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Why Certainty of Belief Improves Health

Mitchell Diamond
The Labyrinth
Published in
7 min readJan 6, 2022

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Not all beliefs are religious, so what is it about belief that impacts health outcomes?

In my last two articles I described how religious rituals and certainty of belief are the specific aspects, sometimes derived from religion, that result in better health and well-being. Each of these relies on similar mechanisms to achieve their aims, but in this article I focus on why certainty of belief interacts with the placebo effect to garner its benefits.

For decades some researchers have been claiming that religious people show better health outcomes, but the research studies failed to include or define control groups such as the non-religious. Critics of these studies pointed out several other methodological problems like not defining which aspects of religion correlated with better fitness. What was it about religion that improved health?

Recent studies have addressed some of those issues. What the newer research uncovered was that people with greater certainty of beliefs had better health outcomes than those with less certainty. (Baker, 2018; Farias, 2020) It was not only strong theists with steadfast beliefs in their religion, but also tenacious atheists who showed increased overall wellness. Those not strongly affiliated with a religious denomination or those unsure…

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Mitchell Diamond
The Labyrinth

Author of Darwin’s Apple: The Evolutionary Biology of Religion, a new take on the function and purpose of religion. http://www.darwinsapple.com