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that just doesn't add up // response - Lograh — LiveJournal

Monday, 02.Apr.2007

19:27 - that just doesn't add up // response

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So, I'm reading an article about how US citizens feel the holy book of their chosen religion does a better job of explaining the universe than any scientific pursuit, and I come across some numbers that don't seem to add up.

According to the article, the survey had (among other things) the following two results:
Just 3 percent of the public self-identifies as atheist
and
49 percent reported personally knowing an atheist

now, I'll admit that statistics wasn't my speciality, but if only 3% of the population is "atheist", it's kinda tough for 49% of the population to "personally know" an atheist. Unless there's some confusion going on about what exactly an "atheist" is. Or, I suppose it's possible all the atheists are very well connected, but I can't realistically imagine all the social work it would take to maintain a phonebook that long. :)

This just goes to show how mind-numbingly stupid most US citizens are. It's not like the term "atheist" isn't well defined. Heck, it says it right there in it's name: A-Theist. That is, "A" "Theist" = "not" "theist" = "not" "belief in god(s)" = One who denies the existence of a god or gods. Sure, you can debate the weaker or stronger variants of atheism, where you might simply have an absence of belief instead of an active denial of belief. But it boils down to the same thing: no belief in the existence of a god or gods.

The rest of the report doesn't exactly inspire hope for the future.

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From:lograh
Date:15:43 03.Apr.2007 (UTC)
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True enough, the survey methodology matters quite a bit. However, even if it was only done in one small town, there shouldn't be such a huge discrepancy between those numbers. All a shoddy methodology would mean is that we would be wrong to generalize the results to the US as a whole. The article did such generalization, though, so I will hope they know what they are doing and the survey was appropriately conducted.
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From:lograh
Date:1:07 11.Apr.2007 (UTC)
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an excellent point. I hadn't considered that small-town residents would know a lot of out-of-towners who wouldn't be part of the survey. I should hope this wasn't done entirely in small towns!
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From:pallasathene
Date:3:11 03.Apr.2007 (UTC)
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Oh, come now. We all assume things about one another's belief systems. Plenty of people could just assume their heathen friend didn't believe in God altogether rather than taking seriously his/her sense of spirituality.

I hate when people go on tirades about the idiocy of the American people. EVERYONE is stupid. It's not just us.
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From:lograh
Date:15:41 03.Apr.2007 (UTC)
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woah woah, calm down. I suspect you misread what I typed. Your last statement there seems rather defensive and accusatory. I never said I feel the US citizenry are any more or less stupid than humans as a whole. Let's get that down right off the start here. Particularly on this matter, I fear the general human species is sublimely ignorant. It is simply a fact that the survey only surveyed individuals in the US population. Thus, the most you can reasonably generalize is to the US population as a whole (and even that requires the survey be conducted in a particular way, which the article didn't state but I'm going to hope it was). To only survey people in the US and then make generalizations about humans as a species would be a terrible sociological faux pas, and one I'm not going to make.
Please calm down, and kindly don't put words in my mouth (I need the room in there for my foot!).

Also, as regards spirituality vs. atheism. I addressed that somewhat below but I'll repeat a bit here. Just because someone has a religion does not exclude them from the label atheist. 'Atheist' deals strictly with a belief in god(s). There are plenty of religions that do not have gods and thus are atheistic religions.

Similarly, if someone is going to discount any religion but his/her own and label all others as 'atheist' simply because s/he does not agree that the gods they worship are "true" gods, that still demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the terms involved. 'Atheist' is not defined with concern to if the god(s) believed in is(are) 'true' or 'false', simply if there is a god or are gods involved at all.
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From:pallasathene
Date:18:49 03.Apr.2007 (UTC)
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I know what you're saying as far as spirituality and atheism goes - but who besides the overly educated really takes the thinking that far? Particularly for a stupid quiz?
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From:ox_number_10
Date:4:23 03.Apr.2007 (UTC)
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I think most of the surveyed people are confusing atheist and agnostic.
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From:lograh
Date:15:28 03.Apr.2007 (UTC)
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technically speaking, atheist doesn't mean non-religious. You can have a spiritual faith, be very religious, and yet if you do not believe in a god or gods, then you are an atheist. You are deeply religious, but you are an atheist. The two are not mutually exclusive. I am one of those people. I have a religion, I have what I would consider a rather strong faith in that religion and it plays a very active daily role in my life, yet I am also an atheist since I deny the existence of a god or gods.

Mind you, this is still covered by my complaint that so many people clearly have very little clue what the word means. Normally lack of knowledge in a word is not something that bothers me, but when almost half of the survey respondents said they wouldn't vote for an atheist for president I should hope they know what it even means to be an atheist.
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