Thursday, 29 April 2010

Actually, natural disasters are caused by baptists!

PZ Myers has posted the full text of a short essay in which the author, Janis Walworth, discusses the statistical evidence relating to claims that natural disasters are in some way caused by 'unnatural acts'. Essentially that the Christian god is so concerned with the way we behave, it takes vengeance by hurling thunderbolts, etc. at us.

Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, once warned Orlando, Florida, that it was courting natural disaster by allowing gay pride flags to be flown along its streets. "A condition like this will bring about ... earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor," Robertson said.
So she looked at the stats for tornadoes in the States and cross-reference them against an estimate of the density of gays by state, and look what she found:
In fact, there's no correlation at all between the number of gay folks (as estimated by the number of gay political organizations, support groups, bookstores, radio programs, and circuit parties) and the annual tornado count (r = .04, p = .78 for you statisticians).

So much for the "God hates gays" theory.

She did, however, find some interesting correlations when she looked at religious affilitaion.
Jews are off the hook here: there's no correlation between numbers of Jews and frequency of tornadoes. Ditto for Catholics. But when it comes to Protestants, there's a highly significant correlation of .71.
And then she broke Protestants down into sects:
But Baptists and others share the prize: both groups show a definite correlation with tornado frequency (r = .68, p = .0001). This means that Texas could cut its average of 139 tornadoes per year in half by sending a few hundred thousand Baptists elsewhere (Alaska maybe?).
This is just as good (if not as much fun to eyeball) as boobquake!

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