Friday, August 8, 2008

religion and disease

The Economist featured a great read on the interaction of disease and social behavior--suggesting that the former might drive the latter.
Their hypothesis is that in places where disease is rampant, it behoves groups not to mix with one another more than is strictly necessary, in order to reduce the risk of contagion. They therefore predict that patterns of behaviour which promote group exclusivity will be stronger in disease-ridden areas. Since religious differences are certainly in that category, they specifically predict that the number of different religions in a place will vary with the disease load.

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