences. They are taught to respect human rights, to understand different cultures, and to uphold justice without bias. This holistic approach ensures that the officers graduate with a comprehensive understanding of both the practical and societal aspects of their role.

Field Training for Norwegian Police

What good would theoretical knowledge be without some practical application? That’s why the second year is dedicated to field training. Cadets spend this year across various police districts, getting their boots dirty and experiencing the real-world scenarios they’ve learned about in class. This year is invaluable, bridging the gap between theory and practice and providing hands-on experience in the field.

Norwegian police officers aren’t just confined to their patrol cars. Some have prosecutorial powers, handling minor offenses in court. This unique responsibility requires additional qualifications – a law degree, to be precise. Hence, those who wish to take on this dual role undertake further education, adding an extra layer of legal expertise to their enforcement abilities.

The Ethical and Emotional Aspects of Police Training in Norway

Police work can be as mentally challenging as it is physically, if not more. Norway understands this and includes psychological training to build resilience and mental fortitude. Ethical training is another cornerstone, ensuring officers know how to react respectfully and responsibly in every situation.

It’s clear that the journey to becoming a police officer in Norway is a commitment to rigorous education, intense field training, and personal development. It’s about shaping individuals who are not just law enforcers, but educated, empathetic, and ethical members of the community they serve.

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Source: “Police in Norway: The Norwegian Policing System Explained” — Life in Norway

WTF Fun Fact 13480 – Convinced of a Crime You Didn’t Commit

It only takes a few hours for you to be convinced of a crime you didn’t commit. It’s a well-known psychological phenomenon.

This isn’t so much a “fun fact” as one that’s kind of awful if you really think about it. And it certainly has implications for questioning crime suspects (or perpetrating psychological abuse).

The criminal justice system relies heavily on the accuracy of human memory and the credibility of its testimonies. Yet, human memory is highly malleable and susceptible to suggestions and false implants. Some wrongful conviction cases suggest that innocent suspects, when questioned using certain tactics, can be led to believe and confess to committing crimes they never did.

This concept goes beyond our typical understanding of “false confessions.” It underscores the potential of forming vivid, detailed false memories of perpetrating serious crimes.

Can You Really Be Convinced of a Crime You Didn’t Commit?

A 2015 study psychologists published in the journal Psychological Science explains it all. It shows how someone can convince innocent participants they had committed crimes as grave as assault with a weapon in their teenage years. (In the years since, more research has corroborated the possibility.)

Lead psychological scientist Julia Shaw from the University of Bedfordshire, UK led the study. She found that a certain type of questioning can help generate these false memories relatively easily. Her team used a friendly interview environment, introduced a few incorrect details, and applied poor memory-retrieval techniques. (Note – the students in the study volunteered, and an ethics review board assesses research plans).

For the study, the research team first contacted the caregivers of university students. They asked them to fill out questionnaires about specific events the students might have experienced from ages 11 to 14. And they instructed them not to discuss the questions with the student/subject.

The researchers then subjected the students to three 40-minute interviews about two events from their teenage years. One real and one was falsely constructed, but included some true details from their past.

The Surprising Results

The findings were startling. Out of the 30 participants told they had committed a crime as a teenager, 21 (or 71%) developed a false memory of the “crime”! A similar proportion, 76.67%, formed false memories of an emotional event they were told about.

The criminal false events seemed just as believable as the emotional ones. Students gave the same number of details, and reported similar levels of confidence, vividness, and sensory detail for both types of events.

Shaw and co-author Stephen Porter hypothesized that incorporating true details into a supposedly corroborated account probably provided enough familiarity to make the false event plausible.

However, there were slight differences in the memories for false events and true events. For example, participants reported more details and confidence in their descriptions of the true memories.

Implications and Applications

These findings emphasize the fundamental malleability of memory. The implications extend to various fields, notably criminal justice, legal procedures, and even therapeutic settings. They indicate the need for vigilance in situations where memory recollection is key. Clearly, the innocent can be led to generate rich false memories of emotional and criminal events!

The knowledge that innocent individuals can be led to create complex false memories quite easily serves as a cautionary tale. And it’s one that hopefully influences the interview techniques that could induce them.

This research also underscores the need for further investigations into the specific interview tactics that contribute to false memories. Understanding these factors can help improve interviewing procedures, and in turn, the integrity of our legal system.

Memory, a cornerstone of our identity and experiences, can be surprisingly plastic and fallible. By studying and understanding its limitations, we can better protect ourselves from the potential distortions. This is part of ensuring a more reliable justice system, and fostering better practices in situations where the accuracy of memory is critical.

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Source: “People Can Be Convinced They Committed a Crime That Never Happened” — Psychological Science

WTF Fun Fact 13477 – The Sonoran Desert Toad

When it comes to the world of psychedelic fauna, few species are as intriguing as the Sonoran Desert toad. It’s technically known as Incilius alvarius. But licking the toad won’t get you high – instead, it might kill you.

Don’t Lick The Toads

Last fall, a plea from the U.S. National Park Service urged visitors to abstain from licking this particular species. The reason? A potent psychedelic compound excreted through its skin has led to increasing instances of poaching, over-harvesting, and illegal trafficking.

Despite the warnings, the toad’s secretions don’t typically induce psychedelic experiences when ingested directly. In fact, they’re toxic when ingested and could lead to cardiac arrest.

When the secretions are collected, dried, and smoked, however, they may elicit auditory and visual hallucinations. Or they may do nothing except get you in a lot of trouble.

The Sonoran Toad and the “God molecule”

The compound responsible for these effects is called 5-MeO-DMT. It’s also in plants as well as the Colorado River toad. And it’s so potent some people have dubbed it the “God molecule.”

The growing demand for powerful hallucinogenic substances now poses a risk to toad populations. These toads often die when humans relocate them outside of their home territory, and it’s common for diseases to spread when smuggler store them together.

All toads secrete toxins, which originally evolved to keep their bodies moist and later evolved as a method of self-defense. What sets the Sonoran Desert toad apart is its unique ability to convert bufotenine, a compound produced by many toads, into 5-MeO-DMT. When threatened, the toad excretes its potent mixture from glands behind each eye and on its legs as a defense mechanism.

The Sonoran Toad’s Toxic Friends

The Sonoran Desert toad isn’t the only species with psychedelic potential. The giant monkey frog from the Amazon Basin produces a toxic secretion called kambô. Its use as a psychedelic is debated. But some users report spiritual experiences similar to those induced by classic hallucinogens, Nevertheless, kambô does not activate the 5-HT2A receptor, a characteristic of traditional psychedelics. Indigenous populations have used kambô for centuries in shamanistic rituals to boost stamina.

Humans have a long history of seeking altered states of consciousness, often guided by the natural world. But our pursuit of these experiences should never come at the expense of the very creatures that offer us these extraordinary glimpses into other realms.

It’s important to balance our curiosity and respect for the natural world with conservation efforts to protect these species and their habitats from exploitation.

If you want to see and hear the toad in question, we found a reliable YouTube video. When it comes to this species, we urge you only to get information from reliable sources!

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Source: “The Sonoran Desert toad can alter your mind — it’s not the only animal” — ScienceNews

WTF Fun Fact 13467 – The Baghdad Battery

When we think about the birth of electricity, names like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla might come to mind. But if we venture even further back in time, we stumble upon a curious artifact known as the Baghdad Battery.

This ancient piece, found in the vicinity of modern-day Iraq and believed to date back to the Parthian or Sassanid era (between 225 BC and AD 650), challenges our understanding of technological development. It’s a story that connects the ancient world with our modern one in a fascinating tale of science and history.

Discovery of the Baghdad Battery

The story of the Baghdad Battery begins in 1936. German archaeologist Wilhelm König discovered a set of 12 peculiar artifacts in the basement of the National Museum of Iraq. The artifacts, assumed to be about 2,000 years old, consisted of terracotta pots with a copper cylinder and a single iron rod inside.

Each “battery” was about 14 cm high, with a one-inch-wide mouth. The copper cylinder, carefully soldered with a 60-40 lead-tin alloy, encapsulated the iron rod. Evidence of an acidic residue such as vinegar or wine in some of the pots led König to propose that these were ancient electric cells.

The theory suggests that when the jars were filled with an electrolytic solution (like vinegar or lemon juice), they produced a potential difference between the copper and the iron — about 1.1 volts. This setup is remarkably similar to a basic school experiment to create a simple voltaic cell.

The primary controversy lies in the purpose of these devices. Some researchers propose that these ancient cells powered electroplating objects with gold. Others suggest a more spiritual role, possibly linked to pain relief. The sensation of a mild electric shock could have been interpreted as a divine intervention or magical experience.

Debates and Controversies

The theory of the Baghdad Battery as a tool for electroplating or electrotherapy is not without its critics. Skeptics argue that there’s no recorded evidence that ancient people had knowledge of electricity. Furthermore, there is no evidence of wires, conductors, or additional devices that could demonstrate a practical application for this alleged ancient technology.

Another point of contention lies in the design. If the intent was to generate an electric current, the iron rod would have quickly corroded due to the acidic solution. However, some of the recovered artifacts still have uncorroded iron rods, suggesting they might never have been used as proposed.

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Source: “Was the Baghdad Battery really a battery?” — BBC Science Focus

WTF Fun Fact 13465 – Hamburger University

It’s harder to get into McDonald’s Hamburger University than some Ivy League schools.

That’s right, McDonald’s is in the business of education. Hamburger University, or HU as it’s commonly referred to, was founded in 1961 by Fred Turner, McDonald’s former senior chairman and one of Ray Kroc’s earliest employees. He recognized that the success of the rapidly expanding McDonald’s franchise was dependent on consistent quality and service. So, Turner decided to open a training center. The goal? To educate franchisees on the methods of running a successful and efficient McDonald’s restaurant.

The first campus was situated in the basement of a McDonald’s restaurant in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. With only a handful of students, the inaugural class might have been small, but the idea was grand. Today, Hamburger University boasts seven campus locations worldwide, including Tokyo, London, and Shanghai.

What You Learn at Hamburger University

When it comes to the curriculum, HU is not, contrary to what you might think, a place to perfect the art of burger flipping. Instead, the University provides a comprehensive leadership development program. The classes taught at HU are rigorous and cover restaurant fundamentals, business growth strategies, leadership skills, and management systems.

Graduates receive a Bachelor of Hamburgerology degree, a whimsical yet fitting title that encapsulates the unique education provided at the university.

The Global Influence of Hamburger University

The global reach and impact of Hamburger University are noteworthy. In China, for example, getting into Hamburger University is a highly competitive feat, with an acceptance rate even lower than Harvard’s. The demand for HU in China reflects the country’s fast-growing fast-food market and the value placed on the managerial training provided by McDonald’s.

The influence of HU extends beyond McDonald’s restaurants. Many HU graduates have used their skills to start their businesses or move into senior roles in other industries.

Investing in People

The story of HU highlights McDonald’s understanding that its most significant investment is its people. The institution represents the company’s commitment to providing career advancement opportunities for its employees. It’s also dedicated to ensuring uniform standards of quality and service in McDonald’s outlets worldwide.

By investing in employee development, McDonald’s improves its operations and contributes to the broader community by providing valuable business skills.

So, whether you’re munching on a Quarter Pounder in the heart of New York or enjoying a Filet-O-Fish in a bustling Tokyo outlet, remember: the efficient service and consistent taste are likely to have been honed at McDonald’s very own higher education institution, the Hamburger University.

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Source: “Lessons from McDonald’s Hamburger University: Training For Retention” — LA Eats

WTF Fun Fact 13449 – How Google reCAPTCHA works

Do you know how Google reCAPTCHA works? Maybe you’ve thought about it if you’ve ever been annoyed at having to prove to a machine that you’re human.

How Google reCAPTCHA works?

Google’s reCAPTCHA is a type of CAPTCHA, an acronym that stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. By serving as a litmus test for human-like interaction, CAPTCHAs are designed to protect websites against spam and online fraud. However, the “I am not a robot” prompt is far more than your run-of-the-mill CAPTCHA.

This advanced version does not solely rely on deciphering distorted text or identifying objects within images. When you click on that “I am not a robot” box, a risk analysis engine kicks into gear. It considers numerous factors that distinguish humans from bots.

This system notes the time it takes to interact with the checkbox and your IP address. It even tracks the peculiarities of your mouse movements. The mechanics of how you type, known as keystroke dynamics, is another vital piece of data used in this process.

All these factors collaborate to create a risk profile, allowing reCAPTCHA to make an informed decision about your human-ness.

Why clicking the box doesn’t prove you’re human

However, it’s worth addressing a common myth here. Some believe that when they engage with the “I am not a robot” checkbox, reCAPTCHA goes through their browsing history. It’s true that reCAPTCHA collects certain user data like cookies for abuse detection and prevention. However, it doesn’t comb through your individual browsing history. Google, the provider of reCAPTCHA, has robust privacy measures to ensure user data isn’t misused.

But that’s not to say that reCAPTCHA doesn’t consider your past interactions. As part of Google’s services, it can use cookies and session data to understand if you’ve frequently interacted with CAPTCHAs in the past. This information can influence the risk analysis engine’s decision-making (but it’s a far cry from inspecting your browsing history).

As we’ve uncovered, the “I am not a robot” checkbox is more than a simple statement. It’s a potent piece of technology.

As we continue to use the internet , it’s vital to understand these unseen mechanisms.

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Source: “People Are Just Now Learning How The “I Am Not A Robot” Captcha Test Actually Works” — IFL Science

WTF Fun Fact 13409 – 3 Athletes vs. 100 Kids

Picture this – 3 athletes vs. 100 kids on the soccer pitch. The athletes, clad in soccer gear, their eyes on the field, facing a tidal wave of 100 energetic kids buzzing with anticipation. This isn’t the plot of a surreal animated show; it’s an actual TV program in Japan that offers one of the most exhilarating and entertaining spins on soccer we’ve seen.

Kicking Off the Soccer Spectacle

The Japanese TV show, an unexpected blend of sports, reality TV, and pure chaos, centers on a straightforward premise. The challenge? Three pro soccer players step onto the field to battle against a horde of 100 kids. The resulting spectacle, as enthralling as it is chaotic, turns traditional soccer on its head.

As the whistle blows, a sea of children engulfs the soccer field, their cheers and shouts echoing. The pros, dwarfed by the sheer number of their pint-sized opponents, exhibit a mix of bemusement and determination. Here, strategy takes on a whole new meaning.

3 Pros vs 100 Kids

In the face of such overwhelming numbers, the three pros rely on their skills, experience, and tactical maneuvering. The precision of their passes, their agile footwork, their calculated shots at the goal – everything is crucial. Each of them must negotiate a swarm of enthusiastic kids, a torrent of tiny football boots and darting bodies, all vying to intercept the ball.

On the other side, the 100 kids deploy their strategy – strength in numbers. They swarm the ball like bees to a hive, using their collective force to create an impenetrable fortress. It’s a hilarious yet heartwarming sight, watching the young players’ fierce determination to outplay their experienced opponents.

The Thrills and Spills of the Game

Amid the sheer chaos, the show brings unexpected moments of humor and excitement. Pro players find themselves hilariously outnumbered at every turn, blocked by a wall of young defenders. The kids, in contrast, often break into spontaneous celebration upon gaining possession of the ball, regardless of whether they score or not.

Watching the pros weave through the crowd, attempting to score against the enthusiastic horde, is a spectacle unlike any other. Equally thrilling is the sight of a kid making a daring attempt to break away with the ball, only to be immediately swarmed by a legion of teammates.

Beyond the Field: What This Show Signifies

On the surface, this might just seem like a wacky TV gimmick. However, the show resonates on a deeper level, reflecting a broader narrative about sports, camaraderie, and ambition.

It encapsulates the awe and aspiration of every child who has watched their sports heroes and dreamed of playing against them. It reminds us of the joy, the innocence, and the boundless energy that makes children’s sports so wonderfully watchable.

Conversely, for the pro players, it’s a chance to relive their early days, to remember why they fell in love with the sport. The lighthearted challenge brings out their fun side, reminding viewers that underneath the rigorous training and competitive pressure, soccer is, after all, a game meant to be enjoyed.

The Lasting Appeal of 3 athletes vs. 100 kids

This Japanese TV show, with its unique spin on soccer, offers an exhilarating ride packed with fun, laughter, and some truly memorable soccer. It captures the spirit of the sport in a way that’s fresh, vibrant, and decidedly out of the ordinary.

100 kids versus 3 pros may sound like an outrageous mismatch, but it’s a testament to the universal appeal of soccer. A reminder that whether you’re a seasoned pro, an aspiring young player, or a viewer at home, the beautiful game has the power to captivate us all.

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Source: “Here’s What Happens When Three Professional Soccer Players Go Against 100 Kids” — GQ

WTF Fun Fact 13406 – New Yorkers Bite More Than Sharks

Wait, New Yorkers bite more than sharks? Maybe the ocean isn’t so dangerous after all.

Sure, New York City is a place like no other. It’s a melting pot of cultures and a bustling metropolis teeming with humanity. Yet, lurking in this concrete jungle is an astonishing statistic that puts even the mighty ocean’s apex predator, the shark, to shame. New Yorkers bite people more frequently than sharks do.

The statistics on New Yorkers biting more than sharks

According to the Cleveland Clinic, about 250,000 human bites are reported nationwide each year, nearly 3,500 times more than shark bites. The stat about New Yorkers specifically comes from a 1979 study that found 892 human bites reported in New York City in 1977 – 63 times more than worldwide shark bites that same year. And experts confirm that the stat still stands.

Before the incredulity sets in, let’s chew on the numbers. Each year, according to city health data, New Yorkers register thousands of human bites. The reports aren’t from an emerging trend of cannibalistic tendencies. They spring from the hodgepodge of incidents that result from heated arguments, domestic disputes, barroom brawls, and even lovers’ quarrels.

Who’s afraid of a big, bad shark?

Many people see sharks as menacing dwellers of the deep. They appear in our cultural consciousness as being dangerous predators. Yet they bite fewer than 100 people per annum globally, according to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF). Shark attacks, though undeniably frightening, are statistically minuscule compared to the nipping tendencies of New Yorkers.

Now, this isn’t a crusade to vilify New Yorkers or elevate sharks to sainthood. But it’s a fascinating comparison, one that turns our preconceptions on their heads. It’s a sharp reminder of how our fears and perceptions often dance to the tunes of dramatic storytelling and Hollywood hype, rather than hard facts.

When was the last time you checked beneath your bed for lurking New Yorkers? Likely, never. But ponder the countless hours spent fearing sharks while frolicking at the beach or during a dive. The staggering disparity between the two should, at the very least, get you thinking.

What’s up with New Yorkers?

Stress, alcohol, or just plain old bad temper can lead to teeth being bared and bites being reported. A few bites might even be playful, but city data doesn’t discriminate. New Yorkers are biting at a rate far more ferocious than the most feared shark.

Meanwhile, our oceanic friends glide silently beneath the waves, their reputation tarnished by our overactive imaginations and a few gnashing teeth. We gloss over the fact that sharks play a crucial role in maintaining the health of our oceans, focusing instead on their rather infrequent interactions with humans.

So, let’s flip the script and bite into this juicy factoid. The average New Yorker is more likely to bite someone than to be bitten by a shark. It’s a savory morsel that’s both ludicrous and enlightening, serving as a reminder to keep our fears in perspective and our judgments in check. Sharks might not be the cuddliest creatures in the ocean, but neither are New Yorkers in their concrete jungle.

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Source: “Scared of a shark attack? Here’s what experts want you to know.” — CBS News