In the evolution of society, many argue whether moralizing gods or complex societies came first. This is the ‘big gods’ hypothesis. In the Nature article Complex societies precede moralizing gods throughout world history, it is shown that the complex societies came first. In the study, more than 400 societies were studied with 51 measurements of complexity and 4 measurements of moralizing gods were used. Our reporting staff blew all of our budget on a Vegas conference and couldn’t buy the full article for $8.99 but we’re pretty sure the measures of complexity had a lot to do with zoning laws, concentration of seafood fusion restaurants, and such spices of life.
Unfortunately for the academics hard at work, to prove you don’t need a god for a complicated society, the study has been retracted due to a mishandling of missing data. This occurred when the boring American societies with nonjudgemental supernatural spirits never appeared before their complex society. The research team marked them unknown instead of cherry picking assumptions to support their agenda. They have apologized and retracted the article. Luckily the initial analysis still supports the original proposition when the data is handled correctly. To fix the analysis and once again there is more work to be done. Only then can prove that you can’t blame Thor, Zeus, or Brahma for making you care about interest rates or be an accountant to support your daughter’s scented cupcake store.
It is unfortunate that the Egyptian, Mayan, and Indian societies sometimes failed to write down whether or not their supernatural gods cared who people slept with or if you have a foreskin. Often in such Time-Series Analysis, it is possible to make up for missing data using interpolation or seasonal adjustments. Unfortunately for such a complicated problem, it is not always possible to create such synthetic data for ancient societies using typical simulators. In the retraction, the team regretted labeling seemingly absent moralizing gods as unknown. They failed to determine if such gods were just excuses for poor crops yields or didn’t like you coveting your neighbors bountiful wife. This caused problems in the analysis.
Thanks to the real time strategy game Age of Mythology, it may actually be possible to replace this data. Ancient societies in the game can be easily simulated to determine whether or not they were complex and whether or not the powerful gods treated them better for following arbitrary moral customs. Nobody could figure out the correct statistical way to correct the missing data points, so hours of playing and evaluating similar ancient societies in this complicated 2002 societal simulator will be the key!
“I’ve always personally been an Age of Empires fan,” said one researcher Harvey Whitehouse. “But there’s only so much you can do with that simulator when it comes to religious rituals. The priests just yell WOLOLOLOLOLO and then convert enemy troops to your army. Age of Mythology simulates moralistic gods by rewarding the players with spirit points to purchase centaurs and ice giants and stuff.”
Harvey discussed his favorite part of the ancient society simulator: “The campaign on this game is awesome, but the custom map creator really saved our asses. We never even dreamed we would be able to run a Monte-Carlo simulator on ancient Greek, Roman, and Norse societies.”
The research is expected to be corrected in the coming months with the augmenting synthetic data. There’s no point in determining why the data was missing and whether or not it would add an unknown bias into the analysis when such a fun and granular simulator already existed. Some of the researchers involved in the study even believe that the incorporation of Age of Mythology may even allow archaeologists to develop better models to answer other mysteries. We may finally have better evidence on whether or not Babylonians were all whores or if Assyrian Gilgamesh fan fiction was as violent as the records suggest. The retraction could be the revolutionary excuse for more elaborate speculation archaeologists have always dreamed of.
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