Learning! Roundup: Good Looks Have Gone to the Birds, Probiotics Might Be Bad for You, Rating Alternative Therapies, and More!

A roundup of interesting research, including the fact that birds either look good or sound good, not both. Also, alternative therapies are evaluated and huddling is healthy!
Photo by Ricardo Porto.

Good Looks or Good Voice

My friend likes to say that when you're looking for a romantic partner you can get someone who has two of these three traits: funny, hot, and rich. Well, for lady birds the options are even more restricted: it seems male birds can have good looks or a good singing voice. Not both. Or to put it another way: some birds should just shut up and look pretty, while others have great personalities.

Probiotics May Be Worse Than Useless

You know how everyone tells you that probiotics are good for you? Specifically, your gut bacteria? Well, they are wrong, wrong, wrong! Turns out that probiotics not only have almost no demonstrated benefit, but they can actually do harm and should only be consumed by those with a healthy immune system.

A Guide to Alternative Therapies

Speaking of eating probiotics to make yourself healthier... I LOVE THIS! Want to know which alternative therapies have been shown to be useless, and which are actually beneficial? Consumer Reports has evaluated the research on all major alternative therapies, from acupuncture to zinc, and will let you know what's what. Among the "good" items: acupuncture, light therapy, and neti pots. In the "useless" pile: reiki, apple cider vinegar (which I have been using to wash my hair for years), and detoxing.

Bedtime Passes

This is a parenting trick backed by researchers: if you're having trouble getting your kid to stay in bed through the night, give them a bedtime pass. It allows them one (just one) free pass to get out of bed during the night. Apparently, it works just as well as ignoring your child (which works decently well) but it way easier on parents.


It looks like animals who huddle together for warmth also impact each others' gut microbiomes, and that's a good thing.

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