A while back, Reddit user u/airuarak123 asked, "What's a fact you wish didn't know." So, instead of running for the hills with my eyes closed, my curiosity got the best of me. I foolishly leapt down the rabbit hole and tried to find the truth behind these unwanted facts.
The responses were shocking, to say the least, but I couldn't stop reading more into them. Here are 13 responses and the facts behind them that blew me away and left me blinking at my screen.
1."Locked-in syndrome is terrifying. You are alive and conscious but have no way to communicate that or stop it."
I had no idea this was possible, but the syndrome is VERY real. According to National Organization for Rare Disorders, "Locked-in syndrome is a rare neurological disorder in which there is complete paralysis of all voluntary muscles except for the ones that control the movements of the eyes."
2."Any fact (and there are many) concerning botched executions. Hanging decapitations, electric explosions, failed beheadings, even a guy reacting to the gas chamber and repeatedly bashing his head against the metal wall. I just imagine stuff like that is horrific for all concerned."
The details of the botched executions, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, are too gruesome for me to repeat. But the fact that between 1890 to 2010, 276 of 8,776 executions in the United States failed is bone-chilling. These botched executions have occurred as recently as July 2022 in Alabama when an "unqualified" medical team took up to 3 1/2 hours to administer a lethal injection resulting in multiple incisions, open wounds, and cuts resulting in "the longest botched lethal injection execution since the method came into use in the US in 1982."
3."As dead bodies decay, they 'burp' or release gasses. For this reason, caskets and mausoleums should be ventilated so that the gas can escape."
Apparently, it's called "exploding casket syndrome." It's when the inside of a casket becomes like "a pressure cooker from the accumulated gases and fluids of the decomposing body." Families have sued cemeteries and funeral homes for secretly propping open the caskets to prevent the gases from building up. Even if the most expensive caskets are sealed, the body will naturally decompose.
4."While it is true that normally Alzheimer's and dementia only happen at later ages, childhood Alzheimer's and dementia exist, too."
Ok. For Alzheimer's — the way Johns Hopkins Medicine laid it out is "early-onset Alzheimer's disease" — a neurodegenerative disorder that affects not only older adults but can also alter the memory, thinking, and behavior of people in their 30s and 40s. So, NOT CHILDREN. But, that's not the case for dementia. According to the medical experts from News Medical, childhood dementia is a rare genetic disease that affects brain metabolism.
5."You can just randomly twist in such a way that you slice open your spinal cord sheath and depressurize your skull, forcing your brain to sag onto your spine. This has happened to George Clooney and Steve Kerr. While it’s not fatal in and of itself and is usually treatable by patching the tear with the patient’s blood, the pain is so bad that patients will kill themselves. Clooney says that he sure thought about it."
It's called a cerebrospinal fluid leak. Cedars-Sinai describes it "as a leak that occurs when there is a tear or hole in the membranes surrounding the brain or spinal cord, allowing the clear fluid that surround and cushions those organs to escape." Some occur spontaneously, resulting from trauma, surgery epidural, spinal taps, or skull base tumors. I have so many questions for my doctor now.
6."Childhood trauma and neglect leads to permanent structural changes to the brain that affect the way you perceive and interact with the world."
Dear parents of "a different time." It's not just millennials and Gen Z overreacting. Child's Welfare Information Gateway states, "Brain imaging studies of children with documented cases of maltreatment reveal distinct changes in both the brain’s structure and functioning (Delima & Vimpani, 2011). Such studies show that abuse, neglect, and other exposure to trauma can result in long-lasting negative changes to the brain."
7."Pigs can shoot their own intestines out of their anus (don't remember if it was because of constipation, abdominal strain, or cough), and other pigs will chew on it."
Ok. I was hoping they stretched the truth a little here. Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine details under the Swine Disease Manual that rectal prolapses can occur due to severe coughing or straining caused by constipation, cystitis, vaginitis, or urethral obstruction. And yes, the Pig Site claims that the prolapse can be cannibalized by other pigs. Yikes. This might be TMI depending on your relationship with eating chitlins.
8."Two Scottish surgeons invented the chainsaw to originally assist in childbirth."
At one point, before cesarean sections, when babies were too large to pass through the birth canal, a procedure with a small knife called "symphysiotomy" was performed. John Aitken and James Jeffray invented the hand-crank operated prototype (which looks more like a medical tool than the giant tree-cutting chainsaw of today) which could cut through bone. I thought it was going to be a full-on chainsaw, but still...
According to Science.org, there are not only mites on your face but also deep in your hair follicles and sweat glands feeding on your dead skin, mating, and laying eggs. I was uncomfortable with maybe one or two walking on my face. They're out here building entire societies of my forehead. Thank goodness, the harmless arthropods known as Demodex folliculorum are microscopic, so they can exist in private.
10."Artificial vanilla is quite often created from a chemical that is found in a gland in a beaver's ass."
The chemical in question is castoreum, an anal secretion used by beavers to mark their territory. According to Insider, nontoxic beaver juice has been used in food and perfumes. Before you freak out, the US Food and Drug Administration calls the fluid "generally safe," and it's only added to food as "natural flavoring." If that makes you feel any better. It doesn't do it for me.
11."There are corpses on Mt. Everest that are now used as waypoints."
I was shocked to learn that more than 200 people have died attempting to scale Mount Everest. According to a BBC article, Everest "carries the highest risk of coming across bodies simply because there are so many." The most well-known instance was known as "green boots," based on the color of deceased climber Tsewang Paljor's neon-colored boots.
12."That when you smell something, it’s tiny little particles in the air, so when you go into a public restroom and smell someone taking a shit, it’s tiny little poop particles entering your nose."
This one took some digging in the hole, but thanks to Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki and microbiologist Luke Tennent farting on petri dishes for humanity, they discovered that only an uncovered anus actually produces harmless bacteria from the "splatter ring" and "velocity of the fart." If there's clothing blocking it — you're in the clear. As for bathroom poop particles, thanks to "toilet plume" a phenomena where the the flushing vortex causes poop particles to entire the air, there's unfortunately a chance you're inhaling them after a courtesy flush.