Disgust is such a powerful emotion, and so easily evoked. A single disgusting word or image can make most anyone feel queasy, but it also turns out to be a powerful driver of human behavior, influencing everything from who you love to who you'll vote for. This hour, we're delving into the new science of revulsion.
Valerie Curtis is a public health scientist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and she's part of a growing network of "disgustologists" who are pioneering the new science of revulsion. They're discovering that disgust is a powerful driver of human behavior, influencing everything how we vote to who we love.
It's believed that disgust evolved to help early humans avoid pathogens. These days, it shapes everything from our reactions to strangers to kinds of foods we like to eat. Psychologist David Pizarro studies disgust and moral reasoning, and he's discovered that revulsion is even tied to a person's political affiliation. Steve Paulson caught up with him to find out why.
Why is it that a dish can be a delicacy in one culture and loathsome in another? To find out, we spoke to Christa Weil. She's a journalist with a taste for what she calls "fierce food" -- food that's on the challenging side, like hakarl, the putrefying shark meat that's Iceland's national dish.
Edible insects are emerging as the latest food trend, with bugs popping up on restaurant menus all across the country. It's not just exoticism that's fueling their popularity -- due to their efficient growth rates, insects are being touted as an environmentally friendly alternative to factory farmed meat. A recent UN report even says that insects can help tackle global food insecurity.
Arnold van Huis is one of the report's authors. He spoke to Rehman Tungekar.
Biologist Merlin Tuttle has devoted his life to saving bats. As the founder of Bat Conservation International, he's gone everywhere to find rare species -- often encountering dangerous caves, crocodile infested rivers, and bandits along the way. He spoke to Steve Paulson about his latest memoir, "The Secret Lives of Bats."