Thursday, May 28, 2015

Shallow Research

Perhaps it is that I'm getting older and more cynical or perhaps it is just that I happen to read two articles back to back that made me mistrust the conclusions of the latter. The first article was titled "I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here's How." In it, the researcher detailed how he conducted a "junk science" research and then distributed it to the gullible diet and health journals around the world who, in turn, disseminated it to the masses of diet-conscious readers.

Immediately following that, I read the article Millennials Are The Least Religious Generation Yet, And Here's The Surprising Reason Why. The whole time I was reading it, it sounded like such a "Shallow Hal" sort of article (looking only at the superficial features of the data), that I could not get past the right-wing conclusions. (It is worth noting that the first article mentioned the Huffington Post carried the faked chocolate report and this latter article on Religion was published by the Huffington Post.) At one point the article quotes a Dr Jean Twenge as stating "We found that religious involvement was low when individualism was high," she said in the email. "Individualism is a cultural system that places more emphasis on the self and less on social rules. Individualism can conflict with religion, especially as religion usually involves following certain rules and being part of a group."

Now I appreciate that the themed-subject of the article was religion, but that is no excuse to ignore the obvious implications of such a statement. There is another large "cultural system" called social order (government). Is this same group of upcoming adults also not civic minded? I know I'll be criticized for asking this, but how many steps away is individualism (aka me-ism) from anarchy? But I digress.

My point is to demonstrate how shallow I feel the conclusions are that were reached by the article. The fact is that individualism has been strong since the so-called hippie movement of the 1960's (my teen years) and journalists have heralded the impending death of religion for decades. That didn't stop those who were searching from finding faith nor will it stop the current generation from doing the same. I actually think that individualistic attitudes may be an asset because it helps today's youth to break the chain of "if this religion was good enough for my parents, then it is good enough for me." This was true not only for me but for my younger three siblings. none of us stayed with our parent's religion. All of us chose different paths.I hope today's youth are willing to put aside ritual, ceremony, and emotion-based religions and search for the practical guidance that The Bible offers. (Hint: If you start to become associated with a religion that doesn’t feature the practical value of the Bible, you haven’t found the true one.)