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A recent article in The Economist concluded, “… it is just possible that a parasite’s desire to get eaten by a cat is shaping the cultures of the world.”
Now, I admit that sounds a bit far-fetched. But after reading “A game of cat and mouse” (June 5, 2010, The Economist), I began to wonder.
What was so striking is how the behavior of mice infected with Toxoplasma was modified. Rather than avoiding cats, the infected mice seemed to want to be caught and eaten (which is how the disease spreads itself). “Rats and mice infected with Toxoplasma start wandering around and drawing attention to themselves – in other words, behaving in ways that will bring them to the attention of cats.”
Unfortunately, the same infection is quite common in humans: “[I]n some parts of the world as much as 60 percent of the population is infected with it.” Among the symptoms (behavior changes) the article cites are:
- short attention spans;
- little interest in novelty;
- those infected are more likely to develop schizophrenia.
Interestingly, the infection rate seems to vary by country. Based on studies of pregnant women, Britain had a 6.6 percent infection rate. France had an infection rate of 45 percent. U.S. figures were not cited, but I would sure like to see a map of Toxoplasma infection rates overlaid on the red/blue state map!
Now, it can hardly be denied that the left – just like the infected mice – loves to draw attention to itself! And they seem to live for nightly news sound bites of angry political demonstrations for their cause of the moment.
Wouldn’t it be odd if Bush Derangement Syndrome had a biological basis? On a national level, parallels to the cat-and-mouse behavior seem to suggest themselves. The left’s behavior toward Islamic jihad, for instance. Before that the left’s response to communism and the Cold War. And let’s not forget Congress’ behavior in violating the will of a majority of the American public in “reforming” health care, then going home and being surprised because voters were angry!
Perhaps we should have everyone in Washington, D.C., tested for Toxoplasma infection. And by all means, have the water in the Potomac tested! Unfortunately, as the Economist article points out, the behavior changes associated with the infection are permanent – so even if we were able to cure them, their behavior would not be affected by treatment. Thus the only real treatment is removal from office this fall.