A new survey of Americans’ knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths.
Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn’t know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ.
More than half of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who inspired the Protestant Reformation. And about four in 10 Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbis and intellectuals in history, was Jewish.
The survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life aimed to test a broad range of religious knowledge, including understanding of the Bible, core teachings of different faiths and major figures in religious history. The U.S. is one of the most religious countries in the developed world, especially compared to largely secular Western Europe, but faith leaders and educators have long lamented that Americans still know relatively little about religion.
Respondents to the survey were asked 32 questions with a range of difficulty, including whether they could name the Islamic holy book and the first book of the Bible, or say what century the Mormon religion was founded. On average, participants in the survey answered correctly overall for half of the survey questions.
Atheists and agnostics scored highest, with an average of 21 correct answers, while Jews and Mormons followed with about 20 accurate responses. Protestants overall averaged 16 correct answers, while Catholics followed with a score of about 15.
Acupuncture does not appear to aid in stroke recovery, according to a new study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Acupuncture is often used to supplement traditional stroke rehabilitation, although its effectiveness is uncertain. It is necessary to have evidence of effectiveness from rigorous randomized clinical trials to recommend routine therapeutic use.
This study, perhaps the most comprehensive to date as it includes trials published in English language and Asian journals, was a systematic review conducted by researchers in South Korea and the United Kingdom. They included 10 studies (out of a potential 664) with a total of 711 patients who had had strokes.
“Few randomized, sham-controlled trials have tested the effectiveness of acupuncture during stroke rehabilitation,” writes Dr. Edzard Ernst, Peninsula Medical School, Exeter, England with coauthors. “The majority of the existing studies do not suggest that acupuncture is effective.” They note that the only two studies showing positive effect were highly biased and had poor reporting which made them less reliable that the others included.
The authors conclude that “the evidence from rigorous studies testing the effectiveness of acupuncture during stroke rehabilitation is negative.”
Interpretation: Our meta-analyses of data from rigorous randomized sham-controlled trials did not show a positive effect of acupuncture as a treatment for functional recovery after stroke.