Research shows Christians are nicer than atheists

Yeah. Read it and weep those of you in the religion poisons everything mob. The results are in. In America anyway.

Forty percent of worship-attending Americans volunteer regularly to help the poor and elderly, compared with 15% of Americans who never attend services. Frequent-attenders are also more likely than the never-attenders to volunteer for school and youth programs (36% vs. 15%), a neighborhood or civic group (26% vs. 13%), and for health care (21% vs. 13%). The same is true for philanthropic giving; religious Americans give more money to secular causes than do secular Americans. And the list goes on, as it is true for good deeds such as helping someone find a job, donating blood, and spending time with someone who is feeling blue.

England’s Telegraph follows this USA Today story in breaking the news.

No doubt there’ll be a long queue of atheists lining up to debunk this theory on the internet. Because they’ve got so much spare time (since they’re not out and about, you know, helping people.

And the answer to the question of why this is the case isn’t “because we’re told to be good from the pulpit” – no, it’s good old peer pressure, in the form of community.

What is it about friends-at-church that fosters good citizenship? It could be that requests to get involved carry more moral weight when they come from someone you know through your congregation rather than work or your bowling team. Or perhaps religious congregations simply foster peer pressure to do good. At this point, we do not know the precise magic civic ingredient in religious friendships.

Not knowing exactly how religious friendships foster good neighborliness thus leaves open the possibility that the same sort of effect could be found in secular organizations. But they would probably have to resemble religious congregations — close-knit communities with shared morals and values. Currently, though, such groups are few and far between. (Communes might qualify, for example.)

Interesting. Thoughts?

Font in pens

That title was meant to be a pun based on “fountain pens” it probably fails because I feel the need to introduce the rather amazing concept behind this post with a non-sequitur. I could try to redeem this lede with some sort of segue – but perhaps I should just get to the point (pun intended).

A couple of designers have conducted an elaborate plot to measure the ink use of popular fonts. They did it by writing the word “Sample” on a wall with ball point pens and then photographing the pens once it was done.



It turns out Garamond is the best – but I’m not sure they considered ecofont.

The quick are the dead

Have you ever paid close attention to duels in Westerns? The guy who gets his gun out first always loses. A scientist decided to “mythbust” this phenomena.

It turns out you do actually move quicker if you’re reacting rather than acting.

Bohr was seemingly unhappy with the Tinseltown explanation that the good guy, who never shoots first, always wins. Legend has it that he procured two toy pistols and enlisted the aid of fellow physicist George Gamow. In a series of duels, Bohr never drew first but won every time. The physicist suggested that the brain responded to danger faster than it carried out a deliberate intention.

A UK scientist named Welchman put the theory to the test.

Welchman’s team organized simulated “gunfights” in the laboratory, with pairs of volunteers competing against each other to push three buttons on a computer console in a particular order. The researchers observed that the time interval between when players removed their hands from the first button and when they pressed the final button was on average 9% shorter for the players who reacted to an opponent moving first. However, those who reacted to a first move were more likely to make an error, presssing the buttons in the wrong order. Welchman speculates that this rapid, if somewhat inaccurate, response system may have evolved to help humans deal with danger, when immediate reaction is essential and the risk of an error worth taking.

Natural functions

Maths and nature go hand in hand. Pine Cone patterns occur in a Fibonacci sequence. And now it seems that plants grow according to mathematical functions. At least if you’re a mathematically inclined photographer who goes looking for such patterns.

More here.