RE: HEA report on religion and mental health

Gatherer, D. (
Wed, 27 Oct 1999 13:45:57 +0200

From: "Gatherer, D. (Derek)" <>
To: "''" <>
Subject: RE: HEA report on religion and mental health
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999 13:45:57 +0200


For me that would point
towards social psychological and community support rather
than any intrinsic psychological reward of belief...


The way these experiemnts are usually done is to get some matched pairs of
relgious and non-religions people (matched for all other factors eg. sex,
age, social background, educational level, smoking habits, etc) and then
just run the Hamilton Depression Index over them, take some cholesterol
samples, do blood pressure etc.

So yes you're right, there is no way that one can immediately separate
social from intrinsic factors. I suppose one could look at people who are
religious but do not belong to a religious group. That sort of thing is
supposedly increasingly common nowadays, so it moight be possible to repeat
the classic method on that group as compared to, say, parish-oriented

I haven't noticed a sudden decay in scientology, for
instance. Surely, the horizontally transmitted memes will
survive so long as they can gain as many or more hosts than
they lose. Like a viral infection perhaps ;)

Well, Scientology is still quite young. I'd predict however, that if it's
still with us in 200 years time, it will have become a more normal
vertically transmitted religion. For instance Bah'ai-ism is mostly
horizontal in the West but very much vertical in Iran.

This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)