Yawning. I don't get it. Why do we do it? Who knows? The idea that it helps get oxygen to your brain makes sense, because it does seem to wake me up. But I often yawn when I don't want to be more awake, so that's kind of annoying. I'm not the early to bed kind of guy anyway, and don't need for something to come along and wake me up just as I'm finally getting tired.
But looking at the Yahoo mainpage, I saw this story teaser for an ABC News video:
New research challenges the common theory that yawns are triggered by a need to replenish oxygen.
And what is this new theory? Brain air conditioning. This yawn expert of theirs maintains that we yawn when our brains overheat and need to cool down. He went on to suggest that, far from being an insult showing boredom, yawning actually shows that the person is so interested in what you're saying that they need to cool down. It's my guess that this theory was first suggested to him by one of his lab assistants who kept "overheating" every time this guy spoke.
And while I'm willing to acknowledge that this theory is possible, I have some real problems with it. Most of all, why do we yawn when we're tired and inactive, and not when we're active and hot? You'd expect to see joggers doing it all the time, if heat was the issue. Or during the middle of the day, when you're really busy. But no. It only seems to happen when you're really bored or tired, and would seem to be a way to make you more active, not less so. Like your brain is shutting down and needs a breath of fresh air to awaken it. And that would fit in with the traditional explanation of yawns. At no point in the story did they explain this obvious contradiction, or even suggest that it was a mystery.
And does yawning happen in overheated brains and do yawns cool them off? I have no idea. But based upon the feeble research they showed in the video, this researcher doesn't know either. When I first saw the story, I expected to see fancy MRI scans or thermal imaging or something. Instead, the research involved people watching videos of yawning people while holding hot or cold things to their heads. And he found that people holding hot things yawned and people holding cold things did not. And while that is scientific, I was kind of hoping for something a little more. You know, like showing hot brains being cooled off by yawns and cold brains not wanting to yawn.
But no matter, ABC News is convinced. After the segment, their witty news people sat around discussing the issue as if it's now settled fact. Finally, yawns are solved. Have these people no idea of how science works, that they'd allow one dude who calls himself a yawn expert to dictate the answer based upon one test? I don't know if that yawn expert considers the issue absolutely closed, but those news people sure did. Is it really any wonder these people were so easily convinced of the need to allow the Bushies to do whatever the hell they wanted? All these people care about is finding the answers. They could care less if the answers make any sense.
And wow, I forgot what I was missing with television news. They started the segment with a pointless voice-over while showing funny movie clips of people yawning. Because I had no fricking idea what a yawning person looked like. But that's not why they showed it. They knew that my attention span was much too short to watch such a hard hitting news story like this without at least a half-dozen funny clips to keep my attention. And The Simpsons, they yawn too. How important. I can't believe all the time I waste reading news at Talking Points and Carpetbagger, without getting even one funny voice-over movie montage. No wonder all my political opinions are so unserious. Not enough hilarity.