Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Ukrainian Orthodox Easter in Rochdale

Easter is the most important festival in the christian calendar and is celebrated in the Ukrainian orthodox church over a weekend of services.

This one during the day on the Saturday involved moving the symbolic shroud of christ from the body of the church to the altar, changing the altar cloths from black to white and taking painted eggs and paska Easter bread to be blessed and shared.

And tonight there will be an all-night service for the faithful because the Easter service and festivities last the whole weekend

For previous posts on this topic go here

For more pictures go to UOC Rochdale Facebook page

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Religious belief not necessarily a good thing

My blogging colleague kindadukish recently posted about charity and religious beliefs. And the findings were perhaps counter-intuitive.

It reminded me that I posted a few years ago about how believers had bigger families and atheists were being out-bred but also about the correlation between religious belief and crime and anti-social behaviour.

So thought I’d extract part of that post (which you can read in full here) and reblog it as I think it’s worth knowing about.

So, generally you might be forgiven for thinking that the more religious societies or countries are, the more social benefits they enjoy. Not necessarily so. There is evidence that the more religious the society the more violent it is.

Research published in 2007 by social scientist Gregory Paul in the Journal of Religion and Society showed that: “religious belief can cause damage to a society contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity, and suicide.” The study also said that belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

This of course is the exact opposite of what many believers think viz that religious belief is socially beneficial and the “spiritual capital” helps to lower the rates of crime and other social ills.

Paul’s research concluded however that: “In general higher rates of belief and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion, in the prosperous democracies”.

The study concluded that America is the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates are still high and that the least devout nations were the least dysfuntional. As an example the rate of gonorrhoea in American adolescents is 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries.

The report also concluded that England, despite its problems, was actually performing a good deal better in most indicators even though it is a much less religious nation than America. There was an even greater difference between America and countries like France, Japan and Scandinavian countries.

Paul concludes that most Western nations would; “become more religious only if the theory of evolution could be overturned and the existence of God scientifically proven“. He also thought that the theory of evolution would never enjoy majority support in America unless there was a marked decline in religious belief.

If Blume’s research conclusions are correct (population growth bigger in religious families – see original post) that isn’t likely to happen. So bigger families for believers but a higher level of crime and other social ills. It sure makes it hard for non-believers!

A Californian sociologist called Phil Zuckerman published research in 2009 that showed that the more atheists or agnostics a free society has the more moral it becomes. Atheists were more tolerant supporters of women’s and gay rights than believers. People like the Pope, militant Muslims, orthodox Jews, and other fundamentalist groups don’t seem to view the world in the same way when it comes to human rights that we take for granted such as women being equal to men.

And a study in the 1990s of the American prison population found that only 0.2% (that’s two in every thousand) of them were atheists. Non-believers are more likely to indulge in under-age drinking and illicit drug use but the US states with the highest murder rates tend to be the most religious ones in the bible belt while the lowest murder rates are found in the least religious states like Vermont and Oregon.

Zuckerman also found that atheists and non-believers were better educated and less prejudiced and were more likely to encourage their children to think independently.

When it comes to aid-giving the most secular country in the world, Sweden, gives the highest proportion of its GDP. Of the top ten donors only America is a strongly religious country and oil-rich countries are nowhere near as generous preferring to export ideology rather than aid.

Primary Source: Nick Cohen in the Observer (12/9/10)


1 Comment

Its the atheist dudes who are most generous…………

.. and it’s not the only thing in which they come out better than religious people

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

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AN ARGUMENT often advanced for the encouragement of religion is that, to paraphrase St Matthew’s report of Jesus’s words, it leads people to love their neighbours as themselves. That would be a powerful point were it true. But is it? This was the question Jean Decety, a developmental neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, asked in a study just published in Current Biology.

Dr Decety is not the first to wonder, in a scientific way, about the connection between religion and altruism. He is, though, one of the first to do it without recourse to that standard but peculiar laboratory animal beloved of psychologists, the undergraduate student. Instead, he collaborated with researchers in Canada, China, Jordan, South Africa and Turkey, as well as with fellow Americans, to look at children aged between five and 12 and their families.

Altogether, Dr Decety and his colleagues recruited 1,170 families for their project…

View original post 497 more words


Merry Ukrainian Orthodox Xmas

P1040234Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Belarus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova and Montenegro continue to celebrate Christmas on January 7, based on the Julian calendar which is 13 days “slow”

For many Orthodox Christians, Christmas is the beginning of celebrations after 40 days of fasting. Those who observe the nativity fast don’t eat meat or dairy foods for that period. Difficult for those who also celebrate to the more common Xmas Day.

P1040236Here at a little Ukrainian orthodox church in Rochdale, near Manchester, celebrants enjoyed the annual service followed by a Xmas meal which combines pork with Ukrainian dishes of  Borscht, dumplings (verenyky), cabbage/sauerkraut (kapusta), and stuffed cabbage parcels (Holubtsi). Washed down with a little alcohol of course.

If you are on Facebook you can see more pictures at UOC Rochdale


So tell me again about the “Religion of Peace”

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

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Isis now has support from 42 different international groups in countries ranging from the Philippines to Egypt, it has been revealed.

The map, produced for The Independent newspaper (UK) by statistics agency Statista, shows the 30 groups to have pledged formal affiliation to the terrorist group and 12 more that have pledged their support, as identified in a Global Terrorism Index report.

The map of where militant groups have pledged their support to Isis which is the richest and most violent terrorist group in modern history, the report states, and part of its strategy is to attract foreign fighters.

Attacks have been carried out by the Ansar al-Sharia group in Libya, the Okba Ibn Nafaa Battalion in Tunisia, and the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group in the Egyptian Synai, while the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Indonesian Abu Sayyaf group have also pledged their allegiance to the terrorist group.

Pro-Isis factions…

View original post 193 more words


Michelle Obama takes a stand for women in Saudi Arabia

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

michelelobama

Whilst I am no particular fan of the Obamas I do take my hat off to Michelle for having the temerity to challenge the misogyny and severe restrictions placed on women in Saudi Arabia by appearing in public with her hair uncovered

She highlighted the restrictions placed on women in Saudi Arabia as she paid her respects to the late King Abdullah without wearing a headscarf. Her divisive decision not to cover her hair as she met King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud drew both criticism and praise across social media.

The move also illustrated the severe restraints placed on women living in the ultra-conservative Kingdom, who must cover their hair and wear loose black robes in public at all times. Most Saudi women wear full face veils known as niqabs.

In addition to this, women are banned from driving, must be accompanied by a male chaperone when they leave the house…

View original post 35 more words


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Football & happiness – a game of 2 halves 

 brazil_flag_with_soccer_ball_1600_wht_2747Now the 2014 World Cup is underway again there will be much speculation about the impact it will have on the host country.

After the last one there was quite a bit of research which showed that such events did have positive outcomes.

We’ll have to wait and see if the same thing happens this time round in Brazil.

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Fans celebrating the upcoming 2010 FIFA World ...

Image via Wikipedia

Football can make people happier. Two economists tried but failed to prove that football was good for a country’s economy. But when they looked at national pride and happiness they got better results.

They looked for changes in life satisfaction in 12 European countries over 30 years up to 2004, and especially looked at how people felt following Olympic, World Cup, and European Cup competitions.

They were interested in whether or not teams doing better than expected had a positive effect on people from that country and whether countries hosting the competitions benefitted.

There was no evidence that performing better than expected had any real effect on people’s life satisfaction scores. Nor did planning to host such an event make people any happier.

But there was strong evidence that actually hosting an event did make people happier in that country. In fact it made people 3 times happier than if they had gained a higher level education, 1.5 times the happiness boost associated with getting married, and nearly large enough a difference in happiness to offset the misery of a divorce!

Sadly 1 year later the happiness effect had worn off. Whereas being married keeps you happier longer.

So perhaps the secret is to live in a country hosting such an event to get the short-term happiness boost and get married in the following 12 months for a longer-lasting effect!

FYI Married people are happier than single people (of course it could be that happy people get married more easily). And the 30% improvement in spousal happiness even counteracts all the negative affects of unemployment.

Greater Manchester Police reported an increase in domestic abuse the day England were knocked out of the World Cup. It was the largest number reported since New Year’s Eve and 16% up on the same time the previous year.

Updated 10 July 2010: The World Cup seems to have had a unifying effect on the rainbow nation, perhaps even more than the 1995 Rugby World Cup. And if the government figures are correct South Africa will break even on its investment in airports, motorways, and high speed rail links.

There has been a show of unity, pride and patriotism and the crime rates have been low despite South Africa’s reputation as one of the world’s capitals in murder and rape.

So maybe the economists have got it right. Apparently psychiatrists are concerned that South Africans will experience a post event depression when the World Cup finishes. Let’s hope it’s 1-0 to the economists.

And a 40 year research project in America reported in New Scientist (10 July 2010) shows that when local college football teams did well in the 2 weeks before an election the sitting party won more votes than when the team lost. So if you want to stay in power make sure your local team plays well!

Updated 20 September 2010: Despite concern that South African policemen are too fat to chase criminals – the police minister said they shouldn’t be “massaging beer bellies” – it seems that the get-fit boot camps put in place for the World Cup may have paid off. (This in a country, similar to USA and Germany, where 60% of the population are overweight or obese).

Despite SA having the highest murder rates in the world, outside war zones or countries with drug cartels like Mexico and Columbia, the World Cup showed what could be done. There has been a sharp decrease in murders (down almost 9%) and violent robberies for the first time since nation-wide records were first collected in 1995-6 (when there were 27,000 murders compared to 17,000 this year).