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Magical Science

Good news and bad news.

Good news: My fourth Cracked article is live!

Bad news: The only entry (about “captured lightning”) I have contributed to this co-write has been cut from the final article. This means that I’m one of the authors in name only. I’m apparently doing a good job of leeching off other people’s articles.

In any case, the article is full of crazy magic tricks that are made possible by science, fission flux-transistors, voltage saturation regulators, and other fake-but-sciency-sounding words.

Enjoy: “5 Amazing Magical Powers Created by Simple Science

On a side note, our honeymoon is coming to an end. I’ll be back in Denmark this coming weekend to pester you once again. Rejoice.

Pen Orange

No “thank you” gifts, please

My third Cracked article, about gift giving, ran a few days ago.

While not gathering over a million views, it did reach a modest 10th most viral Cracked spot for a while.

Everybody loved the article.

Well, almost everybody:

Christmas Troll 1

Christmas Troll 2

  Other than that, everyone really liked the–:

Christmass Troll 3

Right. So a few self-proclaimed “men’s rights activists” took issue with some “anti-men” jokes in the article (that weren’t even mine to begin with), and decided that the best use of their Christmas holidays was to post personal insluts on my social media accounts. Yeah, keep fighting the good fight, guys. The oppressed men of the world need your help to survive the tyrannical reign of modern women.

As mentioned, one of my entries didn’t make it into the final article. Now, just as I have done in the past, I share that cut entry with you. Happy holidays.

“Thank you” gifts make people less altruistic

What we think

Say you run a charity, collecting donations for homeless people, war veterans, or your upcoming wicked block party. How do you get people to donate more money? Sure, you can appeal to their sense of compassion, but let’s face it: Most people are selfish. Plus there are countless other charities out there, and some of them even arrange better block parties.

You need something to elevate yourself above the rest. So you announce that everyone who donates will get a free pen (because you’ve forgotten that you live in an age where computers exist). People like free stuff, so surely they will be more likely to give you money if they get something in return.

At the very least it can’t hurt, right?

The truth

It can hurt. Two Yale researchers put the practice of offering thank-you gifts to the test. They ran no fewer than six separate experiments, because why stop after the first one like a quitter?

The result? People who were promised a thank-you gift in return for their donation were actually likely to give a smaller amount than those expecting no such gift. This result was unaffected by factors such as familiarity with the charity, desirability of the gift, or the sexiness of the researchers’ outfits (I’m reading between the lines on that last one). People would always donate less when expecting a thank-you gift.

So what the hell is going on? Do people hate free pens?

The researchers believe this behavior is due to a so-called “crowding out” effect. Put simply: thank-you gifts mess with people’s feelings of altruism. Donors become uncertain about their motivation for donating—are they doing it because they’re good people, or just to get that coveted pen? Yes, the human mind is that easily confused.

This research also found that the effect can be diminished by re-framing the gifts to appeal to people’s sense of altruism. For example, you could put your charity’s logo on the gift and tell people that them using it will help spread awareness of your cause.

Or, you could just be a cheapskate and keep all those precious free pens to yourself. You know you want to!

Red Gift Package

Gift giving is a science

You thought your grandpa liked that singing fish you gave him? The one that sounds like a demon from another dimension? Think again!

My third Cracked article shows you exactly how terrible we are at the whole “giving gifts” thing.

I can’t claim much credit for this article, though. I have only contributed two entries to it, and only one of them made it into the published article. And it was heavily edited (read, “re-written”). So all credit goes to sir Alan Boyle and, as always, the awesome Cracked editors.

Now go learn just how useless we humans are with gifts:

5 Weird Psychological Dangers of Giving People Gifts

Green Chemical In Beaker Exploding

Chemical Reactions You Don’t Want To Miss

Remember that time in chemistry class when you tried creating a smoke monster from Lost? And then you ended up burning down the chemistry lab and that nerd Bob had to get seven stitches in his earlobe?

Me neither. I wasn’t even in your school. Leave me out of this.

Now’s your chance to relive the memory that you don’t have. My second article just went live yesterday. It’s about chemical reactions. It will make you want to grab random household chemicals and create indoor fireworks. I advise you to resist the urge, but if you don’t—I want video proof.

Go read: 7 Mind-Blowing Chemical Reactions You Won’t Believe Are Real

What are you standing around for? Those explosions aren’t going to happen by themselves. Go!