The brain is a funny thing.
Have you ever looked at one? It looks like a bunch of fat Play-Doh snakes that some kid gathered up and plopped in a pile in a cereal bowl. Dump it out, and there's a brain - minus the dripping glop of Cocoa Puffs.
One of the latest scientific studies to prove that the brain really is made of Play-Doh involves choosing between routes when traveling.
When looking at a map and told to choose the quickest route between one that curls northward versus one that swoops southbound, most people turn south even though both routes are exactly the same distance.
Study director Tad Brunye, a U.S. Army psychologist, told ScienceNews that that's because in our minds, north is up, uphill is harder and takes longer, so south must be quicker.
I suspect body builders would choose north. They have fooled their brains into believing that the more they groan, strain and grunt, the stronger they become. Usually, it just makes them crankier.
The brain also isn't very smart at figuring out who's talking when given a choice between a guy with a carbon footprint versus a carved jalapeno mounted on a stick.
''Look!'' the brain shouts. ''That voice - it's coming from the jalapeno pepper on the stick. I can tell because Jeff Dunham's lips aren't moving. The jalapeno's are. Cool!''
It turns out that the brain locks in on moving mouths when figuring out who's talking.
Once, I was assigned to interview a ventriloquist who insisted that I talk to his puppet, not him. Back in those days, I worked out, so I was cranky. I refused to pretend that some cloth granny dummy in a mop wig could talk.
Within 10 minutes, I was addressing all my questions to the cloth granny dummy in a mop wig because her lips were moving, her arms were waving, her head was nodding and her eyes were blinking.
When I caught myself showing her photos of my kids, I realized who was the real dummy. It was my brain. Made of Play-Doh.
Hey, you think you're so smart? Then why are you staring at the people on TV talking? The voices are coming from the speakers off to the sides. But your Play-Doh brain attributes them to the visuals.
Other tricks: Point at objects in a room and loudly call them by the wrong name - it makes some people lightheaded; look at a boo-boo on your finger through the wrong end of binoculars, and because the finger looks smaller, the brain thinks it hurts less; or as you sit there reading this, lift your right foot and make clockwise circles, and while still circling, start tracing the number ''6'' in the air with your right hand - your circling foot will change directions.
How do you feel about your IQ score now?
As Army psychologist Tad Brunye says, we'll choose south simply because our brains aren't that logical.
Not so, said my wife when I told her about the travelogue study.
''It makes perfect sense,'' she said. ''Usually, it's colder up north. Cold means more bathroom breaks. And the need for more coffee to stay warm. Which means even more bathroom breaks. Obviously the northern route takes longer. Much longer.''
Hmm. Maybe we're smart after all.
Tease and taunt Cole's Play-Doh mind at firstname.lastname@example.org.