Atheism is genetic

Or is, at the very least, a developmental disorder linked to genetic causes:

The largest genetic sequencing study of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) ever conducted has found 102 genes associated with autism, a major step towards an eventual cure, which may involve genetic manipulation. Most of these 102 genes were expressed in the brain, and affect synapses or regulate other genes. This means they have important roles in switching other genes on and off.

Furthermore, 49 of these genes are also linked to other developmental disorders, underlining the fact that the neurobiology of many such conditions are likely to overlap.

I first postulated my hypothesis concerning a link between the autism spectrum and atheism back in  2007 in response to a post by PZ Myers at Pharyngula in which he and other atheists were bragging about their relatively high Asperger’s Quotient scores. I wrote: “Obviously, more comprehensive and scientific tests would be advised before any definite conclusion can be reached, but these initial observations do appear to indicate a possibility that atheism could be nothing more than a minor mental disorder.”

Since then, at least two scientific studies that were directly inspired by my hypothesis have found that there is a statistical correlation between atheism and the autism spectrum.

This new study indicates – it does not yet prove, but it indicates – that scientists will eventually be able to find a link between those 102 genes and atheism, which suggests that it is atheism, not religion, that will one day be cured by science. One should note that this genetic link also explains why atheism has never propagated very successfully from one generation to the next, as atheists tend to be very unfit in the evolutionary sense of natural and sexual selection.

So, don’t be bothered by your shower-averse, science-loving, fedora-sporting acquaintance who insists on quoting Richard Dawkins at everyone apropos of nothing. Just assure him that he does well to trust in science, as one day science will cure his genetic developmental disorder.


Falsifying the NPPN hypothesis

Here is a thought concerning the oft-expressed assertion that an overrepresentation in the number of Nobel Prizes awarded to individuals of Jewish descent is an indicator of Jewish intelligence, or what may be described as the Nobel Prize Per Nation (NPPN) hypothesis. What got me thinking about this was that on Russia Today, it was pointed out by a Los Angeles film critic that the film Jojo Rabbit, which has been nominated for six Oscars, is an average film that would never have been nominated for an award if its subject matter was not the Holocaust.

So, it should be possible to count up the number of Oscar nominations awarded to Holocaust-related films, then compare the Oscar nomination/Holocaust film ratio to the ratio of Oscars nominations given to all non-Holocaust films. My hypothesis is that the Holocaust film overperformance will actually exceed the reported statistical Nobel Prize overperformance of 99,900 percent, and thereby add additional weight to my statistical demolition of the ridiculous “115 average IQ” rhetoric.

I am not going to bother testing the hypothesis for the obvious reason that a) I have already proved what I wanted to prove to my own satisfaction, b) I don’t care who is, on average, smarter than whom, and c) I really don’t care about prizes, Hollywood, or Hollywood prizes. But if some film buff feels like putting in the effort, tell me how it works out and I’ll post the results here.

Of course, the most obvious disproof of the NPPN hypothesis is to simply turn the argument on its head. If it is true that a high ratio of Nobel Prizes per nation is a proof of high average national intelligence, then a low ratio of NPPN  must be a proof of low average intelligence. Since China only has 11 Nobel Prize winners despite having a very large population, (6.9 percent of its statistical share) and India has only 10 despite a population of 1.2 billion, (6.6 percent of its statistical share), the NPPN argument rests upon the idea that the Chinese and Indian people are considerably less intelligent than most of the nations on Earth.

It is also worth noting that although Jews are said to have won a total of 41 percent of all the Nobel Prizes in economics, there is no Nobel Prize in economics. It is actually the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, a prize that was established in 1968 by a donation from Sweden’s central bank, the Sveriges Riksbank, on the bank’s 300th anniversary and is not one of the prizes that Alfred Nobel established in his will in 1895.

Anyhow, the Nobel Prizes awarded to Barack Obama and Bob Dylan should be more than sufficient to demonstrate the total absurdity of the hyphothesis. The NPPN hypothesis is no more credible than the argument that the three greatest science fiction novelists are Lois McMaster Bujold, NK Jemisin, and Connie Willis because they have won the most Hugo Awards for Best Novel.

Neither credentials nor participation trophies are indicative of intelligence.


A linguistic blow to multiculturalism

It is becoming abundantly clear that not only is it impossible for people of different cultures to successfully live together, it is not possible to correctly understand cross-cultural communication even when both sides think they are speaking the same language:

Many languages have words whose meanings seem so specific and nuanced that there’s no way to translate them; they can only be imported wholesale. Consider the German “schadenfreude,” the pleasure derived from another’s misfortune, or “sehnsucht,” a sort of deep yearning for an alternative life.

Those kinds of emotion words often feel rooted in the culture from which they emerged, said Asifa Majid, a cognitive scientist at the University of York in England. She pointed to the feeling of “awumbuk,” which Baining people in Papua Guinea experience when their guests depart after an overnight stay. It leaves people listless, she wrote in a commentary that accompanies the study, something akin to a “social hangover.”

Yet many languages also have words that English speakers might think of as “basic” emotions — love, hate, anger, fear, sadness, happiness. Early theories, influenced by Charles Darwin and pegged to shared biological structures in humans, suggest there are certain universal emotions that serve as the source material for all others, as primary colors might be blended to create many new shades.

But just as later work has suggested that different cultures do not always categorize color in the same ways, there’s a growing understanding that even those supposedly “primary” emotions may hold their own meanings and nuances in different cultures that aren’t directly translatable.

Good fences make good neighbors. And strong borders make friendly relations possible.


Corporate junk science

It’s observably even worse than the coin-flip that is professional peer-reviewed science:

Three years ago, I put my faith in a 23andMe DNA test and got burned.

While most of my results initially checked out — about 50 percent South Asian and what looked like a 50 percent hodgepodge of European — there was one glaring surprise. Where roughly 25 percent Italian was supposed to be, Middle Eastern stood in its place. The results shocked me.

Over the years, I had made a lot of the Italian portion of my heritage; I had learned the language, majored in Latin in college, and lived in Rome, Italy, for my semester abroad. Still, as a rational person, I believed the science. But my grandmother, whose parents moved from Sicily to Brooklyn, where she was born and grew up speaking Italian, refused to accept the findings.

Fast forward to this summer, when I got an email about new DNA relations on 23andMe and revisited my updated genetic results, only to find out that I am, in fact, about a quarter Italian (and generally southern European). But it was too late to tell my grandma. She’s dead now and I’m a liar.

Nonna was right to reject the “science”. The science, as is all too often the case, was flat-out wrong. Logic and evidence now dictates that if the science smells off, that’s probably because it is.


The complete failure of science

It’s a good thing everyone ignored Richard Dawkins when he urged the replacement of eyewitness testimony with that infallible metric of truth, SCIENCE! Can you imagine the miscarriages of justice that would have taken place if science had been installed as the basis for our legal system back when Dawkins was calling for it?

We tend to think of science as a dispassionate (impartial, neutral) search for truth and certainty. But is it possible that we are facing a situation in which there is a massive production of wrong information or distortion of information? Is it possible that certain scientific disciplines are facing a crisis of credibility? Mounting evidence suggests this is indeed the case….

In 2011, researchers at Bayer decided to test 67 recent drug discoveries on preclinical cancer biology research. In more than 75 percent of cases, the published data did not match their attempts to replicate them.8 In 2012, a study published in Nature announced that only 11 percent of the sampled preclinical cancer studies coming out of the academic pipeline were replicable.9

In the prestigious Science journal, in 2015, the Open Science Collaboration10 presented a study of 100 psychological research studies that 270 contributing authors tried to replicate. An astonishing 65 percent failed to show any statistical significance on replication, and many of the remainder showed greatly reduced effect sizes. In plain terms, evidence for original findings is weak.

A discovery in physics, the hardest of all hard sciences, is usually thought of as the most reliable in the world of science. However, two of the most vaunted physics results of the past few years—“cosmic inflation and gravitational waves at the BICEP2 experiment in Antarctica, and the supposed discovery of superluminal neutrinos at the Swiss-Italian border—have now been retracted, with far less fanfare than when they were first published.”

This link is from 2016. The situation has since only gotten observably worse.


That’s NOT a defense

If your argument that the science is wrong and women are too funny relies upon Sarah Silverman, then you’ve got no chance at all:

We then calculated sex differences on the combined sample and found that men were, overall, rated as funnier than women. How big was the difference? In statistical technical terms, the effect size was 0.32, or roughly one-third of the standard deviation. In plain English, this means that 63 percent of men score above the mean humor ability of women. This is considered a small to medium difference.

We also looked for a long list of possible confounding variables that might explain the difference. The countries where the data come from, the sex of the authors doing the research, age of participants, whether there were more men or women judging the humor—none of it made a difference in our analysis.

What does it all mean? It means that to the best of our knowledge, on average, men appear to have higher humor production ability than women. Note that I emphasized the word average because the study does not mean, as Christopher Hitchens famously proclaimed, that women are not funny. The fact that men, on average, appear to be funnier than women, does not imply that every single man is funnier than every single woman. There are many great female comedians such as Sarah Silverman, Tina Fey, Ali Wong and historically, Lucille Ball, Joan Rivers, and many, many more. All these great comedians are funnier than 99.9 percent of all men.

As a general rule, men perform for women rather than the reverse. So it should hardly be surprising, or controversial, that the average man’s ability to do so is considerably more honed than the average woman’s.

Needless to say, female comedians are taking it well.

“I really think it’s unnecessary to do this study,” Marina Bye, a female comedian, told BBC. “They could have done something progressive.”


What else has NASA lied about?

I have to admit, I’ve never been particularly drawn towards Moon landing skepticism, but the way in which NASA is obviously lying about historical global temperatures is making me increasingly dubious about the notion that they’re telling the truth about anything else:

Retired Principal Scientific Officer (PSO) for the British Government exposes “discrepancies” in NASA’s Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN) which serve to make recent temperatures seem warmer. The “mistakes” point to possible fraud intended to give scientific credence to tax-raising UK and US climate policies.

The unnamed source, now retired from the UK Scientific Civil Service and speaking exclusively to Principia Scientific International (PSI), was so disturbed by the “tampering” of government temperature records that he performed his own verification tests and exposed a shocking anomaly that turns the global warming narrative on its head.

The highly qualified whistleblower reveals that he downloaded the raw station data from NASA/GISS gridded land anomaly products and compared them with the anomalies.

It’s a little ironic that NASA’s attempt to rely upon their scientific credibility to sell a fake science scam is causing more and more people to doubt the reality of its greatest achievement.


The clearing of the Amazon

The Amazon rainforest is disappearing, or so we’re told:

An area of Amazon rainforest roughly the size of a football pitch is now being cleared every single minute, according to satellite data. The rate of losses has accelerated as Brazil’s new right-wing president favours development over conservation.

Okay, so let’s walk through the math.

  • Amazon rainforest = 5,500,000 square kilometers
  • Football pitch (max) = 120 meters x 90 meters = 10,800 meters
  • Square kilometers of Amazon cleared every single minute = .0108
  • Minutes until Amazon is entirely cleared = 509,259,259 minutes
  • Number of minutes in a year = 525,600
  • Years remaining to Amazon rainforest = 968

So, clearly not a problem for anyone living today, unlike immigration. And, as it happens, this reported clearance rate is actually very good news for those of us who are both ecologically conscious and numerate, as it means the rate of rainforest clearance has declined by 98 percent since 2013.

The first global, high-resolution, satellite analysis of global deforestation revealed that since 2000 an area equal to 50 football pitches has been destroyed every minute. The total loss is 10 times the area of the UK, with only a third being replaced by natural and planted reforestation, and the destruction is accelerating in the tropics.

So, if  .18 square kilometers are being replaced by natural and planted reforestation every minute and .0108 is being cleared, the Amazon will last a lot longer than 968 more years. Indeed, it appears that it is actually growing.

And even that is an improvement from 2008, when we were told that 120 football pitches were being destroyed every minute.

The current rate of rainforest destruction is the equivalent of two football fields every second. That adds up to 33.8 million acres a year. Official Brazilian government data shows that 3,500 sq km of forest were lost between August and December last year, but it is thought that the real figure might be double that. Rising prices for cattle, soy and other commodities are increasing the value of deforested land, so we can expect deforestation rates to increase accordingly.

Always do the math. And thank Sting and Mrs. Sting for saving the Amazon. The numbers make it very clear that their Rainforest Fund has saved the planet by reducing the rate of rainforest clearance to less than one percent of its previous rate.


Paper vs blood

Paper Americans discover that not everyone is inclined to pretend that paper is thicker than blood:

Two young Americans, Victor and Cynthia Liu, are “trapped” in China, increasingly desperate and despondent because Chinese authorities have blocked them from leaving for more than a year.

“They are trapped. They are alone. They are desperate to come home,” David Pressman, the siblings’ New York-based attorney, told USA TODAY. “They are literally breaking down.”

The Lius are subject to a so-called “exit ban,” and they’re not they only ones.

Another American citizen, Huang Wan, says Chinese officials are using a “fake” legal case to prevent her from returning to the United States. An Australian resident, Yuan Xiaoliang, has been barred from leaving China for more than eight months, and her husband, an Australian citizen, has been arrested on suspicion of spying, according to Australia’s foreign minister.

The State Department has warned Americans about China’s growing use of exit bans – stating in a Jan. 3 travel advisory that Chinese authorities have sometimes used exit bans to keep Americans in China for years…. Thomas Kellogg, executive director of the Center for Asian Law at Georgetown University Law Center, said China has long used exit bans to stop its own citizens from leaving the country, particularly human-rights activists or other dissidents. But authorities are increasingly using the tactic to harass Americans and other foreign nationals, particularly those of Chinese descent, he said.

What defines a man? Is it is his paperwork? Or is it his DNA? It’s extremely informative to see who is on the side of science and the truth and who is not. The obvious and relevant logic dictates that one cannot simply declare a Chinese man to be an “American” due to his beliefs any more than one can declare a man to be a “woman” or a “fish” on that basis.


Coin flips are more reliable than science

The reproducibility crisis in scientistry is even worse than we science skeptics had thought.

Science is facing a “reproducibility crisis” where more than two-thirds of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments, research suggests. This is frustrating clinicians and drug developers who want solid foundations of pre-clinical research to build upon.

From his lab at the University of Virginia’s Centre for Open Science, immunologist Dr Tim Errington runs The Reproducibility Project, which attempted to repeat the findings reported in five landmark cancer studies.

“The idea here is to take a bunch of experiments and to try and do the exact same thing to see if we can get the same results.”

You could be forgiven for thinking that should be easy. Experiments are supposed to be replicable.

The authors should have done it themselves before publication, and all you have to do is read the methods section in the paper and follow the instructions.

Sadly nothing, it seems, could be further from the truth.

After meticulous research involving painstaking attention to detail over several years (the project was launched in 2011), the team was able to confirm only two of the original studies’ findings.

Two more proved inconclusive and in the fifth, the team completely failed to replicate the result…. According to a survey published in the journal Nature last summer, more than 70{ca04638509ab7618004169842ba062d20ec7073b69e1f0489735ce6a44ff3be4} of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments.

Science is not a metric for truth or reality. One should NEVER rely upon scientists’ opinions about anything, because when science is actually reliable, we call it ENGINEERING.

When the gold standard is forty percent, you might as well rely upon flipping a coin.