Author Topic: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!  (Read 3681 times)

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Offline holybuckets

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Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« on: May 04, 2013, 01:35:17 AM »
Here is an interesting article in the Harvard Review of Psychology.

Dr. Rob Whitley (2010)  explores the possibility of atheism being a mental illness.
Here is part of the abstract:

Specifically, I argue that (1) atheism needs to be accurately measured as an individual-level exposure variable, with the aim of relating that variable to psychiatric outcomes, (2) there needs to be greater systematic investigation into the influence of atheism on psychiatry as an institution, and (3) the relation of atheism to mental health needs to be explored by examining atheistic theory and its practical application, especially as it relates to the human condition, suffering, and concepts of personhood.

In the body of the text, Whitley (2010) explains his concerns with the barbaric and inhumane leadership of atheistic leaders of countries.  This accompanied by irrational comments of leading atheists has led to his conclusion that atheism could very well be a mental illness and the area needs further study.

Whitley, R. (2010). Atheism and mental health. Harvard review of psychiatry, 18(3), 190-194.



Offline Graybeard

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2013, 03:15:55 PM »
Dr. Robert A. Whitley
Quote
Louisiana Baptist University's Distinguished Alumni

Robert Whitley
Dr. Whitley holds a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from LBU. He has written a book called, " You Were Created: How To Find Peace in a Chaotic World ."

Is it that Dr. Robert A. Whitley? Or some other? Do you have a link or a more substantial quote?

In the body of the text, Whitley (2010) explains his concerns with the barbaric and inhumane leadership of atheistic leaders of countries.  [...]Whitley, R. (2010). Atheism and mental health. Harvard review of psychiatry, 18(3), 190-194.

This seems to imply that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive and undemocratic regimes in the world, is perfectly sane. As was the pope when he ordered the torturing to death of thousands of heretics and then burnt them at the stake.

Quote
The Massacre at BéziersWiki refers to the slaughter of the inhabitants during the sack of Béziers, an event that took place on July 22, 1209 and represented the first major military action of the Albigensian Crusade.

[...]

About twenty years later Caesarius of Heisterbach relates this story about the massacre,
When they discovered, from the admissions of some of them, that there were Catholics mingled with the heretics they said to the abbot “Sir, what shall we do, for we cannot distinguish between the faithful and the heretics.” The abbot, like the others, was afraid that many, in fear of death, would pretend to be Catholics, and after their departure, would return to their heresy, and is said to have replied “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius - Kill them all for the Lord knoweth them that are His” (2 Tim. ii. 19) and so countless number in that town were slain.

It would also seem to imply, that if Joseph Stalin had simply worshipped the Devil then none of the atrocities would have occurred, and that the leadership of the Taliban are perfectly sane.

Holybuckets, I think we need a little more context on this one.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline The Gawd

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2013, 03:30:21 PM »
well, where's the study?

Offline Traveler

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2013, 03:43:48 PM »
LOL! And never mind that the more secular countries in the world are the safest and have the least criminal activities and in general are the "best" places to live. Gigantic FAIL, holybuckets. LOL
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Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2013, 04:13:06 PM »
Here is a little on the author (not much, but it looks like he's a Brit). He is not the bible college guy.

http://prc.dartmouth.edu/whitley/

He's a little weak in the causation/correlation department, methinks.

I've no access to the full article, but here is the synopsis...

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20415634

Being that all of us were pretty nice during the Boston Marathon, he should concentrate his efforts on other possible causes of such problems.
Jesus, the cracker flavored treat!

Online jaimehlers

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2013, 04:15:28 PM »
No, it's this Dr. Whitley, I think:  http://prc.dartmouth.edu/whitley/

Here's the link to the article that holybuckets was apparently citing from.

http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/10673221003747674

Here's what the abstract says:

Quote
The exploration of the impact of religiosity on mental health is an enduring, if somewhat quiet, tradition. There has been virtually no exploration, however, of the influence of atheism on mental health. Though not a “religion,” atheism can be an orienting worldview that is often consciously chosen by its adherents, who firmly believe in the “truth” of atheism—a phenomenon known as “positive atheism.” Atheism, especially positive atheism, is currently enjoying something of a renaissance in the Western liberal democracies—a trend often referred to as the “new atheism.” I argue that atheism, especially positive atheism, should be treated as a meaningful sociocultural variable in the study of mental health. I argue that atheism (just like theism) is an appropriate domain of study for social and cultural psychiatrists (and allied social scientists) interested in exploring socio-environmental stressors and buffers relating to mental health. Specifically, I argue that (1) atheism needs to be accurately measured as an individual-level exposure variable, with the aim of relating that variable to psychiatric outcomes, (2) there needs to be greater systematic investigation into the influence of atheism on psychiatry as an institution, and (3) the relation of atheism to mental health needs to be explored by examining atheistic theory and its practical application, especially as it relates to the human condition, suffering, and concepts of personhood.
I think I'm going to have to remain skeptical regarding holybuckets's very scanty summary of the 70kb article.  I strongly suspect that Whitley is arguing that atheism (especially positive atheism) has an effect on mental health, rather than stating that it's a mental illness, as holybuckets claimed.  In short, I'll bet he either used someone else's summary of the article, or just made it up.

Offline Nick

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2013, 04:23:31 PM »
OK, can we claim some kind of disability payment from the gov now?  Man, FOX News will have a wet dream with this info.
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

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Offline Graybeard

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2013, 04:42:16 PM »
No, it's this Dr. Whitley, I think:  http://prc.dartmouth.edu/whitley/

Here he is again http://www.mcgill.ca/tcpsych/faculty/robertwhitley
Quote
He and his colleagues have evaluated many recovery-oriented psychosocial interventions such as supported employment, supportive housing and illness self-management programs. They have shown that cross-cultural communication, discrimination, stigma, religion and family involvement all play a role in influencing mental health service utilization and recovery.

Selected Articles
Whitley, R. (in press) ‘Thank you God’: religion and recovery from dual diagnosis among low-income African Americans. Transcultural Psychiatry.

Whitley, R. (in press). Religious competence as cultural competence: A resource for recovery. Transcultural Psychiatry.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline Quesi

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2013, 05:06:45 PM »

Quote
The exploration of the impact of religiosity on mental health is an enduring, if somewhat quiet, tradition. There has been virtually no exploration, however, of the influence of atheism on mental health. Though not a “religion,” atheism can be an orienting worldview that is often consciously chosen by its adherents, who firmly believe in the “truth” of atheism—a phenomenon known as “positive atheism.” Atheism, especially positive atheism, is currently enjoying something of a renaissance in the Western liberal democracies—a trend often referred to as the “new atheism.” I argue that atheism, especially positive atheism, should be treated as a meaningful sociocultural variable in the study of mental health. I argue that atheism (just like theism) is an appropriate domain of study for social and cultural psychiatrists (and allied social scientists) interested in exploring socio-environmental stressors and buffers relating to mental health. Specifically, I argue that (1) atheism needs to be accurately measured as an individual-level exposure variable, with the aim of relating that variable to psychiatric outcomes, (2) there needs to be greater systematic investigation into the influence of atheism on psychiatry as an institution, and (3) the relation of atheism to mental health needs to be explored by examining atheistic theory and its practical application, especially as it relates to the human condition, suffering, and concepts of personhood.

Bold mine. 

Perhaps I'm missing the point here, but based on this abstract, I think the author has a valid point.  Religion is considered a variable in terms of psychiatric treatment and outcomes.  If there is indeed an absence of study on the role that atheism plays in terms of mental health, and perhaps more specifically, to healing, then there does indeed need to be more systematic investigation into the influence of atheism. 

Traditional treatments models for addiction draw heavily on religion, as do treatments for post traumatic stress.  Perhaps other disorders as well.  If mental health professionals draw on these traditional models, then they are in fact doing a disservice to their atheist clients. 

Offline magicmiles

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2013, 05:15:25 PM »
I'm sure some atheists are mentally ill. Statistically speaking.

Hell, I have my suspicions about one current contributor to the forum.
Go on up you baldhead.

Offline holybuckets

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2013, 05:43:56 PM »
Dr. Robert A. Whitley
Quote
Louisiana Baptist University's Distinguished Alumni

Robert Whitley
Dr. Whitley holds a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from LBU. He has written a book called, " You Were Created: How To Find Peace in a Chaotic World ."

Is it that Dr. Robert A. Whitley? Or some other? Do you have a link or a more substantial quote?

In the body of the text, Whitley (2010) explains his concerns with the barbaric and inhumane leadership of atheistic leaders of countries.  [...]Whitley, R. (2010). Atheism and mental health. Harvard review of psychiatry, 18(3), 190-194.

This seems to imply that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive and undemocratic regimes in the world, is perfectly sane. As was the pope when he ordered the torturing to death of thousands of heretics and then burnt them at the stake.

Quote
The Massacre at BéziersWiki refers to the slaughter of the inhabitants during the sack of Béziers, an event that took place on July 22, 1209 and represented the first major military action of the Albigensian Crusade.

[...]

About twenty years later Caesarius of Heisterbach relates this story about the massacre,
When they discovered, from the admissions of some of them, that there were Catholics mingled with the heretics they said to the abbot “Sir, what shall we do, for we cannot distinguish between the faithful and the heretics.” The abbot, like the others, was afraid that many, in fear of death, would pretend to be Catholics, and after their departure, would return to their heresy, and is said to have replied “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius - Kill them all for the Lord knoweth them that are His” (2 Tim. ii. 19) and so countless number in that town were slain.

It would also seem to imply, that if Joseph Stalin had simply worshipped the Devil then none of the atrocities would have occurred, and that the leadership of the Taliban are perfectly sane.

Holybuckets, I think we need a little more context on this one.

Here again is the link: Whitley, R. (2010). Atheism and mental health. Harvard review of psychiatry, 18(3), 190-194.

Offline Ambassador Pony

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2013, 06:03:41 PM »
That's not a link. This is the internet.

Here is the LINK to the full abstract.

And, to this:

Quote
Dr. Rob Whitley (2010)  explores the possibility of atheism being a mental illness

Which component of the abstract gives you that idea?

You believe evolution and there is no evidence for that. Where is the fossil record of a half man half ape. I've only ever heard about it in reading.

Offline Ambassador Pony

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2013, 06:08:56 PM »
Quote
The exploration of the impact of religiosity on mental health is an enduring, if somewhat quiet, tradition. There has been virtually no exploration, however, of the influence of atheism on mental health. Though not a "religion," atheism can be an orienting worldview that is often consciously chosen by its adherents, who firmly believe in the "truth" of atheism-a phenomenon known as "positive atheism." Atheism, especially positive atheism, is currently enjoying something of a renaissance in the Western liberal democracies-a trend often referred to as the "new atheism." I argue that atheism, especially positive atheism, should be treated as a meaningful sociocultural variable in the study of mental health. I argue that atheism (just like theism) is an appropriate domain of study for social and cultural psychiatrists (and allied social scientists) interested in exploring socio-environmental stressors and buffers relating to mental health. Specifically, I argue that (1) atheism needs to be accurately measured as an individual-level exposure variable, with the aim of relating that variable to psychiatric outcomes, (2) there needs to be greater systematic investigation into the influence of atheism on psychiatry as an institution, and (3) the relation of atheism to mental health needs to be explored by examining atheistic theory and its practical application, especially as it relates to the human condition, suffering, and concepts of personhood. [/b]


None of the bolded indicate he proposes that atheism itself could be a mental illness. It's just another individual-level exposure variable which might have a correlation neg or pos (not yet studied) or effect size (not yet studied) above and beyond the other correlates with mental disease. It's good science, which may lead to a correlation, an effect, or nothing, just like all good science.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2013, 06:10:46 PM by Ambassador Pony »
You believe evolution and there is no evidence for that. Where is the fossil record of a half man half ape. I've only ever heard about it in reading.

Offline Nam

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2013, 06:45:46 PM »
holybuckets...bucket full of nothing. I say this based on the OP.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline anthony_retford

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2013, 07:49:39 PM »
Does the bozo adhere to any religion? Is he stating this to draw attention to his name? Is he insane? Compared to religious nuts we atheists are the most normal people in the world.
People are 'erroneously confident' in their knowledge and underestimate the odds that their information or beliefs will be proved wrong. They tend to seek additional information in ways that confirm what they already believe.
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Offline Quesi

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #15 on: May 05, 2013, 07:50:34 PM »

I clicked on jaimehlers' link, and found this bio:

Dr. Whitley is a social scientist with considerable experience working at the intersection of psychiatry, sociology and anthropology. His work has focused on the mental health and health service experience of marginalized groups, including immigrants, ethno-cultural minorities, the urban poor, and single mothers.

Whitley is particularly interested in the concept of recovery, examining barriers and facilitators to recovery within both health services and the wider socio-cultural environment. He and his colleagues have evaluated many recovery-oriented psychosocial interventions such as supported employment and illness management programs for people with severe mental illness. They have shown that cross-cultural communication, discrimination, stigma, religion and family involvement all play a role in influencing recovery.


I think it is pretty safe to say that this is the author.

He and I work with very similar populations in different capacities, and I have a long history of cross referrals with mental health professionals, especially with immigrants and refugees who are suffering from trauma such as torture, surviving massacres, or witnessing the execution of a loved one. 

I bolded the last sentence, because it is pretty clear there is a consensus in the mental health community that each of the items listed is a factor in recovery.  And religion plays a fairly prominent role in treatment.

Again, if I correctly understand the abstract, it seems that he is concerned that this religion-heavy model is not meeting the needs of atheists seeking treatment for these types of mental disorders.

And I agree.

He seems to be arguing for more study into appropriate methodologies for the treatment of atheists!

Holybuckets?  Can you please explain this segment of your post? 

In the body of the text, Whitley (2010) explains his concerns with the barbaric and inhumane leadership of atheistic leaders of countries.  This accompanied by irrational comments of leading atheists has led to his conclusion that atheism could very well be a mental illness and the area needs further study.

Whitley, R. (2010). Atheism and mental health. Harvard review of psychiatry, 18(3), 190-194.


The formatting seems to indicate that it is a quote.  But I'm pretty sure that it is your own personal commentary.  Am I correct? 

Also, have you actually read this article? 

Offline The Gawd

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2013, 08:15:54 PM »
I'm trying to determine what the control group would be... Atheists would be the control, no?

Offline holybuckets

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #17 on: May 05, 2013, 08:21:21 PM »
I am so sorry and must apologize. I thought that most of you had advanced degrees and access to professional and scholarly journals. Obviously this is not the case. I am sorry, but you will have to pay a fee to see the article. Unless, of course you are a PhD or have access to such material. Again, my apologies.

Offline magicmiles

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #18 on: May 05, 2013, 08:22:55 PM »
I'm trying to determine what the control group would be...

The writers of "Big Bang Theory"
Go on up you baldhead.

Offline holybuckets

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #19 on: May 05, 2013, 08:35:40 PM »
I'm trying to determine what the control group would be... Atheists would be the control, no?
Thanks for the reply, but atheists were not part of a control group.

Offline The Gawd

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #20 on: May 05, 2013, 08:37:44 PM »
I'm trying to determine what the control group would be...

The writers of "Big Bang Theory"
I was thinking Janet Jackson... 

Offline holybuckets

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #21 on: May 05, 2013, 08:37:57 PM »
I'm trying to determine what the control group would be...

The writers of "Big Bang Theory"
Magic, as much as I chastise the atheists for their posts that are off line or add nothing to the conversation, I am going to have to ask you to do the same.
Thanks

Offline magicmiles

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #22 on: May 05, 2013, 08:39:38 PM »
Where was that control when she needed it, on stage with Justin Timberlake...
Go on up you baldhead.

Offline Nam

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #23 on: May 05, 2013, 08:43:52 PM »
You know you liked it.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #24 on: May 06, 2013, 05:44:57 AM »
I am so sorry and must apologize. I thought that most of you had advanced degrees and access to professional and scholarly journals. Obviously this is not the case. I am sorry, but you will have to pay a fee to see the article. Unless, of course you are a PhD or have access to such material. Again, my apologies.

When I saw the "my apologies" I had thought you had understood that you mis-read the abstract. It doesn't say what you think it says, yet, here you are. Continuing. Can you show me how it actually says what you think it says?
You believe evolution and there is no evidence for that. Where is the fossil record of a half man half ape. I've only ever heard about it in reading.

Offline holybuckets

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #25 on: May 06, 2013, 08:44:33 AM »
Ambassador Pony,

Here is my take:

"Specifically, I argue that (1) atheism needs to be accurately measured as an individual-level exposure variable, with the aim of relating that variable to psychiatric outcomes, (2) there needs to be greater systematic investigation into the influence of atheism on psychiatry as an institution, and (3) the relation of atheism to mental health needs to be explored by examining atheistic theory and its practical application, especially as it relates to the human condition, suffering, and concepts of personhood."

1. Currently, there is no set definition or level of atheism. I believe Dr. Whitley is suggesting the need to categorize the term into sub-groups.
2. In the body of his text, Dr. Whitely explains that there are few studies dealing with atheism and mental health. He suggests further study.
3. Dr. Whitley examines atheistic leader from four countries who brutalized and killed it's own citizens. He is suggesting that further study in relation to atheism/mental health needs to be explored.

Offline Graybeard

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #26 on: May 06, 2013, 09:48:11 AM »
You have summarized the paper reasonably and you will see that the headline, "Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!" is typical Fox News deception.

The study has not been done, it has only been suggested. There are no specific questions for the study or any methodology, let alone results.

Holybuckets, there are times when I think that you read things but the words come out differently in your mind.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline holybuckets

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #27 on: May 06, 2013, 11:53:03 AM »
Thanks Greybeard,
I agree, it is a bit Foxish...... But on the other hand, the study seeks to answer the question "are atheists mentally ill?" So, that is not an untrue statement. The study gives evidence of mental illness in the form of starving, imprisoning and murdering it's own citizens by atheistic leaders.
So as much as you dislike the headline, it is factually true.

Online jaimehlers

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Re: Are Atheists Mentally Ill? A Harvard study may think so!
« Reply #28 on: May 06, 2013, 12:24:11 PM »
1. Currently, there is no set definition or level of atheism. I believe Dr. Whitley is suggesting the need to categorize the term into sub-groups.
This is a reasonable interpretation of the footnoted section of the abstract.

Quote from: holybuckets
2. In the body of his text, Dr. Whitely explains that there are few studies dealing with atheism and mental health. He suggests further study.
The abstract states, "(2) there needs to be greater systematic investigation into the influence of atheism on psychiatry as an institution"; your explanation does not jive with it.  Given your access to the article, you should quote relevant parts from the report itself.

Quote from: holybuckets
3. Dr. Whitley examines atheistic leader from four countries who brutalized and killed it's own citizens. He is suggesting that further study in relation to atheism/mental health needs to be explored.
The abstract states, "(3) the relation of atheism to mental health needs to be explored by examining atheistic theory and its practical application, especially as it relates to the human condition, suffering, and concepts of personhood", therefore again, your explanation does not jive with it.  Again, given your access to the article, you should quote relevant parts from the report itself.

In short, holybuckets, we're going to need more than just you saying, "hey, this article says that atheism might be a mental illness", especially when you're basing that off of things that aren't stated in the abstract and frankly, don't follow from what is stated there.