New Research Says Anti-Atheist Prejudice Stems from Distrust

We know people don’t like atheists.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota told us in 2006 (PDF) that “atheists are less likely to be accepted, publicly and privately, than any others from a long list of ethnic, religious, and other minority groups.”

But why is that the case?

University of British Columbia psychologist Will Gervais along with his colleague Ara Norenzayan and Azim F. Shariff (U of Oregon) think they have the answer: “anti-atheist prejudice is particularly motivated by distrust.”

Well…. duh.

They make their case in the November 7th edition of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Religious individuals may use the religious beliefs of others as just such cues: Religiosity may be viewed as a proxy for trustwor- thiness, particularly by religious believers… Indeed, people may even preferentially trust members of other faiths, to the extent that the other individuals are seen as fearful of their own deities’ displeasure. Sosis… argued that religious signals of trustworthiness can be coopted by members of other religious groups and notes, for example, that Mormons are viewed as particularly trustworthy nannies by non-Mormon New Yorkers… and Sikhs are viewed by non-Sikhs as trustworthy economic partners… In at least some situations, observers use commitment to even rival gods as signals of trustworthiness.

Matters are different for atheists, however. If belief in moralizing gods is used as a signal of trustworthiness, it follows that those who explicitly deny the existence of gods are not merely expressing private disbelief; they are also sending the wrong signal.

How do you test something like this? The researchers use a variety of methods and a few of the highlights are below.

There’s a classic study in which subjects are told about Linda, “an outspoken and politically active single woman.” Knowing that — and nothing else — about her, is it more likely that Linda is (a) a banker or (b) a banker and a feminist?

It’s mathematically guaranteed that (a) is more likely than (b). And yet, most participants choose (b). It just feels more correct. That’s called the “conjunction fallacy.”

Knowing that people will commit that fallacy, the researchers used it to their advantage to test their hypothesis about distrust.

They had over 100 participants read the following passage:

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.

Damn… Richard’s a dick.

Anyway, about a quarter of the subjects were then asked what was more likely: That Richard was (a) a teacher or (b) a teacher and a Christian?

Other subjects were given the options of Richard being (a) a teacher or (b) a teacher and a Muslim?

Others had to decide if Richard was (a) a teacher or (b) a teacher and a rapist?

Finally, the last group had to decide if Richard was (a) a teacher or (b) a teacher and an atheist?

How did that play out?

Not very well for us.

In sum, participants frequently committed the conjunction fallacy when given a description of an untrustworthy person and a target who could be an atheist or a rapist but not for targets who could be a Christian or a Muslim…

… this implies that a description of an untrustworthy person is not viewed as representative of religious individuals, be they Christian or Muslim. On the other hand, this description — of an individual who commits insurance fraud and steals money when the chances of detection are minimal — was only seen as representative of atheists and rapists, and people did not significantly differentiate atheists from rapists.

Somehow, we’re less trusted than even rapists. That’s disheartening, but it really says more about how religious people think than anything about atheists.

The researchers then ran a similar experiment, this time replacing “Richard” with “Sarah.” They asked participants whether Sarah was more likely to be (a) a teacher or (b) a teacher and a XXXX (where XXXX was a Jewish person, a feminist, or an atheist).

We didn’t fare any better given the new options.

Consistent with our theoretical framework, untrustworthiness was viewed as more representative of atheists than of either feminists or Jewish people…

Despite the relative frequency of atheist participants in our samples, atheist targets were still the least trusted in [this study].

In another study, participants were given nearly-identical descriptions of an atheist and a religious person. They were then asked “which of the two candidates they would hire as either a daycare worker or a waitress.” The daycare worker was considered a “High Trust” job while the waitress was seen as a “Low Trust” job.

Turns out people would rather leave their children with the religious person:

It’s like they know about our diets…

So what did the researchers conclude from all this?

Atheists are among the least liked groups of people in many parts of the world, and the present studies help to explain why. The present six studies converged on the conclusion that distrust is at the core of this particularly powerful, peculiar, and prevalent form of prejudice.

Let’s say all of this is accurate. How do we counteract the negative perceptions about us?

Two ways.

First, we have to continue doing community service — serving at food banks, donating to charity, giving blood, etc. Show people that we can be good without god.

Second, we have to let people we trust know that we’re atheists. People think poorly of atheists because they don’t think they know any. It’s a shock to their system when they find out someone close to them doesn’t believe in a god… so shock them! Let them know that someone they already trust is an atheist.

Those two things would do more to reverse the results the researchers found in these studies than anything else I can think of.

(Thanks to Richard for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.zamecki Joe Zamecki

    I think it would also help if theists saw the word “Atheist” capitalized, in all of its forms. If we show a little more pride, others can’t help but realize that we’re more than just a label. I know, it’s not for everybody, just like most other ideas…  :) 

  • Anonymous

    Urgh, depressing post. One nitpick:

    Somehow, we’re less trusted than even rapists. That’s disheartening, but it really says more about how religious people think than anything about atheists

    That’s one interpretation, but I would bet on another. It’s not that people statistically think rapists are more moral than atheists, it’s that they think “random person on the street” is very unlikely to be a rapist and much more likely to be an atheist. People know there are a whole lot of atheists out there and assume a proportionally much smaller number of rapists. When given “A teacher and a rapist” option, many will reject it, not because they think rapists are more moral, but because know rapists are not too numerous.

    Still, the study does show just how entrenched bigotry against us is and how much work remains to be done solving it.

    • Anonymous

      “but because [they] know rapists are not too numerous”

      Given the statistics of rape, there are probably more rapists than atheists in the US (though you’re right that most people would think the opposite).

      • Erik

        There are probably more rapist than self proclaimed atheists, but probably more literal atheists than rapists.
        But as you said, most people would probably see rapists as rarer.

        • Anonymous

          What I’m saying is that there are likely more rapists than atheists period.* People think that rapists are very rare–like serial killers or terrorists–when in fact they’re not. The fact that 2/3 of rapes are committed by family or acquaintances of the victim and that at least 1 in 6 women and 1 of 33 men are victims of sexual assault** it seems that rapists are pretty much as common as dirt. People who believe in no gods, no “higher power”s, no divinity, no “Creator of the Universe”? That’s fairly uncommon.

          *Still talking the US. The numbers may be closer or even reversed in more secular countries.
          **Likely low estimates given the extent of under-reporting.

    • Kevin S.

      By that logic, shouldn’t most people select “a teacher and a Christian,” since people in this country are overwhelmingly likely to be Christian?

      • Erik

        No… because they think a Christian wouldn’t steal a wallet. Read the post.

    • Erik

      Fully agree

    • Rich Wilson

      No.  From the study

      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.”

      So each individual was presented with a binary option.  It wasn’t “rapist or athiest” it was “rapist or not” or “atheist or not”.  People chose “teacher AND atheist” more often than they chose “teacher AND rapist” (over “just teacher”).

      • Anonymous

        Yes, I understand that. What I’m saying is that something along these lines could have happened:

        A teacher and a Christian Hmmm probably not
        A teacher and an atheist Hah! Probably, knowing what they’re like
        A teacher and a rapist Well maybe, but then there aren’t many rapists are there?

        My point is precisely that it’s not that people think atheists are more immoral than rapists, it’s that people don’t think there are that many rapists, which could contribute to less people answering “A teacher and a rapist”. Of course, Christians are more numerous still, but here we get the “Oh no, a real person of faith wouldn’t do that!” assumption.

        • Anonymous

          I just want to point out that I always love reading I_Claudia’s posts. I think she is right almost all of the time and even when I disagree with her I still think that all of her posts are very thorough and thought out. I think she is right on the money here.

          • Anonymous

            Thanks! Much appreciated :-)

  • Anonymous

    disgusting, but not surprising. one part of holding belief is that people who don’t share it MUST be not only wrong, but deliberately choosing to not see the religious ‘truth’ that believers maintain. that makes us ‘evil’ and immoral. therefore, we’re also supposed to be more likely to be criminals. i get this line over and over from believers, and i assume it’s because they’re told to think this way by their religious leaders. who of course, wouldn’t be able to make a living if they couldn’t scare their incurious sheep into giving money to them, so they can continue to battle the mighty threat we represent. i agree with the previous poster, let’s start capitalizing “Atheist.” it can help people understand we are numerous, proud and not going away.

    i’d be interested in a similar study relating to gays and atheists. i like to think these days,increasing acceptance of homosexuality has resulted in greater trust. 

    • Rich Wilson

      The paper started off with

      We designed Study 1 to replicate and extend previous sociological investigations of anti-atheist prejudice (e.g., Edgell et al.,
      2006) by testing whether distrust characterizes anti-atheist prejudice
      in a large national sample of American adults. We accomplished
      this by comparing peoples’ attitudes toward both atheists
      and gay men.

      This was from a sample size of 351 Americans Median age 44, 59% female, paid subject pool.  On the binary “Do you believe in God” 14% (49) said no.

      First, participants rated atheists, gay men, and people in general
      from 0 to 100 on a standard “feeling thermometer” to provide a
      general measure of prejudice.

      Just eyeballing the graph, atheists came in about 48, gay men 55 and population in general 70 (1-100 scale).

      They then asked about ‘distrust’ and ‘disgust’ applied to both atheists and gay men.  ‘distrust’ was about atheist=10 and gay=4.  ‘disgust’ was atheist=5 and gay=10.  About.  Again, I’m just looking at a graph.

      We found that ratings of the “importance of God in your life”  predicted both atheist distrust and atheist disgust

      The second model (focusing on anti-gay prejudice) revealed that data were consistent with the hypothesis that both distrust and disgust mediated the effect of religious belief on “feeling thermometer” scores for gay men

  • Dave R

    Yeah, at least from what I can tell from the post I’m not sure how much I like the method of the study. I had the same issue with the rapist question (see first comment). I’m also not sure about the wording underlying the conjunction fallacy:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conjunction_fallacy#Gigerenzer

    Most importantly however, I’m going to be a bit contrarian and say: If I’m asked whether I think it’s more likely that an atheist would keep the money or a that a Christian would, I might say it’s the atheist as well — and that’s despite the fact that I’m atheist!

    The reason is that the label atheist doesn’t tell me anything about that person other than that they don’t believe in god and that probably there more likely to value a scientific world view. It doesn’t tell me anything about how much they value morality.

    For a (dedicated) Christian however, it does tell me something, and I would think they are more likely to adhere to certain moral standards — of course, these ‘moral’ standards are deeply flawed in my opinion, and that Christian is more likely to think that homosexuality is wrong for example. Plus it doesn’t imply they are a ‘better’ person (maybe they are just afraid of going to hell).

    But still, in such a commonly agreed issue such as stealing, simply getting the information that person A has a strong moral belief system *whatever* that system is, whereas for B it’s unknown, seems to make it more likely that A won’t steal.

    Of course now I have to ask myself, does that mean I just justified prejudice against atheists? I don’t think so, but surely there is a problem here. Maybe the true problem is that, when asked what your religion is, the answer an atheist gives simply doesn’t give any info on what their moral beliefs are. Maybe the true problem is that people should rather be asked something more general like, what are your beliefs or where come your moral values from etc. Basically where you can answer with ‘humanist’ or ‘utilitarian’ or something like that…

    • Anonymous

      Christians ignore so many parts of their “supposed moral” code. They only adhere to them when it suits them. Why should I think it would be any different with stealing. Statistically, simply because there are a lot more Christians than atheists, a robber is far more likely to be a Christian. So that doesn’t tell us anything

      • Matt M

        Not only is a robber more likely to be a Christian due to a higher prevalence of Christians in the population, but the proportion of religious to nonreligious prison inmates is higher than in the general population. This doesn’t necessarily mean that atheists are more moral, of course, but it certainly doesn’t support the notion that we’re less moral.

    • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

      I agree that a better question wording would have compaired someone who was a Christian with someone who was a secular humanist. 

    • Sean Santos

      The problem I see with this is that most people who commit crimes seemingly do have a strong moral code (with the possible exception of psychopaths, who feel no need to be honest about their religious beliefs in any case). The problem in most cases is that either people will rationalize a certain action as not conflicting with their code, or else they lack the self control to always live up to their own moral standards.

      Statistically speaking, if I was looking for a wallet non-returner, I wouldn’t be looking for someone who didn’t believe in morality. I’d be looking for someone who thought “I probably wouldn’t find this guy anyway.” Or “Anyone who loses a wallet either deserves it because he’s an idiot, or can afford it because he’s not careful with his money.” Or “Finders keepers!” Or “For some reason I think the guy who lost this is probably a jerk.” Or “I need this more than him.” Or “This is wrong, but I really am desperate because of [mitigating factor X].” Or “This is just how people like me have to get by.” Or “This seems bad, but more knowledgeable person Y says I should take whatever I can get, and I have to follow their advice.” Or someone who had used the above justifications so many times that they were used to theft and cons, and rarely stopped to think about them anymore. Or someone whose moral training didn’t encompass strangers or out-group members in the first place.

      Some of these justifications are pretty stupid, but if someone had no moral sense at all, they wouldn’t need a justification. When someone rationalizes an immoral action, they are implicitly agreeing that there is something potentially wrong with that action.

      That doesn’t mean that moral codes don’t matter to people’s actions. But it does mean that the mechanism is not straightforward. A religious culture can say “don’t steal” and yet also say “people in our group are the only ones worth full consideration” or “you can count on forgiveness for all misdeeds” or “God uses chance events to punish some people and reward others, so people deserve what they get” or “don’t focus solely on being a good person, because your good deeds are never good enough” or “obey your elders and betters” or “the afterlife is the only thing that has any real moral significance”.

  • David McNerney

    Looking at the numbers there for the Teacher/Atheist, we come out at 0.5.  I think that’s interesting.  

    Is it not possible that as atheists we are being treated fairly and that the response is actually in response to the question without the Atheist label.  In which case, pick a random person and ask the question ‘Do you trust them?’.  Without any extra information, it’s a 50/50 (or 0.5) response.

    Then when you look at the Christian example – well we all know that a ‘bad’ Christian is bad because they are a bad person, whereas a good Christian is good because they are a Christian.  Atheists on the other hand, are bad or good because of who they are instrinsically.

    When the average person thinks of a Christian they think good, and therefore trustworthy – so the bias is not against atheists but in favour of Christians.

  • Jools

    Is it not possible that we are also seeing their standard No True Scotsman fallacy. Many would argue that if a Christian, Muslim or Jew committed these acts, they would cease to be a Christian, Muslim or Jew, because their religion prevents it. 

    They might argue that it’s not prejudice, it’s just part of their definition of the religious people. This study does seemed to ignored how individual define members of the groups.

    If you definition of a Christian is someone who follows the word of God, therefore does not steal and commit insurance fraud, how can you make the conjecture that the thief/fraudster is a Christian.

    This wouldn’t explain why atheists are so untrusted but it could explain why the religious appear to be so trusted.

  • Lillian

    Re point #2: I think this is great for those of us who are nurses. We’re the most trusted profession for the 10th year in a row. (This was not true only in 2011 when firefighters beat us.) It’s wonderful when, as  a nurse in a “trusted profession,” people learn that I’m an atheist — that I can, in fact, be “good without god.”

  • Anthony McCarthy

    Looks like yet another stupid soc-sci study with a very small sample size and a rather bizarre methodology that doesn’t necessitate the conclusions to me.   

    But assuming it is accurate,  you might mention that being a dick to the majority of people about their religion,  probably the most likely venue for people to find out that someone is an atheist,  these days,  is more likely to reinforce a negative view of atheists than anything else. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_T73XRDO5HHHDSWAPXRIN3DGOBU JohannesW

    I think normally people interprets the Linda question like this:

    Which is more probable?

    Linda is a bank teller AND IS NOT ACTIVE in the f.m.Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement.
    wouldnt this diminish the strength of the argument?

    • Dave R

      Yeah exactly. Informal language is often ambiguous, and people often have to infer meaning from how a question is asked. In this case, it seems plausible to me that people automatically assume that given multiple answer options to a question that these answers are actual alternatives and not subsets of each other.

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

      Yes, this is a serious problem. And is a massive problem with this version of the conjunction fallacy. There are variants of it that show the result better. You can do the Linda problem where each group is only given one of the options and is asked to give an explicit probability.  For the Linda case, you still see the conjunction fallacy at work. It isn’t obvious that this will happen for the Richard and Sarah examples, and I’m disappointed that they didn’t test this. 

  • gsw

    Re: Richard was (a) a teacher or (b) a teacher and an atheist?

    Actually, I would have tipped on christian, probably catholic – like the mafia – because they can do anything at all and just go to church Sunday and have all their sins forgiven.
    We atheists must make recompense to forgive ourselves, christians just have to pay a priest a little silver. 

    (Anyone not realize why priests got away with raping children so easily? God [other priests] forgave them and made it all go away!) 

    Superstition is stupid.

    • Anonymous

      Superstition is stupid, but I disagree that Christians are more likely to be dishonest because they can just ask forgiveness. Pretty much any Christian you talk to will say that asking for forgiveness is worthless unless you sincerely regret your actions and intend to do beter. Keep in mind that they believe in an all-knowing god, who will be fully aware of whether you are sincere or not.

      For me, only the “a teacher and a rapist” option makes me more likely to see them as a thief. All the other labels view stealing pretty much equally. You could argue that they’re more likely to be “a teacher and a Christian” because people in the US are more likely to be Christian than not, but that again goes to the demographic problem of the study.

      • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

        Right. Catholic kids are told that they can fool
        the priest at Confession but not God.

      • gsw

        You are right, in that most christians don’t bother about the whole confession thing. But you are wrong that true catholics don’t believe a priest can forgive them. Again, I point to the mafia.
         
        Never underestimate the hypocrisy of a truly religious person.

  • George Wiman

    People desperately want some external marker for trustworthiness – a simple way to tell if they can trust the other person.  Membership in one’s own tribe is the most common. But I’ve heard enough people make the “Atheists have no morality” argument that it seems likely to me that they’ll also attribute immorality to unbelief.

    Empirical evidence of everyday life hits that hypothesis below the waterline, of course.  If someone’s going to be a dick, then they’re going to be a dick.  And in my admittedly unscientific experience they’re more likely to be a dick to someone outside their tribe.  But the result that they are more trustful even to people of other religions is interesting.  Certainly Muslims are an out-group right now so they get an extra strike against them – yet Atheists are still less trusted.

    Community service isn’t a marker of trustworthiness; in many cases it’s an opportunity to run a scam.  

  • Jim Rogers

    Did the authors recognize or account for the fact that the construction of their study eliminated the opinions of anyone intelligent and/or educated enough not to fall into the fallacy on which it was based? Perhaps the people who recognized that the “teacher only” option was the most likely would be exactly the people who would trust Atheists!

    • Anonymous

      This, yes!

      Did the study find out that atheists are less trusted, or that people who don’t trust atheists are more prone to falling for logical fallacies?  I think more study is warranted before we can draw any conclusions from this.

    • Tracy Bradley

      I was just going to post the same thing!

  • Xeon2000

    Atheists are not just people who “don’t believe in God”. It’s a socially charged word with many negative connotations. It’s a wide chasm between “nonreligious” and “atheist”. The later are demonized by church leaders and portrayed by society as confrontational, belligerent, and amoral.

    I contest that this study is fundamentally flawed when it claims that the shared belief in a deity is what creates the trust amongst theist. Instead, all I think they’ve done is reveal the negative views ascribed by the label “atheist”.

    What if instead of “atheist” the researchers had used “humanist”, “secular Buddhist”, “nonreligious”? I think the results would have been quite different.

    • Matt M

      This seems quite likely – the 2006 study (I haven’t read the newer one yet) indicates that non-religious people still have a bias against atheists, though it’s less than the bias of the various religious groups they looked at.

  • Puzzled

    The problem is these fools can’t imagine someone doing the right thing because it’s right.  They live their lives believing the opposite – that everyone will do everything wrong if they aren’t being supervised (by God.)  Theist distrust of atheists tells us rather bad things about theists themselves.

    • Drothespis

      you sound like you have a bias toward anyone who believes in God. Religion in normal. Its why EVERY civilization has had one. This “atheist distrust” is basically the same thing every black, gay, and muslim person has had to go through, except most people wont look at you and know you’re atheist. It’s not that big of a deal. So people may distrust atheist. When it actually affects you THEN you can get all pissy about it.
      And most people assume a religious person is less likely to do something morally wrong. Not because they had a “supervisor” (God), but religious people assume other religious people are too moral to do something like that. Of couse thats’s not true, but its just the way they feel. Its not that they think atheists are all immoral and evil. Its that they think religious people are too moral to do such things, so they assume it must be the atheists. Now an intelligent person would’ve just picked (A)teacher, but most people arent quite intelligent

      • Rich Wilson

        When it actually affects you THEN you can get all pissy about it. 

        Just to be clear, nobody needs anyone else’s permission to get pissy about anything.  And of course you can get pissy about me getting pissy, but the fact that people judge me by creed, not deed, is enough reason for ME to get pissy.

  • Anonymous

    Now lets ask about a pedophile cover-upper.

    - Is it more likely a pedophile cover-upper OR pedophile cover-upper and bishop

    - Is it more likely a pedophile cover-upper OR pedophile cover-upper and football coach

    - Is it more likely a pedophile cover-upper OR pedophile cover-upper and atheist

    • Grady

      Maybe the coach and the priest are really atheists.  After all, we know atheists often keep their atheism secret.

      They say they are afraid.

      But many Christians have spoken out in offiicially atheistic societies, knowing they would be persecuted.

      So, there are also, apparently, a lot of atheists who are cowards.

      • Pollracker

        Atheist who are afriad have good reason to be so. If an atheist is outspoken it can cause a lot of backlash and result in job and family issues, if a christian is out spoken it is either seen as good by christians, or seen as how it is by atheist. Christians have a lot less to fear by being Christian than atheist do.

      • A-theist

        name one atheist society… you religious people are so stupid and single minded you think atheism is a religion. There are no such thing as atheist groups. Why would a group get together over NOTHING!?!?! What is there to bring them together? You are obviously a lying christian grady.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MarkPanzarino Mark Sean Panzarino

    I think there’s one more important thing we can do: make sure our educational systems are strong.  We can fight to teach things like logical fallacies in high schools and begin teaching evolution in elementary schools, and we can fight to keep religion out of the educational systems. 

    Doing this would help to combat the stigma associated with being an Atheist.

    - https://www.facebook.com/TheHonestAtheist

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    Of course people who lack the capacity to be moral without the threat of eternal punishment are not going to trust someone who doesn’t believe in eternal punishment. This is an indication of the shallowness of their own morality, based as it is on a primitive punishment/reward system. It says almost nothing about atheists and everything about the flimsy morality of theists.

    • Matt M

      It would be interesting to see if the bias against atheist is specific to religious people. Do atheists also consider atheists to be “untrustworthy”?

      • Rich Wilson

        Short answer is ‘no’.  See my reply elsewhere to hoverFrog.

      • berock212

        No not really.

    • http://wraith808.com/id/ wraith808

      Serious generalization there, especially as they took no other variables into account, i.e. education, age, social strata, and/or religion.  The only variables taken into account by the study shown are location (America) and age (adults).

  • 59 norris

    I’m reminded of a number of discussions here about whether or not it’s appropriate for athiests to be “dicks”.  A number of commenters hold out that being a dick to thiests is the way to go.  So, how many of the respondents to the study had met or known atheists of the “dick” school of social interaction and how has this influenced their opinion of trustworthyness?

    • 59 norris

      worthiness

    • Wils_e

      I wish Atheists would not be “dicks”.  We should not be lowering ourselves to others levels.    How annoying is it when people push religion on you?  why do the same thing?  why does it bother you so much that others don’t belive the same way you do?

      I  talk about my atheist views when asked.  I certainly do not worry myself about converting people.  The truth of the matter is,  you are not going to convert them.

  • Rich Wilson

    This is why I’m ‘out’ as an atheist, even if some people consider that in and of itself dickish.

    That’s also why I plan to PUSH my American political candidates to admit that they either do or do not think morality is tied to religion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasontorpy Jason Torpy

    I have a little bit of trouble with this since the study seems only to allow for one correlation factor – trust.  Atheists, I would say, are roundly reviled as “the devil” and all bad qualities, whether they be untrustworthiness, violence, or global world domination would have been equally strongly associated with us dirty atheists.

  • Rich Wilson

    btw the first study relating the feelings about gay men vs. atheists was from a broad sample of 351 Americans.  The rest of them (as far as I can tell) are from smaller samples of UBC students (i.e. one of the most secular places in North America) and tend to be weighted 80/20 female/male.  Not sure if that helps.  I’ll look through specific questions people have that might be answerable from the study itself and see if I can shed any light.

    Later today that is.

  • Anonymous

    What if they replaced atheist with secular humanist? Perhaps they mistrust atheists because atheism is a blank while the others are not.

    • Rich Wilson

      ‘humanist’ doesn’t show up in the paper anywhere.  My thought is that not a lot of people think they know what secular humanist means, while most people think they know what atheist means.

  • Anonymous

    Now ask these same questions to a group of atheists.

    The employment question was interesting.  My attitude is very different.  I would not want to employ someone who told me at an interview that they were very religious.  There are three things I look for in a candidate.  Can they do the job, will they do the job and are they manageable.  The first you can tell from their CV and the second from the interview and references (usually).  How manageable they are depends on their interests and attitude.  Religious people tend to proselytise and monopolise groups.  They stifle creative thinking and make value judgements that get in the way of team work and tend to be very difficult to shift once an idea has had time to root.  That’s fine for menial, drudge work but I want creative, engaged individuals to work with me, not drones.  I want people who want to know why and not simple obey.

    I guess that my opinion of religious people isn’t very high.  I should add a caveat that my views are general and not specific and that there are believers who buck the trend. I don’t think that atheists are any more or less trustworthy that Christians or Muslims. Some people are dishonest and whether or not they believe in a deity is irrelevant to that.  The biggest office thief I ever knew was a Jehovah’s Witness.  He considered petty theft of stationery “a bonus that he was entitled to” rather than theft. 

    • Rich Wilson

      I found this footnote

      In an additional analysis, we examined whether atheists distrust other atheists. We isolated a subsample of 49 individuals from the total sample
      who indicated that they do not believe in God (based on the binary Yes/No
      belief question). Atheists Distrust within this subsample did not significantly
      differ from zero, t(48)  –0.08, p  .94, indicating that whereas
      religious people strongly distrust atheists, atheists neither trust nor distrust
      atheists, relative to people in general.

      That was from ‘Study 1′ which Hemant didn’t mention directly.  That was a study that compared peoples’ attitudes towards both atheists and gay men.  The ‘feeling’ thermometer for atheists was lower for atheists than for gay men, which was lower than the population in general.  ‘Distrust’ was higher for atheists, but ‘disgust’ was higher for gay men.  This was the broad American sample, not one of the UBC student samples.

  • Anthony McCarthy

    Reading this thread,  yup,  that’s really going to do a lot to overturn anti-atheist prejudice.    And you folks think you’re rationalists. 

    • George.w

      Actually more visibility will likely erode prejudice.  It has certainly worked for gays.  Yes, some hard-core jerks remain prejudiced but others, once they realize that people they already like and respect, are members of formerly distrusted out-group x or y, do come around.

    • Rich Wilson

      You’re not doing much to help my anti-theist prejudice.

    • Greg

      How dare atheists feel outraged over the suggestions of this survey? Terrible, isn’t it? Absolutely disgraceful.

  • dauntless

    Those are some really big error bars. I haven’t read the paper, but that smacks of “low sample size” to me.

    • Rich Wilson

      I’m more concerned with other biases in the samples.

      One hundred seventeen UBC undergraduates (age range 
      18–44 years, M  19.56; 76% female) participated for extra
      credit.

      One hundred twenty-six UBC undergraduates (age range 
      18–45 years, M  20.74; 81% female) participated for extra
      credit.

      One hundred five UBC undergraduates (age range  18–25
      years, M  19.95; 71% female) participated for extra credit.

      I’m not sure if the accounted for gender difference.  Maybe women distrust atheists more than men?

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

    They just don’t want to associate with people whose beliefs
    challenge their ‘raison d etre’. (Neat,huh?)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=750428174 Paddy Reddin

    As for the last part

    It’s a shock to their system when they find out someone close to them doesn’t believe in a god… so shock them! Let them know that someone they already trust is an atheist

    I have the feeling that this won’t make them trust Atheists more, just make them trust **you** less.

  • Laura Dresow

    I find this especially interesting, because I tend to distrust people who are vocal about their religious beliefs. Mind you, I mean vocal. A year or so ago, I was hired for this job. The first day, at orientation, they began making a big deal about how they were a “Christian company,” and how a lot of people put up bible verses at their desk and there was no discrimination against Christians. They would pray before pot-lucks and at holiday parties, and e-mails were signed with “god bless”. They were not involved in a religious business; it was actually time-shares.

    The thing is, as soon as they began making a big deal about how Christian they were, I found myself suspicious about their ethics and motivations. In my experience, the bigger a deal someone makes about their religious beliefs, the less trustworthy they are — they’re using religion as a shorthand to convince people they’re honest without actually putting the effort into being honest. 

    Now, I’m not saying all religious people are dishonest — I’m saying that in my (limited) experience, the more vocal someone is about their religious beliefs, the more likely they’re dishonest, hypocritical, unethical, amoral people. Over and over again, I’ve seen it play out — the quiet religious person is invariably honest and actually tries to follow what they believe to be a Christian moral code. The loud religious person is invariably dishonest and using religion as a convenient social shorthand to convince people that they’re trustworthy.

    Oh, and that company? Turned out to be illegal. As in, they are running a scam, they aren’t legally licensed in any of the states they were operating in, and they are being investigated by multiple Attorney Generals. They also have a history of scammy-scumminess, with news organizations exposing them and multiple business-name changes to try and escape their history. It’s gotten to the point that the owners have completely avoiding associating their names with the businesses they run, because people know to look for their names — instead they register the business names with their employees — often without their employees awareness or permission.

    The owners both have blogs talking about their religious beliefs and how they’ve influenced their business practices. Of course, neither blog addresses the illegal aspects of their businesses or how they’re impoverishing millions of Americans by selling services they can’t follow through on.

    • dauntless

      “Over and over again, I’ve seen it play out — the quiet religious person is invariably honest and actually tries to follow what they believe to be a Christian moral code.”

      That might just be confirmation bias, one of the reasons that anecdotes are not evidence. I’m not saying the situation you describe doesn’t exist, and if it really wasn’t confirmation bias it would still make sense since there are just more Christians in the U.S. than atheists, but I wouldn’t bet against the claim that you’re being lead by your preconceived thoughts of religious people. Everybody loses when people start outgrouping other people like this.

    • Eric

      I do not believe that people that are vocal are “Less” trustworthy.  That line of thinking is as misguided as Christians not trusting Atheist’s just because they do not believe in any god.

      In that one instance you have given, I could concede that they were vocal about religion for unjust and immoral reasons.  They used religion to give comfort to weak people to hide the fact that they were scamming them.  I do find this discusting, and if I believed there was a hell, I would  hope these people find themselves there.

      With that said,  to conclude that all “Vocal” religious people are untrustworthy because of this is simply bigotry.  After all,  how many thieves and murderers are loud and vocal?  They are quiet and anti-social for the most part.
      I do believe Christians and other religion’s are very proud about themselves, and honestly believe they are better then everyone else.  The reaction I always receive when telling a christian that I am an atheist is usually one of pity.  They say “I’m sorry you feel that way”  “I feel bad for you”.

      It is because of this “proud” attitude that they want to share to everyone about their beliefs even when they are unwanted.  I would relate it to this example.  You just get home from a tropical vacation,  you want people to ask you what you did that week.  You get a sense of satisfaction when you get to tell people what you did last week,  to make them jealous to some degree.

  • Rich Wilson

    Oh here’s another interesting bit:

    Studying the ‘believe in God, but no religious affiliation’

    In other words, the “Nones” are a group of
    people who vary in belief in God but, although they may constitute
    a sort of nonreligious ingroup, do not constitute an ingroup defined
    by a religious worldview directly threatened by atheism. A onesample
    t test revealed that, even among this subsample, atheist
    distrust was significantly higher than zero, M  5.91, SD  20.44,
    t(57)  2.20, p  .03, Cohen’s d  0.58. Moreover, atheist distrust
    was significantly positively associated with the degree to which
    these participants rated God as important in their lives

    and

    In sum, these data provide converging support for our hypotheses
    in a broad sample of American adults. Replicating previous
    work, atheists are less liked than gay men, and disgust is central to
    anti-gay prejudice. More important, however, distrust was more
    characteristic of anti-atheist prejudice than of anti-gay prejudice.

  • 59 Norris

    Has anyone ventured the possibility that the respondants may have participated in a little mental “No True Scottsman” thinking when considering the choices with “Christian”?

  • ORAXX

    Those fine upstanding Christians who would assign all the worlds problems to non believers, should spend some time studying the bloody gory history of their own religion.

  • Wasd

    What an excellent opportunity to point to some polling I have been dying to link to. There was lot of reporting about this Brookings PRRI survey. People felt it suggest many Americans are pretty backwards when it comes Muslims, other minorities including atheists and religion in general. In short its another “Atheists disliked more than muslims” survey. Reading the actual results is, as always, enlightening and it includes a lot of excellent news. Take this one question for example:

    40% of Americans (15% completely, 25% mostly, or as the report calls it “only 40%”) agree that religion causes more problems than it solves. This sure sounds like its gonna be very partisan, but it really isn’t. This breaks down to 27% for Republicans,  45% Dems 44%  independents. Yes 27% of republicans think religion causes more problems than it solves.

    Now you might think obviously the religious are gonna disagree strongly… you would be wrong. Sure 74% of white evangelicals disagree but only 59% of Catholics disagree that religion causes more problems than it solves. Its 59% of black Protestants, 57% of white mainline Protestants and 51% of non-Christian religiously affiliated Americans. I suspect the margin of error for the “religiously unaffiliated” is too big so here the number is reported as 6 in 10 who agree that religion causes more problems than it solves.

    Sure, 74% and 57% still sounds like a big group, but think about it, try selling a toothpaste more than 1 in 4 users thinks creates more problems than it solves… Clearly religious “leaders” have yet more critical self-reflection to do.

    If I were in charge of designing the next Atheist billboard campaign I would go for the religious equivalent of “are you better of now than you were 4 years ago?”. There is plenty of options for billboards around the “religion/religious fanaticism causes more problems than it solves” theme. Firefighters and irrigation engineers solve more problems than praying/dancing for rain, doctors save more patients than witch doctors and parents who take their sick kids to the doctors solve more problems than parents who keep their kids home and pray. Apparently to many Americans these statements are obviously true which is great, because well, they are. After years of making up their own mind in the real world Americans might very well have a more clear view about the effects of religion than they do about, say, the effects of CO2. Apparently religion causes real problems in the daily lives of real people. It would be awesome to have some better information on what these perceived problems are. The only “problems” religion can really pretend to pray away are the ones it creates itself or pretends exist in the first place. I love the positive “good without god” and sneakily but impossible to ignore skepticism seeding “there might be no god” campaigns but negative campaigns might also work… Or they might work better than praying anyway.

    Back to the massive pile of good news in the poll:
    73% (vs 20%) think people with strong religious views are more likely to also have extreme political views. Even among the non christians 64% agree with what I would consider a clear no-brainer. Just go over Gallups list of countries from least to most religious while keeping an eye on the international headlines. looking at the Heidelberger conflict database and international crisisgroup at the moment Russia and Israel are the only secular-ish countries with an ongoing or frozen armed conflict. While in Russia 34% consider religion important there are the Muslim rebels/terrorist in Chechnya/the north Caucasus and in Israel only 51% consider religion important  but, well… you know…  the rest of the wars is all in the religious world. Has been for years

    88% agree that America was founded on the idea of religious freedom for everyone, including religious groups that are unpopular.
     
    66% (37% completely, 29% mostly ) agree that [Americans] should maintain a strict separation of church and state. No further demographical or FOX viewership breakdowns are given

    27% of Americans know that their holy book is written by men and isn’t “the word of god”, which could be worse but also could be better. The great news: unlike the adults only 23% of Americans between 18 and 29 believe something as childish as that their “holy book” or “bible” is the literal word of god.  (The questionnaire uses “[INSERT HOLY BOOK]” but “Bible” is used in the report)

    The report whines that  “As a number of findings below demonstrate, however, Americans do not always  apply these principles [of separation of church and state and religious freedom] evenly or consistently.” And sure atheist are still the least favoured Americans because of their religious outlook  with 23% viewing us mostly unfavourable and  23% very unfavourable.

    Nobody (<=2% ) dares to chose the “VERY” unfavourable rating for catholic African Hispanic American jews….  Only 5% and 11% are comfortable admitting “VERY” unfavourable views of  Mormons and Muslims…. but one in four Americans is comfortable admitting “VERY” unfavourable views of atheists. The superbly reasonable sounding “mostly unfavourable” option is right there but they choose “VERY unfavourable”. I do think that for many people “Atheist” is a rather abstract word that is too rarely used to really put a concrete meaning or a face to it. Sadly while the survey did ask people how often they meet a muslim/african Americans, or Mormons it didn`t ask this about atheists. The survey did remind people  that Atheist are just “people who dont believe in god” but I doubt this was enough to dispel the cold war propaganda induced connotations of satanistic inhabitants of the USSR. If I were to do a survey like this I would try asking about “non-believers” instead.

    Luckily the demographical breakdown suggest there is room for continuing improvement with time:
    68% of the growing number of religiously unaffiliated Americans
    62% of the growing number of non-Christian religiously affiliated Americans
    49% of democrats and
    49% of independents and
    56% of those between 18 and 29

    hold favourable views while only

    35% of those over 65
    38% of republicans and
    28% of the shrinking number of white evangelicals and
    26% of the shrinking number of black Protestants hold favourable views.

    And yeah Muslim have a bit of a PR problem too but you can read about the extensive research on that elsewhere. So yeah, there is a lot of work to be done on educating average Americans on the secularism 101 front. (Personally I think “nice person” celebrities and Oprah glossy magazines interviews can provide people with a template for what being an out of the closet atheist means… Nate Silver discussed some evidence on the effect Magic johnson had on Americas understand of hiv/aids which I am afraid is relevant.)

    But why doesn`t the study have an extensive fox viewer/pbs viewer breakdown of the views on Atheists like it did with muslims? And why wasn`t the question of how many gay and/or atheistic Americans someone meets day to day even asked? The divergence might be bigger and more revealing considering these groups might more effectively stay in the closet. (Surveys show non-religious Americans can be found everywhere in the US, in all families and income levels and they come in all shapes, sizes and colors) Why are there specific special questions about peoples views about mormonism and an entire findings chapter discussing peoples views mormons but not one about atheists…? Mormons are a ridiculously small group don’t you know, especially when compared against a big group like atheists and agnostics.

    I hate to do this but we non-religious folk kinda sorta are the biggest, fastest growing (and empirically sexiest, coolest and most advertising revenue and click-troughs generating disposable income possessing occasionally hedonistically spending) group with a minority religious outlook in the country, remember? Jeez do I have to do everyone’s market research here?

    And I am not just talking about all the hottest box office celebrities and best-seller books, even ordinary okCupid users know if you want a date mentioning you are an atheist is the way to go.

    Where is the love from the pollsters?

    The number of non religious Americans is bigger (2% atheist, 10% agnostic), growing faster (46% of 1990-2001 and 23.1% of 2001-2008 population growth) and has been long known to be more despised than muslim jewish and mormon Americans which are a much smaller groups (like 0.6%, 1.7% and  1.7%). And now this survey shows 40% of Americans agree with those of us who think religion causes more problems than it solves! Sounds like an excellent occasion for some polling on peoples views on atheist.

    The FOX viewer/tea party conservative, liberal libertarian, ethnic background, detailed age, gender and educational background breakdowns of Atheist lovers/haters should be in the data. If some enterprising and statistically competent researcher or blogger were to ask for the raw data, I would love to know more about exactly who dislikes us so much.

    Even more interesting and a lot more serious would be correlation between feeling safe and feelings towards minorities or feeling safe and watching fox news. The data appears to be there (n=2,450) though it isn’t discussed at all in the report.

    I have to ask, who holds the backwards views here? Is it the up to 75% of people who answered in an “awkward thanksgiving uncle” fashion or the 100% of prestigious Brookings “Increasingly diverse America” researchers who put together the questions of this survey but who didn’t notice the obvious gap in attention for the nations biggest and traditionally most despised minority religious outlook group?
    ;-) ;-) Who do we have to blow up to get some attention around here ;-) ;-) (its a joke)

    And while we are at it “56 percent of [young people] express completely or mostly favorable opinions of those who reject God’s existence, versus only 35 percent of seniors.”

    Really? atheist are “those who reject God’s existence” now? I reject the proposition of gods existence, gods actual existence I do very little with. Much like me and the easter bunny don’t hang out enough for me to do much of anything to him these days.

    (Yeah me and the easter bunny, we go back. I used to tease him relentlessly with the whole “egg laying mammal” thing but then he got famous. Suddenly there was all these kids who wanted his autograph… He swore that despite all the money, endorsement deals and attention (and all the groupie bunnies… the invitation to the playboy mansion… yet more bunnies. I am not saying the guy was into bestiality or anything, at least, not that I know)… despite all that he swore he would stay the same but really, he didn’t. I should just have barbecued the little bugger.)

    Now the really bad news:
    The survey also asked whether when someone commits violence in the name of christianty this person really is a christian…. and then it asked the same question about muslims.

    The report rightly mocks the 45% of tea-party and 47% white-envangelical types who think a muslim who commits violence in the name of islam is a muslim while someone (typically a white guy) who commits violence in the name of christianity isn’t a true christian. (Or a true Scotsman for that matter…..) There must be some difference between the two and yet I don’t remember these the tea-party types ever admitting to feeling there is anything wrong with Arabs… funny how that works.

    Now I know I know “unaffiliated” can mean lots of things but atheists and and agnostics are a big and rapidly growing group, so our share of this catch all category should be big as well. And 23% of the “unaffiliated” respondents feels the same way as the racist tea-party types. Its the same numbers as democrats and black protestants, they all think muslim assholes do and christian assholes do not commit acts of terror by definition.

    So I am intensely disappointed that we score the same as everyone else while only those pesky kids (18-29 17% difference) and non-christian believers (14% difference) stand out as a positive example of judging violent christian and muslim assholes by the same standards.

    Come one people that Breivik asshole combined the most gruesome elements of the Oklahoma city bombing, the Beslan school siege and the Mumbai attacks. Clearly he is as much an asshole christian terrorist child-killers as muslim terrorist child-killers are asshole muslims. Either you agree Breivik is a christian asshole or you start taking all those muslims who said 9/11 had nothing to do with islam a lot more seriously.

    Now I suspect that because of the background of the recent immigrant population of the US (Latino+everything else) and Europe (North African, South east Asian, Turkish) Americans miss the perspective to really intuitively understand the problem here.

    As a European I have had to watch how racist asshole politicians have taken their racist immigrant bashing rhetoric and simply replaced ethnicities that people can’t choose (“no more Turkish immigrants”, “no more Moroccan immigrants”) with a religion that people can be held responsible for (“no more muslim immigrants”). The elite chattering classes of the opinion pages were all very impressed by this. These super serious intellectual types immediately started running in circles, fact checking and debating the finer meaning of kuran quotes…  they have decided: “All the extreme right wing whining about being shunned as not politically correct is justified, the extreme right deserves way way more attention because it complaints about islam are technically correct.” Though they have been a little slow to demand this newfound enthusiasm for secularism be applied to christian fundamentalist idiots.

    Thats kind of worrying since people like Wilders are literally funded by the worst of the worst of the US religious right.

    The point is, if you give racist fucktard politicians an inch with which to apply different standards to muslims than they do with christians they will take an arm. This view that Breivik is less of a christian than Bin Laden was a muslim needs to be nipped in the bud. Unfortunately Americans have the luck that they can be blind to the fact that selective secularism can be such an effective cover for the worst of the worst kinds of racism. In the US muslim bashing just doesn`t rile up the anti-immigrant crowd the same way it does in the EU.

    This creates two problems:
    1. Serious atheist using are using stories from the European right wing hype BS machine about the state of muslims in Europe. There is millions of pages of serious research on this topic. If there ever really was a PC police then it is now completely gone. Nobody is hiding problems in violent crime, education, poverty, womans and gay equality and freedom of conscience for children so there is no need to get information from the people who just make shit up. Many immigrants fled the repressive religious world for a reason, it would be nice if people could keep the problems in their ethnic community in perspective. That way they can be dealt with rather than demagogued.

    2. The opposite also happens. I get the sense the racist right wing loons are copying from the Dawkins crowd. That’s great, just make sure everyone always understand there is a tiny difference between those beating themselfs on the chest over “being the only ones standing up to defend the awesome jewish/christian tradition” and those of us who want to do slightly different things to the jewish/christian tradition.

    Just make sure everyone occasionally does something to a cracker once in a while and everything should be alright.

    With that this ridiculous notion of fundamental differences between Bin Laden and Breivik should disappear from our little but growing community.

  • Nathan

    I can’t help but think, what the hell does stealing money and hitting a car have to do with being a rapist? Maybe I’m crazy, but if someone steals money they don’t seem to be more likely to be a rapist to me.

  • Anonymous

    I could take an optimist’s approach and say that more people thought that that asshole was an atheist than a rapist simply because they thought that stealing a wallet doesn’t make one necessarily a rapist. But Hemant is probably right that, while most probably view rape as a worse crime than atheism, they consider atheism to be more abnormal and thus dislike them.

  • Anonymous

    Also I should note that the sample size was way too small for this to be a well done study.

  • Ndonnan

    I must admit this is a bit  amusing.You have to remember that an athiest dosent belive in life after death so naturally this life is all weve got,which is the perfect senario for,live life for me ,dont care about anyone else,take it while you can,look out for number one ect; this is not a good basis for trust is it.Sure there will be howls of protest about community service ect, but as this study shows that is peoples perception.Your suggestions to change that image are good ones but actually sounded like a church mission statment” go forth intoall the world and make deciples,witness to the ignorant,help the poor ect;”maybe even start an athiest religion and get tax benifits like satanests have done with the church of satan. mmmmmm interesting thought eh

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000391368967 Liyan Chen

    These morons need to take a class in research methods 101. The study was designed from the start to “prove” their confirmation bias – dividing the subjects into groups and making options within each group unavailable to the others.

    I’m unable to access the paper’s full text, could you help me check the demographics of the subjects recruited from the study and where they did the recruitment?

    Did they also run any statistical tests (t-test, ANOVA) and report the level of significance? They’ve got really awful looking confidence intervals.

    • Rich Wilson

      I’ve mentioned the methods elsewhere in comments.  In general it was UBC undergraduates participating for extra credit, so median age was low, heavily biased towards female, and I would suspect students in the social sciences.

      In some cases they were attempting to replicate and extend other studies.

      That said, the “Results and Discussion” section have complete statistical analyses.  I haven’t done an ANOVA in 25 years, so I can’t actually run the numbers, but they are all there.

      I would love to see this done with a really random population of North American residents, but that would take someone like Pew to gather the data.

      (I have nothing to do with the authorship, I just bought the paper, and mentioned it to Hemant)

      • Rich Wilson

        Did a quick search of the authors, and Azim Shariff has linked to a public copy http://dl.dropbox.com/u/47943/web/Gervais%20Shariff%20%26%20Norenzayan%202011.pdf

        I did ask if that wasn’t a mistake, and he said to go ahead and publish the link.  $12 lesson I should look for the non-fee version first :-)

  • I loath retardedness

    If you’re going to make a study as this, you’d have to put out all the answers at the same time. Now you’ve just gone around and only giving atheists as the standard. Of course will it be higher then it should if thats one of the only reacurring answer. And what does rapists have to do with anything? You can be rapist and all of the others above. This proves ABSOLUTELY nothing.

    Redo and do it right.

  • http://twitter.com/TortugaSkeptic A secret red slider

    This does not surprise me in the sense that humans tend to move towards other humans who seem ‘more like me’ and away from ‘less like me’.  Language works similarly, for example take any community in the U.S. where English is not the first language and do this experiment. I would be willing to bet people will be more likely to trust someone who speaks the same first language as them.  Very often this is used to scam people within a given community.  Madoff was an excellent example of ‘like me’ = ‘trust worthy’ and that did not turn out well for his ‘like me’ group at all.
    So…it makes sense that believes in some version of our god would be more trusted than doesn’t believe in any.  
    P.S. I also noticed the Feminists didn’t do very well either.

  • Anonymous Atheist

    The author provides PDFs of this publication, and several other related ones, at his official website:
    http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~will/pubs.html
    One of the other ones is “Finding the faithless: Perceived atheist prevalence reduces anti-atheist
    prejudice”.

  • Charles Black

    Good article I must say, maybe it explains why the American Cancer Society reject 0.5 million dollars from Foundation Beyond Belief so as to perpetuate the negative sterotypes against the non-religious or am I starting to talk about conspiracies?

  • Wils_e

    What I find interesting.

    I try to watch both left wing and right wing news channels to get a view of “Both Sides”.
    Today I was watching the right wing news channel.  “Sun News” and it was on this channel that I actually learnt about this study in the first place.  

    I am sure it is no secret but there is a much higher percent of religious people that are right wing then left wing.  So I was not surprised by Sun News stance on this study, but find it very interesting to note  title that they gave the study.  

    Atheist’s title:  New Research says Anti-Atheist prejudice stems from distrust.

    Sun News Title: New study finds Atheists untrustworthy.

    It truely saddens me how facts can be so misconstrued to say exactly what you want people to believe it is saying.

  • Kermit

    “Somehow, we’re less trusted than even rapists. That’s disheartening, but it really says more about how religious people think than anything about atheists”

    Of course! That must be it. The negative view of atheism must be the fault of how religious people think.

    It couldn’t possibly result from  the fact that atheists have been responsible for more attrocities throughout history than any other group. It also couldn’t be the fact that atheists conmtinualy express their faith by insulting alternative beliefs or trying to destroy other religions. It also couldn’t possibly be because  atheists constantly attack anyone who does not share their views.

    Nope, it MUST be the fault of religious people!

    • Eric

      Your statement is 100% false.

      Please give me five infamous Atheists. Truly infamous. I know there are obviously going to be more then five in the prison system at the moment…… But I can garuntee any of my families lives on it, that there are 10 fold more religious peole in there.

      Religion can be blamed nearly every war in the past 500 years. The fact that you said thoes words “Atheists have been responsible for more atrocities then any other group” tells me that you are completley speaking your misguided beliefs and not facts. Try doing some research before commenting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667001874 Rawal Khan

    lol this is great

  • Keith Brian Johnson

    I think we have to be careful about reading too much into the conjunction fallacy. I rather imagine that when people see the Pr(banker) vs. Pr(banker and atheist) choices, many fill in the first as Pr(banker and not atheist). (Of course, if that’s right, they’re really seeing the choices as Pr(banker and not atheist | he performed the described acts) and Pr(banker and atheist | he performed the described act).) Their choice then reflects their greater trust of theists than of atheists. A certain percentage of respondents, though, will recognize the choices for what they are, so one would not expect to get 100% agreement.

  • berock212

    What I find funny about this is that the atheist is probably the least likely to do something illegal. The prison population of atheists is 0.2%. That is massively low.

  • A-Theist

    Sounds like christians have trust issues. You know who else has trust issues? Thieves and liars… Because they expect everyone else to be as disgusting inside as they are.

  • A-Theist

    I honestly dont think religious people understand atheism. I dont think their brains let them understand that you dont HAVE to worship something.They seem to think it is some kind of occult religion. I told one of my friends that i was an atheist a few years back and their jaw dropped and they said “you worship the devil?!” It took near an hour to explain to them that the devil was a part of THEIR RELIGION, christianity, and therefore they were more of a devil worshiper than any atheist..


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