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Attending religious service once a week found to lower risk of suicide and other "deaths of despair"
- A study of nearly 100,000 health care workers found that those who attend weekly religious services are less likely to die from a "death of despair."
- The Harvard researchers note that women are considerably less likely to die such a death than men.
- Community support seems to be a major reason for helping people grapple with existential distress.
In late April, the news hit us hard: Lorna Breen, an emergency room doctor in a Manhattan hospital flooded with coronavirus patients, committed suicide. According to her father, the emotional toll of treating these patients was too much for her to handle. Even though she previously exhibited no sign of mental health issues, witnessing so many people being rolled into her facilities already dead was overwhelmed.
It's hard to describe the chaos of an overbooked emergency room. I worked as a patient monitor at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital for two years. The environment can transform from silent to slammed in a heartbeat. While my job was to ensure that patients didn't try to kill themselves, it was impossible to miss the emotional challenges of being a doctor or nurse working a 24-hour shift, or even an 8-hour shift.
New York City claps for their health care force nightly. It's a beautiful sentiment, yet when you're working in the thick of this virus, hoping to both help others and not become infected yourself, the weight is heavy. I recently talked to a friend who is an emergency room physician's assistant at a particularly hard-hit hospital. He told me that he recently yelled at someone in his neighborhood for not wearing a mask, and he is the last person I'd ever suspect of yelling at anyone. Your environment changes you. We are a different people now than just a few months ago.
Why religion is literally false and metaphorically true | Bret Weinstein
A unique new study at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found an interesting link between mental health and health care workers: those who attend a religious ceremony once a week are less likely to suffer from a death of despair. These include dying by suicide and alcohol or drug overdoses.
The researchers collected data from 66,492 female registered nurses and 43,141 male health care professionals, including dentists, pharmacists, and optometrists. The women's data was collected from the large-scale Nurses' Health Study II, conducted between 2001-2017. The men's data comes from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, conducted from 1988-2014.
The researchers note that life expectancy in the US has been decreasing since 2015. This coincides with an increased rate of midlife death from suicide, unintentional drug or alcohol poisoning, and alcohol-related chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. While "deaths of despair" was initially coined to describe the psychological effects of unemployment, the weakening of traditional support systems, such as religious services, are also implicated with higher drug and alcohol use and suicide. This is a particular challenge that we are navigating in the era of social distancing.
Buddhist monks wearing facemasks take their places for prayers inside the Wat Bowonniwetwiharn temple as Thais are encouraged not to gather inside places of worship, in an attempt to stop the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, on Visaka Bucha Day in Bangkok on May 6, 2020.
Photo by Lillian Suwanrumpha / AFP
Previous studies have shown that religion is a positive determinant in health and mental well-being. Lower risks of suicide, heavy drinking, depression, and substance abuse has been observed in the religious. As they phrase it,
"Religious participation may promote health and well-being through strengthening social integration, encouraging healthy behaviors, and providing a sense of hope, meaning, and purpose in life."
According to their research, religion tends to positively impact women more than men. The nurses had a 68 percent lower risk of death during the period studied. Men experienced a 33 percent reduced risk.
Research associate and data scientist, Ying Chen, who was first author of the study, notes that this is especially important information at this time.
"These results are perhaps especially striking amidst the present COVID-19 pandemic. They are striking in part because clinicians are facing such extreme work demands and difficult conditions, and in part because many religious services have been suspended. We need to think what might be done to extend help to those at risk for despair."
Religion might not be a cure-all, but for alleviating symptoms of despair, religious services appear to help. Whether seeking existential guidance or social support, we are social animals. Community matters.
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Philosophers have been asking the question for hundreds of years. Now neuroscientists are joining the quest to find out.
- The debate over whether or not humans have free will is centuries old and ongoing. While studies have confirmed that our brains perform many tasks without conscious effort, there remains the question of how much we control and when it matters.
- According to Dr. Uri Maoz, it comes down to what your definition of free will is and to learning more about how we make decisions versus when it is ok for our brain to subconsciously control our actions and movements.
- "If we understand the interplay between conscious and unconscious," says Maoz, "it might help us realize what we can control and what we can't."
Puerto Rico's iconic telescope facilitated important scientific discoveries while inspiring young scientists and the public imagination.
- The Arecibo Observatory's main telescope collapsed on Tuesday morning.
- Although officials had been planning to demolish the telescope, the accident marked an unceremonious end to a beloved astronomical tool.
- The Arecibo radio telescope has facilitated many discoveries in astronomy, including the mapping of near-Earth asteroids and the detection of exoplanets.
Bradley Rivera via twitter.com<p>In 1963, the concave dish was built into a natural sinkhole on the northern coast of Puerto Rico. The location was <a href="https://www.space.com/20984-arecibo-observatory.html" target="_blank">picked because it was near the equator,</a> providing scientists a clear view of planets passing overhead, and also of the ionosphere, which is the uniquely reactive layer of Earth's upper atmosphere where the northern lights form.</p><p>Since its construction, scientists have used the Arecibo telescope to map near-Earth asteroids, detect gravitational waves, study pulsars, detect exoplanets and <a href="https://www.seti.org/goodbye-arecibo" target="_blank">search for alien civilizations</a>, among other projects. Here's a brief look at some of the discoveries and accomplishments made using the Arecibo telescope:</p><ul><li>1964: Astronomer <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Pettengill" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gordon Pettengill</a> discovers that Mercury's rotation period is 59 days, significantly shorter than the previous prediction of 88 days.</li><li>1974: Physicists Russell Alan Hulse and Joseph Hooton Taylor Jr. discovers the first binary pulsar, for which they won a Nobel Prize in Physics.</li><li>1974: Scientists use the telescope to transmit the "Arecibo message" to <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Globular_Cluster_in_Hercules" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">globular star cluster M13</a>. The message, when translated into image form, contains basic information about humanity and human knowledge: the numbers one to 10, a map of our solar system, an illustration of a human being, and the atomic numbers of certain elements.</li><li>1989: Scientists use the telescope to image an asteroid for the first time.</li><li>1992: Astronomers Alex Wolszczan and Dale Frail become the first to discover exoplanets.</li></ul>
The Google-owned company developed a system that can reliably predict the 3D shapes of proteins.