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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY

There's a Fly in My Urinal

from National Public Radio

This will have to be a guys-only experience, but should an urgent need send you to the men's room at Terminal Four at JFK Airport in New York, or to the men's rooms at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, or to any number of stadiums, or--for any 10-year-old boys reading--to more and more elementary school bathrooms all over America, you may see, right above the drain, a perfect facsimile of a house fly.

No, it's not a real fly. It's a drawing, baked into the porcelain bowl. Or it may be a peel-and-paste decal attached to the bowl. There has been a worldwide proliferation of urinal flies, observed May Berenbaum, head of the department of entomology at the University of Illinois in her new book The Earwig's Tail. Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein also noted the spread in their book Nudge.

"They've been spotted in Moscow, Singapore," Thaler says. He thinks he knows why. The presence of a fly in a urinal literally changes human behavior, he thinks--or at least the behavior of human males.

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