William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

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Can A Disgusting Smell Turn You Conservative And Against Gay “Marriage”?

Meanwhile, inside the Republican training camp...

Meanwhile, inside the Republican training camp…

Can sniffing a sticky stained organic tote bag that has seen one too many trips to Whole Foods turn you into the kind of activist that haunts street corners and says, “Excuse me, sir. Do you have a minute for snail darter rights?” Science says it might.

No, I’m only kidding. Disgust makes people conservatives, not progressives. So says Thomas Adams, Patrick Stewart, and John Blanchar in their peer-reviewedDisgust and the Politics of Sex: Exposure to a Disgusting Odorant Increases Politically Conservative Views on Sex and Decreases Support for Gay Marriage” in PLOS One.

These fellows found folks on the Internet, promising to pay volunteers ten bucks American if they’d come in and fill out questionnaires. Fifty-seven mostly white Christians came. Thirty of the volunteers, 21 one of which were women, in groups of 4 to 8, went into a room sized precisely “10’x10’x17.5′” and answered queries. The other 27, only 9 of which were women, went into the same room and answered the same questions, but the researchers stank up the room beforehand with butyric acid. Think cheesy pinto beans and too much beer.

To make the questions scientific, the researchers gave them names: the Three Domains of Disgust Scale, the Conservative Liberal Scale, the Wilson-Patterson short-response format. Scores were assigned to the answers with the full knowledge that if there weren’t scores, the study wouldn’t be publishable, not to mention you can’t get wee p-values from scoreless questions.

Each volunteer was asked “to select a number ranging from 0 ‘Not at all’ to 8 ‘Very much so’ to indicate the degree to which they currently felt ‘disgusted, nauseated, repulsed.'”

To be properly scientific, each volunteer who said he was disgusted-nauseated-repulsed to the tune of, say, 6 had to be just as disgusted-nauseated-repulsed as every other volunteer who answered 6. It wouldn’t do that one person’s 6 was another’s 4. Was that the case here? And is it true that stepping from a disgusted-nauseated-repulsed of 3 to a disgusted-nauseated-repulsed of 4 is the same as moving from a 4 to 5 and so on?

Hey. Asking questions like these slows the flow of Science. What are you, some kind of Philistine?

That’s why it was perfectly legitimate to ask four more questions about gay “marriage” on a scale from 1 (“strongly agree”) to 5 (“strongly disagree”), such as, “I should be allowed to marry whomever I want to, even if it is a member of the same sex” and “Same sex marriage should be legalized nationwide.”

The differences in means of the scores of those questions gave wee p-values. The stink-free group, which was, do not forget, predominately women, had smaller means, i.e. were more in favor of abandoning tradition.

The amazed researchers said “that the disgust odor induction caused attitudes to literally shift to the right”, i.e. to shift answers to higher numbers.

Did you catch it? Caused. The stinky room caused the people to turn conservative. Caused. How? “When disgust is evoked, the behavioral immune system engages avoidance to prevent infection…and appears to moralize sexual conduct in ways that underlie conservative values of purity and sanctity.” If this is true, then Los Angeles and other smelly pollution-choked cities should be solidly conservative.

Funny that every survey I checked (e.g., here and here) shows women far ahead of men in support of same-sex “marriage.” So could the two-thirds versus one-thirds women in the stink and stink-free groups account for the results? Here’s what the authors say:

Disgust has an important, causal relationship with political attitudes concerning sexual conduct. In an experiment manipulating odor-based disgust, participants exposed to the smell of butyric acid reported increased subjective disgust and more politically conservative attitudes concerning gay marriage, premarital sex, pornography, and Biblical truth. Rejection of gay marriage was a particularly strong response to the disgust-inducing odor, perhaps because of the connection between homosexuality and perceptions of sexual impurity.

Women? What women? But look at those results. The authors could have ran with alternate headline: Exposure to Farts Causes Increase in Belief of Biblical Truths. The authors say, “The finding that belief in Biblical truth was greater among participants in the disgust odor condition was unexpected but is nonetheless consistent with previous work showing a relation between disgust and scrupulosity or being careful to avoid doing wrong.”

I’ve pointed out many times that academics are amazed people disagree with them, and they are always seeking to discover how this could be. Must be genetic, or biological, or due to stressors in the environment. It couldn’t be that citizens came to the reasoned conclusion that progressivism is sorely lacking. Nah. It must instead be that smelling a fart can turn you into a Bible-believing Republican.

Update: The Press

Incidentally, this “research” was widely picked up in the media. The Daily Mail reported “Can a disgusting smell make you conservative and homophobic? Researchers find stench of sweat and rancid butter can influence our views.

The Huffington Post said “Smelly Environment Can Increase Homophobic, Politically Conservative Views According To Study“.

Many other places repeated (what I am assuming was) the same press release, but notice that most translated the authors’ “Decreases Support for Gay Marriage” into “Increase Homophobia.” The politicization of Science does not only happen in climatology.

IPCC Intensifies Search For Missing Global Warming

The French Team digs in

The French Team digs in

We all know, agree, believe, and desire that the end is nigh, that the tipping point to climate chaos is only minutes away, that we’ve already seen and suffered the horrible effects of climate change, and that if we don’t do something This Is It.

Unfortunately, we are not the public. The Consensus, i.e. 97% civilian agreement, is that climatologists are full of hot air. Civilians reason that for two decades scientists have been tootling the Trump of Doom, yet the end has not only not yet come, the heat promised by the scientists has gone missing, therefore the scientists must be nuts.

Forecasts have said the temperature should be ever increasing, yet actual observations proved that nothing has happened. Yet since the Science is settled, therefore the temperatures must have really gone up even though nobody has seen it—it must be that Global Warming has gone missing.

Communications experts know that if we are to restore the panic and dread which is necessary to create change in democracies, we have to find that missing Global Warming. The IPCC has thus dispatched several international teams of experts and charged them not to return without it.

The British Team in action

The British Team in action

This is why the IPCC is releasing these publicity photos, as a means to Raise Awareness. Enlightened Education Theory proves that once one’s awareness has been raised, one has no choice but to the believe the Correct Thing.

So please help me and the IPCC get the word out. Let’s locate that missing Global Warming before it’s too late and a full 100% of the public stops caring.

The African Team won't be outdone.

The African Team will not be outdone

P.S. If anybody thinks they may have seen Global Warming, leave a comment below and I’ll make sure it gets to the UN.

Is This Sign Hate Speech?


A “controversial” sign sets the words, “If you think there is no God you’d better be right!” over small picture of flames.

News reports say the sign was in front of the Attleborough Baptist Church in south Norfolk, England. The very sensitive, and undoubtedly precious, civilian Robert Gladwin, 20, saw the sign and “decided to contact the police after comparing the message to other forms of hate speech.”

The police, duty bound, treated the “incident” as hate speech and got the church to agree to remove the sign.

Gladwin said, “I was just astounded really. We live in the 21st century and they have put that message – that non-Christians will burn in hell – up to try and scare people into joining their mentality.”

In other words, Gladwin reacted emotionally to the sign while wondering how anybody in these Enlightened times could react emotionally to the sign.

The question before us is not Gladwin’s obvious feminine nature—who are we to judge? Instead, we must decide whether the sign is indeed “hate speech,” i.e. a thoughtcrime.

Now either the message of the sign tells of real or of fantastical things. The sign could be relating a truth: repent and be saved or be cast outside the gates where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. If the sign’s objurgation holds, hellfire is a danger. It therefore cannot be hateful to tell somebody of this, especially in the form of an impersonal sign on private property.

The sign could be relating an approximate truth. Hell could be real but it is not meant for people, as many modern theologians insist. But then there is nothing to worry about and the sign is merely metaphorical, as the entire Bible then is.

The sign could be fantastic. There is no God, no Hell, life holds no meaning, the time we have here is everything there is. In this sad case, the sign also cannot be hate speech. It would be the equivalent of threatening to stab somebody with a unicorn’s horn, or to whack them on the skull with Thor’s hammer. The threat is entirely empty, and known to be so. Telling somebody you will sprinkle them with Pixie dust will not cause them to tremble if they believe Pixie’s do not exist.

Threats only have force if the message or circumstance is believed to be real. Gladwin must then, in his heart of hearts, believe the threat to be real. This is probably why he is quoted as saying, “It is my basic understanding that Christianity is inclusive and loving in nature.

“The message being displayed outside of the church could not be further from the often uttered phrase ‘love thy neighbour’.”

Ignore the incoherence and instead notice instead how odd it is that folks outside the Church have such a passion for preaching to those inside it. Here is what your Church really teaches. What’s happening here is that Gladwin wants to be reassured he himself is under no danger of eternal punishment. It can’t be that he already believes he is not or he could not have seen the sign as “hate” speech.

If Gladwin really did not believe in Hell, then he could not have seen as hateful a warning that he risks going there, any more than he could have seen as hateful a warning that he risks being sentenced to eternally quarry stones in Bedrock next to Fred Flintsone. That he secretly knows the truth means there is hope for Gladwin, as there is hope for all of us.

Readers, incidentally, might be curious to learn that the Catholic Church has never consigned anybody to the flames. No person in all of history was ever officially said to be in Hell, not even Judas or Ted Kennedy. The reason for this is simple enough: there is no proof any individual is. There is, however, plentiful evidence some people are, we just don’t know who. Just make sure it isn’t you.

Update Don’t forget to answer the question. If you leave the answer blank, we’ll assume you do NOT think the sign is a thoughtcrime.

Summary Against Modern Thought: Things Which Block Truth

This may be proved in three ways. The first...

This may be proved in three ways. The first…

See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide.

Chapter 4

(1) WHILE then the truth of the intelligible things of God is twofold, one to which the inquiry of reason can attain, the other which surpasses the whole range of human reason, both are fittingly proposed by God to man as an object of belief.i

We must first show this with regard to that truth which is attainable by the inquiry of reason, lest it appears to some, that since it can be attained by reason, it was useless to make it an object of faith by supernatural inspiration.ii

(2) Now three disadvantages would result if this truth were left solely to the inquiry of reason.

(3) One is that few men would have knowledge of God: because very many are hindered from gathering the fruit of diligent inquiry, which is the discovery of truth, for three reasons.

Some indeed on account of an indisposition of temperament, by reason of which many are naturally indisposed to knowledge: so that no efforts of theirs would enable them to reach to the attainment of the highest degree of human knowledge, which consists in knowing God.

Some are hindered by the needs of household affairs. For there must needs be among men some that devote themselves to the conduct of temporal affairs, who would be unable to devote so much time to the leisure of contemplative research as to reach the summit of human inquiry, namely the knowledge of God.

And some are hindered by laziness. For in order to acquire the knowledge of God in those things which reason is able to investigate, it is necessary to have a previous knowledge of many things: since almost the entire consideration of philosophy is directed to the knowledge of God: for which reason metaphysics, which is about divine things, is the last of the parts of philosophy to be studied.iii

Wherefore it is not possible to arrive at the inquiry about the aforesaid truth except after a most laborious study: and few are willing to take upon themselves this labour for the love of a knowledge, the natural desire for which has nevertheless been instilled into the mind of man by God.iv

(4) The second disadvantage is that those who would arrive at the discovery of the aforesaid truth would scarcely succeed in doing so after a long time. First, because this truth is so profound, that it is only after long practice that the human intellect is enabled to grasp it by means of reason. Secondly, because many things are required beforehand, as stated above. Thirdly, because at the time of youth, the mind, when tossed about by the various movements of the passions, is not fit for the knowledge of so sublime a truth, whereas calm gives prudence and knowledge, as stated in 7 Phys.[1] Hence mankind would remain in the deepest darkness of ignorance, if the path of reason were the only available way to the knowledge of God: because the knowledge of God which especially makes men perfect and good, would be acquired only by the few, and by these only after a long time.v

(5) The third disadvantage is that much falsehood is mingled with the investigations of human reason, on account of the weakness of our intellect in forming its judgments, and by reason of the admixture of phantasms. Consequently many would remain in doubt about those things even which are most truly demonstrated, through ignoring the force of the demonstration: especially when they perceive that different things are taught by the various men who are called wise. Moreover among the many demonstrated truths, there is sometimes a mixture of falsehood that is not demonstrated, but assumed for some probable or sophistical reason which at times is mistaken for a demonstration. Therefore it was necessary that definite certainty and pure truth about divine things should be offered to man by the way of faith.vi

(6) Accordingly the divine clemency has made this salutary commandment, that even some things which reason is able to investigate must be held by faith: so that all may share in the knowledge of God easily, and without doubt or error.vii

(7) Hence it is written (Eph. iv. 17, 18): That henceforward you walk not as also the Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind, having their understanding darkened: and (Isa. liv. 13): All thy children shall be taught of the Lord.


iFrom last time, there are some things we can work out for ourselves, but others which we must take on revelation, i.e. on faith.

iiDon’t panic. We’re starting with that which we can prove by reason. The juiciest arguments will be concrete, scientific, and oh so rational.

iiiTo his great shame, Yours Truly fits into category three. How about you, dear reader? I’ll flatter both of us that, because you regularly stop by here, that you at most suffer as I do, but that you’ll be capable of and have the time to understand the arguments to come.

ivDavid Stove, one of my favorite anti-modern modern philosophers said learning requires two things, libraries and leisure. The library of the internet is practically free, but leisure is harder to come by, particularly as we invent more and more labor-saving devices. Most Westerners now on purpose carry with them everywhere Thinking Suppression Devices so that not even by accident will they philosophize.

vIt is shocking that so many would try to figure out the greatest questions we could possibly ask on their own, without study. Would you try to figure quantum mechanics, the calculus, grammar from scratch on your own without consulting the relevant authorities? No, sir, you would not. So why are you so keen on consulting only your untutored thoughts on, say, whether God exists?

viOnce you are presented with an argument with true premises, a valid conclusion, and which is sound, you have no choice, if you are rational, other than to accept it. Likewise, if an argument you cherish is shown to have false premises, an invalid conclusion, or is shown unsound, you must, if you are rational, you must reject it. Thirdly, many of the arguments on which we rely are not well considered, but carried along habitually or because they are deeply pleasing to us. I used to be an atheist, too, so I know what it’s like. Time for some intense scrutiny.

Update Apropos quotation from Peter Kreeft (start 10:30) on why academics have turned traditionally Catholic colleges and universities away from the Truth. “Smart people are very good at just about everything intellectual, including fooling themselves. Ordinary people aren’t smart enough to fool themselves. They have no place to hide. But academics can create all sorts of excuses and places to hide from themselves.”

viiLike I said, this won’t be our path. We’re going to prove everything.

[1] iii. 7.

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