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Atheism != Immorality


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Just something I thought I'd put together for the fundies and even the moderate Christians who tend to hold the misconception that atheists are somehow inherently immoral or less moral than those who take their moral lessons (or at least say they do--some of these Christians practically piss all over Jesus's words in the Bible) from the teachings of the character Jesus in the Bible.

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According to a survey of the religions of prison inmates (their religion at the time of committing the crime, ignoring in-jail conversion), atheists are about 50 times less likely to go to jail than Christians. Want proof? Yes, I'm sure you do. :P Here it is:

http://holysmoke.org/icr-pri.htm

About 80% of the US population is Christian.

According to the survey, a little over 80% of prison inmates are Christian. So that gives an unsurprising ratio, about 1:1. Pretty much 'normal.'

But atheists are something like 8-16% of the population (I'll lowball it and say 10% instead of the median 12 for both easier math and rounding down in the anti-atheist's favor (and for anyone who reads this that buys into the atheism = immorality nonsense)). So, 10%.

According to the prison survey, about 0.2% (hey, if I can take 2-3% off the Christian number, I can take 0.1% off the atheist number for easier math :lol:) of inmates are atheist (read: there are more Scientologists in jail than atheists). So, what's the ratio here?

It's 1:50. One to fifty. That is a huge difference. It is pretty strong evidence to suggest, not that Christians are immoral, but that however moral Christians in the US are, atheists are much more so on average.

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Just something I thought I'd put together for the fundies and even the moderate Christians who tend to hold the misconception that atheists are somehow inherently immoral or less moral than those who take their moral lessons (or at least say they do--some of these Christians practically piss all over Jesus's words in the Bible) from the teachings of the character Jesus in the Bible.

===

According to a survey of the religions of prison inmates (their religion at the time of committing the crime, ignoring in-jail conversion), atheists are about 50 times less likely to go to jail than Christians. Want proof? Yes, I'm sure you do. :) Here it is:

http://holysmoke.org/icr-pri.htm

About 80% of the US population is Christian.

According to the survey, a little over 80% of prison inmates are Christian. So that gives an unsurprising ratio, about 1:1. Pretty much 'normal.'

But atheists are something like 8-16% of the population (I'll lowball it and say 10% instead of the median 12 for both easier math and rounding down in the anti-atheist's favor (and for anyone who reads this that buys into the atheism = immorality nonsense)). So, 10%.

According to the prison survey, about 0.2% (hey, if I can take 2-3% off the Christian number, I can take 0.1% off the atheist number for easier math :P) of inmates are atheist (read: there are more Scientologists in jail than atheists). So, what's the ratio here?

It's 1:50. One to fifty. That is a huge difference. It is pretty strong evidence to suggest, not that Christians are immoral, but that however moral Christians in the US are, atheists are much more so on average.

;) HUM i like your fuzzy math :P

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Guest 2smart4u
Just something I thought I'd put together for the fundies and even the moderate Christians who tend to hold the misconception that atheists are somehow inherently immoral or less moral than those who take their moral lessons (or at least say they do--some of these Christians practically piss all over Jesus's words in the Bible) from the teachings of the character Jesus in the Bible.

===

According to a survey of the religions of prison inmates (their religion at the time of committing the crime, ignoring in-jail conversion), atheists are about 50 times less likely to go to jail than Christians. Want proof? Yes, I'm sure you do. ;) Here it is:

http://holysmoke.org/icr-pri.htm

About 80% of the US population is Christian.

According to the survey, a little over 80% of prison inmates are Christian. So that gives an unsurprising ratio, about 1:1. Pretty much 'normal.'

But atheists are something like 8-16% of the population (I'll lowball it and say 10% instead of the median 12 for both easier math and rounding down in the anti-atheist's favor (and for anyone who reads this that buys into the atheism = immorality nonsense)). So, 10%.

According to the prison survey, about 0.2% (hey, if I can take 2-3% off the Christian number, I can take 0.1% off the atheist number for easier math :P) of inmates are atheist (read: there are more Scientologists in jail than atheists). So, what's the ratio here?

It's 1:50. One to fifty. That is a huge difference. It is pretty strong evidence to suggest, not that Christians are immoral, but that however moral Christians in the US are, atheists are much more so on average.

Your stats are wrong. The facts are this; since atheists are less intelligent than christians, they hold lower-paying jobs (like yourself) and therefore have less opportunities to commit crimes that will land them in prison. (you can't commit many major crimes when you're digging a ditch or flipping hamburgers). Sorry, Strife, hope I didn't get too personal.

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Just something I thought I'd put together for the fundies and even the moderate Christians who tend to hold the misconception that atheists are somehow inherently immoral or less moral than those who take their moral lessons (or at least say they do--some of these Christians practically piss all over Jesus's words in the Bible) from the teachings of the character Jesus in the Bible.

===

According to a survey of the religions of prison inmates (their religion at the time of committing the crime, ignoring in-jail conversion), atheists are about 50 times less likely to go to jail than Christians. Want proof? Yes, I'm sure you do. :P Here it is:

http://holysmoke.org/icr-pri.htm

About 80% of the US population is Christian.

According to the survey, a little over 80% of prison inmates are Christian. So that gives an unsurprising ratio, about 1:1. Pretty much 'normal.'

But atheists are something like 8-16% of the population (I'll lowball it and say 10% instead of the median 12 for both easier math and rounding down in the anti-atheist's favor (and for anyone who reads this that buys into the atheism = immorality nonsense)). So, 10%.

According to the prison survey, about 0.2% (hey, if I can take 2-3% off the Christian number, I can take 0.1% off the atheist number for easier math :P) of inmates are atheist (read: there are more Scientologists in jail than atheists). So, what's the ratio here?

It's 1:50. One to fifty. That is a huge difference. It is pretty strong evidence to suggest, not that Christians are immoral, but that however moral Christians in the US are, atheists are much more so on average.

This is simply evidence that a handful of people do not know how to handle statistics properly (we can count Strife among them owing to his easy acceptance of these hasty conclusions).

1) Strife's claim that over 80% of prison inmates are Christian is not supported by the data. This was not a randomized poll, so the results cannot be extrapolated to include those who did not respond to the question of religious affiliation.

That means that religious affiliation of almost 20,000 of the entire sample simply wasn't known (since they gave no response).

Every one of those could have been atheists (or agnostics) who simply elected not to categorize themselves on the questionnaire.

("Unknown/No Answer 18381

----------------------------

Total Convicted 93112 80.259% (74731) prisoners' religion is known."

"Judeo-Christian Total 62594 83.761% (of the 74731 total responses)")

http://holysmoke.org/icr-pri.htm

2) There is no conclusion that can reasonably be drawn about the general population based on prison statistics. To quickly illustrate, some atheists are fond of pointing out how much smarter they are than religious believers. If true, couldn't this translate into a more successful life of crime (the more adept criminals avoiding conviction and thus achieving underrepresentation in the prisons)?

It's hilarious to see the mega-intelligent atheists (so I've heard) continue to use this type of ridiculous propaganda to bolster their position.

Either they're not smart enough to see the flaws in their handling of the data, or they're being dishonest about the data.

:)

Review Strife's post in light of what I've pointed out and draw your own conclusions.

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Your stats are wrong.

Which ones, and why? I'd put money on you not being able to actually correct any of them.

The facts are this;  since atheists are less intelligent than christians,

Actually, the average IQ is lower in the Bible belt than elsewhere in the US, iirc. See for yourself: http://sq.4mg.com/IQpolitics.htm

Ignoring the political data also on that page, you can see here that the Bible Belt states mostly have below average IQs. While that does not speak of Christians as clearly as your assumption about atheists, it does suggest that fundies like you are less intelligent than average.

they hold lower-paying jobs (like yourself) and therefore have less opportunities to commit crimes that will land them in prison. (you can't commit many major crimes when you're digging a ditch or flipping hamburgers). Sorry, Strife, hope I didn't get too personal.

Don't worry--your false premise (and ad hominem) assures that no atheist would take what you just said seriously. ;)

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;) HUM i like your fuzzy math :P

"Fuzzy math (also called "reformed math", "whole math", "constructivist math" or "new-new math") is an educational approach to the teaching of basic mathematics for children. It emphasizes word problems and understanding the concepts behind mathematical operations, rather than rote memorization of arithmetic facts." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuzzy_math

How was my post fuzzy math? It focused quite clearly on numbers, ratios even.

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This is simply evidence that a handful of people do not know how to handle statistics properly (we can count Strife among them owing to his easy acceptance of these hasty conclusions).

1)  Strife's claim that over 80% of prison inmates are Christian is not supported by the data.

Uh, yeah, it is. It's right there in black and white.

This was not a randomized poll,

Right--it's a complete poll, which is much better. The bureau counted ALL the inmates. ;) Usually statisticians are forced to rely on samples because it would be too hard to get a 'full sample.' This is a rare case, in a good way--the 'captivity' of prison inmates probably played a role. Regardless, your contention that it's somehow not a valid poll is ridiculous--in fact, the opposite is true: this poll's data is a lot stronger than most by virtue of its 'completeness.'

so the results cannot be extrapolated to include those who did not respond to the question of religious affiliation. That means that religious affiliation of almost 20,000 of the entire sample simply wasn't known (since they gave no response).

LOL, are you telling me that 80% of a given population is not a big enough sample size for you? With that logic you would have to ignore 99+% of all statistics ever taken, since the vast majority of them use samples much, MUCH smaller (and still include "don't know/no response" categories). Come on! To think that getting results for 80% of a population (in this case, the prison population) is insufficient to be representative of the entire population is just ludicrous.

Now, I realize that 20% "no response" is pretty high as far as polls go (it's usually under 5%), but for all intents and purposes, it's fairly safe to treat 'everyone was polled and 80% answered' the same as '80% were polled and they all answered.' It's still an unusually strong set of data.

Every one of those could have been atheists (or agnostics) who simply elected not to categorize themselves on the questionnaire.

Oh, please. Just how far can you take grasping at straws, seriously? Every one could have been a fundamentalist Christian too. Let's not start with the baseless assumptions, yes?

2)  There is no conclusion that can reasonably be drawn about the general population based on prison statistics.  To quickly illustrate, some atheists are fond of pointing out how much smarter they are than religious believers.  If true, couldn't this translate into a more successful life of crime (the more adept criminals avoiding conviction and thus achieving underrepresentation in the prisons)?

This is nothing but random speculation. Is "atheists are just better at getting away with their crime" really your entire basis for dismissing a correlation between the two populations? How then do you explain the near-perfect 1:1 ratio between Christians in jail and Christians out of jail?

Regardless, you're just coming up with all kinds of hypothetical reasons why the data might be wrong, but nothing solid. Of course, that doesn't stop you from flatly saying my conclusion isn't supported by the data then using these fantasies/daydreams and act like they affect the hard numbers at all.

It's hilarious to see the mega-intelligent atheists (so I've heard) continue to use this type of ridiculous propaganda to bolster their position.

The reality remains that atheists are vastly underrepresented in prison populations. Your "skepticism" seems very picky indeed--complaining about an 80% sample size pretty much shows you're just looking for things to attack because you don't like the outcome. But at the same time, theism is a "strong player" in cosmology, according to you. :P I can smell the BS from here.

Either they're not smart enough to see the flaws in their handling of the data, or they're being dishonest about the data.

:)

Review Strife's post in light of what I've pointed out and

then realize (or read my post if you don't) how silly it is in this response, then draw your own conclusions.

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Guest 2smart4u
This is simply evidence that a handful of people do not know how to handle statistics properly (we can count Strife among them owing to his easy acceptance of these hasty conclusions).

1)  Strife's claim that over 80% of prison inmates are Christian is not supported by the data.  This was not a randomized poll, so the results cannot be extrapolated to include those who did not respond to the question of religious affiliation.

That means that religious affiliation of almost 20,000 of the entire sample simply wasn't known (since they gave no response).

Every one of those could have been atheists (or agnostics) who simply elected not to categorize themselves on the questionnaire.

("Unknown/No Answer      18381

----------------------------

Total Convicted        93112  80.259% (74731) prisoners' religion is known."

"Judeo-Christian Total  62594  83.761% (of the 74731 total responses)")

http://holysmoke.org/icr-pri.htm

2)  There is no conclusion that can reasonably be drawn about the general population based on prison statistics.  To quickly illustrate, some atheists are fond of pointing out how much smarter they are than religious believers.  If true, couldn't this translate into a more successful life of crime (the more adept criminals avoiding conviction and thus achieving underrepresentation in the prisons)?

It's hilarious to see the mega-intelligent atheists (so I've heard) continue to use this type of ridiculous propaganda to bolster their position.

Either they're not smart enough to see the flaws in their handling of the data, or they're being dishonest about the data.

;)

Review Strife's post in light of what I've pointed out and draw your own conclusions.

Atheists will continue to defend Darwin until the second coming of Christ.

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Atheists will continue to defend Darwin until the second coming of Christ.

IOW: "Atheists will always defend Darwin."

But that's not true--all rational people, atheist or not, will continue to defend the theories that fit the evidence, for as long as they fit the evidence. But I'm sure that's something a fundamentalist wouldn't be able to understand. Adaptation is not exactly your strong suit.

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With the full expectation that Strife will continue to draw a blank when it comes to understanding the prison survey results, I've come up with a different illustration.

Suppose that a group fills out a questionnaire for political affiliation.

Just to give us some numbers to work with, let's say the form is distributed to a non-random population of 1000 people (maybe they're all employees of the Reform Party, for all we know).

1000 people take the survey.

Of the 1000 who take the survey, 800 answer the questions about political affiliation.

400 identify themselves as Democrats.

300 identify themselves as Republicans.

150 identify themselves as Independents.

150 do not identify with any political group.

The last group of 150 is the key to the analogy. Strife applies the answers of the 750 to the 150 who did not answer, as though the 750 who answered the question were supposed to be a representative sample of the 800 who received the form to fill out.

Like so:

150 non-respondents:

~71 would be expected to be Democrats.

~53 would be expected to be Republicans.

~27 would be expected to be Independents.

In other words, the 150 who did not answer are not treated as part of the sample (which they were), but are treated as those for whom the sample is thought to be representative (wrong on a number of levels).

Thus we have

400/850 (47% Democrats => ~471/1000 in the entire sample of 1000)

300/850 (35% Republicans => ~353/1000 in the entire sample of 1000)

150/850 (18% Independent => ~177/1000 in the entire sample of 1000)

Thus, Strife would effectively have us pretend that the 150 who did not respond did respond according to the percentages indicated by those who did respond.

About the only way to handle statistics more irresponsibly than that is to make them up. There is no grounds for assuming anything about the leanings of the 150 who took the survey and provided no answer.

No competent pollster operates in such a fashion, but Strife doesn't even stop there.

He blithely applies the data for a prison population to the population as a whole ("It is pretty strong evidence to suggest, not that Christians are immoral, but that however moral Christians in the US are, atheists are much more so on average").

It would be comparably careless to do an income survey on Cape Cod and extrapolate the numbers to represent the whole of the United States.

To my knowledge, only one poll has been constructed to address the relationship of religion to morality. Gallup performed the poll (founded by a Christian, so a suspicion of bias is reasonable) iirc, and found that there was little difference between the morality of Christians and others, with the caveat that those who ranked religion as high in importance to their lives were slightly superior in morals to the general population.

It's not as easy to find references to the poll as I would expect, so skepticism is understood where my documentation is lacking.

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Atheists will continue to defend Darwin until the second coming of Christ.

What's the matter? Your all powerful Jesus couldn't get it right the first time? he has to come back and fix his mistakes?

And Christians call Atheists stupid?

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More incessant rambling from Bryan...

Okay, instead of breaking down the whole thing, I'll make this very simple with an easy example, and that will be the end of it.

If you survey 100% of a population (as was the case in the prison survey), and you get results like these:

80% answer

20% don't answer

And within the 80% that answer:

70% are X

20% are Y

10% are Z

It isn't unfair to suggest that the 20% who didn't answer have similar ratios, unless there is actual evidence to suggest that a certain group is significantly more inclined to not (want to) answer or something like that.

Unless you provide such evidence, I won't waste any more time dealing with your lengthy, yet empty, posts on this subject either. Who knew it was possible for one to type so much without actually saying anything? :unsure:

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Oddly enough, religious scientists (which Philip Johnson, among others, tries desperately to deny the existence of) will also defend Darwin, whether Christ shows up or not.

Because Darwin was, oh, what's the word...? RIGHT.

It looks like you're misrepresenting Phillip E. Johnson.

Where has he ever denied the existence of religious scientists?

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In post 11 above, I forgot to edit one of the paragraphs after simplifying the numbers I was using.

Nothing wrong with my math. Just a minor problem with editing. :unsure:

"The last group of 150 is the key to the analogy. Strife applies the answers of the 850 to the 150 who did not answer, as though the 850 who answered the question were supposed to be a representative sample of the 1000 who received the form to fill out."

The paragraph as it should have read after the numbers were changed (orignally it was 800 respondents, 400 Dems, 300, GOP, 50 I, 50 no reply). I fixed the 50s but forgot to fix the other figures.

Hopefully the distraction created by my error will be minimal.

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Guest WilliamK
It would be comparably careless to do an income survey on Cape Cod and extrapolate the numbers to represent the whole of the United States.

Oh good grief. It would be like doing an income survey on Cape Cod and extrapolating the numbers to represent all ON CAPE COD. And if that then shows that the income there is much higher than in the general population, it would not be unreasonable to conclude that wealthy people are more likely to become residents of Cape Cod than poor or middle class people. One might also reasonably suspect that this pattern might be found in other places that have a similarly high cost of living. That would be more of a stretch, of course. But it would at least be a well-reasoned hypothesis.

Comparisons between poll results between different groups CAN tell you things about the RELATIONSHIPS between those groups. Maybe not causation, but at least correlation. And I might point out that while correlation does not prove causation, a lack of correlation is a fair indication against it. To me the fact that religion among prison populations is not much different than the general population is more significant than the lower incidence of atheism in this poll.

On the separate issue about non-responders, no, you can't guarantee that all of the non-responders would have had a similar distribution to the responders. They are an unknown. To admit some uncertainty there is reasonable. But to argue that a similar distribution is unlikely requires speculating the existence of some unevidenced phenomena that would create a pattern among the non-responders. In the absence of something that actually indicates a bias there, not mere "what if" speculation, a similar distribution, though not certain, is the most reasonable expectation. The thing is, to support a different conclusion than the one Strife presents, the non-responders would have to be RADICALLY atypical of the results among the responders.

I don't know enough about that study to know if there might be other problems with it, but your own arguments against it are really lame, and boil down to little more than just trumping up the uncertainty that exists in ANY kind of statistics.

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Oh good grief. It would be like doing an income survey on Cape Cod and extrapolating the numbers to represent all ON CAPE COD.

"It is pretty strong evidence to suggest, not that Christians are immoral, but that however moral Christians in the US are, atheists are much more so on average"

William, do you really think that Cape Cod income figures are to Cape Cod what US prison statistics are to the US population in general?

Review the quotation of Strife, which immediately preceded the comment that you took out of context.

Shame on you, by the way.

And if that then shows that the income there is much higher than in the general population, it would not be unreasonable to conclude that wealthy people are more likely to become residents of Cape Cod than poor or middle class people.

How would figures from Cape Cod show any comparison to other locations if the other location are not sampled for comparison?

One might also reasonably suspect that this pattern might be found in other places that have a similarly high cost of living. That would be more of a stretch, of course. But it would at least be a well-reasoned hypothesis.

Is the U.S. in general a similar location to a U.S. prison?

Comparisons between poll results between different groups CAN tell you things about the RELATIONSHIPS between those groups. Maybe not causation, but at least correlation. And I might point out that while correlation does not prove causation, a lack of correlation is a fair indication against it. To me the fact that religion among prison populations is not much different than the general population is more significant than the lower incidence of atheism in this poll.

You can't even get that from this data, because of the high percentage that did not respond.

See post #11.

On the separate issue about non-responders, no, you can't guarantee that all of the non-responders would have had a similar distribution to the responders. They are an unknown. To admit some uncertainty there is reasonable. But to argue that a similar distribution is unlikely requires speculating the existence of some unevidenced phenomena that would create a pattern among the non-responders.

This is a classic fallacy of shifting the burden of proof.

I haven't argued that it is unlikely that the distribution is similar.

I have argued that it is irresponsible (no reputable pollster would do it) to assume that the distribution is similar for the group that did not answer.

If you want someone to prove his assertion that it is reasonable to think the numbers are similar, look to Strife.

In the absence of something that actually indicates a bias there, not mere "what if" speculation, a similar distribution, though not certain, is the most reasonable expectation.

Fallacy of argumentum ad ignorantiam (since we don't know that it isn't reasonable to think that the numbers would be similar, therefore it is reasonable to think that the numbers are similar).

http://philosophy.lander.edu/logic/ignorance.html

No reputable pollster would follow that methodology. And there's a good reason for it (it's fallacious).

The thing is, to support a different conclusion than the one Strife presents, the non-responders would have to be RADICALLY atypical of the results among the responders.

We already know that they are atypical: They did not respond to the question. Most who took the poll responded.

How quickly they forget.

I don't know enough about that study to know if there might be other problems with it, but your own arguments against it are really lame, and boil down to little more than just trumping up the uncertainty that exists in ANY kind of statistics.

You don't know what you're talking about, William, and your criticisms of my argument are incoherent (since you apparently didn't pay much attention to the passage you responded to).

I suggest you visit the site I linked that talks about polling from a journalist's perspective. It zeros in on a number of the issues I've already identified, and you can undoubtedly find others if you use some sense.

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More incessant rambling from Bryan...

Strife discovers another fallacy to add to his arsenal.

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/p...g-the-well.html

Okay, instead of breaking down the whole thing, I'll make this very simple with an easy example, and that will be the end of it.

If you survey 100% of a population (as was the case in the prison survey), and you get results like these:

80% answer

20% don't answer

And within the 80% that answer:

70% are X

20% are Y

10% are Z

It isn't unfair to suggest that the 20% who didn't answer have similar ratios, unless one has some outside reason that suggests a certain group is significantly more inclined to not (want to) answer.

Fallacy of argumentum ad ignorantiam.

Two fallacies already. That's impressive.

It is extremely unreasonable to to suggest that the 20% who didn't answer have similar ratios unless you have a specific reason for that suggestion.

Strife should not try to wriggle off the hook for that justification by employing logical fallacies such as argumentum ad ignorantiam.

Unless you provide such a legitimate reason, I won't waste any more time dealing with your lengthy, yet empty, posts. Who knew it was possible for one to type so much without actually saying anything? :P

Okay, add to that the appeal to ridicule (though the heavy unintentional irony is appreciated).

http://www.ironyparty.org/fallaciesemotive.htm#ridicule

I put the parts of Strife's post that are not directly fallacious in red, for contrast.

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I pity you.

You do? How sweet.

And why do you pity me? Because you believe that Jesus is God and I think he's not?

Be you believe that faith in Christ leads to salvation, and I think it's just another superstition?

So, why exactly do I deserve your pity? Because I can think for myself and realized that the whole Christian faith is a fraudulent mix of old Egyptian and Perisan myths?

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Your stats are wrong.  The facts are this;  since atheists are less intelligent than christians, they hold lower-paying jobs (like yourself) and therefore have less opportunities to commit crimes that will land them in prison. (you can't commit many major crimes when you're digging a ditch or flipping hamburgers). Sorry, Strife, hope I didn't get too personal.

Geez, what an idiot!

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It is extremely unreasonable to to suggest that the 20% who didn't answer have similar ratios unless you have a specific reason for that suggestion.

Your logic suggests that all statistics about any population larger than its sample size are invalid, yet you don't even seem to realize what a preposterous suggestion that is.

:) Whatever, man.

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Guest Keith-Marshall,Mo
Which ones, and why? I'd put money on you not being able to actually correct any of them.

Actually, the average IQ is lower in the Bible belt than elsewhere in the US, iirc. See for yourself: http://sq.4mg.com/IQpolitics.htm

Ignoring the political data also on that page, you can see here that the Bible Belt states mostly have below average IQs. While that does not speak of Christians as clearly as your assumption about atheists, it does suggest that fundies like you are less intelligent than average.

Don't worry--your false premise (and ad hominem) assures that no atheist would take what you just said seriously. :)

Careful Strife.

"Never argue with a fool, they'll drag you down to thier level then beat you with experience"

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I had already composed a reply to this post, but I'm not sure what's become of it (there's one in a different threat that seems to have gotten lost in limbo, also).

I'll provide an abbreviated version of my earlier reply, including a link to assist in understanding polls, which I referred to in other posts expecting that it had appeared in print already.

Uh, yeah, it is. It's right there in black and white.

Right--it's a complete poll, which is much better.

It's not a complete poll, since about 20% didn't answer. It's also not really a poll at all. Polls are typically designed to obtain specific information. This reason behind the religious questions on this prison survey are not clear (and the manner in which the questions were presented is significant, particularly with respect to whether or not the religious question was open-ended. Does an atheist who does not consider himself religious bother to fill in a blank listing "atheism" as his religion, for example?

How many atheists really consider "atheism" to be a religion? In my experience, most argue that it is lack of belief in a god or gods--nothing more and nothing less.

The bureau counted ALL the inmates. :) Usually statisticians are forced to rely on samples because it would be too hard to get a 'full sample.'

And usually an effort is made to obtain representative samples (see extrapolation to the US population as a whole). :)

This is a rare case, in a good way--the 'captivity' of prison inmates probably played a role. Regardless, your contention that it's somehow not a valid poll is ridiculous--in fact, the opposite is true: this poll's data is a lot stronger than most by virtue of its 'completeness.'

The data is only strong for those who answered the questions, or for a population that is reasonably similar to the prison population--but not those who filled out the survey leaving the answer blank.

LOL, are you telling me that 80% of a given population is not a big enough sample size for you?

No, I'm telling you that the failure to randomize the sample wrecks your conclusion (it forces you into fallacious reasoning to reach your conclusion).

With that logic you would have to ignore 99+% of all statistics ever taken, since the vast majority of them use samples much, MUCH smaller (and still include "don't know/no response" categories).

With that interpretation of my argument you have another straw man.

Come on! To think that getting results for 80% of a population (in this case, the prison population) is insufficient to be representative of the entire population is just ludicrous.

Even 80% is not necessarily sufficient if the sample isn't properly randomized.

When 18,000 declined to fill in the blank, they completely ruined the attempt to extrapolate the data in their direction.

The researchers did not randomly choose those who would not fill in the blank. The prisoners decided that on their own. That puts the kibosh on random sampling.

Now, I realize that 20% "no response" is pretty high as far as polls go (it's usually under 5%), but for all intents and purposes, it's fairly safe to treat 'everyone was polled and 80% answered' the same as '80% were polled and they all answered.'

That's an incredibly ill-informed opinion you've got there, Strife.

Read this and learn (see especially 3,4,5,6,9):

http://www.publicagenda.org/polling/polling_20q.cfm

It's still an unusually strong set of data.

The data is good. Your conclusions are bad (that is, fallacious).

Oh, please. Just how far can you take grasping at straws, seriously? Every one could have been a fundamentalist Christian too. Let's not start with the baseless assumptions, yes?

That's exactly the point. You're making baseless assumptions (that the group that didn't answer would, if they had answered, approximate the types of results obtained from those who answered).

And then you hilarious justify it with a fallacious appeal to ignorance.

And then you keep arguing the point as though you cannot see where you're going wrong.

This is nothing but random speculation. Is "atheists are just better at getting away with their crime" really your entire basis for dismissing a correlation between the two populations?

No, but if you're inclined to create straw men I can see why you'd focus on it.

I'm simply pointing out another area where your conclusion relies on baseless assumption.

How then do you explain the near-perfect 1:1 ratio between Christians in jail and Christians out of jail?

Fallacy of the complex question (question contains questionable premise).

Since you cannot know, without assumption, the religious preferences of those who (apparently deliberately) declined to reveal their religious preferences, the claim of a 1:1 ratio doesn't hold up. The only conclusion that you can draw (taking the figure from memory), is that no less than 73% of the inmates were Jewish/Christian. You can narrow that down a bit by subtracting the Jews and recalculating the baseline percentage.

Regardless, you're just coming up with all kinds of hypothetical reasons why the data might be wrong, but nothing solid.

I've come up with a solid explanation of your reliance on assumption.

IOW, you're the one who needs some solid reasons for your conclusions, because you can't do it with the prison survey data alone.

Of course, that doesn't stop you from flatly saying my conclusion isn't supported by the data then using these fantasies/daydreams and act like they affect the hard numbers at all.

That's another straw man.

You don't have any hard numbers about the religious preferences of the 18,000-plus who refused to reveal their religious preferences. You're insisting on a fantasy/daydream that you've got something like "hard numbers" for that group.

You don't.

You've achieved an impressive pinnacle of hypocrisy, Strife.

The reality remains that atheists are vastly underrepresented in prison populations.

The reality is that the prison survey you cited cannot support your claim. Your reasoning is fallacious because it relies on assumptions unsupported by evidence.

Your "skepticism" seems very picky indeed--complaining about an 80% sample size pretty much shows you're just looking for things to attack because you don't like the outcome.

I never attacked the sample size. You're daydreaming again.

The problem is the lack of randomization, and your fallacious reasoning in light of the non-random nature of the collected survey data.

"This was not a randomized poll, so the results cannot be extrapolated to include those who did not respond to the question of religious affiliation."

http://forums.kearnyontheweb.com/index.php...=ST&f=2&t=4047#

But at the same time, theism is a "strong player" in cosmology, according to you. :lol: I can smell the BS from here.

Perhaps it was my earlier reply to that last line of yours that resulted in my post failing to appear (though it's hard to imagine why my reply would have been more objectionable than Strife's comment).

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Your logic suggests that all statistics about any population larger than its sample size are invalid, yet you don't even seem to realize what a preposterous suggestion that is.

:) Whatever, man.

*sigh*

This straw man again?

It's never been about sample size. It's about randomization.

If you think you can extricate yourself from this one with straw men, be my guest.

I'll call you on it every time.

It's only going to get worse for you.

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