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 Post subject: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:54 pm 
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Sorry, I just couldn't help myself. But you just can't make this up.

Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
http://www.philly.com/philly/health/132456883.html

Now don't forget, mere association does not mean causation. There is no evidence as to which factor causes the other... just that they are statistically associated with one another.

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Last edited by ces on Mon Apr 30, 2012 5:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:56 pm 
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There is more :D

5 Ways to Turn a Liberal Into a Conservative
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/ ... r-sets-in/

This research is summed up by one of the comments:
"To create a conservative from a liberal you must first addle the brain!"


Definition of "addled"
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/addle+brained
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Addle-brained
http://www.answers.com/topic/addle-brained

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"Aristotle calls man the rational animal. All my life I have been seeking evidence to confirm this" Bertrand Russell
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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 5:15 pm 
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ces wrote:
Sorry, I just couldn't help myself. But you just can't make this up.

Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
http://www.philly.com/philly/health/132456883.html

Now don't forget, mere association does not mean causation. There is no evidence as to which factor causes the other... just that they are statistically associated with one another.

From the link you provided:

Quote:
According to the study, people who said they were a "born-again" Protestant or Catholic, or conversely, those who had no religious affiliation, had more hippocampal shrinkage (or "atrophy") compared to people who identified themselves as Protestants, but not born-again.

So those with no religious affiliations have the same hippocampal shrinkage (or "atrophy") as born again people. Religious Protestants who did not claim to be born again suffered the least hippocampal shrinkage.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 5:19 pm 
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While we are at it :)

Study: Abstaining from alcohol significantly shortens life
http://www.mnn.com/food/beverages/stori ... rtens-life

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"Aristotle calls man the rational animal. All my life I have been seeking evidence to confirm this" Bertrand Russell
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former" Albert Einstein


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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 5:22 pm 
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ces wrote:
There is more :D

5 Ways to Turn a Liberal Into a Conservative
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/ ... r-sets-in/

From the article you quoted:
Quote:
The drinkers still knew whether they were liberal or conservative, of course. But when asked how much they agreed with a variety of statements of political principles—like, “Production and trade should be free of government interference”—higher blood alcohol content was associated with giving more conservative answers.

I am guessing that being so drunk that the they puked on the person asking the questions was interpreted as a "conservative" response.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 9:31 am 
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Before someone happily binge drinks, someone should know - it has been proven that alcohol weakens the immune system
and directly kills neurons. Maybe people with less functional neurons live longer, who knows?
And if you want the benefits of red wine polyphenols, you can buy grape seed extract or pterostilbene.
As for medical studies, in some cases it depends who funds them. A different study may cast a different light on the matter.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 12:13 pm 
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Tzupy wrote:
Before someone happily binge drinks, someone should know - it has been proven that alcohol weakens the immune system
and directly kills neurons. Maybe people with less functional neurons live longer, who knows?
And if you want the benefits of red wine polyphenols, you can buy grape seed extract or pterostilbene.
As for medical studies, in some cases it depends who funds them. A different study may cast a different light on the matter.

On theory is that "some" people who don't drink at all (or very little) have few social interactions with other people, which has been shown to shorten one's lifespan. For example, married persons live longer than single people. So it could be that there is absolutely no cause and effect between drinking and life span, and and any correlation is because other coincidental factors.

However, it would be interesting to do a study within a particular social group, such as certain religions (Mormons, Amish, etc) where no drinking is allowed, to see if there is any correlation, or whether life span can be explained by other factors.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 1:31 pm 
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Tzupy wrote:
Before someone happily binge drinks, someone should know - it has been proven that alcohol weakens the immune system
and directly kills neurons. Maybe people with less functional neurons live longer, who knows?
And if you want the benefits of red wine polyphenols, you can buy grape seed extract or pterostilbene.
As for medical studies, in some cases it depends who funds them. A different study may cast a different light on the matter.
I still think this is hilarious. Especially the addled mind hypothesis :D .

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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former" Albert Einstein


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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 3:19 pm 
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Studies have shown that Seventh Day Adventists, who don't drink alcohol and also often don't use caffeine, yet still maintain a high level of social interaction, have extraordinarily long life spans.

I think if you use caffeine and don't drink (or do something) to calm yourself down then you might be looking for trouble.

Also, lest anyone make blanket generalizations, there have been people who've been hermits or lovers of solitude who've enjoyed long life spans.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 6:04 pm 
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Reachable wrote:
Also, lest anyone make blanket generalizations, there have been people who've been hermits or lovers of solitude who've enjoyed long life spans.

Obviously there are exceptions (many of them), but it has been shown that married people live (slightly) longer on average than singles in the USA (not sure about other nations). It may be for different reasons than we think, such as no one around to call emergency services on a timely basis when having a heart attack, accident occurs, etc, rather than that single people dying of loneliness, etc.

Another explanation may be that married people are more likely than singles to seek proper medical care throughout their lives if they have a wife and (especially) kids. It is hard to state what the cause and effect factors are for these things, other than some level of statistical correlation exists, albeit often times quite small correlation.

Besides, even if it were true, most people are not willing to alter their behavior for just a few extra months of life. It is one thing to say that if you smoke tobacco you will die 10 years sooner (on average) than those who don't smoke (I don't know the actual averages), but if you tell me that a meat-eater will die 4 months sooner than a vegetarian, I would say that is good deal and I'll take the meat. I am not going to drink alcohol 2-3 times a day just to live a few months longer (My average is one or two drinks per week).


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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 10:33 am 
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Quote:
So those with no religious affiliations have the same hippocampal shrinkage (or "atrophy") as born again people. Religious Protestants who did not claim to be born again suffered the least hippocampal shrinkage.


You beat me to it.

If any one thing can totally destroy the validity of this pathetic excuse for scientific research its that sentence.

Not helping it a great deal is that it has been published on "PLoS ONE", which is not comparable to "Nature" (or many others) as a worthy and respected scientific publication. From Wiki "All submissions go through an internal and external pre-publication peer review but are not excluded on the basis of lack of perceived importance or adherence to a scientific field." What that awful sentence means is that almost anyone can publish almost anything on "PLoS ONE", the kinds of things such as this "article" that would never be published on a respected publication due to the way the research was carried out, and that people often jump to conclusions with little "scientific evidence" to back up their claims - essentially stuff that would land squarely "within the margin of error" and as such should not have such stupid claims made about them as have been made in this example.

If the people who did this study really wanted to give the world some actual evidence they need to do this study in other countries, such as Ireland where the main religion by some margin is "Child Molestation", and also in China where the vast majority of people are "Non-Religious". Both of these examples would greatly help, if for example they still found that the same brains shrinkage happens in Ireland where people who are not Catholic or are non-believers are comparable to those in the US study who are "Pro's" then that would be something worth noting, it would be even more interesting with the study in China.

Either way this is bullshit science at its worst and I would not be surprised to find out that it was paid for by "The Watchtower" or some other bunch of evil people who try and pollute the minds of everyone, especially children......... Damned scum :twisted: If only Hell existed, they would burn there in eternity.


Andy

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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 1:43 pm 
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All i know is that it is hard to publicly advocate for, or even consider advocating for, ideas that aren't the most prevailingly popular, whether they are sublime or idiotic or anywhere in between. It can wear you down terribly. It can destroy your health.

A mainstream religious adherent can declare his affiliation with little stress. Anyone else faces more. In time, you can just feel that it's not worth it anymore. If there's a part of the brain that reflects your willingness to face scorn, then it just might atrophy away.

What's hopeful is that the more sublime ideas do eventually catch on, and maybe then the people who champion them regenerate. As for the champions of idiocy, they may come over to the more sensible side and be restored. If not, they fade away into the twilight of irrelevance.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 2:20 pm 
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andyb wrote:
Either way this is bullshit science...

A lot of science is BS. Scientists have do something to earn their pay, and often have to publish to keep their jobs. So they are under tremendous pressure to come up with any kind of "results" if they already spent time and money on conducting research.

Likewise (the other half of the equation) the media has to find new stories to "print" so they can keep their jobs or stay in business. It doesn't really pay for them to worry too much whether the stories are actually true, so long as someone claimed they are true, and they can fill up their webpage, air time, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 2:51 pm 
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I am sorry if I have misinterpreted your point of view, perhaps created by me by breaking down your point via "comma's", if so I apologise now, and will edit my posts to fit.

Quote:
All i know is that it is hard to publicly advocate for, or even consider advocating for, ideas that aren't the most prevailingly popular, whether they are sublime or idiotic or anywhere in between.


I agree that some (such as yourself) might find that an issue, personally I have always had a rebellious nature so I find the opposite true...... I find it easier (and fun) to argue against a popular opinion so long as I believe in my opinion (which I only have these days with a solid backing of evidence or a solid opinion that my philosophy is greater).

Quote:
It can wear you down terribly. It can destroy your health.

So can poverty relative to your peers in your country, and that has been proven beyond doubt many times..... although I best add that like many things of this nature, this is never as straightforward as I have just suggested.

Quote:
A mainstream religious adherent can declare his affiliation with little stress. Anyone else faces more. In time, you can just feel that it's not worth it anymore. If there's a part of the brain that reflects your willingness to face scorn, then it just might atrophy away.


As I mentioned earlier, I suspect that this varies person to person, and whether they really give a shit about their fake god vs another persons fake god and so on. Some people seem to stress about the clothes they wear (in public) to dangerously obsessive levels, I have no doubt that others "stress" about different things, such as the Church they are seen entering (or not).

Quote:
What's hopeful is that the more sublime ideas do eventually catch on, and maybe then the people who champion them regenerate. As for the champions of idiocy, they may come over to the more sensible side and be restored. If not, they fade away into the twilight of irrelevance.


A wonderful use of the language, but the meaning to me is ambiguous. "Sublime", "champion", "regenerate", "idiocy", "twilight", all of these word can muddle the readers stance on this sentence to the degree that it could become ambiguous enough for opposing sides to both grasp this sentence and use it against the other. As much as I love to use these words myself, a slightly more plain English explanation would be better in these circumstances.


Andy

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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 3:04 pm 
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Quote:
A lot of science is BS.


As is Literature, Filmography and almost anything else that has a description, such as "silence".

Quote:
Scientists have do something to earn their pay, and often have to publish to keep their jobs. So they are under tremendous pressure to come up with any kind of "results" if they already spent time and money on conducting research.


That is true, but as I am sure you are aware, scientists essentially get paid in advance...... by this I mean that they have to come up with, and explain to the people funding their "science" some kind of "plan" of what they are going to do, when, how much it will cost, their expected outcomes, and how this "science" will be backed up by their "doing" of said science as much as by their "outcomes".

The outcome of scientific research is totally worthless if it has been done wrong, this article seems to fall into this camp, and if anyone "funding" worthless scientific research such as this have obviously got lost their money.... until further science can be undertaken (as I have suggested) to explain the results and give a solid backing to their (currently) worthless opinions.

Coming back to the point of scientific research and scientists being paid, as I am sure you know, the results of science of this kind (rather than Pharmaceutical research) are "published" for anyone to read for little or no cost, thus coming back to my point that science is generally "paid for in advance", if the person/company that is paying for this "science" is doing so knowing that this isn't really first rate science then they are likely doing so for their own agenda, at which point this IS NOT SCIENCE, if they are paying for this and don't really understand what they are going to get then they are foolish, if they are paying for this knowing that they need to pay more to complete the research then it is also bad science to make conclusions without all of the data.

This is "Bullshit" more than it is science, science has to be done correctly otherwise it is not science, this is verging on the edge of scientific credibility and as such and rightfully so it has been ridiculed.

Quote:
Likewise (the other half of the equation) the media has to find new stories to "print" so they can keep their jobs or stay in business. It doesn't really pay for them to worry too much whether the stories are actually true, so long as someone claimed they are true, and they can fill up their webpage, air time, etc.


That is a pretty lame excuse I am afraid. A much better "reason" would be that media outlets have to find new stories "that their readers will read and either be enlightened by, agree with or fulfill their expectations". This shitty science ticks all 3-boxes for the average person who watches, enjoys and agrees with everything that "Fox News" broadcasts.

For anyone with half-a-brain who has not been infected by Religion will see this as a totally lame bit of science, and will see that it has been siezed upon by those with an agenda to pust this shit to the people who feed on shit, Fox News Advocates and other brainwashed, or sub-par intelligence (vitriolic religious) people.


Andy

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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 3:26 pm 
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andyb wrote:
For anyone with half-a-brain who has not been infected by Religion...

According to the scientific studies quoted by ces, it is the non-religious people (along with born-again religious people) whose brains are half the size (OK, I am exaggerating a little) compared to religious Protestants (who were not born again). I am guessing you don't agree with that? Interestingly, the study was performed by associates of the Duke University Medical Center, one of the most highly regarded medical and research centers in the world.

Unfortunately, the scientific study focused on religious beliefs and brain size, and not on political beliefs, so there is no science that I know of to support your claims.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 3:58 pm 
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Quote:
According to the scientific studies quoted by ces, it is the non-religious people (along with born-again religious people) whose brains are half the size (OK, I am exaggerating a little) compared to religious Protestants (who were not born again). I am guessing you don't agree with that?


Anyone who does agree with that is an idiot of a great magnitude, not least because it directly states that (roughly) ~85% of the worlds population are or will be mentally defective, with no scientific backing whatsoever (that seems to be the standard rhetoric coming from a religious person to me, we are better than you, you are worthless scum - I paraphrase, but the meaning is there).

Quote:
Interestingly, the study was performed by associates of the Duke University Medical Center, one of the most highly regarded medical and research centers in the world.


Shame be upon them for having such a pathetic study associated with their good name (and it does seem to be a good name according to Wiki).

Quote:
Unfortunately, the scientific study focused on religious beliefs and brain size, and not on political beliefs, so there is no science that I know of to support your claims.


Except that it didn't support any claims because the science was bad.

Did they cover other countries with different dominant "religious" belief systems, no they didn't, so by definition the sample size is too small. Very one-sided selections like this are worthless, it would be like testing 1,000 Scandinavians and boldly stating that "Sickle Cell Disease" does not exist - a worthless claim to make on a worthless study as there are people in the world outside Scandinavia :shock:

Likewise there are other countries that have a different mixture of religious beliefs which would dramatically change the outcomes so much that the current outcomes would instantly become as worthless as I believe they are, but they have not been studied, so this study is as worthless as my made-up example.

To give another terrible example of a rubbish bit of science (made up I hope).

More bad things (unlucky accidents) happen to people on Friday the 13th" regardless of whether they are superstitious, regardless of whether they have ever heard of "Friday the 13th" or even if they know its a Friday.

Anyone with an ounce of sense knows that this is utter shit that I have just written as an example of utter shit, someone somewhere will try to do a "scientific study" on this to "prove" that non-religious people (pick your denomination) are worse people because of some misunderstood passage written in a very old book of children's stories that has been heavily edited several times over the years and is commonly referred to as "The Bible" (which has incidentally diluted into over 1,000 separate denominations of "Christianity", and according to this study most of those Christians have or will have defective brains (another example of Religion being the enemy of modern man)), that would be another example of very bad science, or even pseudo-science.

If science is bad, the outcome is worthless.

If it is Pseudo-Science (Creationism as an example) then it is nothing more than a terrible joke with a rubbish punchline, the article that was originally posted borders on that lowly title of "pseudo-science".


Andy

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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 5:56 am 
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andyb wrote:
Quote:
What's hopeful is that the more sublime ideas do eventually catch on, and maybe then the people who champion them regenerate. As for the champions of idiocy, they may come over to the more sensible side and be restored. If not, they fade away into the twilight of irrelevance.


A wonderful use of the language, but the meaning to me is ambiguous. "Sublime", "champion", "regenerate", "idiocy", "twilight", all of these word can muddle the readers stance on this sentence to the degree that it could become ambiguous enough for opposing sides to both grasp this sentence and use it against the other. As much as I love to use these words myself, a slightly more plain English explanation would be better in these circumstances.


I guess you're right, Andy. I was tired when I wrote that (and perhaps my hippocampus has been worn down.) Here's the rewrite:

What is hopeful is that ideas that are closer to the truth and more sensible do eventually catch on, and perhaps when they do the people who have long espoused them gain or regain their strength. Those who have been unconventional, but in the direction of stupidity, can similarly regain strength by coming over to the more sensible ways. Otherwise, they'll continue on a path that makes them more marginal and irrelevant.

All the above was an attempt to correlate a psychological explanation with the brain physiology the study said it found.

Science, by the way, is not really published at little or no cost for anyone to read. To download the full text of a scientific paper will generally cost you about $30. And this, by the way, is the case even with publicly funded studies. So the public usually has to get it filtered, and greatly compressed, through a journalist. And when it is presented thusly, it will only appear as scientifically savvy as the journalist -- no more, and no less.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 8:40 am 
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Quote:
What is hopeful is that ideas that are closer to the truth and more sensible do eventually catch on, and perhaps when they do the people who have long espoused them gain or regain their strength. Those who have been unconventional, but in the direction of stupidity, can similarly regain strength by coming over to the more sensible ways. Otherwise, they'll continue on a path that makes them more marginal and irrelevant.


That may be more than just a nice thought, it could be possible that you are in some way correct, although my understanding of brain atrophy is that it can be halted but not reversed (with current medical science).

Quote:
Science, by the way, is not really published at little or no cost for anyone to read. To download the full text of a scientific paper will generally cost you about $30. And this, by the way, is the case even with publicly funded studies. So the public usually has to get it filtered, and greatly compressed, through a journalist. And when it is presented thusly, it will only appear as scientifically savvy as the journalist -- no more, and no less.


I hadn't realised the cost of getting a copy of the research was as much as that...... although that is not an enormous sum, the cost of a few books or a film on BluRay...... still not free though.

You are quite right about the journalist and their opinion and their employers slant on the findings being a pretty bad way to release this information to the general public. It would be much better to distill the findings into a couple of paragraphs that are easy enough for the general public to understand, but still be valid and accurate. This would mean that the scientists can simply hand that out to the press to re-print without distorting the scientists words.


Andy

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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 9:03 am 
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Reachable wrote:

Science, by the way, is not really published at little or no cost for anyone to read. To download the full text of a scientific paper will generally cost you about $30. And this, by the way, is the case even with publicly funded studies. So the public usually has to get it filtered, and greatly compressed, through a journalist. And when it is presented thusly, it will only appear as scientifically savvy as the journalist -- no more, and no less.


This actually varies. Some fields, physics and math in particular do publish a lot of pre-prints online for free (arxiv) These are typically the same version that will appear in a peer reviewed journal, and people update their posting if the reviewers suggest changes.

There is a growing movement in science and the rest of academia for more publishing to move to open-access journals which are free to read. So hopefully some of this barrier will come down in the near future.

-- Nicias

PS, I am an academic scientist so I am both a producer and consumer of research.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 12:05 pm 
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This actually varies. Some fields, physics and math in particular do publish a lot of pre-prints online for free (arxiv) These are typically the same version that will appear in a peer reviewed journal, and people update their posting if the reviewers suggest changes.

There is a growing movement in science and the rest of academia for more publishing to move to open-access journals which are free to read. So hopefully some of this barrier will come down in the near future.


That is good news, that is exactly what makes science (in general terms) thrive, in some respects it seems like it is moving towards being more like a "forum" such as this one where all of the ideas get thrown into one big mixing pot, the outcome is obvious...... everyone benefits, and everyone learns and comes up with even better ideas or ways of doing things than before

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PS, I am an academic scientist so I am both a producer and consumer of research.


Good man :D


Andy

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 Post subject: Re: Study: Being 'Born-Again' Linked to Brain Atrophy
PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 11:49 am 
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Location: Western Mass.
EDIT: Sorry. Thought better of it.


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