RE: HEA report on religion and mental health

Nick Rose (
Tue, 19 Oct 1999 14:16:18 -0400 (EDT)

From: Nick Rose <>
To: JOM-EMIT Discussion List <>
Subject: RE: HEA report on religion and mental health
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999 14:16:18 -0400 (EDT)

Hi Derek,

>The two situations are in some
>ways converse of each other. But does that detract from
>the HEA findings? In neither scenario does religion have
>to be an individually maladaptive mind virus.

Most religious traditions have evolved in an environment
where information is predominantly transmitted vertically
(i.e. most children follow their parent's religion). This
would suggest (given that memes and genes are sharing a
bottle neck in vertical transmission) - that the genes and
memes would have co-evolved.

I've said before that if you want to look for maladaptive
memes then you are better off looking at patterns of
horizontal transmission where the memes and genes have no
shared bottle neck and the memes can 'go wild' without
bothering about genetic adaptation (see Rose, 1998).

In which case the question is - sure, religious people are
better adjusted and more prosperous -- what about the
followers of religious cults. I suspect that whenever you
see memes transmitting predominatly horizontally you will
see maladaptive (to the genes) memes arising.




Nick Rose
"University of the West of England"

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