Religion doesn’t improve society: more evidence

Religion is often touted as essential as a kind of secular glue, keeping society moral and empathic. Indeed, some say that even if there isn’t any evidence for a God, we should promote belief anyway because of its salutary side effects—the “spandrels” of belief.

This “belief in belief” trope, as Dennett calls it, is counteracted by lots of evidence, including the observation that there’s a negative correlation between the religiosity of a country and both its “happiness index” and various measures of well being. Because this is a correlation rather than a causation, we can’t say for sure that religion brings countries down while secularism brings happiness, but there’s certainly no support at all for the thesis that religion promotes well being.

That’s the point made in this new article in The Washington Post. It’s a response to Attorney General William Barr’s recent claim, in a speech at Notre Dame, that religion is essential to maintain morality and that its erosion causes dire consequences. Some of Barr’s quotes from that talk:

Modern secularists dismiss this idea of morality as other-worldly superstition imposed by a kill-joy clergy. In fact, Judeo-Christian moral standards are the ultimate utilitarian rules for human conduct.

They reflect the rules that are best for man, not in the by and by, but in the here and now. They are like God’s instruction manual for the best running of man and human society.

By the same token, violations of these moral laws have bad, real-world consequences for man and society. We may not pay the price immediately, but over time the harm is real.

Religion helps promote moral discipline within society. Because man is fallen, we don’t automatically conform ourselves to moral rules even when we know they are good for us.

But religion helps teach, train, and habituate people to want what is good. It does not do this primarily by formal laws – that is, through coercion. It does this through moral education and by informing society’s informal rules – its customs and traditions which reflect the wisdom and experience of the ages.

In other words, religion helps frame moral culture within society that instills and reinforces moral discipline.

And, added Barr, the rise of secularism is accompanied by a moral decrepitude afflicting America:

By any honest assessment, the consequences of this moral upheaval have been grim.

Virtually every measure of social pathology continues to gain ground.

In 1965, the illegitimacy rate was eight percent. In 1992, when I was last Attorney General, it was 25 percent. Today it is over 40 percent. In many of our large urban areas, it is around 70 percent.

Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic.

As you all know, over 70,000 people die a year from drug overdoses. That is more casualities in a year than we experienced during the entire Vietnam War.

I will not dwell on all the bitter results of the new secular age. Suffice it to say that the campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has brought with it immense suffering, wreckage, and misery. And yet, the forces of secularism, ignoring these tragic results, press on with even greater militancy.

In response, columnist Max Boot cites some statistics that counteract Barr’s claims, and also give results of an international survey showing, as such surveys invariably do, that religious countries are not better off. Click on the screenshot to read the article:


Boot notes this:

Barr’s simplistic idea that the country is better off if it is more religious is based on faith, not evidence. My research associate Sherry Cho compiled statistics on the 10 countries with the highest percentage of religious people and the 10 countries with the lowest percentage based on a 2017 WIN/Gallup International survey of 68 countries. The least religious countries are either Asian nations where monotheism never took hold (China, Japan) or Western nations such as Australia, Sweden and Belgium, where secularism is much more advanced than in the United States. The most religious countries represent various faiths: There are predominantly Christian countries (the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Armenia), Muslim Pakistan, Buddhist Thailand, Hindu India — and countries of mixed faiths (Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Fiji).

Now there are data from 68 countries in this survey, but they show various indices of well being in only the 10 most religious and ten least religious. But the differences are still striking:

However, I’ve also published data (analysis by readers) on a lot more countries showing that the more religious the country, the less happy are its inhabitants: there’s a strong and significant negative correlation between the UN’s “happiness index” and religiosity among dozens of countries. Further, you see the same negative correlation between the religiosity of countries and various indices of their well-being, like their rank on the “successful societies” scale. This is also true among states within the U.S.

Further, among many countries, the index of poverty—how poor a country is—is positively correlated with religiosity.

Again, these are correlations, and not necessarily causal relationships. It’s possible, for example, that other factors play a role. In fact, I think they do, but they surely don’t point to religion in any way as promoting either morality or well being.

My theory, which is not mine but that of many sociologists, is that religion (as Marx maintained) is the last resort of a population which has poor well-being. Suffering and povery-stricken people look to God for help and succor when their society can’t provide them. That could cause the correlation. In other words, religiosity doesn’t cause dysfunctional societies, but dysfunctional societies maintain religiosity because that’s the only hope people have. And of course maintaining such hope erodes the will of people to actually do something to improve their society.  Further, as well being increases, religiosity diminishes as the eternal press of secularism in the modern world no longer comes up against impediments.

As I wrote previously:

 Although I’m not a Marxist, Marx may have gotten it right when he said, “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.”

Author Boot ends his article this way:

Fundamentalists may be unhappy that religious observance has declined over the decades, but the data shows that, by most measurements, life has gotten much better for most people. There is little evidence that a decline in religiosity leads to a decline in society — or that high levels of religiosity strengthen society. (Remember, Rome fell after it converted to Christianity.) If anything, the evidence suggests that too much religion is bad for a country.

Well, I’d put it another way: if a country is not well off, it tends to retain religion. But never mind: the conclusion of myself, Boot, and many sociologists—that there’s no evidence that high religiosity improves society—remains sound. I can’t imagine a survey of well being and religiosity that shows a positive relationship, and I know of no such results.

h/t: Randy

Discuss-the-election thread

In my absence, I’m giving readers the opportunity to air their views about last night’s Democratic primary results in Nevada, in which The Bern got twice as many delegates as his nearest contender (Biden). Again, the results (given as delegates accrued):

It’s still early, of course, and only three small states have had their vote, but still—Bernie managed to do well among diverse voters, not just white ones. These include Hispanics and African Americans. The pundits—yes, I know, we’re all pundits—are prognosticating that Bernie is now unstoppable, almost a shoo-in for the nomination. I’d prefer someone more centrist, but that doesn’t seem likely. What does seem likely is that Elizabeth Warren, unless she somehow pulls off a turnaround in the next two weeks, she’s toast. (Super Tuesday, on March 3, comprises voting in 11 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia).

Warren was once my favorite candidate, but I lost enthusiasm for her when she turned a bit mendacious.(As I keep saying, I’ll vote for whomever the Dems nominate.) Now I have no favorite, although I still like Mayor Pete. Everyone says he’s too inexperienced, but to me experience is overrated—intelligence and ability to learn can overcome that. But it’s unlikely that Buttigieg can overcome his lack of support among black voters, a key part of the Democratic coalition.

But I digress. Here are some questions to discuss:

1.) Is it too early to prognosticate? Even if that’s the case, do you think Bernie will win the Democratic nomination?

2.) AT 78, and having just had a heart attack, is he too old?

3.) Should we be worried on both medical and promissory grounds that he said he’d release his medical records but now refuses to do so?

4.) Do you think he can beat Trump if he’s the candidate?

There are lots of other questions, including those involving the other candidates. Have at it.

Au revoir à mes amis!

Readers’ wildlife videos

Tara Tanaka (Vimeo page here, flickr page here) was so stimulated by some of the comments on her recent video—remarks about why a fishing egret would bob its head and neck—that she produced a new one, also showing a piscivorous bird (an American bittern) swaying its head and neck. I asked her how she thought this behavior was adaptive (if it is), and she replied: “I did some very minimal research, and it’s said to imitate grass swaying in the wind – which makes perfect sense for the Bittern; however, it seems to me that the Great Egret may be trying to distract the prey with the movement of its very visible neck, but that’s just my 2 cents.”

Here are the Vimeo notes; be sure to watch with sound on and the video enlarged:

I had so many comments on the way that the Great Egret moved its head and neck in the Great Backyard Bird Count video that I decided to reach back into some five-year old American Bittern footage that I’d been meaning to edit to show the master of bird swaying.

I regularly change the speed in my videos depending on what effect I’m trying to achieve, but I did want to mention that the flight scene at the very end was slowed down by 50 percent. The Little Blue Heron actually flies at the speed depicted in this clip, but the American Bittern has a very fast wing beat, twice as fast as in this video.

By the way, I’ve also discovered that Tara has a pair of cowboy boots, which are nice ones. Here they are, along with her omnipresent binoculars:

Sunday: Hili dialogue

It’s Sunday, February 23, 2020, and—I remind you again—this afternoon I’m off to Paris for a week of R&R&E. Matthew will handle the Hili dialogues when I’m gone, but posting is likely to be much lighter for this week. As always, I do my best, and thank Dr. Cobb for handling the Hilis.

It’s National Banana Bread Day, and, for the canids, National Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day. It’s also Diesel Engine Day, National Rationalization Day, and Play Tennis Day (it’s predicted to be warm enough in Chicago to play tennis: 50°F or 9°C).  In Japan it’s The Emperor’s Birthday: Emperor Naruhito was born on this day in 1960, and so turns 60 today. Happy birthday, Mr. Emperor!

Here’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako. He’s the first Japanese Emperor to have studied abroad—at Merton College, Oxford. They have one daughter, Princess Aiko, who is 18.

The Emperor and Empress of Japan.

News of the Day: The big news in the U.S. is, of course, Bernie Sanders’s big win in the Nevada primary, his numbers far outstripping those of any other candidate. The Bern did well across a diverse range of voters, giving him strong momentum for upcoming primaries, including Super Tuesday.  Below are the convention delegates each candidate picked up (from the NYT); Sanders got more than twice the number of delebat the second-place finisher, Joe Biden, and nearly four times those of Elizabeth Warren. We’ll discuss this in a post soon, as I’m off to Paris today.

One might say that the wonderful tweet below is a metaphor of the diverse groups that came together to form a vote-consuming coalition in Nevada (h/t Matthew):

Stuff that happened on February 23 includes:

There are 49 copies or nearly complete copies of this world’s most valuable book; here’s one at the New York Public Library:

  • 1739 – At York Castle, the outlaw Dick Turpin is identified by his former schoolteacher. Turpin had been using the name Richard Palmer.
  • 1836 – Texas Revolution: The Siege of the Alamo (prelude to the Battle of the Alamo) begins in San Antonio, Texas.
  • 1861 – President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrives secretly in Washington, D.C., after the thwarting of an alleged assassination plot in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • 1886 – Charles Martin Hall produced the first samples of aluminium from the electrolysis of aluminium oxide, after several years of intensive work. He was assisted in this project by his older sister, Julia Brainerd Hall.
  • 1903 – Cuba leases Guantánamo Bay to the United States “in perpetuity”.
  • 1917 – First demonstrations in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The beginning of the February Revolution (March 8 in the Gregorian calendar).
  • 1927 – German theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg writes a letter to fellow physicist Wolfgang Pauli, in which he describes his uncertainty principle for the first time.
  • 1941 – Plutonium is first produced and isolated by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg.
  • 1942 – World War II: Japanese submarines fire artillery shells at the coastline near Santa Barbara, California.
  • 1945 – World War II: During the Battle of Iwo Jima, a group of United States Marines and a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman reach the top of Mount Suribachi on the island and are photographed raising the American flag.

And of course I must present the iconic photo, perhaps the most famous of all America war photos, photographed by Joe Rosenthal. They’ve since all been identified, and three of the six Marines were later killed on the island:


  • 1954 – The first mass inoculation of children against polio with the Salk vaccine begins in Pittsburgh
  • 1974 – The Symbionese Liberation Army demands $4 million more to release kidnap victim Patty Hearst.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1633 – Samuel Pepys, English diarist and politician (d. 1703)
  • 1868 – W. E. B. Du Bois, American sociologist, historian, and activist (d. 1963)
  • 1940 – Peter Fonda, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2019)
  • 1950 – Rebecca Goldstein, American philosopher and author
  • 1960 – Naruhito, Emperor of Japan (see above)
  • 1979 – S. E. Cupp, American journalist and author

Here’s a video link to Cupp saying she’s an atheist but “aspires to be a person of faith some day.” That completely baffles me. If you’re an atheist because you see no evidence for God, which is the only good reason there is, then why would you aspire to become religious. Does that mean that you are hoping some evidence for God appears, or simply that you hope to change your mind even in light of the paucity of evidence?

Those who breathed their last on February 23 include:

Here’s a Joshua Reynolds print, “Muscipula“:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is doing her editorial job as Elzbieta comes for a visit:

Elzbieta: Lately I often see you on this desk.
Hili: Yes, I’m trying to somehow control this mess.
In Polish:
Elżbieta: Ostatnio często cię widzę na tym biurku.
Hili: Tak, próbuję jakoś kontrolować ten bałagan.

A baby rabbit from Wild and Wonderful:

Also from Wild and Wonderful, a lilac-breasted roller (Coracias caudatus), one of the world’s most beautiful birds. And yes, they look like this.

From Jesus of the Day:

And from reddit’s “political humor section”:


The daily tweets:

The first one  should spark a discussion about whether racially-segregated spaces on campus are justifiable or advisable. It’s surely the next big thing in campus social justice, as it’s being promoted by students on several campuses—including mine. I can see arguments on both sides, but tend to come down against self-segregation because it erodes the aims of campus diversity. By all means talk about it in the comments. The viral video that started this discussion is in this tweet.

A tweet from Heather Hastie, who adds this:

If you go to the Business Insider article in this tweet, you’ll see a pic of Boris and Trump shaking hands recently. As he always has with Putin, Trump now shakes Boris’s hand with his hand on the bottom and Boris’s on the top.

A tweet from reader Barry: a bird aspiring to be a mouse:

Tweets from Matthew. First, the Master Cat:

One of these is a real ant, the rest are ant mimics, probably preying on ants. Can you identify the species. Answer below the fold:

Mother and baby dine together. What’s a potoroo? Go here.

This is an amazing illusion, but convince yourself that the cubes are stationary:


Click “read more” to identify the ant and its mimics in the tweet above

Read More »

Spot the antlion!

Matthew sent this tweet which shows a cryptic antlion—the predatory larva of a neuropteran insect in the family Myrmeleontidae, whose flying adult looks like a lacewing. (The adults are much less well known than these predatory larvae, which I used to keep as pets as a child).

This is rated very easy, but we haven’t had a “spot the. . . ” feature in a while so have a look. It also shows you once again how remarkably good natural selection can be in matching animals to their backgrounds

Enlarged. See the big mandibles spread out, waiting to snap shut on a hapless victim?

Antlions like the one above are free-roaming, getting their prey on the hoof. But others, like the ones I used to keep, dig pits that trap unwary prey, similar to this one from a BBC Earth video. (I collected my ant lions from the dirt of vacant lots and put them in dishes to recreate their pits. Then I’d feed them ants. I am a bad person.)

Travel note to readers

As I noted several times in the last few days, I’m off to Paris tomorrow for eight days of fun and, of course, eating. This means three things:

1.) Posting will be lighter than usual. Matthew has kindly agreed to put up the Hili dialogues every day until my return. I will post as I have time.

2.) Please do not email me when I’m gone with contributions of items to read, or with wildlife photos. Although I appreciate these, they’re prone to getting lost or forgotten when I’m traveling. Please hold onto them until I return, when I’ll be glad to get them.

3.) The good news is that all restaurant reservations have been made, including some of my favorite bistros as well as some places new to me (eight restaurants in total). That means we’ll have some good food photos to get you salivating.  Even better news is that it’s winter, which is Hearty Food Season in Paris, so I look forward to game and cassoulets. I also have a ticket for the last day of the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit in the Louvre, which is the day I arrive. I will visit the exhibit after consuming a large lunch at one of my favorite bistros, Chez Denise*. Let’s hope I remain awake!


Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus) on the move! Photo: Getty images


*I already know what I’ll be eating there: onglet de boeuf (skirt steak), cooked rare (with a mountain of frites), preceded by a salade frisée (you need to start light here), a bottle of the house Brouilly (it comes in liters, and you pay just for the proportion you drink), and, to finish, the baba au rhum: a luscious spongecake made with rum and topped with whipped cream. It comes with a bottle of rum on the side in case you need to douse it more.

Caturday felids: Cat crashes Istanbul concert; stretched cats, Polish town makes drivers slow down for cats (and lagniappe)

It’s time for another Caturday felid, and today we have the usual three items plus lagniappe.

This cute cat crashing a concert in Istanbul (where else?) went viral in both the news and on video. I’ll show two different videos, but first a little backstory from Limelight:

Could orchestral concerts benefit from a little more Clawed Debussy, or perhaps some Elena Cats-Chernin? The audience was certainly thrilled when a curious cat became the inadvertent star of a concert by the CCR Symphony Orchestra in Istanbul.

The cat made headlines in Turkey and around the world, after video emerged of its performance charming musicians and audience alike as it prowled through the legs of the musicians on the stage of the Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall, eventually upstaging the conductor when it joined him on the podium.

. . . and another view. The puss won’t let itself be caught, but the Turks do love their cats!


Bored Panda has a feature on “stretched cats”, and I’ll show a few of the thirty photos.

Twenty-four other Long Cats await you at the site.


Finally, there is a Polish village, Tarnów, where cats were sometimes killed by cars speeding on the village road. The village mayor decided to put up a road sign (see it in the linked article – the word means “Slow down”). You can see the article at the site below (click on either the regular or translated headlines in the screenshots):

Here are some photos. “Zwolnii” means “slow”:

Tadeusz Obrocki, the Mayor of Tarjnów. As for his clothing, Malgorzata notes, “This is the uniform of a forester but used not in the forest – only for special occasions.” Every village in Poland, no matter how small, has a mayor. 


Lagniappe: A tweet:

h/t: Malgorzata, Matthew, William

Readers’ wildlife photographs

Today’s photos come from Liz Strahle who provides, besides the IDs, the following information (everything she sent is indented):

Attached are some wildlife photographs taken in the last few months. The Long-tailed Duck through the Mute Swan pictures were taken on my first time out on a field trip in New Jersey. These were all taken with the same equipment (Canon EOS T6i and  EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens). I only cropped them and did not edit them as per usual. The rest of the pictures were taken in New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus):

 Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis):

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus):

Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis):


Brant (Branta bernicla):

Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola):

Great Egret (Ardea alba):

American Oystercatchers (Haematopus palliates):

Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus):

Gadwalls (Mareca strepera):

Mute Swans (Cygnus olor):

 Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis):

Saturday: Hili dialogue

It’s Saturday, February 22, 2020, or, in American notation, 2/22/2020. If you move the first slash one numeral to the right, you get European notation. It’s also National Margarita Day and National Cook a Sweet Potato Day, the latter brought to you by Big Yam (see photo below). It’s George Washington’s Birthday (born on this day in 1732); National Wildlife Day; Walking the D*g Day; Be Humble Day (no bragging!), and Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, a Catholic holiday honoring the wooden stool on which St. Peter supposedly sat. It resides in the Vatican, even though studies show that no part of that stool is older than six centuries.

Big Yam

Stuff that happened on February 22 includes:

The invasion was, of course, by the French, but the stalwart Welsh handily rebuffed it.

  • 1819 – By the Adams–Onís Treaty, Spain sells Florida to the United States for five million U.S. dollars.
  • 1862 – Jefferson Davis is officially inaugurated for a six-year term as the President of the Confederate States of America in Richmond, Virginia. He was previously inaugurated as a provisional president on February 18, 1861.
  • 1915 – World War I: The Imperial German Navy institutes unrestricted submarine warfare.

This policy, which involved sinking American ships (the ships of a noncombatant at the time), helped bring the U.S. into World War I.

Here is the full film of “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days” (2005), which is very good. It was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category. The hideous Nazi judge Roland Freisler is particularly well portrayed in the sham trial at the end. And the last two minutes are heartbreaking (Sophie and her co-conspirators were guillotined.) These were brave young people.

Here’s the last minute of that game, which I watched live on the telly. I remember it well, including the announcer’s excited statement, “Do you believe in miracles?” (The Soviets were favored heavily to win.) This was not a game for the gold medal, but the U.S. in a subsequent game, took that medal by beating Finland 4-2.

Here’s Dolly: she lived 6.5 years (the normal longevity for a sheep is 11 or 12), but it’s not clear whether she aged prematurely from the cloning process itself:

Can you name other mammals that have been cloned since Dolly? There are eight listed here.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1732 – George Washington, American general and politician, 1st President of the United States (d. 1799)
  • 1788 – Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher and author (d. 1860)
  • 1819 – James Russell Lowell, American poet and critic (d. 1891)
  • 1892 – Edna St. Vincent Millay, American poet and playwright (d. 1950)

What a life that woman had, both ups and downs. Here’s a photo and perhaps her most famous poem, a short one:

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

  • 1914 – Renato Dulbecco, Italian-American virologist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2012)
  • 1925 – Edward Gorey, American illustrator and poet (d. 2000)

Reader Jon sent his annual picture of Gorey to honor the man’s birthday. He was clearly an ailurophile.

Others born on this day:

  • 1944 – Jonathan Demme, American director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2017)
  • 1950 – Miou-Miou, French actress [JAC: not her real name, but the best stage name ever.]
  • 1962 – Steve Irwin, Australian zoologist and television host (d. 2006)
  • 1975 – Drew Barrymore, American actress, director, producer, and screenwriter

Those whose metabolism ceased on February 22 include:

  • 1512 – Amerigo Vespucci, Italian cartographer and explorer (b. 1454)
  • 1943 – Christoph Probst, German activist (b. 1919)
  • 1943 – Hans Scholl, German activist (b. 1918)
  • 1943 – Sophie Scholl, German activist (b. 1921)
  • 1944 – Kasturba Gandhi, Indian activist (b. 1869)
  • 1965 – Felix Frankfurter, Austrian-American lawyer and jurist (b. 1882)
  • 1980 – Oskar Kokoschka, Austrian painter, poet and playwright (b. 1886)
  • 1987 – Andy Warhol, American painter and photographer (b. 1928)

Here’s a lovely Kokoshka painting, “Bride of the Wind”  (1913), which includes a portrait of his mistress, Alma Mahler.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Malgorzata reports that “Hili climbed on the roof of the verandah and on the windowsill upstairs.”  The photo was taken by Paulina, who lives upstairs and also chats with the Princess in today’s dialogue:

Hili: I’m outside the window and I can see you.
Paulina: And we can see you.
Hili: That’s not a proper invitation.
In Polish:
Hili: Jestem za oknem i was widzę.
Paulina: A my widzimy ciebie.
Hili: To nie jest właściwe zaproszenie.
From Wild and Wonderful, an owl family portrait:

Matthew, who took his daughter to Cambridge University yesterday for a visit (she’ll be going there in the fall) sent this lovely picture and its caption from the Fitzwilliam Museum. Now this guy could paint cats! (Desportes specialized in painting animals of all stripes.)

Winnie sent this mosaic from the 4th century “Mosaic of the Four Seasons” in the Louvre. Nice ducks!


Some tweets. Dawkins addresses the eugenics pseudo-kerfuffle with humor. People are still going after him, accusing him of either favoring eugenics or being wrong in his claim that artificial selection on humans would produce a change in the trait selected.

Two tweets from the Queen:

Titania’s retweet of Street’s order is funny enough, but for some real chuckles go to Street’s original virtue-flaunting tweet and read the comments. Here are two:

And from Luana, some news from Andrew Doyle, the alter ego of Titania:

From Dom: “A gecko ate my research”.  But see the tweet after this one:

And a tweet from Matthew. Look at the agility of this Bengal cat! (It’s also a gorgeous moggy.)

Physicist takes apart a goop lab episode

Here we have Professor Philip Moriarty, a physicist at the University of Nottingham, taking apart one of Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop lab segments that appears to be about reiki “healing”. Dr. Phil simply vets the statements in the goop Netflix episode and, as the segment proceeds, gets angrier and angrier as he watches the statements on goop get dumber and dumber.  Moriarty is egged on by the guy behind the camera, apparently named Brady, who tries to play the devil’s advocate. Phil reminds me a lot of Sean Connery as James Bond, complete with Scottish accent.

This is part of the University of Nottingham’s Sixty Symbols Project, which makes videos about science (YouTube site is here). Here are some YouTube notes:

Moriarty watched episode 5 of the goop lab, which focuses on energy.  The goop lab on Netflix:

More videos with Phil: He wrote a blog about the goop lab —…

It’s great to see a physicist taking Gwynnie and her nonsense to pieces. Reiki, which purports to heal you by manipulating your body’s energy, even by waving hands over your body and not touching it, is a pile of horse manure.