Don’t Believe the New Study About Irish College Students’ Attitudes About Religion… Yet

In Ireland, where atheism is already on the rise as are godless funerals, a new study — being touted on multiple websites and by Richard Dawkins — seems to show that the percentage of young Irish atheists is pretty high, too:

A student survey has uncovered some very interesting statistics regarding Irish students and their changing attitudes towards religion.

Shockingly, while less than 60% of respondents considered themselves Catholic; the second group to top the scale were Atheists at 20%.

That’s not the only shocker: Only a third of Irish Catholic students said they believe communion wafers are the physical body of Christ. Which I thought was one of the items on the Catholic Checklist.

And there’s this:

According to the survey, students regard ‘looking good’ (5th) as being more important than ‘religious beliefs’ (6th), with friends and family topping the list of importance.

Lots of interesting stuff.

But I’m not accepting any of it yet. Neither should you.

There are some basic questions you want to ask anytime one of these studies comes out: Who conducted it? What was the wording of the questions? Where’s the raw data?

We only have the answer to the first question. The study was conducted by Student Marketing Network, a company that… um… well… okay, I’ve looked through their website and I still have no idea what they do. Whatever it is, it doesn’t look like they conduct studies. Furthermore, there’s no mention of the study that I can find on their site.

GodVlogger pointed out something else (via email). Check out the headline in that image above:

only 37 percent are Catholic

Later in the same article, it says this:

Shockingly, while less than 60% of respondents considered themselves Catholic; the second group to top the scale were Atheists at 20%.

How did we go from 37% to “less than 60%”? It’s technically accurate, I guess, but it’s weird. Just weird.

Another thing:

The survey of 1,146 third level students across the country over the last two weeks highlights how religion, and its place in society, has changed in Ireland over recent years.

I don’t know about you, but I find it very impressive that they surveyed more than 1,000 students when school wasn’t even in session.

And was this a random sampling of imaginary students? An online survey? We’re never told.

It’s all pretty shady.

I’m not doubting the results, but I’m not accepting them either. For all we know, these numbers are just made up and promoted as part of some publicity stunt.

I’ve contacted Student Marketing Network and requested the actual report — which is nowhere to be found online right now. I’ll let you know if I hear back.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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