by Mad Dog
What they discovered was a gene in mice that, when missing, causes
normally maternal rodents to turn into Joan Crawford. Their next project will be to figure
out how mice manage to handle full-size coat hangers without opposable thumbs.
|| A lot of the
things we do in life are based on instinct. Survival, sex, and staying away from TV shows
on the UPN Network are all fundamental human instincts that help us get through life
intact. They allow nature to take its proper course while freeing our conscious brain for
more important things, like wondering how many soys have to be milked to make the soy milk
for our decaf latte and whether the soy farmers treat them humanely.
The maternal instinct is one of the strongest.
Thats why as women reach their thirties so many of them can no longer hit the snooze
button on their biological clock without having an anxiety attack. It also explains how a
mother can diaper a baby the first time she tries while a father can watch an
instructional video ten times in a row and still manage to wrap it around the babys
Why this should be has been a mystery for
ages, dating back to even before the first Die Hard move was made. But it may not be a
mystery much longer. Scientists, whose very existence is based upon the driving urge to
destroy all of our romantic ideas by analyzing them to death and explaining them away in
terms that involve boring sub-atomic particles, decided it was time to look into this.
What they discovered was a gene in mice
that, when missing, causes normally maternal rodents to turn into Joan Crawford. Their
next project will be to figure out how mice manage to handle full-size coat hangers
without opposable thumbs.
When these scientists created mice without
the so-called maternity gene, the virgin females showed no interest in retrieving a
newborn baby. They also demonstrated little interest in nest-building. Its hard to
believe that the lack of one little gene could make these mice act so much like human
Homing pigeons owe their entire existence and identity to being able to make it home after
a long night of drinking and carousing in a far off city without the aid of a road map,
something very few other animals can do, save Ted Kennedy.
|| As if that
wasnt enough, females without the gene who became pregnant and gave birth refused to
feed their young, often refusing to even touch them. Worse, they also lost the ability to
know when one of their babies got hurt while at school, to sense when a cashew was taken
from the secret stash of mixed nuts they hid on the top shelf of the closet, and to fold
fitted sheets neatly.
admit they dont know how this correlates to humans even though we have a similar
gene. But its possible that scientists in Japan are already experimenting with it.
That would explain why a recent survey of single Japanese women in their 20s showed that
27% of them have "no will" to get married, which is a far cry from the good old
days when they would have gotten married against their will.
This is odd because the instinct to settle
down and start a family is a very strong one. Birds do it, bees do it, and according to
the old song that doesnt make any sense, even educated fleas do it. But this may not
go on much longer. Not if that instinct goes as out of whack as some others are.
Take homing pigeons. Go ahead, theyll
find their way home after you take them. Well, they used to, anyway. Homing pigeons, as
you might remember from that National Geographic special you slept though last week, owe
their entire existence and identity to being able to make it home after a long night of
drinking and carousing in a far off city without the aid of a road map, something very few
other animals can do, save Ted Kennedy.
A project by the Music Research Group at Britains University of Leicester (motto:
"You mean we get paid for this?") showed that music can have a subliminal effect
on what we buy.
|| Thats why
it was such a shock recently when 2,000 homing pigeons got lost trying to find their way
home from races in Virginia and Pennsylvania. This is sad. After all, homing pigeons which
cant get home are about as useful as blind seeing eye dogs.
Experts are baffled. Theyre blaming everything
from sunspots to cellular phones. As far fetched as this sounds, cell phones could very
well be the culprit. After all, we see people weaving down the road getting lost while
talking on them every day.
Most of the birds are just gone. A few were
discovered in Oklahoma and Delaware when they stopped at a gas station and asked
directions, which is, incidentally, how you can tell a female homing pigeon from a male.
Their owners considered putting the birds photographs on milk cartons ("Have
you seen this bird?") until they realized that all homing pigeons look alike anyway.
Except to the pigeons, and theyd never see it because they prefer soy milk.
It also turns out that scientists
arent only trying to figure out how to eliminate our instincts, but how to affect
them. A project by the Music Research Group at Britains University of Leicester
(motto: "You mean we get paid for this?") showed that music can have a
subliminal effect on what we buy.
Although shoppers in their test showed a
definite preference for French wine over German, the researchers found that when they
played German music in the supermarket more people bought German wine. When they played
French music, people bought more French wine. And when they played John Tesh people bought
lots of Thunderbird and threw up for days, though that was probably less related to the
quality of the wine than the music.
The upshot of all this is that its
getting harder and harder to trust your instincts. Its also getting harder to trust
scientists. Of course if they do manage to snuff out the maternal gene in humans we
wont have to worry about there being any more scientists. This is known as planned
©1998 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. It's
instinct to want to read them.