You can't handle the untruth!

Conservative social scientists look for empirical evidence that everything is your fault. Poor? Undereducated? Lacking in healthcare? Your fault, your fault and definitely your fault.

Actually, come to think of it, it's usually your mother's fault. Especially if she's single, and/or a member of a minority group.

'Cause, you know, there are no structural issues in our perfectly mobile, perfectly arranged society.

And when those social scientists find some correlation between the "deteriorating family" and all manner of social problems, bingo! The sky brightens, choruses sing hallelujah and right-wing foundations shower them with dollars.

It's a very good gig.

But turnabout is fair play. And a new study published in the Journal of Religion and Society shows that all of our social problems are not due to unmarried welfare queens squeezing out babies they can't afford to keep, it's all because of religion!

That, according to the study's author, Gregory Paul, who was interviewed on the Australian radio program, "The World Today." Paul is a paleontologist who apparently got so pissed off at being hassled by creationists that he gathered "data from the International Social Survey Program, Interpol, and other research bodies, to compare murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy between religious and secular prosperous democracies."

Here's a bit from the transcript of Paul's interview:

GREGORY PAUL: I started finding that basically, the more people believed in God in the western world, the worse off the society was in numerous aspects.
For example, the United States is the only prosperous democracy where religion is really popular and we're the only nation among prosperous democracies to have really high murder rates.
We also have the highest juvenile mortality rates. We have pretty much the shortest life spans. We have the highest abortion rates among democracies where abortion is legal. We have the highest sexually transmitted disease infection rates. We have the highest teen pregnancy rates, pretty much across the board we have real, serious social issues that other nations don't seem to be suffering from.
Finally, liberals have a reason for our incomprehensible hostility towards religion! No wonder we hate Christmas!

Is Paul's study good science? Nah, doesn't seem to be. Correlation isn't causation , and there are far more rigorous studies linking poverty with the social ills he's talking about.

We may be more religious than all other "prosperous democracies," but we're also the only one with wealth distributed like Latin America's. We have more social problems than other developed countries because a huge number of our citizens are poor -- far, far more than the one in eight that show up in the official poverty rate.

And the life expectancy and disease data is better explained by the fact that less than 45 percent of our health care is provided by the public sector and the OECD average is over 70 percent. Public health places greater emphasis on prevention…you get the point.

But, so what? Yes, the data's suspect, but it's something I'd like to believe is true.

If Rick Santorum can run around using shitty data from right-wing think-tanks to justify his gay-bashing, why can't I embrace this little study?

If the Bell-curve can sell millions of books, be thoroughly debunked and still be cited as a credible source of knowledge, why can't I refer to Paul's work as a 'landmark' study?

Damn my respect for the truth!

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