There's something strange about knowing that MSM rarely gets anything complicated right, and then launching a discussion of something complicated,
based solely on an MSM report. The original paper is not available online for free, but the abstract is, and it is here:
According to the abstract, the actual conclusion, the one that survived peer review (as opposed to dribbling out the author's mouth during a telephone
People who have a spiritual understanding of life in the absence of a religious framework are vulnerable to mental disorder.
The key flaw is that nowhere is the term "spiritual understanding of life" defined for the benefit of the people who are being asked whether or not
they have one.
The survey instrument is also available for free,
and the religious-spiritual questions are on physical page 98 of the pdf file, pages 124-125 of the printed version.
A quick scan shows that religion is defined as "actual practice of a faith," the only examples of which in that question are going to a public place
of worship, named by denomination-specific terms ("temple, mosque, church or synagogue"). "Spiritual" is never defined, except to note that some
people have spiritual beliefs and experiences without religion (no word about whether they have them with religion; religion has only been linked with
going to some public place with a permanent special name.).
The survey form also notes that some people "make sense of their lives without any religious or spiritual beliefs." Nothing about non-religious and
non-spiritual people's experiences, and nothing about religious or spiritual people making sense of their lives.
So, with all of that woolgathering as preparation, what are you asked about: actual practice, belief, experience, some sense made of your life without
practice, belief or experience? Why no, you're asked about a new idea, "religious or spiritual understanding of your life," neither defined nor even
discussed up to that point:
Would you say that you have a religious or a spiritual understanding of your life?
It gets worse. Then there are follow-up questions, the second of which (not
asked of those who answered "neither" to the question just
ex-tagged) brings up "pracitce" again. Except that now, practice, the only defining feature of 'religion,' includes "private meditation."
How important to you is the practice of your belief (e.g. private meditation, religious services) in your day-to-day life? Please look at this
card and tell me the number that best describes your view, from 0 'not necessary' through to 10 'essential'
WTF? I wouldn't even get asked that question
, because I'd answer "neither" to the earlier question (I don't go to church, and whatever my
beliefs and experiences are, I "understand my life" as a physical situation). However, apparently, I am actually religious, because I do "practice"
private meditation, and it is a daily thing, so I'd have to say it's important to me. That is, if i were asked, which I wouldn't be.
The key risk factor "found" in the conclusion, recall, is to have a "spritual understanding of life" without a religious framework. Although I would
be classed as "neither religious nor spiritual," I would have a "religious framework." Hypothetically, somebody else who also meditated daily, based
on some spiritual belief or experience, and who also didn't worship publicly would, according to the way the classification question is worded, be
"spiritual and not religious," even though they have a "religious framework," namely the actual practice of "religion" as the survey conceives of
This is disappointingly poor survey design. I really wouldn't base anything important on these "results."
edit on 7-1-2013 by eight bits because: (no reason given)