David Speed is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John. He teaches comparative psychology, program evaluation, and statistics. His basic research interests involve how irreligion predicts mental well-being, how atheist identity is conceptualized, and the role of social support in explaining the belief as benefit effect. When David is not immersed in this hedonistic lifestyle he spends time with his three children (Aliya, Charley, and Eden), and far too rarely, his lovely wife Betsy.
The link between religion/spirituality (RS) and health is a recurring theme in the empirical literature within the psychology and sociology of religion, medical studies, and other disciplines. Although this research is usually limited to correlational studies, RS is often interpreted to be an important causal factor in positive health outcomes. This has led some academics, NGO's, and governments to argue that the putative health benefits of RS might be harnessed for public health and public policy more broadly. For example, the United States Army has recently launched a “spiritual health” program, and in the United Kingdom there is an ongoing debate about whether mindfulness meditation should be taught in schools. Government initiatives aside, what if the nonreligious are equally as healthy? In this podcast, Thomas J. Coleman III interviews Dr. David Speed on how research using nonreligious and nonbelieving samples problematizes some of the underlying assumptions of the relationship between RS and public health.