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Toxoculture
August 2, 2006 11:05 PM   Subscribe

Can pathogens effect culture? Possibly.
posted by delmoi (35 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is the third time in the previous ten or so hours I have seen 'affect' and 'effect' used improperly. One of those times was in a newspaper. Am I going insane? Did someone flip the meanings of them while I wasn't looking?

This site, at least, still agrees with me. Affect is the verb, effect is the noun.
posted by blacklite at 11:13 PM on August 2, 2006


Another step toward confirming my theory that those I disagree with are filthy, herd-thinking mongrels!

Excuse me while I wash my hands again...
posted by polyhedron at 11:18 PM on August 2, 2006


double

"Affect" and "effect" are both verbs. They just mean different things. The correct verb in this post would of course be "affect."
posted by caddis at 11:20 PM on August 2, 2006


caddis writes "double"

No, delmoi's link links to a new study which focuses on entire cultures being affected by aggregate effects of gondii (the original fpp only tangetially touched on the cultural issue).
posted by orthogonality at 11:26 PM on August 2, 2006


OK, I take it back.
posted by caddis at 11:39 PM on August 2, 2006


Wow, Pedantry squared.
posted by sourwookie at 11:43 PM on August 2, 2006


"Affect" and "effect" are both verbs.

They are both verbs and nouns.

Verbs:
To affect means to influence. To effect means to bring about.

Nouns:
An affect is a behavioral display. An effect is a result.
posted by frogan at 11:45 PM on August 2, 2006


How long until somebody says "the parasites made me do it" in a court of law?
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 11:48 PM on August 2, 2006


As if dealing with the chemistry set in our heads wasn't enough, now you're telling me there's shit camped out up there controlling us like puppets. joy.
posted by shoepal at 11:52 PM on August 2, 2006


Schlimmbesserung said:"How long until somebody says "the parasites made me do it" in a court of law?"

Suggest that the parasites can be blamed for all misspellings on MetaFilter, all misuse of similar words, and suspect they have a hand in pile ons and flame wars.
posted by Cranberry at 12:14 AM on August 3, 2006


Rothko must have had a parasite. Bless his heart.
posted by caddis at 12:31 AM on August 3, 2006


Cranberry: also an excellent suggestion, though now you have me worried that there's a typo somewhere in my comment.

Also, because I forgot to say it before: I, for one, welcome our new toxoplasmic overlords.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 12:45 AM on August 3, 2006


Parasites can effect culture, there's a bolus of ascarias worms in my large intestines right now that's putting on a wonderfull production of "The Pirates of Penzance".
posted by Grimgrin at 1:03 AM on August 3, 2006 [3 favorites]


The risk of BSE resulted in widespread slaughter of cattle in the UK, at a cost of billions.

But no matter how much evidence builds up about Toxoplasma, no government will dare to place restrictions on cats, let alone have them put down. Maybe if it mutated into giant brain parasites that burst out of children's heads something would be done, but there'd be protests...
posted by malevolent at 1:41 AM on August 3, 2006


I am quite excited to hear that we can blame something for the current shape of American culture. It wasn't us individuals after all!
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:50 AM on August 3, 2006


Is there a cure for this crap?
posted by IronLizard at 2:14 AM on August 3, 2006


'Effect' would be much more interesting.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:21 AM on August 3, 2006


Yay. Couple of hundred million years evolution and the Goa'uld will be real ... :)
posted by kaemaril at 3:26 AM on August 3, 2006


TwelveTwo: We already can blame something. Republicans.

... I'll get me coat.
posted by kaemaril at 3:26 AM on August 3, 2006


Grimgrin: Bah, call that culture? Call me when they're doing The Mikado :)
posted by kaemaril at 3:28 AM on August 3, 2006


But no matter how much evidence builds up about Toxoplasma, no government will dare to place restrictions on cats, let alone have them put down.

I'm sure some countries wouldn't have a problem. In both Greece and Korea, to pick a couple of examples, cats aren't loved as universally as they are in the US.
posted by Hubajube at 4:07 AM on August 3, 2006


I don't know about toxiplasmosis, but I do think that environmental pathogens may effect culture. Case in point, Seattle. People there are different from people elsewhere, and after living there a while I felt I was different too. Its a complicated syndrom, but it makes people less socially outgoing and more prone to accepting the 'grunge' lifestyle. Now I always suspected mold spores or pollens form the trees there.
posted by Osmanthus at 4:11 AM on August 3, 2006


... He corrected for various factors, for example including per capita gross domestic product as a variable ...

Is it just my parasites speaking, but this is a bit odd. Built on top of the charming notion that there are reliable measures of national 'neuroticism' or 'female open-heartedness', we then 'correct for various factors' (or else presumably we don't have anything worth publishing). Fudge?

Osmanthus: Isn't it more likely to be the weather?
posted by grahamwell at 4:21 AM on August 3, 2006


But no matter how much evidence builds up about Toxoplasma, no government will dare to place restrictions on cats, let alone have them put down.

Surely there's a pretty even split between the weirdos who love cats and the people who can't stand the creepy little fuckers and would happily bludgeon their heads in like so many rabid Chinese dogs? The Cat Wars are coming, be prepared.
posted by jack_mo at 5:49 AM on August 3, 2006


Actually, you are far more likely to get toxo from meat-eating than cat-handling.

But in America, most cats live solely indoors, where they don't get exposed; the Brits, OTOH, may have to worry.
posted by Maias at 5:56 AM on August 3, 2006


I want these motherfucking toxoplasmoids out of my motherfucking brain!

sorry, the parasites made me do it ;)
posted by 1024x768 at 6:32 AM on August 3, 2006


Thank you! Now please pass the horseradish.

And Malas, when I had cats, from when I was 10 to when I was 30, I let them go outside at will. In Baltimore, MD, U.S.A. And I used to eat half-raw meat, till all the articles about mutant E. coli making people very sick scared me. (Like I said, please pass the horseradish!)
posted by davy at 8:02 AM on August 3, 2006



posted by ninjew at 8:38 AM on August 3, 2006


Bad science, huge cultural generalizations, and its always this Carl Zimmer guy who also just happens to be selling a book about this. Color me skeptical.

I'm curious as to how you rate a country's neuroticism levels. How many mega-Woody Allens is France?
posted by the ghost of Ken Lay at 10:00 AM on August 3, 2006


In Fritz Lieber's 1953 science fiction novel, Green Millennium, Utopia arrives in the form of green cats from outer space which make everyone feel better and love their fellow beings (particularly the cute little green ones, of course).

Now that we know Toxoplasmosis Gondii changes human personality, presumably by infecting certain parts of the brain and inducing an immune attack there, or, in an even more sophisticated trick, by antigenic mimicry inducing an auto-immune attack in those parts of the brain, it should be relatively straightforward genetic engineering to change the parts of the brain TG infects or imitates and thereby reduce human tendencies toward violence and anti-social behavior.

So perhaps delmoi, like Lieber, was simply prophetic in saying a pathogen might "effect culture."

It's about time.
posted by jamjam at 10:38 AM on August 3, 2006


FYI: this is sensationalist garbage.
posted by cellphone at 10:49 AM on August 3, 2006


If you culture pathogens in a lab, could those pathogens be said to be effecting a culture? Maybe, if they established a modern dance troupe.
posted by Eideteker at 11:28 AM on August 3, 2006


i think these may just be what some people call "thetans" but i could be wrong, i have been before.
posted by nola at 1:06 PM on August 3, 2006


I've always loved the way my cat smells. Now I know why.
posted by tentacle at 1:16 PM on August 3, 2006


Among the differences in men, Toxoplasma is associated with less interest in seeking novelty.

I'm having trouble parsing this sentence. A little help?
posted by Ynoxas at 8:53 PM on August 4, 2006


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