Statisticians compute ‘X-factor’

After ten years, an international project on ‘generalized factor analysis’ has finally yielded its first results. Based on measurements on 2500 variables in 4 million subjects, the largest factor analysis ever was completed. The calculations, which took two weeks to run, have yielded some surprising results. According to the project leader, Hans Birgman, reality consists of ‘approximately three factors, of which one is really big and important’.

The first factor, dubbed ‘The X-factor’ by researchers, accounted for 62% of the variability in all the variables they measured. ‘It’s a monster, that’s for sure! Just look at that eigenvalue!’ said one of the researchers. Among the variables loading highly on the X-factor are ‘favorite weathertype’, ‘political preference’, ‘mood’, ‘metabolic efficiency’, ‘opinions concerning gravity’ and ‘toilet-roll orientation preference’. Follow up studies have shown that the X-factor is heritable, is associated with increased activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and correlates approximately .23 with all known psychological constructs.


Gene for poor science journalism discovered

Scientists at the University of Boulder, Colorado have discovered the gene that causes poor science journalism. The gene causes an increase in activity in the journalism area of the cortex, and releases massive quantities of what has been called the ‘sloppy-headline-hormone’ into the bloodstream.

People with a specific variant of the NVAL2 gene exhibit a pathological urge to publish outlandish headlines, distort quotations and to link every scientific finding to cancer. “Take this particularly severe case, patient X12, a science journalist who has worked for a variety of newspapers and websites. Last year she wrote 90 articles that described household objects that either cause or prevent cancer, several of which allegedly did both. A colleague  was even more severely afflicted: He wrote several pieces on the evolutionary benefits of Nordic walking, how the earth’s magnetic core harms children and how playing Angry Birds increases animal cruelty. Really, it’s a tragic disease.”

The researchers did not comment on whether expression of the gene might cause a black hole, if the gene will help to develop cold fusion or whether the ancient Mayans discovered the gene before modern science.

Dr Psyphago previously reported on this shocking finding here

Brain region found that does absolutely nothing

Neuroscientists at the University of Ingberg have found a brain region that does absolutely nothing. Their research, presented at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting, showed that a small region of the cortex located near the posterior section of the cingulate gyrus responded to ‘not one of our 46 experimental manipulations’.

Dr.  Ahlquist was rather surprised at the finding. “During a pilot study we noticed that this small section of the cortex did not show differential activity in any of our manipulations. Out of curiosity, we wanted to see whether it actually did anything at all. Over the months that followed we tried every we knew, with over 20 different participants. IQ tests, memory tasks, flashing lights, talking, listening, imagining juggling, but there was no response. Nothing. We got more desperate, so we tried pictures of faces, TMS, pictures of cats, pictures of sex, pictures of violence and even sexy violence, but nothing happened! Not even a decrease. No connectivity to anywhere else, not even a voodoo correlation. 46 voxels of wasted space. I know dead salmons that are more responsive. It’s an evolutionary disgrace, that’s what it is.”

Some neuroscientists are disappointed by the regions’ lack of response: ‘This is exactly the type of cortical behavior that leads to this popular science nonsense about using only 10% of our brain. Frankly, I am outraged by this lazy piece of brain. It’s the cortical equivalent of a spare tyre. If anyone wants to have it lobotomized, I am happy to break out the orbitoclast and help them out. That’ll teach it.”

Psychometricians develop Ultimate Question

An international team of  psychometricians are about  to unveil what has been called ‘The perfect question”. Collaborating with an international team of sociologists, linguists and computer scientists, the researchers say they have developed a single question that measures every trait, property preference and ability currently known to scientists. The question is half a page long, and can be answered on a scale that ranges from ‘Very much disagree’ to “It completely depends on what the dog did to me first…..”

Principal investigor Franz Koblech is proud of his team. “This paper represents years of work by dozens of people dedicated to this one question, but it has been well worth the effort. Our question can measure, among other things, intelligence, political preference, akinetopsia, depression, body mass index, loneliness, athleticism and cooking ability. All with factor loadings above 0.5.”

According to experts, the administration of The Question to every adult in the country might save millions of dollars by replacing interviews, SAT’s, application forms and online user feedback questionnaires. Although The Question has not yet been made public, inside sources suggest that it definitely contains the words ‘Why’, ‘tax-deductable’ and ‘in your own words’. A small excerpt of the question has been revealed, but Koblech cautions that it should be used ‘only by experienced professionals in a controlled environment’.

New, objective paper published

The latest issue of the journal Science has published the first completely objective paper. The paper, called ’19.834’, contains 16 columns and 74 rows of numbers, calculated to the 5th decimal point, and will be published in the November 9th issue of the prestigious journal. It contains no introduction, theory, interpretation, discussion or reference list.

Lead author Fei Yazuki is proud of the achievements of his team. Yazuki: ‘Our result speaks for itself, we like to think. It is our belief that science is plagued by unnecessary theorizing, overinterpretation, complicated models and overselling of conclusions. For this reason, we stripped away all the unnecessary theory and let the data speak for itself. In the end, that is what science is about: Results”.

Figure 1 shows an excerpt of the findings that have excited fellow scientists from around the world. Joana Sternel, postdoctoral scientist at NYU, is impressed by the work. “This is very exciting. Most people, including our group, would expect 3.2, or maybe even 5, in the first cell. If these findings are replicated, they might completely change the way we look at aeronautics, quantitative genetics, computational linguistics or cognitive neuroscience.”