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Nuns Donate Their Brains to Alzheimer's Research

samzenpus posted about 4 years ago | from the bring-me-a-pious-brain dept.

Medicine 148

Many Catholic religious orders are participating in a long range Alzheimer's disease study. Rush University's Religious Orders Study began in 1993 and tracks the participants' mental abilities through yearly memory testing. In addition to the annual tests, the study subjects agree to donate their brains. From the article: "The researchers sought members of religious orders, hoping they would be willing to donate and would not have children or spouses interfering with that arrangement at the last minute. More than 1,100 nuns, priests and brothers across the country representing a wide range of ethnic groups are taking part."

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Mental Capabilities? (-1, Troll)

morari (1080535) | about 4 years ago | (#33370028)

Are these really the brains we want as our basis for research?

Re:Mental Capabilities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33370586)

They will be much more useful than yours, obviously.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33370598)

why not? might give insight into why people are drawn to specific topics... it also will be fairly good baseline since those in these orders will have documented and controlled diets, so will form a good base for comparing against each other at least.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1)

elmick (1872670) | about 4 years ago | (#33370604)

Are these really the brains we want as our basis for research?

You think yours would be better somehow?

Re:Mental Capabilities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33372638)

Of course, that's why he's already donated his.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | about 4 years ago | (#33375426)

Are these really the brains we want as our basis for research?

You think yours would be better somehow?

Mine would be since I never use it, having found something else to think with.

Speaking of which I'm very disappointed this headline wasn't code for sexy women in nun outfits giving head to old guys. I've got a fetish, you see.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1)

Empiric (675968) | about 4 years ago | (#33370616)

The data's already been copied and reconstructed. The physical substrate is useless.

If we want to understand better why the substrate degrades, then, well, yeah.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (3, Insightful)

spun (1352) | about 4 years ago | (#33370668)

Why not? Like it or not, it is fairly normal to believe in religion.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (4, Interesting)

Again (1351325) | about 4 years ago | (#33371402)

Why not? Like it or not, it is fairly normal to believe in religion.

I don't think that has anything to do with it. I remember reading elsewhere that nuns are ideal test subjects for longitudinal studies because the affect of a lot of independent variables can be eliminated or reduced when compared to people who have a more normal lifestyle.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#33372220)

I remember reading elsewhere that nuns are ideal test subjects for longitudinal studies because the affect of a lot of independent variables can be eliminated or reduced when compared to people who have a more normal lifestyle.

I can think of other parts of nuns that might be useful for research, since they've hardly been used.

Old Catholic school joke: Q:What kind of sex do priests have? A: Nun.

Boy we were really naive back in those days.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33375042)

"I remember the days when boys wanted to enter the Priesthood.
Rather than the other way round." - Private Eye

They are good subjects, so we shouldn't use them? (1)

spun (1352) | about 4 years ago | (#33372656)

I was responding to a post that questioned using nuns, assuming the poster was objecting to the 'abnormality' of religious belief.

You respond by saying, that's not it at all, nuns make better test subjects. But he wasn't implying they were better, he was implying they were worse. I assumed he was referring to nuns religious beliefs as the reason not to use them. I guess I just don't understand your reply. You do not address my question: why did the original poster claim nuns would make bad test subjects? Your answer explains why they are good test subjects.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (0, Flamebait)

drsmack1 (698392) | about 4 years ago | (#33370680)

How about we let them use yours instead? Get a donor card - Monty Python style.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (0)

Itninja (937614) | about 4 years ago | (#33370762)

How knows? Maybe a lot can be learned from women who choose a celibate, isolated, and cloistered lifestyle. And their penchant for ridiculous clothing (for most)? That's got to be worth something.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 4 years ago | (#33370940)

Maybe a lot can be learned from women who choose a celibate, isolated, and cloistered lifestyle

And remain there. An older coworker of mine "stole" his wife from a convent. He actually managed to de-nunnify a nun and marry her :). Despite being one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, we always joke that he's going to Hell for that one regardless :).

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1)

Aeros (668253) | about 4 years ago | (#33371314)

I wonder if god will be up there waiting for him with brass-knuckles on to knock him on back down to hell! :) I agree with some of the others that a person who can constrain themselves like that would be interesting to study. I wonder what the comparison between a person like that and a prisoner's brain would look like.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (4, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | about 4 years ago | (#33371008)

Why your question? Perhaps you are not a fan of religion in general, or catholicism in particular? Like the rest of us, they probably believe every religion they don't belong to is misguided.

Unlike the rest of us, they have made the extraordinary decision to dedicate their lives completely to the service of others. If somehow a bias for altruism sneaks into some neurologic baseline, perhaps DSM-V will someday list greed as a psychosis. No other problems seem obvious to me.

I doubt monastic brains are hardwired for superstition any more than those of the general population. Of those slashdotters who believe that we are visited by extra-terrestrials, how many came to that conclusion based on the forensic evidence and proven physics?

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1)

yyxx (1812612) | about 4 years ago | (#33372192)

Like the rest of us, they probably believe every religion they don't belong to is misguided.

Speak for yourself. Intolerance of other religions and an assumption of absolute truth are largely errors of the Abrahamic religions.

I doubt monastic brains are hardwired for superstition any more than those of the general population.

I'm sure they are, actually, but it doesn't matter that they are not representative of the general population.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33372784)

And where does your intolerance and assumption of truth come from?

Hopefully you're not representative of the general population either.

After all it sure seems that a world full of people like you would be worse than a world full of people as altruistic as these nuns.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 4 years ago | (#33373578)

Speak for yourself. Intolerance of other religions and an assumption of absolute truth are largely errors of the Abrahamic religions.

>

Clearly there are some religions that are more tolerant of people who believe other things, but for the most part, religions are mutually exclusive. You can be a nice Buddhist or something and maybe tolerate everyone, but that doesn't mean that if Buddhism's ultimate world view is right that somehow the other religions can be right. Nirvana isn't heaven. And there is either one, none, or many gods, but you can't have all of them at the same time.

If there was a religion that had at its central tenet that all religions are somehow right, it still would be either right or wrong. There is nothing inherently strange or about pointing out that one choice in a mutually exclusive situation is either True or False, that's just logic. Certain adherents to certain religions might be nicer about it in mixed company, but unless they are insincere, their very adherence to their doctrine is an assertion of their belief in one or more absolute truths.

And of course, you know as well as I do that religious intolerance is definitely not confined to the Semitic religions, they just happen to be the world's largest and most influential ones, so they tend to blot out everyone else.

It doesn't really matter anyway. Tolerance is not inherently right or wrong, its just a lot more comfortable if you happen to be in the minority. It has a value based only on the facts of the reality that we live in and our personal goals in relation to those facts.

(And yes, I prefer tolerance. In fact, many of the Semitic religions have that as a core value, but that doesn't mean I am right or that the religions are followed.)

Well (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33371686)

They weren't using them anyway.

Maybe that means they're in more pristine condition.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (3, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | about 4 years ago | (#33372064)

Fuck you.

No, seriously: Fuck You.

Just one of these women does more real, genuine capital 'G' Good in a week than a land-fill of snarky Internet tough guys like you will do in your entire life.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (0, Troll)

yyxx (1812612) | about 4 years ago | (#33372122)

Just one of these women does more real, genuine capital 'G' Good in a week than a land-fill of snarky Internet tough guys like you will do in your entire life.

These women would do Good even if they weren't part of an ancient, evil, lying, murderous cult; more, actually, because they wouldn't be recruiting into that cult.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1)

c6gunner (950153) | about 4 years ago | (#33372664)

Amen

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 4 years ago | (#33373024)

an ancient, evil, lying, murderous cult;

Let that hatred drain out of you. It's probably good therapy.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1, Flamebait)

vadim_t (324782) | about 4 years ago | (#33372844)

Just one of these women does more real, genuine capital 'G' Good in a week than a land-fill of snarky Internet tough guys like you will do in your entire life.

Such as?

Honest question, no intention of trolling. It's my understanding that nuns largely remove themselves from normal society, and as such don't really do much good in the way I understand it.

Note that as an atheist my definition of "good", especially with a "capital G" doesn't include religious functions that don't benefit the society outside their environment, such as praying, singing and baking cookies to sustain themselves.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | about 4 years ago | (#33373008)

I suppose there may still be a few of those medieval-style cloisters around, but most orders of nuns today are engaged dawn to dusk in charitable works involving AIDS hospices, orphanages, care for the elderly, education, disaster relief, etc. Think less Hildegard von Bingen and more Mother Theresa of Calcutta.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1, Flamebait)

vadim_t (324782) | about 4 years ago | (#33373212)

That I would consider a good thing indeed, so long that they don't follow Mother Theresa's footsteps.

All I've read about her makes her considerably more evil than good in my view. She expressed a very bizarre love for poverty. Not for poor people and their problems, but poverty. As in she seems to have believed that being in a seriously screwed up situation of abject poverty is a good and virtuous thing, and that her task is to sort of bask in that atmosphere without trying to fix it.

A quote of hers that expresses this view is: "I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people."

From what I've read, her care consisted mostly of prayer, offered no real help, medicine, painkillers, and involved reuse of syringes, when she was getting tons of donations that would have allowed her to do much better. People who were curable were just let to lie in a bed without painkiller or any real assistance. That's not good, that's greatly harmful. And combined with the amount of donations she failed to use use for helping people, and that seem to have ended up in a bank account at the Vatican, makes her greatly evil in my view.

Then there's the whole railing against birth control thing, but even where she could have helped in a way that wouldn't have conflicted with her religion, she still did a really horrible job.

I hope that if there are any nuns trying to help that they do what she should have actually been doing, helping people, instead of what she did.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (3, Interesting)

JRR006 (830025) | about 4 years ago | (#33373864)

I do a lot of work with my local parish's rectory and convent (not a believer myself, but a 20-something "computer person" willing to lend a hand), and the nuns' daily activities involve organizing soup kitchens, visiting nursing homes, arranging excursions for people who live in group homes for the mentally disabled (taking them bowling, out for ice cream, whatever), tutoring, all in secular settings. I suppose they project the image of Catholicism (they wear a 'modernized' habit and veil), but the institutions for which they volunteer are not, by and large, part of any religious organization. There are cloistered orders, but those are rare. When I was a wee lass, the nuns could sing along to the Backstreet Boys. No one is safe from the reaches of pop culture, apparently. ;)

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1)

vadim_t (324782) | about 4 years ago | (#33374236)

Well, then perhaps you clarify things for me then. Before making my first post, I checked wikipedia just in case, and got this:

To be a Catholic nun, one must live in a convent, cloister, or monastery; belong to an order in which the members eventually take the solemn vows; and recite the Liturgy of the Hours or other prayers together with her community.

Nuns are restricted from leaving the cloister, though some may engage in teaching or other vocational work depending on the strictness of enforcement, which is up to the monastery itself. Visitors are not allowed into the monastery to freely associate with nuns. In essence, the work of a nun is within the confines of her monastery, while the work of a sister is in the greater world. Both sisters and nuns are addressed as "Sister".

Many Sisters are no longer teachers and nurses. More Sisters continue to choose vocations in Law, publishing,AIDS ministry, and many other things in mainstream society.

To me this implies that a nun's access to the real world may not exist at all, and if it does may be quite limited. Their primary duty would be to a monastery, and if they get to work in a soup kitchen it's because the monastery itself allows it, and that sisters and not nuns are the ones that undertake large amounts of social work.

So, given your experience, is the explanation on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] accurate?

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 4 years ago | (#33377104)

Well, I can tell you my firsthand experience of working with Mother Theresa and her religious order of Nuns in Calcutta and Haiti. They do actually use medicine and do everything possible to help the people they care for. Many of whom would just slowly die on the street. They do run hospices as well, which are basically the same as our hospices in the USA. They are a place where the terminally ill can die with dignity and minimal pain and suffering. I don't know why you are lashing out against this wonderful amazing person and those that have continued her work. You seem to be very angry towards Catholicism in your reply, heaven knows you may have your reason. Very good people can do very bad things. And very bad people can do very good things. So with many more people in an organization, how much more good can evil organizations do and more evil good organizations can do. It would be a very simplistic and altogether immature world view to believe a single person, much less a whole organization was 100% either good or evil. Learn to call the bad parts of a thing bad, and the good parts of it good. The world will be much better off for it.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1)

tisepti (1488837) | about 4 years ago | (#33373572)

Such as participating in a long term Alzheimer's research project.

That may not be a massive amount of 'Good' by whatever metric you want to use. Its still more good that I know the nuns in question have done then say ... you.

Re:Mental Capabilities? (1)

vadim_t (324782) | about 4 years ago | (#33374032)

That may not be a massive amount of 'Good' by whatever metric you want to use. Its still more good that I know the nuns in question have done then say ... you.

How are you so sure of that? Did you hack into Santa's computer and get to see my good and bad lists?

Also, RobotRunAmok's post implied that they do good deeds on a regular basis. Considering my understanding of that they live in isolation and as such whatever they do doesn't really affect society, it seems to be perfectly fair to me to ask what kind of social good they do. Note that I don't think there's anything really wrong with separating yourself from society and quietly living out the rest of your days. I just don't think there's anything very commendable in it either. It's neutral, neither it does any harm nor it contributes anything.

Also nowhere did I imply that I think I'm a bigger contributor to society, sheesh. I'm asking a question, not doing a comparison of who earned how many points.

What's the name on the brain? (1)

DevConcepts (1194347) | about 4 years ago | (#33370600)

Abby.
Abby what?
Abby Normal.

Re:What's the name on the brain? (1)

rodney dill (631059) | about 4 years ago | (#33371786)

What kind of brains do you have?

Re:What's the name on the brain? (1)

DevConcepts (1194347) | about 4 years ago | (#33371888)

What kind of brains do you have?

The grey kind.... Both of them...

Re:What's the name on the brain? (1)

rodney dill (631059) | about 4 years ago | (#33371952)

I though you had nun

Re:What's the name on the brain? (1)

DevConcepts (1194347) | about 4 years ago | (#33371978)

It was a hard habit to break.

An Elaborate Scheme (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33370720)

Nice trie, zombie scum! Your little charade won't fool me, you want this grey matter you've got to work for it. NO FREEBIES!

Nun brains always determine the same cure (0, Troll)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 4 years ago | (#33370782)

Rap his knuckles with a heavy wooden ruler. Don't think that's doing to do much for research.

Re:Nun brains always determine the same cure (0, Redundant)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about 4 years ago | (#33371648)

Heh. Penguin rules, I guess. :-|

My immediate reaction to the title of the submission: "Nuns Donate Their Brains to Alzheimer's Research" was to say "they might as well. Their brains aren't useful for anything else".

They heard (5, Funny)

MrTripps (1306469) | about 4 years ago | (#33370918)

The nuns heard that helping science was a good habit to get into.

Or out of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33371308)

Blind Man!

Re:They heard (1)

athe!st (1782368) | about 4 years ago | (#33372258)

Nun puns?

Ummm Yes (5, Insightful)

DevConcepts (1194347) | about 4 years ago | (#33370920)

Given that the environmental structure is common to all persons at the location, it should remove some of the variables that exist and allow researchers to focus on the changes over time with regards to the disease itself rather than the differences that would be experienced with a geographical larger study.

Re:Ummm Yes (5, Informative)

PyroMosh (287149) | about 4 years ago | (#33371484)

WNYC's Radiolab did a very similar story involved nuns donating their brains to Alzheimer's research. It was the University of Minnesota though, so it may also have been a different group of nuns.:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127211884 [npr.org]

Basicly, you are right. They Nuns were a good choice because (as they put it):

Snowdon wanted to look at aging over time, and decided to focus on sisters because they all had fairly similar histories and backgrounds. Most of them joined the School Sisters of Notre Dame congregation when they were 18, and all had abstained from smoking or drinking. So Snowdon signed up 678 sisters, all over the age of 75, from the order. All of the sisters agreed to donate a small part of their brains to the study after they died.

The study looked at writing as an indicator of Alzheimer's risk. And they chanced upon a jackpot - all the sisters in the study had essays that they had written at 18 or 19, roughly 70 years earlier.

Do yourself a favor and listen to that episode, or at least read the transcript.

Re:Ummm Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33371870)

Yup - and notice how long ago THAT was. Now we have this study that began in 1993.

NEWS for nerds. Delivered 17 years later.

Nuts (1)

clemdoc (624639) | about 4 years ago | (#33370958)

Am I the only one who read 'Nuts' instead of 'Nuns'?

Re:Nuts (1)

2names (531755) | about 4 years ago | (#33371036)

Nope. I read it that way too. And depending upon one's beliefs, our way of reading it is true as well.

What if they discover ... (-1, Offtopic)

cpscotti (1032676) | about 4 years ago | (#33370972)

..Alzheimer is consequence of too much religious brain-wash?
As far as my grandmas go, going to the church too much does fry your neurons!

Re:What if they discover ... (3, Insightful)

Mashiki (184564) | about 4 years ago | (#33371118)

Yep. Lot of caring people in this thread, who bash other peoples beliefs, while I'm sure they tout that they're very tolerant.

Let me know if your brainwave applies to MS as well. Two monasteries around here have members who donate.

Re:What if they discover ... (1)

Strange Ranger (454494) | about 4 years ago | (#33372962)

You know, it is possible to scorn religion without scorning the religious.

Let's step away from religion for a moment. I can't STAND strong accents that to me sound like they're spoken by illiterates. "Ebonics" (Let me axs ya a kestun), Boston folks who can't pronounce Rs, southern drawls. Makes me wonder if these people never had a TV to teach them how to talk.
But I know we're all a product of our environment and also more than than sum of our parts. I may think you talk like a goofball. But I'm judging the way you sound. Not YOU personally.

Same for religion. You can bash irrational beliefs in magic sky dictators, while still loving and befriending the people who suffer under such beliefs. That's why they call it "tolerance" and not "blind acceptance".

In summary, it's rational to bash a belief, while not bashing the believer.

Re:What if they discover ... (2, Insightful)

Mashiki (184564) | about 4 years ago | (#33373384)

You know, it is possible to scorn religion without scorning the religious. ... Same for religion. You can bash irrational beliefs in magic sky dictators, while still loving and befriending the people who suffer under such beliefs. That's why they call it "tolerance" and not "blind acceptance".

Odd. You've just successfully argued against yourself, by bashing what a person believes in but saying it's all okay, here have hugs and cookies, and saying by the way, your beliefs suck. Tolerance is about not stepping on someones toes, or disagreeing with what they believe in while not stating that they 'suffer' from something.

Re:What if they discover ... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33375622)

Well that's about the same way the religious are 'tolerant' of atheists ("Oh you poor misguided soul. Well you're going to hell unless you convert but you're a good person"), gays ("hate the sin not the sinner" [except half the time that one ends with "murder the 'sinner', claim he was coming on to me, watch me get a slap on the wrist from a jury full of rednecks"]) and anyone else they disagree with, and while I don't think we should stoop to their level if they can't take a little sassy talk in their direction they shouldn't be part of the archaic, hate-mongering, little-boy-diddling, woman stoning, suicide bombing, abortion doctor killing, regressive, pointless thought cancer that's eating our society and enabling assholes to run-amok (not that they wouldn't anyway, but they hardly need the help) the world over.

Religion is the bane of rational thought and one of the biggest barriers to continued progress we face today. The sooner we give up superstitions created to give comfort as we cowered, ignorant in the desert, scared of the thunder and baffled by the rain the sooner we can reach for the stars as a united people. So while I don't hate (most) religious people I do hate religion and I do feel sorry for those trapped in that mental box

Re:What if they discover ... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33371232)

What if they discover the other way around?

Plus with this data set you would not be able to tell, simply by the definition of the dataset. I swear what do they teach at the jr/sr high level these days... Oh and I learned scientific rigor AT a christian school. Want an F in science? Dont follow the scientific method. You would have got an F on that paper. As your whole assumption can not be proven with that data set. You are trying to apply science to something that can not be proven. There is such a thing as an intractable problem. Such as 'this statement is false'. Unprovable.

Re:What if they discover ... (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | about 4 years ago | (#33371468)

..Alzheimer is consequence of too much religious brain-wash?

As far as my grandmas go, going to the church too much does fry your neurons!

No, it is a consequence of too much internet brainwashing. You anti-religious trolls all sound the same. Do you go through a training course somewhere?

Re:What if they discover ... (1)

jschmitz (607083) | about 4 years ago | (#33372268)

Yes its called COLLEGE

Re:What if they discover ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33372898)

so this then?

http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/154822

Re:What if they discover ... (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 4 years ago | (#33372992)

Many people graduate and LEAVE college. The learning process has just begun when you get that degree, you know.

ROFL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33370990)

Brains were analyzed but no sign of intelligence was found.

Re:ROFL (0, Flamebait)

JockTroll (996521) | about 4 years ago | (#33371242)

Says the fecalmasturbatory kid.

Re:ROFL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33371832)

You wear your name well, young Mac user.

Brains... (-1, Troll)

amentajo (1199437) | about 4 years ago | (#33371068)

And nothing of value was lost.

Oh come on people, stop bashing the old biddies. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33371336)

How is their decision to stay in a religiously themed communal housing structure any different (from the standpoint of the cultural norm) from your decision to avoid sunlight and social interactions, and to live in your mother's basement collecting manga, video game paraphernalia, and a super huge collection of raunchy porn locked away on an encrypted filesystem?

These people are motivated by their religious precepts to help other people, and believe in a spiritual afterlife. As such, they are less concerned about what happens to their bodies after they die than some other people, and more concerned about how they can continue helping people after they are gone (at least the ones that aren't pedophile priests anyway). Their brains get Alzheimers just like everyone elses, and such a huge turnout (over 1000 individuals in the study, for something that requires you to donate your brain, is a pretty huge turnout) means that there is a considerable chance that significant findings could be obtained through the study. That kind of thing alone merits some form of hat tipping.

Why is everybody poking fun that they are all celibate, instead of praising them for their altruism in this respect? I mean, it's not like the average slashdot reader gets busy every friday night in his mother's basement you know. (no, Palmula Handerson and a bottle of Jergins doesn't count.)

Re:Oh come on people, stop bashing the old biddies (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about 4 years ago | (#33371744)

How is their decision to stay in a religiously themed communal housing structure any different (from the standpoint of the cultural norm) from your decision to avoid sunlight and social interactions, and to live in your mother's basement collecting manga, video game paraphernalia, and a super huge collection of raunchy porn locked away on an encrypted filesystem?

Maybe it's got something to do with a diet of anything other than Twinkies?

Nuns help people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33373088)

G.T.F. Outttahere

A good use (-1, Troll)

mmaniaci (1200061) | about 4 years ago | (#33371360)

Hey, finally those religious types are putting their minds to good use.

Hold off on the troll mod, I couldn't help myself :).

Fuck you all (1)

elewton (1743958) | about 4 years ago | (#33371388)

Granted, I didn't RTFA, but these people are giving massively.

The whole process is annoying and gross and their doing it to help people. I'm no fan of Catholicism or the Abrahamic God, but they're doing good.

Re:Fuck you all (1)

elewton (1743958) | about 4 years ago | (#33371406)

their doing it to

Ah, fuck...

Oh well,,, (-1, Troll)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 4 years ago | (#33371438)

they weren't using them anyway. Oh wait... are they going to wait until they are dead first?

They're not the only nuns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33371456)

U of Minn. researchers are doing the same (sort of) thing... here's a whole radio show about it!

http://blogs.wnyc.org/radiolab/2010/05/05/vanishing-words/

Apparently loss of vocabulary and sentence complexity (i.e. number of ideas communicated per sentence) are early warning signs for alzheimers. Agatha Christie's later works show signs that her capacity was dropping, too.

Results will be useless (0, Troll)

GungaDan (195739) | about 4 years ago | (#33371488)

because of their sample selection. If religiosity is hard-wired in the brain http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/04/04/neurotheology/ [cnn.com] then these researchers have selected a sample that will make their results applicable to... nuns and other religiodelusionals.

Re:Results will be useless (3, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 years ago | (#33371712)

because of their sample selection. If religiosity is hard-wired in the brain http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/04/04/neurotheology/ [cnn.com] [cnn.com] then these researchers have selected a sample that will make their results applicable to... nuns and other religiodelusionals.

Well, unless there is some atypical distribution between alzheimers in religious an non-religious brains, I seriously doubt that what you suggest will actually affect what they're studying.

They have access to 850+ brains of aging people, all of which will go through annual testing to check for degradation in skills and the like, and be able to compare that to long-term medical histories. Getting that big of a sample of anybody is a huge big deal -- the fact that some of these people have been in this survey since the early 90's gives them a truckload of data, and speaks volumes about how helpful and committed they've been.

I'm the first to disagree with mindless adherence to religion, but these ladies are willingly participating in science, so we're not talking drooling zealots who think the Earth is 6000 years old. Hell, one of the smartest (and nicest) people I ever met was an old Jesuit Priest who was a university lecturer in physics and astronomy at the university I went to. He was nice enough to let me access his UNIX machine since the CS department didn't have one and I wanted to learn it.

Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater -- the religious people who can accept the science can be pretty nice people, and they're generally not talking about things that science can intelligently speak to (or even want to). They're certainly not all groping the choice boys or smacking people with rulers. Like with the rest of society, that's a small subset of the overall population.

You're still breathing, so it's not too late to open your mind. :-P

Re:Results will be useless (2, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 years ago | (#33371728)

They're certainly not all groping the choice boys or smacking people with rulers

Doh. That, of course, should be "choir boys". :-P

Re:Results will be useless (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 4 years ago | (#33371842)

Well, unless there is some atypical distribution between alzheimers in religious an non-religious brains,

This is exactly what must be determined first. If you're just taking names at random from the general population you're allowed to say you have a representative sample. If you start picking and choosing, you have to prove that your sample matches the general population FIRST. It's like surveying people about how they like the public school system at the golf pro shop or the tennis club.

Re:Results will be useless (3, Insightful)

yyxx (1812612) | about 4 years ago | (#33372238)

If you start picking and choosing, you have to prove that your sample matches the general population FIRST.

Nonsense. They study Alzheimers in nuns, period. If they find something that's interesting regardless of whether it is specific to nuns or not. If they come up with a treatment in nuns, they can then apply it to the general population and see whether it works. They don't need to show that anything matches the general population "FIRST". Heck, we do tons of medical research in mice, and they certainly don't match the general population.

Re:Results will be useless (2, Insightful)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about 4 years ago | (#33372526)

mice, and they certainly don't match the general population.

You must be new here

Re:Results will be useless (0, Troll)

aristotle-dude (626586) | about 4 years ago | (#33371752)

So what you are saying is that people like you hate religion so much because of brain damage you suffered at some point?

As someone who has worked with Religious Folk. (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 4 years ago | (#33371554)

As someone with religious tolerance and have actually have worked with catholic Priests, Nuns, Monks, Bishops, etc... A lot of these people are Smart and have PHD and MDs in many areas of science and often with other areas of study as well. Don't let the traditional dress fool you, these people are actually well educated with sharp minds.

Just because you don't agree with their religion or religion in general, don't let yourself think for a second that these people are any less then you.

Re:As someone who has worked with Religious Folk. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33372262)

"Just because you don't agree with their religion or religion in general, don't let yourself think for a second that these people are any less then you."

Thank you jellomizer for saying this. It is astonishing to me that such an obvious statement even needs saying, but, apparently it does. Actually I can't imagine why traditional dress should "fool" anyone into assuming the wearer is uneducated or unintelligent. Perhaps I give people too much credit.

Pam
http://www.talksocialnews.com

Re:As someone who has worked with Religious Folk. (2, Interesting)

c6gunner (950153) | about 4 years ago | (#33372764)

Your appeal to authority fallacy notwithstanding, it's worth pointing out that many people who believe in UFO's, bigfoot, and the JFK and 9/11 conspiracy theories also have PHD's etc. Having a piece of paper from a fancy school doesn't mean you're not an idiot, it just means you can focus on a task and have a higher IQ than a chimp.

On the other hand, success in the scientific fields can be directly correlated with religiosity - those who do the best work and contribute the most to our understanding of the universe are FAR less likely to be religious than their more mediocre counterparts.

Re:As someone who has worked with Religious Folk. (2, Insightful)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 4 years ago | (#33372944)

On the other hand, success in the scientific fields can be directly correlated with religiosity - those who do the best work and contribute the most to our understanding of the universe are FAR less likely to be religious than their more mediocre counterparts.

That's a rather ignorant assertion. The Scientific Method has nothing to do with a person's religious faith. But since you want to dabble in stereotypes, there may indeed be a coorelation between 'lost soul' spiritually hollow types who never make it off campus and adopt a permanent long-term career in 'science.'

Nobody's saying they're the best scientists, however. Many of them are placeholders.

Re:As someone who has worked with Religious Folk. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 4 years ago | (#33374490)

Actually a lot of those people are often stereotyped as atheists who are wondering trying to find some greater force in the world.

The fact that many people in the science field are openly hostile towards religious people couldn't be a factor that Religious people contribute less to some areas of study.

Re:As someone who has worked with Religious Folk. (1, Troll)

sjames (1099) | about 4 years ago | (#33375972)

I'm going to have to call 'citation needed' on you there. Einstein was quite clearly a believer in God. Many others have some sort of spiritual belief outside the realm of science. It's not uncommon for a physicist to accept on faith that there is some great intelligence out there and that through physics they may better understand it. I've heard that from mathematicians as well.

They may simply be far less likely to talk about it openly to avoid a bias against anyone in the academic world that professes a religious belief.

Naturally they're not going to bring up religion or faith where it doesn't belong, such as in a scientific paper.

There's a nice list [adherents.com] of Nobel Laureates and other influential scientists who are known to have been religious. I'm sure you'll recognize a few.

Re:As someone who has worked with Religious Folk. (1)

deego (587575) | about 4 years ago | (#33373234)

> Just because you don't agree with their belief in a spaghetti monster, don't let yourself think [less of them.] Why are unscientific attitudes justified for the case when they pertain to religion. Would you also say the same for some one who thinks that 2+2=5?

Re:As someone who has worked with Religious Folk. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 4 years ago | (#33374372)

Religion and Science are not really in conflict, just the ignorant people think that is such. Now parts of the religion can be put in question about their truthfulness. However most non-radicalized religions accept the idea that there is a literary truth and a physical truth. They can Accecpt that Jesus turned Water into Wine, and at the same time that there is no possible way to do this, without stripping the water atoms fusing together hydrogen atoms to make the carbon and other atoms and form molecules, and also they are willing to accept if they went back in time they wouldn't have seen this from happening. However the story is more on teaching a higher truth that is far more important then the actual event.
Now say that something didn't happen you will need to disprove the it did happen. But for most things in a religious context there isn't proof or disproof thus it puts it outside of science.
Religion isn't Science

I can disprove that 2+2=5
as 2 can be represented in (1+1) so (1+1)+(1+1) = 1+1+1+1 = 4

Also you can state that an even number + an even number is always an even number (there is a more formal proof that I dont care to write on) and because 5 is odd thus it disproves 2+2=5

Now you can argue religion when you have the more radical religions fighting science saying because it is in the book then your science is wrong, because you can backup your science. However being religious isn't a judgment on your intelligence. Your inability to understand a scientific argument and refute it is a basis on your intelligence.

Re:As someone who has worked with Religious Folk. (1)

Gaffod (939100) | about 4 years ago | (#33376242)

A lot of these people are Smart and have PHD

Can you give some examples please? I find the idea a bit incredible.

These nuns provide an important service to AD res (4, Informative)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 4 years ago | (#33371666)

The reality is that nuns are a very good group of subjects, since they not only donate their brains after death - which is essential in determining AD status, but we have full medical histories on them for many decades.

None of our current studies focus on religion. The major risk factors are genetic and linked to diet and lifestyle.

Thanks for helping, sisters!

We're donating my grandma's brain (1)

socz (1057222) | about 4 years ago | (#33371692)

In an effort to help "find a cure" we're doing the same. But it means a little more to us than most because apparently, we have a family history of this illness. My great grandfather was said to have been "crazy." The reason is because he ended up living at the uni where he was teaching, he wouldn't go home anymore (in the 1800s). So everyone just left him alone and as he got older and more "crazy" he got worse. Eventually he did die (leaving a LOT of written works behind because that was his obsession (writing poetry and about historical figures) - probably due to Alzheimer's). So in the late 90's my grandma started to get squirrely too. Its pretty amazing that in about 3 years time someone can totally change. So now in her ~ mid 90s, she's nothing more than a 5 year old girl who you can't reason with, you can't control (she is too strong), doesn't feel pain (when she is hurt she doesn't complain), medicine doesn't take its full effect (our family is very 'resistant' to drugs and liqueur) and worst of all, doesn't sleep at night.

So for all those reasons and more, hopefully, she'll be 1% of what helps to "cure" the disease or help contain it.

They got the story wrong! (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 4 years ago | (#33371702)

The way I heard this story was that a group of researchers were seeking brains for the study of Alzheimer's and they got NONE.

This just in: Alzheimers is given by God as punish (0, Offtopic)

melted (227442) | about 4 years ago | (#33371716)

This just in: according to the results of this research, Alzheimers is given by God as punishment for sins, such as molesting young boys, blowing millions (billions) of dollars on enormous houses of worship, and inciting hatred towards Muslims and sometimes even other Christian denominations.

zombie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33372020)

if I were a zombie, I'd create a fake medical research facility and ask people do donate their brains.

I consider myself a radical athiest... (2, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#33372026)

But seriously guys, you are going way, way out there in this nun hate.

OMFG (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33372080)

OMFG!!!

What utter nunsense! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33372178)

If only they started making pornography and donating the proceeds, both biological and monetary, to stem cell research... mmmm, delicious nuns...

Obama already did it (-1, Troll)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | about 4 years ago | (#33372414)

Obama has already beat them to the punch. He's donated his brain to somebody, and he's still alive (I think)!

Resurrection (1)

turgid (580780) | about 4 years ago | (#33372940)

How will they be resurrected for Judgement Day when their brains are missing?

God (1)

PrimordialSoup (1065284) | about 4 years ago | (#33374156)

they are taking part to prove God causes Alzheimers like all other nice things...

Wild nuns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33374158)

A cop pulls over a car load of nuns. The cop says, "Sister, this is a 55 MPH highway. Why are you going so slow?"
The Sister replies, "Sir, I saw a lot of signs that said 41, not 55."

The cop answers, "Oh, Sister, that's not the speed limit, that's the name of the highway you are on!"

The Sister says, "Oh! Silly me! Thanks for letting me know. I'll be more careful."

At this point, the cop looks in the backseat where the other nuns are shaking and trembling.

The cop asks, "Excuse me, Sister, what's wrong with your friends back there? They are shaking something terrible."

The Sister answers, "Oh, we just got off Highway 101."

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