“Atheists Are Mutants,” says paper based on Yelp, Yahoo Answers, and the Bible

A surprising new paper in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science claims that atheism1 is underpinned by “high mutational load” as indicated by (1) poor general health, (2) autism, (3) fluctuating asymmetry (attractiveness), and (4) left-handedness (Dutton et al., 2017). This is silly for a number of reasons. Let’s start with the preposterous rationale for the study, which is actually based on Christian blogs, Yelp, Yahoo Answers, and the Bible:

There seems to be a stereotype that religious people, and especially religious women, are particularly attractive and healthy. A number of popular articles and social media pages discussing this observation can be found online (Malloy, 2017; Hewitt, 2010, p. 99) including threads beginning with questions such as “Why are Mormon girls so hot?” (Yahoo Answers, 2008) and “OMG … why are Christian woman so extremely (physically) attractive?” (Yelp, 2010).2 Several passages in the Bible seem to suggest that those who intensely fear Yahweh are more disease-resistant (Deut. 7:15) and are more physically attractive (e.g. I Samuel 16:18). Those inspired by other gods or by Satan are, in contrast, autistic (Mark 9:25) and even left-handed (Matt 25: 41). Why should the authors of these books believe this to be the case? It could, of course, be a way of idealising the virtuous, but it is not clear that all of these features were the most pertinent for that purpose.

Really??? Has anyone heard about the stereotype that “religious women are particularly attractive and healthy”? And that the New Testament says autistic individuals3 and left-handers are “Satanic”??  This is so ridiculous that I thought the paper must be a spoof, similar to the articles that appear in the The BMJ Christmas issue.4

Oh, and then there’s the title of the article:

The Mutant Says in His Heart, “There Is No God”: the Rejection of Collective Religiosity Centred Around the Worship of Moral Gods Is Associated with High Mutational Load.

It’s really hard to go any further. Professor Shane O’Mara named it a contender for the worst scientific paper of 2017.



1 …and paranormal belief…

2 The first answer on Yelp is quite amusing:

I think you lucked out….go to a heavily Christian city in middle America and the church populace will look more like peopleofwalmart.com (is that the right site?). I don’t think their looks is attributed to religion, you just happened onto a group of good-looking women. It can happen anywhere.

3 The author of the gospel of Mark must have discovered autism, then.

4 I asked the journal about this, but didn’t hear back.



Dutton E, Madison G, Dunkel C. (2017). The Mutant Says in His Heart,“There Is No God”: the Rejection of Collective Religiosity Centred Around the Worship of Moral Gods Is Associated with High Mutational Load. Evolutionary Psychological Science. pp. 1-12. First Online:

The Annals of Journal Spam: Industrail Control Pollution


A recent spam e-mail from a hijacked journal was one of the most ridiculous I’ve ever received. Besides the misspelling of the journal name in the subject line, the deadline for manuscript submission was before the message was sent! The completely irrelevant topic is typical, as is the cheery obsequiousness.

The spammer seems to have stolen (or hijacked) what might be the actual Journal of Industrial Pollution Control, published by EM International.

JIPC_EM International


From: Journal of Industrial Pollution Control <industrialpollutioncontrol@rroij.com>
Date: Wed, Jul 15, 2015 at 11:04 PM
Subject: Industrail Control Pollution-submission:Invitation
To: [The Neurocritic]

Journal of Industrial Pollution Control
SCOPUS – H Index – 9; NAAS Rating – 4.60

Dear [Neurocritic],

Hope you are doing well!
It gives a great pleasure to email an eminent person like you.
After the successful completion of 30years, Journal of Industrial Pollution Control with NLM(PUBMED) ID: 9012876 is stepping ahead to continue the legacy of its glance by inviting eminent researchers like you to share your views for our upcoming Volume 31, Issue 1.
Articles published will be subjected to indexing in Chemical Abstracts(U.S.A); SCOPUS; EBSCO Publishing(U.S.A); Cambridge Science Abstracts; Ecology Abstracts; Pollution Abstracts; Geological Abstracts; International Development Abstracts; Oceanographic Literature Review; Zoological Records; Indian Science Abstracts, Niscair(India).
We have chosen selective scientists who have contributed excellent work, Thus I kindly request you to contribute a Short Commentary of 1-2 pages (or) Letter to Editor of 1-2 pages (or) Mini Review (Research, Reviews are also invited) for publication in our upcoming issue.
We would truly gratify and appreciate receiving your submission before July 15th
Kindly submit manuscript at
We promise to provide you with the best visibility for your valuable submission to the scientific community.
If it is not feasible for you then please let us know your feasible time to contribute.
Anticipating your positive mail and awaiting your valuable submission.

Wish you a happy and healthy day ahead!

With warm regards
Margarita P
Editorial Assistant
Journal of Industrial Pollution Control


Contact Us_real JIPC

Contact info for the real JIPC


Contact info for the fake JIPC

Contact info for the fake JIPC

Sorry Margarita P, I won’t be contacting you…

A Banner Week in Science

Science magazine, that is…

First and foremost, there was the retraction of LaCour and Green (2014), When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality, at the behest of the second author. The retraction states:

The reasons for retracting the paper are as follows: (i) Survey incentives were misrepresented. To encourage participation in the survey, respondents were claimed to have been given cash payments to enroll, to refer family and friends, and to complete multiple surveys. In correspondence received from Michael J. LaCour’s attorney, he confirmed that no such payments were made. (ii) The statement on sponsorship was false…

In addition to these known problems, independent researchers have noted certain statistical irregularities in the responses ( 2 ). LaCour has not produced the original survey data from which someone else could independently confirm the validity of the reported findings.

Michael J. LaCour does not agree to this Retraction.

LaCour and Green - retracted May 28 2015

The “statistical irregularities” were uncovered by Broockman, Kalla, and Aronow in a 27 page critical report. And as promised, LaCour issued a 23 page rebuttal to Broockman et al. on May 29 (which is being mercilessly dissected as we speak).

You can read complete coverage of the scandal at Buzzfeed, Retraction Watch, and Science of Us (New York magazine). And of course, there’s the time sink known as poliscirumors (if you dare).

Some see L’Affair LaCour as a shining example of the self-corrective nature of science, a triumph of modern statistics and self-publishing. Others are more cynical and view it as a move to cover Don Green’s back.

Thus, the political scientists have started a narrative to defend their rank of science and have explained the fraud as a sign of their fortress, because, as science works and they are scientists, they can catch the dishonest colleagues. A narrative that necessarily has to make of Donald P. Green a hero, as we can read in the article of The New Republic. The problem is that there are a few lies in this story, a lot of incoherence and, worse, a very small triangle formed by the three main characters, the villain Michael J. Lacour, the opportunist boss, Donald P. Green, and the detective who discovered the fraud and former disciple of the opportunist boss, David Broockman. A very close triangle of three scholars who shared academic careers and who might have not be driven by, at least, the pursuing of the truth.


Sometimes, I reach a state of despair when considering the characteristics needed for a “successful” academic career.


Chocolate with high cocoa content as a weight-loss accelerator

Next, we have Science contributing correspondent reporting on The Retraction the DAY AFTER his own unethical phony study was trumpeted in io9. Will Science slap him on the wrist? Force him to retract his stunt paper on chocolate as a weight-loss accelerator 1  from International Archives of Medicine? Oops, too late, the predatory publisher already pulled the article from their site without issuing a retraction notice. Fortunately, you can still get the PDF here.

Bohannon portrayed it as another sting,2 this time of lazy journalists who don’t bother to check their sources. The ones who were really fooled, however, were public consumers of diet news. Deliberate propagation of false health information is unethical, and I wonder if Science will do anything about it.

I’ve been harping on sensationalistic media coverage and trumped up press releases for nearly ten years now (often in a funny/cynical/sarcastic way), but I’ve never disseminated false health information. Well, OK, I’ve jokingly written about Vegas casino develops technique for unobtrusive radiofrequency ablation of the amygdala and The Neurology of Twitter and Anthropomorphic Neuroscience Driven by Researchers with Large TPJs, but these were clearly parodies, not recommendations that people should change their diets (under the guise of SCIENCE).

….. time for a chocolate now …..


Science Magazine

Sleeping your way out of a bad attitude (Feld & Born, 2015).

Then there’s the cure racism and sexism while you sleep 3 paper (Hu et al., 2015), published on that fateful May 28 Retraction Day, along with the first time researchers have been able to suppress a memory and then restore it in an animal article (Ryan et al., 2015). I haven’t read either one, so no deconstruction here.

Credulous coverage of the latter prompted a Nature editor to link to this earlier paper and to say:

Some day journos will either learn to read the literature or stop using sensationalist language like “OMG 1ST TIME!!”

Neither of those scenarios will ever happen. It Feels Like The First Time in 2007, as it does today.

Time for another chocolate.



1 Total n=15 for three groups (i.e., n=5 in each of the groups):

  • Low-carb diet with daily serving of 42 grams of chocolate
  • Low-carb diet without chocolate
  • Eat at own discretion

Also, a ridiculous age range (1967) and irresponsible BMI range (19.1539.95)… who in their right mind enrolls someone at the low end of “normal” into a diet study?

2 Bohannon’s first sting, of predatory open access journals, was published (where else) in Science. The chocolate sting was underwritten by German filmmakers.

3 Another fun headline: Could SLEEP make you less racist? Gender and racial bias can be ‘erased’ during a nap, claims study.

The Journal of Megalomania

American International Journal of Contemporary Research

AIJCR aims to promote contemporary research in business, humanities, social science, science and technology and become the leading journal in the world.

Now here’s a journal that not only wants to be all things to all people, it wants to take over the world. It’s American and International. It publishes papers in “three broad specific fields” [sic] of Business and Economics, Humanities and Social science, and Science and Technology.

Have a simulation model on dance, social welfare, tourism, and botany? Don’t know where to send that technical note on the international relations of robotic forestry? Now there’s a journal for all your multidisciplinary work! In fact, it hopes to become premiere journal for all the research in the universe, publishing “original papers, review papers, conceptual framework, analytical and simulation models, case studies, empirical research, technical notes, and book reviews.”

What journal is it, you ask?

Why it’s American International Journal of Contemporary Research (AIJCR)!  Here’s their e-mail pitch to me:

Call for Papers

American International Journal of Contemporary Research
ISSN 2162-139X (Print), ISSN 2162-142X (Online)

American International Journal of Contemporary Research (AIJCR) is an open access, peer-reviewed and refereed multidisciplinary journal published by Center for Promoting Ideas (CPI), USA. The main objective of AIJCR is to provide an intellectual platform for the research community. AIJCR aims to promote contemporary research in business, humanities, social science, science and technology and become the leading journal in the world.

The journal publishes research papers in three broad specific fields as follows:

Business and Economics

Management, marketing, finance, economics, banking, accounting, human resources management, international business, hotel and tourism, entrepreneurship development, business ethics, development studies and so on.

Humanities and Social science

Anthropology, communication studies, corporate governance, criminology, cross-cultural studies, demography, education, ethics, geography, history, industrial relations, information science, international relations, law, linguistics, library science, media studies, methodology, philosophy, political science, population Studies, psychology, public administration, sociology, social welfare, linguistics, literature, paralegal, performing arts (music, theatre & dance), religious studies, visual arts, women studies.

Science and Technology

Astronomy and astrophysics, Chemistry, Earth and atmospheric sciences, Physics, Biology in general, Agriculture, Biophysics and biochemistry, Botany, Environmental Science, Forestry, Genetics, Horticulture, Husbandry, Neuroscience, Zoology, Computer science, Engineering, Robotics and Automation, Materials science, Mathematics, Mechanics, Statistics, Health Care & Public Health, Nutrition and Food Science, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and so on.

The journal is published both in print and online versions.

Given their ambitions (and their logo), I think the AIJCR publisher has been watching House of Cards


Award For The Most Ridiculous Predatory Publisher Ever Goes To…

Photon Foundation!

Join hands with Photon Foundation for sustainable development of society. Photon Foundation is engaged in diverse sectors to upgrade the way we live including health, environment, employment, education, science, technology and resources.

Share your imagination with us. Dare to express yourself.

I recently received an e-mail from a hotmail account, with the subject line of “Angelina Holmes.” It invited me to submit a paper to the Journal of Planning and Architecture. This may seem strange at first, since I have absolutely no background in either planning or architecture. But it’s par for the course in these days of predatory open access publishing, where fake journals set up shop merely to collect money from those willing to pay to publish. Here’s the pitch:

It is my great honor and pleasure to invite you to submit your most recent research and ideas to Journal of Planning and Architecture, world’s leading journal in the domain. The peer reviewed international journal offers fast review within approx 12 days. Published articles are made available online with free access to target multinational audience in your domain. With high impact index 3.54 journal is accepting leading research in the domain of Planning and Architecture.

Over two years ago, I created a spam e-mail folder for Fake Conferences and Fake Journals, which currently has 242 messages. Therefore, the outcome of what’s come to be known as the big “sting”, a flawed exposé of crappy open access journals at Science, came as no surprise to me.

The most amusing aspects of the recent Photon pitch included the laughable webpage hosted at sites.google.com, the multicolor fonts, the preposterous text, and a fabricated metric called the “impact index” (instead of impact factor).

Photon Innovations- 2013:

Welcome to Photon Innovations-2013. The highly versatile Global Project which connects world’s top most leaders, academicians, scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs and organizations towards filtration of World’s Path Breaking Research Articles and Discoveries. The project incubates milestone & cutting edge research and discoveries for the year 2013 which have potential to catalyze the domain. The Global Project awards the scientists with Photon Innovations-2013 Award who demonstrates the calibre to transform and catalyze the domain. Their names would be announced and published on Photon Beam in 2013 with affiliations and respective countries.With the passion you can submit your work at photonjournal@yahoo.com

The world is waiting for you!…………..Only thing, you need to have is Determination.


From what I can tell, they have a grand total of 37 papers published in 57 journals. To cap off the exploitativeness, they’re sponsoring something called the Photon Young Scientist Program-2013 (PYSP-2013).

Is it any surprise, then, that these types of journals would accept a fake paper without peer review?

Lady Gaga and Porn Studies


I haven’t written about Lady Gaga in a while. This entire Posterous blog started out as a joke, and then it turned into a place where I’d post some pieces that didn’t quite fit into the main blog, and others where I could upload huge videos that Blogger wouldn’t host. Then Posterous went under and I transferred the content to WordPress, where it seems like a serious blog.

Hence, it was time for a name change from The Neurocritic on Lady Gaga and… [whatever I was writing about that day]. But I thought one last Gaga post was in order after reading about the start of a new journal to be published by Routledge — Porn Studies:

Porn Studies is the first dedicated, international, peer-reviewed journal to critically explore those cultural products and services designated as pornographic and their cultural, economic, historical, institutional, legal and social contexts. Porn Studies will publish innovative work examining specifically sexual and explicit media forms, their connections to wider media landscapes and their links to the broader spheres of (sex) work across historical periods and national contexts.

The ‘Gaga in a meat grinder’ imagery is clearly a reference to the infamous Hustler meat grinder cover from 1978:

In 1970 [sic], women would no longer be treated like meat. On the cover of Hustler magazine or at the Born This Way Ball, meat is precisely how we treat them.

Hustler meat grinder cover

There was also an association with the relentless focus on body image. The fact that Lady Gaga had gained 25-30 pounds was not lost on the media (to the tune of 30,000,000 hits!). The most offensive headline comes up quite high in the search and doesn’t deserve a link: ‘Lady Gaga Looks Obese in a Bikini; Gains 30 Pounds [PHOTOS]’.

To her immense credit, Gaga started her Body Revolution campaign, where she acknowledged struggling with anorexia and bulimia since the age of 15 and called for compassion. Her revelations, and level of comfort with her body, resonated with fans.

Lady Gaga Body Revolution

Now you can submit your own analysis of Lady Gaga’s use of Hustler meat grinder imagery to a new academic journal. Call for Papers (PDF):

The editors, Feona Attwood (Middlesex University) and Clarissa Smith (University of Sunderland), and Routledge are pleased to announce the launch of a new journal devoted to the study of pornography.
. . .
Porn Studies invites submissions for publication, commencing with its first issue in Spring 2014. Articles should be between 5000 and 8000 words. Forum submissions should be 500-1500 words. Book reviews should be between 800 and 1500 words. Submissions will be refereed anonymously by at least two referees.

Link to Porn Studies announcement via @mocost.

lady gaga in meat grinder

Dinosaurs and Humans Walked the Earth Together! Peer Reviewed!

“He is Who that created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days, and He is established on the Throne of Power [1].”

-opening sentence of Dinosaurs: Extinct or Traumatized? [PDF], by Mohammad Ghannaee Arani in Journal of Trauma & Treatment

Much to the dismay of those who run reputable open access journals, some of the material published under the rubric of “open access” (i.e., vanity publishing or pay-to-publish or “predatory publishing“) is less than stellar. On a few select occasions, however, one can find absolute howlers like a religious treatise on the co-existence of humans and dinosaurs.

The Journal of Trauma & Treatment is published by OMICS Group, which has been noted for its questionable practices:

Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver, described OMICS Publishing Group as a predatory Open Access publisher. “Having a large number of titles, as does the OMICS Publishing Group, is typical of predatory Open-Access publishers,” he wrote. “Also typical is each journal’s broad coverage. By offering 68 titles each with a broad coverage, this publisher is tacitly saying it will publish anything.”

Is Beall’s characterisation of OMICS fair? Founder and managing director of OMICS Dr Srinu Babu Gedela insists it is not. “We believe the peer review process is very important … I am confident about the quality of the review process used in OMICS’ journals.”

Dr Srinubabu Gedela may want to reconsider that statement in light of the traumatized dinosaur paper, which I will quote below at length.

Scientifically and evidently speaking, there is no doubt about, and disagreement in, the sudden disappearance of dinosaurs’ species sometimes within the span of time. Paleontologists’ estimate for the dinosaurs’ life time does not match with the time given theologically for the creation of the earth. Anyhow, this study is targeted at relating dinosaur extinction to some blunt or penetrating traumatic events. The author is to provide evidences for the events weather naturally or due to an intentional act of God that were responsible for the nature- or God-induced traumatization of the species. Whatever the reason, there lies this certain fact that human race would not survive on the earth safe and sound if dinosaurs with their giant and custom-made bodies had not gone extinct. Thanks God for this naturally justified traumatization for the benefit of mankind.

Thanks God!!

jesus riding a small dinosaur

Coexistence or Not

Humanity was given dominion over all the lower creatures of the earth [6].

Numerous explanations have turned up to put in plain words the coexistence of man and dinosaur and to elucidate the mechanism of the species’ dying out.

. . .

Theologically speaking, in the Bible we are encountered with this account that land creatures including dinosaurs were all created on the same day as the human being and walked this earth in concert with him both coexisting [9], but dinosaurs and man probably lived in their own, separate areas, just like people and large, wild animals do today [10]. According to the holy Qur’an, process of formation of the universe is presented in brief:

“Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together, then we clove them asunder and we got every living thing out of the water? Will they not then believe [11]?”

Jesus confirmed that mankind has existed “from the beginning of the creation”, so all kinds of living things were brought into existence in the same initial creation days which are six as Moses confirms as well [12]; and thus, this hypothesis that “the earth was peopled by oviparous quadrupeds of a most appealing magnitude, and reptiles were ‘Lords of the Creation’ before the existence of human race” [13] seems to be of a kind neither logical nor verifiable.

And of course, we get the confident assertion that Evolution is Wrong. In a “peer reviewed scientific journal.”

What is understood from the contentions above is that despite breakthroughs claimed have been made in the so-called science territory, no definite and unchanging speculation is still accepted by all firstly concerning the exact process of evolution and secondly regarding coexistence of human and dinosaurs. Most of the claims are still pending and dependent on verifications to be done some day because the science seems to be still unable to support fully its theories in its own language.

Anyone who is on the Editorial Board of Journal of Trauma & Treatment might want to reconsider your membership, in light of the potential harm to your reputation.

Received December 26, 2012; Accepted January 22, 2013; Published January 24, 2013

Citation: Arani MG (2013) Dinosaurs: Extinct or Traumatized? J Trauma Treat 2:156. doi: 10.4172/2167-1222.1000156

Copyright: © 2013 Arani MG. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

image credits: Dinosaurs and the Biblical Flood and 10 Epic Portraits of Jesus and Dinosaurs.

UPDATE 5/17/13:  OMICS has unceremoniously removed this paper from the J Trauma Treatment website without any sort of retraction notice, which seems odd for a publisher that wants to be taken seriously… So seriously, in fact, that they’ve threatened to sue a blogger for a tidy sum of $1 billion:

A publisher in India called OMICS Publishing Group has threatened to sue a blogger named Jeffrey Beal, who runs a blog called Scholarly Open Access. Beal critiques open-access publishing venues, and and ran a post asserting that OMICS engages in spamming and bait-and-switch. OMICS’ threat would be mundane, except that its lawyer, Ashok Ram Kumar of the Indian firm IP Markets, has chosen to be so very ridiculous. He’s threatening to sue for $1 billion, and to seek criminal penalties in India.

Several days ago I posted a comment on a ScienceInsider story, asking the OMICS Group Managing Director about how the dinosaur paper had passed through genuine peer review. I can only guess that this comment, or perhaps this blog post, led to the unannounced removal of the paper.

But don’t fret, you can still read it here.