I Suppose Atheists and Christians Have This in Common

This chart comes via OkCupid Trends.

So many questions…

Is this evidence that non-theists are more honest than some religious counterparts?

Is this evidence that a small percentage of atheists and agnostics are liars? :)

What’s the difference between the Protestants and the Catholics? Evangelicals and merely cultural Christians? Right now, they’re all lumped together…

How many users were “surveyed” in each category? (When a Jewish friend saw the chart, her reaction was that the number of Jewish women surveyed must have been *really* low, thereby skewing the data).

I know these aren’t scientifically accurate data — it’s all based on data that OKCupid users provide, so just bear that in mind.

That said, go interpret this! The more amusing your theory, the better…

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  • Gaucho

    Come on Hemant. You should say “I know THESE AREN’T scientifically accurate data…” I hate to pick nits on this point but they picked the nits out of me in grad school so that now this is a pet peeve of mine! That said, these data clearly show that a small percentage of people of all religions lie. The fact that people feel so guilty about this totally natural (and fun!) activity is a sad commentary on the influence of religions on all of us. Although I feel no particular guilt about masturbating, I might prevaricate a bit if asked about my habits by a religious friend.

    (Hemant says: You’re right. The grammar has been fixed!)

  • Michelle

    1. Women, as a group, are still more inhibited when talking about sex outside of their personal social group, especially discussing sisters doing for themselves.
    2. Christian is often a convenient public label, even for those who are questioning, so if they lumped them all together the super liberal ones would have also skewed the ‘data’ at least as much as the super conservative (who may have just refused to answer such a question).

  • Sean Santos

    Maybe the uninhibited ethnically Jewish women are just identifying in our column now (or not listing a religion)?

    And Christianity: the number one religion for wankers!

  • Slider33

    I think this graph reveals who are the biggest liars. Well, at least as far as men are concerned, can’t speak for women.

  • http://www.atheistrex.blogspot.com Rex

    This chart can be more effectively broken down into two categories: Those who masturbate, and those who lie about masturbating!

  • todwith1d

    right on Rex !

  • http://myinfoIcaarus Icaarus

    Question for those who have read the passage quoted. I read the bible quote and I can’t help but think that god meant you shouldn’t #ingyourself where your livestock eats, which could be reasonable. How does that translate to: you should never #ingyourself?

    As for the Jewish girls a thought occurs – what if they don’t masturbate because their partners are more satisfying. I know it probably is not true, but at least it is a positive thought.

    One last comment, please remember a small portion of the population is asexual or nearly asexual, which could easily explain the atheist/christian ~2.5% baseline.

    *if you don’t get the #ingyourself reference go read the article. You will not be sorry.

  • http://www.secularplanet.org Secular Planet

    Why are agnostic men so much more likely to claim they’ve never masturbated? Is it because they’re not sure whether they did? It’s weird.

  • http://www.secularplanet.org Secular Planet

    Why are agnostic men so much more likely than atheist men and Christian men to claim they’ve never masturbated? Is it because they’re not sure whether they did? It’s weird.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    This chart can be more effectively broken down into two categories: Those who masturbate, and those who lie about masturbating!

    I know this is just a silly joke, but it really pisses me off. I don’t mind any single person saying this, but I mind when I see it repeated by everyone. Plenty of people would lie even on an anonymous poll, but you do realize that some people actually don’t masturbate, right? Let’s all make fun of them, why don’t we? That will totally make us superior to people who place shame on masturbation!
    [/killjoy]

  • http://pedagogic-verses.blogspot.com/ Luc Duval

    Secular Planet, you made me laugh.

    Perhaps the atheists and agnostics who reported never having masturbated are the most skeptical among us: “Well, there is no empirical evidence surrounding me that I have masturbated, and memory can be flawed, therefore ‘no’ is most likely.”

  • Lena915

    @Miller- there’s a difference between those who don’t masturbate and those who have never masturbated. The chart is specifically showing those who claim to have never masturbated in their lives. I do realize that there are some people who don’t masturbate, but for someone to claim that they never have in their entire lives? I find that hard to believe.

  • CatBallou

    The thing is, those comments are mostly NOT anonymous. OKC members can post survey questions if they meet certain criteria, so there are hundreds and hundreds of questions. Other users can then answer whatever survey questions they want to, and skip the rest. And unless they select certain privacy settings, their answers are viewed by others.
    So this chart is better read as “of those who wanted to publicize their answers, this is how they answered.” And I think the reasons for answering publically would be really interesting!

  • http://Yahoo.com Ed

    I think everyone has as they were growing up .A lot of lying adolecents out there …

  • MIDVALCRE

    Miller sounds a bit… backed up. There’s surely something that could help that.

  • Nicole

    @Ed – Nope, not everybody.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    @Lena,
    I have met plenty of people who have never tried masturbating; they are a sizable minority in the asexual community.

    Mind you, it’s not enough people to explain the OKcupid statistics, which probably come mostly from lying and selection effects.

  • Nicoline

    I have this book from a 1950s OB/GYN in which she describes how mothers sometimes literally panicked when they found out their little ones masturbated, to the point where they incoherently sobbed to their pediatricians and/or called their husbands at the office that he had to come home (to help stamp out this sin? I dunno). Anyway, to allay mothers’ fears that their kids would grow up to become sex fiends, the author asked a well-known pediatrician what percentage of kids masturbated. He immediately answered “About 101%.” So either the men and women asked about their masturbating habits have really short memories or they’re accomplished liars. Also, if you want to start making distinctions between main stream and evangelical christians, how about distinctions between suni and shia muslims? Or liberal or hardline hindus (I’m told there is such a thing as a hindu extremist)? Or orthodox, ultra-orthodox and reform jews? They all have gods who rail against touching yourself. Well, maybe the hindus don’t, I don’t know.

  • NotYou007

    Some people DO NOT masturbate but I feel bad for those people. I knew a woman who has never once touched herself in a sexual way. I found it strange but she was raised in a very religious household and was taught it was wrong. She still to this day does not masturbate, at least the last time her and I had that conversation she had not.

    I myself. I figured it out when I was about 11 years of age and almost 30 years later I’m still doing it.

    My daughter will be 13 soon and I’ve taught her there is nothing wrong with masturbation as it is healthy and normal to do so. I’d rather her masturbate than have sex with a teenage boy.

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    CatBallou,

    The trends data uses both the public and non-public questions I think. If it isn’t public that just means that someone can’t see that question on your profile (or your answer) but it is still used for all purposes in their database such as what calculating compatibility.

  • Alexrkr7

    @ Miller

    Why do you assume that anybody is really making fun of the asexual. The joke is the difference between making fun of someone who is mentally disabled and someone who is just dumb. When we talk about and make fun of dumb people we’re not making fun of someone with a disability.

    And before you get on my ass about it I’m not saying the asexual are disabled. If you don’t care about one person making the joke you can’t care about everybody making the joke. We don’t know what you’ve personally gotten sick of.

  • WingedBeast

    I wonder how that correlates to nationality or national origin.

    Christianity, as a religion and Christian as a thing to call yourself do dominate in Europe and the Americas, where we’ve become rather open on the topic of sexuality in general.

    Change that to an immigrant from the Middle East or from India, I’d have a far more traditional upbringing.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    @Alexrkr7
    Nah, I’d say it’s more like the difference between making fun of people who are gay, and making fun of people who just have same-sex partners. So what, is it okay to make fun of people’s sexual behaviors just because they’re straight? I feel that this only contributes to sexual normativity.

  • AxeGrrl

    Icarus wrote:

    As for the Jewish girls a thought occurs – what if they don’t masturbate because their partners are more satisfying. I know it probably is not true, but at least it is a positive thought it’s good for a hearty belly laugh.

    ftfy :)

  • CatBallou

    @Joshua, I realize that some of the answers might be non-public, which is why I said they were “mostly” not anonymous. Under the right conditions, another person can see the answers. But I still think it’s interesting that people who apparently either disapprove of the practice or have never been curious about it think it’s worth answering the question. Perhaps this is a signal I just don’t understand?
    And I think it’s safe to say that very, very few asexual people are visiting online dating sites, particularly this one. Unless the signal is meant for them?

  • http://selfra.blogspot.com dantresomi

    this is too funny… LOL! i will have to use this one…

  • Matt H

    I didn’t see it mentioned that there is likely to be a range of agnostics and atheists too. That is, some atheists grow up in totally non-religious environments, and some grow up in oppressive religious households. For the later group, despite being atheists, they might still have leftover sexuality issues.

    When I was 21, despite leaning towards agnosticism, I still believed in waiting until marriage for sex (oral didn’t count I guess).

  • Gregory Marshall

    I will just go with the old joke about masturbation.

    95% of people masturbate, the other 5% lie about masturbating.

  • http://religiouscomics,.net Jeff P

    Its OK for Christians to masturbate if they are fantasizing thinking about Jesus at the time.

    Atheists just masturbate because it feels good, doesn’t hurt anyone else, and doesn’t cost anything.

    I’m not sure what motivates those other groups.

  • Izzib3th

    I don’t believe ANYONE who says they have never masturbated.

    So I second Gregory Marshall’s post.

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    CatBallou,

    Yes the signal is that they are “pure” and “untainted” and maybe “innocent”. It may very well be that the people know that it is a lie, and the people in question know that it is a lie, and they know, etc. In that case it may be a signal that the people have appropriately inhibited viewpoints about what sort of sexual things one should admit in a marginally public fashion?

  • elricthemad

    Not to get too particular, but what is the cut off definition between what is or is not masturbating? Is it not masturbating if one never achieves orgasm? Some people, men and women are non-orgasmic. That must totally suck by the way, but i digress. All children at some point or another will explore their bodies and ‘play with themselves.’ This could happen before some people remember, or they have blocked it due to shame and social conditioning etc. I would believe that there are some tiny number of people who have never consciously masturbated with or without orgasm. As a counter point, i am uncertain how many of said number would be likely to be on OKCupid.

    PS: I myself have never masturbated on a day of the week that did not end in y.

  • Caitlin

    Hey, I’m a total lurker, but I’m coming out of lurkdom to say that I agree with Miller. It’s really depressing to hear my fellow atheists dumping all over people who don’t masturbate. There *are* asexual non-libidoists in the world. And isn’t this blog supposed to be about critical thinking? Mr. Mehta, you’ve had a bunch of posts about polyamory and homosexuality but maybe a thread about asexuality is needed since it seems a *lot* of people have a ton of negative stereotypes.

    Yeah, I get that asexual people probably make up a tiny portion of members on OKCupid – less than 1% at most – and not enough to skew results. But I would have no problem believing that there’s a baseline of about 1 or 2% of the general population that does not masturbate because of lack of interest and lack of libido.

    There are lots of people who have never masturbated and I think the statistic quoted by that doctor is really strange! 101% of small children masturbate? I don’t buy that at all. I’m not even talking about asexuals there. There have got to be millions of you “normal” people who never even heard of masturbation until you were older and millions who never tried until puberty.

    Anyway I would just like to say that generally I find this a pretty welcoming place but in this thread I see a lot of demeaning and dismissive attitudes like “I don’t believe ANYONE who says they have never masturbated” and “I feel bad for those people” and “That must totally suck” and “Miller sounds a bit backed up” and so on. Comments like that just contribute to the alienation that a lot of asexual people feel in a society that is *relentlessly* focused on sex.

  • The Masturbating Bear

    I beat that kid like it owes me money!!! What of it?

  • CatBallou

    Caitlin, you’re absolutely right. Our society is totally sex-obsessed, and anyone who claims to not be sex-obsessed is dismissed as frigid or dishonest.
    Difficult as it may be to believe, there are—and historically have been—cultures where sex is not the main motivator in people’s lives. Tribe or country, honor or freedom, the list of what people can value is endless.
    We care about what we’re taught to care about, and right now men are told that they’re supposed to be constantly thinking about sex and sexual conquest. Men for whom that isn’t true can be reluctant to admit it. How many times have you read or heard that “men think about sex X times a day” or “men are naturally promiscuous” or “men don’t want relationships the way women do.” If this image were simply descriptive, rather than prescriptive, it wouldn’t have to be repeated so much.
    Women are told—well, what women are told is the subject of many other blogs—but it’s just as false and damaging.
    People, we are being sold this image of ourselves because, frankly, it sells! Keeping us shallow and focused on sex also makes us great consumers. Guys, if a Martian anthropologist—or even a member of a “primitive” tribe—visited, how would you explain that completely irrelevant images of women are used to advertise beer and cars, or that you’ll pay to see naked women, even though you’re surrounded by women in real life! Even your dog thinks that’s weird.
    So please, everyone, get over the notion that we should all be having as much sex—with others or by ourselves—as possible. Standards for masturbation rates are just as artificial as standards for “purity.”

  • Rollingforest

    @CatBallou: It is true that people should be just as free not to masturbate as to masturbate. We shouldn’t be judging people for their sexual choices including the choice not to have sex.

    It is also true that it is silly to buy a product just because it has a beautiful woman in the ad. Most of the products have nothing to do with the woman and even the products that say “it will help you land a date with a hottie!” in the most case greatly exaggerate their effectiveness. I don’t quite think these are examples of false advertizing because people are supposed to know that they are exaggerations simply by the nature of the ad, though I suppose that issue can be debated.

    I would disagree, though, with your statement that being surrounded by [clothed] women in real life is the same as seeing pictures of naked women. It is the very fact that you don’t see naked women on a day to day basis in real life which makes it titillating to the viewer. Though, given the amount of free porn on the web, it would probably be a bad idea for the person to shell out too much money for porn unless they find something specific which they can’t find elsewhere.

  • joey

    The problem with saying it’s an asexual baseline is that it’s okcupid, which lowers the amount, and some asexuals do masturbate, which lowers the baseline even more, but 2.5%. percent is rather low, so it could be sincere.