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Tuesday: Questionable strategies

Richard Dawkins has a strategy to move politicians away from catering to the religious- ridicule their beliefs:

Now, I know there are some believers on this blog who will take offense by Dawkins statement but I think he has a point.  AronRa, youtube atheist blogger, was arguing with the faithful at the Reason Rally and put it something like this: science doesn’t rule out the existence of a god.  We’re just waiting for evidence.  But that book?  That bible?  Yeah, *that* God doesn’t exist.  Everything that is in that book has been proven to be a fable.

Well, I don’t know about EVERYTHING, but just about everything in the first five books of the bible is mythology.  Sorry, believers.  That’s just a fact.  There was no Adam and Eve or Tree of Knowledge or talking serpents.  Noah might have been based on a real person but his account can be found in a Sumerian document that was written about a 1000 years before Genesis.  Even Moses might have been fictional and the rules in Deuteronomy were penned by some self serving priests.  That’s what archeology tells us.  I’m a personal fan of Jesus but only his parables, sermons and the occupation events he staged during his last week.

If more believers could just put that Judeo-Christian god in its proper context and move on to God 2.0 or no god at all, we could get this country back on the right track and stop this ridiculous charade every four years where the presidential candidates stoop to out-holy each other and use religion as an excuse to deregulate anti-discrimination law protecting women.

The proscriptions against gay people, the submission of women, the silly rules about crustaceans and fabrics, the harsh punishments, all that is based on Bronze Age culture.  Um, we don’t live in the Bronze Age.  Four hundred years ago, we stopped believing that the earth is the center of the universe but for some reason, despite all of the evidence to the contrary, we still believe that humankind emerged from two naked people in a mythical garden.

It’s only with time and distance that we can see the bible as it really is.  Once you’ve reached that tipping point, the whole construct falls apart.  It’s ridiculous to expect modern people to run their lives and governments based on Bronze Age writings and drug induced hallucinations of a dude stranded on an island off the coast of Turkey.

So, unfortunately, I think Dawkins is right.  For all we know, we and the people around us have only one life to live on this earth.  The biggest sin we can commit against them is to ignore the suffering of others because the end of the world is coming any minute now or treat the disenfranchised like second class citizens because of who they love or what plumbing they have.  What a waste of talent.  And if there is a God, it would be really stupid to exclude good people from making a difference in the world because God can use all the help she can get.

Anyway, these days, when I hear the religious go on about how evolution is wrong and Adam and Eve are right, and that a convicted conman in NY found a bunch of golden tablets, that no one else has ever seen, and translated them into English from Reformed Egyptian and that this is the basis upon which we control women because they are less than fully adult, this is what it sounds like:

Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it?

That’s because it is.


Yesterday, the Supreme Court set aside a lower court ruling awarding patents for two breast cancer genes to Myriad Genetics.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, discovering a gene that already exists in nature is not the same as discovering a small molecule drug to treat disease. That would be like patenting some exotic species of plant collected by some ethnobiologist on a field trip. I can see how you could patent an analog (structural modification) of a chemical that the plant produced but the plant itself? Any scientist should be able to study that plant and use it for research. The plant isn’t novel and wasn’t made by man. Same with genes.

I think many of us in research have run into the problem of trying to work around a patent like this. About a decade ago, I was on a project that had to get around a patent on a protein structure. That’s right, the competition had patented their protein structure. It was available in the publicly available database but researchers couldn’t use it for drug design while the validity of the patent was still in dispute. So, even if the patent holders eventually lost their rights, they would still have had a substantial lead over their competition who would spend months and years trying not to look at the binding site of the patent structure. It’s like blindfolding your competition.

On the other hand, it’s bloody expensive to do research. Mindboggling, ridiculously expensive. If you do manage to isolate a gene and plan to use it for commercial purposes, you should be able to recoup the cost of your discovery efforts. Up to this point, companies like Myriad Genetics license their technology to other companies. Academic institutions also do this with their proprietary assays which are expensive and take many months of negotiations and lawyers to acquire. Without the licensing fees, these institutions will be asked to turn over their discoveries for the good of mankind with little compensation, or invest in discovery efforts, which they may not have the money or expertise to do. Companies will start firing their staff and going overseas where it’s cheaper to hire people. It won’t be faster or better. Just cheaper. And the scientists who are thrown out of work over here will just stop doing science altogether because it is impossible to have a stable domestic life.

In recent years, many big pharma companies have turned to biologics and shed their small molecule drug discovery efforts. That’s because small molecules have to be defended against patent infringement and the class action lawsuits that follow the release of every new drug. The companies thought they had a winner in biologics and they may still. But this case may put those discoveries at risk if they turn out to be nothing more than the product of nature. They should expect a lot more patent challenges. And without their small molecule drug discovery units, which have been mercilessly obliterated by the short term goals of the financial class, they may find themselves on the bitter end of ever diminishing returns. In this case, karma works against everyone who is hoping for a cure from modern medicine.

What pharma needs is a long term strategy and relief from some class action lawsuits. I know the left doesn’t want to discuss tort reform but in an industry where perfection and customization for each individual is not possible yet, the prospect of class action lawsuits has had a chilling effect on discovery and approval of some drugs. There are many other problems with drug research companies that I have outlined before but there is no doubt that the system is broken and may take a long time to fix without incentives to shift to a long term strategy. Research isn’t cheap and researchers need to eat. Drugs can’t be free but we may be able to make them affordable if we develop new strategies for discovery.

Something’s got to give.


28 Responses

  1. […] Filed under: General Tagged: Myriad genetics, patents The Confluence […]

  2. Then you scientific folks need to get busy and invent immortality.

    Otherwise, I doubt humanity will ever get rid of religion, because I doubt the majority of us talking apes are capable of a serene, quasi-Stoic acceptance of death as The End, no ifs, ands, buts, afterlives, resurrections, or reincarnations. 😦

    Perhaps it would be simpler to invent a safe drug that could be taken throughout one’s lifetime that would quash the dread of death, but then you’d have the problem of not making it SO effective that it makes people reckless, thus hiking the rate of premature deaths. 😕

    Either way, good luck–you’ll need it. :mrgreen:

    • I think you would find yourself an anomaly in some parts of Europe where, in spite of all of the predictions that humans will never give up religion, most people have in fact given it up.
      It can be done. It *should* be done. Time to update God to the new version.

      • How long will that state of affairs in Europe last? Do the Europeans represent the wave of the future–or in your own word, a mere “anomaly”, resulting from the historic integration of Church and State, which in turn caused the state-supported churches to bless persecutions and wars and (literally) ungodly injustices of all sorts?

        Also, how many of those Europeans have accepted death as The End with aplomb, bravely marching forth like Galtian uebermenschen into the glorious light of P*U*R*E R*E*A*S*O*N, versus how many of them have wearily resigned themselves to it because they have been convinced that they Must Grow Up and be Stern Sturdy Stoics, or else they have no right to call themselves civilized humans?

        The late 19th and early 20th centuries were a great age of skepticism here in the USA. IIRC, confident predictions were made that faith would fade away. Did it?

        Is the current rise of skepticism in the USA the wave of the future, or simply a reaction to the arrogance of the Religious Right, which will recede, once the RR is defeated and so the RR recedes?

        “The learned have their superstitions, prominent among them a belief that superstition is evaporating.”–Garry Wills

        I doubt either of us will live long enough to see the answer.

        I must prepare to go to work now, so it may be a long time before I can check in. Ciao for nao.

        • I think it’s a trend you need to get used to. For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church discouraged translation of the bible into the vernacular. Ever hear of the Lollards? Turns out, there’s a pretty good reason for that. The bible is so full of weird stories, inconsistencies, and multiple story lines that once you start reading it, you can’t help but notice them. The scriptures are not a straightforward, linear retelling of anything. So, they wanted to keep it under wraps. But the printing press was invented and all hell broke loose. Pretty soon everyone was reading it and coming up with their own interpretations. It was a disaster for the church. And then the scientific revolution happened and people started getting all metaphysical and stuff and before you know it, they’re arguing about how they can prove the existence of God. Like, where did that come from? You only have to formulate arguments when you start having questions. But still, this was only a small subset of bewigged eggheads who mostly talked to each other. Nevertheless, this country was founded by deists. So, right there you have a movement away from a personal god and into the abstract. Thomas Jefferson even cut his bible to pieces, removing the mythical elements from the New Testament. But even then, it was still just a trickle. Then came the move from agrarian to industrial economies and people learned to read in greater and greater numbers. Now, you’re starting to see real skeptics take the stage. Robert Ingersoll is a notable example. And then there was Charles Darwin who became agnostic after he discovered that there was no Adam and Eve.
          Europe and Asia saw a lot of political and cultural upheavals in the last century. Some countries outlawed religion altogether. In China, this probably wasn’t a big deal. They started off with a pretty abstract idea of the deity. In Europe, it was a little different. I think some countries just got really tired of fighting stupid religious wars over the past few centuries. And then World War II happened and made them doubt the existence of a kind and loving god. Besides, after the war, they had to structure their societies differently. They probably recognized that the religious were the most easily lead. (BTW, do you know what happened to the German Lutheran Church during World War II? Frightening.) Anyway, European countries became much more egalitarian and when you start to equalize and level your economies among all players, the need for a God starts to decrease. You spend less time praying for housing, food, education, healthcare, when the state pools the resources of its citizens to create the economy of scale necessary to make those luxuries affordable for everyone. That doesn’t mean they don’t like capitalism. I think they do. But they have learned and grown up and realize that taking care of the population equals stability.
          So, they have less of a need for God. But even if they were a continent of believers, the internet would have come along and changed all that. Now, people who read the biblical inconsistencies and do scholarly work in the field and unearth archeological evidence are posting their stuff online for everyone to read and suddenly, you are seeing a critical mass of people walking away from the Judeo-Christian tradition. They realize it’s not real. It’s mythology and story telling and embellishment and there’s very little evidence to back up most of the old testament and a good chunk of the new testament. It’s no surprise that the population walking away the fastest are people under 40. They’ve grown up in the digital age. So, there is a need for a God rewrite. There needs to be a God 2.0. God updated for the modern age. And I’m sorry but you can’t force people to keep accepting a bronze age document as being the truth when they can clearly see that it isn’t. And the new testament has very little worth salvaging either. The true accounts of Jesus’ life amount to between 18-20% of the new testament. You can’t trust the post traumatic accounts of his disciples when it comes to the resurrection either. It sure made for a great new religion back when local deities just weren’t cuttin’ it and your life was nasty, brutish and short. But there’s no proof.
          Ok, so you might say you don’t need proof. You have faith! And that’s all fine and dandy as long as you don’t try to run your government based on faith that many of us don’t care about. We want to live in reality, in the present and we don’t want to base all of our decisions around whether we are going to be rewarded or punished in the afterlife. Is that unreasonable? Can’t we just agree that you should render to caesar what is caesar’s and to god what is god’s? There are two spheres to which we both exist, the private and the civic. All we want is that people do what is right in the civic world. And if you want to do what’s written in your own private world, knock yourself out.

          • Funny that in the New Testament, IIRC (it’s been a while), when Jesus is asked whether the Jews should pay taxes — which go to the Roman Ceasars. And the reply he made, after looking at a coin stamped with Ceasar’s head, was “Give unto Ceasar what is Ceasar’s. And unto God what is God’s.” Seems the recent wingnut have forgotten that message.

            Dawkins can be hilarious at times! Thanks for posting the video links.

          • I thought I had already stated on this blog that I also think the separation of church and state is best for both. If not, I just stated it now. Perhaps I am being confused with a fundamentalist? 😕

            As for the rest, I’m much too lazy to try to respond to that small book you just wrote. :mrgreen:

            However, similarly confident predictions of the decline and fall of religion have been made before, and failed to come true. Speaking of Christianity specifically, I doubt that an institution that survived the Roman Empire and its fall, the Saracens, the Black Death, its own internal wars, the World Wars, and Nazism and Communism has much to fear from da Intertoobz.

            Unless and until humanity finds a way to make material reality as unfailingly pleasant–and unending–as the dreams of Heaven, I expect those dreams will persist, however many dreary dry gray proofs of the literal inaccuracy of certain stories are mustered to try to argue people out of them.

            You (I now mean plural you) don’t seem to realize that for the vast majority of us talking apes, both now and throughout history, this reality consists mostly of pain. If all you have to offer is Stoic advice to grin and bear the pain, the majority will ignore you. If you can relieve the pain and replace it with bliss, they will next demand that you defeat death, so that the bliss need not end. Until you can do both of those things, a majority of the world’s population of talking apes will not embrace your way, outside of the anomalous region of Europe (and even there, if I understand correctly, only in the regions that were not subjected to Soviet dominion. In those latter regions, revulsion against the enforced atheism of the Communist period has caused a revival of religion).

          • Ah, yes, the revival of religion in Poland has been so beneficial to females who live there.

            I never said that religion would go away entirely. I just think it is about to undergo a revolution, just as it has throughout our written human history. Or our neolithic history for that matter. I think that there will be a gradual turn towards agnosticism with most people in the developed world adopting a “Let the mystery be” attitude. BTW, not all of us are scared silly about dying. I have people in my family who are so anxious about it, they are willing to sacrifice their children to be saved from it. IMHO, that’s a really stupid reason to believe in God. If he exists, why the hell would he want you to die forever? And if he doesn’t, then you’d better damn well enjoy your life while you’re around. The truth is, we don’t know what happens when we die. All evidence suggests that are “souls” are wrapped up in our material bodies. So when one goes, so does the other. If that makes you uncomfortable, then just think of it this way: no one knows how the universe came into existence and it is so vastly amazing that just about anything is possible. We just don’t know. We also don’t know what happened before we were born and it didn’t bother us then. Let it go.

            It would also be wrong to assume that Europeans are all a bunch of dour stoics. That doesn’t sound like any Europeans I know. They have very rich, fulfilling lives. They seem to have more fun. They are always planning their next vacations with their families. They spend a lot more time than we do enjoying traveling and eating and doing stuff with their families. They also work hard but only when they’re at work. At the end of the day, they put it away and go home. They also don’t seem to be troubled about the condition of their immortal soul so they can spend a lot more time living this life.

            By the way, although we don’t disagree with the idea that church and state should be kept separate, I think we do disagree with the perception of how much church is influencing state right now and how much response there needs to be to it. Yes, there needs to be a vigorous push back agains the religious right but this would be true even if the nation remained majority Judeo-Christian. The problem is not religion. It’s fundamentalist extremism. The fundy extremists have gained access to too much power and influence. We are now the laughing stock of the developed world. Seriously. If you are living in Arkansas, maybe you don’t notice it as much because you’re surrounded by it and the degrees of fundamentalism are more distinct and maybe some fundies seem worse than others. But to those of us in more diverse regions of the country, fundies come off as extremists no matter how finely you divide them. I’m sure the church my brother used to attend in York, PA would seem like the bastion of liberalism in the area of the country where the Duggars live but here in NJ, they’re a bunch of fricking obnoxious ultra conservative bible thumpers. And they’re mean to people who aren’t them. Mean and disrespectful and haughty and arrogant. That’s PA. I think the rest of us are just disgusted by these people. Once you’ve crossed that line into fundamentalist extremism, you’ve gone too far for the rest of us to want you in government in any capacity.

            But the evolution away from the Judeo-Christian God is going to happen anyway. In fact, I think there is evidence that the quiverfull movement is a sort of eugenics project to replace the aging members of the population who are conservative christians precisely because they see agnostism as a threat to their churches. Certainly the Catholic Church is trying its damndest to retain a foothold in this country. Look what happened to Europe. No one takes the church seriously over there. If that kind of attitude gets a grip over here, there goes the church attendance and revenue. And as Americans grow poorer, they may grow more resentful of the tax breaks and faith based initiatives money they’re getting from us the taxpayers. Why should we continue to enrich the institutions that want to impose their faith on us, especially if we don’t adhere to that faith? So, I think churches are trying to nail down their place in the money stream and they are battling it out with us now in the hopes that when the critical mass of agnostics hits, there won’t be anything we can do to dislodge them.

          • “I never said that religion would go away entirely.”

            Thanx. I misunderstood you on that part. Indeed, as you said, religion will change. It always has changed. It adapts and evolves, almost as if it were a living organism.

            As for the rest, we have reached an impasse. I just hope you realize that I’m not your enemy, as you are not mine.

            However, it was predicted before in the history of the USA that a “critical mass of agnostics” would emerge and make the USA more like Europe in matters of faith, or lack of same. It did not happen. Perhaps it will happen this time, but the previous historical example leads me to doubt it. I lack your faith in the mighty power of da Intertoobz.

            BTW, I was, and am, using “Stoic” to signify “serenely accepting” rather than “dour”. You seem to be Stoic in my sense of the word, but, I gather, not in your sense of the word. As for the apparent serenity and exuberance of your Europeans, neither of us knows what happens in the privacy of their own minds.

            Now, I must go back to bed for a while. By the time I get home from work tomorrow morning, this thread will probably have closed. Peace out, and Haruhi bless you all. :mrgreen:

          • OK, ONE more thing–if (big if) I understand you correctly, you believe that the Religious Right will fade away eventually (I agree; US history shows these movements come and go in our politics), but also that a “vigorous pushback” is needed against the RR. If it will fade away, why is the vigorous pushback needed? 😕

          • Never mind–I went back and re-read your last post and found the answer I sought. I guess fatigue is dampening my perceptiveness. Ciao for nao.

          • Ah, yes, the revival of religion in Poland has been so beneficial to females who live there.

            Oddly, this reminds me of a scene from “The Russia House”, a spy movie set during the last half-decade of the Soviet Union.

            Barley: Where do you live?’

            Katya: ‘With my children.’

            Barley: ‘Where are your children?’

            Katya: [pausing] ‘We live close to the Aeroport metro station. There is no airport there any more. There are apartments. How long are you staying in Moscow, please, Mr. Barley?’

            Barley: ‘A week. Any address for your apartment?’

            Katya: ‘It is not convenient. You are staying all the time here at the Hotel Odessa?’

            Barley: ‘Unless they chuck me out. What does your husband do?’

            Katya: ‘It is not important.’

            Barley: ‘Is he in publishing?’

            Katya: ‘No.’

            Barley: ‘Is he a writer?’

            Katya: ‘No.’

            Barley: ‘So what is he? A composer? A frontier guard? A cook? How does he maintain you in the style to which you are accustomed?’

            Katya: [laughing] ‘He was manager of a timber concern.’

            Barley: ‘What’s he manager of now?’

            Katya: ‘His factory prefabricates houses for rural areas. We are divorced, like everyone else in Moscow.’

  3. I’m with Breast Cancer Action on the Myriad decision.

    We recently testified at a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) hearing on gene patenting. Of the nine people who testified, we were the only ones who explained how gene patenting harms women’s health. We were the only people in the room voicing women’s opposition, on an issue that harms women’s health. There’s something wrong with that picture.

    The USPTO held the hearing because they’re preparing a report for Congress about gene patenting, and without your input, the report will be one-sided. They need to hear from you.

    You can help by sharing your experience with genetic testing. Tell the real story about gene patents, the one that isn’t about corporate profit.

    Myriad Genetics holds exclusive rights to the “breast cancer genes,” BRCA1 and 2, the mutations on those genes, and all research performed on them. We all have these genes in our bodies, whether or not they have mutations, which means Myriad owns my genes and your genes. Gene patents, and the resulting monopoly over your health, have a very real negative impact:

    High cost for the genetic test (over $3,000). Women often cannot afford to get information about their own bodies.
    Indeterminate test results. As many as 10% of people tested may have an ambiguous test result, a disproportionate number of whom are women of color.
    No second opinion testing. Even if test results seem clear, women cannot get second opinion testing before making decisions about life-altering surgery to remove their breasts and ovaries.
    Limits research. We urgently need more and better options for the treatment and risk reduction of breast cancer.

    • probably isn’t much that can be done about ambiguous results or second opinion testing. The results are based on your genes. Either the gene in question is there or not. The 10% ambiguity rate may be due to the biomarker having some anomaly. So, there’s probably a lot you could get on their case about but this is not one of them. When a test carries this much weight, you can be absolutely sure that the company is doing the best they can interpreting the results. At this point in time, interpretation isn’t going to be improved by multiple tests. It’s going to be a matter of analysis.

    • I’m more-or-less with BCA on this.

      The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, and all natural permutions thereof, are products of nature, and so cannot be patented. Whether they be inside the body, or inside a test tube.

      What can be patented is the specific diagnostic test that Myriad developed and sells for these genes. That is an invention and thus can be patented. But another company has the right to use those same genes as the basis for development of a diagnostic test for them that, say, is based on a different method of detection.

      So, it’s OK to have several diagnostic tests for BRCA1 and BRCA2, each based on a different detection method, each separately patented. But it’s not OK to patent the genes themselves. The cost of developing the tests is not relevant.

  4. RE: Dawkins….

    I have begun saying that religious nuts should GROW UP!
    This nonsensical extra guy hanging around that they have to check in with every moment reminds me of Harvey (James Stewart movie), or the Easter Bunny.

    I just told my nephew and his new bride that I liked to avoid the middleman of “big outfit” churches and ministers from what century? In a nice way, of course….They got married a couple of weeks and he minister remarked on how their “faith” wasn’t falling for the popular culture gave women the idea that they should be more independent and they should have more control over their bodies.

    My mother and I were watching on Skype….good thing, too, because we would have probably thrown up if we had been there in person. As it was, we practically threw our forks at the screen…

    I’m not against spirituality at all…but “religion” is a different story…not the same thing at all…

    • Well, you need only do two things to get rid of it.

      [1] Establish global social democracy, so that this life will consist mostly of pleasure rather than pain.

      [2] Invent immortality, so that the pleasure need not end, and to defeat the deepest of human fears.

      Lotsa luck! :mrgreen:

    • Given that humans are social, and not individuals, the likelihood that organized religion will disappear is vanishingly small.

      What will change, of course, is the various contents of those organized religions.

  5. RE: Dawkins–Ridicule will succeed where Roman lions and Communist gulags failed? Against a faith whose adherents are warned to expect persecution?

    As a historian and a psychologist, Dawkins makes a fine biologist. 😛

    • It already has precedence. The people who believe in organized religion are going to dwindle just like they have in Europe and other parts of the world. They won’t go away entirely but the indoctrination of their offspring is not going to be as successful as it was in previous generations. The trend lines are already there. Dawkins and other atheist leaders aren’t interested in putting anyone to the sword. All their trying to do is make sure that non-believers are not ruled by people forcing their religions down their throats and that government is based on reason, not faith in some unverifiable supernatural being and some bronze age literature.
      We only give the bible its legitimacy because we’re used to it. But if Martians came here and took a look at the way humans worship that book, they’d think we were totally off our meds. It’s ok if you don’t take it too seriously and gave it the same consideration as a Dungeons and Dragons club, but it is not a good basis for government.

      • Again, such predictions were made before in US history. Maybe this time will be different, but the historical precedent argues against it.

        Also, you’re saying D&D isn’t real? BLASPHEMER! HERETIC!!!1! :mrgreen:

        • {{snort!}}. Once upon a time I played Empire of the Petal Throne. But then I grew up. Or lost my dice. I can’t remember.

      • I worship God, not a book. People can burn bibles and it won’t offend me or challenge my faith. I am an old time Baptist (not Protestant) who was taught at home, in public school and in church that absolute separation of church and state was necessary for the public good. Science was considered to be a good thing that brought forth public good. I don’t know when that changed, but I no longer go to church because church became to political.

          • Thank you Monster. I was beginning to feel alone in the world. It’s good to know some others feel fired at from all sides and that we can stand firm.
            I know there must be a Baptist congregation (each Baptist church is a stand alone congregation) somewhere who still believes in the old values but I haven’t found one in my area.
            Science is valuable to human kind and must be taught in public schools. Evolution is not evil, it is natural. Where would we be without the evolution in nature and politics? Of course, the political evolution seems to have shifted into reverse.

      • But if Martians came here and took a look at the way humans worship that book, they’d think we were totally off our meds.

        The Martian cultural anthropologists would not think this.

        But the Martian religious authorities, as well as those tightly plugged into the Martian military-industrial complex–particularly that located in Mars’ southern hemisphere, would without question agree with you, RD. Privately, many of them would say that you are the kind of Earthling with whom “they could do business”. 🙂

        • Not sure what you mean by that last bit. If you are suggesting that only the religious are moral or anti-war, then I would have to point you to all of the evangelical and fundy churches that were chomping at the bit to invade Iraq to go kick some Haji ass.
          Non-believers are a lot smarter and more moral than you think. They’re probably the least likely to get hoodwinked. You’re probably going to find more takers among the religious crowd since they are somewhat more used to rationalizing their behavior.

  6. Re religion in Europe, don’t forget that Europe consists of 47 sovereign states (of which only little more than half, 27, have joined the EU) with different constitutions, language, history, mentality, beliefs and so on. So I don’t think you can lump all 47 together as reacting similar to religion … or the lack of same.

    But in trying to find some documentation I came across this site. Even though the charts haven’t been updated – and the description of the religious majorities have been left out! – I find the information quite interesting and illuminating of some of the differences of European countries.

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