His Blood was a Powerful Snakebite Serum

By Anupum Pant

Background

Trust me, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke. Bill Haast, born in the year 1910 was one very interesting person. He was a man who was immune to the bites of some of the world’s most dangerous snakes like cobras, vipers (and others). He was the only person to have survived 3 king cobra bites. He even survived the bite from a blue krait (the snake died). Not just that. His blood was treated as a powerful snakebite serum. He also saved countless lives simply donating his blood. Was it a superpower of some sort?

Did you know? Venom and Poison are not the same things.

How?

Maybe you could call it that. But, the superpower did not happen spontaneously. He did it to himself. He turned himself into a human experiment (at the cost of his life) to attain this level of resistance to snake venom.

His secret: Bill Hast, bitten by snakes more than 170 times, in his time, was a man who was bitten by poisonous snakes more times than any other living man. But those were mostly accidents that happened when he handled snakes during his career with snakes, a career that lasted more than 60 years. He built antibodies in his blood by voluntarily injecting snake venom every week since 1948! When he started doing this to himself, he did not know if he’d survive.

However, the man went on to hit 100 years of healthy life. Look at how he moves around at the age of 88. (Certainly not as agile as the 86-year-old gymnast – the super grandma. No one beats that!). He died on June 15, 2010.

His job: His real occupation was to collect venom to make anti-venom serums. He owned about 10,000 snakes. He collected the venom by repeating the process thousands of time (at the same time he was kind to the snakes). For drug companies in the year 1990, he was the source for 36,000 samples of venom.

Did you know? There is a Wasp that turns a cockroach into a zombie with its venom!

The other side of it

Of course the superpower came with a cost. In the video, you can see how had gnarled, he had lost the use of couple of muscles in his hand and had scars all over. He did it all with good intentions in mind, not for the money. Bill Haast, certainly was a legend.

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Halo Effect – Helping You Make Poor Judgements

By Anupum Pant

Despite being well aware of the adage – “Don’t judge a book by its cover” – our not-so-smart-brains fail us on this every time. Unknowingly, humans are prone to the Halo effect. And they’ll even deny that this harmless looking effect was what led them to make a wrong judgement about someone or something.

Halo Effect: In simple terms, we create a whole fake image about anything in our minds, based on a single trait.  For instance:

  1. Don’t you thing Steve Jobs must have been a perfect human being in person? I’m not saying he wasn’t, may be he was. Assuming you never met him, what made you construct that image of his, in your mind? Probably his warm, friendly presentations. Or it is even possible that the seemingly flawless physical designs of Apple products did that trick. Often marketers use this effect to create a warm image of themselves in the audience’s mind by saying little of any substance.
  2. By the good looks of this website, which I’ve made sure are really good, you’d unknowingly judge it as a page presenting you with quality content. You might do this without even looking at the content. May be it really is good content in this case, but it isn’t always.
  3. A well known brand that releases good commercials is often believed to be a quality brand. You’d feel no pain in shelling out thousands of bucks for a simple pair of shoes, saying it is a good quality shoe and will last long. There is a chance that you’ve never really looked deeper into the quality of the shoes this company makes. You’ll simply trust them because of the world-class commercials they come out with – which of course are only a result of outsourcing of creative work to a professional company. Which is not to say that the company really does make poor quality shoes. May be it doesn’t. But you just made a snap judgement without enough information.

The name Halo effect:
Its called the Halo effect because of this general tendency among us to make a snap judgement about the overall good traits of a person by just looking at a halo painted on top of their heads (one good trait of their’s).

But here is the catch, it works both ways:

Suppose you dislike one thing about something, you’ll build an image of “bad” around it, in your mind. This has been tested widely and it is true. People unknowingly do it and don’t realize why they did it. Moreover they’ll deny that it affects them.

Suppose you go to a restaurant and see that there is nothing fancy inside – naked tables, poorly dressed waiters and shabby flooring – you’ll never expect tasty food coming out of its kitchen.

Same thing happens with poorly designed websites. The content isn’t considered credible if they don’t look good. That is one reason, I take time to muster up good-looking images for my featured section.

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