US is falling on Development Index + Economics and Religion

We are living shorter lives, spend the most on health care than on any other nation, and a 25% of 15 year olds are at or below math skills internationally.  The article is here.

The shorter life span has to do with the obesity rates which doesn’t surprise me.  Interestingly enough, the shortest life spans are in the south: Mississippi is rated the lowest in the United States whereas Connecticut is rated the highest.

I won’t even pretend to offer any solutions because it’s too complex.  But it is something to ponder about.

Another thing: I’ve been listening to lectures on tape and these lectures deal with economics.  There was an interesting statistic: the higher the gdp (Gross Domestic Product) in the country, the less likely the country will be religious.  France, Germany, Japan, and England have high gdp’s, yet they are usually rated low on religiousity.  Brazil, Afghanistan, other Middle Eastern Countries and a few South American countries have a low gdp, yet they have a high religiousity.  This correlates with every country–with the exception of one: the USA.  We have a high gdp and a high religiousity rate.  Interesting stuff.

About shaunmiller

I have just completed a visiting position as an assistant professor at Dalhousie University. My ideas are not associated with my employer; they are expressions of my own thoughts and ideas. Some of them are just musings while others could be serious discussions that could turn into a bigger project. Besides philosophy, I enjoy martial arts (Kuk Sool Won), playing my violin, enjoying coffee around town, and experimenting with new food.
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16 Responses to US is falling on Development Index + Economics and Religion

  1. Killer J says:

    Hell yeah, that’s my country! haha

  2. Michelle says:



    The first article is about what you mentioned, the obesity rates being the largest in the south.
    I grew up in Oklahoma, so I feel like I understand why it is that way. I am not trying to be disrespectful to my homestate, but seriously, there are about 3-4 normal activities out there people do over and over again with no change.
    1)Go out to eat 2)Go see a movie (where they probably eat more) 3)Go to the mall (where they eat more) 4)Go to a bar, casino, or bowling (where they eat more)
    I’m not saying that there is nothing else to do, but it is completely different living in Utah than Oklahoma. There are lots of city planned events, concerts (big names actually comes through…haha), outdoor activities, etc. Basically there are a lot more options than to just eat all the time.
    I’m not saying people in the south don’t have the option to go biking, swimming, etc. it’s just miserable. The humidity is terrible, the landscape is flat, and generally you have a bunch of rednecks that think it is funny to hit pedestrians!
    I’m not trying making excuses for people in the south, but it is a different atmosphere and lifestyle that is presented.

    The second article is about a New York City law that just passed that requires food chain restaraunts to begin putting calorie labels right next to the item menu in the same size print of the food item. I think it is interesting and also wonder what effect it would have.

  3. Paul says:

    I saw an interesting NOVA on the obesity epidemic. It showed how in just 16 generations, chickens could either be bred to either starve to death (no interest in food), or eat themselves to death (constantly eating to the point of rupturing their esophagus or stomachs). They also pointed out how many of us posess the “stingy gene”, which converts almost all food to stored fat, which is necessary to live on a restricted & irregular diet. The problem is, there’s too much food & empty calories available, with no work required to get them these days.

    On education, one problem with the USA I think is that it’s so big. It’s hard to make a one-size-fits all solution for education etc for a country this size. I know that stateship is meant to offset this, and it does to a point, but you could fit 5 Switerlands in Utah, so I think it would be easier to manage and regulate an education theresystem there as opposed to here. The population density is much higher there as well, which allows bigger & better schools/faculty as well.

    And on religion, I personally think that on average, the more educated you are, the less likely you’ll be religious. And the higher the GDP, the better the education system in your country.

    I think a big reason that the US has such a high ‘religiousity rate’ is for many reasons, and here’s three of them:

    1)Our country is founded upon religious freedom (at least that’s what they teach you in 3rd grade history class)

    2) Religion & Patriotism are still seen as analogous due to the the Cold War & the press that Russians=Athiests = Evil

    3) Religion has always been popular & socially acceptable, whereas Athiesm or anything non-Christian is not. To conform & fit-in in society you therefore must be religious.

  4. shaunmiller says:

    It’s interesting with the studies you’ve seen. I think partially with the obesity rate, the main reason is because the US is the only country (as far as I know) that really endorses not on the health of the food, but the quantity. At the same time, the preparation must be quick and fast instead of putting care into it, which is why a lot of food has preservatives in it.

    As for education, the solutions aren’t that easy. We seem to have this mentality of not going to school or being educated. In fact, the less school you have, the better. I have a relative that’s actually proud that he hasn’t read a book since high school. I see many students who have this mentality of “ok, teacher, I dare you to try and teach me something. I’m going to do the least amount of work to get the greatest grade I can get.” How do we reteach these kids? It’s funny, but education is the only way. But how do you educate kids that education is needed when they already view education is time-consuming?

    As for religion, there are actually studies that show that the more educated you are, the less likely you’re going to be religious. What makes this interesting is that it falls in a linear fashion after you get your Bachelor’s Degree, but it shoots up exponentially when you do post-graduate work. I have another post that deals with that issue here and at the end of the blog, I wrote a paper explaining why the US is the exception. I like your reasons Paul, especially number three and my paper touches on that. Basically, I think people in other countries see science on the rise and it makes them not religious anymore, whereas in the US, people aren’t that educated that well, as indicated above, and if they do have a good education on science, Americans tend not to get rid of religious beliefs, but only diminish them. So they claim to have a religion or a belief, but not practice it wholeheartedly, whereas people in other places gets rid of the belief completely.

  5. Killer J says:

    Geez you atheists are pompous.

  6. shaunmiller says:

    You assume that we’re atheists. I’ve never said I was an atheist. And, why do you think we’re pompous?

  7. Jory Francis says:

    Anyone who knows Shaun knows that he is as far from pompous as can be! I’m sure you’re joking about that.

    On a different note, I think I have that fat gene…Can I get a shot for that or something?

  8. Killer J says:

    You’re crazy man. You said, “I never said I was an atheist.” and promptly contradicted yourself by saying, “And why do you think WE’RE pompous?” Busted bro, it’s in writing. Unless, of course you meant WE’RE as reference to you and the other poster and not necessarily lumping yourself in with atheists. There, I gave you your out. haha

    Anyway, it’s pretty clear to me that so-called educated folk have a “holier than thou” attitude with people who deem a figure as holy. In short, if I believe in God I must either be a regular on the short bus or attempting to relieve my existential neurosis via salvation.

    Of course, this attitude is cowardishly (maybe cleverly) veiled behind indirect slights and ‘objectively’ researched data designed to simply make ‘observations.’

  9. Killer J says:

    Oh, I forgot one more reason a believer might profess his or her beliefs according to atheists. To not believe is socially unacceptable, therefore, believing or at least believing in the belief in God is appropriate. Right?

  10. shaunmiller says:

    Killer J says:

    You said, “I never said I was an atheist.” and promptly contradicted yourself by saying, “And why do you think WE’RE pompous?” Busted bro, it’s in writing. Unless, of course you meant WE’RE as reference to you and the other poster and not necessarily lumping yourself in with atheists. There, I gave you your out.

    Uhh. . . I don’t see the contradiction. And yes, the “we” was referring to me and the other poster. It had nothing to do other atheists. Why do you assume that all atheists are pompous anyways? That’s like saying all conservatives are stupid. Obviously, they’re not.

    As for people who are religious, I never said they were uneducated. After all, there are many people who are religious and have a degree. It’s just that studies show that people who have a higher degree tend to give up their religiousity. Paul and I never said, “Good riddance” or “see, that proves that religious people are dumb.” We never mentioned anything like that. Why must you think that if people are atheists or even remotely critiquing religion, they’re always out to get you?

    First of all, critiquing isn’t a bad thing. ALL religions have started because there was something wrong with the tradition. Doubting actually brings faith closer to the religious belief because that’s what makes faith stronger. I’m reminded of a student. I was about to teach philosophy of religion and she asked if she could skip that portion of the class and come back when we’re done with the philosophy of religion section. I asked her why she would do that. I’ll never forget her answer: her reply was “because I’m afraid that if I learn about philosophy of religion, I might doubt my own.” Well, then she never had faith in the first place. I never told her that, but that’s what anyone would say–even religious people. Indeed, philosophers of religion are probably the smartest people I know because they understand that there are flaws in the theories or even they’re own religion, yet they believe. But they’re answers aren’t, “well, you’re just wrong” or “well, you’re going to hell” or “that reply is just ridiculous.” Only fundamentalists and people that don’t have critical thinking skills think that way.

    I really don’t care what religion people are. I really don’t. What I care about is the integrity of people and that has nothing to do with religion. Thomas Jefferson said “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” When it comes to religion, my philosophy is in line with Jefferson. What I’m against is the hypocrites in religion and that was what my paper was about in a previous post. Indeed, as I recall, you actually agreed with my paper as was the last thing that was posted. Critical thinking is the important step here and if there is something that one doubts, critical thinking and reason argument should be the reply.

  11. shaunmiller says:

    Hey Jory, welcome!

    As for taking a shot for the fat genes, it looks like for now, they would actually have to go in and mess with the genes, but a shot would actually be pretty cool if the technology is feasible.

  12. Killer J says:

    I don’t know, man. The message is pretty clear among a lot of ‘educated’ atheists. Whether you mean to do it or not is only known by you. The isolation you talk about feeling as an atheist in a theistic society is analogous to the feelings many educated theists feel among their colleagues. It’s interesting that you validate only the former situation.

    As for me catching you admitting you were an atheist, try reading your post. My response was meant to be funny. What you wrote would have caught the interest of Freud.

  13. shaunmiller says:

    I was not intending to isolate anyone. Of course there can be educated theists in a group of atheists. Anyone can feel isolated if they are the only person with a belief that is contrary with the rest of the group. Thus, the group will possibly antagonize the isolated person. Again, this pertains to my paper.

  14. Killer J says:

    The the-rapist in me wants to understand you. I really think there’s a part of you that truly disdains theists, and the traits that seem to accompany them. Maybe you don’t outright intend to bash people that believe differently. After all, bashing someone with different beliefs would be against your entire profession. I’m just wondering if there’s the possibility of a ‘blind spot’ you aren’t aware of that comes through in your writings or the verbal debates we have. We all have blind spots, I wonder what yours might be.

    By the way, it’s hard as hell to articulate sarcasm, humor, or even constructive criticism through words without sounding like a jerk. Most of what I’m writing is in good humor even if it doesn’t read out that way. I DO think it might be fun for you to think about what I just said though and see if it applies to you in any way.

  15. shaunmiller says:

    It’s a possibility that I have a “blind spot” and I think it’s what I call “herd” believers. In fact, I’ll put that in my next post since this is probably off topic on this post.

    Also, I do realize that it’s hard to figure out the tone of the author’s response. Sarcasm, jokes and humor is really hard to figure out in writing. I wish there was a way to do it in person in a more convenient manner. After all, philosophy is first of all, dialogue.

  16. Pingback: Religiosity in the US « Shaun Miller’s Weblog

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