Bad science

               It’s not enough to put together research and call it science, you know. A study of depression among older europeans boldly declares that joining a religious organization is better for mental health than sports, education or charity work. Yeah. Is it the numbers? Is that the only conclusion we can draw? Any question of why that’s the most likely conclusion? No. None of that. Anybody read the full study?

               The thing is, Europe is split horizontally and economically, the countries in the north-west, from the non-communist block, tend to be wealthier and less depressed than the rest because, you know, the quality of life there is better. They are wealthier so they are less depressed, but they are also less religious. Now, the original study, the one from which this study got all its data, shows also more volunteering from the wealthier countries and more sports practices. But, you know, that’s a bad thing, going to church is what’s making people less depressed. Yes, hurrah for science. Take that, atheists.

               I do have some questions for the researchers, though. Like, what is sustained happiness and what is the distribution among the countries. Or, maybe, why so much geographical variation for depression? Oh, and by the way, was the group of 9000 individuals (out of… what’s the population of Europe, a few hundred million?) representative and correctly picked? Oh..

               Thing is, folks, it’s studies like this one that make money for tabloids. No, it’s not public research, you’ve got to pay for access. No, there’s no data available for the public. All you have for mass consumption is a misleading title, a couple of interviews and the rest is … fame. Besides, there’s no way northern countries are less depressed because they’re healthier, wealthier, sportier, more inclined to make themselves useful to others (civic duty, volunteering, and so on), less likely to retire and overall happier. No, that’s not the correct conclusion. It’s not that they’re comparing different countries with different cultures, no. It’s the church that makes them less depressed. Yup, that’s that. Anybody else wonder which church exactly?

Right. Let’s move on, because I’ve called it before. It’s all bullshit, folks, and it’s bad for you.


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