Do cats cause schizophrenia?

It's an open question, though compelling new research is lending credence those who argue that they do. Neurobiologist (and recent Daily Show guest) Sharon Moalem outlines the theory in his new book, Survival of the Sickest. There's a nasty little parasite named Toxoplasma gondii found in cat poo -- and long known to be mildly toxic to small children and pregnant women -- which when eaten by cat prey like rats and mice actually affects a behavioral change; it makes the rodents less afraid of cats, which in turn makes it easier for cats to catch them. So what's the connection to schizophrenia? Moalem hypothesizes:

"People with schizophrenia have higher rates of infection with toxoplasmosis. Which doesn't prove a causality, because the higher rates of infection may also be due to poor hygiene or spending time institutionalized. But the smoking gun for me has to do with toxoplasmosis having the ability to change another animals behavior as in the case of mice. I believe toxoplasmosis may be an added trigger not unlike drug use to make someone who's already susceptible to schizophrenia all the more likely to get sick."

So cat feces might be more than just toxic to kids -- it might be increasing the chances that they'll develop schizophrenia later in life. Crazy, huh?

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Netflix's Most-Binged Shows of 2017, Ranked

Netflix might know your TV habits better than you do. Recently, the entertainment company's normally tight-lipped number-crunchers looked at user data collected between November 1, 2016 and November 1, 2017 to see which series people were powering through and which ones they were digesting more slowly. By analyzing members’ average daily viewing habits, they were able to determine which programs were more likely to be “binged” (or watched for more than two hours per day) and which were more often “savored” (or watched for less than two hours per day) by viewers.

They found that the highest number of Netflix bingers glutted themselves on the true crime parody American Vandal, followed by the Brazilian sci-fi series 3%, and the drama-mystery 13 Reasons Why. Other shows that had viewers glued to the couch in 2017 included Anne with an E, the Canadian series based on L. M. Montgomery's 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables, and the live-action Archie comics-inspired Riverdale.

In contrast, TV shows that viewers enjoyed more slowly included the Emmy-winning drama The Crown, followed by Big Mouth, Neo Yokio, A Series of Unfortunate Events, GLOW, Friends from College, and Ozark.

There's a dark side to this data, though: While the company isn't around to judge your sweatpants and the chip crumbs stuck to your couch, Netflix is privy to even your most embarrassing viewing habits. The company recently used this info to publicly call out a small group of users who turned their binges into full-fledged benders:

Oh, and if you're the one person in Antarctica binging Shameless, the streaming giant just outed you, too.

Netflix broke down their full findings in the infographic below and, Big Brother vibes aside, the data is pretty fascinating. It even includes survey data on which shows prompted viewers to “Netflix cheat” on their significant others and which shows were enjoyed by the entire family.

Netflix infographic "The Year in Bingeing"


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