Sunday, October 12, 2008

More on those nutty religious conservatives: Now that I have a few more free minutes, I can compare the risk of mental health among very religious, extremely conservative people and extreme liberals who never attend church. The mean days of mental illness reported per month for the former group is .47. For the latter group, it's 7.05.

That means that the rate is 15 times higher for irreligious liberals. Put differently, a typical godless liberal is mentally ill one week out of each month!

17 comments:

BGC said...

The size differential is stunning! Is there an incremental gradient between these extremes?

James A. Donald said...

I would guess that the religious right and the nutroots left here voices and so forth to about the same extent. But when the a fundamentalist hears voices, he hears angels, demons, and the holy spirit. He ignores the demons, and the holy spirit is telling him to work hard, be nice to people, get up early in the morning, be thrifty, and so forth. But when the nutroots lefty hears voices, he hears Gaia, the ecology, flying saucers, the oppressed masses, and so forth, and they tell him to strip naked, cover himself in melted chocolate, and run around masturbating on poplar trees. So we diagnose the lefty as crazy, but not the fundie.

Jewish Atheist said...

"Nutty" doesn't mean clinically insane. It means believing in things like young-Earth creationism, talking snakes, etc.

Anonymous said...

Most nutjobs don't realize or won't admit that they are.

SFG said...

"Nutty" doesn't mean clinically insane. It means believing in things like young-Earth creationism, talking snakes, etc.
Actually, the DSM-IV excludes illogical beliefs held for cultural reasons (everyone in the Middle Ages thought the sun went around the earth). So what you're really making is a statement about the beliefs of the religious right, not their mental health.

I wouldn't be surprised if their mental health was higher, as Inductivist has shown; believing God is looking out for you and cares about you has got to be relaxing. Believing that you are the subject of an uncaring universe with no greater sense of justice or morality is a little more stressful. The truth does not always set you free. Having a model that explains more of your observations (which is what truth is) is useful in science but not necessarily in life. Self-delusion is often quite useful in social situations. I could go on.

SFG said...

Back when I was a right-wing atheist, I regarded religion as a 'socially useful lie', because it gets people to behave and not kill each other. If people know that there really is no ovearching moral order and getting ahead by hurting others as sociopaths do really will enable you to lead a more successful life, more of them would do it.

If you view religion in a social context, it makes a lot more sense.

Michael T said...

sfg, I've seen your name pop up some. I'm curious, what are you now, a leftie atheist or rightwing theist?

SFG said...

I'm a leftie atheist. (My career hasn't gone the way I'd hoped; if it takes off I may start voting Republican again.) I wasn't raised religious and consumed a lot of science fiction as a kid, then hung out with nerds, so I wound up atheist. The bleakness of the atheist worldview also appeals to me; I really think the world sucks and the lack of a God explains it.
War? The Holocaust? Starving children in Africa? Yeah, well, it happened because it happened, same way you get bubbles when you mix vinegar and baking soda. Effects have causes.


That said I'm not aggressively antireligious, probably because I was a science major instead of a humanities major and hence less politicized; I think guys like Dawkins and Hitchens just make trouble. And I have no problem telling people I'm Jewish; it's technically correct by Mosaic law and avoids people thinking I'm some sort of immoral jerk.

I never saw the need to proselytize my unbelief after the age of 12 or so; I mean, the religious people seem to get a lot out of the God thing, and no point riling them up. Besides, while I can see suffering for your faith, why suffer for something that is a nothing?

SFG said...

Why waste all this time on rightwing sites then? Well, I had read a lot of books about the way American history was taught in a way that was slanted to favor America, which made sense to me; nobody's eager to admit or broadcast their faults. But it occurred to me, by symmetry, that the left wing was probably lying too in order to get their way, so I decided to look for right-wing sources in order to find out what the left wasn't telling me.

That and I dig Sailer's application of evolutionary biology to politics and society. If people are animals, wouldn't you expect that they'd act like it in the political sphere as well? Is there really any difference between troops of apes throwing rocks at each other over a dead animal and World War I, except in degree?

Besides, posting on a place like Daily Kos is boring. "Bush sucks." "Yeah, right." You don't learn anything by talking with people who agree with you. And I'm just too cynical to get really enthused about Obama or the left-wing cause of the month. I like when conservatives say they believe in the depravity of human nature, but then they turn around and act like those same depraved humans are going to do good things when you leave them in charge of big businesses and let those businesses run the government.

I grew up in NYC, so maybe that's why I remain generally liberal. You pick up a certain amount by osmosis.

Anonymous said...

Nutty" doesn't mean clinically insane. It means believing in things like young-Earth creationism, talking snakes, etc.

Or stuff like AGW, blank slateism, etc...Now get back on your meds.

SFG said...

I always found it ironic that to really follow science is both liberal (global warming) and conservative (h-bd). Of course most scientists are liberal and try to hush up h-bd...

Michael T said...

I like when conservatives say they believe in the depravity of human nature, but then they turn around and act like those same depraved humans are going to do good things when you leave them in charge of big businesses and let those businesses run the government.


The only evil they do is war and immigration. Constrain their ability to engage in either of those, and "conservatives"* are basially right about the rest (minus the religious nutcrackery).

* I don't really care about such labels. Truth is what matters. Lefties are complete dicks when it comes to realism. Being jewish constrains your ability to admit truth, too, of course. Don't throw a hissyfit over the last bit. I'm a "minority white" myself.

SFG said...

Hey mike: you're probably right in the aggregate. I personally have gotten pretty far out of my comfort zone from all these years on iSteve.
Besides, I'm only half Jewish, and my kids'll be a quarter. (I don't like Jewish women for reasons that have nothing to do with politics!)

I'm actually anti-immigration and anti-war (hardly unbelievable for a liberal), ironically enough. Well, not totally anti-immigration but I think we have too much now.

Being a liberal I think economic inequality is 'evil' too, at least at the levels it's gotten to.

The war question is the interesting one. I suspect much conservative bellicosity is due to the religious difference between us and the Soviets and now al-Qaeda. The neocons took it and ran with it: they were exploiting an opportunity that already existed, IMHO.

But traditional pre-WW2 isolationist rightism doesn't have much support now. I suspect a lot of it was German-Americans not wanting to shoot Uncle Fritz. You blame them? You know what it's like when a country goes to war... everything about the enemy is demonized, and you're going off to shoot people whose names sound an awful lot like yours. Not to mention that a lot of them probably had bad memories of WWI, when there was real persecution of German-Americans and a largely successful attempt to wipe out German culture.

SFG said...

Hey mike: you're probably right in the aggregate. I personally have gotten pretty far out of my comfort zone from all these years on iSteve.
Besides, I'm only half Jewish, and my kids'll be a quarter. (I don't like Jewish women for reasons that have nothing to do with politics!)

I'm actually anti-immigration and anti-war (hardly unbelievable for a liberal), ironically enough. Well, not totally anti-immigration but I think we have too much now.

Being a liberal I think economic inequality is 'evil' too, at least at the levels it's gotten to.

The war question is the interesting one. I suspect much conservative bellicosity is due to the religious difference between us and the Soviets and now al-Qaeda. The neocons took it and ran with it: they were exploiting an opportunity that already existed, IMHO.

But traditional pre-WW2 isolationist rightism doesn't have much support now. I suspect a lot of it was German-Americans not wanting to shoot Uncle Fritz. You blame them? You know what it's like when a country goes to war... everything about the enemy is demonized, and you're going off to shoot people whose names sound an awful lot like yours. Not to mention that a lot of them probably had bad memories of WWI, when there was real persecution of German-Americans and a largely successful attempt to wipe out German culture.

Michael T said...

Being a liberal I think economic inequality is 'evil' too, at least at the levels it's gotten to.

I'll meet you half way: it's an evil, but not an immoral evil. That's to say I don't regard the existence of the poor as any sort of moral failing or morally deplorable set of circumstances. Looking at it from a practical point of view, however, swelling ranks of poor are a real problem.

I'd very much like to reduce their number. I'd be more than willing to share the wealth with them as long as I get to eugenicize them. They get the money, we get less of them. Win win. And anyway, the need to reduce population is urgent. Win win win.

* Googling for 'eugenicize' turned this up:

http://donklephant.com/2006/07/12/is-choosing-a-babys-sex-wrong/

"fear that we will eugenicize ourselves, and breed for tall, blond, blue-eyed, ambitious heterosexuals, is not an idle one. "

Gott in Himmel, tall, blond and blue-eyed! Oh, the humanity!

But eagerly awaiting the coming of Cosmic Race - Norte, that's laudible.

(Hmm, let's reword the above: "the fear that we will dysgenicize ourselves and breed for short, fat, black-haired, brown-eyed, lazy heterosexuals is not an idle one.")

SFG said...

I'm actually fine with eugenics. But we ought to at least force people to take potluck with MHC alleles so we don't all get wiped out by some plague. That's far in the future though.

SFG said...

No, really. I wouldn't mind having a smarter populace; Americans may be anti-intellectual but if they could pick their kids' genes we'd probably get at least a few extra IQ points.