So I found this article referenced on conservapedia.org. I admit that I don't like what it has to say, and I'm in the process of fact checking it for continuity. let me know what you think.
btw, best part is that the article that this links to in the bullshit website conservapedia.org also references a study that says obesity has links to lower levels of cognition, therefor making the statement that since "atheists are more likely to be obese" that we are also more likely to be stupid due to improperly working brains.
This is WAR!
It's entirely possible in a survey like this that the self-reported data is entirely unreliable. People lie. I'd like to see a survey about how different levels of religiosity impact lying behavior (knowing the truth and saying otherwise), denial (psychological issues producing inability to see the truth), and other variables dealing with healthy behavior. It's an obvious subject to encourage lying or denial.
This was probably valid sampling and number-crunching, but there was no test of the accuracy of the reported data.
Much of the gallup poll discussion looks pretty reasonable to me. It discusses the religious factions that promote very healthy practices in nutrition, such as 7th day adventists. Not smoking, limiting alcohol or not drinking, and other factors, are big factors in some religious groups. Those factors can lead to better health.
Of course there are zillions of unhealthy religious people (look at whole countries that are highly religious and with poverty, war, malnutrition), and bad health seems to concentrate in some demographic categories. Some groups where religiosn is central to community, such as Hispanics in the US, and African Americans, are also groups with high rates of obesity and diabetes. I don't doubt that there are factors other than religion that make it so (poor access to resources, discrimination, lack or opportunity, etc), and correlation is not causation. And none of the generalizations applies to an individual person in any group or demographic.
I know there are arguments that there are also lots of healthy obese people too - but it really is better not to be overweight in general. That statement about obesity and stupidity is profoundly stupid - even if I want to apply it to Rush Limbaugh.
There are also lots of super-healthy atheists, too - I have no doubt.
But in a world of "bell curves", this article does seem reasonable. What is not reasonable is if someone suggests that religion = healthy behaviors, or atheism = unhealthy or the frequent fallacious correlation=causation arguments that you see all of the time.
A lot of people make the claims that correlation does mean causation. It may be that those who have lower levels of cognition are more likely to be obese, due to not understanding the role of healthy eating and whatnot. However, when they make those links, they do not include those whose obesity cannot be simply explained with bad habits, such as those with disorders (PCOS, Cushing's, etc.). So it may be possible that the link may be correlated with minor retardation or those in poor situations who do not have the same opportunities for education, both of which would give the illusion of lower levels of cognition.
As for the other study, I have to agree with the idea that many sects follow strict guidelines for health. As an atheist, you will not be punished by a god for enjoying that glass of wine, cigarette, cheesecake, etc., like you will in many of those faiths. >.X
Obviously, their is group is highly slanted in favor of the religious and will probably use any technique they can to prove their point. About a year ago, I read an article on how church goers weight 20 to 40 lbs more than non church goers. This study pointed out that most church activities center around food - often high calorie meals. In addition, it said that since so many things are considered "sinful" by the devout often food is the only outlet they have.
Having been highly devout at one time, I can say with confidence that most church activities do surround high calorie food and the pressure to eat that food is intense with people becoming very offended if you do not partake of the food they brought no matter how high calorie or unhealthy it may be. I find it difficult to eat around religious people because I have a number of food allergies and they tend to take it personally or try to find some reason why god is punishing me, say for my allergy to chocolate. Whereas non religious people are like "okay, it's a health issue" no big deal.
Also having bad health can drive a person from religion. Having MS is what turned me away from religious faith. I suddenly realized there was never going to be a miracle cure. I wasted a lot of time wondering why god hated people with MS so much that he would cure a person from cancer once in awhile, but no one in history had made the cut and "deserved" a cure from MS and many other diseases. What I am saying is perhaps poor health drives people from religion when god just doesn't work out for them. However, I have met a lot of seriously ill people who are intensely religious and they believe it helps them. Maybe their belief they are getting help does make a difference for them, but from what I can see they are doing a lot more for themselves than god is.
Perhaps this study only includes healthy religious people and unhealthy atheists. Since atheists do believe in medical care, I imagine they are loads healthier than say Christian Scientists who refuse all medical treatment. It seems this study is only including the most healthy groups like Adventists. if you are going to go that way, strict Adventists are vegetarian and perhaps it should be said vegetarians are more healthy than meat eaters. My great great grandmother was an adventist and a vegetarian. She lived to be 95. Her daughter was a Methodist meat eater. She lived about the same length of time. I think genetics had a strong role to play here.
I notice that they did not make atheist it's own group. We are lumped in with people who believe there is a god but who just don't care about going to church, etc... I live in redneck, backwood, dipshit, christian America and I can tell you those who don't care about religion but still believe in god are the worst of a bad lot. They're the first to slash an atheist's tires, threaten to kill a homosexual, and rob their "wealthier" christian neighbor just because the neighbor has it and the redneck doesn't feel they deserve it. Their sense of entitlement is just unreal.
The poll results are seriously flawed when we are lumped in with the most backwood type christians.
I have a brother in law who hates gays, thinks atheists should leave the country, steals, lies, cheats, lives like a pig, drinks up the bill money etc... I'm 99.9 % sure he hasn't been to church once in the last 23 years...but by god he believes in god and fags and atheists are going to hell! He would be exactly the one who would say religion isn't important to him (it's not), but he still believes in god. (Side note; We don't associate with him.)
We're lumped in with that!?!?
I meant to say also that I feel this is the flaw with the poll. They took the most uneducated, non-motivated (won't get up for church or a lot of time a job) people and lumped atheist in with them. We have nothing more in common with them than they don't go to church and neither do we. Our reason for not going is non-belief vs their laziness. They smoke, drink, eat unhealthy etc...
I can picture a certain family I knew as a teen. The mother, father, & kids all believed in god. Father was verbally and physically abusive and spent too much money on drugs and alcohol. Mother laid around all day, kept a filthy house, ate Little Debbies all the time etc... I know for a fact they NEVER went to church or read their bible. They claimed to be christians but church wasn't important at all. This is another example of who we,as atheists, would be lumped in with.
Now I'm all for a Little Debbie binge now and then....but hopefully you get what I mean here.