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The Connection Between Religion and Misery

06 Mar

From the blog Bakadesuyo:

Among US states, suffering and belief in god are highly correlated, even after controlling for income and education.

Via Jesse Bering‘s excellent The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life:

In another clever study, Gray and Wegner created a U.S. state-by-state “suffering index” and found a positive correlation between a state’s relative misery (compared to the rest of the country) and its population’s belief in God. To create an objective measure of such relative misery, the investigators used data from the 2008 United Health Foundation’s comprehensive State Health Index. Among other manifestations of suffering, this regularly compiled index includes rates of infant mortality, cancer deaths, infectious disease, violent crime, and environmental pathogens. What Gray and Wegner discovered was that suffering and belief in God were highly correlated, even after controlling for income and education. In other words, belief in God is especially high in places such as Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina— and so is misery, at least as it was defined in this particular study. And that, say the authors, is no coincidence.

As I’ve posted previously, religion’s ability to provide happiness is relative to where you live. In poor areas with fewer resources, the well-being increasing effects of religion are more profound.

Where life is good, religious and nonreligious people are more equal in terms of happiness because the nonreligious have other ways to increase well-being.

I’ve also posted about this before. From my post three years ago What’s Wrong With Believing In God:

Religious attendance, but not beliefs, were linked to improved health, a reduction in suicides, and increased marital fidelity. Which suggests that it’s having social support networks, and not god belief, that makes people happier and society better.

It seems as though all of the data point to intensity of religiosity being tightly correlated with the social dysfunction of a person/nation.

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Posted by on March 6, 2013 in cognitive science, economics/sociology, religiosity

 

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