Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Religiosity and College majors: Where are all the Faithful?

For some reason, education seems to be the major that attracts, keeps, and strengthens the faithful in college, according to this study. Interestingly enough, the scientists are not turning the youth into atheists with their theories of evolution and such (yet, even though they don't think its important, they go to services anyway?). Seems that honor goes to the folks in departments like sociology and political science. The humanities are not far behind in making us secular humanists, though.

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At 9:13 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Original paper here.

...blegh. Talk about chart-junk. Most of the effects shown on that chart are statistically insignificant, and it likewise neglects most of the significant effects discussed in the conclusion. Also, it's a weird comparison (major to non-college), and not the comparison used in the study, which further obscures the results. F'rex, you point out that biologists appear to come to believe that religion is less important WHILE increasing church attendance: in point of fact, both drop, but neither at a statistically significant level.

Business majors were used for the neutral reference in the study. Non-college was correlated with a significant decrease in religiosity, while all college majors except humanities, social sciences, and education were indistinguishable from business. Overall, going to college increases religiosity.

Education is as you described: those who are highly religious tend to transfer in, stay there, and become more religious, with respect to both church-going-ness and personal importance of religion.

Social sciences are attractive to people who are less religious, and students' religiosity tends to decrease while there.

Humanities is weird: humanities is attractive if you're highly religious (in the individualistic sense, not the church-going sense). However, once there, majors tend to become less religious.

This is taken as support for some-hypothesis-or-other about postmodernism and religion. (Sorry, but I'm still allergic to postmodernism.)

STEM disciplines had largely insignificant effects, weakening the hypothesis that science drives out superstition. (I do notice, however, that there was a positive, significant correlation between engineering and being pro-church: conventional wisdom on the atheist blogs suggests that if you're going to get a STEM professional in favor of creationism and/or lessening the church/state divide, that STEM professional is an engineer.)


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