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Crime Stats Science

Belief In Hell Predicts a Country's Crime Rates Better Than Other Factors 471

An anonymous reader writes "Religion is often thought of as psychological defense against bad behavior, but researchers have recently found that the effect of religion on pro-social behaviors may actually be driven by the belief in hell and supernatural punishment rather than faith in heaven and spiritual benevolence. In a large analysis of 26 years of data consisting of 143,197 people in 67 countries, psychologists found significantly lower crime rates in societies where many people believe in hell compared to those where more people believed in heaven."
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Belief In Hell Predicts a Country's Crime Rates Better Than Other Factors

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  • by ubrgeek ( 679399 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @07:20PM (#40378295)
    "Shariff noted that because the findings were based off of correlational data, they do not prove causation."

    Must be a regular /. reader :)
  • by hilldog ( 656513 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @07:31PM (#40378415)
    Where can I get hired to turn our crap like this and never have to produce on solid thing that can be measured against the real world?
  • by Galestar ( 1473827 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @07:33PM (#40378437) Homepage
    If I'm reading this right, the actual statistics show that belief in Heaven increases crime by approximately the same rate as belief in in Hell decreases it.
    So the net result is that believing in both has not statistical signifigance.

    Belief in chart:
    Heaven, Hell, Net Effect
    0, 0, None
    0, 1, Less Crime
    1, 0, More Crime
    1, 1, None

    The headline is making a very dangerous and intentional omission of fact here. []
  • by Internetuser1248 ( 1787630 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @07:45PM (#40378603)
    Yeah, and if there are humans, there must be anti-humans. Also there must be a specific anti person for each person. There must be anti-money, anti-colour... What? Can you explain that point again either in terms of formal logic, or citing evidence? As an arbitrary whimsical deist I believe in god and heaven, but not hell or the devil. Can you prove me wrong about hell's nonexistence or even give a logical train of thought other than 'it is self evident'?
  • Well, the Western concept of Hell is mostly based on Dante's Inferno and Milton's Paradise Lost -- likewise the concept of alien beings being white with halos and dove's wings, and others being red with forked tails, goat's horns and pitchforks is something that comes from popular culture and not theological treatises.

    Added to this, if you look in the Christian Bible or any of the Jewish religious works, you'll see that earlier works only refer to Abaddon or Hades, and even later works rarely refer to Hell (8 references, mostly in Matthew, also in Mark, Luke, James and 2 Peter, with the Matthew and Mark ones paraphrasing the same sermons). Original references to Hell in the Bible are attributed to Jesus, Paul, James and Peter. Of these, Peter describes it as gloomy (similar to Hades), James as fiery, Jesus and Paul purely as a place Angels and Humans can be exiled to, possibly with a gate and wall.

    What am I getting at here? Mostly that this study is likely mostly useless, as the entire concept of what Hell is and who goes there and for what varies wildly throughout history and geography/culture. Nowadays, most people apply the Yin/Yan dichotomy to Heaven and Hell; others have labelled Hell as being "not Heaven", and then of course there's the "Heaven's Prison" and "Place of Eternal Torment" depictions mentioned in the Bible.

    I'd be more interested in seeing this study done looking at belief in a benevolent creator and belief in a malignant rebel; the results may be the same, but that's in no way guaranteed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:03PM (#40378795)

    I'm definitely going with higher crime rates (and overall shitty living conditions) work to destroy faith in a "benevolent" creator, so this is entirely an expected result.

    You're definitely going with idiocy? Or do you just not understand the distinction between heaven and hell?
    From TFAbstract (and heavily hinted in TFS):

    ... showing that the proportion of people who believe in hell negatively predicts national crime rates whereas belief in heaven predicts higher crime rates.

    The regions with strong belief in a benevolent creator* have high crime.
    The regions with strong belief in a vindictive creator* have low crime.

    *Your use of "creator" seems a peculiar choice in this context. The existence of an afterlife, whether of reward or of punishment, is in no way contingent on a "creator" as such, or even a group of creators. Do try to expand your scope beyond the monotheistic/Abrahamic religions.

  • Re:Detroit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AdamWill ( 604569 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:25PM (#40379025) Homepage

    I also do not like $LOCATION. Where's my funny points?

  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:35PM (#40379113)

    "Atheist countries"? ACs are really scraping the bottom of the barrel with their lies. The closest you can get to an "atheist country" is France and maybe a few of the scandinavian countries. And they're actually nice and friendly... unless of course you pull the "asshole American" routine on them, in which case they will toss you out pretty quickly.

  • by Gerzel ( 240421 ) <brollyferret@gmail . c om> on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:43PM (#40379185) Journal

    I suspect that it is actually the opposite.

    Higher Crime rates generally correlate with higher poverty levels. Those who are poor have a greater need for hope thus a benevolent god.

    Those in lower-crime areas have hope and thus might attune to the higher contrast of a vindictive deity.

  • DUH! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @09:03PM (#40379383)

    People that believe they will suffer dire consequences are less likely to commit a crime. Really? Imagine that.

  • by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @09:57PM (#40379851)

    "Atheist countries"?

    It's amazing some people consider a term for not believing in magic as derogatory.

  • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @12:48AM (#40381017)

    when a ruling power cannot effectively educate it's people, there are religious people doing it for them (for free!).


    It'll never happen, but if the USA wants to end terrorism against them the solution is to fund secular schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Do that for 40 years and you'll end religion's stranglehold.

  • by Barsteward ( 969998 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:28AM (#40381773)
    They go the point where they wanted to throw away their common sense and pass the blame to something else for running their life. If it goes well its god's plan, if it goes shit then its god's plan, they have abdicated responsibility for their lives.
  • by terjeber ( 856226 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:29AM (#40381779)

    BZZZZ! WRONG!. On all accounts, but that is not surprising. There is a strong correlation between education level and religiosity. The less education one have, the more religious one tends to be. The correlation is particularly strong in hard sciences.

    The most atheistic countries in the world are probably the Scandinavian countries and some of the Benelux countries. These all have significantly lower crime rates than the countries where religion has a more prominant position. If you look at the US and The Netherlands for example, it is interesting to see that the religious US has higher crime rate, higher divorce rate, higher teen pregnancy rate, more children born out of wedlock etc, than the rather atheist Netherlands. Oh, and the Dutch also have a more libereal drug legislation. So, comparing the US and and Netherlands less religion and more drugs leads to less crime, less divorce and in general more "moral" behavior as determined by the traditional Christian "moral code".

    Guess what happens to people with no moral guide lines?

    What a childish and inane statement. Shows a serious lack of brains right there. Moral guidelines have nothing to do with religion. Adults, as opposed to sniveling children, don't need a big bogey man behind the door to scare them into moral behavior. Thinking adults can actually act morally based on philosophy or self-interest. Please grow up. Santa doesn't exist. There is no God. stop using a divine entity as an excuse for inexcusable behavior. It is inexcusable to be unable to device a set of moral rules without the scary bogeyman forcing you to.

    Oh, and if you want to take moral guildelines from someone, the Abrahamic God is the last place to look. That dude is a shitbag and deserves only contempt. Even the idea of a divine entity demanding a loyal subject murder his oldest son for him is abhorrent. If God stepped down tomorrow and asked of me what he asked of Abraham, I would spit him in the face. If he continued his insane demands I would have him comitted or I would slay him. You see, slaying divine entities is easy [].

  • by ElectricTurtle ( 1171201 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @06:43AM (#40382897)
    False. If that were true, Hong Kong would have one of the worst crime rates on Earth, and it doesn't.
  • by Warma ( 1220342 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @07:46AM (#40383295)

    One counter-example is not enough to make a correlation vanish. He didn't say anything about causes, just correlations.
    Though I also would like to have the poster show some studies describing the GINI & crime -link.

"Hello again, Peabody here..." -- Mister Peabody