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Medicine

Parasite Correlated With World Cup Success 366

Posted by kdawson
from the yeah-yeah-not-causation dept.
mahiskali writes "A parasite commonly found in cats, Toxoplasma gondii, has an unnerving relation to World Cup victories by country. (This parasite was discussed here twice in 2006.) Toxo can be found in almost every type of mammal, from rats to humans. The overall goal of the parasite is to end up in a feline stomach, which is the only place it can reproduce. In other mammals, humans for example, the parasite heads for the brain. It is estimated that nearly 1/3 of the human population has a latent Toxo infection, with individual countries having infection rates varying from 6% (Korea) to 92% (Ghana). Countries with greater incidence of this parasitic infection in their populations tend to win more World Cups than those without. The article, written by a Stanford University neuroscientist, goes on to try out various rationales for such a correlation, ranging from increased testosterone to increased dissent of authority — all symptoms of a Toxo infection. Now we just need to find a parasite that causes an inability to referee properly, and we'll have this whole World Cup business all sorted out."
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Parasite Correlated With World Cup Success

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  • by masterwit (1800118) * on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @05:58PM (#32818154) Journal

    Mr. KDawson,

    To correctly link to a text only version, use the MySlate feature found here [slate.com], select your story, press view story, and link the new link. That way thousands of users will not have to press "cancel print".

    thanks,

    -Everyone

    Link without the print:

    http://www.slate.com/Apps/MySlate/action/read.aspx?action=read&ids=2259350&sortmethod=false [slate.com]

  • Re:Good News is... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @06:09PM (#32818274)

    Nor does the bulk of Asia.

    It's not really a World Cup, it's a European-South American Cup with a couple countries from other continents invited.

    The US is top tier in FIFA rankings compared to China, India, Russia, the Islamic World. I'm also amused that they put Israel in with UEFA and not in AFC because the Islamic nations won't play them. Put Israel in AFC and if they won't play then they forfeit.

  • Re:Poor Tommy... (Score:5, Informative)

    by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @06:12PM (#32818306)
    Just pointing out, this comment is not actually off topic, it's a reference to Trainspotting. In the film one of the characters dies of Toxoplasmosis complicated by AIDS. The guy was also a huge soccer fan.
  • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @06:19PM (#32818382)

    Not to mention they're very nonchalant about a parasite that is extremely harmful to pregnant women and their unborn child. It's not exactly harmless in other adults either; a girl I know was seriously sick from some weeks after contracting toxoplasmosis and said she felt weakened for months afterward. Last thing we need is idiots going around licking cats [blogspot.com] to improve their football (that's right America football not soccer) skils.

  • Re:Interesting fact (Score:5, Informative)

    by nweaver (113078) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @06:19PM (#32818384) Homepage

    Actually, its more subtle, it removes the FEAR of cats, and in fact makes male rats horney around the scent of cat urine!

  • Re:Interesting fact (Score:5, Informative)

    by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @06:24PM (#32818424)
    More than that, the parasite doesn't just slow the rats, it actually modifies their behavior [wikipedia.org], sometimes making them attracted to cats and cat urine. It does do some strange things in humans too, e.g. it is possibly correlated to schizophrenia. I personally have always wondered if Toxoplasmosis is what causes people to keep dozens of cats in a confined space like an apartment. Having been in places like that, I can't think of a logical reason why one would otherwise want so many cats around.
  • Slightly wrong (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @06:48PM (#32818672)

    Toxoplasma gondii is a really interesting parasite. It has a sexual and an asexual reproductive phase, depending on what it has infected. The sexual phase occurs in cats' stomachs, at which point eggs are released in the cat's feces, where they gestate until something eats them. The asexual phase occurs in just about everything else, where it forms cysts in the muscles and the brain of the host. And that's just how it reproduces... the cysts in the brain do all sorts of crazy stuff to the animals its infected.

    It's contracted by eating catshit containing the eggs, or meat with Toxoplasma cysts. A cat that tracked through its own shit then clawed a rat might pass it on, but probably not.

  • Re:Good News is... (Score:5, Informative)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @06:54PM (#32818742)

    Except the point is that the much-ballyhooed-by-TEH-WORLD(tm) "World Cup" is just as inaccurate as the evil, evil, evil, rude, evil, evil, backwards, evil, not-at-all-like-Europe, evil, evil, hated, evil, evil, GAAAARGH WHY DO THEY NOT JUST DIE LIKE I HATE THEM TO, evil, evil, and just not nice United States's "World Series" (which is from the evil United States, meaning it is evil).

    Except that its not.

    The FIFA World Cup process includes teams from pretty much the whole world (there are few nations that don't aren't FIFA members, but not many.) Sure, most teams don't last past the
    the qualifiers, but that doesn't mean they aren't part of the process.

    OTOH, the MLB "World" Series, even including the MLB regular season as a "qualifying" process, includes teams from two countries.

    So, no, the two aren't even approximately equal.

  • Re:Good News is... (Score:5, Informative)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:00PM (#32818830)

    The US is top tier in FIFA rankings compared to China, India, Russia, the Islamic World.

    Russia (#11) is ranked higher than the US (#14)

    "the Islamic World" doesn't have a team, but one predominantly-Islamic country (Egypt) is ranked above the US (Egypt; #12).

    OF course, FIFA rankings and FIFA World Cup qualifications aren't all that tightly linked; many of the countries (including Asian countries) that qualify for the WC do so over higher-ranked countries (North Korea, ranked #105, being a prime example this year.)

  • Turkey (Score:3, Informative)

    by Weezul (52464) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:33PM (#32819244)

    I don't buy the article's conclusions. Ghana has cats? fine. Turkey has mucho cats everywhere! A cat might even shit on your head while you eat in a fancy restaurant in Taksim. All middle eastern countries have oodles of cats, afaik. Yet they suck ass at soccer?

    Germany is a dog country, very few cats here. Brazil doesn't have street cats like Turkey either. etc.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:33PM (#32819254) Homepage

    > ...that's right America football not soccer...

    Association football. Wouldn't want to confuse it with rugby football or gridiron football...

  • Re:Good News is... (Score:5, Informative)

    by unix1 (1667411) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:33PM (#32819256)

    It's not really a World Cup, it's a European-South American Cup with a couple countries from other continents invited.

    "Invited?" Every World Cup tournament is preceded by World Cup qualifying matches [fifa.com] in which every country meeting FIFA criteria (which is pretty much every country) participates. That's why it's called the World Cup.

  • Re:Good News is... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:43PM (#32819358)

    Almost %50 of the population... Therefore most of the world does play football, even though you are wrong with your claim. Football has a massive following in China, being one of the most popular sports, in India only being ranked second to cricket (which is kind of a given). In the US it is the most popular recreational sport for both male & female competitors.

    Your claims fall flat on their face when tested to any degree.

    The World Cup is an international event, and starts again pretty much as soon as the cup is won. Just because you only follow the World Cup when your team is in the group stages doesn't mean it isn't going on for 4 years.

    You need to check your facts before you make huge claims on slashdot, if not, we will.

  • Re:Good News is... (Score:3, Informative)

    by iserlohn (49556) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:48PM (#32819448) Homepage

    I don't know which world you're in but football is big in China and less so but catching on in India (behind Cricket of course). There really is just no comparison with the MLB.

  • Re:Turkey (Score:3, Informative)

    by sznupi (719324) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @08:32PM (#32820006) Homepage

    Germany is a dog country, very few cats here. Brazil doesn't have street cats like Turkey either. etc.

    That is usually a misconception BTW. From a quick search, Germany appears to have almost two times more domestic cats then dogs [slashdot.org]. Just domestic. When it comes to "stray"/half-wild/etc. animals cats also typically dominate, they are more suited to such life (and people are more likely to leave them alone)

    Cats simply aren't so visible.

  • by Cimexus (1355033) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @09:22PM (#32820448)

    Indeed. The problem with a word like 'football' is how generic it is. It's not just North America that doesn't call association football, 'football'. It ain't usually called football in Australia or New Zealand either. Or Canada. Or South Africa (ironically enough).

    From Wikipedia (From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_(word)) [wikipedia.org]:

    "Soccer has been the prevailing term for association football in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, where other codes of football are dominant."

    So yeah, afraid to say it but, among countries whose main language is English, that leaves only the UK where football generally means association football.

    But it's a stupid thing to get worked up about considering that it's normally obvious from context what game is being talked about. I mean, in news articles about/match commentary for a World Cup match here in Australia, they'll often still call it football, because it's bleeding obvious what game is being talked about. But if you just said 'football' to someone in the street they'd usually assume you were talking about either rugby (northern/eastern Australian states) or AFK (southern/western Australian states).

  • Re:Good News is... (Score:5, Informative)

    by zill (1690130) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @09:36PM (#32820570)
    Football is the #1 sport [wikipedia.org] in China and FIFA is the most watched sports event in China.
  • Re:Good News is... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Literaryhero (1379743) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @11:14PM (#32821226)

    Actually the original name was "The World" Series which was the name of the newspaper that sponsored it. It's similar to how NASCAR had the Winston Cup and the Busch Cup. The difference is that NASCAR renamed their trophies when the sponsor changed, whereas "The World" Series never got changed..... and now if causes confusion because few remember that it was named after a paper.

    Except for the fact that you completely made that up. [wikipedia.org]

    Here is a brief excerpt from the Wikipedia article: The series were promoted and referred to as the "The Championship of the United States", "World's Championship Series", or "World's Series" for short.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @01:48AM (#32822178)

    ...which is the prize for the winners of the Uefa Champions League

    The Uefa Cup is the legacy name for the Europa League.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UEFA_Champions_League

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @02:32AM (#32822428)

    Because "football" has nothing to do with the ball mainly being kicked. Not by the modern meanings and not by the original usage of the word.

    So those people insist on using the word correctly, so I guess the real question is why do you want it to mean something entirely new?

  • Re:Good News is... (Score:2, Informative)

    by zombie_monkey (1036404) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:03AM (#32823212)
    That's if you go by population. If your aim is to include the best 32 teams in the world, you would have much _more_ teams for Europe. The way it is right now is a compromise between team strength and population.
  • Re:Good News is... (Score:2, Informative)

    by deains (1726012) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:21AM (#32823280)

    Is Great Britain a country?

    England, Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland are countries. The United Kingdom is a sovereign state. Great Britain is an island, which the UK claims as territory.

  • by ejecta (1167015) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @10:19AM (#32825824)

    Because handball is already a defined sport and "football" is a ball game with major plays involving the kicking foot, so foot+ball = football.

A sheet of paper is an ink-lined plane. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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