Columbia University Medical Center
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital The University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell
April 26, 2009

One of the most powerful critics of the new science of religion is Columbia University psychiatrist Richard Sloan, who surveyed hundreds of published studies on the benefits of religion and found many of them rife with methodological sloppiness. In his 2006 book, "Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine," he argued that researchers, who were often personally religious, appeared to be seeing what they wanted to see, not what the evidence showed.

Most of those engaged in the work on secularity are personally agnostics or atheists; some cite the influence of "New Atheist" polemicists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, who have spurred nonbelievers inside and outside the academy to be more strident. But the researchers say they're eager not to replicate the errors of wishful thinking that Sloan pointed out in the work on religion.

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