“Why does Cote d’Ivoire have 76 religions while Norway has 13, and why does Brazil have 159 religions while Canada has 15, even though in both comparisons the countries are similar in size?”
[Me]: Beats my pair of jacks. Some deep brows down in Albuquerque think they know the answer, though: religion protects against disease!
Here’s a supporting data point (I think) that the researchers may not have considered. Talking with a knowledgeable Chinese friend a few years ago, I asked him what accounted for the sudden amazing spread of the Falun Gong cult. He: “With the collapse of the ‘iron rice bowl’ social system (i.e. total, albeit low-quality, welfare state, at least for urban folk), people suddenly found they couldn’t afford health care, which had always been free before. Falun Gong offers a lot of health advice and promises to improve your health and ward off disease …” Hmmm.