It’s the Religion, Stupid.

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I frequent a blog called Freakonomics. It’s usually at least got some random interesting stuff that makes you think. But sometimes it’s sad how exclusively secular point-of-views often miss some obvious stuff – and even when they are uncomfortably reaching outside the bounds of their scientific comfort zone.

From a recent post there:

Economists are often accused of being a dour lot, whose grubby focus on molding behavior with carrots and sticks ignores what is noble in the human spirit: higher cognition, altruism and innate goodness. Does the fight against alcohol abuse, particularly drunk driving, show that man can be reasoned with, or does economics – aka the “dismal science” — offer a better guide to human nature?

It goes on to try and figure out if it is possible for people to be persuaded to drink responsibly. They mention a lot of different ideas which have attempted to do this, including:

  • Reaching kids when they are young with “high-quality” programs in the classroom.
  • Parenting programs that “foster parent/child communication or otherwise improve parenting skills through discussions, videos, coaching, internet programs, etc.”
  • Social marketing and public information campaigns.
  • Various warning labels.
  • Restricting advertising.
  • Workplace policies.
  • Health provider intervention.

And they note that, while some have some positive effects, “the actual magnitude of the effects can still be disappointingly small.”

It appears to be a fine analysis, besides the fact that it makes no mention or “study” of the most common, tried and true “guide to human nature”: Religion. And not just a nominal religion, but a lived, orthodox experience of it.

What do you think the effect of being raised by a stable family, founded on a sacramental marriage, with a sound understanding of the dignity of our bodies and the human person, a deep humility, sincere respect for our creator, orthodox faith, and immersion in the sacraments would have on our likelihood of “drinking responsibly”?

(And on every other problem we have in our society.)


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4 comments Add comment

Richly June 3, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Secularism is an infinite loop going nowhere–lots of ideas being thrown out, but none have a clear cut answer.

Religiosity, in particular our Catholic faith, is deeply rooted in the “Duh” of mankind. It’s troublesome to see how religiosity is seen as a detractor of goodness by much of society than a purveyor of it. Come on Freakonomics, throw us a bone will ya =).

The death of Judeo-Christian values = the death of common sense.

Catholic Pro-lifer June 3, 2010 at 11:04 pm

One word:


Andy June 4, 2010 at 10:12 am

Great Observation Matthew…..So often it’s what gets left out of these articles and studies that is the real point. Unfortunately most people, who are immersed in our current pop culture, are intellectually lazy and merely eat from the spoon that’s placed in front of them. People like yourself, who have the energy, spiritual grounding and critical thinking skills can easily see what’s going on. Thanks for putting some of these observations out there because many of us, even the religious and intelligent ones are not always looking at the angle of “what isn’t there” and can be influenced subliminally by such media.
Keep it up !

Lucy June 6, 2010 at 4:29 am

You answered the question everyone needs to know: “Why?”

Why drink responsibly? Why be good? Why avoid doing bad things that are fun? Why not “Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die?”

You can’t teach morals without religion.

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