Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Atheism is Much More Common in America than Represented - Science

Atheists may represent anywhere from 20% to 35% of the U.S. population, suggests a new study.

Credit: © aquarius83men / Fotolia

Maybe that's supposed to represent a red light on religion.  Clever (cough).

Science Daily:  Atheism might be more common than assumed...but it's complicated

It's tough to figure out just how religious or nonreligious different populations of people are. Widely-cited telephone polls (e.g., Gallup, Pew) suggest U.S. atheist prevalence ranging from 3% to 11%. But in the US, there's heavy stigma leveled against religious disbelief, which might make people reluctant to disclose their lack of belief over the phone to a stranger. Using a subtle, indirect measurement technique, psychology researchers have found that atheists may represent anywhere from 20% to 35% of the U.S. population.

- SD

The sampling problem for researchers is the same as asking how many times did you have sex this week.  Almost every respondent is going to lie.  We can hear them blasting around in those hotrod Mustangs all the time out there.  They're not getting laid.

Based on the results, "Just as there are, and have historically been, closeted gay men and lesbians out there, there are probably lots and lots of closeted atheists out there, who don't even identify themselves as such in anonymous polls," says lead author Will Gervais (University of Kentucky).

- SD

Ed:  probably ain't science; probably is a guess.

Roger that.

The original research was real but pulling guesses out of the air is useless.  You know where you can find people doing that all day long.

Gervais says he was "surprised by just how far the indirect measurement diverged from established polls of religious disbelief. Our best estimate is more than double what Gallup telephone polls estimate." Gervais and Najle expected a much more modest gap between self-reports and indirect measurements.

The findings also have potential impact for science. For decades, researchers have been developing and testing theories about how religion works, but they focus on belief being prevalent and atheism a rare occurrence.

- SD

We saw the comic disaster in polling prior to the 2016 election so maybe these fellows have an angle on addressing that.

There's more to the article for the interested student but you won't find any proselytizing; it's highly prosaic.

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