Could Toxoplasma gondii help your country win the World Cup?


26 Responses to “Could Toxoplasma gondii help your country win the World Cup?”

  1. holtt says:

    I bet there’s some twitter tag you could geolocate and map to toxo rates.

  2. billstewart says:

    You want to play soccer? Go clean the cat box first…

  3. Raj77 says:

    correlation does not imply causation

    science-bot will now return to his box

    • Chevan says:

      Science is built on noticing interesting correlations and performing research to determine whether causation is present.

      They even note in the article that it can’t be known whether this correlation is a coincidence or a side effect of the true cause of the correlation.

      • Raj77 says:

        You’re half right, but I really can’t think of a falsifiable hypothesis you could make out of this.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I just realized a big flaw in the article.

    It’s not the PERCENTS of infected men that determine the strength of a country. It’s the TOTAL.

    i.e. if this infection really did make men better at soccer, then the US would still have more of these awesome men than France, because 10% of a HUGE POPULATION is more than 50% of a small population. So in the US we still have more TOTAL infected men, which means more chances of getting people who are awesome at soccer.

    And there is the flaw. Goodbye.

  5. Sethum says:

    Fascinating correlation…

    I wonder if cultures that prefer cats results in less time being spent dragged around by a dog, and therefore encouraging people to find other ways to spend their outdoor time together, like with a soccer ball…

  6. Anonymous says:

    I imagine underdeveloped nations with high rates of infectious disease due to lack of infrastructure also culturally see economic advancement via education and industry as nowhere near a sure thing, so playing sports as a career is taken more seriously. Maybe.

  7. Pantograph says:

    This does read a bit like “Boooh! They beat us at teh socky-ball because they are smelly diseased foreigners!”
    Well maybe we are, but shouldn’t that advantage carry over into other sports? Toxoplasma Gondii seems to be the pet theory du-jour to explain everything. (I’m confident that before long it will get the blame for both the banking crisis and the BP oil spill.)

    A more logical explanation would be that in the US, football (to give the sport it’s proper name) is mostly played by kids twice a week in an organised fashion. In the rest of the world from the age of three, kids spend every free moment kicking a ball around in addition to regular practice in clubs in a culture that has over a century of collective experience.

    Greetings from the country that sent Brazil home.

  8. daneyul says:

    So, when can we start dissecting soccer players? Can Renaldo be first?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Possible causation:
    Toxoplasmosis may cause aggressive behavior in men.

    “infected people showed different personality traits to uninfected people … [infected] men became aggressive, jealous and suspicious.”

    • Anonymous says:

      How many men do you know (who clean cat boxes on a regular basis) are “aggressive, jealous and suspicious”?
      Those guys sound more like macho dog owners to me. Men who look after cats tend to be bookish and sensitive.
      Okay, I’ll hang up my broad brush now, get my hat and coat, and go.

    • MrScience says:

      But you’d think that the societies with less toxo would still have some, and would thus still have ‘agressive’ males that would become the best at soccer. Still, an interesting correlation indeed.

  10. TooGoodToCheck says:

    You know, it’s funny, but I read the article on slate, and the best thing that came out of it was that I remembered how long it had been since I read five thirty eight. Time to add that one to google reader.

    That slate article itself was such a steaming pile that I felt dumber for having read it. It’s stats without math.

  11. Nadreck says:

    Well, they’ve certainly let the cat out of the bag on this one.

  12. Anonymous says:

    One further test that you could do is to test the individual soccer players for Toxo. If Toxo causes improved soccer play, then soccer players should have even higher Toxo rates than their countrymen. For instance, we’d expect even more than 67% of the players on the Brazilian team to test positive.

  13. Anonymous says:

    what exactly is the arrow pointing to? Just me, but I’d be pointing to some of the nastier looking parts.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Obviously, all this proves is being a good soccer player causes you to become a cat lover.

  15. anansi133 says:

    I wonder if Toxo would ever be classed a performance enhancing drug? And then you’d have to get show you’re not infected before you could compete with the other folk…

    In angry retaliation, a Toxo league could form, where only those infected could compete, or at least only those unconcerned with the issue. Which is kind of the default now.

  16. pecoto says:

    I have this rock that prevents tiger attacks. I carry it all the time and have never been attacked by a tiger. It can be yours for the low, low price of 20000 American Dollars.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Classic example of the ecological fallacy.

  18. Enormo says:

    That sounds awfully close to the name of my band, “Toxoplasma Gandhi.” Should I sue Landon Donovan or FIFA?

  19. Anonymous says:

    does anyone else have the urge to watch trainspotting now?

  20. IamInnocent says:

    I wonder which bug infection correlates to becoming a bad scientists?

  21. Xenu says:

    It may help your team, but it may also cause them to die in motorcycle accidents before the game.

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