Rain, caves, and miracles: New study connects weather to ancient tales

A new study provides a possible scientific explanation for the existence of stories about ancient saints performing miracles with water.

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  • Ancient climate patterns can be determined by examining the ratios of various isotopes.
  • Isotopic signatures found in Italian cave stalagmites suggest that the Sixth Century was wetter than usual.
  • The study provides a partial explanation for the origin of stories about saints performing water miracles.
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    Study: Does the label "straight" worsen perceptions of gay people?

    A new study explores how using positive labels to describe a majority group may negative impact perceptions of minority groups.

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    • In a recent study published in The Journal of Sex Research, heterosexual people were asked to rate their impressions of fictitious men.
    • Some of the fictitious men were described as "heterosexual," the others as "straight."
    • Across multiple studies, participants reported worse impressions of gay men after being exposed to the word "straight," but only if the participants were highly religious.
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    Mysterious "Plain of Jars" in Laos has been dated

    After years of speculation a team of researchers has pinpointed the age of this ancient mystery.

    Credit: Louise Shewan, et al.
    • The Plain of Jars consists of over 90 sites containing thousands of jars scattered across Laos.
    • According to new research, these jars were constructed sometime between 1240 and 660 BCE.
    • In 2019, UNESCO named a cluster of 11 regions as a World Heritage Site.
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    New study finds religion alleviates depression. Is it enough?

    Intrinsic religiosity has a protective effect against depression symptoms.

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    • According to new research, intrinsic religiosity has a protective effect against depression symptoms.
    • Religion was only a pipeline, however—a sense of meaning mattered most.
    • With increasing rates of depression globally, religion could be a "natural antidepressant" for some.
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    Can you be scientific and spiritual?

    Spirituality can be an uncomfortable word for atheists. But does it deserve the antagonism that it gets?

    • While the anti-scientific bias of religious fundamentalism requires condemnation, if we take a broader view, does the human inclination towards spiritual practice still require the same antagonism? The answer, I think, is a definitive "No."
    • Rather than ontological claims about what exists in the universe, the terms spiritual and sacred can describe the character of an experience. Instead of a "thing" they can refer to an attitude or an approach.
    • One can be entirely faithful to the path of inquiry and honesty that is science while making it one aspect of a broader practice embracing the totality of your experience as a human being in this more-than-human world.
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