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Parasite Correlated With World Cup Success

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the yeah-yeah-not-causation dept.

Medicine 366

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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366 comments

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Good News is... (5, Funny)

ChrisK87 (901429) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818146)

Fortunately here in the States we don't have to worry about such dangerous things as world cup victories.

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

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Good News is... (4, Funny)

socz (1057222) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818362)

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

Now THAT makes sense! That's why we have the world series of baseball with only 2 countries playing!

Re:Good News is... (2, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818466)

If anything the UEFA cup should be called the World Cup because players from all over the world are in the European Leagues.

I know they call it the World Series because the best players in the world come to the MLB and all that, it's a dumb name for a series.

How many countries have a serious interest in Baseball? US, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, RoK and Japan, that's pretty much it.

The MLB series should be called the Commissioner's Series.

Re:Good News is... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818504)

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).

Sounds a bit like the World Series is a bit more diverse than the World Cup, from your definition...

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

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#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... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818508)

How many countries have a serious interest in Baseball? Canada.

HA

That's stretching it. Sure we got a team but nobody roots for them, not even Canadians.

Re:Good News is... (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818726)

That's OK, we'll gladly let you have the Curling World Series.

I was in St. Louis during the Olympics and hung out at a Irish dive bar (JP's) that was TOTALLY into the matches... mostly trying to figure out the rules.

Re:Good News is... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818928)

Still less boring than baseball.

Re:Good News is... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818946)

I'm only interested in a couple sports (American Football, Soccer, Hockey) and almost none of the Winter Olympics, but I love Curling, it's addictive to watch and try and figure out.

Re:Good News is... (4, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.)

Re:Good News is... (1)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818974)

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

So....

Group from eastern hemisphere + group from western hemisphere + smattering of other groups from northern / southern hemispheres != world?

Re:Good News is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818434)

But now that we know what will win a victory....
This is the land of doping for sports. I shouldn't be the slightest startled to find an expose' of the U.S.A. team eating kitty poo hor d'oerves for that extra shot of "Toxo".

K-dawg, here is a feature for you! (4, Informative)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818154)

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:K-dawg, here is a feature for you! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818302)

Too Late! KDawson has the worms eating at his brain....

Re:K-dawg, here is a feature for you! (1)

socz (1057222) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818336)

What was that? I had to get up and check the printer for some stuff that came out.

Re:K-dawg, here is a feature for you! (2, Funny)

drewhk (1744562) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818410)

We need a "+1 Mean" moderation option.

Re:K-dawg, here is a feature for you! (0, Offtopic)

serialband (447336) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818562)

You could always run noscript for firefox or run opera with javascript turned off. It's not necessary to keep javascript on by default for every page that you visit.

Re:K-dawg, here is a feature for you! (5, Funny)

Nethead (1563) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818802)

Damn you Dawson!

I had the 48" pen plotter selected as my default printer.

I'll be sending you a wall poster of the article with my bill.

Re:K-dawg, here is a feature for you! (4, Funny)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32819072)

I had the 3D printer set up to make a solid gold PS3 controller. Now I have a solid gold Slate article. Oh yes, the bill will be forthcoming.

Re:K-dawg, here is a feature for you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818900)

Or surf with NoScript active.

Correlation is not causation (4, Insightful)

hkz (1266066) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818174)

Sorry for shooting for the obvious, but the old trope about correlation and causation seems exactly in order here.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818232)

I would like to see the correlation betwen per capita income versus toxoplasmosis infection and versus world cup wins. I suspect that is the driving factor for both of those.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

troubbble (1314525) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818334)

Yes. Data mining can certainly be fun, but it's silly to call it news until the link is investigated and solid theoretical evidence is found to support a causal relationship.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818460)

solid theoretical evidence

interesting phrase.

When it comes down to it:

Correlation == recorded observations

Causation == bulshit we make up

so, yeah ... correlation is not causation. It is better. The very idea that causation exists as something other than than a human yearning for order is not backed up by empirical evidence.

Re:Correlation is not causation (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818552)

Explain extremely low p-values in randomized clinical trials then. :)

All type-1 error by your theory, right?

Re:Correlation is not causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818922)

It is easy to take a sufficiently constrained view of the universe that there appear to be order. Just as it is easy to take a sufficiently constrained view of the universe that there appear to be chaos.

Whether the apparent chaos is just a localized absence of recognized order, or the apparent order is just interesting patterns in the chaos ... that's a hard question to answer.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

troubbble (1314525) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818568)

You make an interesting observation--I only wish you would have logged in so I could take you more seriously.

Re:Correlation is not causation (3, Informative)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Correlation is not causation (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818386)

It's more than that, the article is an effective demonstration of how you can prove anything with statistics, and if you want to make sure you are right, you have to make sure the statistics actually establish the case.

For this story we can look at it another way, and see that toxoplasmosis mortality [nationmaster.com] shows the final four in this year's world cup should be Brazil, USA, Mexico and South Africa. Obviously that didn't happen, so this story is wrong.

Obviously my evidence there is weak too, but it shows you can prove anything if you look at it correctly. In the case of this story, he cherry picked statistics that supported his thesis (which is also what I did). Of course the author knows this, and pointed out some contradicting data himself:

The relationship is neither linear nor foolproof. Italy managed to win the World Cup in 2006, despite its relatively average infection rate of 33 percent. Certain African countries plagued with public health problems have astronomical Toxo rates. Yet the heavily infected players of Ghana, Gabon (71 percent), and the Ivory Coast (60 percent) have not yet managed to win a single cup. On the other end, England (6 percent), the U.S. (12 percent), and Japan (6 percent) are pretty OK at soccer yet have some of the lowest rates in the world.

Basically it is a case of someone noticing an interesting coincidence and wanting to point it out to everyone, but it seems there's about as much evidence for it as there is for an octopus choosing world cup winners.

Bottom line: if you want to know for sure, you have to make sure the statistics are sound.

Re:Correlation is not causation (2, Funny)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818580)

Yeah ... this kind of 'shorten your shotgun barrel til you hit something' research bugs me.

This is so easily tested, too. Pick a loser country with a relatively small population, and start infecting their water supplies with toxo. Watch them start to win year after year. Case proved.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818710)

For this story we can look at it another way, and see that toxoplasmosis mortality shows the final four in this year's world cup should be Brazil, USA, Mexico and South Africa. Obviously that didn't happen, so this story is wrong.

Wait, you should look further. The four finalists are Spain, Netherlands, Germany, and Uruguay.

Uruguay lost to Netherlands today, which is consistent with them being in the last place in the list you linked. Netherlands won, which means the worst place they will get in this cup is second, also consistent with that list.

That leaves tomorrow's game, Spain vs. Germany. Spain had three deaths, Germany only one, which means tomorrow Spain will defeat Germany and will also defeat Netherlands in the final match. In the match for third place Germany will defeat Uruguay.

So, what if next sunday the results are 1 - Spain, 2 - Netherlands, 3 - Germany, 4 - Uruguay? Well, AFAIK today, I'd bet on 1 - Germany, 2 - Netherlands, 3 - Spain, 4 - Uruguay.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818732)

Researcher: "We found an interesting correlation between A and B, and here's a possible mechanism by which A may increase the probability of B."

Press release: "Scientists prove A causes B!"

Random /. reader: "Here's a case where B happened without A! Lies, damned lies, and statistics! Stupid scientists! Correlation is not causation! Look how smart I am!"

You can be as confident in predicting this cycle in any /. story which mentions anything having to do with statistics as you can in predicting that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818840)

To be fair, in this case, the story is actually written by the scientist himself.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818916)

True. It's also true that the researcher/writer is very careful not to make any absolute claims. He's just saying, as I said above, "here's this interesting correlation, and here's a possible causal mechanism." In such cases, a lot of people seem to take step two in my list above themselves -- they read the reasonable claim, turn it into an unreasonable claim in their own heads, and then proceed to tear that unreasonable claim down. It's amusing and a little sad that such people often link to the Philosophy 101 lists of logical fallacies that abound on the web; perhaps they should try reading down those lists until they encounter the phrase "straw man."

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

zz5555 (998945) | more than 4 years ago | (#32819004)

"For this story we can look at it another way, and see that toxoplasmosis mortality [nationmaster.com] shows the final four in this year's world cup should be Brazil, USA, Mexico and South Africa. Obviously that didn't happen, so this story is wrong."

I'm not saying this story is correct, but your reasoning is definitely incorrect. The summary says, "Countries with greater incidence of this parasitic infection in their populations tend to win more World Cups than those without." This would just imply that countries with high infection rates are more likely to win, not that they will win any particular game. Winning a particular game is just anecdotal data and not really relevant in and of itself. So your reasoning does not show that the story is wrong.

Re:Correlation is not causation (3, Funny)

hkz (1266066) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818390)

Holland has an infection rate of "eventually 80%" (source: http://www.nvkc.nl/tijdschrift/content/1999/nr%201/p65/1999-1-p65.pdf [www.nvkc.nl] ), which does eerily correlate with our soon-to-be world cup win. (Disclaimer: there are orange crowds singing outside after "our" win to Uruguay, and to Germany I would like to say, "Schade Deutschland, alles ist vorbei!" ;-)

Re:Correlation is not causation (2, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818566)

"Schade Deutschland, alles ist vorbei!"

Jeez man, do you kiss your mother with that mouth?

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818650)

I just hope the finals end with a penalty shoot-out because I could do with a good laugh.

Re:Correlation is not causation (0, Flamebait)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818658)

You silly wood shoe wearing pot smoking bastards are going down. Then you can go home a stick your fingers in your dikes.

Besides, statistics are wrong (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818396)

Even the correlation is not absolute here.

TFA mentions that Korea has the lowest infection rate in the world. Both Koreas qualified for this Workd Cup, while some 170+ other countries didn't.

TFA also mentions Ghana has the highest infection rate. They are already out of this Cup, have never won any.

Re:Besides, statistics are wrong (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818584)

Well great... you just proved one thing. If you aren't severely infected with Toxo, they will agree with you. If they are severely infected, they will agree with the main drive of the story.

If it weren't for the fact that this particular parasite has existed for thousands and thousands of years, I would think it was some sort of government conspiracy. That Toxo-parasite scares the crap out of me frankly. Think about it -- it has the potential to make smart people into stupid people and stupid people into really frikken crazy people. Since I learned about it, you can't get me near a cat for any amount of time. I already feel like I'm losing IQ points every day -- I don't need it accelerated.

Interestingly enough, I had forwarded some information on the parasite to a friend who was getting cats (yes, cats plural) and he responded "you can also get cancer from breathing!" I didn't even attempt to go into why that was a ridiculous response, but I happen to know he is part of a couple that plans to have children eventually. I'm guessing he didn't even read what I sent him... This is how mass stupidity happens. When people want something enough, they will ignore any and all facts in pursuit of it. This is why SPAM emails work. This is why people continue to smoke cigarettes regardless of how much truth they hear about how bad and utterly useless it is. (Yeah, call me troll or flamebait or whatever, but if you are a smoker, and a LOT of you are, you're just a dumb shit for wasting your money and your health on it. Seriously. "It's an addiction!" Be stronger than the addiction dumbass!)

I know I'm no picture of health. But if something I am doing is taxing my health AND costing me a lot of money? You bet I'm inclined to quit. What the hell is wrong with people who can't think that way for themselves?

Re:Besides, statistics are wrong (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818696)

You had better be careful with those IQ points, does not seem you have many to spare.

Some people have the cash to waste and don't care. I stopped smoking years ago, but you are still a douchebag. I am 100% sure my cat is smarter than you.

Re:Besides, statistics are wrong (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818854)

Your cat has toxo and is controlling your mind with it. It's "okay" to not care about yourself... but most people see that as a sign of a mental problem in the classical sense of the word. It's anyone's right to not care about themselves, true. But isn't it also a rather large problem that has a rather large impact on society at large? I think the results are self-evident and quite demonstrable.

Re:Besides, statistics are wrong (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818982)

He probably is.

Considering that smokers pay in taxes far more than they cost society, I disagree that they have a negative impact on society.

Either way I believe people should be free to ingest whatever they like.

Re:Besides, statistics are wrong (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818980)

Even the correlation is not absolute here.

"A is positively correlated with B" does not mean the same thing as "if A, then B." So griping that the correlation isn't "absolute" is kind of silly.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818636)

Sorry for shooting for the obvious, but the old trope about correlation and causation seems exactly in order here.

You make an excellent point. If the company that makes the World Cup trophies has a serious cat infestation, then winners will be more likely to be exposed to the parasite than losers.

Re:Correlation is not causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818930)

Sigh. Some joker always gets modded up with Correlation != Causation in all stories such as this.

From the article:

"Finally, it's possible—likely, even—that the correlation between Toxo infection and World Cup success is a coincidence"

Actually, I'm the idiot here, assuming people read articles and are capable of thinking that other people aren't complete morons (bad reporting doesn't necessarily mean bad science).

Correlation != Causation (1)

cmpaul (728674) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818176)

... which is what the author seems to imply, despite the headline.

Brain parasite... (4, Funny)

nebaz (453974) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818192)

Do any of these parasites modify your voice timbre and give you glowing eyes and create in you a desire to build healing sarcophagi?

Re:Brain parasite... (5, Funny)

nalidog (1682910) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818268)

No, but they can make you play the holophonor like a pro.

Re:Brain parasite... (1)

mog007 (677810) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818606)

What about my brain? Will they make me smarter than Cher?

Re:Brain parasite... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818456)

No, but I have given pleasure to the world because I have such a beautiful ass.

Funny coincidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818226)

Most countries participating in the World Cup are parasites.

Poor Tommy... (4, Insightful)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818234)

We've just come back from Tommy's funeral and you are talking about a skag deal?

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

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Poor Tommy... (2, Funny)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818572)

Nice reference. I haven't felt that good since Archie Gemmel scored against Holland in 1978.

Despite popular belief... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818246)

Correlation and causation can coexist. In fact, causation implies correlation. However, those who know their predicate logic know that the converse is not necessarily true.

Is this... (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818250)

...Is this from the same group of scientist that claim parasites are responsible for EVERYTHING [discovermagazine.com] ?

Causality = ? (1)

bazmail (764941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818264)

Countries that win baseball World Series' tend to have high levels of child obesity, ergo Baseball = Obesity.

cough (1, Redundant)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818292)

Re:cough (3, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818422)

This meme isn't fashionable anymore. You were supposed to post an XKCD comic instead.

Re:cough (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818548)

This meme isn't fashionable anymore. You were supposed to post an XKCD comic instead.

Obligatory XKCD link [xkcd.com]

Re:cough (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#32819044)

What's the probability that this link will appear in replies to stories about statistical studies?

Interesting fact (5, Interesting)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818300)

A bit OT, but I thought it was a fact worth mentioning:

The most common carrier of Toxoplasma gondii are cats. When a cat with Toxo injures a rat (but does not kill it) it usually passes the infection to the rat. The effect of the parasite on rats makes them slower and far easier for predators (like cats) to catch/kill them. Which, in turn, passes the parasite on to the cat. The cat then takes a swipe at a rat...and so on ad infinitum.

The parasite uses the natural predator/prey relationship to keep itself alive.

Re:Interesting fact (4, Informative)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818384)

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 (4, Interesting)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818394)

The Toxo infection in rats not only makes the rats reaction time slower: It has been documented in detail that it also appears to modify the behaviour of the infected rats.

Infected rats are likely to be "suicidal" insofar as putting themselves in the path of cats, hanging out near to where they smell feline urination and/or feces.

It is in the interest of the parasite to make the rats exceedingly easy to find/kill so that they may complete their life cycle.

Re:Interesting fact (5, Informative)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Interesting fact (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818866)

I have two cats and probably this parasite, those people are just nuts. If you took away their cats they would fill the place with old newspapers or beany babies or just garbage.

Slightly wrong (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

This is a "back of the envelope" type study. (0, Redundant)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818312)

The author does not actually have any test data on the soccer players. He just used the rates of parasite infections in the countries competing and correlates them with World Cup wins. A proper study would test the players themselves. This was not done. Some big assumptions are made instead.

Will my insurance cover this toxo bug? (0)

socz (1057222) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818320)

So, the good news is that the U.S. has like a 13% infection rate. The bad news is that apparently,

Evidence even suggests that motorcyclists are more likely to have Toxo. Something like a James Dean effect. Generally, males with Toxo are more aggressive and less inhibited. "

http://www.motorcyclenews.com/MCN/News/newsresults/General-news/2010/June/jun0810-The-pill-that-could-cure-you-of-motorcycling/ [motorcyclenews.com]

So, did I ever mention I'm a biker? hahaha

Re:Will my insurance cover this toxo bug? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818416)

And women with this parasite are supposedly more promiscuous.

Re:Will my insurance cover this toxo bug? (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818492)

Nothing quite like sleeping with the crazy cat lady, I would imagine, cough.

Re:Will my insurance cover this toxo bug? (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818714)

And women with this parasite are supposedly more promiscuous.

Hmmm. Is this parasite available in pill form?

Re:Will my insurance cover this toxo bug? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818786)

Bad news, one of the other suspected side effects of toxo in human women is also an increase in intelligence.

Re:Will my insurance cover this toxo bug? (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#32819006)

Bad news, one of the other suspected side effects of toxo in human women is also an increase in intelligence.

So ... they'll be able to cook tastier food? How is this a bad thing?

Re:Will my insurance cover this toxo bug? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818940)

Which is why all the cat ladies are alone. The cats of the women carrying the parasite have a lower survival rate.

Come on, all together now! (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818400)

Let's sing the "Correlation is not causation" song!

Only Correlated With World Cup Success in CATS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818408)

In humans, the infection causes pundits to see patterns everywhere much like that guy from A Beautiful Mind, who was eaten by a cat if I recall correctly.

Godwin's (1)

tirnacopu (732831) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818418)

Both the article and the summary state state such absurd and horrific suppositions, an association with the presumed arian supremacy is the first thought and actually the last as I dismissed this story and will try to forget it.

Toxo Parasite Implies Soccer Prowess? Doubtful (1)

Ellie K (1804464) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818440)

I want to know what the incidence rate of infection amongst the players themselves actually is. Now the article did posit this, which is unlikely but possibly a behavioral influence, even if the actual players are not infected:

"it might be foolish to assume that the players have the same rate of infection as their countrymen ... On the other hand, having more Toxo-infected people around you at a young age might help your development as a player. Second, some studies have shown that those infected with Toxo have slower reaction times on certain tests than matched controls"

The last part clinches it for me. Toxo infection does NOT confer enhanced motor skills or athletic ability. Quite the contrary. Perhaps the preceding sentence is an influence, but that isn't easy to determine. And toxoplasmosis is awful. My best friend cauaght it from her parakeet, or maybe the cat, when she was 11 years old, and she was yellow and jaundicy and sickly for years, even with treatment. The CDC http://www.cdc.gov/toxoplasmosis/ [cdc.gov] comments that it is the 3rd highest cause of food-related deaths in the US.

Re:Toxo Parasite Implies Soccer Prowess? Doubtful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818820)

On the other hand, these populations where toxo infections are high and may be hampering physical ability could be responding by breeding for better physical ability. Which, when infected, leaves them as able as average in other populations and when uninfected, as is more likely when you're a highly paid professional athlete, leaves you with a physical advantage.

Such a hypothesis could be fairly easily tested. Although, not by me.

Re:Toxo Parasite Implies Soccer Prowess? Doubtful (1)

Windwraith (932426) | more than 4 years ago | (#32819038)

Not the parakeet you anti-bird racist, friend of cats! Stop spreading FUD! (just kidding)
Cats are more likely to carry it, and I thought it was found on mammals...the article says so, so maybe I am not mistaken here.

Re:Toxo Parasite Implies Soccer Prowess? Doubtful (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32819078)

Could have been something she ate too. If you clean the litter box daily it is unlikely you would catch it as the feces needs to be several days old for transmission to occur.

Cause and effect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818474)

Countries with greater incidence of this parasitic infection in their populations tend to win more World Cups than those without.

Countries where children grow up diving into the turf and rolling around faking injuries tend to have more children with Toxo.

Health Care (1)

Nugoo (1794744) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818478)

More evidence that Canada has better health care than the US!

Playing football gives you toxo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818498)

What is the chance that people catch toxo from practicing football? Ball rolls in cat-feces; the players touch the ball.....

gnn4a (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818530)

4.1BSD product, sh1theads. *BSD

Goa'uld swarm in my brain makes me sad (1)

musmax (1029830) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818582)

Ever since I read about toxoplasmosis I suspected I might be infected:
  • Brain fog - check
  • Issues with focus and concentration - check
  • Inexplicably irritated by authority, more than can be explained by normal nerd rage - check
  • Generally being a dick - check
  • Frequent keeper of both cats and rats - check
  • To much polishing the rocket - uhm, check
  • Some other shit I can't remember know owning to being distracted by SWAG picks and resident Goa'uld swarm blowing vuvuzelas in my brain.

Toxoplasmosis negatively affects intelligence and makes you a jock. Assuming I'm right, how do I get cured ?

what are we waiting for? (1)

sproketboy (608031) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818624)

Let's get infected!

ALL GLORY TO THE TOXO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818630)

Toxoplasma gondii, the great (×30) grandfather of Hypnotoad [wikia.com] .

TOXO FOR THE WIN!

Oblig Futurama reference (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818770)

Fry: Of all the parasites I've had over the years, these worms are among the... hell, they are the best.

solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818790)

since western countries know that correlation == causation, we should start infecting our players with this parasite for the love of our country.

The Referee disease (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818858)

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.

That would probably be Onchocerciasis [wikipedia.org] .

"increased dissent of authority" (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818896)

Now we know why they go crazy, riot, burn, and pillage when their teams win. Futball fans are craay-zie.

Wouldn't almost any parasite show this correlation (2, Insightful)

kindbud (90044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818958)

Lots of diseases and parasites that flourish in the less-developed countries have been wiped out (or nearly so) in more-developed countries. There are more less-developed countries in FIFA than there are developed countries. So the correlation should probably hold true for malaria and other parasites, as well as for things like education and poverty.

infected countries encourage more training (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32819020)

because they idolize players, because Toxo scrambles the brains of the population, making it hard for them to understand that soccer is just a game!

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