Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Religiosity and crime

I ran across this meta-analysis of 60 studies that found that religiosity reduces criminal involvement. Byron Johnson in his book More God, Less Crime goes much further and reviews over 300 studies. He finds that all but a handful of studies show the same irreligiosity-crime link. Quite a few of his studies were published in psychology journals, so at least some of them should have controlled for individual differences. (I can't say for sure--who has time to review 300 studies?) This is probably less of an issue since most of these studies are of adolescents who are often made to attend religious services whether they want to attend or not. This should reduce self-selection.

8 comments:

Josh Wexler said...

...though it doesn't reduce the self-selection of their parents. I'm suggesting that perhaps people who are genetically most aggressive & anti-social (Razib Khan had a post recently asserting that genes can indeed be crimiogenic) also not inclined towards religiosity. Nor will they indoctrinate their children, who grow up & have a propensity to commit crime in their adulthood- but not because they haven't heard the good news.

Josh Wexler said...

Im an atheist and anti-theist, but I would concede the point you are driving towards... in a narrow sense. Let's say 10% of the population is inclined towards violent crime. I want religion for them. I expect religion can act as an opiate and as a fear-inducing discipliner. I live in New Orleans and I'm glad that church at least occupies a good part of my black neighbors on Sundays. Though Id probably want them brainwashed with Jainism over Christianity, if pacification is the goal.

For the other 90%, I'd line to keep them away from religion lest they start REALLY believing it and join the violent ranks.

Dan said...

@Josh Wexler --

You are a poster child for why religion is a good thing. I followed the link you provided and found a vigorous effort by you to explain why Sandusky's child molestations are not very wrong.

With no belief in any moral absolutes, you, Josh Wexler, wind up in some very unfortunate places. If our moral compass is based on the ability to rationalize, that is a problem because as you have shown, it is possible to rationalize anything under the sun.

Dan said...

"keep them away from religion lest they start REALLY believing it and join the violent ranks"

Heh.

Ironic.

Hard to imagine anything worse than the violence of the unbelieving -- e.g. 100 million deaths under Communism, dwarfing in just a few decades all of the killing in the name of religion across all the millenia.

Anonymous said...

Plato argued in the Republic that the just life is better than the unjust ultimately because of the rewards of the afterlife. For my money, no one has come up with a better way to motivate people to behave altruistically. Religion is really the only success story we have for that. Now suppose that in order to persist civilization requires a critical mass of people to believe the just life is better than the unjust. Ergo, civilization requires religion in order to exist.

JayMan said...

Church attendance ≠ religiosity. Obviously those that attend church regularly (or ever semi-regularly) are a distinct subset of believers. The general theme seems to be that anyone who is lackadaisical in any belief system, be it religion, or politics is likely to be of lower IQ and probably of lower conscientiousness as well.

Anonymous said...

Hard to imagine anything worse than the violence of the unbelieving -- e.g. 100 million deaths under Communism, dwarfing in just a few decades all of the killing in the name of religion across all the millenia.

100 million deaths from violence huh> Right...

SFG said...

Yup. Church is good for you, even if God doesn't exist. Life is full of such paradoxes.