Category Archives: sociology

The 2018 UN World Happiness Report: most atheistic (and socially well off) countries are the happiest, while religious countries are poor and unhappy

The 2018 edition of the World Happiness Report is out, and it shows pretty much what other recent reports have shown: Western European countries are the world’s happiest, the poor countries of Africa and the Middle East are the world’s unhappiest, and Finland has moved into the #1 spot. A new aspect of the report […]

New York Times editorial page editor makes the “Little People” argument for religion

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of […]

The Good Country Index

HuffPo (occasionally they do have decent stuff) describes a recently compiled “Good Country Index,” which uses data from the UN, WHO, and the World Bank to rank countries on a number of axes: science and technology, culture, world order, international peace and security, planet and climate, prosperity and equality, and health and wellbeing (there are […]

Is religion good even if it’s not true?: A deceptive piece in the Daily Beast

Reader Saul called my attention to a Daily Beast article called “Can you be good without God?” (subtitle: “New research raises questions about whether people can be truly good or truly bad without religion”) by Brandon Withrow, who teaches religious studies at the University of Findlay. I call the article “deceptive” in the sense that both the […]

Sociologist rebukes Dawkins for not seeing humans as “sacred”

Oh, the indignities suffered by poor Richard Dawkins! The latest is a rebuke by John H. Evans, a professor of sociology at the University of California at San Diego. Evans’s article in last August’s New Scientist found its way to me today (click on screenshot to get partial article; it’s not free), though for some reason its title […]

Homeless in Chicago

Here’s how a small group of homeless people deal with the winter in Chicago: constructing warm nests under a train overpass. This is only three blocks from my house. As far as I could see, there are no humans in this photo; the residents are probably out foraging. It’s heartbreaking that we have this in […]

The history of urbanization

From Metrocosm, and now on YouTube, we have a cool animation of the growth of the world’s cities starting with Eridu, which had attained “city” status by about 3000 BC. For each city, this map shows the date of the earliest recorded population figure, which is not necessarily the date when the city was founded. The […]

Belief in moralistic gods makes people generous—towards coreligionists

I’ve been meaning to write about this paper for some time, but it’s fallen into my backlog of 1000-odd draft posts that I almost never look at. However, I found a printout in my daypack, and so will try to describe it briefly, for the results are somewhat hard to interpret. The paper, in a January, 2016 […]

The great toilet paper debate: the answer!

Over of course, and here’s why (the RV argument is just dumb):

A brief note on equality

First, let’s hear it for Matthew’s post on human evolution just below, which is perhaps the best science post he’s written here. I know it took a lot of work, so do read it; you’ll learn a lot. Reading the usually soporific Nicholas Kristof in today’s New York Times op-ed section (a column called “America’s stacked deck“), I learned […]