Atheists may as well be rapists

Seen something interesting in the news or on the intertubes? Discuss it here.

Moderators: Zamfir, Hawknc, Moderators General, Prelates

nitePhyyre
Posts: 1280
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:31 am UTC

Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby nitePhyyre » Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:57 am UTC

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 100220.htm
Spoiler:
"Where there are religious majorities -- that is, in most of the world -- atheists are among the least trusted people," says lead author Will Gervais, a doctoral student in UBC's Dept. of Psychology. "With more than half a billion atheists worldwide, this prejudice has the potential to affect a substantial number of people."
While reasons behind antagonism towards atheists have not been fully explored, the study -- published in the current online issue of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology -- is among the first explorations of the social psychological processes underlying anti-atheist sentiments.
"This antipathy is striking, as atheists are not a coherent, visible or powerful social group," says Gervais, who co-authored the study with UBC Associate Prof. Ara Norenzayan and Azim Shariff of the University of Oregon. The study is titled, Do You Believe in Atheists? Distrust is Central to Anti-Atheist Prejudice.
The researchers conducted a series of six studies with 350 American adults and nearly 420 university students in Canada, posing a number of hypothetical questions and scenarios to the groups. In one study, participants found a description of an untrustworthy person to be more representative of atheists than of Christians, Muslims, gay men, feminists or Jewish people. Only rapists were distrusted to a comparable degree.
The researchers concluded that religious believer's distrust -- rather than dislike or disgust -- was the central motivator of prejudice against atheists, adding that these studies offer important clues on how to combat this prejudice.
One motivation for the research was a Gallup poll that found that only 45 per cent of American respondents would vote for a qualified atheist president, says Norenzayan. The figure was the lowest among several hypothetical minority candidates. Poll respondents rated atheists as the group that least agrees with their vision of America, and that they would most disapprove of their children marrying.
The religious behaviors of others may provide believers with important social cues, the researchers say. "Outward displays of belief in God may be viewed as a proxy for trustworthiness, particularly by religious believers who think that people behave better if they feel that God is watching them," says Norenzayan. "While atheists may see their disbelief as a private matter on a metaphysical issue, believers may consider atheists' absence of belief as a public threat to cooperation and honesty."
The researchers conducted a series of six studies with 350 American adults and nearly 420 university students in Canada, posing a number of hypothetical questions and scenarios to the groups. In one study, participants found a description of an untrustworthy person to be more representative of atheists than of Christians, Muslims, gay men, feminists or Jewish people. Only rapists were distrusted to a comparable degree.
Wha... I don't even...

It's really weird. IRL I don't even know any believers.
sourmìlk wrote:Monopolies are not when a single company controls the market for a single product.

You don't become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard you become great in the process.

User avatar
sourmìlk
If I can't complain, can I at least express my fear?
Posts: 6393
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:53 pm UTC
Location: permanently in the wrong
Contact:

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:05 am UTC

I know a few believers, but they're pretty much agnostic theists.

Also, similar results from a similar study.

I'm kind of surprised to hear this also holds even among university students, who being younger, tend to be more liberal.

Also, I find it interesting that Jews are one of the least discriminated against minorities while atheists are the most, as about half of American Jews are at least agnostic atheists. My guess is that is has to do with the more conservative people thinking "Well, they're still religious and white" while the more liberal people think "I've never thought of them as too fundamentalist". But that's speculation.
Terry Pratchett wrote:The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

User avatar
Ulc
Posts: 1301
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:05 pm UTC
Location: Copenhagen university

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Ulc » Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:19 am UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:It's really weird. IRL I don't even know any believers.


Or at least you don't think you do. I seem to remember you living in Sweden? And being in university in a STEM field?

Around here (Copenhagen university, I pretty much don't know anyone that isn't in university, educated from a university or family) it's a bit of a faux pas to admit to faith - but none the less, there are believers around, they are just quiet about it - and few have surprised me by revealing to me that they were believers years after I met them them. In the same way an atheist might choose to keep quiet in a religious country, a believer might choose to keep quiet in a very secular country, which both Denmark and Sweden are.

It's much the same as an atheist keeping quiet and pretending to be a believer in the US - sometimes it's simply not worth dealing with people that find your religious stance offensive.
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it - Aristotle

A White Russian, shades and a bathrobe, what more can you want from life?

User avatar
Steax
SecondTalon's Goon Squad
Posts: 3038
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 12:18 pm UTC

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Steax » Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:58 am UTC

I'd consider the topic title to be quite inaccurate. I don't see how the news article implies that "atheists are like rapists"; it just says that some people don't trust atheists like they don't trust rapists. It's a valid comparison, but the title may be misleading.

Also, I'd argue that distrust is mostly an internal thing; something to be used for personal decisions, judging people, and so forth. It doesn't imply that the people in the study would, say, accuse atheists of anything more than a theist, or has lower chances of picking an atheist friend as opposed to a theist one. It's a sort of "disapproval" thing, not an outright dislike (it's even mentioned in the article). I know many theists who disapprove of atheists, but they don't consider them to be any lesser human, consider them to be "worse", or whatnot. They simply feel that atheists are "different", and psychologically push them to a different mental box.

Sure, it's a problem. But the problem isn't as alarming as I find the thread title to be sensationalist. The problem needs to be fixed by letting the theists understand the atheists better, and that's not a solution brought about by saying "the theists think the atheists are like rapists".

(I could even see how the title would be somewhat trigger-ish; some people might not like themselves being compared to rapists, especially for people with recent experiences.)
In Minecraft, I use the username Rirez.

Radical_Initiator
Just Cool Enough for School
Posts: 1374
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:39 pm UTC

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Radical_Initiator » Mon Dec 05, 2011 11:04 am UTC

Ulc wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:It's really weird. IRL I don't even know any believers.


Or at least you don't think you do. I seem to remember you living in Sweden? And being in university in a STEM field?

Around here (Copenhagen university, I pretty much don't know anyone that isn't in university, educated from a university or family) it's a bit of a faux pas to admit to faith - but none the less, there are believers around, they are just quiet about it - and few have surprised me by revealing to me that they were believers years after I met them them. In the same way an atheist might choose to keep quiet in a religious country, a believer might choose to keep quiet in a very secular country, which both Denmark and Sweden are.

It's much the same as an atheist keeping quiet and pretending to be a believer in the US - sometimes it's simply not worth dealing with people that find your religious stance offensive.


I'll have to cop to the latter behavior. I keep hearing that the US is not a particularly religious country, but in the Bible belt, it most certainly is. And while I don't consider myself an atheist, I suppose one might classify me in the weak atheism camp (or strong agnostic - I cannot claim knowledge of the existence or non-existence of any god or gods, and neither can you; this may be separate to atheism, however), and even then, I most certainly hide it among all but close friends and most family (and even hide it from some religious family members). It's not worth it to declare your stance only to have people pray for your amoral, hell-bound soul because you think all great morality follows from the ethic of reciprocity and requires no religion. But studies like this do sadden me, and make me wonder, indeed, WTF?

Edit:

Steax wrote: The problem needs to be fixed by letting the theists understand the atheists better.


That would work, except I don't know a single theist who wants to understand atheists at all, let alone better.
I looked out across the river today …

User avatar
sourmìlk
If I can't complain, can I at least express my fear?
Posts: 6393
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:53 pm UTC
Location: permanently in the wrong
Contact:

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:17 pm UTC

I agree with Steax that the thread title is sensationalist, but really not by much. People apparently trust atheists as much as they do rapists which is worrisome.
Terry Pratchett wrote:The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7398
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Zamfir » Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:32 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:I agree with Steax that the thread title is sensationalist, but really not by much. People apparently trust atheists as much as they do rapists which is worrisome.

But they didn't really test that. They just asked people to fill out a questionaire. If you don't like atheism, it's fairly straightforward to give it negative points when people ask you questions about it.

But then look at reality. How do people react to convicted (or even accused) rapists as neighbours, teachers or colleagues, and how do they react to atheists. Not much evidence that they see those groups as comparably trustworthy.

Radical_Initiator
Just Cool Enough for School
Posts: 1374
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:39 pm UTC

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Radical_Initiator » Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:38 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:I agree with Steax that the thread title is sensationalist, but really not by much. People apparently trust atheists as much as they do rapists which is worrisome.

But they didn't really test that. They just asked people to fill out a questionaire. If you don't like atheism, it's fairly straightforward to give it negative points when people ask you questions about it.

But then look at reality. How do people react to convicted (or even accused) rapists as neighbours, teachers or colleagues, and how do they react to atheists. Not much evidence that they see those groups as comparably trustworthy.


You're right; in the area where I grew up, they'd be more likely to trust a convicted child rapist who claims to be "born again".
I looked out across the river today …

User avatar
sourmìlk
If I can't complain, can I at least express my fear?
Posts: 6393
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:53 pm UTC
Location: permanently in the wrong
Contact:

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:38 pm UTC

If survey answers don't at all reflect people's actual behaviour, are survey answers of any use in determining behaviour?
Terry Pratchett wrote:The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7398
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Zamfir » Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:06 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:If survey answers don't at all reflect people's actual behaviour, are survey answers of any use in determining behaviour?

They might have some use, but that is highly limited and those limites have to be kept in mind all the time.

Strangely enough, one of the autors of this study also co-wrote this interesting and somewhat amusing article. They coin the phrase Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies, and collect evidence that western university students are highly atypical subjects to draw lessons from about human behaviour.
Spoiler:
Abstract
Behavioral scientists routinely publish broad claims about human psychology, cognition, and behavior in the world’s top journals based on samples drawn entirely from highly educated segments of Western societies. Researchers—often implicitly—assume that either there is little variation across human populations, or that these “standard subjects” are as representative of the species as any other. Are these assumptions justified? Here, our review of the comparative database from across the human behavioral sciences suggests both that there is substantial variability in experimental results across population and that standard subjects are particularly unusual compared with the rest of the species—frequent outliers. The domains reviewed include visual perception, fairness, cooperation, spatial reasoning, categorization and inferential induction, moral reasoning, reasoning styles (holistic vs. analytic), self‐concepts and related motivations, and the heritability of IQ. The comparative findings suggest that members of Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic societies, including young children, are among the least representative populations one could find for generalizing about humans. Many of these findings involve domains that are associated with fundamental aspects of psychology, motivation, or behavior – hence, there are no obvious a priori grounds for claiming that a particular behavioral phenomenon is universal based on sampling from a single subpopulation. Overall, these empirical patterns suggests that we need to be less cavalier in addressing questions of human nature on the basis of data drawn from this particularly thin, and rather unusual, slice of humanity. We close by proposing ways to structurally re‐organize the behavioral sciences to best tackle these scientific challenges.

In the tropical forests of New Guinea the Etoro believe that for a boy to achieve manhood he must ingest the semen of his elders. This is accomplished through ritualized rites of passage that require all young male initiates to fellate a senior member (Herdt 1984, Kelley 1980). In contrast, the nearby Kaluli maintain that male initiation is only properly done by ritually delivering the semen through the initiate’s anus, not his mouth. The Etoro revile these Kaluli practices, finding them disgusting. To become a man in these societies, and eventually take a wife, every boy must undergo these ritual initiations.

Such in‐depth studies of “exotic” societies, historically the province of anthropology, are extremely important for understanding human behavioral variation. However, this paper is not about these peoples. It’s about another exotic group: people from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies. In particular, it’s about the Western, and more specifically American, undergraduates who form the bulk of the experimental database in the experimental branches of psychology, cognitive science, and economics, as well as allied fields (we label this aggregate of fields the “behavioral sciences”). Given that scientific knowledge about human psychology is largely based on findings from this population, we ask how representative these typical subjects are in light of the currently available comparative database. How justified are researchers, in asserting, or—as if often the case—of implicitly assuming, a species‐level generality of their experimental findings? Are these WEIRD people representative of our species? Here, we review the evidence regarding how WEIRD people compare with those from other populations.

Radical_Initiator wrote:You're right; in the area where I grew up, they'd be more likely to trust a convicted child rapist who claims to be "born again".

That would be interesting to study. Even through interviews, because the question can far less hypothetical. Interview convicted rapists who have served their sentence, and ask whether have told their neighbours, colleagues, etc. Ask if they have run into problems as result. For those who are open about the fact, interview their neighbours etc as well. Or just look at publically available evidence of protests, such as local news stories. Then repeat for atheists.

It could be that such a study finds geographic areas where the convicts experience less perceived or measurable social obstacles than atheists. But I would really need to see a study in that vein to believe it.

Chen
Posts: 5426
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 6:53 pm UTC
Location: Montreal

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Chen » Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:26 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:If survey answers don't at all reflect people's actual behaviour, are survey answers of any use in determining behaviour?


Now granted I haven't seen the survey but I can't imagine there was actually a question of "do you trust atheists more or less than rapists?" Atheists got a low score on trustworthiness and so did Rapists. Its very unlikely any questions actually linked to the two comparatively. I'd imagine if they did the rapist would score significantly lower which I believe was Zamfir's point when he mentioned comparing them directly.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7398
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Zamfir » Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:37 pm UTC

From the study
As a result, in Study 2, we adapted a classic conjunction fallacy
paradigm (e.g., Tversky & Kahnemann, 1983) to create an indirect
measure of distrust for various groups of people. In the most
well-known version of this task, participants are given a description
of Linda, an outspoken and politically active single woman.
When deciding whether it is more probable that Linda is a bank
teller, or that Linda is a bank teller and a feminist, most participants
incorrectly choose the latter option—that is, they commit the
conjunction fallacy— because they heuristically judge that the
description sounds representative of a feminist, even though logic
dictates this option is necessarily less probable. People only commit
the conjunction fallacy when the target’s description (single,
outspoken, and liberal) is deemed representative of the target’s
potential group membership (feminist).

[...]

Method:
One hundred five UBC undergraduates (age range  18–25
years, M  19.95; 71% female) participated for extra credit.
Participants read the following description of an untrustworthy
man who is willing to behave selfishly (and criminally) when other
people will not find out:
Richard is 31 years old. On his way to work one day, he accidentally
backed his car into a parked van. Because pedestrians were watching,
he got out of his car. He pretended to write down his insurance
information. He then tucked the blank note into the van’s window
before getting back into his car and driving away.
Later the same day, Richard found a wallet on the sidewalk. Nobody
was looking, so he took all of the money out of the wallet. He then
threw the wallet in a trash can.
Next, participants chose whether they thought it more probable
that Richard was either (a) a teacher or (b) a teacher and XXXX.
We manipulated XXXX between subjects. XXXX was either “a
Christian” (n  26), “a Muslim” (n  26), “a rapist” (n  26), or
“an atheist (someone who does not believe in God)” (n  27). The
only difference in descriptions across targets was that the Muslim
target was called “a man” rather than “Richard.”

User avatar
sourmìlk
If I can't complain, can I at least express my fear?
Posts: 6393
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:53 pm UTC
Location: permanently in the wrong
Contact:

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:42 pm UTC

I heard about that first study in a very excellent book by Leonard Mlodinow, The Drunkard's Walk.

Anyways, while it's obvious that people are committing the same ridiculous fallacy, they're still choosing what groups to fallaciously overestimate, which does indicate, at least to some degree, who they trust more.
Terry Pratchett wrote:The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

User avatar
Steax
SecondTalon's Goon Squad
Posts: 3038
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 12:18 pm UTC

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Steax » Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:49 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:I agree with Steax that the thread title is sensationalist, but really not by much. People apparently trust atheists as much as they do rapists which is worrisome.

But they didn't really test that. They just asked people to fill out a questionaire.

But then look at reality. How do people react to convicted (or even accused) rapists as neighbours, teachers or colleagues, and how do they react to atheists.


Yeah, pretty much this. That was a survey, not a behavior study. A lot more things affect a person's behavior towards another (trust based on belief might actually be pretty low on the list compared to social records, past experiences, rumors, prejudice, how other people portray them etc). This study alone doesn't say that "atheists are thought of as bad as rapists". This is why I claim the title as sensationalist.

If anything, this study tells me that "if theists are negative towards atheists, the problem is trust."

--

To be honest, I somewhat question the second study (the one Zamfir quoted). Not conceptually, but in general. Theists are often raised with the mentality of "I'm governed by god, so I don't do bad things; atheists aren't governed, so they can do bad things". This seems to be a direct link with that study - and it does kinda make sense. Theists think that atheists aren't bound by the same rules as they are, so when someone crosses those rules, they instantly connect them with the atheists. This may be why they're set similarly like rapists - because rapists also aren't governed by the same rules.

Interesting.
In Minecraft, I use the username Rirez.

User avatar
sourmìlk
If I can't complain, can I at least express my fear?
Posts: 6393
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:53 pm UTC
Location: permanently in the wrong
Contact:

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:57 pm UTC

In reality though, as I imagine that people act according to morality that's either instinctual or societal, the morality of both atheists and theists is practically the same, except for a few key differences, yes?

The only real disputes I can think of are the morality of worship and the morality of homosexuality.
Terry Pratchett wrote:The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

User avatar
Ulc
Posts: 1301
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:05 pm UTC
Location: Copenhagen university

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Ulc » Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:09 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:In reality though, as I imagine that people act according to morality that's either instinctual or societal, the morality of both atheists and theists is practically the same, except for a few key differences, yes?


Personally I have to ask whether someone can really be said to be acting morally if the reason that they don't do [X] is that they are afraid of the Big Fire Below.

Or to put it another way, I'm fucking tired of being told that you can't be moral if you're not a theist, after all, if you aren't a theist, you don't have any reason to behave morally. Yes I can, it's called "being a decent human being" and anyone that claims you can't be moral without religion, really ought to try that.
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it - Aristotle

A White Russian, shades and a bathrobe, what more can you want from life?

User avatar
Malice
Posts: 3894
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2007 5:37 am UTC
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Malice » Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:11 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:In reality though, as I imagine that people act according to morality that's either instinctual or societal, the morality of both atheists and theists is practically the same, except for a few key differences, yes?

The only real disputes I can think of are the morality of worship and the morality of homosexuality.


Those aren't exceptions. Worship is socially motivated (ie., your family drags you to church as a child, along with everybody you know, and that social group enforces returning each week), and views on the morality of homosexuality are instinctually motivated, with the religious aspects used as an excuse or focus (which is nobody gets seriously pissed off about shellfish). As such, athiests and agnostics can be homophobic; they can also go to services without proclaiming them immoral*, or take part in other socially motivated rituals (Sunday football, anyone?).

*For example, I'm basically an apatheist**, but my father's side of the family is Jewish, and I have been to temple several times with them and participated in the service (most recently my cousin's bar mitzvah). I find it a very moving and worthwhile experience, as it's not so much focused on God or on judging others as it is focused on making yourself a better person. That may just be Judaism, though.

**Where an agnostic answers the question "Does God exist?" with "I don't know for sure one way or the other", I answer "Who cares?"
Image

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:26 pm UTC

This is sort of old news; the statistic that America hates/distrusts atheists has been around for a while.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
Godskalken
Posts: 159
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 3:29 pm UTC

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Godskalken » Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:30 pm UTC

Much of the problem is probably not skepticism towards non-believers, but a misunderstanding of the word atheism.
Look at Radical_Inititator's post:
Radical_Initiator wrote:And while I don't consider myself an atheist, I suppose one might classify me in the weak atheism camp (or strong agnostic - I cannot claim knowledge of the existence or non-existence of any god or gods, and neither can you; this may be separate to atheism, however), ...

You're clearly an atheist, but don't want to be associated with the negative connotations connected to the word. If the definition of atheist was someone who claimed such knowledge, there would be (next to) no atheists. In fact, I don't believe there is a real difference in meaning between agnostic and atheist, but the latter just tends to be perceived as more extreme. When a religious person hears "atheist", she may well hear "anti-religious" instead of "non-religious". The survey might have shown very different findings if they used "non-believer" or, maybe even more so, "agnostic", instead of atheist.

User avatar
sourmìlk
If I can't complain, can I at least express my fear?
Posts: 6393
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:53 pm UTC
Location: permanently in the wrong
Contact:

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:37 pm UTC

Godskalken, that's probably right. Hence a previous poster's comment that somebody needs to explain to theists what atheism is.

Malice wrote:I find it a very moving and worthwhile experience, as it's not so much focused on God or on judging others as it is focused on making yourself a better person. That may just be Judaism, though.

As with most religions, it depends. Most branches of Judaism are reasonably moderate. Reconstructionist Judaism in many ways does away with God (that's a gross simplification though, don't go around shouting that all reconstructionist Jews are atheists). So, for conservative, reform, and more moderate branches of Orthodox Judaism, sure. But when it comes to the real fundamentalists like Chabad, their services and rituals are very much about literal belief in God and the mitzvot. If you ask my dad about why he goes to services (though he doesn't that often), he'll tell you that it's very meditative for him, he enjoys being part of the Jewish community, etc. If you ask my uncle why he goes to services, he'll tell you that it's what god commanded as per the interpretation in the Talmud.
Terry Pratchett wrote:The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

User avatar
Xeio
Friends, Faidites, Countrymen
Posts: 5092
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 11:12 am UTC
Location: C:\Users\Xeio\
Contact:

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Xeio » Mon Dec 05, 2011 3:11 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:From the study
The only difference in descriptions across targets was that the Muslim
target was called “a man” rather than “Richard.”
What the... Muslims can't be named Richard?

User avatar
Steax
SecondTalon's Goon Squad
Posts: 3038
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 12:18 pm UTC

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Steax » Mon Dec 05, 2011 3:24 pm UTC

Xeio wrote:
Zamfir wrote:From the study
The only difference in descriptions across targets was that the Muslim
target was called “a man” rather than “Richard.”
What the... Muslims can't be named Richard?


This quite confused me, especially with the fact that it was the only group they changed the name for. I suppose it was to prevent the name factor coming into play ("I picked 'a teacher' and not 'a teacher and a Muslim' because most muslims aren't named Richard"), but they could've done better, like just not name the guy at all.
In Minecraft, I use the username Rirez.

User avatar
sourmìlk
If I can't complain, can I at least express my fear?
Posts: 6393
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:53 pm UTC
Location: permanently in the wrong
Contact:

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Dec 05, 2011 3:26 pm UTC

According to Dr. Sheldon Cooper, Mohammed is the most common first name. I imagine that holds true mostly because there are a lot of Muslims named Mohammed, more so than there are named Richard.
Terry Pratchett wrote:The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

Chen
Posts: 5426
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 6:53 pm UTC
Location: Montreal

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Chen » Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:52 pm UTC

Uh is that scenario the only one where they compared rapists and atheist? And even at that they didn't even directly compare them. They just compared Teacher to Teacher + Atheist and Teacher to Teacher + Rapist.

All this really shows, from the original premise, is that people correlate the actions of a) hit and run to a parked car and b) taking money from a found wallet, to the groups a) Atheists and b) Rapists. I can almost guarantee you that if rapist there was replaced by "someone who cheats on their taxes" it would have similar results (if not MORE people taking the link between that person and the above actions).

From a pure probability point of view I'd probably correlate those actions to Atheists MORE than Rapists, simply because there are likely more atheists than rapists around.

User avatar
Deep_Thought
Posts: 857
Joined: Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:58 pm UTC
Location: North of the River

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Deep_Thought » Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:57 pm UTC

Clearly the man in the story is Richard Dawkins. This explains the study results perfectly.

User avatar
sourmìlk
If I can't complain, can I at least express my fear?
Posts: 6393
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:53 pm UTC
Location: permanently in the wrong
Contact:

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:06 pm UTC

Chen wrote:All this really shows, from the original premise, is that people correlate the actions of a) hit and run to a parked car and b) taking money from a found wallet, to the groups a) Atheists and b) Rapists. I can almost guarantee you that if rapist there was replaced by "someone who cheats on their taxes" it would have similar results (if not MORE people taking the link between that person and the above actions).

That doesn't really change much. Even if you change it to "someone who cheats on their taxes", it shows that people still correlate atheism with dishonesty.

From a pure probability point of view I'd probably correlate those actions to Atheists MORE than Rapists, simply because there are likely more atheists than rapists around.

From a probability point of view, you'd be wrong. The only correct option is "teacher" without qualifiers.

Really, there is no part of the results of this study that I don't like. It shows that the sample has a fundamental misunderstanding of probability, that the sample associates dishonesty with atheists as much as rapists, and implies that the participants have a misunderstanding of Judaism as well as atheism.
Terry Pratchett wrote:The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

morriswalters
Posts: 7073
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby morriswalters » Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:02 pm UTC

What it tells you is that Christianity writes the story. And atheists abet them. Atheists let a lie, we have no beliefs, exist. Rather than worrying about bullshit like there is a God or not, we should be arguing belief to belief. If we do it better, if our way is better, than that's what we should argue.

User avatar
folkhero
Posts: 1775
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2008 3:34 am UTC

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby folkhero » Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:06 pm UTC

Could it be that people who are less likely to commit the conjunction fallacy are more likely to be trusting of atheists? If one has a strong logical background, one might be more likely to either be atheist, or at least understand where the atheist worldview is coming from. That would certainly skew the results of this survey.
To all law enforcement entities, this is not an admission of guilt...

Radical_Initiator
Just Cool Enough for School
Posts: 1374
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:39 pm UTC

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Radical_Initiator » Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:42 pm UTC

Godskalken wrote:Much of the problem is probably not skepticism towards non-believers, but a misunderstanding of the word atheism.
Look at Radical_Inititator's post:
Radical_Initiator wrote:And while I don't consider myself an atheist, I suppose one might classify me in the weak atheism camp (or strong agnostic - I cannot claim knowledge of the existence or non-existence of any god or gods, and neither can you; this may be separate to atheism, however), ...

You're clearly an atheist, but don't want to be associated with the negative connotations connected to the word. If the definition of atheist was someone who claimed such knowledge, there would be (next to) no atheists. In fact, I don't believe there is a real difference in meaning between agnostic and atheist, but the latter just tends to be perceived as more extreme. When a religious person hears "atheist", she may well hear "anti-religious" instead of "non-religious". The survey might have shown very different findings if they used "non-believer" or, maybe even more so, "agnostic", instead of atheist.


You're partially right in the sense that a non-trivial part of me shies away from the label "atheist" because of the region I grew up in, where being an atheist was generally considered one step lower than those uppity n-words, and one step above pond scum (although at least pond scum has the good sense not to reject the salvation offered by our one true Lord and Savior(tm), Jesus H. Christ). But it's also the definitions I have heard regarding atheism and agnosticism, that atheism expresses a lack of belief in supernatural entities (negative atheism: "I do not believe"; positive atheism: "there are no gods, period"), whereas agnosticism is concerned with whether knowledge of the existence of a deity is obtainable (weak agnostic: "I do not know"; strong agnostic: "such knowledge is impossible, period"). Thus, it was suggested that one could be agnostic and theist ("I believe in God, I just can't prove it") or agnostic and atheist ("Without evidence of existence, non-existence is most likely"). I'm not a scholar on religious philosophy, however, so I'll admit to being mistaken. If I have to pick a side, I'd tend toward atheism, as long as I don't have to tell anyone when I go visit my family.
I looked out across the river today …

User avatar
Ulc
Posts: 1301
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:05 pm UTC
Location: Copenhagen university

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Ulc » Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:18 am UTC

Radical_Initiator wrote: positive atheism: "there are no gods, period"


I don't think I've ever met an atheist silly enough to make that claim, and considering that I regularly attend Sceptics In A Pub, which is basically the Danish atheist foundation's "lets drink good beers and listen to someone talking about faith*, politics or science.", that's actually saying quite a bit.

It's a silly claim because it turns into belief, rather than the lack of belief that atheism is. A much better (and something I've heard much more often) claim would be "I have seen no evidence of a god, gods or other supernatural beings, and as such I accept the simpler explanation, that they in fact do not exist."

*Last time was a conjurer that talked about his regular show, where he starts out convincing the audience that they are seeing truly is supernatural (and he did some amazing stuff), then in the second part mercilessly walks through his show and reveals every single trick.
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it - Aristotle

A White Russian, shades and a bathrobe, what more can you want from life?

Radical_Initiator
Just Cool Enough for School
Posts: 1374
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:39 pm UTC

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Radical_Initiator » Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:30 am UTC

Ulc wrote:
Radical_Initiator wrote: positive atheism: "there are no gods, period"


I don't think I've ever met an atheist silly enough to make that claim, and considering that I regularly attend Sceptics In A Pub, which is basically the Danish atheist foundation's "lets drink good beers and listen to someone talking about faith*, politics or science.", that's actually saying quite a bit.

It's a silly claim because it turns into belief, rather than the lack of belief that atheism is. A much better (and something I've heard much more often) claim would be "I have seen no evidence of a god, gods or other supernatural beings, and as such I accept the simpler explanation, that they in fact do not exist."

*Last time was a conjurer that talked about his regular show, where he starts out convincing the audience that they are seeing truly is supernatural (and he did some amazing stuff), then in the second part mercilessly walks through his show and reveals every single trick.


/shrug. I've met a couple who were silly enough to make that claim, and Sartre, according to wikiquote, said a couple of things along the lines of "God does not exist", but anecdotal silliness aside, I already said it was quite possible I'm mistaken. But now we get to the real heart of the matter:

How do I start my own group of Pub Sceptics?
I looked out across the river today …

User avatar
podbaydoor
Posts: 7545
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 4:16 am UTC
Location: spaceship somewhere out there

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:43 am UTC

Springfield, Missouri has a lively Skeptics At The Pub, and they're in the center of the Bible Belt. We have one more or less here in Columbia, we don't call it Skeptics at the Pub but we tend to meet in an American tavern, so, yeah. Drinking and ranting rationally discussing weighty issues go together well.
tenet |ˈtenit|
noun
a principle or belief, esp. one of the main principles of a religion or philosophy : the tenets of classical liberalism.
tenant |ˈtenənt|
noun
a person who occupies land or property rented from a landlord.

User avatar
Shivahn
Posts: 2199
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 6:17 am UTC

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby Shivahn » Tue Dec 06, 2011 1:30 am UTC

Radical_Initiator wrote:/shrug. I've met a couple who were silly enough to make that claim, and Sartre, according to wikiquote, said a couple of things along the lines of "God does not exist", but anecdotal silliness aside, I already said it was quite possible I'm mistaken.


It's worth considering that when Westerners, especially from predominately Christian nations, assert that "God does not exist," there is a pretty good chance they are referring to God as in the conception that most Western Christians have, which is very different from making a blanket statement. But in general you can't tell without asking more questions or reading more of their works.

nitePhyyre
Posts: 1280
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:31 am UTC

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby nitePhyyre » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:10 am UTC

Ulc wrote:
Radical_Initiator wrote: positive atheism: "there are no gods, period"
I don't think I've ever met an atheist silly enough to make that claim
I do.

I've yet to hear an example of a god that is internally self consistent, that could exist in our universe, and be worthy of worship. If the description of something contradicts it own existence, then it does not, and cannot, exist.
sourmìlk wrote:Monopolies are not when a single company controls the market for a single product.

You don't become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard you become great in the process.

User avatar
sourmìlk
If I can't complain, can I at least express my fear?
Posts: 6393
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:53 pm UTC
Location: permanently in the wrong
Contact:

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby sourmìlk » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:16 am UTC

That's a narrow definition of God, nitePhyyer. A damn popular one, but still a narrow one. For example, Spinoza's God is one that created the universe and then just left it. This view of God is logically consistent and technically possible, but there's no evidence to support it and it's unfalsifiable, so why believe?
Terry Pratchett wrote:The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

mike-l
Posts: 2758
Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2007 2:16 am UTC

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby mike-l » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:18 am UTC

It's no sillier to say God Doesn't Exist, period, than it is to say Unicorns/Santa/Jedi Don't exist, period.
addams wrote:This forum has some very well educated people typing away in loops with Sourmilk. He is a lucky Sourmilk.

User avatar
sourmìlk
If I can't complain, can I at least express my fear?
Posts: 6393
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:53 pm UTC
Location: permanently in the wrong
Contact:

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby sourmìlk » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:32 am UTC

Jedi appear to operate beyond what is physically possible, so I can definitively say those don't exist. We've observed that the role attributed to Santa is actually played by your parents, so we can definitively say he doesn't exist. Unicorns have been proven to almost certainly not exist just via their elusiveness, so it's not that silly to say affirmatively that they don't exist, though it's technically incorrect. The difference is that a lot of abstract concept of gods can't be sort of inductively proven not to exist because we haven't observed them because they're incapable of being observed. Unicorns are falsifiable, many gods are not.

If somebody were to just say "god doesn't exist", I wouldn't criticize them, just as I wouldn't criticize somebody who said that big foot doesn't exist. However, if that person actually insists that we know, for certain, that God doesn't exist, I'm going to correct him. I, personally, try to be careful with my language regarding this, saying "We have no reason to believe God / bigfoot / the Invisible Pink Unicorn exists."
Terry Pratchett wrote:The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

mike-l
Posts: 2758
Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2007 2:16 am UTC

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby mike-l » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:35 am UTC

So it's more reasonable to doubt something falsifiable than something that's not? Science is confused by you.
addams wrote:This forum has some very well educated people typing away in loops with Sourmilk. He is a lucky Sourmilk.

User avatar
sourmìlk
If I can't complain, can I at least express my fear?
Posts: 6393
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:53 pm UTC
Location: permanently in the wrong
Contact:

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby sourmìlk » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:37 am UTC

That's not what I said. It's more reasonable to assert that something does not exist when it's falsifiable (and when the evidence backs up that assertion, even just inductively) then when it's literally impossible to know. Doubting is perfectly reasonable either way. Making affirmative statements about unfalsifiable things is less so.
Terry Pratchett wrote:The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

. .
Posts: 34
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 1:37 am UTC

Re: Atheists may as well be rapists

Postby . . » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:40 am UTC

Even Richard Dawkins has explained that technically he is an agnostic. He just calls himself an atheist because he considers the chance that God exists to be much, much lower than 1% and rejects the existent of an omnibenevolent God or the need of God to explain any aspect of reality. Most of the books written by atheists that I have read would agree with this. Dawkins and others just call themselves atheist so that people can understand they are against religion and think believing in God is a bad thing. Basically the "hardcore" scientist in many atheists maintains that science cannot ever "disprove" God, just keep showing that its less and less likely that God exists.

If you are an agnostic who thinks that God probably does not exist and that God does not intercede in the universe, your beliefs with respect to the existance God are in line with a large group of people who call themselves atheist!

Additionally, if you are an atheist who expressly denies agnosticism, then you would disagree with most of the "new atheists," that is those atheists who approach the question of God's existance scientifically and reject the existance of God. Dawkins (and most of the other "new atheists") would maintain that to expressly deny agnosticism would be an act of faith. For the new atheists, faith is the problem.

On topic: I think that a lot of the distrust for atheists comes from religious rhetoric delivered as fact in a church setting, particularly from evangelicals who truly believe that agents of evil are actively working against them. I know very many religious people, and none of those whom attend church regularly would distrust a person because he said he is atheist. I would never tell the people I know who attend church I was an atheist because I think they would hate me. I learned that lesson when I was 8 and a grown man got infuriated with me for suggesting dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago (and he sure as heck wasn't talking about the whole birds are technically dinosaurs from an evolutionary perspective thing.)


Return to “News & Articles”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: sardia and 18 guests