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Why does the face turn pale in dangerous situations?

Why does the face turn pale in dangerous situations?


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I know what the effects are of a dangerous situation on the brain, i.e., an activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis which eventually results in an increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure. However, I do not understand why enhanced blood circulation would result in a paling of the skin? Do red blood cells actively change direction?


Red blood cells are not equipped with a motor system to propel them through the blood stream. Instead, they are passively transported through the vasculature by the the pumping action of the heart. The effects of dangerous situations on the skin have to do with hormonal effects on the blood vasculature, and not with direct effects on red blood cells.

Dangerous situations trigger the fight-fright-flight response, and is a direct result of adrenaline being released into the bloodstream. Adrenaline prepares the body to fight for its life.

Adrenaline has a variety of effects including enhancing perspiration (or diaphoresis, which prepares the body for the increase in temperature associated with fleeing/fighting), dilation of the pupils (which increases light sensitivity, but reduces acuity), dry mouth (gastric juices and saliva production decreases because blood flow to the digestive system is decreased), enhanced smell and hearing, and a cool, pale skin.

The cool and pale skin is caused by a reduced blood flow to the surface of the body, while blood flow to the arms, legs, shoulders, brain, eyes, ears and nose can be increased. Besides getting ready to run and fight, the body is preparing to think quickly and be aware of threats by hearing, seeing and smelling things better. Pulling blood away from the skin also helps decrease bleeding from cuts and scrapes (Source: Army, Navy & Air Force Australia).

Adrenaline stimulates alpha-adrenoreceptors in blood vessels, which causes the smooth muscles around the vessels to constrict (Bolli et al., 1984)


Adrenaline (epinephrine) released from the bloodstream dilates vessels in the skeletal muscle via beta-receptors, and constricts them in the digestive system and the skin through alpha-adrenergic receptors. Source: Marian University College, Indiana.

Reference
- Bolli et al., J Hypertens (1984); 2(3): S115-8


It has nothing to do with blood cells per se. Blood vessels constrict in areas not necessary for flight-and-fight response (sympathetic nervous system response).

By constricting blood vessels around face, blood is redirected to organs more important in resolving dangerous situations: muscles of legs, spinal cord, and brain. Same way pupils get dilated to capture more light…


Totally agree with the answers already provided: It is directly caused by constriction of blood vessels in the face.

However, from a behavioral perspective, I feel there is an additional function for 'turning pale', that is not yet mentioned:

For social animals (such as humans), the face has great expressive value. The face turning pale might fulfill the function of warning our fellow species that there is a certain threat. This form of communication might be preferable over, for example, yelling. Yelling might attract to much unwanted attention from predators (if predator was reason why individual is afraid).

If this is true, then we should expect turning pale of the face would more often occur in groups than alone and would also happen more often to the 'weaker' individuals of the group, because stronger individuals that seek help from their weaker friends would not be so advantageous.


Make Yourself Dangerous

There’s a quote that I came across a lot of you are probably familiar with, and it’s from Jordan Peterson. He says, “A harmless man is not a good man. A good man is a very dangerous man who has that under voluntary control.” That quote stuck out to me. I think it’s stuck out to a lot of guys who have heard, repeated it and shared it. So, I thought we could talk a little bit more about that today, specifically what it means to be a dangerous man. Then, how to make ourselves more dangerous, and why this is important in the first place. I’m going to take this in a slightly different direction than maybe you would think because, obviously, we think about martial arts or firearms training. Listen, I’m not undermining that, it’s critical. I participate in martial arts, specifically Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I’ve done a lot of firearms training. I’ve been in the military. Situational awareness is huge. When I’m out to dinner with my family or society in general, I’m situationally aware. In fact, I’ve got a firearm with me 99% of the time.

However, what I want to talk about today is how we utilize what I would call, ‘soft skills’ to make ourselves more dangerous. The reason I want to share this with you is that I think it’s something that we overlook a lot of times when we think about masculinity. We think about being tough and strong and athletic and capable. When it comes to martial arts and firearms training, we think about that stuff. And again, that’s important, but very rarely do we think about these softer, interpersonal communication and dynamic skills that I’m going to address with you today. Again, the quote is “A harmless man is not a good man.” That’s the first part of it. Let me break that down for you. I think there is too much emphasis in society on being a good man. If you’re a good little boy, according to your society standard, it might just be that you’re weak. Jordan Peterson says, “A good man is a very dangerous man who has that under voluntary control,” meaning he has the ability to be dangerous, and yet voluntarily and consciously decides not to be dangerous or, probably more accurately, use that dangerous skill set that he has in a controlled environment, in the right situation, when it’s appropriate.

We see a lot of men who don’t have this under control, specifically, because they haven’t had the male mentors, role model, coach, or fathers to teach them how to harness this raw masculine energy that’s coursing through these young boys veins. Then it comes across as violent and tragic and horrific in a lot of cases as well. It’s our job as men to learn how to control this ability to be aggressive and competitive and violent at times, so that we can use it in a controlled manner that it will be more effective and that will be using it appropriately, so doing that for ourselves. And then also teaching our young men and the people that we have responsibility for, how to harness those same characteristics to produce effective outcomes for themselves, whether that gets them out of a dangerous situation of violent encounter, or to face some sort of natural disaster, or even a car wreck, or even just something as simple as competitive sports with some guys around town, a pickup game of basketball, or softball or whatever it is you’re doing by those ways to harness, harness the power that you have within you.

That makes you, according to this, a good man. I don’t use that term necessarily because I think again, it comes back to morality only and that’s important but if it’s only morality, we’re missing this critical component of it, which is capable. We’ve got morality, good man, then we’ve got our proficiency at skills, which makes us capable. Good men don’t change the world. They might be nice to talk with and women might like them for a short period of time or put them in the friend zone. But the men who change the world are the ones who are capable. So, when I think about that word, capability, and I think about dangerous, I think those two things go hand in hand. If you want to be a capable man, capable of providing, protecting and providing, which is our motto, and not just motto but our way of life, then you need to be willing and able, willing and able to be dangerous in the right set of circumstances.

That’s why it’s so important that we as men learn how to harness this. So again, martial arts, firearms training, situational awareness, tactical training, a lot of you guys have military training, maybe even some medical training. That’s just all important but that’s not what this discussion is about today, this discussion is about again, ‘soft skills’ that we need to develop that will allow us to be more dangerous, and more capable in order to produce the type of outcomes that we’re after. And the people who we have a responsibility for are after.

So, let’s break this down. Now, these aren’t in any order, necessarily, they’re of equal importance. I think all of us could do well to incorporate these four ‘soft skills’ into our lives in order to make ourselves more dangerous.

1. Develop Self-confidence

I know that most of you realize that you have to develop confidence or have a desire to develop confidence. Guys, it is so critical. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen who are so weak and so passive, and lack any level of confidence in their lives. And of course, when they’re faced with a violent situation, or a natural disaster, or even just as something as simple as asking for a raise or asking a woman on a date, they have no ability to do this, because they don’t have any confidence in themselves. And what these guys believe is that somehow that some men are just born with high levels of confidence, that’s not the case, there may be pride, there may be an over-inflated ego, and a sense of arrogance, but you don’t get to be confident just because. It has to be earned.

So, you have to go out and do the things that are going to make you confident, you have to go out and earn that. As you’re sitting here listening to this podcast and thinking to yourself, “Well, man, I’m just not as confident around women, or I’m not as confident around my boss around highly successful people?” Then the next question should be “what can I actually do in my life to develop more confidence?” Now, some of the things I’m going to share with you as we progress are naturally going to help you become more confident, but if you feel fear towards any conversation, any engagement, any action activity, any hobby, then that’s probably a pretty good indicator that you could develop a sense of confidence, by tackling that thing, by facing that activity head on and getting it done anyways, you don’t need to be confident to develop confidence.

What you need is to be courageous, and any one of us in the right set of circumstances with the right mindset can exhibit courage. When we exhibit the courage to go do the things that we’re afraid of, we get done with that thing. And we realized that maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was, or that it was bad, but I did it anyway. And it’s through developing skill sets is through developing the ability to overcome the things we’re afraid of that gives us the level of confidence that we need. And when we’re confident we can be more dangerous. We have more capability to face what needs to be faced and to do what needs to be done in the face of the fear that we might be experiencing. Too many men cower, they tuck tail and they run because they don’t have any level of confidence and when they’re faced with a difficult circumstance. They can’t be dangerous or capable men because they haven’t developed that confidence.

2. Develop Assertiveness

These next four points will certainly help you develop more confidence in your life. There are four communication styles that I want to point out.

Passive Communication: The passive communicator is weak. He doesn’t share his ideas and when he does share an idea, he makes excuses or apologizes for those ideas. Very rarely is he taken seriously.

Passive-Aggressive Communication: The passive-aggressive communicator tries to pretend like he’s passive or good in some way and yet he’s actually a very aggressive individual. He’s just good at disguising it. This is the individual who can’t take anything seriously. They’ve got a joke for everything. They’re sarcastic, they undermine, they mock, they ridicule, they put others down, but they do it in a sly way.

They give underhanded comments and compliments, this is the passive aggressive communicator. And while they may be funny, for a short period of time, it becomes extremely, extremely exhausting dealing with these individuals because they don’t know how to deal with difficult or awkward or uncomfortable conversations. And so they make light of everything, and they mock everything. It’s ridiculous, that’s a passive-aggressive communicator.

Aggressive Communication: An aggressive communicator wants to railroad everybody. It’s a type A dominant red personality, who’s a driver, who doesn’t take no for an answer, who isn’t willing to communicate with other individuals or take other things into consideration. And he just dominates and bulldozes everybody in every circumstance, obviously, we don’t have good success with this individual and people don’t like these types of individuals. So, they don’t make great leaders.

Now, you might look at and think, “Well, this is a great leader.” A dictator is not necessarily a great leader. They may be able to produce results for a short period of time until people catch on and realize that they don’t want to be led by this individual. And so they stop following voluntarily. An aggressive communicator might be able to get things done but can’t do it long term.

Assertive Communication: What we should all be working towards is being assertive in our communication. In other words, you’re willing to take on new ideas and new perspectives, and you’re taking other people’s thoughts and ideas and feelings into consideration. And yet you have a very clear idea of what you want. You’re willing to and capable of sharing your ideas with other individuals. When you see that there’s a problem, you don’t push that off. You’re not passive about it. You’re not aggressive by bulldozing it, but you’re taking all of the stimuli into consideration to figure out the best way forward. The most assertive individual is going to get the job done, the majority of the time over the longest period of time.

Don’t put the blindfold on. Don’t pretend like threats don’t exist when a conversation needs to be had. Don’t bury your head in the sand and think that if you just keep it there long enough that somehow this thread or this conversation or this circumstance will go away. It won’t. In fact, it’ll get worse and so a dangerous and capable man is able to recognize conversations and situations. And then he addresses those as quickly as possible, as efficiently and effectively as possible to a) neutralize the threat or b) to get a further to advance the cause whatever that may look like.

Try to be assertive in all of your dealings and interactions. A couple of resources I’d give you is a book titled No More Mr. Nice Guy by Robert Glover . It’s a great book that addresses “nice guy syndrome” which is what he’s dubbed it and how to be more assertive.

The second book is The Assertiveness Workbook which will actually walk you through how to address scenarios and situations in a more assertive manner without feeling like you’re being too aggressive or being too weak. It’s the balance that somewhere in the middle.

3. Know What You Want

Knowing what the ultimate objective is. I know that if I asked 100 men tell me what you want, most would probably say something like, “Well, I want to make some more money, or I want to have better relationship or I want to be fit.” And although that is good. I think that’s a worthy objective that you should be striving towards. I think that if you’re not specific enough, that you’re probably not going to accomplish that thing. And you’re not going to know how to get there and you’re not going to be able to smash through the barriers that will inevitably present themselves.

Now, if you’re crystal clear, if you are hyper-focused very, very specific on what you want to accomplish. I don’t want to get healthy, I want to be to 10% body fat. I don’t want to be strong, I want to be able to bench 300 pounds or deadlift 450 pounds. I don’t want to have a good marriage. Instead, define a good marriage. I don’t want to be wealthy. Rather, I want to have $10 million in my bank account. This is a huge distinction and difference. When you know what you want, whether it’s career advancement, or in your relationship with your wife, or your kids, whether it’s your health or your bank account, then you can smash through those barriers, you can overcome the hurdles and obstacles and the challenges. You can also call upon resources that you’ve identified as needing to be able to incorporate into your life to achieve those objectives and to overcome the hurdles that again, present themselves.

You’ll know when you do these types of things, that you are capable, you have confidence in being able to do it because you know exactly what you want. So, ask yourself this, “What do you want?. Is this specific? Is this crystal clear? Is this laser-like? Is it so specific, that a five-year-old could understand it?” If not, then maybe you aren’t clear enough on what you want, which will keep you from ultimately having it. So, number three is knowing what you want.

4. Be An Effective Communicator

This kind of ties back into assertiveness, but there’s so much more that goes into communication. Ultimately, you need to learn how to communicate effectively with others. So, if you’re negotiating a raise or proposing to your soon to be fiance and wife if you’re disciplining your children if you’re engaged with a would-be attacker, then you need to be able to communicate effectively towards that individual to produce the outcome that you’re after.

If you can’t open your mouth and use your sounds and use your words in a way that will illustrate exactly what you’re all about and exactly what you’re after, then you’re probably not going to achieve your objective. One of the interesting things about the topics and the points that I’m making with you today is that they’re all intertwined. If you become a better communicator, you are naturally going to develop more confidence because when you say something, it’s going to be followed through, and then you’ll realize you’re capable of doing that. Assertiveness requires your ability to communicate and vice versa. Your ability to communicate requires that you have some level of assertiveness. So it’s not like these things can be taken out and isolated. These decisions can be made in a vacuum. They’re all interdependent of each other. When you improve one area, whether it’s communicating or knowing what you want, and getting specific with that, or assertiveness or developing confidence, if you improve just one area, all other areas elevate and improve as well.

You’ll see compounding returns when you start to take some of these things into consideration and then incorporate them in your life and get better and these soft skill sets. So again, number 4 is learning to communicate effectively,

I would say the best way to do this is to put yourself in situations where you need to communicate. If you know there needs to be a difficult conversation with you and your kids, have that conversation. If there’s an opportunity to present to a group of people in something like Toastmasters, or Rotary or Business Network International, then take advantage of that opportunity. If you’re feeling a little nervous about putting yourself out there, but you want to do some public speaking and you know, there’s an event coming up, then reach out to the event organizers and and throw your hat in the ring and give yourself a chance.

It’s not going to feel comfortable. I should say, you’re going to feel awkward and out of place and inadequate but this is how we develop the ability to communicate effectively, which makes us more capable, which ultimately makes us more dangerous. That’s number four is learning to communicate effectively.

5. Educate Yourself

Guys, you got to educate yourself. Knowledge alone is not enough. You can’t read a book and assume that because you read it that somehow you’ll be able to apply this effectively in your life. You’ve got to be knowledgeable. You’ve got to know some of the harder skills like martial arts, like firearms training, like situational awareness and these tactical situations. You’ve got to know how to be assertive, you’ve got to know the information that you’re going to be communicating to other individuals, you’ve got to gain new credentials and new designations and new degrees.

This is how you make yourself knowledgeable, which will, in turn, make you more capable. It will help you become a more effective leader. And ultimately, it will put you in a position where you are dangerous, where you can actually move the needle when you say something people listen when you do something people are inspired. That’s where I want to be and that’s what I’m trying to do here within this podcast and of course, other elements of my life. And I think, I continue to improve I hope so that’s the ultimate goal, is that I can educate myself on the topics of masculinity so that I can then come and communicate these to you. We can enlist you in this cause of reclaiming and restoring masculinity. It certainly builds up my level of confidence because I can communicate effectively.

I have other skills that I’m developing, whether it’s something as simple as playing the guitar, which is something that I’m doing, archery which is something I’ve been doing for about a year and a half, almost two years now. My ability to hunt, of course educating myself on physiology and biology and how the body and the mind work so that I can make myself into a more effective tool. Jiu-jitsu is something I’m educating myself on so that I can use this tool as a weapon in the right circumstances. And again, that comes back to being dangerous, is using it in the right circumstances and having under voluntary control.

Then, ask yourself, “How can I incorporate these into my life? What I think I’ve seen is that there’s a gap between what I’m trying to share with you guys and maybe to some degree, what you’re actually implementing into your life. It’s easy to do this while you’re at the gym or mowing your lawn or exercising on a run whatever it may be. And then we forget about it, right? We get distracted with other elements of life, or we get listening to another podcast and we forget about the points that I’m trying to share with you guys.

These are all critical components of being a man in general but being a dangerous man. Let me recap with this quote from Jordan Peterson. He says, “A harmless man is not a good man. A good man is a very dangerous man who has that under voluntary control.” So, guys, I would encourage you to not follow what the American Psychological, recent quasi study said. They said that competition, aggressiveness, assertiveness, and stoicism are a threat or a danger to society. Men, it’s only a danger when we don’t know how to get that under voluntary control. It’s only a danger when we don’t focus on it, and we pretend it doesn’t exist. And we aren’t able to harness the power of being dangerous in the right circumstances. It’s also critical that we focus on these ‘soft skills,’ which will help us develop and become more dangerous and more capable as well.

About Ryan Michler

Ryan Michler is a husband, father, Iraq Combat Veteran, and the founder of Order of Man. Ryan was raised without a permanent father figure and has seen first-hand how a lack of strong, ambitious, self-sufficient men has negatively impacted society. He believes many of the world's most complicated and challenging problems could be resolved if men dedicated themselves to becoming more capable husbands, fathers, businessmen, and community leaders.

It has now become his life's mission to help men across the planet step more fully into their roles as protectors, providers, and presiders over themselves, their families, their businesses, and their communities. His podcast, Order of Man, has been downloaded over 20,000,000 times, he has a social media presence of over 500,000 men, and thousands of men have successfully completed his online and live workshops, courses, and events. You can learn more at his website, Order of Man.


With No God, Where do Atheists Turn in Times of Crisis?

Instead of begging an imaginary being for strength in a crisis, I reach out to others or rely upon myself. During times of crisis I do not plead, “God please help me!” or “God give me the strength!” I simply tell myself that I can do it or that I can make it through it. Often I reflect on the fact that I’ve been in worse situations and fared just fine. I can also turn to my family and friends for help and advice. And in extreme cases I rely on the assistance of trained professionals, such as firemen, police officers, medical doctors, etc.

I analyze each situation logically instead of emotionally. I figure out the best way to get out of the crisis. I walk into a hazardous and dangerous situation, take charge of it, and think it through. I take control of all the assets available to me, solve the situation, and get myself out of danger. I have fought fires, chased criminals and been in some desperate situations. Each time I was able to gather my own inner strengths and battle the situation head-on.

That is not to say that I am not emotional or that I do not react emotionally. It is hard not to react emotionally since our biology evolved to do such. Our emotions help us survive. I have seen lots of blood and damaged bodies in my time and I have never reacted emotionally. My training took over and I did what I had to do. When my daughter got hurt, it was different – my biological instincts overrode my training and I freaked out. It took me some time to come down, react logically, and get my act together in order to get her to help. One thing I never did during that time was pray to a god or ask for help from a supernatural being. I did it on my own and got my daughter to the science of medicine, not the pseudoscience of church.

Another thing that helps me get through situations like that is my own body with the chemical reactions and processes that take place inside it. Adrenaline will do wonders in an emergency!

I also seek help from people and things that can really help me. I do not seek help from imaginary beings and invisible friends that theists give credit to for doing something themselves. I find strength and help from some of the following:

  • My children, family, and friends
  • Music
  • Laughter
  • Adrenaline (Yes – I am an adrenaline junkie!)

Prayer and gods do not cure our diseases or solve problems during times of crisis. Where prayer and faith help is by calming the fears people have because prayer acts as a form of meditation and can have a therapeutic influence (even a placebo effect). Prayer and faith may give people the courage and emotional strength to continue, but they do not solve the problems that people face.

We, as human beings, solve those problems ourselves. Imaginary beings do not give us the answers. We come up with them. Why do theists give their gods credit for their own actions? Why do theists deny themselves the credit they deserve for being human beings with the ability to think on a higher level? Give yourself credit where credit is due.

I do not know how many times I have heard theists say to people suffering from clinical depression, “Pray to god, and he will help you.” God and prayer do not cure clinical depression. Clinical depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that prayer cannot cure.

If you are a theist and have ever told someone to pray to get rid of his or her depression, you owe that person an apology. In addition, you should advise that person to seek medical help for their condition. When Pat Robertson tells people that they have to take mental health medication because their faith is not strong enough or Tom Cruise lambasts against mental health medication because his Scientology beliefs are medically ignorant, those ideas cause harm and additional suffering to those that believe them.

Often we find this argument being used in the “there are no atheists in foxholes” statement. There are atheists in foxholes. I served in the Navy for almost ten years and encountered several life-threatening situations. Not once did I pray to a god to get me through the crisis.

If anything, I would aver that there are no theists in foxholes. When we are in the heat of battle, our training and experience take over and we do our jobs. It is not until after the battle is over, when we have a time to reflect upon what happened, and upon our morality, the theists begin to thank their gods and prayer.

When someone chucks a grenade into your foxhole you do not pray that god gets rid of it: you grab it and chuck it back out. You may pray latter if you are a theist – but when your life was in danger you relied on your training and your instincts – you saved yourself.

Talking to fellow sailors and soldiers, I have learned one thing about god during a crisis: people forget about him. During a battle or major crisis, people forget about god most of the time. They attack the situation head-on and either save themselves or dig themselves into a deeper hole or cause their own death. Only afterwards, do people start reflecting on the situation and thank a god for saving them. God did not save them – their quick action and ability to think during a crisis saved them.

My father served in Vietnam. Vietnam made him realize that there was no god and he became an atheist in the foxhole. The foxhole made him an atheist.

Several friends of mine served time during war and each of them found strength in their atheism instead of finding a god in their foxhole. War to him or her was proof that there was no god.

One of the things that I have noticed during times of major crisis is that the hyper-religious often served as a hindrance to getting the job done and saving our butts. The hyper-religious would start to pray and cower to their god while the non-religious or the lightly religious would accomplish the mission or objective.

Often after a major catastrophe, we hear people say, “I had a guardian angel watching over me” or “God saved me from dying.” That is nice that they think their god saved them from death – but what about the other people that died. Did they not pray hard enough? Did their god not listen or were they not worthy? And why did their god put them in that situation in the first place?

When engaging in a protest in Tennessee a woman approached me and told me god cured her cancer. I told her it was amazing that her cancer went away with prayer only and without any medical doctors, drugs, chemotherapy, etc. Of course then she admitted that she went through all that. But her god got the credit: not the medical science. She droned on about how god helped her through her crisis and how thankful she was to her god for getting her through and curing her. I asked her if she thanked her god for giving her cancer in the first place. Deer in headlights look followed and she left without answering my question. I guess she had not thought of that before.


Reincarnation – Lord is Extremely Hardcore Chapter 65 part 5

Sunlight pierced through layers of clouds and filtered through the windows of a hospital room. Pale fingers twitched on the bed before the young girl opened her eyes.

The first thing she saw was the starkly white ceiling. Her nose flooded with the scent of disinfectant…

Was this… the hospital? Translated by The Novelst

It seemed she hadn’t died yet. Was her scourge destined for the millenium? Did bad people have long lives?

Who had saved her? As she faded out of consciousness yesterday, she seemed to remember a faint minty scent…

Mu Rulan shifted her head a little, the movement waking up Mu Rusen, who was laying beside her.

The young boy opened his eyes and raised his head. Seeing his sister awake, his eyes filled with tears. “Sister! Sister, you’re awake! Let me get the doctor.”

Mu Rusen ran from the room, shouting in excitement. He forgot that there was a bell available to press at the top of her bed.

The doctor was there quickly. After checking on Mu Rulan, he let her know she was fine but that she would need to rest.

“Where’s Rulin?” Mu Rulan asked once the doctor had gone.

“He’s in the room next to us,” Mu Rusen said, grabbing one of her hands to place it on his face. His gaze was on her face. “Sister…”

Mu Rusen moved her hand to place it over his heart. “Why do I feel so much pain here?” He felt so much pain he thought he was going to die.

The boy clad in a white-and-blue patients’ outfit and standing at the door to the room was also surprised.

Mu Rusen looked at Mu Rulan, his red eyes staring at his sister before him. His heart was beating quickly and painfully. Why did it hurt so much? He didn’t have any kind of heart disease.

There was something that seemed to crack out from behind its shell.

Mu Rulan smiled gently, stretching out her hand to rub his head. “That’s because I’m your most beloved sister, ya.”

Sister, huh? Most beloved sister, but still just a sister.

Was that so? Mu Rusen shook his head. “No, that’s not it…” He didn’t know what was wrong, either, but he knew it wasn’t because of that.

This kind of feeling was different than before. The pain wasn’t because Mu Rulan was his sister.

“Alright, don’t think too much. You’ve been up all night, right? Hurry and go back to rest,” she said, unwilling to continue with the topic. Her thumb rubbed softly at the dark circles ringing his eyes.

“Sister…” Mu Rusen didn’t want to leave and rest, but he was interrupted.

When Mu Rusen heard Mu Rulin, he immediately turned to glare at him. Wasn’t this all his fault? IF it wasn’t for him, sister wouldn’t have encountered such a dangerous situation. It was all his fault!

“Rulin, how are you feeling?” Mu Rulan was worried.

Mu Rulin’s heart was joyful yet filled with pain.

When he woke up, he had asked the doctor about his situation. After learning that Mu Rulan had put herself in danger to rescue him, nearly resulting in both their deaths. He half-blamed himself while the other half of him felt moved and happy.

He was delighted to know he held an important place in Mu Rulan’s heart. They had stuck together through this situation. An unusual wave of joy burst from his heart, but knowing that it was inappropriate to express it, he tried to suppress it.

He walked closer and hugged Mu Rulan. She seemed very small in his arms.

Thank you for not giving up to the last second and chasing him all the way from heaven to hell. How could he ever release his hand from her?
……

In the interrogation room, the officers were seated in the control room and observing through the one-way mirror. The expressions on their faces were all of shock and disbelief.

Jin Biaohu sat at the table, seeming very agitated and a little frightened. “It’s true! Mu Rulan is a psycho. She used a utility knife to kill two of my friends you guys should be able to locate the corpses.”

“We were just trying to scare Mu Rulin and teach him a lesson, which is why we kidnapped him. But Mu Rulan wanted to kill us! We had no choice but to fight back. She cut their throats and even stuck a pencil through Huang Maozai’s eye!”

His words silenced the majority of the officers.

Since only the warehouse had been on fire, the corpses along with the utility knife had been recovered from the factory and brought back.

They did conduct autopsies on the corpses and it was true that the sliced throats were the cause of death, and the utility knife was the weapon that inflicted those wounds.

The owner of the car that Mu Rulan had taken did confirm that the knife and pencil were from the car, so there was a chance that she had taken it from the car.

Both the victims were Jin Biaohu’s friends. The person wounded was also Jin Biaohu’s friend. Their testimonies matched and it was true that they wouldn’t have a reason to turn on each other.

Even then, the people listening found it hard to believe.

How were they to believe what he was saying? The genius young girl who had always been angelic with good grades was actually a psycho scarier than ghosts?

The door to the interrogation room was pushed open and a man in a black suit entered the room. Translated by The Novelst

“Mr. Mo.” The two policemen seated inside the interrogation room stood up to greet Mo Qianren.

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Origins of Familiar Phrases

Meaning: Get very angry, very quickly.

Origin: Refers to axe heads, which, in the days before mass merchandising, were sometimes fastened poorly to their handles. If one flew off while being used, it was a dangerous situation . with unpredictable results.

HIGH ON THE HOG

Meaning: Luxurious, prosperous.

Origin: The tastiest parts of a hog are its upper parts. If you're living high on the hog, you've got the best it has to offer.

PULL THE WOOL OVER SOMEONE'S EYES

Meaning: Fool someone.

Origin: "Goes back to the days when all gentlemen wore powdered wigs like the ones still worn by the judges in British courts. The word wool was then a popular, joking term for hair . The expression 'pull the wool over his eyes' came from the practice of tilting a man's wig over his eyes, so he couldn't see what was going on."

Meaning: Prostitute.

Origin: Although occasionally used before the Civil War, its widespread popularity can probably be traced to General Joseph Hooker, a Union soldier who was well-known for the liquor and whores in his camp. He was ultimately demoted, and Washington prostitutes were jokingly referred to as "Hooker's Division."

LET THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG

Meaning: Reveal the truth.

Origin: Refers to a con game practiced at country fairs in old England. A trickster tried to sell a cat in burlap bag to an unwary bumpkin, saying it was a pig. If the victim figured out the trick and insisted on seeing the animal, the cat had to be let out of the bag.

STEAL SOMEONE'S THUNDER

Meaning: To preempt to draw attention away from someone else's achievement in favor of your own.

Origin: English dramatist John Dennis invented a gadget for imitating the sound of thunder and introduced it in a play in the early 1700s. The play flopped. Soon after, Dennis noted that another play in the same theater was using his sound-effects device. He angrily exclaimed, "That is my thunder, by God the villains will play my thunder, but not my play." The story got around London, and the phrase grew out of it.

PAY THROUGH THE NOSE

Meaning: To pay a high price to pay dearly.

Origin: Comes from the ninth-century Ireland. When the Danes conquered the Irish, they imposed an exorbitant Nose Tax on the island's inhabitants. They took a census (by counting noses) and levied oppressive sums on their victims, forcing them to pay by threatening to have their noses actually slit. Paying the tax was "paying trough the nose."

CHARLEY HORSE

Meaning: A muscle cramp.

Origin: In 1640, Charles I of England expanded the London police force. The new recruits were nicknamed "Charleys." There wasn't enough money to provide the new police with horses so they patrolled on foot. They joked that their sore feet and legs came from riding "Charley's horse."

NOT UP TO SCRATCH

Meaning: Inadequate, subpar.

Origin: In the early days of boxing, there was no bell to signal the beginning of a round. Instead, the referee would scratch a line on the ground between fighters, and the round began when both men stepped over it. When a boxer couldn't cross the line to keep a match going, people said that he was not "up to the scratch."

CAUGHT RED-HANDED

Meaning: Caught in the act.

Origin: For hundreds of years, stealing and butchering another person's livestock was a common crime. But it was hard to prove unless the thief was caught with a dead animal . and blood on his hands.

GIVE SOMEONE "THE BIRD"

Meaning: Make a nasty gesture at someone (usually with the middle finger uplifted).

Origin: There are many versions. The "cleanest": Originally "the bird" referred to the hissing sound that audiences made when they didn't like a performance. Hissing is the sound that a goose makes when it's threatened or angry.

Meaning: Fail.

Origin: From the British sport of cricket. When you fail to score, you get a zero - which looks like an egg. The term is also taken from baseball, where a zero is a "goose egg."

BURY THE HATCHET

Meaning: Make peace with an enemy.

Origin: Some Native American tribes declare peace by literally burying a tomahawk in the ground.

CHEW THE FAT

Meaning: Chat engage in idle conversation.

Origin: Originally a sailor's term. Before refrigeration, ships carried food that wouldn't spoil. One of them was salted pork skin, a practically inedible morsel that consisted largely of fat. Sailors would only eat it if all other food was gone. and they often complained as they did. This (and other) idle chatter eventually became known as "chewing the fat."

TO THE BITTER END

Meaning: To the very end - often an unpleasant one.

Origin: Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with bitterness. It's a sailing term that refers to the end of a mooring line or anchor line that is attached to the bitts, sturdy wooden or metal posts that are mounted on the ship's deck.

HAVE A SCREW LOOSE

Meaning: Something is wrong with the person or mechanism.

Origin: The phrase comes from the cotton industry and dates back as far as the 1780s, when the industrial revolution made mass production of textiles possible for the first time. Huge mills sprang up to take advantage of the new technology (and the cheap labor), but it was difficult to keep all the machines running properly any machine that broke down or produced defective cloth was said to have "a screw loose" somewhere.

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL

Meaning: Someone appears after you mention them.

Origin: People once believed that you could actually summon the Devil by saying his name.

BORN WITH A SILVER SPOON IN YOUR MOUTH

Meaning: Pampered lucky born into wealth or prosperous circumstances.

Origin: At one time, it was customary for godparents to give their godchild a silver spoon at the christening. These people were usually well-off so the spoon came to represent the child's good fortune.

TO CLOSE RANKS

Meaning: To present a united front.

Origin: "In the old-time European armies, the soldiers were aligned side by side, in neat rows, or ranks, on the battlefield. When the enemy attacked, officers would order the troops to close ranks that is, to move the rows close together, so that the enemy faced a seemingly impregnable mass of men." (From Fighting Words, by Christine Ammer)

FOR THE BIRDS

Meaning: Worthless.

Origin: According to Robert claiborne in Loose Cannons and Red Herrings, it refers to city streets as they were before cars. "When I was a youngster on the streets of New York, one could both see and smell the emissions of horse-drawn wagons. Since there was no way of controlling these emissions, they, or the undigested oats in them, served to nourish a large population of English sparrows. If you say something's for the birds, you're politely saying it's horseshit."

BEYOND THE PALE

Meaning: Socially unacceptable.

Origin: "The pale in this expression has nothing to do with the whitish color, but comes originally from the Latin palus, meaning a pole, or stake. Since stakes are often used to mark boundaries, a pale was a particular area within certain limits." The pale that inspired this expression was the area around Dublin in Ireland. Until the 1500s, that area was subject to British law. "Those who lived beyond the pale were outside English jurisdiction and were thought to be uncivilized." (From Getting to the Roots, by Martin Manser)

I'VE GOT A FROG IN MY THROAT

Meaning: I'm hoarse from a cold.

Origin: Surprisingly, this wasn't inspired by the croaking sound of a cold-sufferer's voice, but by a weird medical practice. "In the Middle Ages," says Christine Ammer in It's Raining Cats and Dogs, "infections such as thrush were sometimes treated by putting a live frog head first into the patient's mouth by inhaling, the frog was believed to draw the patient's infection into its own body. The treatment is happily obsolete, but its memory survives in the 19th century term frog in one's throat."

SOMETHING FITS TO A "T"

Meaning: It fits perfectly.

Origin: Commonly thought of as a reference to the T-square, which is used to draw parallel lines and angles. But this phrase was used in the 1600s, before anyone called it a T-square. "A more likely explanation is that the expression was originally 'to a tittle.' A tittle was the dot over the 'i,' so the phrase meant 'to a dot' or 'fine point.'" (From Why Do We Say It, by Nigel Rees)

Meaning: A kiss, at the end of a letter.

Origin: In medieval times, when most people were illiterate, "contracts were not considered legal until each signer included St. Andrew's cross after their name." (Or instead of a signature, if the signer couldn't write.) To prove their sincerity, signers were then required to kiss the X. "Throughout the centuries this custom faded out, but the letter X [became associated] with a kiss." This is also probably where the phrase "sealed with a kiss" comes from. (From I've Got Goose Pimples, by Martin Vanoni)

READ BETWEEN THE LINES

Meaning: To perceive or understand a hidden meaning.

Origin: In the 16th century it became common for politicians, soldiers, and businesspeople to write in code. To ordinary folks, this writing was unintelligible. They concluded that the meaning was not in the lines of gibberish, but in the space between them.

YOU'RE NO SPRING CHICKEN

Meaning: You're not young anymore you're past your prime.

Origin: Until recent generations, there were no incubators and few warm hen houses. That meant chicks couldn't be raised during winter. New England growers found that those born in the spring brought premium prices in the summer market places. When these Yankee traders tried to pass off old birds as part of the spring crop, smart buyers would protest that the bird was "no spring chicken."

SON OF A GUN

Meaning: An epithet.

Origin: In the 1800s, British sailors took women along on extended voyages. When babies were born at sea, the mothers delivered them in a partitioned section of the gundeck. Because no one could be sure who the true fathers were, each of these "gunnery" babies was jokingly called a "son of a gun."

PUT UP YOUR DUKES

Meaning: Raise your fists and get ready to fight.

Origin: In the early 1800s, the Duke of York, Frederick Augustus, shocked English society by taking up boxing. He gained such admiration from boxers that many started referring to their fists as the "Dukes of York," and later "dukes."

HAVE AN AXE TO GRIND

Meaning: Having a hidden agenda.

Origin: The expression comes from a story told by Benjamin Franklin. A man once praised Franklin's father's grindstone and asked young Benjamin to demonstrate how the grindstone worked. As Franklin complied, the stranger placed his own axe upon the grindstone, praising the young boy for his cleverness and vigor. When the axe was sharpened, the man laughed at Franklin and walked away, giving the boy a valuable lesson about people with "an axe to grind."

UPPER CRUST

Meaning: Elite.

Origin: In the Middle Ages, the highest-level nobility and royal were served the choice part of a loaf of bread, the "upper crust," before it was offered to other diners.

MEET A DEADLINE

Meaning: Finish a project by an appointed time.

Origin: The phrase was born in prisoner-of-war camps during the Civil War. Because resources were scarce, the prison camps were sometimes nothing more than a plot of land surrounded by a marked line. If a prisoner tried to cross the line, he would be shot. So it became known as the "deadline."

TOE THE LINE

Meaning: Behave or act in accordance with the rules.

Origin: In the early days of the British Parliament, members wore swords in the House of Commons. To keep the members from fighting during heated debates, the Speaker of the House of Commons forced the Government and Opposition parties to sit on opposite sides of the chamber. Lines, two sword-lengths plus one foot apart, were drawn in the carpet. Members were required to stand behind the lines when the House was in session. To this day, when a member steps over the line during a debate, the speaker yells: "Toe the line!"

SECOND STRING

Meaning: Replacement or backup.

Origin: You might have caught William Tell without an apple, but not without a second string. In medieval times, an archer always carried a second string in case the one on his bow broke.

IN THE LIMELIGHT Meaning: At the center of attention.

Origin: In 1826, Thomas Drummond invented the limelight, an amazingly bright white light, by running an intense oxygen-hydrogen flame through a lime cylinder. At first, the bright light was used in lighthouses to direct ships. Later, theater began using the limelight like a spotlight - to direct the audience's attention to a certain actor. If an actor was to be the focal point of a particular scene, he was thrust "into the limelight."

FLASH IN THE PAN

Meaning: Short-lived success.

Origin: In the 1700s, the pan of a flintlock musket was a part that held the gunpowder. If all went well, sparks from the flint would ignite the charge, which would then propel the bullet out of the barrel. However, sometimes the gun powder would burn without igniting a main charge. The flash would burn brightly but only briefly, with no lasting effect.

HAM ACTOR (HAM)

Meaning: Someone who enjoys putting on a show, or who plays rather obviously to an audience (though not necessarily on stage).

Origin: An American phrase originating in the 1880s. Minstrel shows, the mass entertainment of the time, often featured less-than-talented performers who overacted. They frequently appeared in blackface, and used ham fat to remove their makeup. Thus, they were referred to as "ham-fat men," later shortened to "hams."

WHIPPING BOY

Meaning: A scapegoat, or something who is habitually picked on.

Origin: Hundreds of years ago, it was normal practice for a European prince to be raised with a commoner of the same age. Since princes couldn't be disciplined like ordinary kids, the commoner would be beaten whenever the prince did something wrong. The commoner was called the prince's "whipping boy."

Meaning: Go crazy or to act with reckless abandon.

Origin: Viking warriors were incredibly wild and ferocious in battle, probably because they ate hallucinogenic mushrooms in prebattle ceremonies. They charged their enemies recklessly, wearing nothing more than bearskin, which in Old Norse was pronounced "berserkr" or "bear-sark."

PULL SOMEONE'S LEG

Meaning: Fool someone.

Origin: Years ago back-alley thieves worked in pairs. One thief, known as a "tripper up," would use a cane, rope, or piece of wire to trip a pedestrian, knocking them to the ground. While the victim was down, the second thief would rob them. Pulling your leg originally referred to the way the "tripper up" tried to make someone stumble. Today it only refers to tripping someone figuratively.

RAINING CATS AND DOGS

Meaning: Torrential rain.

Origin: In the days before garbage collection, people tossed their trash in the gutter - including deceased housepets - and it just lay there. When it rained really hard, the garbage, including the bodies of dead cats and dogs, went floating down the street.

PIE IN THE SKY

Meaning: An illusion, a dream, a fantasy, an unrealistic goal.

Origin: Joe Hill, a famous labor organizer of the early 20th century, wrote a tune called "The Preacher and the Slave," in which he accused the clergy of promising a better life in Heaven while people starved on Earth. A few of the lines: "Work and pray, live on hay, you'll get pie in the sky when you die (That's a lie!)."

HACK WRITER

Meaning: Writer who churns out words for money.

Origin: In Victorian England, a hackney, or "hack," was a carriage for hire. (The term is still used in reference to taxi drivers, who need their "hack's licenses" to work.) Hack became a description of anyone who plies their trade strictly for cash.

LONG IN THE TOOTH

Meaning: Old.

Origin: Originally used to describe old horses. As horses age, their gums recede, giving the impression that their teeth are growing. The longer the teeth look, the older the horse.

STOOL PIGEON

Meaning: Informer, traitor.

Origin: To catch passenger pigeons (now extinct), hunters would nail a pigeon to a stool. Its alarmed cries would attract other birds, and the hunters would shoot them by the thousands. The poor creature that played the traitor was called a "stool pigeon."

BEAT AROUND THE BUSH

Meaning: Go about things in a circuitous manner, go around an issue rather than deal with it directly.

Origin: In the Middle Ages, people caught birds by dropping a net over a bush and clubbing the ground around it to scare the birds into flying into the net. Once a bird was caught, you could stop beating around the bush and start eating.


The real reasons why childbirth is so painful and dangerous

Giving birth can be a long and painful process. It can also be deadly. The World Health Organization estimates that about 830 women die every day because of complications during pregnancy and childbirth &ndash and that statistic is actually a 44% reduction on the 1990 level.

"The figures are just horrifying," says Jonathan Wells, who studies childhood nutrition at University College London in the UK. "It's extremely rare for mammalian mothers to pay such a high price for offspring production."

So why exactly is childbirth so risky for humans? And is there anything we can do to further reduce those death rates?

Scientists first began thinking about the problem of human childbirth in the middle of the 20th Century. They soon came up with an idea that seemed to explain what was going on. The trouble began, they said, with the earliest members of our evolutionary lineage &ndash the hominins.

From an early date in our prehistory, hominin babies may have had to twist and turn to pass through the birth canal

The oldest hominin fossils so far found date back about seven million years. They belong to animals that shared very few of our features, except perhaps one: some researchers think that, even at this early stage, hominins were walking upright on two legs.

To walk on two legs efficiently, the hominin skeleton had to be pushed and pulled into a new configuration, and that affected the pelvis.

In most primates the birth canal in the pelvis is relatively straight. In hominins, it soon began to look very different. Hips became relatively narrow and the birth canal became distorted &ndash a cylinder that varied in size and shape along its length.

So from an early date in our prehistory, hominin babies may have had to twist and turn to pass through the birth canal. This would have made birth a far more difficult task than it had been previously.

Then things got even worse.

About two million years ago, our hominin ancestors began to change again. They lost their more ape-like features such as a relatively short body, long arms and small brain. Instead they began to gain more human-like ones, like taller bodies, shorter arms and bigger brains.

That last trait in particular was bad news for female hominins.

I was going to find evidence that supported the obstetric dilemma, but very soon everything came crashing down

Big-brained adults start out life as big-brained babies, so evolution came into conflict with itself. On the one hand, female hominins had to maintain a narrow pelvis with a constricted birth canal in order to walk efficiently on two legs. But at the same time the foetuses they carried were evolving to have larger heads, which were a tighter and tighter fit through those narrow pelvises.

Childbirth became a distressingly painful and potentially lethal business, and it remains so to this day.

In 1960, an anthropologist called Sherwood Washburn gave this idea a name: the obstetrical dilemma. It is now often called the "obstetric dilemma". Scientists thought it explained the problem of human childbirth perfectly. Many still think it does.

But some, including Wells, are no longer happy with this standard explanation. In the last five years, Wells and several other researchers have begun to push against the classic story of the obstetric dilemma.

They think Washburn's idea is too simplistic, and that all sorts of other factors also contribute to the problem of childbirth.

Holly Dunsworth of the University of Rhode Island, Kingston, was drawn to the obstetric dilemma while she was still a grad student. "I thought it was so exciting, I was going to find evidence that supported the obstetric dilemma," she says. "But very soon everything came crashing down."

We have bigger babies and longer pregnancies than you would expect

The problem was with the predictions Washburn made. "When Washburn wrote his article, he was actually saying that the obstetric dilemma was solved by giving birth to babies at a relatively early stage in their development," says Wells.

Go back to that moment two million years ago when human brains began to grow larger. Washburn suggested that humans found a solution of sorts: shortening the length of the human pregnancy. Human babies were forced out into the world earlier than they really should be, so that they were still relatively small, with diminutive, underdeveloped brains.

Washburn's explanation seems logical. Anyone who has held a newborn can appreciate how underdeveloped and vulnerable they are. The standard view is that other primates hold onto their pregnancies for longer and give birth to babies that are more developmentally advanced.

But, says Dunsworth, it is simply not true.

"We have bigger babies and longer pregnancies than you would expect," she says.

Women give birth to babies with larger brains than we would expect

In an absolute sense human pregnancies are long. They typically last 38-40 weeks, whereas a chimpanzee pregnancy is 32 weeks long, and gorillas and orang-utans give birth after about 37 weeks.

As Dunsworth and her colleagues explained in a 2012 paper, this remains true even if we adjust the pregnancy durations to take into account differences in body mass. Human pregnancies last 37 days longer than they should do for an ape our size.

The same thing applies for brain size. Women give birth to babies with larger brains than we would expect of a primate with the average woman's body mass. This means that a key prediction of Washburn's obstetric dilemma is incorrect.

There are other problems with Washburn's idea too.

A central assumption of the obstetric dilemma is that the size and shape of the human pelvis &ndash and the female pelvis in particular &ndash is highly constrained by our habit of walking upright on two legs. After all, if evolution could have "solved" the problem of human childbirth by simply making women's hips a little wider and the birth canal a little larger, it surely would have done so by now.

The birth canal is extraordinarily variable in size and shape

In 2015, Anna Warrener at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and her colleagues questioned this assumption.

The researchers collected metabolic data from male and female volunteers who were walking and running in the lab. Volunteers with wider hips were no more inefficient at walking and running than their narrow-hipped peers. From purely energetic considerations, at least, there does not seem to be anything stopping humans evolving wider hips that would make childbirth easier.

"The basic premise of the obstetric dilemma &ndash that having a small or narrow pelvis is best for biomechanical efficiency &ndash is likely not correct," says Helen Kurki of the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.

Kurki was not involved with Warrener's study, but her own research has identified yet more problems for the traditional obstetric dilemma hypothesis.

If the female pelvis really is tightly governed by two opposing forces &ndash the need to be narrow for walking and the need to be wide for giving birth &ndash the shape of the birth canal should vary little between women. It should be "stabilised" by natural selection.

Pregnant women sometimes joke that their developing foetus feels like an energy-sapping parasite

But after analysing hundreds of human skeletons, Kurki reported in 2015 that the birth canal is extraordinarily variable in size and shape. It varies even more than the size and shape of human arms, a trait that is known to vary between individuals.

"I think my findings do support shifting attitudes to the obstetric dilemma," says Kurki.

Washburn's tidy narrative does not seem quite as satisfying as it once did. There has to be something else going on.

Dunsworth thinks she has identified one important missing piece in the puzzle: energy.

"We max out toward the end of pregnancy," says Dunsworth, herself a mother. "Those last weeks and months of pregnancy are tiring. They are pushing right against the possible sustainable metabolic rates in humans. It has to end at some point."

Evolution could, in principle, make the pelvis larger &ndash but it has not had to

Pregnant women sometimes joke that their developing foetus feels like an energy-sapping parasite. In a sense it really is, and its energy demands grow with every passing day.

In particular, human brains have an almost insatiable appetite for energy. Growing a second, tiny brain inside the womb can push a pregnant woman close to the edge, metabolically speaking.

Dunsworth calls this idea the energetics of gestation and growth (EGG) hypothesis. It suggests the timing of childbirth is governed by the difficulties of continuing to nourish a developing foetus beyond 39 weeks &ndash not by the difficulties of squeezing the baby out through the birth canal.

Dunsworth thinks people obsess too much about the tight fit between a baby's head and its mother's birth canal. It might seem too much of a coincidence that the two are so closely size-matched, but she says the pelvis has simply evolved to be the size it needs to be. Evolution could, in principle, make the pelvis larger &ndash but it has not had to.

For most of human evolution, childbirth might have been quite a lot easier

By and large, Kurki shares this view. "The obstetric canal is big enough, the majority of the time, for the foetus to pass through," she says.

This is true. But even so, take another look at the maternal mortality figures: 830 deaths every day. Even among women who do not lose their lives during childbirth, some studies say the process leads to life-changing but non-lethal injuries in as many as 40% of cases. The price women pay for childbirth seems extraordinarily high.

Wells agrees. "It's impossible to imagine the problem has been this bad over the long term."

Perhaps it has not. In 2012, Wells and his colleagues took a look at the prehistory of childbirth, and came to a surprising conclusion. For most of human evolution, childbirth might have been quite a lot easier.

The prehistory of childbirth is a difficult subject to study. The hominin pelvis is rarely preserved in the fossil record, and newborn skulls are even thinner on the ground. But from the meagre evidence available it seems that some earlier species of human, including Homo erectus and even some Neanderthals, had a relatively easy time of it when it came to giving birth.

A shift to farming may have led to developmental changes that made childbirth far more difficult

In fact, Wells and his colleagues suspect childbirth might even have been a relatively minor problem in our species &ndash at least to begin with. There are very few newborn baby skeletons among the human remains from early hunter-gatherer groups, which might hint that death rates among newborns were relatively low.

If there was a rise in newborn death rates at the dawn of farming, there were almost certainly several factors involved.

For instance, early farmers began living in relatively dense settlements, so transmissible disease probably became a far greater problem. Newborns are often particularly vulnerable when an infection is going around a community.

But Wells and his colleagues suspect a shift to farming also led to developmental changes that made childbirth far more difficult. A rise in infant mortality at the dawn of farming might be due in part to a raised risk of death during childbirth.

Human childbirth suddenly became more difficult about 10,000 years ago

There is one striking feature archaeologists have noticed when comparing the skeletons of early farmers with their hunter-gatherer ancestors. The farmers were noticeably shorter in stature, probably because their carbohydrate-rich diet was not particularly nutritious compared to the protein-rich hunter-gatherer diet.

This is a telling observation for those who study childbirth, says Wells, because there is evidence of a link between a woman's height and the size and shape of her pelvis. In general, the shorter a woman, the narrower her hips. In other words, the shift to farming almost certainly made childbirth a little bit more challenging.

On top of that, the carbohydrate-rich diets that became more common with farming can cause a developing foetus to grow larger and fatter. That makes the baby harder to deliver.

Combine these two factors and human childbirth &ndash which might have been relatively easy for millions of years &ndash suddenly became more difficult about 10,000 years ago.

Something rather like this "farming revolution effect" replays whenever human diets become poorly nutritious &ndash particularly if those diets also contain a lot of carbohydrates and sugars, which encourage foetal growth.

"We can make a simple prediction that the nutritional status of mothers should be associated with a local prevalence of maternal mortality and difficulties with giving birth," says Wells. The statistics clearly follow such a pattern, suggesting that improving nutrition might be a fairly easy way to reduce maternal mortality.

Pregnant women have adapted to nourish their foetus for as long as they can

Both Dunsworth and Kurki think that Wells has identified something significant in his work &ndash something that perhaps would only be evident to a researcher with the right background in nutrition and development.

"I'm so lucky that Jonathan is describing these complex issues from his perspective of human health," says Dunsworth. "At the same time I'm approaching the problem from my perspective of human evolution."

So we now have a new explanation for the difficulties of human childbirth. Pregnant women have adapted to nourish their foetus for as long as they can before it grows too large to feed internally. The female pelvis has adapted to be just the right size to allow this maximally-nourished foetus to travel through safely. And dietary changes in the last few thousand years have upset this fine balance, making childbirth risky &ndash particularly for mothers who have a poor diet.

However, Dunsworth says that is probably not the end of the story.

Washburn's ideas made good intuitive sense for decades, until Dunsworth, Wells, Kurki and others began to pick them apart. "What if the EGG perspective is too good to be true?" asks Dunsworth. "We have to keep searching and keep collecting evidence."

This is exactly what other researchers are doing.

For instance, in 2015 Barbara Fischer of the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research in Klosterneuburg, Austria and Philipp Mitteroecker of the University of Vienna, Austria took another look at the female pelvis.

A woman's pelvis takes on a shape more conducive to childbirth in her late teens &ndash when she reaches peak fertility

It seemed to them that Dunsworth's EGG hypothesis &ndash compelling though it is &ndash could actually be seen as complementary to Washburn's ideas, rather than disproving them entirely. Dunsworth agrees: she thinks many factors are involved in the evolution of modern childbirth.

Fischer and Mitteroecker investigated whether there is any correlation between female head size and pelvis size. Head size is heritable, at least to some extent, so women would benefit during childbirth if those with larger heads also naturally had a wider pelvis.

The researchers' analysis of 99 skeletons suggested such a link does indeed exist. They concluded that a woman's head size and her pelvic dimensions must somehow be linked at the genetic level.

"This does not mean that the [problem of childbirth] has been resolved," says Fischer. But the problem would be even worse if there was no link between head size and pelvis width.

And there is another complication: women's bodies change as they get older.

A May 2016 study led by Marcia Ponce de León and Christoph Zollikofer at the University of Zurich, Switzerland examined pelvic data from 275 people &ndash male and female &ndash of all ages. The researchers concluded that the pelvis changes dimensions during the course of a woman's lifetime.

Many babies are now born by Caesarean section

Their data suggested that a woman's pelvis takes on a shape more conducive to childbirth in her late teens &ndash when she reaches peak fertility. It then stays that way until around her 40th birthday, when it then gradually changes shape to become less suitable for childbirth, ready for the menopause.

The scientists suggest these changes make childbirth a little easier than it otherwise would be. They call this idea the "developmental obstetric dilemma" (DOD).

"The DOD hypothesis provides a developmental explanation for the variation in pelvic obstetric dimensions," says Ponce de León.

If all these evolutionary pressures are acting on childbirth, is the process still changing and evolving even now?

In December 2016, Fischer and Mitteroecker made headlines with a theoretical paper that addressed this question.

Earlier studies had suggested that larger babies have a better chance of survival and that size at birth is at least somewhat heritable. Together, these factors might lead the average human foetus to push up against the size limit imposed by the female pelvis, even though it can be fatal to push too far.

We all either did or didn't arrive in the world through a pelvis

But many babies are now born by Caesarean section, an operation in which the baby is taken out of the mother's abdomen without ever entering the birth canal. Fischer and Mitteroecker suggested that, in societies where C-sections have become more common, foetuses can now grow "too large" and still have a reasonable chance of survival.

In theory, as a consequence the number of women giving birth to babies that are too big to fit through their pelvis might have risen by 10 or 20% in just a few decades, at least in some parts of the world. Or, to put it in cruder terms, people in these societies might be evolving to have larger babies.

For now this is only an idea and there is no hard evidence that it is really happening. But it is an intriguing thought.

"We all either did or didn't arrive in the world through a pelvis," says Wells. "If we did, that pelvis mattered. And if we didn't, that in itself is interesting."

Ever since live birth evolved, babies have been constrained to some degree by the size of the birth canal. But maybe, for some babies at least, that is no longer true.

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Take action, especially if you feel your safety or the safety of others is threatened.

Follow your workplace’s policy and procedures for responding to violence and harassment, including reporting by witnesses.

If you are a worker, you can also report your concerns to your supervisor, human resources department, or the person designated by your organization. You can also get advice from your employee assistance program (EAP) if you have one.

Add a badge to your website or intranet so your workers can quickly find answers to their health and safety questions.


Our Brain's Negative Bias

By Hara Estroff Marano published June 20, 2003 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

The answer is, for the same reason political smear campaigns outpull positive ones. Nastiness just makes a bigger impact on our brains.

And that is due to the brain's "negativity bias": Your brain is simply built with a greater sensitivity to unpleasant news. The bias is so automatic that it can be detected at the earliest stage of the brain's information processing.

Take, for example, the studies done by John Cacioppo, Ph.D., then at Ohio State University, now at the University of Chicago. He showed people pictures known to arouse positive feelings (say, a Ferrari, or a pizza), those certain to stir up negative feelings (a mutilated face or dead cat) and those known to produce neutral feelings (a plate, a hair dryer). Meanwhile, he recorded electrical activity in the brain's cerebral cortex that reflects the magnitude of information processing taking place.

The brain, Cacioppo demonstrated, reacts more strongly to stimuli it deems negative. There is a greater surge in electrical activity. Thus, our attitudes are more heavily influenced by downbeat news than good news.

Our capacity to weigh negative input so heavily most likely evolved for a good reason—to keep us out of harm's way. From the dawn of human history, our very survival depended on our skill at dodging danger. The brain developed systems that would make it unavoidable for us not to notice danger and thus, hopefully, respond to it.

All well and good. Having the built-in brain apparatus supersensitive to negativity means that the same bad-news bias also is at work in every sphere of our lives at all times.

So it should come as no surprise to learn that it plays an especially powerful role in our most intimate relationships. Numerous researchers have found that there is an ideal balance between negativity and positivity in the atmosphere between partners. There seems to be some kind of thermostat operating in healthy marriages that almost automatically regulates the balance between positive and negative.

What really separates contented couples from those in deep marital misery is a healthy balance between their positive and negative feelings and actions toward each other. Even couples who are volatile and argue a lot stick together by balancing their frequent arguments with a lot of demonstrations of love and passion. And they seem to know exactly when positive actions are needed.

Here's the tricky part. Because of the disproportionate weight of the negative, balance does not mean a 50-50 equilibrium. Researchers have carefully charted the amount of time couples spend fighting vs. interacting positively. And they have found that a very specific ratio exists between the amount of positivity and negativity required to make married life satisfying to both partners.

That magic ratio is five to one. As long as there was five times as much positive feeling and interaction between husband and wife as there was negative, researchers found, the marriage was likely to be stable over time. In contrast, those couples who were heading for divorce were doing far too little on the positive side to compensate for the growing negativity between them.

Other researchers have found the same results in other spheres of our life. It is the frequency of small positive acts that matters most, in a ratio of about five to one.

Occasional big positive experiences—say, a birthday bash—are nice. But they don't make the necessary impact on our brain to override the tilt to negativity. It takes frequent small positive experiences to tip the scales toward happiness.


How Fear Works

To produce the fight-or-flight response, the hypothalamus activates two systems: the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal-cortical system. The sympathetic nervous system uses nerve pathways to initiate reactions in the body, and the adrenal-cortical system uses the bloodstream. The combined effects of these two systems are the fight-or-flight response.

When the hypothalamus tells the sympathetic nervous system to kick into gear, the overall effect is that the body speeds up, tenses up and becomes generally very alert. If there's a burglar at the door, you're going to have to take action -- and fast. The sympathetic nervous system sends out impulses to glands and smooth muscles and tells the adrenal medulla to release epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) into the bloodstream. These "stress hormones" cause several changes in the body, including an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

At the same time, the hypothalamus releases corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) into the pituitary gland, activating the adrenal-cortical system. The pituitary gland (a major endocrine gland) secretes the hormone ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone). ACTH moves through the bloodstream and ultimately arrives at the adrenal cortex, where it activates the release of approximately 30 different hormones that get the body prepared to deal with a threat.

The sudden flood of epinephrine, norepinephrine and dozens of other hormones causes changes in the body that include:

  • heart rate and blood pressure increase
  • pupils dilate to take in as much light as possible
  • veins in skin constrict to send more blood to major muscle groups (responsible for the "chill" sometimes associated with fear -- less blood in the skin to keep it warm)
  • blood-glucose level increases
  • muscles tense up, energized by adrenaline and glucose (responsible for goose bumps -- when tiny muscles attached to each hair on surface of skin tense up, the hairs are forced upright, pulling skin with them)
  • smooth muscle relaxes in order to allow more oxygen into the lungs
  • nonessential systems (like digestion and immune system) shut down to allow more energy for emergency functions
  • trouble focusing on small tasks (brain is directed to focus only on big picture in order to determine where threat is coming from)

­All of these physical responses are intended to help you survive a dangerous situation by preparing you to either run for your life or fight for your life (thus the term "fight or flight"). Fear -- and the fight-or-flight response in particular -- is an instinct that every animal possesses.


AI Bot Choice

Personally, I don’t permit people who aren’t me to make and enforce rules for me, it’s as simple as that. And I handle my own problems, so there’s really no purpose for police for me. I don’t want harassment or help from an uninvolved third party. The most important thing in life to me is to have absolute, unregulated liberty, even if it results in living in a more perilous world, that’s what nature intends for, man-made shit is completely invalid. So I’m just not going to grant or acknowledge any sort of authority over me, certainly not by another mere human who is no better or worse than me and has no true and naturally valid reasoning to do so. Our entire society as we know it is naturally invalid, it only exists because it’s comfortable for us, not because it’s correct. Controlling people’s behavior would be nice, but it’s completely wrong to do so. And it’s not like we signed up for this, we were just born into it and were told it’s “the way”, and most people aren’t intelligent enough to think critically for themselves and to challenge ideas based in “tradition”, or to control behavior on a mass level.

So I say all that to say that it’s absolutely natural to defy any semblance of authority, because authority is only a concept that exists in the human mind. And the bottom line is, while none of us signed up to live in this system (and don’t tell me to leave America, human-imagined authority is a problem literally everywhere habitable on the planet, it’s not like there’s somewhere else I can go to live as I see correct), these officers DID sign up to be police. If you didn’t know it was a potentially dangerous job, you need to get out more, and the police academy needs a more honest brochure. I 100% expect defiance from any human when confronted with supposed authority, the only thing that changes that is fear, whether that’s fear of being harmed or fear of being kidnapped and imprisoned against your will. Defiance is 100% a naturally correct response, you’ve been broken if you’ve lost that. Police, for better or worse, are trained for this. The onus is on them to either act correctly at all times, or pick another career path. Civilians are untrained, you can’t have the same expectations of them as police, who have clearly bought into this incorrect system so much that they wanted to actively be a part of it. So that’s all on the cops. Don’t discharge your weapon until a weapon has been fired at you, that’s the only way to do this somewhat right. If you aren’t up for that, sell insurance, learn to fix cars, be a fuckin’ landscaper, whatever, there are a bajillion other jobs out there. But humans need to learn that we have no entitlements in nature other than unbridled freedom. All that other shit about being entitled to happiness, safety, security, prosperity, or even survival, is fuckin’ fake news at its fakest.


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