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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 09/28/2010 :  16:54:45  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
According to a Pew Survey, atheists and agnostics, as a group, are more knowledgeable about religion than any actually religious groups. Jews and Mormons came in at #2 and #3, respectively.

This is being widely reported, but I heard it first from PZ Myers, who also had part of a wonderful quote from NY Times:
"Even after all these other factors, including education, are taken into account, atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons still outperform all the other religious groups in our survey," said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at Pew.

That finding might surprise some, but not Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, an advocacy group for nonbelievers that was founded by Madalyn Murray O'Hair.

"I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people," Mr. Silverman said. "Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge. I gave a Bible to my daughter. That's how you make atheists."

Edited to add that Pew has an online quiz, with 15 of the 32 survey questions, on which I got 14 correct.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9672 Posts

Posted - 09/28/2010 :  17:37:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Pew-forum link reports "Too Busy" for me right now.
I'll try it later.

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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9672 Posts

Posted - 09/28/2010 :  17:49:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ok I got through, and took the 15 question short-quiz.

My result was 14 out of 15.

I failed the last question, which to me seems more American-centered religious history than anything else, so I don't feel too bad about it. Perhaps being an ex-pentecostal I should have know enough to get that answer right. But I'm satiffied.

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"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 09/28/2010 :  18:04:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Damned never heard of that last one...14 out of 15
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 09/28/2010 :  18:34:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
That last one is the one I missed, too. You'd figure one out of the three of us might have guessed right.

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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 09/28/2010 :  18:51:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Okay. But now we must look at by how much atheists and agnostics knew more? Do they know more about Christianity than Christians do, or more about religion in general? How did the more educated among us fair with or without religious convictions? And so on. Is it too early to be popping Champaign corks? How big were the differences? Was the headline exaggerating the differences? Gosh, that never happens. I hate to be pesky about this, but you know...

And yeah 14 out of 15. I didn't even know what that last question meant.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9672 Posts

Posted - 09/28/2010 :  19:42:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil
And yeah 14 out of 15. I didn't even know what that last question meant.
Without giving off the answer, there has been several spiritual "revivals" throughout the ages.
One of the names sort of made the difference between "ordinary" protestants and the "born-again" people of the pentecostals and baptists. Christian evangelicals.

Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
Dr. Mabuse whisper.mp3

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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 09/28/2010 :  20:21:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Okay. But now we must look at by how much atheists and agnostics knew more? Do they know more about Christianity than Christians do, or more about religion in general? How did the more educated among us fair with or without religious convictions? And so on. Is it too early to be popping Champaign corks? How big were the differences? Was the headline exaggerating the differences? Gosh, that never happens. I hate to be pesky about this, but you know...

And yeah 14 out of 15. I didn't even know what that last question meant.


I would say from my own anecdotal experience that most believers do not know much of their own faith, or the scripture of that faith. As said in some commentary on this it seems plausible that once the faith has been taken there is no need for knowledge and so seeking out such stops. This could certainly be true of many atheists and agnostics as well...the sort of reactive type. But also from my experience many non-believers are still trying to understand and continue to seek knowledge. In part because they now find the beliefs to be so bizarre (I am still amazed that anyone could ever believe transubstantiation let alone hat it could be come doctrine to millions) they seek to understand why what they see as odd is not seen as odd to others.

This paradox was brought to immediate light with me when I shared "Letting Go Of God" with some of my family. My sister asked me: "Do Mormons really believe that shit?" ignoring both our own strange inherited Catholic beliefs and the perhaps more add beliefs of our one brother who has converted to Jehovahs Witnesses.

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 09/28/2010 :  21:39:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Okay. But now we must look at by how much atheists and agnostics knew more? Do they know more about Christianity than Christians do, or more about religion in general? How did the more educated among us fair with or without religious convictions? And so on. Is it too early to be popping Champaign corks? How big were the differences? Was the headline exaggerating the differences? Gosh, that never happens. I hate to be pesky about this, but you know...
It's all there in the executive summary... which can't be accessed right now (probably due to high demand).
Do they know more about Christianity than Christians do...
No, but only by a little.
...or more about religion in general?
Yes.
How did the more educated among us fair with or without religious convictions?
According to Pew, atheists and agnostics remain #1 overall even after correcting for education and several other factors. In other words, atheists and agnostics with nothing more than a high-school education did better than theists with nothing more than a high-school education, and the same held true for people with post-graduate degrees.
And so on. Is it too early to be popping Champaign corks? How big were the differences?
The difference wasn't large. In fact, atheists and agnostics came in first by answering only 64.7% of the questions correctly, on average. Surely a failing grade, but we're being graded on a curve. A slow sprinter who wins a 100-meter race by 0.01 seconds is still the winner.
Was the headline exaggerating the differences? Gosh, that never happens.
No, actually. Atheists and agnostics did better, on average, on the whole survey. No exaggerating there. We didn't do better than the evangelicals or Mormons on Christianity, nor did we do better than Jews on Judaism, but we bested them all on all subjects combined. Which is great, since we are supposedly not subject-matter experts.

By analogy, I'd get my ass handed to me in a competition with expert crocheters at crocheting a scarf, and I'd also get beat down by electrical engineers at designing a transistor circuit, but I know enough of both disciplines to say that if I had to compete against a group of crocheters and a group of EEs to crochet a working transistor circuit design into a scarf, I'd place very high in the finishers, since the crocheters would generally be stymied by the electrical stuff, while the EEs would be all thumbs when it came to yarn.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 09/28/2010 :  23:15:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Dave:
The difference wasn't large. In fact, atheists and agnostics came in first by answering only 64.7% of the questions correctly, on average. Surely a failing grade, but we're being graded on a curve. A slow sprinter who wins a 100-meter race by 0.01 seconds is still the winner.

So atheists and agnostics just sucked a little less, but we still sucked. It's a good thing that we suck less, of course. But I think I'll put the champaign back in the fridge for now. Call me a party pooper.

Here's the thing. What would the poll have looked like if those of us who identify as skeptics and are rather active and dare I say it, knowledgeable because of all of the research we do, were not included in the polls findings? Just about everyone who said that they took the short version of the test, both here and on facebook, said they answered 14 out of 15 of the questions correctly. So something had to drag down the score. And it wasn't us. So for Dave Silverman to have said:

"I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people,"... "Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge. I gave a Bible to my daughter. That's how you make atheists."

That's a pretty bold statement, considering that atheists and agnostics only answered 64.7% of the questions correctly.

I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade, or maybe I am. Let me try this another way. There does seem to be a whole lot of dumbshit atheists and agnostics out there dragging down that score, contrary to what Mr. Silverman seems to believe, or we would have scored higher, don't you think?

I guess what I'm getting at is that critical thinking can lead to both more knowledge about things in general, and to atheism, which is pretty much what we find around these parts. Hell, we do enough research. But it can also be a very selective kind of skepticism that leads someone to becoming an atheist or an agnostic. And of course, it could also be that children who's parents are atheists will also be atheists, just because. I wonder how many of those atheists are also smug in their knowledge anti-vaxers?

You know what I think? I think the poll is a whole lot more interesting than it is something to celebrate. Of course, the headline is good.

Here's a thought. If we were to actually rid the world of religion, the average IQ will still be where it's at with most people falling somewhere above or below average. Eh?


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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sailingsoul
SFN Addict

2830 Posts

Posted - 09/29/2010 :  05:24:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send sailingsoul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I got 11,12 &15 wrong.

"Even after all these other factors, including education, are taken into account,,,,


I'd like to know what that really means. Does it mean if you educate or read up on other religions and when you can see how they are nothing but made up, unrealistic, physically impossible dogmatic con games, your knowledge is not weighted equally with those who have not? Are theists who have had not done the same, given a handicap? It was after, in part, I have done my own religious education, that I saw my childhood theistic brain washing for what it was and understood I had been feed a pack of bullshit lies. From my first days on this earth. Brainwashed in such a manner that even the most obviously ridiculous beliefs are exempt from being called what they are. There are truly none so blind, as those who are educated who refuse to see and call bullcrap lies, for whatever reason, on any subject. Everyone should think critically and those who don't pay the consequences and are manipulated by those how have misled them.

I see no reason to party either, this study changes nothing. SS

There are only two types of religious people, the deceivers and the deceived. SS
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moakley
SFN Regular

USA
1884 Posts

Posted - 09/29/2010 :  05:36:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send moakley a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In the quiz, I was fortunate enough to get the last one right. I dismissed one of the answers and recognized one of the remaining, so I went with that answer.

Something else from PZ's about Larry Moran's challenge in response to what John Shook had to say in a recent huffington post article.
Atheists are getting a reputation for being a bunch of know-nothings. They know nothing of God, and not much more about religion, and they seem proud of their ignorance.
This poll indicates that quite the opposite is true. But does it matter? No. "The Importance of Faith" is a substantial barrier to knowledge.


edit: added the link to Larry Moran's challenge.

Life is good

Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned. -Anonymous
Edited by - moakley on 09/29/2010 12:24:43
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Ebone4rock
SFN Regular

USA
894 Posts

Posted - 09/29/2010 :  05:58:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ebone4rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote
originally posted by Kil
I guess what I'm getting at is that critical thinking can lead to both more knowledge about things in general, and to atheism, which is pretty much what we find around these parts. Hell, we do enough research. But it can also be a very selective kind of skepticism that leads someone to becoming an atheist or an agnostic. And of course, it could also be that children who's parents are atheists will also be atheists, just because. I wonder how many of those atheists are also smug in their knowledge anti-vaxers?


There are other ways to come to atheism. I think that I am a good example. I was brought up in a household where religion was a non-issue. I am still not sure if my grandparents were atheists or not. My mom was always flighty about religion and still is. I was not taught anything at all about religion by my family until I started asking when I was 7-8 years old. It was only after noticing that my little friends were going to CCD classes and getting presents from some "St. Nick" character that I started questioning why I was not doing these things. My Granny arranged for me to attend a Catholic service with a family friend and I walked away from that experience with a very clear vision of religion being bullshit. I have been obsessed with trying to understand why religion has such a strong hold on the human mind ever since.

My point being that it does not require a vast amount of education to understand that the thought of some God watching over us and giving a shit what we are doing on this little piece of rock we call Earth is not at all logical. As a young child I could see it. It takes some education to be able to effectively argue about it but to understand that the very basic concepts ar nonsense is easy.

Haole with heart, thats all I'll ever be. I'm not a part of the North Shore society. Stuck on the shoulder, that's where you'll find me. Digging for scraps with the kooks in line. -Offspring
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9672 Posts

Posted - 09/29/2010 :  06:55:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
A slow sprinter who wins a 100-meter race by 0.01 seconds is still the winner.

And second place is the first loser...

Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
Dr. Mabuse whisper.mp3

"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

Support American Troops in Iraq:
Send them unarmed civilians for target practice..
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Hawks
SFN Regular

Canada
1383 Posts

Posted - 09/29/2010 :  10:13:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Hawks's Homepage Send Hawks a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I only got 10 correct but, in my defense, I didn't do any guessing. If I didn't know the answer, I simply gave myself a "wrong".

I got the following correct, which is more than can be said for the people who REALLY should know:
More than four-in-ten Catholics in the United States (45%) do not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion do not merely symbolize but actually become the body and blood of Christ.


METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL
It's a small, off-duty czechoslovakian traffic warden!
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tw101356
Skeptic Friend

USA
333 Posts

Posted - 09/29/2010 :  10:18:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send tw101356 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I got all 15.

I can now legitimately adopt a "more atheistic than thou" attitude.

- TW
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