Sexual strategies predict religiosity and attitude toward drug use

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania has indicated that your sexual attitudes help cause not only your attitude toward drugs, but your religiosity. It was previously commonly believed that religiosity and/or political beliefs were the primary causative agents, but it appears to be the other way around. Here’s an excerpt from the paper explaining this in more detail:

Moreover, the relationship between sex and drugs tended to mediate items that, from the perspective of canonical views in political science, might have been thought to be driving views on drugs. For instance, while it is true, as one might have expected, that people who are more religious and those who are more politically conservative tend to oppose recreational drugs, in both our samples, the predictive power of these religious and ideological items was reduced nearly to zero by controlling for items tracking attitudes toward sexual promiscuity.

These reductions are difficult to reconcile with a model in which abstract political views are the underlying causal variables driving attitudes toward drugs. They are, however, consistent with the model we propose, in which individuals’ sexual strategies drive views on recreational drugs.

It is also plausible given our results that abstract commitments drive sexual attitudes and sexual attitudes drive drug attitudes. In both models, sexual attitudes directly influence drug attitudes, with the difference being that our model views sexual strategy as a major causal influence in determining abstract commitments, while the other model takes the opposite causal position, viewing items like religiosity and ideology as major influences in determining sexual attitudes. We note that recent work with regard to religiosity shows substantial evidence that the causal arrow runs at least in significant part from sexual lifestyles and attitudes to religious commitments (McCullough et al. 2005; Weeden et al. 2008; Li et al.

The authors rightfully note that sexual attitudes don’t account for all variance, but they do account for a significant amount. This is obviously a complex issue, so I would like to see more research, but it’s still interesting. If it is true, I think it has profound implications for religion. There’s a difference between “Divine mandate says we must be monogamous, therefore I am” and “I’m monogamous, so I feel comfortable in a belief system that affirms my opinion.” Moral judgments sort of fall flat when they’re based on arbitrary personal opinion. Although, this concept isn’t too shocking to atheists.

Of course, if there’s one hole in this study, it’s all the religious fundamentalists who keep popping up in the news for their inability to keep their pants on. You think they would all be sex-crazed liberals.

(Via Carnal Nation)

Here, have some links!

In a couple hours I’ll be on a plane to Portland! I’ve set up some posts to go up during my absence, and I may blog at the conference if I get burnt out on evolution (unlikely, I know). Until then, here are some interesting stories I’ve seen recently to keep you busy.

Writer’s block

Sorry for the dearth of blog posts lately. I’ve had horrible writer’s block, mainly because it’s the summer. I get most of my inspiration from classes or crazy campus antics – finishing research and playing video games isn’t as exciting. Just to give you an example of my current activities, I spent the last two days at my parents’ house watching them watch golf. Yeah, thrilling.

I’m also going to be out of town soon. On Wednesday I’m leaving for the Evolution 2010 conference in Portland, Oregon. I’ll be there for a week presenting my research along with a bunch of my lab mates and professor. This is a huge conference, with almost 2,000 scientists attending, and I had a blast last year. But unfortunately for you, it also means I’ll have limited to no internet access.

So, help me out. Ask me questions either in the comments, by email (blaghagblog(at)gmail(dot)com), or anonymously through! That way I can keep you entertained while I’m gone.

Haircuts, irrationality, and girliness

I chopped off 10 inches of hair today.
I swear it looks better than that photo. My camera is literally falling apart (the duct tape is failing), so taking a good picture was difficult.

Anyway, I’m relieved to have it cut. Starting when I was about 11, I’ve gone through a cycle of cutting my hair chin length, letting it grow out to a length I can donate, and then cutting it short again. I used to donate to Locks of Love, but decided not to anymore due to growing criticism of their practices. This particular pony tail will be donated to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, whose mission is to “make real hair wigs for women who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments.” This is especially important to me since my mom is a breast cancer survivor, and I know how much having a wig helped her self esteem when she needed it the most.

Though if you’re a friend or follow me on twitter, you know I’ve been hemming and hawing about this haircut for a while. The hour leading up to my appointment I flip flopped every thirty seconds between just getting a trim and chopping it off. Haircuts are just one of those things I’m irrational about. I know every time I do get it cut I love it and feel so much better – the loss of weight, shorter showers, cuter ‘do – but it unnerves me up until the cut.

Part of it is because I used to hate my hair: Up until college it was a frizzy, untameable mess. One of the reasons I loved Hermione so much as a kid was because I identified with her bushy hair – which is (one reason) why I can’t stand Perfect Shimmering Locks movie Hermione. The first time I donated my hair I joked that I felt bad for whoever got a wig of it. I didn’t have much hair-esteem.

On top of that, my mother forced me to have bangs as a child, which I absolutely loathed. Because my hair is thick and naturally wavy, my bangs had a mind of their own. Every morning my mom would attempt to tame them with a curling iron, but after a couple hours of school they were sticking out the wrong way again. I spent 7th grade running away from my mother whenever she brandished a pair of scissors, rebelling against that awful haircut and growing my bangs out. I don’t care how nice modern styles may look with bangs – I refuse to go through that again.

With bangs gone and the discovery of specialized anti-frizz shampoo and this thing called conditioner, my hair was instantly better. But hair is still a symbol of insecurity for me. I’ve always felt like I was left out of Girl Initiation – that my crucial feminine gene had been deleted or something. Girls, and now Women, all seem to know these standard secrets that I don’t. It’s not that I feel like I must have a certain type of hair or makeup or clothes; it’s that I feel unskilled because even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t know how to make my hair nice or put on make up or pick out cute outfits. I want that ability to be there.

I’m an overachiever – I don’t like being bad at something. But I have a hard time picking up anything feminine. I do well in school because I learn very well in a traditional classroom environment. When it comes to fashion or style, no one ever sat me down explaining things. The most womanly wisdom my mom ever imparted on me was “One day, you’re going to start bleeding down there” and then showed a very terrified and confused Younger Jen where the pads were.

Now, even if I knew how to put on makeup, I would still probably go makeup-less 99% of the time. It would just be nice if I had the skill so for the 1% of the time where I’m going to a wedding or a club, I can make myself look a little spiffier. But until then, girlish stuff like this gives me horrible anxiety. I recently had a nightmare that I was on America’s Next Top Model and my challenge was to put on makeup in under 2 minutes. After drawing on my face like a four year old who just broke into Mommy’s makeup drawer, Tyra felt so bad that she let me try again. The sad thing is, this isn’t too far off from reality (minus the whole me making it on ANTM without becoming a size zero).

And I feel the same way about hair. It was almost my senior year of high school when a very stereotypically girly teammate on my golf team let me know what conditioner was. And while looking up haircuts for today, I still realized how hopelessly out of the loop I am. I thought blow drying your hair was just to make it dry faster, not for any sort of styling. I have no idea what different types of brushes are, let alone do. I didn’t realize people used curling irons or straighteners for regular hairdos. The stylist put “product” in my hair, and I have no idea what that is or how I could replicate my look.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy with how I look. I don’t feel the need to conform or look a specific way. It’s just frustrating to know there’s a whole body of knowledge that I am completely ignorant about. I felt the same anxiety while learning advanced calculus or magnetism. Hell, I’m much better at advanced calculus and magnetism than I am at feminine things. If I ever have children, I sort of hope I have sons just because I’m terrified of failing my daughters. I don’t want to instill them with the same anxiety I’ve been battling my whole life.

“Touchdown Jesus” to be resurrected

He won’t be coming back in three days, but the gaudy statue will be rebuilt, says Solid Rock Church. It’s bad enough they wasted $500,000 to build the thing to begin with – now they’re going to drop even more money to put it back up. I hope they’re insured; at least then they’ll be getting back money they already spent.The idea of spending over a million dollars on a ugly Jesus statue seems decidedly un-Christian to me. Couldn’t that money be better spent, you know, helping the poor or feeding the hungry? Just a thought.

But of course, that’s not the point of this sculpture. This is just another example of arrogance – of religious people who think their particular fairy tale is so awesome that they want to show it off. Not all religious people are like this: If everyone actually kept religion a personal issue like so many claim to do, we’d have a lot less problems in the world. But whenever someone feels the need to put up a 62-foot Jesus on the side of the highway, that’s just so they can show off.

I also find it amusing that religious people often attribute natural disasters to God’s will, but when it hurts them instead of homosexuals or pro-choicers, it was simply bad luck. Ah, isn’t cherry-picking your religious beliefs to make them conform to your political ones so nice? Hurricane Katrina? Totally God saying he hates gays. Lightning striking your giant idol that’s making Christians look bad? Totally explained by physics. Of course, at least one of my commenters from last night was being consistent:

wow.. so many different views.. but I keep thinking, that once again God has sent Jesus to protect us. I live only a few miles from Solid Rock Church. There are also all kinds of hotels, and hospitals surrounding the area. Jesus took the beating so his people wouldn’t have to…. once again. Praise God.

Yep, because God couldn’t send that lightning bolt to hit a tree. Now the church will have to waste even more money putting up their giant idol, instead of helping their congregation or community. Man, God is kind of a dick.

Touchdown Jesus is on fire!

A lot of storms have been moving through the Midwest today, and apparently the infamous Touchdown Jesus in Ohio hasn’t been spared God’s wrath.

The “King of Kings” statue in Monroe was struck by lightning on Monday and engulfed in flames, according to various reports. The statue of Jesus in Monroe, dubbed the King of Kings by the Solid Rock Church where it resides, was struck by lightning during the severe storms on Monday.

It was engulfed in flames.

Fire crews are on the scene now, and are attempting to put out the fire. The is made out of wood and Styrofoam, covered over a steel framework anchored in concrete. This is covered with a fiberglass mat and resin exterior. It is 62 feet high and weighs 16,000 pounds.

Part of me feels bad – I mean, I wouldn’t want my $500,000 property to be destroyed. On the other hand, there’s a certain amount of schadenfreude when a giant Jesus gets struck by lightning and destroyed. I mean, how many times have atheists suggested that God strike them with lightning if he was real, but he’s never delivered? I guess he’s annoyed by gaudy Christian art more than godless heathens.

…That being said, the first person to find a photo wins a million internet points. EDIT: Found!

(Hat tip to Mike)

Relationship advice from Pat Robertson

What do you get when you ask Pat Robertson for relationship advice? Misogynistic bullshit, of course!

TERRY MEEUWSEN (co-host): Pat, this is from Anne who says, “My husband has always been a flirt and loves to talk with other women he finds attractive. He says he would never cheat on me but his actions are starting to get to me. What should I do?

ROBERTSON: Anne, first thing is you need to make yourself as attractive as possible and don’t hassle him about it. And why is he doing this? Well, he’s doing it because he wants affirmation that he is still a man, that he is attractive — and he gets an affirmation of himself. That means he’s got an inferiority complex that’s coming out. And he’s not gonna cheat on you. He’s just playing.

But you need to not drive him away or start hassling and hounding on him, but make yourself as beautiful as you can, as fun as you can, and say let’s go out here, let’s go there, let’s go to the other thing. So — and Terry disagrees.

MEEUWSEN: That’s a lot more grace than I do, Anne. Let me just say we’d be having a serious conversation.

ROBERTSON: Affirmation. Affirmation, dear heart.

Why do husbands flirt and cheat? Because you’re fugly. Go put on some makeup, already.

I would love to see Pat’s reaction if this was a man writing about his flirting wife. I have a feeling he wouldn’t be promoting “affirmation.”

(Via Slog)

Female scientists: They’re super effective!

Exciting breaking news, everybody! This is a monumental step for female scientists everywhere. I just found out that we have the first female professor in a scientific field long dominated by men. I’d like to introduce Professor Araragi…the new Pokemon Professor!

Yes, I’m excited for Pokemon Black & White to be released. Don’t judge me for hanging on to a piece of my childhood – the games are addictive and fun! I did geek out about the Professor being a woman, though. Hey, when popular culture starts recognizing that scientists can be female – especially an attractive female instead of a frumpy stereotype – that’s a step in the right direction.