CNN’s Dr. Wendy Walsh Claims Atheists Die First

What the hell is wrong with people?


Dr. Wendy Walsh says

“…it doesn’t mean that science has the answers for everything… Most studies on survivors show that atheists die first. Because if you don’t believe in something super-natural, how can you imagine that you yourself have supernatural abilities enough to survive?”

Batshit crazy. So, science doesn’t have the answers, but lets use scientific studies to justify super powers…?

I have nothing but respect for my fellow religious Soldiers. It is clear that religion would play no part in a foxhole firefight. Both atheist and religious soldiers would immediately react according to the extensive training that we receive in the military.

However, if we are to follow the premise through in a way that implies religion has a role in surviving in a foxhole:

Atheist shoots back.

Theist prays and gets us all killed.

See how stupid this is? Of course religion has nothing to do with survivability.

Dr. Walsh is an entertainment psychologist who ‘believes in belief’. Walsh’s website claims, “Her brand of psycho-education is intended to be both entertaining and informative.” Despite the best of intentions, her words are dull and they may even make you dumber.

She has dealt with this subject before on her blog. Specifically, last Christmas when she cobbled together some meaningless drivel and recycled meta-physical garbage, meshed with a thin layer of ‘science’.

Put on your thinking caps. It’s time to explore.

In India, doctors scratch their heads as babies born to strict Muslim families in poverty have higher survival rates than upper caste Hindus with less religion. And disaster stories abound of atheists who succumbed to death while those with faith calmly waited for divine intervention, or at least a rescue boat.

Muslims are ‘more religious’ than upper caste Hindus…? Correct me if I’m wrong but ‘upper caste’ Hindus are the holiest, they are the priests. Even if I am wrong about that particular point, comparing the religiosity of one religion to another is moot. Especially in light of the pantheism she endorses at the conclusion of this article. (How can you be a ‘strict’ pantheist?)

Also, clicking on that link she provides brings you to a recent paper on the subject. The abstract has this to say:

The results of this study contribute to a recent literature that debates the importance of socioeconomic status (SES) in determining health and survival.

Basically, it’s about education, literacy, per-capita income, etc. Religion and culture clearly play a part in shaping these variables. However, it is quite a leap to claim that the validity of religion has anything to do with these factors.

Let’s keep reading.

Apparently, if you do not believe in the supernatural, you can’t imagine your own supernatural abilities. You can’t become a superhero if you don’t believe in them.

That scientific evidence alone is enough for me to sign up.

This sounds like ‘The Secret’ nonsense self-help meta-physics. You know, the type you might hear about around the empty water cooler at a sweat lodge.

Another study out of Dartmouth medical school showed that people recovering from open heart surgery were three times more likely to survive if they had religious faith.

The 1995 NY Times article that she links to there specifically points out the flaws in this line of reasoning:

“Of the 232 patients in the study, 21 died in the six months after surgery… “ (An extremely small sample)

“The findings have not all been positive. Last year, a British study of 300 patients admitted to a hospital for a variety of acute illnesses concluded that those who professed the strongest religious beliefs fared less well clinically after six months.

Quite apart from whether people found strength in their faith, Dr. Oxman found that their health also benefited if they participated regularly in social groups, whether a church supper group, seniors club or fraternal group. Cardiac patients who were not involved with such groups were three times as likely to die in the six months after surgery as those who were.”

“It appears there is something life protective in belonging to a group and having a regular social activity, of any kind,” he said.

The only positive outcomes were noted by psychologists, not the doctors who do surgery or treat acute illness in hospitals.

I’ll spare you her paragraphs about a taxi ride spent pondering these things. Here’s the ‘good’ part:

He (or she, or it) is certainly here under our Christmas tree today, just as he, or she, or it appears at Ramadan and Hanukkah. Fueled by human connections called love, God is the life-force that will sustain us in good times and horror. It’s the superhero in all of us.

The ending makes me think that she is just phoning in an article for a Christmas deadline. I’m very much reminded of an old Norm Macdonald quip: “Kenny G released his Christmas album this week: ‘Happy birthday, Jesus.. hope you like crap!'”

***Update 10:15 AM 28 March 2011***
reddit delivers:

scratchresistor 3 points 56 minutes ago
I fucking love the look on the guy’s face at the end.

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    No one ever claims that Science has all the answers, but it is finding them, and curiously, almost all in opposition to all the “holy” texts.

    That aside, could it be that no fear of an afterlife, or fundamentally hell, that atheists are more likely to sacrifice themselves for their brothers and sisters in battle? Did that thought ever cross your mind, doctor?

    John – Atheist, U.S. Navy veteran


    What a khunt. Who says it takes supernatural abilities to survive? Supernatural? Do they just give doctorates away now?

    Are we living in a world with superman, the flash, spiderman and jesus now? When did this happen? Why didn’t anyone tell me that the religious have superpowers?

  • Sylvester Cotto, Jr

    This type of pseudo-scientific psychobabble is hampering our ability to think clearly.
    It’s poison for the intellect.

  • Are atheists really any more likely to die first? What studies on survivors? I have a sneaking suspicion that she’s making it up – it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen theists quote “scientific proof” that turns out to be non-existent.

    • Justin Griffith

      Well, I made quick work of the science she quoted in her similar statements from last Christmas. She completely mis-represents the science papers she cites, and the NY Times article is 16 years old, and also contradicts her.

      She ‘believes in belief’. It’s that ‘spirituality’ nonsense mixed with a zealous apologist take on religion. She boils down to being a pantheist, really. But like a hippie version of a pantheist.

  • DaveV

    If anything you’d think the promise of all those virgins or doing Christian dinner theater with Jesus and your dead relatives in the forever afterlife would result in the deeply religious giving up faster.
    But we all know God works in mysterious ways and maybe he wants us common sense people of reason first as cell block guards to watch the tyranny ridden lunnies as they arrive in their alleged paradise.

  • Brian Harris

    “Studies show that atheists die first”? I call B.S!! Many people claim studies as basis for their claims. I’d like to know what resources she got her evidence from. She wants to convince people that she knows what she’s talking about? The burden of proof is now on her to produce that evidence. Otherwise, it’s nothing but a bunch of empty, meaningless, smoke and mirrors garbage.

    • Justin Griffith

      She cited some papers and articles that actually disproved what she was saying.

  • I can see how the unifying aspects of religion can help people get together under a unified front of their faith and be able to effectively pool resources and create a strong community, that certainly is a good thing.

    It’s wishful thinking at best though to presume that, based on cherry-picked studies full of all sorts of variables outside of mere faith in a higher power, that conclusive evidence exists which favors faith over its absence.

    Let some god or other resurrect every one of our dead friends and family members, eradicate all disease, and give each of us bodies in flawless physical condition, then we’ll talk about conclusive evidence in the power of faith, beyond its modest ability to unite people in common causes, whether for good or evil.

  • Amy

    I notice too that the caption in the video misspells last (“lasst”). Just brilliant.

    • Justin Griffith


  • Ben Hart

    I’m a Dr. too. A Witch Dr. I cured Ray Charles, everyone knows he was blind, but he couldn’t walk for the first year. ; )

  • Kevin C Jenkins

    Studies show that Wendy Walsh got her doctorate from a Cracker Jacks box. As long as we’re making shit up; believing in an afterlife or next world makes you less cautious with the life you’ve got. An atheist, knowing there is only one life to live and enjoy, is putting more on the line than someone that thinks death is just an early trip to heaven.

  • Christi

    I have also heard (B.S. citation here) that it is a fear of hell that keeps theists fighting to live longer. Atheists are well aware of the fact that science has done all it can to prolong life, the pain is too much to live with, and non-existance becomes a sweet alternative to suffering.

  • beerslayer

    In the words of comedian Dara O’Briain: “Science *knows* it doesn’t know everything – otherwise, it’d STOP…” and “…just ’cause Science doesn’t know everything doesn’t mean you can fill in the gaps with whatever fairytale most appeals to you.”

    The man may be the funniest atheist on Earth. Certainly I’d rather watch him on TV than this moistened bint. He makes more sense in one sentence than she does in her entire show.

  • Raoul

    She’s not even a real doctor. Her graduate school wasn’t regionally accredited until 2008 when it was acquired by an out-of-state for-profit institution. She’s an amateur psychologist who has no official credentials.

    But this seems to be good enough for CNN. Sad.

  • Linda D

    What I want to know is if Christians etc. truly believe in heaven…why would they not want to die….its either A..they really actually dont believe in it or B they think there is a good chance they are going to hell

  • BCW

    “Dr.” Wendy Walsh claims Masters and Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degrees from the California Graduate Institute which does psychoanalysis, psych and family therapy. So she has a doctorate in another form of Woo. Her undergraduate is in journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto.

    She apparently made her name covering the OJ Simpson trial before going to grad school.

  • I suggest that Dr. (?) Wendy Walsh read THE LITTLE BOOK OF ATHEIST by Andre Comte-Sponville …a former Catholic. Maybe the Dr. (?) will come to her senses, and not make stupid remarks saying Atheist die first. Andre, a former Catholic….maybe he should go back to being a Catholic, and live longer. The whole idea is a crock of baloney. But you know what? Some people will belive this.