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Earth

Model Says Religiosity Gene Will Dominate Society 729

Hugh Pickens writes writes "PhysOrg reports on a study by Robert Rowthorn, emeritus professor at Cambridge University, that predicts that the genetic components that predispose a person toward religion are currently "hitchhiking" on the back of the religious cultural practice of high fertility rates and that provided the fertility of religious people remains on average higher than that of secular people, the genes that predispose people towards religion will spread. For example, in the past 20 years, the Amish population in the US has doubled, increasing from 123,000 in 1991 to 249,000 in 2010. The huge growth stems almost entirely from the religious culture's high fertility rate, which is about 6 children per woman, on average. Rowthorn says that while fertility is determined by culture, an individual's predisposition toward religion is likely to be influenced by genetics, in addition to their upbringing. In the model, Rowthorn uses a "religiosity gene" to represent the various genetic factors that combine to genetically predispose a person toward religion, whether remaining religious from youth or converting to religion from a secular upbringing. Rowthorn's model predicts that the religious fraction of the population will eventually stabilize at less than 100%, and there will remain a possibly large percentage of secular individuals. But nearly all of the secular population will still carry the religious allele, since high defection rates will spread the religious allele to secular society when defectors have children with a secular partner."
Government

Most Consumers Support Government Cyber-Spying 247

scurtis writes "Nearly two thirds of computer users globally believe that it is acceptable for their country to spy on other nations by hacking or installing malware, according to Sophos's mid-year 2010 Security Threat Report. And 23 percent claimed to support this action even during peacetime. Perhaps more surprisingly, 32 percent of respondents said that countries should also be allowed to plant malware and hack into private foreign companies in order to spy for economic advantage."
Education

Louisiana, Intelligent Design, and Science Classes 989

rollcall writes "The Livingston, Louisiana public school district is considering introducing intelligent design into its science curriculum. During the board's meeting Thursday, several board members expressed an interest in the teaching of creationism. 'Benton said that under provisions of the Science Education Act enacted last year by the Louisiana Legislature, schools can present what she termed "critical thinking and creationism" in science classes. Board Member David Tate quickly responded: "We let them teach evolution to our children, but I think all of us sitting up here on this School Board believe in creationism. Why can't we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism?" Fellow board member Clint Mitchell responded, "I agree...you don't have to be afraid to point out some of the fallacies with the theory of evolution. Teachers should have the freedom to look at creationism and find a way to get it into the classroom."'"
Education

Students Failing Because of Poor Grammar 1343

innocent_white_lamb writes "30% of freshman university students fail a 'simple English test' at Waterloo University (up from 25% a few years ago. Academic papers are riddled with 'cuz' (in place of 'because') and even include little emoticon faces. One professor says that students 'think commas are sort of like parmesan cheese that you sprinkle on your words.' At Simon Fraser University, 10% of students are not qualified to take the mandatory writing courses."

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