Saturday, August 26, 2006

This is Stupid

A recent article in the Chicago Sun-Times asks, "Does religion make us fat?"

Their evidence for the assertion is a statistical analysis that, of all religious groups, Baptists had the highest incidence of obesity, 27%.

The survey was conducted on 2500 individuals over 8 years. Not being a statistician, I can't really say whether or not that can be considered a "representative sampling." Still, let's deal with the facts as they stand.

First, the ever necessary reminder that causation and correlation are very different things. Just because A and B come together does not mean that A causes B, or vice versa. Of course, they'd never ask, "Does being fat make a person more religious?" But it's nice to dream. Hm . . . I wonder how many obese people are atheists?

In any event, they attempt to pin causation on the lack of dietary rules in Protestant Christianity. No smoking, no drinking, no drugs . . . but hey, binge your heart out on Ho-Ho's and Ding-Dongs, right? Well, no, not really.

My best explanation is that you have a group of people much less likely to tie their self-worth to their self-image. Nobody can completely disconnect the two, but the religious tend to be the most unfazed there.

But hey, why bother offering opposing theories? Let's just see the two numbers and assume causation. It's easier that way, right?

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a tub of "Parkay" to finish snacking on.

No comments: