This Is The Most Fun Way To Make Your Life Awesome (Pandemic Edition)

It was 1962, the girls wouldn’t stop laughing and nobody knew why.

And even stranger, the laughter was spreading. Like a virus.

This was at an all-girls school in Kashasha, Tanzania. A few students had started laughing and they couldn’t stop. And this inexplicable behavior spread from girl to girl until 95 of the 159 students were affected. After 6 weeks the school had to close because of it. But that didn’t stop the laughter.

It had already spread to a neighboring village, Nshamba. 217 more girls afflicted. And then it spread to Bukoba, “infecting” 48 more girls.

All told this “outbreak” lasted 18 months, closed 14 schools, and affected over 1000 children.

Sound crazy? It’s true. While certainly uncommon, this kind of thing is not unheard of. During the Middle Ages there were outbreaks of “choreomania” – uncontrollable, infectious dancing that spread throughout Europe sometimes affecting tens of thousands of people at a time. And, no, I’m not making that up either.

Viruses aren’t the only things that spread through networks of people. Attitudes and behaviors do too. Yale professor Nicholas Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, has studied how this works. A network can perpetuate anything in it: not just fads, fashion, and trends, but happiness, unhappiness, kindness and cruelty can also spread like a disease. When I spoke to Nicholas, here’s what he told me:

Read more here.

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