Thursday, January 16, 2014

OK, Then - I Hope They Didn't Pay Too Much For This Study

The earth shattering news coming out of the UK this week is that people who regularly attend a place of worship are less likely to get involved in low level crime and delinquency.  Note that it doesn't specify any particular religion, it just correlates visits to religious places and lower crime figures, especially in relation to shoplifting, drug use and music piracy.
Researchers believe this is because religion not only teaches people about 'moral and behavioural norms', but also spending time with like-minded people makes it less likely they'll get mixed up with the 'wrong crowd'.
Researchers didn't investigate more serious crimes, as they were too rare for the small group they had, but studied connection to eight varying types of delinquency including littering, skipping school or work, using illegal drugs, fare dodging, shoplifting, music piracy, property damage and violence against the person.

Gee, it's almost as if being in a place where people are urged to be at their best has a tendency to make people try be their best. 

It's not even remotely the first time this sort of result has been found.  A review article in 2011 looked at the results of 273 studies published between 1944 and 2010.  He found that 90% of the studies “report an inverse or beneficial relationship between religion and some measure of crime or delinquency.”  Less than 1% reported an opposite relationship. 
Professor Byron began his article by noting that if the studies generally showed the opposite—that religion or church-going contributed to crime and delinquency—the press would be all over the story, and a Federal commission would doubtless be established to make sure Americans were officially notified that religious practice is deleterious to your social health.
I've heard it said that religion is a false morality, and any morality based on fear of punishment is inferior to a "real", positive morality coming from concern for others.  That might be true, but it's apparently not a completely ineffective way to run a society. 


  1. In other news, a recent study reveals that sitting in a comfortable chair for an hour or so can rest your legs.

  2. I'm trying to get a $2 million grant from the government to do a study that would show people who use drugs regularly are responsible for most of the crime in this country. Oh wait! We already know that is true.

  3. Copying is not theft.

    And drug use is not a crime.

  4. The recent car jacking in the NJ mall that ended in one man dead and four charged with 1st degree murder was about drugs. 70% of murders in this country are drug related, about 80% or roberies and thefts are drug related. 70% of sex crimes are drug related. The list of social and criminal problems drugs cause is quite long indeed.

    1. Are those murders drug-related, or is it more correct to say that they are related to the black market?

      Alternatively, 100% of sex crimes are sex-related. What does that say about sex?

    2. I think you are trying to say if drugs were free then people wouldn't kill or rob to get the money to buy them. Maybe you are correct but somehow I suspect that the cost of drugs will always be greater then the ability for drug addicts to pay for them. It's not easy to make $60K a year to keep up a drug habit if you're always zonked out.

      I'll bite. What does that say about sex?

    3. I am trying to say that there is a nontrivial amount of violent crime mixed up with the practices that trade in contraband inevitably requires. I do in fact believe that a large amount of that would go away if drugs were no longer contraband. See, for example, the Prohibition era. As for robbery to get money to buy drugs, we already have laws on the books about robbery. If we oppose singling out crime committed with guns for special treatment, how can we say that drugs are somehow specially responsible for robbery? Same for crimes committed under the influence of drugs.

      As for the money, I would argue that television is the country's greatest addiction by far and every time I ever called to cancel my cable subscription they offered me deep discounts. Economics is complicated. Who really knows what would happen to the price under a legal scheme? I suspect it depends greatly on the scheme. I hear legal pot in Colorado is more expensive than illegal pot because of the taxes involved. Obviously government can induce artificial pricing, which muddies the waters.

      The correlation of sex crimes with sex says nothing at all about sex, of course. Just as there's a big difference in the legal system - rightfully so - between a rape and a consensual liaison, there arguably ought to be a difference in the way our legal system considers the use of drugs itself and the ill effects, should they manifest, of that use. (There are likely always ill effects, but whether each one should necessarily be treated as a crime is the question.)

  5. I hear that claim often; if drugs were deregulated then the gangs and big crimes would be reduced. I honestly don't know but my gut feeling is it won't make much difference. A better measure of what drugs cost a society would be if it were possible to totally eliminate addictive drugs how much better would our society be, not just less crime but more success for more people. I tend to believe this theory far more then the one you are promoting. But, let's be honest, we will never have zero drugs in our more or less "democratic" society AND we will never allow hard drugs to becme "legal". So neither theory will be proven or disproven in our lifetime. I am not opposed to decriminalizing pot. I would be willing to see our society take a different approach to dealing with hard drugs that would treat addicts rather then jail them. I'm not sure we can afford it though and I'm not sure a majority of voters want this. The problem put most succintly is I don't think America wants to legalize hards drug use and I also don't think they have the guts to take the steps that would stamp it out. So we're stuck with the status quo.