Six Romantic Ideas That Are Shot Down by Science

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valentines couple jpgIt's the season for cupids, dinner reservations, and teeth-breaking candy hearts. Everywhere I look I see couples holding hands, whispering secrets, and giving each other piggy-back rides. I can't even turn on the TV or radio without being bombarded with sappy commercials.

Now, I'm not bitter, but I think that a few especially nauseating couples could use a good smack upside the head when it comes to romance. And what better way to give a good smack than with science?

1. Stars make meaningful gifts

Naming

or buying a star has

become the unique and interesting way to show your feelings for

someone. Basically, you give a company money, and they give you the

coordinates of a star and a pretty certificate with the name you chose printed on it. Oh and they promise they will never let anyone

else name "your" star.


The gift

has become so popular that the International Astronomical Union (IAU)

has found it necessary to address the

issue on their official website. The IAU's hilariously cynical statement says that people can waste their money to name

stars whatever the heck they want, but the names will never have any

validity in the scientific community. A star's official name is simply

a catalog number and coordinates, and that's how it's gonna stay.

2. Flower bouquets are thoughtful

Okay so the

gesture of giving someone flowers may be thoughtful, but the fact that

you're also giving them a face-full of chemicals probably isn't. The

flower industry is different

from the food industry in that there aren't strict guidelines about the

amount of pesticides flower growers are allowed to use. Therefore the

growers use large amounts of chemicals to keep the flowers looking

pretty. While a whiff of chemically-dosed roses probably won't hurt you,

the chemicals are not good for the environment where the flowers are

grown or for the workers who tend them.

Also, most of the U.S.'s

cut flowers were grown in warmer climates like South America or Africa.

Then, to meet the demands of ardent lovers, the flowers

must be shipped long distances, which releases tons of carbon dioxide

emissions. While the receivers of the flowers may be pleased, I can't imagine that the atmosphere feels very cherished at all.    

3. Chocolate

is an aphrodisiac

While chocolate is ridiculously delicious,

it probably does not stimulate sexual arousal. It's true that

chocolate contains

a couple chemicals, tryptophan and phenylethylamine, that could

feasibly contribute to arousal. However, the amounts in chocolate are so

small that it's very unlikely they have much effect. Research

backs up this hypothesis. In one study, women who ate larger daily doses

of chocolate did not report a greater rate of sexual arousal than the

women who ate smaller amounts.

4. Oysters are an aphrodisiac

Slurping

down oysters

probably won't help you with your sex drive either. Oysters contain a

lot of zinc, which is involved with testosterone production, but the effects of zinc, if there are any, would not be immediate. Oysters also

contain dopamine, a neurotransmitter that affects the appropriate area

of the brain. Here again, there's probably not enough to have any realistic effect on arousal.

But don't

despair! After surveying hundreds of studies

about edible aphrodisiacs, one research team found that ginseng and

saffron are two that actually work.

While chocolate and oysters

don't have many chemical properties that contribute to arousal, their

texture may be enough to do the trick. The oh-so-velvety feeling of

chocolate and the slippery sensation of oysters in your mouth

may contribute to arousal, giving you the illusion that these

foods are aphrodisiacs.

5. Driving fast

impresses girls

Some people have been smart

enough to figure out that if you give a person a thrill, she is more

likely to fall for you. However, I'm sorry to say that the reason she's

burying her head in your shoulder and clutching your arm isn't because

she likes you--it's because she's legitimately scared.

The

trick, however, is that she has a hard time telling the difference

between her usual symptoms of attraction (fast heartbeat, sweaty palms,

etc) and the symptoms of fear generated by the scary experience. She

might think that she likes you, but she was really just frightened. This

phenomenon is called misattribution of arousal.



Misattribution

of arousal can work with speedy cars, scary movies, rollercoasters, and

even coffee.

And it definitely doesn't just apply to women. The concept was first discovered by observing whether

men who walked across a stationary bridge or men who braved a swaying bridge were more likely to ask out a

girl waiting at the end.

Guess which group of men fell for the bait.

6. Doves are accurate symbols of romance


Traditionally, doves

are considered symbols of love and romance because they mate for

life and have affectionate courtship behavior. Pigeons, on the other

hand, are symbols of excrement and stupidity because they smear

droppings all over public places and bob their necks when they walk.


Well

guess what: doves are pigeons. 


Yep. According to the

American Dove Association,

these terms are synonymous. In fact, the "doves" released at weddings

are usually homing pigeons so

that they can be released outside and find their way home. That's

right: the beautiful white birds you ceremoniously released on your Big

Day are the same little buggers that defile historic monuments. How

romantic.


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