Thirty Three Things (v. 26)

1. Interactive website Musicovery creates free playlists for users based on a mixture of factors: mood (you can choose among “dark,” “energetic,” “positive,” and “calm”), era, tempo, genre. (HT: Very Short List)

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2. A chart showing modern IQ ranges for various occupations (HT: Neatorama)
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3. “A child’s day from 0900 to 1530 is like a 20-hour day for an adult,” says Steve Taylor, author of Making Time:

In developing what he calls the perceptual theory, first put forward by American psychologist William James in the 19th Century, Taylor says time is related to how much “information” someone is taking in from the world around them.
“Children are experiencing everything for the first time, all their experiences are new. They also have an amazingly intense vision of the world, an amazing fresh perception. Children are incredibly awake to the world around us, so time passes slowly for them.”
Information – not from books or the internet, but through perceptions of the world – stretches time and as people get older they have fewer new experiences, he says.

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4. Remember Statetris, the Tetris game played with the states of the USA I mentioned in TTT v. 23? Now there’s a Statetris Europe and Statris Africa. (HT: Neatorama)
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5. Parents Buy Stab-Proof Uniforms for Schoolkids: Paranoid parents in Britain are “outfitting their children with stab-proof school uniforms, lined with Kevlar, the same kind of material found in flak jackets worn by U.S. troops,” CBS News says.
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6. Anthony Bradley on social justice, environmentalism, and the local church:

Because evangelicals have too closely aligned themselves with political agendas, instead of the Scripture-derived social mission of the church, two camps have emerged over the past few decades. On the one hand, you have the “Christian-means-Republican” camp where many biblical imperatives are pursued through legislation and government force, and on other hand, you have the pathetic economics and theocratic biblical theology of prophetical left in the likes of guys like Bono, the One Campaign, and so on. Both camps pursue the same method, except that “the right” might start with the Pentateuch and Romans whereas “the left” might begin with the Prophets and the Sermon on the Mount. Both turn to government instead of the church to do the work of the Kingdom of God.

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7. Cannibal tribe apologises for eating Methodists. But as David Darlington notes, “They’re still unapologetic about eating Baptists though, who are delicious BBQ-style.”
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8. A defense of parapsychology research. (HT: BPS Research Digest Blog)
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9. Movies dumbing down science: a list of egregious (and funny) offenses

The X-Men make a last food stand: rough estimate of the calories Magneto had to consume to fuel the magnetic fields that moved the Golden Gate Bridge? 4.8 million, the equivalent to burning of 1,350 pounds of fat. Dieters, take note.

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10. Consumer Vertigo: Why too much choice can be a bad thing

Continue reading Thirty Three Things (v. 26)

Family Facts #25

A study on marital instability finds that one out of ten children from divorced families reach adulthood with a lower level of psychological well-being than they would have had if their parents remained married.

Source:
“Reconciling Divergent Perspectives: Judith Wallerstein, Quantitative Family Research”
Amato, Paul R
Family Relations Vol. 52, Number 4. , 2003. Page(s) 332-339.
(HT: FamilyFacts.org)

Atheism, Autism, and Other Minds (A Clarification)

Sometimes brevity is the soul of wit; other times it is the spirit of confusion. In my recent post “Are Atheists Autistic?” I attempted to abbreviate my argument, which led to a spirited exchange over my unintentionally confusing point. Because the word count was already tipping 1000 I thought it would try the reader’s patience to add more. I was hoping my readers would be able to make the connections that I wasn’t making explicit.
Instead, I just made a mess of things. So now I ask your indulgence as I try to clarify what I should have said the first time around.
The main question asked in the post was, “Is there a correlation between atheism and autistic tendencies?” Most people got hung up on the terms “atheism” and “autistic tendencies.” But the key term in that sentence is correlation.
Correlation is an estimate of the relationship between two variables and the degree to which they vary together. The number used to describe the correlation (r) ranges from –1 to +1. If the correlation between variables X and Y is -1 (that is r = -1) then there is a perfect negative correlation. Likewise, if the correlation is 1 (r = 1) then there is a perfect correlation. If r is close to 0, it means there is no relationship between the variables. If r is positive, it means that as one variable gets larger the other gets larger. If r is negative it means that as one gets larger, the other gets smaller.
Take, for example, the correlation between height and weight. The average weight of a people who are 6’4″ tall is higher than of people who are 4’3″. Therefore, the correlation would be close to 1 (something like r = .75).
My question, therefore, could be reframed as, “For the variables x (atheism) and y (autistic tendencies), is r closer to 0 or to 1?”
Missing from the original post was any explanation of what this had to do with Asperger’s syndrome (AS). I worded it poorly, which lead to all kinds of confusion. I seemed to be implying that atheism was correlated with AS. That was not my intention.
To simplify the matter, let’s assign the key terms variables: x (atheism), y (autistic tendencies), z (Asperger’s syndrome). Obviously, there is a strong correlation between y and z. People with AS, by definition, tend to have autistic tendencies. We could say, for the sake of argument, that for y and z, r = 1. My post implied, however, that there might be a correlation between x (atheism) and z (AS). Again, that was not my intention. The question I wanted to address was whether there was a correlation between x and y. Also, while the variables y and z are correlated, they are not interchangeable.
Let’s return again to the original question: Is it possible that there is a correlation between atheism and autistic tendencies? In other words, is the correlation between x and y close to 1?

Continue reading Atheism, Autism, and Other Minds (A Clarification)

A Time to Publish, A Time to Give Thanks

“Of making many books there is no end,” moaned the Preacher. Soon their will be one more tome to add to that lamentation. Yesterday John Coleman and I officially agreed to a contract with Crossway Books to publish our book, How to Argue Like Jesus. The book examines communications, persuasion, and rhetoric using Christ as the exemplary model.
First, I should say that it’s a great honor for us novice authors to share the same publisher as Francis Schaeffer, R.C. Sproul, and John Piper (not to mention Tim Challies, Andrew Jackson, and Mark D. Roberts). Crossway was my first choice when I considered a publisher so it is thrilling to have them make such an offer. John and I are extremely grateful to everyone who gave us this incredible opportunity.
Second, I want to thank John for bringing this project to fruition. Back in January I mentioned to him that I had an idea for a book but that I lacked the discipline to write it on my own. John offered to help me out and I eventually suckered him in to being a co-author. (A tip for aspiring writers: If you’re a procrastinator with limited writing ability, it helps to partner with someone smart, sharp, and disciplined. It certainly worked for me.) Even though he had a full-time job at McKinsey and Co., the world’s most famous consulting firm, and was preparing to move to Boston to attend Harvard Business School(!), John found the time to write, edit, fix my sloppy contributions, and shape it all into a publishable work. I’m deeply grateful for his help.
Third, I want to say how much I appreciate those of you who unknowingly contributed to this book (you’ll see your name in the acknowledgments).
Fourth, and most importantly, I want to thank God for being with me throughout this process. Even if no one else is edified by our work, it forced me to delve deeper into Scripture. My appreciation for Christ is magnified greatly by focusing on his genius.
We’re polishing up the final draft so it shouldn’t affect my blogging as much as it has the past few months. I’ll keep everyone posted on the details as I move forward on this exciting new venture.

Yak Shaving Razor #103

Yak Shaving — [MIT AI Lab, after 2000: orig. probably from a Ren & Stimpy episode.] Any seemingly pointless activity which is actually necessary to solve a problem which solves a problem which, several levels of recursion later, solves the real problem you’re working on.

MS Word Tip — The Ctrl key can be used to customize line spacing and alignment. For example, Ctrl + 1 provides single spacing, Ctrl + 2 provides double spacing and Ctrl + 5 provides 1-1/2 line spacing. Ctrl + R right aligns a paragraph, Ctrl + L left aligns one, and Ctrl + E centers one.

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Keyboard Shortcuts — CTRL+DOWN ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next paragraph) ; CTRL+UP ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the previous paragraph)
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HowToHide Your E-mail Address from Spam Bots
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Google School — In addition to performing calculations, Google also knows a variety of mathematical and scientific constants, such as pi, Avogadro’s Number, and Planck’s Constant. It also knows the radius of the Earth, the mass of the sun, the speed of light, the gravitational constant, and a lot more.
For example, if you’re not sure what the value of pi is, just enter pi into the Search box and press Enter; Google returns 3.14159265. The speed of light? Enter speed of light, and Google returns 299,792,458 m/s. (HT: InformIT)
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Download of the Week — Want a powerful replacement for Windows Explorer. Try the free program Xplorer2, which offers numerous features, including a three-panel tabbed interface, folder set bookmarking, and full FTP support. (HT: Lifehacker)
See also: The Yak Shaving Razor Archives
Have a useful recommendation for making life more pleasant? Send them to me at jpcarter[at]evangelicaloutpost.com.

Are Atheists Autistic?

“It’s very simple,” says Vox Day, in his typical controversial style, “Agnosticism is a belief in the lack of evidence for God’s existence. Atheism is a symptom of a personality disorder which inordinately affects developmentally challenged young men. Watch and learn. Science will confirm this in the relatively near future.”
Buried within the goading hyperbole is an interesting question: Is there a correlation between atheism and autism?
In earlier post Vox raised that as a possible hypothesis:

It’s not just a figment of my imagination, it seems atheists truly are socially autistic by their own report. Asperger’s Syndrome is a disorder described as “autistic psychopathy” by its discoverer, Dr. Hans Asperger. Those with the disorder tend to be intelligent, socially awkward and difficult to converse with. They are also likely to be male.
Based on Wired Magazine’s observation that atheists tend to be quarrelsome, socially challenged men, to say nothing of the unpleasant personalities of leading public atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Michel Onfray, one could reasonably hypothesize that there is likely to be a strong correlation between Asperger’s and atheism.

Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is a neurobiological disorder on the autism spectrum (some even claim it is merely High Functioning Autism). AS differs from typical cases of autism in that non-social aspects of intellectual development generally proceed at a normal or accelerated rate. Persons with AS show marked deficiencies in social skills and have a difficulty reading nonverbal cues (i.e., body language). Some positive characteristics, however, include things such as “enhanced mental focus, excellent memory abilities, superior spatial skills, and an intuitive understanding of logical systems. These characteristics can often lead to fulfilling careers in mathematics, engineering, the sciences, music, art, or language.”
Are atheists more likely to have AS? To test this hypothesis, Vox compared the scores of 232 blog readers (both on his site and on PZ Myer’s blog Pharyngula) who took the Asperger Quotient Test.
A score of 32 or more is generally taken to indicate Asperger’s Syndrome or high-functioning autism (34 is considered a high score). The average man scores 18 and the average woman a 15. The average results of Vox’s analysis, broken down by religion belief, were:

Continue reading Are Atheists Autistic?

Thirty Three Things (v. 25)

1. “What the Beatitudes Teach”, an essay excerpted from Tod Lindberg’s new book, The Political Teachings of Jesus

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2. How would your car handle a crash? Consumer Report has a great way to find out. Choose the make and model of your vehicle and see how a crash test dummy fares in both head-on and side impact collisions. (HT: Dumb Little Man)
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3. Top Ten Most Expensive Paintings Of All Time. # 5 and #6 should be on the list but the others are way overpriced. (HT: Neatorama)
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4. No Surprise Here: In a recently released scientific survey of 1,269 faculty members across 712 different colleges and universities, 53 percent of respondents admitted to harboring unfavorable feelings toward evangelicals.
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5. How Credit Scores Work (HT: Lifehacker)
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6. Top 9 Fitness Myths:

Fitness Myth No. 1: Running on a treadmill puts less stress on your knees than running on asphalt or pavement. “Running is a great workout, but it can impact the knees — and since it’s the force of your body weight on your joints that causes the stress, it’s the same whether you’re on a treadmill or on asphalt,” says Todd Schlifstein, DO, a clinical instructor at New York University Medical Center’s Rusk Institute.

(HT: Lifehacker)

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7. Bible Girl on the sin of gluttony:

There’s this thing in the Bible called gluttony. The Bible says it’s a sin. But we don’t like to talk about that particular sin. We prefer to point a pudgy finger at others and decry the evils of drugs and alcohol, pornography, abortion and homosexuality. Compared to those, gluttony is just a little sin….
This “little” sin of gluttony is killing people by the hundreds of thousands every year. Obesity has now surpassed smoking as the No. 1 health threat in America. It can be directly linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, Type II Diabetes, acid reflux, sleep apnea, heart disease and many forms of cancer.
So why aren’t more pastors and churches talking about it? One reason is pretty obvious. We don’t want to risk losing church members by offending anyone.

(HT: Crunchy Con)

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8. The Seven Blogging Virtues for Building a Global Microbrand [PDF] — a way of thinking about blogging for the purpose of building a Global Microbrand (whether the brand is you, your product, a cause, etc.).
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9. Lauren Winner’s top 5 Christian books about sex. (HT: Prosthesis)
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10. I’ve never cared for Joel Stein, but I can appreciate his disdain for dog owners:

Continue reading Thirty Three Things (v. 25)

Family Facts #24

A study on cohabitation finds that compared with peers who had not cohabited prior to marriage, individuals who had cohabited reported higher levels of depression and the level of depression also rose with the length of cohabitation.

Source: “Effects of Cohabitation Length on Personal and Relational Well Being”, Hill, John R., Evans, Sharon G., Alabama Policy Institute Vol. API Study, Number . August, 2006. Page(s) 1-13
(HT: FamilyFacts.org)

L.O.S.E. Postion Paper 2: A National Apology for Our Existence

Last week Dr. John Mark Reynolds and the group L.O.S.E. (Lovingly Opposed to Sin and Evil) gave us “Ten Commandments for Evangelical Leaders in Politics” and the position paper God is not a Republican or a Democrat from the group L.O.S.E. (Lovingly Opposed to Sin and Evil). This week he’s back with L.O.S.E’s second position paper, “A National Apology for Our Existence”:

The worst thing about non-academics is their desire to make simplistic judgments about blame.
Non-academics think that if a Christian does a good thing because of the teachings of Jesus, that Christianity should get credit for it. Think of the result!
Thousands of years of hospitals, the rising tide of civil and political rights, the development of modern science, the creation of the university system, most of the foundations of Western art and literature: all of this would have to be credited to Christianity.
Think of the chances for pride.
Secularism, on the other hand, has not done much.
Think of their chances for humility. Wouldn’t you rather be a secularist without the temptations of our vast cultural accomplishments?
There is good news. We can destroy this temptation to false happiness in “what God has done” by passing credit for it to secularists!

Read the rest