Monday, September 13, 2010

Religion and Economic Success

This graph shows a very strong negative correlation between religion and economic success, i.e. the more religious the less income and the more income the less religious.

Click to Enlarge

Philip Zimbardo, professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford University, famous for his Stanford prison study, and author of The Lucifer Effect and The Time Paradox offers some insight into the above graph:


thomas said...

I really enjoy those videos or animations..

The thing that stuck in my head that really isn't the subject of your post; kids brains being rewired. This was said about music and then TV. It could be that TV or rock music have rewired a generation of people and now another generation is being rewired some more.. I wonder.

I have heard theories about religion and economics before but never in this direction. Usually people blame bad economics for people getting religious. You know, the turning to God in stressful or desperate times.. I kind of got a sense of a little religious favoritism when he thinks that Catholics look backward and Protestants forward; I don't know if I buy that, but it is an interesting theory and I suppose he has studied it more than I have.

Fun video and fun to think about subject.

RYviewpoint said...

Thomas: You've made some interesting comments...

I agree with you that we should be leery when somebody claims that something "rewires" kids' heads. As you say, too many people have made claims like this (I think of violence in movies/TV) that hasn't been backed up by facts as far as I can tell. My basic approach is that people are resiliant. Some are susceptible, but on average you can be raised by bad parents and turn out OK and you can be raised by wonderful parents and turn out mediocre-to-bad. The culture influences you surely, but it doesn't "control" you.

His thing about the Catholic south and Protestant north has been an idea being pushed for nearly 200 years. It is like the idea that Europe west of the Roman border is fundamentally different from Europe east of that border. There are facts that support the view, but does one simple fact account for everything? Not likely. But I will agree that your religious views can influence you (not determine you, but encourage certain attitudes). I think his basic point that if you think God shows favour by letting you pile up wealth, then you will work harder. I do know that a lot of evangelicals in the US push this viewpoint today. I'm all for it if it means people lead a better life and their kids are raised up out of poverty. I'm against it if it leads to a worship of "Mammon". Like most things in life: nothing is simple.

I really like the RSA videos. I wish all lectures had some talented artist at a whiteboard illustrating the ideas. It helps make them memorable. Just think what school would have been like if somebody was behind the teacher doodling pictures to make the ideas come to life! You can find more videos here.