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I can't believe I can't do this!
September 30, 2009 11:15 AM   Subscribe

What can some people do that other people can't do? What can some see that others can't?

Think: Tongue rolling.
I'm looking for some simple, fun party tricks for showing neurological, psychological or physiological differences in people.
I know of a few for showing gender differences (bending chair lifting) and determining left or right brained (lining up a finger on a straight wall and alternating open eyes), but that's about it.
This is for a teen group, so no UR Gay (crazy, retarded...) pseudo psychological stuff. I just want to show that people have differences, and that is a FUN thing.
posted by Pennyblack to Education (129 answers total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
 
Raising one eyebrow.
Winking both eyes.
Touching your nose with your tongue.
I have a friend who can stick her shoulder blades out and raise and lower them individually. Freaky to look at, actually.
posted by yawper at 11:24 AM on September 30, 2009


A lot of it is just happenstance genetic-based stuff. Like the tongue rolling. Left/right eye dominance might be more nurture based (not sure), but there are other more nature-based things.

- Like how one crosses their arms. Do you cross with your left arm on top of the right, or vice versa? If you do it opposite of what you normally do, you'll notice how awkward it feels.
- Clasp your hands together. Which thumb is on top? Switching to make the opposite dominant also feels weird.
- Are your fingers double jointed? Can you bend only the tops of your fingers?
posted by hellomina at 11:25 AM on September 30, 2009


some people can curl their tongue into a tube. some can smush their tongue into a cloverleaf shape. some can do neither. some can do both.
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:26 AM on September 30, 2009


Ear wiggling.

Fully crossing eyes.

The Vulcan "live long and prosper" salute. (OK, most people can do this.)

Tasting PTC. If time permits, you can search for "PTC strips" and find places like this, or a local science shop, that stock them.

(And that finger-lining-up thing tests eye dominance, not brain laterality).
posted by maudlin at 11:26 AM on September 30, 2009


Touch your thumb to your wrist.
Wiggle your ears.

I can do neither of these. Sadness.
posted by misha at 11:26 AM on September 30, 2009


Rub stomach in circles with left hand, pat head with right hand.
There's another one that involves moving your leg around and writing the letter "S" in the air--can't find it at the moment.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:27 AM on September 30, 2009


Some people can hear the high-pitched whine of a TV tube. Some people get a wicked headache from it in fact.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:28 AM on September 30, 2009 [22 favorites]


Ear wiggling.

My husband can gleek (Gleeking [also gleeting, gleeping, glitting, gleaking, glicking, glanding, geezing] is the projection of saliva from the submandibular gland upon compression by the tongue. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleek_(Involuntary_spit)).

I can wiggle/flare my nostrils.
posted by Sassyfras at 11:28 AM on September 30, 2009


(When you do these tests, it's best to just make them do it, AND THEN explain. You want them to do what's natural to them, before they know what the trick is and over-think it.)
posted by hellomina at 11:28 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Raising only one eyebrow.
Raising only one side of your lip, Elvis-style.
Rolling R's (I cannot fucking do this).

Hold hand out flat, palm down, and bend just the first joint of your middle finger. And all sorts of other "double-jointed" fun.

Play a note on a piano and see who can accurately sing the same note afterwards.
posted by granted at 11:29 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Many people can't snap their fingers, or whistle.

I can whistle, but no matter how hard I try, I can't master the two-fingered LOUD whistle.
posted by np312 at 11:30 AM on September 30, 2009


Keel on the floor. Place a forearm on the floor, elbow at the knee, hand flat away from the body. Put a small item, like a matchbook or a tic-tac box on end at the tips of your fingers.

Now, still kneeling, clasp your hands behind your back. Try to knock the tic-tac box over using your nose.

Women will generally be successful; men will have bruised noses. It's all about how high your centre of gravity is.
posted by bonehead at 11:36 AM on September 30, 2009 [7 favorites]


(for what it's worth, determining your dominant eye has NOTHING to do with whether you're right or left brained... it's solely whether you're right or left eyed)

That said: the elvis lip curl. People might also notice if they're left or right... faced (e.g., the elvis curl, winking, squooching your mouth to one side of your face or moving your lower jaw to one side: most people are better at all of these things on one side or the other).
posted by brainmouse at 11:38 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you're also interested in simple traits as well as tricks, here's a link to a list of genetic quirks that might be relevant. Unfortunately it doesn't define all of them, but there are other such lists around, though this was the most comprehensive I found.
posted by granted at 11:39 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Enjoy cilantro. It has a soapy bitter taste to some.
posted by winna at 11:45 AM on September 30, 2009 [8 favorites]


ambidextrous writing, drawing etc
posted by canoehead at 11:47 AM on September 30, 2009


Some of us can't 'see' the picture behind the pattern. You know, these. Ugh. I'm one of those people who just cannot see what the "hidden" picture is. When I was a teen, these were popular for some dumb reason. I learned to just nod and say, "Yeah, cool, huh?" whenever one was present/being 'admired'. If I didn't, then whoever was with me would try to teach me to see it, which annoyed me to no end.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 11:57 AM on September 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


lining up a finger on a straight wall and alternating open eyes

How exactly does someone do this? Is there a name for this activity or instructions on the internet somewhere (wall eyes finger didn't yield much in google but walleye fish XD)
posted by royalsong at 11:57 AM on September 30, 2009


The Mosquito Tone Test is a ton of fun every time. So people can hear these frequencies, others can't, and it's absolutely crazy when some people are wincing from the high pitch and some are completely oblivious. The teens should be able to hear most of these, but I expect some differences at the highest frequencies.
posted by martens at 11:58 AM on September 30, 2009 [11 favorites]


royalsong: with both eyes open, and without thinking about it too much, point at something in the distance. Then, by closing one eye at a time, to determine which eye you actually used when you lined up your finger. This is your dominant eye.
posted by brainmouse at 12:00 PM on September 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Start with the Vulcan salute, then try to cross each pair of fingers. Most people can do the first 2 fingers (fingers crossed for luck) but not many can do the second pair.

Another one I saw - don't know what you call it:
Make your hand into the shape that you would use for shadow puppets (I guess that is putting the tip of your index finger onto the tip of your thumb to make a "mouth") then put the tip of your middle finger onto the back of the knuckle on your pointer to make the "eye" of the puppet. Now try to stack each fingertip onto the back knuckle of the previous finger (ring on top of middle, then pinkie on top of ring). Lots of people can't do that and make them stay.
posted by CathyG at 12:05 PM on September 30, 2009


I've noticed that some people squat (like, hunker down as far as possible, with backs of calves pressed into thighs) with their heels flat on the ground, and others do it with their heels off the ground, balancing on the balls of their feet. The people who do it the second way (myself included) can't squat with their heels on the ground.

I assume it's a flexibility thing.
posted by np312 at 12:05 PM on September 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


I thought that testing for footedness was fun.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:06 PM on September 30, 2009


In terms of people seeing things that others can't, some people who suffer from aphakia (damage or disease to the eye) apparently can see ultraviolet light.

An interesting place to explore this might be Art and Ophthalmology, the painters Monet and Degas were both thought to have eye conditions that affected their artwork.
posted by jeremias at 12:09 PM on September 30, 2009


bonehead's trick is a great one, and the one I was going to suggest.

The way I've hear the-leg-in-a-circle-and-draw-an-S thing is: move your foot in a circle clockwise and try to draw a 6 in the air with your finger. Your foot will start moving counter-clockwise. I think most people can't keep the foot going clockwise, so while it's a neat body trick, it may not work in your theme.

A lot of people can see those magic eye pictures, some people have to work at it, and some can't do it at all.

Colorblindness, though I'm not sure how fun that is.

To go along with the dominant eye, have them kick a ball. See if the dominant hand/foot/eye match up.

Fingerprints are always fun.

Here's another that's not really about differences, but it my favorite psych trick of all time:
Split the kids into two groups. Show them this video. Tell one group to count the passes by the people in white and the other group to count the passes by the people in black. Ask everyone if they saw anything strange in the video. The black counters should notice something that the white counters missed. Tell them what it was -- the white counters won't believe you. Show them the video again.
posted by natabat at 12:12 PM on September 30, 2009 [9 favorites]


It is believed some people are tetrachromats. That is, most of us have cones in our eyes sensitive to three colors: red, green, and blue. Human tetrachromats are, theoretically, sensitive to more (something between red and green). Studies suggest they perceive more color differentiation; colors that match to you and me would look different to them.

1 in 4 people can't smell cyanide (the bitter almond smell). For obvious reasons though I'd recommend not demonstrating this :)
posted by sbutler at 12:15 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Feed everyone some asparagus; later, ask who did or did not think their pee smells funny.

On second thought, that might come across a little weird.
posted by 2xplor at 12:16 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Curl your thumb and index finger joints without bending any other finger.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:17 PM on September 30, 2009


Asparagus Pee. Until recently I thought EVERYONE experienced this, but apparently not as my girlfriend doesnt get it. According to this LINK only 22% of the population gets it, which is just wild to me.
posted by Jenny is Crafty at 12:20 PM on September 30, 2009


Arms outstreched in front of you, palms up, pinkies touching. Women's elbows will tend to touch, men's not.
posted by rhizome at 12:22 PM on September 30, 2009


These are probably just a matter of practice, but two "hand" tricks I do that many people cannot are as follows:

1. Make the Vulcan "V" shape with your hand. Now, move the middle and ring fingers together, leaving the index and pinky where they are to make a "W" shape. Alternate between the two shapes as quickly as possible. Variation: Start in the "V" and instead of going directly to the "W", close your fingers first, and reopen them into the alternate shape.

2. Start with the thumb of one hand touching the index finger of the same hand, and the thumb on the other hand touching the pinky finger on its own hand. Touch each finger in sequence on each hand. Ex: index/pinky, middle/ring, ring/middle, pinky/index, ring/middle, middle/ring, index/pinky. Keep going for as long as you can, as quickly as you can. Make disappointed noises when you inevitable screw up.

Also, I can wiggle my ears, but that's been mentioned. It's awesome to watch others try, because most people end up just raising their eyebrows as high as they can and looking really surprised.
posted by owtytrof at 12:27 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Double-jointed tricks (I can "turn over" my elbows and bend all my non-thumb fingers at just the first knuckle, simultaneously)

Applying mascara/eyeliner with mouth fully closed (you'd be surprised)

Nose-twitching, like a bunny

Hearing 16MHz hum

Keeping a rhythm/tune
posted by notashroom at 12:28 PM on September 30, 2009


A friend of mine can lick his elbow. It's not a simple movement, he has to push his arm a little, but he can do it. That and touching his elbows behind his back.
posted by borkencode at 12:29 PM on September 30, 2009


You can also test for eye dominance. It's not related to hand dominance.

Individual: With your arms extended, make a triangle with your index fingers and thumbs, palms out. Look through the triangle with both eyes and focus on an object in the middle or far distance. Slowly draw your triangle-hands back to your face, keeping the object in view through the triangle. When your hands reach your face, you should be covering one eye with one of your hands, with the other still looking at the object. The uncovered eye is dominant.

In pairs: Stand ten to fifteen feet apart (~3 to 5 meters) and make the same triangle-hands. This time, look through the triangle and focus on your partner's head (the whole head should be visible). Your partner should only be able to see your dominant eye through the triangle. If your partner can see both of your eyes, just back up a little farther.
posted by clorox at 12:33 PM on September 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can do the thumb and wrist sign for Marfan Syndrome (and a few related disorders).

I also can stack my knees on top of each other instead of sitting cross-legged in the conventional way, which has frequently freaked people out over the years. It wasn't until I was in my 30s that I discovered that it's the basis for a yoga pose (though when I do it, my knees are stacked even more closely together, and both my heels come closer to my hips).
posted by scody at 12:36 PM on September 30, 2009


Writing your name in cursive, backward (mirror image)
Stand on one leg and pick a small object off the floor
posted by Acacia at 12:37 PM on September 30, 2009


Clapping one handed. (You basically just have to relax your fingers and then flip them against your palm very quickly. More of a wrist movement than a finger movement. I can only do it with my dominant hand, but some can do it with both!)
posted by sperose at 12:54 PM on September 30, 2009


Rolling your Rs.
posted by vickyverky at 12:57 PM on September 30, 2009


A know a silly one that might not be that accurate. Ask a man to examine his nails and he'll make a fist-like movement and look at his hands palm up. A woman will spread out her hand and look palm-down.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:05 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ask them to cross their arms. Then have them look around and notice that some of them automatically crossed them with their right arm on top and some with the left. Have them try to do the one that doesn't come naturally and see how weird it feels. A friend uses this one in her teen group for exactly the purpose you're looking for.
posted by MsMolly at 1:08 PM on September 30, 2009


My husband can gleek (Gleeking [also gleeting, gleeping, glitting, gleaking, glicking, glanding, geezing] is the projection of saliva from the submandibular gland upon compression by the tongue.

This can be quite a surprise if you haven't seen it, and in my experience most people haven't. Basically, if you curl your tongue back and push it against the roof of your mouth after yawning you can get a very narrow jet of saliva to shoot out of your mouth. I'm not sure how rare it is rather than people just don't realise it can be done. I can do it after yawning but a friend of mine when I was a kid could do it whenever he liked. Wikipedia says the yawning variation is more common. Try it! Possibly not in front of the kids, and ensure your mouth is not pointing at someone.

My other unsual skill is being able to count the number of letters in a word very quickly, which doesn't have a lot of uses other than for crosswords. I have had to learn to tolerate people who get told the number of letters then suggest a word with less or more letters. The chumps.
posted by biffa at 1:11 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Rolling your Rs.

And shaking your Rs?
posted by biffa at 1:12 PM on September 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


I can move both my left and right pinky toes independently of all my other toes. I've never met anyone else who can do that (not that it comes up a lot).
posted by peep at 1:13 PM on September 30, 2009


I can cross my eyes and then move either eye all the way over to the opposite side independently.

This is apparently gross/hilarious/icky/a very rare talent depending on the audience and their sobriety.
posted by ceri richard at 1:31 PM on September 30, 2009


There was a recent post on color blindness, but it might be a bummer for people to learn they're color-deficient.
posted by theora55 at 1:32 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Writing your name in cursive, backward (mirror image)

I knew someone who could write words upside down, effortlessly, without thinking about it at all. Give her any word, and she could write it. "A completely useless talent I was born with," she said.
posted by Melismata at 1:38 PM on September 30, 2009


Bend your pinky at the second joint from the top without bending any other finger. I didn't used to be able to do this, but now I can. Weird.

Hold both hands out, palms facing you and touching (at the pinkies). Do the wave starting at one pointer and ending at the other.
posted by soelo at 1:52 PM on September 30, 2009


Holding my hands flat and without bending my knuckles, I can bend the index finger of my left hand at both joints but the little finger only at the second joint; the first joint stays straight but loses all its strength and can't resist when manipulated. On my right hand, the first finger bends like that, and the little finger bends at both joints but can't bend without the ring and middle finger following it.
posted by nicwolff at 1:53 PM on September 30, 2009


Synesthesia.
posted by dave*p at 2:12 PM on September 30, 2009


I haven't seen Hitchhiker's Thumb mentioned.
posted by Aleen at 2:36 PM on September 30, 2009


Hearing high pitched noises.
posted by pompomtom at 3:28 PM on September 30, 2009


Some people can hear the high-pitched whine of a TV tube. Some people get a wicked headache from it in fact.

I'm one of those people. I've always been able to hear it from several rooms away too.
We use Sonic Welders at work, and I can hear them from a distance too, and if I am up close to them, the sound makes me sick.
posted by JonnyRotten at 5:01 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Touch your thumb to your wrist.

Wait, what?
posted by rokusan at 6:28 PM on September 30, 2009


This can be quite a surprise if you haven't seen it, and in my experience most people haven't. Basically, if you curl your tongue back and push it against the roof of your mouth after yawning you can get a very narrow jet of saliva to shoot out of your mouth.

This is amazing! My immediate surroundings are well on their way to being covered in spit.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:16 PM on September 30, 2009 [6 favorites]


If my hands are clasped behind my back, I can bring my arms over my head to my front, without separating my hands. Not in one smooth motion, but in a freaky spider-monkey double jointed manner. It is a talent that once won me a t-shirt when my local pub was hosting a freakshow contest.
posted by robotot at 8:17 PM on September 30, 2009


Touch your thumb to your wrist. Wait, what?

Yep.

Place your right elbow on a flat surface at mid-torso. Extended your right-hand at a 90 degree angle with palm facing towards your face. Extend the right thumb toward your jaw. Place your four left-hand fingers on the left-hand side of your right hand. Using your left thumb's first joint, place it on the same joint of your right hand. Press the right thumb to the point that it touches your right wrist. Touché.
posted by ericb at 8:58 PM on September 30, 2009


I can "pop" my ears -- on an airplane, or when hitting an altitude change, or just when I'm sitting around -- without holding my nose and blowing, or chewing gum, or using any of the conventional methods. I just move a little area near the roof of my mouth, sort of like wiggling my ears but right under my nose, and my ears pop. Maybe lots of other people can do this, but people I've mentioned it to look at me like I'm crazy.
posted by eschatfische at 9:02 PM on September 30, 2009


Touch your thumb to your wrist. Wait, what?

Video. Another video.
posted by ericb at 9:06 PM on September 30, 2009


I can wobble my eyes really fast -- basically vibrating them, I guess. I unfocus my eyes and then the action is kind of like clenching a muscle. People have to get pretty close to see it, but it really freaks people out. I've only known a couple other people who could do it.
posted by gurple at 9:22 PM on September 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Cross one eye at a time. (I learned I could do that when I was a kid who was trying to see how she looked in the mirror while cross-eyed.)
posted by jeanmari at 9:28 PM on September 30, 2009


Google: NLP games

(Too lazy to offer anything more than this drive-by link-toss.)
posted by Moistener at 9:35 PM on September 30, 2009


Rotate your eyes around your field of vision in a smooth motion. For example, look up, and move your eyes around the limits of your orbit until you're looking right. Continue around the edges of your vision smoothly and rapidly.

I can do it smoothly clockwise but only jerkily counter-clockwise, and it drives me nuts.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:50 PM on September 30, 2009


Cross one eye at a time.

I can only cross my right eye, but not my left, and definitely not both at the same time.
posted by deadmessenger at 9:51 PM on September 30, 2009


I don't know if anyone else can do this, but I use to get some laughs from kids by making my face turn red. I'd just sort of push and all the blood would rush to my face, my hearing would get all foggy, and my eyes would bug out a little. I can't breathe while doing it, but it turns my face a nice deep red.
posted by Axle at 10:07 PM on September 30, 2009


I can lick my elbow.

Also, like gurple, my siblings and I can shake our eyes.
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:39 PM on September 30, 2009


When I was a little kid I used to be able to blow air through my tear ducts. I'd take a deep breath, close my mouth tight and hold my nose, and then I'd press air out of my lungs, like when you to pop your ears. If I did it hard enough there'd be this tiny gurgly-pop of a few of the smallest air bubbles coming out of my tear duct, and I could even see them with my perfect little kid eyes. I could only do it for a couple of seconds. I think eventually one of my parents told me to cut it out and instead go play with the dry cleaning bags. Ahh, the 60's.
posted by tula at 10:40 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can clap with one hand. I forget exactly how I discovered it; probably around the same time my grandfather taught me how to snap and how to whistle.

Later, when I was still in elementary school, a friend shared the zen koan "Two hands clap and there is a sound; what is the sound of one hand?" with a group of us. I grinned, clapped with one hand and said, "there ya go!" They all looked at me funnily. I tried to teach them how to do it, but was the only one who could.

Because of that, for the longest time, I thought that koans were supposed to have solutions that were unique to certain people...
posted by fraula at 1:45 AM on October 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I can do the gurple eye thing -- when I was a little kid I used to do it and pretend I was in an earthquake. Never knew anyone else could do this. From now on, I will call this "gurpling".
posted by buzzv at 1:54 AM on October 1, 2009


I can lick my elbow.

Bah, that's nothing. I can lick your elbow too.

That thumb-to-wrist thing has me in pain now. I can't get anywhere close. Maybe three inches away. Wow.
posted by rokusan at 2:49 AM on October 1, 2009


I have known two people who could blow bubbles in their eyes. That is, by closing their nose with fingers and "blowing" out, their tears would bubble.

It scares children.
posted by rokusan at 2:50 AM on October 1, 2009


I can do the gurple eye thing too, as well as move my eyes independently (except of course they cannot look away from each other -- but I have no idea why not).

I can also do the wave with my eyebrows. :)
posted by strangeguitars at 4:03 AM on October 1, 2009


When I clean my ear with a Q-tip, I HAVE to cough. So cleaning the ear without coughing is something I can't do. (Also, my uncle suffers from the same abberation).
I can inhale through my teeth, while I in- and exhale through my nose.
I can't blow bubbles from my eyes, but when exhaling with my nose pinched, I and everybody is silent you hear a very faint whistling sound.

I just lay it on you, because you're gonna find out anyway. Clearly there is something wrong with my head.
posted by ouke at 4:33 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


'Later, when I was still in elementary school, a friend shared the zen koan "Two hands clap and there is a sound; what is the sound of one hand?" with a group of us. I grinned, clapped with one hand and said, "there ya go!" They all looked at me funnily. I tried to teach them how to do it, but was the only one who could.'

Do you mean that you slap your fingers into your palm?
posted by jaduncan at 7:01 AM on October 1, 2009


This is a stupid trick that I can do that most people can't (if it's a large group maybe one person can do it):

- Hold your arms straight out and cross your wrists (palms down).
- Rotate your hands slightly and clasp your hands, but do it backwards (palms together but with your right hand on the left side and your left hand on the right side).
- Rotate your arms so that your clasped hands are upright and your arms are crossed. Point out that there is now a small gap between your wrists, and the trick is that you will fit your head through that gap.
- Without unclasping your hands, tuck your right elbow above your left elbow (this is the hard part).
- Still without unclasping your hands, put your head through the (now larger) gap so that your hands are clasped behind your neck. The end result is the same as if you cross your arms and keep stretching until you can clasp your hands together.

It works best if you have everyone do the first three steps with you, and then explain what the trick is before you all try the last two. Some people can do it on the first try, some people can do it if they practice a few times, other people can't do it at all. If nobody can do it (including you) it's not a very impressive trick.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:21 AM on October 1, 2009


Some people (myself included) can make their palmaris longus tendon visibly move. It tends to gross some people out, and bore others. Here's a video of my tendon for your edification and enjoyment.
posted by greatgefilte at 7:49 AM on October 1, 2009


I can audibly snap the tendon that goes over my bottom thumb joint. No video, but I do get that squicked out reaction from people, heh heh heh. I can also hyperextend my elbows--they go slightly past 180 degrees when my arms are straightened. My son can dislocate his shoulders, but I've told him not to, as it is disturbing. As he's hit puberty since, I'm not sure if he can still do this. When he was in grade school, he used to freak out all the kids on the playground.

Also, and this may not be practicable in your group, but the ability to play songs quickly "by ear" on some instruments -- I can hear a song while it's being played, and be able to anticipate the changes and play along with it; or, I can remember a song from a long time ago, pick up a guitar, and figure it out on the fly. Lots of musicians tell me they're amazed that I can do this, but it just comes naturally to me.
posted by not_on_display at 9:37 AM on October 1, 2009


The top joints of six of my toes (the middle ones) bend much more easily in the 'wrong' direction. I think it's relatively common. It's nice because you can push them down and it feels like you're gripping the floor like a gecko or something.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 9:45 AM on October 1, 2009


I can dislocate my jaw on the right side of my mouth easily, and on the left as well, although usually only when yawning hugely. One time during a root canal, it got very firmly stuck open and I had to give it a good whack to get it back into place, much to the horror of my endodontist.

I assume this is so I can swallow my prey whole before going into a dormant period of digestion and tv watching.
posted by elizardbits at 10:28 AM on October 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh, I'm also one of those people who can dislocate my shoulders at will.

And the skin in my neck has ridiculous elasticity so that it looks like I'm pulling off a mask a la Mission Impossible when I tug on it.

My pinkie fingers don't move smoothly, but instead click into different configurations. (Not convenient for a flute player, fyi.)
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:56 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can hook my index fingers together in front of me, then essentially play "jump-rope" without a rope, using my arms without unhooking my fingers. (I can rotate my shoulders all the way around.) I'm pretty flexible all over, but especially in my shoulders.

I've never seen anyone else do it. I've heard a lot of people tell me they can do it, or that they know someone who can, but I've yet to see someone else do it. Anyone here?
posted by heyho at 11:37 AM on October 1, 2009


I can move my eyes independently, too, and can audibly crack my sternum. I can also write on my skin.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:36 PM on October 1, 2009


I can flip my eyelids, make that water drip noise, and grab my lag and jump over it with my other leg.
posted by jasondigitized at 12:43 PM on October 1, 2009


I can trill my whistling very rapidly to sound like a dinosaur from Jurassic Park.
posted by cowbellemoo at 1:21 PM on October 1, 2009


With enough advance planning, we could have the most awesome and creepy meetup ever.
posted by maudlin at 1:37 PM on October 1, 2009 [20 favorites]


Oh--ultrasonic whistling. I can whistle such that I can't hear it myself, but dogs can.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:46 PM on October 1, 2009


Some people can pronounce syllables that others cannot hear or distinguish. Like the word Tabla, and perhaps 'Ryu'.

With enough advance planning, we could have the most awesome and creepy meetup ever.

This fall on ABC - Whimsically Useless Parlor Trick Heroes!
posted by cashman at 1:54 PM on October 1, 2009


I can sit on the floor with knees out and feet together, and both knees can touch the ground without any strain. I'm told this is not normal.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:14 PM on October 1, 2009


Submitter here. Thank you for all these wonderful replies. I also apologize (yet take no legal or moral responsibility) for any injuries sustained as a result of this thread.
posted by Pennyblack at 2:50 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can sit on the floor with knees out and feet together, and both knees can touch the ground without any strain. I'm told this is not normal.

Yeah, me too. I can also put my feet behind my head. I can rotate my feet outward until they are basically facing backwards (a ballet student I know freaked out when I showed her this, since she found it initially a challenge to get her feet to point merely sideways.) But I _cannot_ do the thing that everybody does in gym class or whatever where they put their ankles behind their butt and lay back on the ground. So, I figure maybe my hip joints are 45 degrees out of whack or something.

And I can do the ear-opening-without-yawning thing. Pretty much learned that over the course of years by doing it _with_ yawning, then gradually suppressing the muscle movements that weren't helping. (I have some minor ear problems.)

Someone should make a checklist.

If my hands are clasped behind my back, I can bring my arms over my head to my front, without separating my hands. Not in one smooth motion, but in a freaky spider-monkey double jointed manner.

Hah. A kid in my english class in junior high school demonstrated that trick-- then about 5 minutes later, with little warning, he passed out cold (he was eventually okay.) It was quite odd, though.
posted by blenderfish at 2:51 PM on October 1, 2009


Crack their necks loudly enough to have people on the other side of a room cringe.
posted by HFSH at 3:12 PM on October 1, 2009


Height makes a difference to how people perceive the world. Short members of my family have no idea what the top of a fridge looks like.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 4:10 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can flip my eyelids, make that water drip noise, and grab my lag and jump over it with my other leg.

The droplet noise thing is great fun, and tends to utterly bewilder people who have never seen it done. A friend of mine taught me to do it in 6th grade english class. We spent the entire period driving the teacher crazy with droplet noises.
posted by dephlogisticated at 5:56 PM on October 1, 2009


If I prick a certain area on my foot, I get a very noticeable itch right below my navel.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:06 PM on October 1, 2009


A solemn

.

to my mother here.
While I was teaching myself the Vulcan "V" hand sign, she also convinced me that I could learn to raise one eyebrow, as she could. After 6 weeks or so, nurture triumphed. I still think about her, her mom, and Nemoy, every time I do it.
posted by Mngo at 7:55 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can wobble my eyes really fast

My uncle taught me, somehow, how to do this when I was very young. Since then, I've only met one or two people that can do the same. Ooh, more than one in the same place (online, anyway)!

Some things other people have mentioned:
I can jut my shoulder blades out and wiggle them around. I can do some pretty common things like whistling (many can't), raising eyebrows independently, wink either eye. My sister can move her eyes independently of one another, but that's a bit of a deformity in her case.
Also, I can "jump-rope" my arms, that is, hook two fingers from each hand together. Without letting go, step through them and bring them around, back over your head. It's unsurprising to note that I can pop my shoulders out without pain, on demand, as well.
posted by neewom at 8:08 PM on October 1, 2009


Re: Ear wiggling.

I don't consider this to be something you either can or cannot do. I taught myself to do it after years and years (and years) of practice.

I also trained myself to be able to do the Vulcan hand sign (my left hand took the most work), and to be able to cross each eye individually.

Don't give up! Practice!
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:05 PM on October 1, 2009


another gurple-capable human here. maybe its not so rare?
posted by joeblough at 9:12 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


CitrusFreak12 is right, ear wiggling is practice. I taught myself, since everyone else in my family can do it. I can do the vulcan hand with both hands (and so can my 3 yr old daughter without trouble), and raise my eyebrows independently. I can roll my eyes independently as well, look at your nose, both eyes go there, now look the other way with one eye. This took a few tries. I can also lay all my fingers on top of each other, put the pinkie on top of ring finger, ring on top of middle and then middle on top of index finger. It looks very odd but doesn't hurt.

The lotus position is another one of those knee torturing yoga moves that some people can not do.

Taste is a funny one. The cilantro phenomena could be similar/related to the genetic variation in taste perception for phenylthiocarbamide. I taste soap when eating cilantro.
posted by Mr.Roundtree at 11:14 PM on October 1, 2009


I can stop the hiccups when I get them. I have one or two hiccups, then with a shallow breath and a bit of concentration I stop them.

Usually the whole process is silent, causing people near me to wonder if I'm choking since I've suddenly gone quiet.

(something I learned as a child with terrible asthma, since the third or fourth hiccup would usually cause an asthma attack.)
posted by mmoncur at 5:25 AM on October 2, 2009


Cilantro tastes soapy to me too... which I didn't know until I had a pakora that tasted like dish soap. Didn't go well. PTC is bitter as hell and sodium benzoate is sickly sweet. High pitched noises and the air through the eye/tear duct thing happen too, but go away when I have allergies, which is a very handy early indicator before the migraines set in. The red face one I can do too, though it's my whole body and if I do it for more than a few seconds I pass out. Tongue rolling is easy.

I have no idea how people would go about testing for this, but there's a spot on my back where a fingernail can very lightly be dragged over it and I'll get a massive dopamine release. Way better than an orgasm. Of course, generally my breathing gets really slow then too which makes me sneeze. It only works if I'm very relaxed.

Don't forget Witch Skin. That was cool up until I'd go swimming. Every time I itched a scratch I'd end up with people trying to rush me inside for bandages because they thought I was bleeding.

Holding one's breath seems to vary by people as well. Some can't do more than 30 seconds and some are way over a minute. I could pull 5 minutes in high school.

Try sitting down cross legged and then trying to stand directly from that position. Rock back a bit and then thrust forward, and start pushing against the ground with your legs at that time. It looks a lot like those folding chairs with the X's on the legs. As you near the top you'll pivot 180 degrees so you're facing in the opposite direction. I can't do it with shoes on. You might need to sort of swing your arms with the motion to carry you through it in the beginning.

People with really bad vision can use their eyes as low power microscopes. That could be tested using a doc with different fonts from 1-10. I can make out 2 but get a headache. 3 is comfortable. That's what led to this. I used to get books from Project Gutenburg and print them out on a sheet of paper or two, double sided. Saved a lot of paper like that.
posted by jwells at 6:17 AM on October 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


I've taught MeFi a couple of easy--though not exactly foolproof--"mindreading" tricks here and here.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:23 AM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Along the lines of being able to hear high-pitched noises, some people can see high-frequency flickers on a CRT monitor. 60 Hz or slower is freakin' annoying to me, while the IT guy was like "You're crazy - there's nothing wrong with your monitor. But here's how you adjust the refresh rate anyway ... crazy lady"

Assuming you have CRT monitors, it would be really easy to set various refresh rates and ask the students if they notice any flickering.
posted by Quietgal at 8:35 AM on October 2, 2009


The thumb-to-wrist video I watched from above was disturbing and gross, but my mom can touch her thumb to her wrist simply by bending her thumb way backward without any pressure/assistance from the other hand, because she broke her thumb as a kid.

Another thing I thought of: apparently not everyone can use their toes to pick up objects from the floor (pencils, paperclips, hacky sacks, whatever), but I've been doing it since I was a little kid and my daughters do it too.
posted by notashroom at 1:20 PM on October 2, 2009


notashroom: we used to call that "Monkey Toes" in our house. My sisters and I had them, my sons and I do--my husband only sorta does and it bothers him!
posted by misha at 2:39 PM on October 2, 2009


Picking up stuff with toes - all the time, easier than bending over as you get older. Spock fingers, yes, and all the family too. One son can make an impressive sound like a pig with his mouth closed.

I saw a video of a woman who could talk comprehensibly with her mouth closed, something about how she projected her voice. That was pretty cool.
posted by mdoar at 3:42 PM on October 2, 2009


The squatting with your heels on the ground has nothing to do with flexibility. I'm very flexible and can't do it, while my husband is the opposite of flexible and can. I have no idea why but I'd love to know.

I can also pop my ears w/o doing anything but think about it. Not sure what I'm doing, but it is subtle because I don't have to move anything in an obvious way.

Oh, and same with the high frequency pitches - there are people who can't hear them?? Myself, husband and cat could hear them all just fine.

Apparently I have monkey toes and I had no idea there are those that can't do it.

What an educational thread!
posted by evening at 4:50 PM on October 2, 2009


I can do the rapid eye wobble thing. I'll have to try video taping myself as I've never met another person who can do it. I can also move my eyes rapidly in large circles, like a cartoon character.

Some guys can't stop peeing once they've started, or it's actually painful for them to try. I can stop and start so easily that I've demonstrated by writing my name in the snow with nicely separated letters.

I can raise and lower my testicles at will.

Beyond asparagus I can also smell potatoes, bacon, coffee, and some other things in my pee.

I'm 33 and I can still hear the high frequency sqeal of a CRT tube when it powers up in the next room. I'm also annoyed by most light bulbs when they're on dimmers... they make a really irritating high-pitched buzz that nobody else seems to pick up.
posted by autodidact at 1:39 AM on October 3, 2009


As an elementary school teacher I can assure you that the gurple eye-wobble thing is not particularly rare. Kids love to show it to grownups as they assume they've never seen it before and will freak out.

My student who could look up and outward with both eyes at the same time — that was unusual.
posted by argybarg at 6:42 AM on October 3, 2009


Quietly put on a pair of pants in a dark closet with a pocketful of change.
posted by Zambrano at 8:59 AM on October 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


I can make very convincing fart noises by squeezing my hands together.
posted by keijo at 9:46 PM on October 3, 2009


That whole class of IQ test problems where you need to match shapes after rotating them in space: some people have to work at it, some people have automatic visualizers that just play the rotation movie back without any conscious effort.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:32 PM on October 4, 2009


I can't make myself burp! (My girlfriend can, beautifully!)

I also can't make myself squirt a stream of saliva from the glands underneath my tongue. (Again, my girlfriend can.)

(Oh man, I wish I wish I wish I could do those things! My girlfriend is cool.)

"I can make very convincing fart noises by squeezing my hands together."
posted by keijo

There was a post on the blue about this!

posted by not_on_display at 4:06 PM on October 4, 2009


There is the "crooked pinky" genetic thing.
posted by 6:1 at 7:18 PM on October 4, 2009


I can also pop my ears w/o doing anything but think about it. Not sure what I'm doing, but it is subtle because I don't have to move anything in an obvious way.

Similar, or the same, I can "pinch" my ears to lessen the impact of loud sounds.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:54 PM on October 5, 2009


Pupil dilation at will. As long as it isn't too bright, I can cause my pupils to grow and shrink back to normal at will. I just let my eyes go out of focus towards infinity and my pupils open. Focus back in and the shrink down again. Like some other eye things you have to be close to see it.
posted by procrastination at 6:35 PM on October 7, 2009


2xplor and Jenny is crafty: everyone can produce asparagus pee but not everyone can smell it.

ouke: nothing's wrong with your head, that's your vagus nerve. I cough when cleaning my right ear with a Q-tip but not my left.
posted by jdfan at 3:38 AM on October 8, 2009


I can see my pulse pulsing, in my left wrist and the palm of my right hand. I don't know if this is normal...nobody else I know can see their pulse.

Also, I can touch all four of my fingers to my thumb around my wrist, including my pinky, with overlap of at least half an inch.
posted by crinklebat at 10:49 AM on October 9, 2009


I could always cross both eyes, and I actually learned how to only cross one independently of the other. If I remember, you hold your finger out in front of you and concentrate hard on looking at it with one eye (let's say the left), and with the other, keep staring straight ahead. You slowly move your finger to the right and follow it with that eye alone, until it starts to feel ...weird. You're not using your muscles in the normal way, so it'll feel strange but after some practice you'll be able to do it without the finger. Just remember how it felt when you did that, and reproduce it. It's great to use when talking to people - you start to cross one eye as they're talking and then say, "Hey, what's that over there?" and then look to your right "for real", and both eyes will end up looking in the same direction.
(Note that when I say "great" it means that they'll look at you like you probably need to up your meds. To be unappreciated in one's lifetime...)

I can roll my tongue, pop my ears at will (which comes in really handy on airplanes), and sometimes perceive visuals as sound, and vice-versa. Meaning I can look at something and depending on how dis/harmonious it is, or the shapes or angles of what I'm seeing, it'll make noise in my head so I see and hear it at the same time. Guess the last two aren't really great at parties.

You know how sometimes joints will make a little crack when you move them? My best friend can do that with this thumb, so if he clenches his fist, sticks his finger out and makes that gun-shape with his hand he can cock his thumb and crack it like he's shot someone. Kids love that one.
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:28 AM on October 10, 2009


One of my aunts could move her scalp from back to front "like a horse".
Strange that nobody claimed it yet.
posted by bru at 9:26 PM on October 11, 2009


some people have more tendons than others. Put your thumb against the tips of your middle two fingers, let your hand curl towards you, and push the fingers against the thumb. You'll either see one or two tendons sticking out on your wrist.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 1:45 PM on October 12, 2009


Pupil dilation at will. As long as it isn't too bright, I can cause my pupils to grow and shrink back to normal at will. I just let my eyes go out of focus towards infinity and my pupils open. Focus back in and the shrink down again. Like some other eye things you have to be close to see it.

OMG I do this too! But in bright light, to protect my pupils. My grandmother insisted I learn it so that I wouldn't squint in sunshine. She was anti-sunglasses, anti wrinkles, and weird. You can lose sunglasses, but if you can control your pupils, you don't have to spend the money. (Oddly, she did invest in a little plastic square to put in her windshield that blocked out the sun on the worst parts of her commute. I'm "addicted" to sunglasses now, because the pupil thing is exhausting, especially if you're also trying to drive. I actually thought it was normal and just something that I had to work extra hard at.)

I can wiggle my right ear. I learned that, gained entrance into the family ear wiggling club and didn't bother with my left.

I am genuinely ambidextrous, though "socially" left handed. And I can write backwards/upside down, great for labeling boxes without turning them.

I can knit backwards and forwards. This um, requires that your subjects be able to knit at all.

I read all the posts hoping to find someone else who can touch their elbows together behind their backs. Thankfully, I'm 28 and nobody asks me if I can do this anymore. (Um, ladies, you remember the guys trying to trick us into sticking our chests out and grunting? Guys? If you did that, we hated you for it.)


I can touch my feet behind my neck.

And for the finale, I can do a full advanced Camel Pose. Like this, except with my hands closer to my knees. And, knees cloer together. Freaks people out. Especially if it's their first time in class. Doesn't make me nauseated either. (DO not ask people to try this without at least the presence and full attention of a yoga instructor. I only do it in class, and only when I've had a chance to let the instructor know that I'm doing it. Coming out of it is 90% of the work for me, and I have had trouble getting out once or twice. I will not be responsible for any back injuries caused by this.)
posted by bilabial at 7:59 PM on October 12, 2009


1) "Rolling your R's" has two different components:

Tip-of-tongue-against teeth roll (Italian and Spanish)

Back-of-tongue-against-soft-palate roll (French)

2)Tie a cherry stem in a knot in your mouth.

3) The ZOOM elbow swing (Bernadette does this around .35)

4) Touch your nose with your tongue.

5) Open your eyes wide enough that the white shows all the way around the irises.

6) sit with the inside of your thighs pressed together, but each leg pointed away from you at the knee.

7) sit cross-legged but with both feet up on your thighs, not just one (standard yoga position)

8) Roll your belly muscles in a wave from top to bottom (c.f. Wayne's World)

9) Write the alphabet while counting to thirty out loud.
posted by tzikeh at 7:27 AM on October 14, 2009


oh - forgot -

10) Sing two notes at the same time. I can do this. Yes, it freaks singers right the hell out because it quote-isn't-possible-unquote.

Soooo... jwells - where, exactly, is this spot on your back? I'd like to try some, uh, hands-on research on that.
posted by tzikeh at 7:35 AM on October 14, 2009


Tangent: The best time to do the eye-vibrating thing is, um, in bed.

No, really. It's completely hilarious.

This assumes your unsuspecting partner has a sense of humor. If they don't, well, things may not go so well for you.
posted by aramaic at 6:51 AM on October 15, 2009


You know, I've never realized it till now but it's directly behind my heart. Might need to mention it to a doctor...

Another thing that seems to differ from person to person is a sense of balance in odd positions. My wife [ex-ballet, very flexible, etc.] got me to try Yoga for a bit and I was terrible at it, up till Crane Pose. She was terrified because of how bad I'd been and how hard it was for her, the Yoga expert, but I used to do it as a kid. Reflexively got into in and then started walking around on two hands like that. Easy.
posted by jwells at 9:07 AM on October 15, 2009


I can sit in the lotus position, and then lift myself off the floor with my hands and walk around a little bit. Also I can walk on my knees - holding my feet up to my bum. Hurts like hell when I walk though.
posted by divabat at 6:35 AM on October 18, 2009


I too can walk in a lotus position. I can gleek involuntarily. I have monkey toes. i make popping sounds with my wrist and also with my knuckles without cracking anything. I can burp on command. I can roll Rs with the best of them. I can cross one eye. (As well as both at the same time). I can move one eyebrow at a time. I can pop my back (vertebrae) by touching my toes. Speaking of which I can touch my toes without bending my knees -- and I'm a fat guy.

I have one spot on my back that has no hair, no dead skin, nothing to make me itch but itches much of the day. A normal scratch will make the itch stop, but it returns to the same spot, with no noticeable cause.

I can also make the goofy sounds George Carlin demonstrates in one of his earlier routines -- even the Spike Jones noise.
posted by grubi at 12:58 PM on October 19, 2009


I have several talented friends. One can close her nostrils. Another can fold his hand in half -- he can lay his fingers flat against his palm. And another friend of mine can rotate her arm 360 degrees -- ie, holds her arm out with the palm up, rotates once so the palm is down, then once again in the same direction so the palm is up again.
posted by emeiji at 7:56 AM on October 20, 2009


And another friend of mine can rotate her arm 360 degrees -- ie, holds her arm out with the palm up, rotates once so the palm is down, then once again in the same direction so the palm is up again.

That's a rare skill? Excellent! Something I can do!.
posted by pompomtom at 7:40 PM on October 20, 2009


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