There have been studies of cancer patients who are ill and believe who pray and have others around them who pray for and with them who have better recovery rates than those who do not believe. The findings indicted that the support of others in common and not feeling alone where major factors.

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Perhaps all of the obvious religion-based natural experiments have been fully mined already. If not, it could be useful to look within US zip codes with large concentrations of co-religionists at the effects on health outcomes of recurring, predictable religious practices (e.g., effects of weekly Sabbath restrictions on cigarette smoking and its consequences within orthodox Jewish communities, effects of annual lent practices on religious Christians, effects of Ramadan daily fasting on annual blood sugar control among diabetics in majority Muslim communities). I suspect there are lots of good examples that could yield interesting health outcomes findings.

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Really interesting ideas. The last one reminds me of this study here: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21930320/

I have also thought about whether shocks to religiosity from church scandals years ago might be a possible natural experiment.

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Aug 18, 2023·edited Aug 18, 2023

Religion works for those it works for.

One thought to keep in mind with a study like this is the fact that people attending a religious institution does not necessarily mean that they are there for the religion. There is also the social aspect of just being a member of a like minded tribe of people, which in itself could bring health benefits.

But too many so-called believers are really just superficial believers when it comes to religion, choosing the parts of their religion that they like to believe in and ignoring the parts they don't like. This is how the Christian Evangelicals can apparently support a morally corrupt person like Donald Trump. Their god is the wind up on Sunday model that Jethro Tull sang about. I doubt this version brings health benefits.

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