Weirder and weirder

Students in the US who have a type of brain parasite carried by cats are more likely to be majoring in business studies. The pets are hosts for the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. It can infect people through contact with cat faeces, poorly cooked meat from infected livestock, or contaminated water, and A many as one-third of the world’s population may have it.The parasite doesn’t usually make us feel sick, but it forms cysts in the brain where it can remain for the rest of a person’s life. Some studies have linked infection with slower reaction times, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, suicidal behaviour and explosive anger.

Now an analysis of almost 1300 US students has found that those who had been exposed to the parasite were 1.7 times more likely to be majoring in business. In particular, they were more likely to be focusing on management and entrepreneurship than other business-related areas. The study also found that professionals attending business events were almost twice as likely to have started their own business if they were T. gondii positive, and that countries with a higher prevalence of the infection show more entrepreneurial activity.

The team behind the study say their results suggests that the parasite may be involved in reducing a person’s fear of failure and high-risk, high-reward ventures. Rodents infected with T.gondii are known to become less fearful of encountering cats (Proceedings of the Royal Society B, published in New Scientist, Aug 2018

If this article did not have the imprimature of the Royal Society I would be tempted to think it was a practical joke. Nowhere is getting rich, control over others, or greed (and a hos t of other motivations) mentioned or discussed.

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