A heat map of religiousity and social ills


This nifty graphic is pretty cool, even if you’re not a biology dork who sees it and thinks “Ooooh, it’s like a heat map for gene expression! Yay!” …Or something along those lines. (Click image for larger, readable version) While nifty, remember this type of visual shows correlation, not causation. Religiosity doesn’t necessarily cause poverty, lower IQ, and increase crime. If I had to make a hypothesis, I would say it’s likely that education or the lack thereof is the real driving force behind these things, including religious belief.

Regardless, this does nicely illustrate one thing: Religious belief doesn’t necessarily lead to a better, safer, happier world. The next time someone claims that theists are morally superior and that all of our societal ills are caused by godless heathens, show them this nice little chart.

Comments

  1. says

    Interesting that there’s a relative correlation between people who are impoverished, religiosity, and how conservative they are.I could see how people who are very poor could turn to religion as a way to feel better about themselves and their situations – we see that everywhere. But don’t these very poor people realize that being conservative is counter to their self interests? Conservatives want to help poor people out LESS and LESS, and yet poor people tend to identify as conservative? It’s strange to me.

  2. says

    Interesting that there's a relative correlation between people who are impoverished, religiosity, and how conservative they are.

    I could see how people who are very poor could turn to religion as a way to feel better about themselves and their situations – we see that everywhere. But don't these very poor people realize that being conservative is counter to their self interests? Conservatives want to help poor people out LESS and LESS, and yet poor people tend to identify as conservative? It's strange to me.

  3. Gaga says

    My 0,02 €I’m thankful that you added that bit about correlation vs. causation… I’m always wary of these statistics. Mind you, they do a wonderful job of countering the argument that higher religiosity leads to a better society, but I’m convinced that it’s higher education that leads to better living standards and, as a by-product, lower religiosity and not the other way around.Of course, to increase average education, one needs to have some other things in place already, like e.g. a working economy… *sigh* why are there no simple answers to complex problems?BTW, do you have the source for this spreadsheet? I’d be curious as to what would happen ordering it by IQ instead of religiosity (but I can’t be arsed to copy all the datas :p)

  4. Gaga says

    My 0,02 €I'm thankful that you added that bit about correlation vs. causation… I'm always wary of these statistics. Mind you, they do a wonderful job of countering the argument that higher religiosity leads to a better society, but I'm convinced that it's higher education that leads to better living standards and, as a by-product, lower religiosity and not the other way around.Of course, to increase average education, one needs to have some other things in place already, like e.g. a working economy… *sigh* why are there no simple answers to complex problems?

    BTW, do you have the source for this spreadsheet? I'd be curious as to what would happen ordering it by IQ instead of religiosity (but I can't be arsed to copy all the datas :p)

  5. says

    Hmm. I have quite a few issues with this, most based on the correlation vs. causation issue – although I’d really like to see the source for this, and any other background they can provide on the statistics.In no particular order:IQ is a horrible choice to represent intelligence or education. Among other reasons, it isn’t taken by the majority of the population, it generally measures culturally relative and language-specific factors, and it averages all aptitudes into a single almost-meaningless number. From what I’ve heard (yeah, I know, super citation…) it does not correlate well with level of education. Religion – at least as I’ve heard it preached in the US – is not practiced for the purpose of personal financial gain. Christianity (and other faiths) may be more prevalent among the poor or impoverished because it promises inner peace and provides community to everyone – especially to those in need. From that perspective, it’s not a surprise that the Appalacian and Southern states with extreme poverty also have strong religious communities.Similarly, many of the other factors listed on the chart (crime, poor health) are probably much more closely linked to poverty than to “religiousness”.It is an interesting graphic, but I think it’s important to ask what’s really behind those correlations.

  6. says

    Hmm. I have quite a few issues with this, most based on the correlation vs. causation issue – although I'd really like to see the source for this, and any other background they can provide on the statistics.

    In no particular order:IQ is a horrible choice to represent intelligence or education. Among other reasons, it isn't taken by the majority of the population, it generally measures culturally relative and language-specific factors, and it averages all aptitudes into a single almost-meaningless number. From what I've heard (yeah, I know, super citation…) it does not correlate well with level of education.

    Religion – at least as I've heard it preached in the US – is not practiced for the purpose of personal financial gain. Christianity (and other faiths) may be more prevalent among the poor or impoverished because it promises inner peace and provides community to everyone – especially to those in need. From that perspective, it's not a surprise that the Appalacian and Southern states with extreme poverty also have strong religious communities.

    Similarly, many of the other factors listed on the chart (crime, poor health) are probably much more closely linked to poverty than to "religiousness".

    It is an interesting graphic, but I think it's important to ask what's really behind those correlations.

  7. says

    I too like the caveats that are pointed out. The conclusion that has been drawn is interesting, but the patterns in the gene expression heat map…errr…I mean, the table above are not clean enough to make any solid inferences. I agree that lack of education rather than presence of religion is probably the driving force for the some of the more negative metrics. I would have a lot of questions if I were analyzing this data. Geez…Drosophila are so much simpler than humans!

  8. says

    I too like the caveats that are pointed out. The conclusion that has been drawn is interesting, but the patterns in the gene expression heat map…errr…I mean, the table above are not clean enough to make any solid inferences. I agree that lack of education rather than presence of religion is probably the driving force for the some of the more negative metrics. I would have a lot of questions if I were analyzing this data. Geez…Drosophila are so much simpler than humans!

  9. says

    @Mike Brownstein: Old news, surely? And can you really talk about the GOP any longer? Party of Lincoln, faugh. They’re Dixiecrats. If Nelson Rockefeller were with us, he’d be with Obama; if Nixon were with us, he would be reviled as a godless commie; and I understand that people who dug Barry Goldwater (who had read a book or two) are not best pleased with the party of Cheney and Palin. But what do I know, I’m only a rightpondian.

  10. says

    @Mike Brownstein: Old news, surely? And can you really talk about the GOP any longer? Party of Lincoln, faugh. They're Dixiecrats. If Nelson Rockefeller were with us, he'd be with Obama; if Nixon were with us, he would be reviled as a godless commie; and I understand that people who dug Barry Goldwater (who had read a book or two) are not best pleased with the party of Cheney and Palin. But what do I know, I'm only a rightpondian.

  11. says

    The heat map was posted around reddit without a source. If anyone knows where it’s originally from, let me know.

  12. Anonymous says

    Love how all of you are asking for data sources when all eight of them are at the bottom of the image. :^)

  13. Anonymous says

    Love how all of you are asking for data sources when all eight of them are at the bottom of the image. :^)

  14. says

    @Hugo Grinebiter: Are you old enough to remember the 1964 campaign? One of the foremost reasons why Nelson Rockefeller lost the gop nomination to Goldwater wasn’t really about any political issue; it was that he had divorced his wife! And he married another woman!! And do you know what that woman called herself? Her name was HAPPY!!!! How dare they call themselves Republicans! Seriously! Those were the days of traditional Old Money Respectable Republicans, and they totally lost it over The Rock’s second marriage. Can you imagine what the old folks would have made of the serial-marrying, page-turning (think about it!), Appalachian Trail-hiking scuzzballs they have on their team now?

  15. says

    @Hugo Grinebiter: Are you old enough to remember the 1964 campaign? One of the foremost reasons why Nelson Rockefeller lost the gop nomination to Goldwater wasn't really about any political issue; it was that he had divorced his wife! And he married another woman!! And do you know what that woman called herself? Her name was HAPPY!!!! How dare they call themselves Republicans!

    Seriously! Those were the days of traditional Old Money Respectable Republicans, and they totally lost it over The Rock's second marriage. Can you imagine what the old folks would have made of the serial-marrying, page-turning (think about it!), Appalachian Trail-hiking scuzzballs they have on their team now?

  16. Hallo Hallo says

    Lots of interesting things from this! Nothing too surprising if you’re a staunch unbeliever. I’m not sure how I feel about the relevance of the IQ scores, as I think the states with some of the most racial diversity also happen to have some of the lower scores, so I’m not sure that this tells us much, other than either (a) there is a real intellectual difference among races or (b) IQ tests are more geared toward Anglo-American thought processes. I’d go with the latter. Although, interestingly, we could point out that African Americans and Hispanics tend to be much more religious, generally speaking, than many other races, and we do know that the more religious people are, typically the less educated they are, so perhaps there’s a distant correlation somewhere in there. I agree with your statement regarding education being the key. Whenever I visit my family in Mississippi (ugh), I am painfully aware of the general lack of education in the area.Also, I unfortunately think that the divorce rate information is a little lacking without knowing the marriage rate and/or how many cohabitate or become married under common law. What I mean is that the states that have a higher marriage rate will also have more divorces, logically. The states that have more people living together will not. Just considering the amount of liberals in the states with some of the lower divorce rates, I think this could be the explanation: fewer people marry in those states who aren’t truly ready to do so. That probably doesn’t mean that bad relationships aren’t going on as much, but that they’re just cohabitating. Another interesting tidbit might be age of first marriage, as I would venture to guess the more religious states have a very young average age for marriage.

  17. Hallo Hallo says

    Lots of interesting things from this! Nothing too surprising if you're a staunch unbeliever.

    I'm not sure how I feel about the relevance of the IQ scores, as I think the states with some of the most racial diversity also happen to have some of the lower scores, so I'm not sure that this tells us much, other than either (a) there is a real intellectual difference among races or (b) IQ tests are more geared toward Anglo-American thought processes. I'd go with the latter. Although, interestingly, we could point out that African Americans and Hispanics tend to be much more religious, generally speaking, than many other races, and we do know that the more religious people are, typically the less educated they are, so perhaps there's a distant correlation somewhere in there. I agree with your statement regarding education being the key. Whenever I visit my family in Mississippi (ugh), I am painfully aware of the general lack of education in the area.

    Also, I unfortunately think that the divorce rate information is a little lacking without knowing the marriage rate and/or how many cohabitate or become married under common law. What I mean is that the states that have a higher marriage rate will also have more divorces, logically. The states that have more people living together will not. Just considering the amount of liberals in the states with some of the lower divorce rates, I think this could be the explanation: fewer people marry in those states who aren't truly ready to do so. That probably doesn't mean that bad relationships aren't going on as much, but that they're just cohabitating. Another interesting tidbit might be age of first marriage, as I would venture to guess the more religious states have a very young average age for marriage.

  18. Chip says

    Ah, I KNEW there was a reason I like living in Vermont. That chart makes up for all our long cold winters and cloudy summers.

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