Fox News happily reports that a scientific study has found that Religion is Good for Kids!
Jean Mercer scrutinizes the study, finds it dubious at best, and Dale McGowan suggests that a better title would have been Religion May Make Some First Graders Marginally Easier to Manage.
Not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with making first graders more docile—it would make them less likely to turn their priest in to the police, for instance. The paper is making its conclusions from some rather shaky and selective analysis of subjective observations, though, so it isn’t even particularly reassuring about that.
I am a little concerned about the way the data was sampled, though. There’s this one bit:
Because of their dependence on Early Childhood Longitudinal Study information, Bartkowski et al. were restricted to some very simple measures of religious participation, with stress on the congruence of fathers’ and mothers’ religious attendance. The measures included the question, “Do you and your [current partner] often, sometimes, hardly ever, or never have arguments about religion?”
Um, in my family, we’d answer “never” — we rarely even discuss religion. Congruence was high, there was little conflict in our family; does this mean that if we’d participated, we’d have been one of the data points supporting the conclusion that religion is good for kids?