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Gregory S. Paul: Beating a Dead Horse

John on January 13, 2007 at 6:14 pm

My friend Scott over at Magic Statistics has pointed out that the Journal which originally published Mr. Paul’s “study” has now published an analysis of the study. Here’s a sample:

Paul states his findings in strong language, but throughout his analysis, he handles his data with uncharacteristic modesty. In truth, his analysis has much to be modest about.

And from the conclusion:

[I]ts methodological problems do not allow for any conclusive statement to be advanced regarding the various hypotheses Paul seeks to demonstrate or falsify. What one can state with certainty is that one cannot in any way be certain as to the effects of religiosity and secularism upon prosperous democracies at least as based upon the methods and data of Paul’s study.

Yeah, that’s what we said.

There is a second study in the same issue (2006) of the Journal which also has some interesting things to say about Mr. Paul’s work:

Paul focuses primarily on the high homicide rate and other selected ills characterizing the United States in a set of eighteen prosperous nations, attributing that unique position to a high level of religiosity. This approach can be badly misleading and a similar approach could be taken to highlight problems in more secular nations. For example, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and seven other nations have higher burglary rates than the United States (based on Interpol and United Nations data). The United States ranks ninth in cirrhosis death rates with at least four of the secular nations, including Japan, Denmark, France, and Germany exhibiting higher rates. The United States ranks thirteenth in suicide rates, seventh in estimates of daily consumption of narcotic drugs (Interpol estimates), and fourteenth in estimates of net annual alcohol consumption (Interpol estimates). In short, Paul’s analysis generates the “desired results” by selectively choosing the set of social problems to include to highlight the negative consequences of religion.

Again, that’s what we said.

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Category: Secularism & Socialism |

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