DNA Evidence That Humans & Chimps Share A Common Ancestor: Endogenous Retroviruses

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Posted by on August 2, 2022 in creationism, Evolution


Ivermectin: Much More Than You Wanted To Know

Confound it!
The Summary
  • Ivermectin doesn’t reduce mortality in COVID a significant amount (let’s say d > 0.3) in the absence of comorbid parasites: 85-90% confidence
  • Parasitic worms are a significant confounder in some ivermectin studies, such that they made them get a positive result even when honest and methodologically sound: 50% confidence
  • Fraud and data processing errors are of similar magnitude to p-hacking and methodological problems in explaining bad studies (95% confidence interval for fraud: between >1% and 5% as important as methodological problems; 95% confidence interval for data processing errors: between 5% and 100% as important)
  • Probably “Trust Science” is not the right way to reach proponents of pseudoscientific medicine: ???% confidence

Read the whole post at Astral Codex Ten

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Posted by on November 17, 2021 in economics/sociology, scientific method


Enlightenment and the Righteous Mind | Steven Pinker & Jonathan Haidt

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Posted by on October 27, 2021 in cognitive science


Religiosity is associated with a more feminine intelligence profile in men

Many studies have found a small negative correlation between religiousness and intelligence measured by IQ tests, and many others have found that females are more religious than males. Still other studies have demonstrated that the IQ profile of females is different from that of males, with females tending to be higher than males in some abilities and lower in others. This raises the intriguing question of whether religiousness may be correlated with a more stereotypically female intelligence profile. We tested whether this was the case using the NLSY 79 (N = 12,686). The NLSY shows that religiousness, using the proxy of regular church attendance, is not only higher among females but is also associated with a female profile of abilities even among males (r = 0.92). We argue that this is potentially consistent with evidence that Autism Spectrum Disorder is negatively associated with religiosity.

Read more at Science Direct

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Posted by on September 9, 2021 in cognitive science, religion


The Cult Deficit

Using a dataset derived from the long-running “Cults” podcast by Parcast, I find that the number of new cults began to increase in the 50s, peaked in the 70s/80s, and has been in steady decline in recent decades. I discuss various factors (historical, technological, cultural, psychedelic drugs) that may have played a role in the rise and fall of cults since the 1950s and speculate on the future of cults.

Read more at Secretum Secretorum

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Posted by on June 23, 2021 in religion


Atheists Are Sometimes More Religious Than Christians

A woman gets baptized near the Cup Foods store where George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minn.

America is a country so suffused with faith that religious attributes abound even among the secular. Consider the rise of “atheist churches,” which cater to Americans who have lost faith in supernatural deities but still crave community, enjoy singing with others, and want to think deeply about morality. It’s religion, minus all the God stuff. This is a phenomenon spreading across the country, from the Seattle Atheist Church to the North Texas Church of Freethought. The Oasis Network, which brings together non-believers to sing and learn every Sunday morning, has affiliates in nine U.S. cities.

In April 2018, almost 1,000 people streamed into a church in San Francisco for an unprecedented event billed as “Beyoncé Mass.” Most were people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. Many were secular. They used Queen Bey’s songs, which are replete with religious symbolism, as the basis for a communal celebration—one that had all the trappings of a religious service. That seemed completely fitting to some, including one reverend who said, “Beyoncé is a better theologian than many of the pastors and priests in our church today.”

Read more at the Atlantic.

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Posted by on April 28, 2021 in religion


Religion is a driving force behind the gender wage gap, study finds

New research published in the Academy of Management Journal indicates that religion perpetuates the gender wage gap. The findings provide evidence that men tend to earn significantly more than women in societies with heightened religiosity.

Read more at PsyPost

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Posted by on April 4, 2021 in religion


Changing Function of Religious Beliefs — Trajectory from primitive to advanced societies

If a proposition is going to be taken to be unquestionably true, it is important that no one understand it. — Roy Rappaport, Ritual, Sanctity, and Cybernetics The context of that assertion is a discussion about how religious beliefs function to keep a community of diverse populations together. The fundamental belief that binds must at…

Changing Function of Religious Beliefs — Trajectory from primitive to advanced societies
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Posted by on March 24, 2021 in religion


The Identity Hoaxers

The Identity Hoaxers

The notion of needing “to be associated with the victims rather than the perpetrators” is what sent me down the rabbit hole of identity hoaxers. You would be surprised at how many there are: the “pretendians,” who claim Native American ancestry, including the former Klansman who reinvented himself as a best-selling “Cherokee” author; the Syrian blogger “Gay Girl in Damascus,” who turned out to be a straight American man named Tom MacMaster; Scott Peake, who presented himself as a fluent Gaelic speaker from a remote Scottish island when he took over the Saltire Society, which promotes Scottish culture. (He was really from South London, and couldn’t speak Gaelic.)

Read more at The Atlantic

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Posted by on March 16, 2021 in economics/sociology


How can Christ’s life and miracles, and more precisely his birth, be explained, secularly?

Do you know who built the Coliseum in Rome? The Roman emperor Vespasian. That’s not all he was known for:

At Alexandria a commoner, whose eyes were well known to have wasted away …fell at Vespasian’s feet demanding with sobs a cure for his blindness, and imploring that the Emperor would deign to moisten his eyes and eyeballs with the spittle from his mouth.

… Vespasian …. did as the men desired him. Immediately … daylight shone once more in the blind man’s eyes. Those who were present still attest both miracles today, when there is nothing to gain by lying. – Tacitus, The Histories, 4.81 (c 110 CE)

How do Christians explain that? Was Vespasian stealing the powers of Jesus by healing people’s blindness with spit?

I can explain both. It’s real simple: They made it up.

The context of both Tacitus’ Histories and works like the gospels about Jesus is that both are pretty much the social equivalent of movies playing in a theater. It’s not like any Joe from the street can make a movie, get it marketed effectively, and then get it distributed across thousands of movie theaters across the globe.

The same was true for paper (well, papyrus) and quills in the time of Jesus. It’s not like you could just go to the Wal-Mart on the corner in Judea and get some paper and pencil and write a story. It took quite a bit of resources to acquire writing material 2,000 years ago. The majority of the population couldn’t even read or write. No, the people writing these stories are probably the equivalent of 1%-ers or Hollywood directors who are trying to make their stories sell. They weren’t CNN reporters.

Most Christians hearing these stories almost 2,000 years ago heard them in house churches, just like most people today see the latest movies in theaters.

Do you see something that happens in a movie and are like “No way, that didn’t happen” and actively go out and try to find people to confirm/deny what you saw? No. You enjoy the story.

That’s why Tacitus can write about Vespasian healing blind people with his spit, why the writers of the gospels of Mark and John can do the same. There certainly were no shows like Mythbusters in ancient Judea.

Apply this to every so-called miracle you read about in antiquity and it accounts for it all pretty elegantly.

Now, I picked Vespasian for a reason. This is the writing of a Jewish historian who lived during Vespasian’s time:

But now, what did the most elevate them in undertaking this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how,” about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth.” The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular, and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination. Now this oracle certainly denoted the government of Vespasian, who was appointed emperor in Judea. However, it is not possible for men to avoid fate, although they see it beforehand. But these men interpreted some of these signals according to their own pleasure, and some of them they utterly despised, until their madness was demonstrated, both by the taking of their city and their own destruction.

Josephus, Jewish War 6.5.4

Not only was Vespasian said to heal blind people with spit, but was declared to be the Jewish messiah by this Jewish historian! They certainly don’t teach this in Sunday school, now do they?

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Posted by on March 12, 2021 in early Christianity, Quora answers

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