[From the outset, it’s worth stating that I’m an atheist (in the soft sense), an agnostic (in a firmer sense), but probably best-described as a Humanist]
Humanists, skeptics, and atheists like to pride themselves on being rational and evidence-based. However, the Sunday Assembly (which I have been helping to organise a bit in Leeds) seems to have brought out the worst kind of ignorant twaddle that I have heard from the community in some time. Most of this seems to centre on “you’re doing something that looks a bit like what people do in church, and that makes it bad”. No attempt at understanding why churches do those things, nor why churches have (until recently) been very successful. With that in mind, here is some science behind the Sunday Assembly:Read More »
This may not come as a surprise to many, but living in an urban environment may not be great for your mental health… Being constantly surrounded by hustle and bustle, and constantly plugged in to technologies that keep you connected to work and current events, can be a drain. Now a new study, published in the journal Psychological Science in April 2013 (although I can’t find the actual paper online, yet), has provided yet more evidence for an important role of green space in urban areas for the purposes of enhancing “life satisfaction” and general health. The study used over 10,000 participants, with data recorded over an 18 year period.
It’s worth noting the limitations of this study – it was epidemiological, which means that a lot of variables were recorded and the authors attempted to tease apart correlations between those variables. The result is that we cannot infer causation. For example, a clearer result would have been generated by an empirical approach involving a trial with randomly selected people being placed in either high green space or low green space areas, with their mental health measured before and after. However, it is worth noting that the authors took huge numbers of variables into account when analysing these data, and the datasets are very large. All of this suggests that the results are reliable. They also produced a nice, simple video to explain the results in more detail (a great example of outreach by the researchers involved!):
Photo of Roundhay Park, Leeds, by Green Lane (via Wikimedia Commons)