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More God, Less Crime?

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The title above, minus the question mark, is the title of a book by Byron Johnson.  The WSJ has this review by James Q. Wilson, one of America's foremost thinkers about crime (and author of Thinking About Crime).  "This book has two messages. First, religion reduces crime. Second, look what happens to scholars who say this is true."

Wilson reviews that the familiar shortcomings of the quasi-experimental studies that attempt to prove the first proposition -- "selection bias" and all that.  The fact that graduates of a program do better than nonvolunteers and dropouts does not and cannot definitively answer the question of whether the program works because they may very well have been the more motivated subgroup who would have done better anyway.  The kinds of controlled studies that we do to determine if a drug is safe and effective, for example, can't be done in this area.

The second point is a sad commentary on the state of Political Correctness in contemporary American academia.  Not new, but still sad.

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