Psychological explanations for New Atheism leadership obesity

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PZ Myers

(photo obtained from Flickr, see license agreement)

New Atheism is a form of militant atheism. The term "New Atheism," which first appeared in the November 2006 edition of Wired magazine, is frequently applied to a series of six best-selling books by five authors that were published between 2004–2008. These authors include Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Victor J. Stenger and Christopher Hitchens.[1] The New Atheist leaders claim to be pro-science, 3 out of 5 of these atheist men have had issues with being overweight as can be seen HERE and HERE and HERE PZ Myers is also a leader within the New Atheism movement and Myers has had problems with being overweight as can be seen HERE.

According to medical science, there are a significant number of physical and mental health related problems associated with being overweight. In the late 1990s, Dennet had coronary artery bypass surgery (coronary artery bypass surgery reroutes blood around clogged arteries to enhance blood flow and oxygen to the heart).[2][3] In 2010, PZ Myers had health problems related to his heart.[4] On June 1, 2011, Myers posted a picture of himself and others on his blog and Myers appeared to no longer have issues with being overweight.[5]

Hippocrates was an early advocate of the health benefits of exercise and nutrition (see also: Nutritional science).[6] On the other hand, PZ Myers and a significant amount of other New Atheism leaders, seem to lack a full appreciation of the worthiness of nutritional science, exercise science and the latest findings of medical science (see also Atheism and obesity}. As of May 2011, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have not publicly commented on the significant problems the New Atheism leadership has experienced in terms of overweight members.

Psychological explanations for New Atheism leadership obesity

Obesity is positively associated with neuroticism, impulsiveness, and lower self-discipline.[7] In addition, many people overeat in response to negative emotions such as depression, anger, anxiety and boredom.[8]

(photo obtained from Flickr, see license agreement)

Obesity is positively associated with impulsiveness, lower self-discipline and neuroticism.[9] In addition, many people overeat in response to negative emotions such as depression, anger, anxiety and boredom.[10][11][12]

New Atheism is known for its vitriolic and irrational denunciations of Christianity.[13][14] In addition, Wired magazine made the observation that atheists tend to be ""quarrelsome, socially challenged men and study of PZ Myers' Pharyngula blog participants indicated similar results (Please also see: Atheism appears to be significantly less appealing to women).[15] In 2010, the Christian apologist Mariano Grinbank wrote: "Scienceblogger Chad Orzel described the commentators on PZ Myers ' site Pharyngula, and other commentators, as 'screechy monkeys'.[16] In January of 2011, CNN reported: "People unaffiliated with organized religion, atheists and agnostics also report anger toward God either in the past, or anger focused on a hypothetical image - that is, what they imagined God might be like - said lead study author Julie Exline, Case Western Reserve University psychologist."[17] Of course, given the irrationality of atheism, it is not surprising that atheists are angry at God who is morally perfect.[18] Certainly anger cannot be ruled in terms of the high proportion of New Atheist leaders who have issues with being overweight.

As far as anxiety being a possible explanation of New Atheism having a high proportion of overweight leaders, Australian online opinion writer and lecturer in ethics and philosophy at several Melbourne theological colleges, Bill Muehlenberg, in his essay The Unbearable Heaviness of Being (In a World Without God) declares:

Announcing, and believing, that God is dead has consequences. And it is we who suffer the most for it. We cannot bear the whole universe on our shoulders. We were not meant to. We must let God be God. Only then can men be men. Only then can we find the way forward to be possible, and the burdens not insurmountable.[19]

Christian apologist Mariano Grinkbank charges that PZ Myers often engages in mere emotional arguments, admits to criticizing the arguments of his opponents without reading their major works, and often tackles strawmen of this opponents arguments rather than seriously tackling them. Grinbank also points out that PZ Myers has never written a scholarly work defending atheism.[20] For details, please see: Militant atheism and the intellectual slothfulness of PZ Myers.

Peer relationships

See also: Peer relationships and New Atheism leadership issues with being overweight

Studies show that peer relationships can have a significant positive or negative influence on a person's behavior.[21] This has been known for some time and the Bible declares "bad company corrupts good morals" (1 Corinthians 15:33). In addition, the saying "birds of a feather flock together" certainly has some validity.

In 2011, Christian apologist Vox Day had an individual complain about the notion that the atheist community has a problem with obesity (Please see: Atheism and obesity). As a result, on May 19, 2011, Vox Day released a blog post entitled Mailvox: now, who said atheists are fat? where 80% of the people taking a picture with PZ Myers were overweight and PZ Myers was overweight in the picture as well as can be seen HERE. The picture was originally posted on PZ Myer's blog Pharyngula by Myers on May 16, 2011 and an online argument quickly ensued concerning the appearance of the photograph's participants.[22] In addition, compared to the very religious it does appear as if the atheist community has a problem with obesity (see: atheism and obesity).

For more information please see: Psychology, obesity, religiosity and atheism and Theories of New Atheism leadership's problem with excess weight

Physical and mental health related problems associated with being overweight

See also: Atheism and Mental and Physical Health and Atheism and obesity

Some of the medical conditions associated with obesity include: type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, coronary artery disease (CAD), stroke, arthritis, cancer, sleep apnea, reproductive problems in women and varicose veins.[23] In addition, medical science research indicates that excess weight impairs brain function.[24]

Medical science research indicates that excess weight impairs brain function.[25]

According to the Mayo Clinic some of the symptoms associated with obesity can include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Snoring
  • Sleep apnea
  • Pain in your back or joints
  • Excessive sweating
  • Always feeling hot
  • Rashes or infection in folds of your skin
  • Feeling out of breath with minor exertion
  • Daytime sleepiness or fatigue

Concerning the issue of depression, atheists do have higher rates of suicide than the general population.

See also

Comedy and Satire:

Other resources: