Friday, August 24, 2007


I'll give credit to the Associated Press for this story

An extensive survey by The Associated Press and MTV found that people aged 13 to 24 who describe themselves as very spiritual or religious tend to be happier than those who don't.

Why? Because high up in the body -- within a few graphs of the top and high enough to get on the good side of the jump -- it includes the necessary "causation or correlation" disclaimer:

Sociologists have long drawn a connection between happiness and the sense of community inherent to most religious practice. Lisa Pearce, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, said religion could indeed contribute to happiness, but she cautioned that the converse also could hold true.

"It's easier for kids who are happy and have things going well in their life to find the time and energy to participate in religion," said Pearce, co-principal investigator for the National Study of Youth and Religion. "It could be kids who have bad experiences in church end up leaving and being unhappy with religion."

Maybe the gods bring happiness to those who see them. Maybe seeing a god makes you happier than seeing no god. Maybe people happy in their circumstances are more inclined to perceive a Just and Loving Hand guiding the universe than those with bad digestion and too many bills to pay.

Of course, a great many copy editors don't bother to read that far into a story before putting a headline on it. Like one, apparently, who works for the newspaper linked above, who titled it "Religion contributes to youths' happiness."