Creative people have a 90% higher chance of being diagnosed with schizophrenia

Being creative gives you a natural predisposition to schizophrenia, according to a massive new study by the British Journal of Psychiatry.

(Photo: stevendepolo/Flickr)
(Photo: stevendepolo/Flickr)

Being creative gives you a natural predisposition to schizophrenia, according to a massive new study by The British Journal of Psychiatry. And why is it massive, I hear you asking your computer or cell phone screens? Well, dear reader, usually the sample size on these kinds of studies is only a few hundred people. What's different about this one is the sample size is the entire country of Sweden... about 4.5 million people.  

The correlation comes from looking at the college degrees of those in the study. Those with artistic degrees—such as acting, creative writing, performing arts, etc—had a 90% higher chance than their regular-folk counterparts of being hospitalized with schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorder.

Does this mean that 9 out of 10 creative people have schizophrenia? No. Many, many different facts have to be taken into the equation here: using someone's degree as a bell-weather for schizophrenia isn't scientifically accurate as there are many creative people who don't pursue art degrees and thus don't show up in the results. Nor does pursuing an art degree cause schizophrenia (which would be an easy, but extremely wrong, way to read the results of the study). What the study does say, more or less, is that there was a 90% higher chance that those with schizophrenia also had pursued an art degree. Creativity does not cause schizophrenia, although the two have been linked in several studies.  

It's a slippery slope to turning this study into an "x causes y" scenario, but we at Big Think have talked before about the dangers of conflating correlation with causation. Although the numbers don't lie in this study, this shouldn't put you off going to college for an art degree, or from going to art school. And speaking from experience, art school kids throw way more interesting parties.

It's worth mentioning that honest-to-god actual schizophrenia occurs in about 1% of the population, and 1.2% of Americans. People often get schizophrenia confused—thanks to movies and TV—with DID, or Disassociate Identity Disorder, also known as split personality. DID is extremely rare, with only 40,000 or so diagnosed patients according to a 2008 study. 

In any case, keep making art before the rich jock kids take over the planet

Massive 'Darth Vader' isopod found lurking in the Indian Ocean

The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.

A close up of Bathynomus raksasa

SJADE 2018
Surprising Science
  • A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
  • It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
  • The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
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Volcanoes to power bitcoin mining in El Salvador

The first nation to make bitcoin legal tender will use geothermal energy to mine it.

Credit: Aaron Thomas via Unsplash
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

In June 2021, El Salvador became the first nation in the world to make bitcoin legal tender. Soon after, President Nayib Bukele instructed a state-owned power company to provide bitcoin mining facilities with cheap, clean energy — harnessed from the country's volcanoes.

The challenge: Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, a digital form of money and a payment system. Crypto has several advantages over physical dollars and cents — it's incredibly difficult to counterfeit, and transactions are more secure — but it also has a major downside.

Crypto transactions are recorded and new coins are added into circulation through a process called mining.

Crypto mining involves computers solving incredibly difficult mathematical puzzles. It is also incredibly energy-intensive — Cambridge University researchers estimate that bitcoin mining alone consumes more electricity every year than Argentina.

Most of that electricity is generated by carbon-emitting fossil fuels. As it stands, bitcoin mining produces an estimated 36.95 megatons of CO2 annually.

A world first: On June 9, El Salvador became the first nation to make bitcoin legal tender, meaning businesses have to accept it as payment and citizens can use it to pay taxes.

Less than a day later, Bukele tweeted that he'd instructed a state-owned geothermal electric company to put together a plan to provide bitcoin mining facilities with "very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable, 0 emissions energy."

Geothermal electricity is produced by capturing heat from the Earth itself. In El Salvador, that heat comes from volcanoes, and an estimated two-thirds of their energy potential is currently untapped.

Why it matters: El Salvador's decision to make bitcoin legal tender could be a win for both the crypto and the nation itself.

"(W)hat it does for bitcoin is further legitimizes its status as a potential reserve asset for sovereign and super sovereign entities," Greg King, CEO of crypto asset management firm Osprey Funds, told CBS News of the legislation.

Meanwhile, El Salvador is one of the poorest nations in North America, and bitcoin miners — the people who own and operate the computers doing the mining — receive bitcoins as a reward for their efforts.

"This is going to evolve fast!"

If El Salvador begins operating bitcoin mining facilities powered by clean, cheap geothermal energy, it could become a global hub for mining — and receive a much-needed economic boost in the process.

The next steps: It remains to be seen whether Salvadorans will fully embrace bitcoin — which is notoriously volatile — or continue business-as-usual with the nation's other legal tender, the U.S. dollar.

Only time will tell if Bukele's plan for volcano-powered bitcoin mining facilities comes to fruition, too — but based on the speed of things so far, we won't have to wait long to find out.

Less than three hours after tweeting about the idea, Bukele followed up with another tweet claiming that the nation's geothermal energy company had already dug a new well and was designing a "mining hub" around it.

"This is going to evolve fast!" the president promised.

How Pfizer and BioNTech made history with their vaccine

How were mRNA vaccines developed? Pfizer's Dr Bill Gruber explains the science behind this record-breaking achievement and how it was developed without compromising safety.

How Pfizer and BioNTech made history with their vaccine
Sponsored by Pfizer
  • Wondering how Pfizer and partner BioNTech developed a COVID-19 vaccine in record time without compromising safety? Dr Bill Gruber, SVP of Pfizer Vaccine Clinical Research and Development, explains the process from start to finish.
  • "I told my team, at first we were inspired by hope and now we're inspired by reality," Dr Gruber said. "If you bring critical science together, talented team members together, government, academia, industry, public health officials—you can achieve what was previously the unachievable."
  • The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has not been approved or licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but has been authorized for emergency use by FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to prevent COVID-19 for use in individuals 12 years of age and older. The emergency use of this product is only authorized for the duration of the emergency declaration unless ended sooner. See Fact Sheet:

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