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Countries free of religion are the most socially advanced, data show

  Yesterday the international polling organisation WIN/Gallup released the results of a massive new survey into religion worldwide (here’s their press release). You’ve probably seen the news reports, mostly talking about which countries have the most (or fewest) religious people, and speculating what that might mean. Some other important data come out just last week [Read More...]

The Canadian news and current affairs magazine Maclean’s has just run a glowing article claiming that science says ‘God is the answer’ to teen anxiety and health problems. It’s basically a promotional piece for a new book by Lisa Miller, Director of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University’s Teachers College. To give you a flavour of the article, [Read More...]

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In a run-down market place in Kabul, Afghanistan, groups of men hang around hoping that someone will offer them a job for the day. But today is different. Today they get an unusual offer. Somebody is willing to pay them a whole days wage (about $9) jus…

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In a remote highland region of south-eastern Turkey lies the remains of what is possibly the world’s old temple. Dating to 11,000 years ago, it predates even the rise of agriculture – as far as we can tell, it also predates the first complex societies. Now, not all religions are the same. Some (a minority, [Read More...]

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Researchers around the world have found that subliminal reminders of religion can have some fairly profound effects (for example, encouraging honesty, obedience, revenge and staying power – and, as we saw in the previous post – even risk taking). But is this specifically about religion? Perhaps being reminded about god makes people virtuous – but [Read More...]

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A team from Stanford University Graduate School of Business has just published a nice series of studies showing that priming people with the idea of god can increase their appetite for risk. Over at the Friendly Atheist, Rachel Ford did a good write up…

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A team from Stanford University Graduate School of Business has just published a nice series of studies showing that priming people with the idea of god can increase their appetite for risk. Over at the Friendly Atheist, Rachel Ford did a good write up…

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Conventionally, religious affiliation is supposed to reduce the risk of suicide. In fact, the worldwide data show a rather patchy picture, probably because the effects of religion on suicide risk depend on the social context. One of the godfathers of the sociology of religion was a guy named Émile Durkheim. At the tail end of [Read More...]

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There’s a well studied phenomenon called Terror Management Theory which basically says that, when people are reminded of their own death, their beliefs change in certain predictable ways.  People cling more strongly to beliefs that make the future seem more controllable and comfortable – and that includes turning to religion (see: Religion, Patriotism and Death). [Read More...]

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A survey of supernatural beliefs across cultures around the world has found that beliefs involving hazards and harms were about 50% more common than beliefs about benefits, opportunities and other good things. Daniel Fessler, at the University of Calif…

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