Pharyngula

Growing godlessness

A new poll seems to be showing that the efforts of those ferocious agitating atheists are working — either that, or the corruption of the theocratic right is driving more people into our arms. Daylight Atheism reports that atheists are at 25% of the American population, which isn’t quite right: the numbers include atheists and agnostics at 18%, with another 6% preferring not to say. It would be more accurate to say that about one in four Americans is a freethinker of some sort…and I suspect that that is an underestimate. There are many who affiliate themselves with a church for reasons of tradition and the lack of other social outlets, but don’t really believe in this weird personal god others favor.

The article in The Nation on this subject is interesting and positive, although I also see a little timidity in its efforts to find much to criticize in the “New Atheists” (I also object to the title…this “New” nonsense is inaccurate and tends to minimize the fact that atheism has a long and worthy intellectual history). This part is right on, though.

The great success of the New Atheists is to have reached them [unbelieving citizens], both speaking to and for them. These writers are devoted, with sledgehammer force and angry urgency, to “breaking the spell” cast by the religious ascendancy, to overcoming a situation in which every other area of life can be critically analyzed while admittedly irrational religious faith is made central to American life but exempted from serious discussion.

Comments

  1. #1 Norman Doering
    September 3, 2007

    It’s working!?

    Well, there goes my attempt to construct a better frame.

  2. #2 Ken Cope
    September 3, 2007

    Speaking of atheism’s long and worthy history, who should pop out of the Pharyngula random quote stack just now?

    H. L. Mencken:

    The liberation of the human mind has never been furthered by dunderheads; it has been furthered by gay fellows who heaved dead cats into sanctuaries and then went roistering down the highways of the world, proving to all men that doubt, after all, was safe–that the god in the sanctuary was finite in his power and hence a fraud. One horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms. It is not only more effective; it is also vastly more intelligent.

  3. #3 Lucy
    September 3, 2007

    Nearly a quarter of the population………
    You just made my day!

    I’ve been reading this blog since this past fall, and this is the first time I’ve ever posted anything. As a godless teenager in suburban New Jersey, one can feel very lonely indeed. It means something enormous to me to know that I’m not alone. Atheism lacks the social aspect of religion, creating a void that isn’t easily filled. Thanks for filling it.

  4. #4 Dustin
    September 3, 2007

    Must… resist… urge… to rub this… in a framer’s… face.

    Ahh, to hell with it. I’ve got feeding tubes and a steaming pile of crow casserole. Who wants dibs?

  5. #5 Stuart Coleman
    September 3, 2007

    Just don’t tell Mooney & Nisbet that.

  6. #6 CalGeorge, Hysterical Atheist
    September 3, 2007

    New Atheist?

    Bleh.

    I prefer to be called an Hysterical Atheist.

    I can’t function in a Christian world.

    The mere thought of it drives me…

    Absolutely. Bonkers.

  7. #7 Daisy
    September 3, 2007

    I suspect that that is an underestimate. There are many who affiliate themselves with a church for reasons of tradition and the lack of other social outlets, but don’t really believe in this weird personal god others favor.

    Definitely.

    And in religions other that Christianity (and maybe in some Christian circles?), there is often little to no emphasis on actual belief. For example, my mother never let her atheism get in the way of identifying as a Jew, participating in community and cultural events, and raising my brother and I to consider ourselves Jewish. In my experience this is the norm amongst Jewish families — many if not most people are atheists, the holy texts are poetry and mythology, the holidays are celebrated to bring people together and continue a history (not because of God), and free thought, questioning assumptions, debate, and discussion are all highly valued.

  8. #8 Daisy
    September 3, 2007

    I suspect that that is an underestimate. There are many who affiliate themselves with a church for reasons of tradition and the lack of other social outlets, but don’t really believe in this weird personal god others favor.

    Definitely.

    And in religions other that Christianity (and maybe in some Christian circles?), there is often little to no emphasis on actual belief. For example, my mother never let her atheism get in the way of identifying as a Jew, participating in community and cultural events, and raising my brother and I to consider ourselves Jewish. In my experience this is the norm amongst Jewish families — many if not most people are atheists, the holy texts are poetry and mythology, the holidays are celebrated to bring people together and continue a history (not because of God), and free thought, questioning assumptions, debate, and discussion are all highly valued.

  9. #9 SEF
    September 3, 2007

    atheism has a long and worthy intellectual history

    To which it is hard to get decent access. The few documentaries about such things just about make it onto real TV (as opposed to just digital) but are not available in official transcript (which is better for deaf people) or DVD form because they are regarded as not popular enough to be worth the bother (ie of the BBC). Eg Jonathan Miller’s “Brief History of Disbelief”. Though there are unofficial transcripts of some of the interviews:
    http://tapes.atbhost.com/index.php

  10. #10 notthedroids
    September 3, 2007

    “Must… resist… urge… to rub this… in a framer’s… face.”

    Ahem. Really? What to make of this observation, then?

    “So effectively have [conservative Christians] framed the issues that, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2006 report on religion and public life, fully 69 percent of Americans believe that liberals have ‘gone too far in trying to keep religion out of schools and government.'”

  11. #11 Onymous
    September 3, 2007

    I’m extremely skeptical about pretty much any poll with a significant atheist/agnostic response.
    the site says it corresponds with the 2001 ARIS poll, but if you check http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/04statab/pop.pdf (page 56)
    the vast majority of the 14 percent described themselves as no religion, and the article also mentions that “non-religious” was included in the pew study as well.
    the atheists account for only 0.3% in the ARIS poll

    I personally have known enough people to know that non-religious and atheist (even agnostic) are pretty fucking far away from each other.

    so if that poll is valid it means that Dawkins et al have managed to convince some 27 million people (ignoring the extra millions it would take to get from 14% to 18%) to admit to themselves or in public that what they actually are is agnostic/atheist. BUT did not cause ANY decrease of the 5.4% of “prefer not to answer” crowd from ARIS ’01.

    Seems like a lot to hope for.

    Seems like if they’ve had that much effect on the acceptability of atheism the % that chose not to answer IF ATHEIST would have decrease not increased (although that may just be a limit to statistical accuracy due to poll size)

    I wonder what the numbers would be if the classic high-school “I’m spiritual but not religious” was an option. As I suspect there may be a bias towards calling yourself agnostic because the affirmative answer strikes people as (in context) meaning “I’m a total god-bag that subscribes to a specific dogma”

  12. #12 Marcus Ranum
    September 3, 2007

    As much as it annoys me to think it, George Bush is probably doing a tremendous amount to prmote atheism and free thought. Listening to that incoherent woo-addled “new crusader” dingbat speaking about “God this” and “God that” has to make anyone with a brain cringe at the thought of being associated with that.

  13. #13 Ebonmuse
    September 3, 2007

    In truth, I think this result is something of an outlier. As I said in my original post about it, most surveys done on this subject find that the percentage of secular and non-religious Americans is around 15% (though growing with each generation).

    That said, the innovation here was in listing “would prefer not to say” as an option, which I don’t believe past surveys have done. I’m confident that most of the 6% who answered that way are nonbelievers. (Why would a person not want to admit to believing in God in a society as god-soaked as ours?) So, while this result may be an outlier, it may also show that past surveys have undercounted the godless.

    And I heartily concur with people who’ve noticed this is a strike against the frame-peddlers. Our numbers are more than sufficient to stand up to the religious on their own terms without watering down our message, if only we could achieve an equivalent degree of political organization. And how are we ever going to get organized without strong, passionate spokespeople making the case for atheism and creating a rallying point for all the secular Americans?

  14. #14 Anton Mates
    September 3, 2007

    Wow, that’s cheering news. I agree that the “New Atheist” label doesn’t make much sense until someone explains how they’re new…so far as I can see, the only novel feature is the society surrounding them, which is less inclined to shun/ridicule/burn them than in past times.

    I thought they were pretty mild in their criticism of the authors, though. All they really said about Dawkins and Dennett is that they covered too much ground in their books–which is amusing, when you also consider the common “You can’t evaluate religious claims until you explore every nook and cranny of theology” objection.

    Suburban New Jersey, Lucy? Somehow I wouldn’t expect that to be a tremendously pious place, being within a stone’s throw of New York and all. But come to think of it, my only friend from New Jersey comes from a fundamentalist Christian family. Huh.

    Have you looked at the New Jersey Humanist Network?

  15. #15 Onymous
    September 3, 2007

    That said, the innovation here was in listing “would prefer not to say” as an option, which I don’t believe past surveys have done. I’m confident that most of the 6% who answered that way are nonbelievers. (Why would a person not want to admit to believing in God in a society as god-soaked as ours?) So, while this result may be an outlier, it may also show that past surveys have undercounted the godless.

    1. The ARIS poll didn’t even have choices they just flat out asked them what are you (and 5.4% gave no answer)
    2. Those that don’t answer could very well just be privacy freaks, or just honestly feel none of the possible answers is accurate, it’s likely but certainly not a guarantee that they are non believers, though the fact that the % hasn’t changed in the 6 years since ARIS makes me think that it’s honestly people who don’t want to say, not just atheist/agnostics. Otherwise you’d think that IF 13% or so switched from non religious to agnostic/atheist, it would imply a large enough shift in public accepability that if the 6% were just atheists afraid to say so you’d see it drop significantly too.

    Oh unrelated to you but just an expansion on non-religious vs atheist

    I can not believe in god and still believe in ghosts, souls, universal oneness, reincarnation, afterlives, Things-Happening-For-A-Reason, fate, fairies, unicorns, self transforming machine elves and fractal time waves. Technically still an atheist.
    the thing is in my experience those that believe in that crap don’t self identify as atheist, they’re the “non-religious” but of course left with out that option agnostic IS sort of the closest you can answer there by bumping it up a lot.

  16. #16 Anton Mates
    September 3, 2007

    “Must… resist… urge… to rub this… in a framer’s… face.”

    Ahem. Really? What to make of this observation, then?

    “So effectively have [conservative Christians] framed the issues that, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2006 report on religion and public life, fully 69 percent of Americans believe that liberals have ‘gone too far in trying to keep religion out of schools and government.'”

    What I’d make of it is that both outspoken atheists and conservative Christians are doing well in the framing business. It seems to be liberal/moderate believers who are having the most trouble getting their message across.

  17. #17 MartinC
    September 3, 2007

    Why is it always taken for granted that the ‘religious’ are some sort of homogeneous belief group? In my experience of religious congregations the aspects that each individual actually feels to be true varies enormously from one person to the next.
    I’d love to see a live experiment of ten religious people given a lie detector test about what they really believe is true. Talking snakes ? Dinosaurs on the ark ? Virgin birth? The Trinity ? Heaven and Hell ? Souls ? Angels ? The Devil?
    Ten atheists on the other hand – No problem.

  18. #18 Onymous
    September 3, 2007

    dude like i just said, you can believe in all sorts of kooky crap and still be an atheist.
    Atheist means you don’t believe in god. Period. The End.
    it doesn’t mean you’re a skeptic, or sciency, or sane, or anything.

    Atheist is a a very tiny descriptor.

    Yeah they’d probably agree on virgin birth, the holy trinity and the devil.

    but how about magic, ghosts, chupacabras, nessie, ogopogo, jersey devil, crop circles, magic, aliens on mars, anal probing, dragons, unicorns, faries, magic, the end of the universe in 2012, morphic fields etc…
    just cause most of the people that read pharyngula agree on stuff doesn’t make atheists a cohesive group.

  19. #19 John Pieret
    September 3, 2007

    Assuming, of course, that the poll is accurate, congratulations! Even if it is just the effect of people re-labeling themselves it is a significant change that could have profound effects on politics when politicians start crunching demographic numbers.

    I don’t get why the “New Atheist” business bothers you, however. Either Dawkins/Harris/Hitchens/PZ are doing something new in terms of tactics/debate/etc. or you can’t attribute this change to the actions of the “ferocious agitating atheists.” If it’s the same-old, same-old, then you have to look to some other cause for this shift; if it’s not the same-old, same-old, then the modifier “new” seems appropriate.

  20. #20 Keanus
    September 3, 2007

    Believers join groups because they need to in order to keep the faith. Alone, their faith crumbles. The lack of faith in atheists creates the opposite condition, not being willing to join anything. Atheists don’t need to have their lack of belief reinforced weekly at bible thumping ceremonies with like minded believers. They know where their beliefs lie and are serene about it. Trying to make them join a group is like that old saw about herding cats. You can’t do it.

  21. #21 Lucy
    September 3, 2007

    Anton: no, New Jersey isn’t a terribly pious place (I actually should feel rather lucky) – but it’s pious enough to make one feel (quite accurately) at odds with the majority of the population. And, no, I wasn’t aware of the New Jersey Humanist Network, thanks for the link.

    Interesting site, SEF……I wonder if, by some infinitesimal chance, any of the program might be on YouTube? Doubt we’ll be that lucky, though……

  22. #22 PZ Myers
    September 3, 2007

    What’s new are the tactics, not the atheism. This is the same old atheism as Ingersoll’s — the ideas aren’t new. The objection is to the implication that there’s something abruptly different to what they’re saying.

  23. #23 Kausik Datta
    September 3, 2007

    Speaking of polls, a poll by Zogby International in collaboration with the television channel GSN shows that in answer to the question “Would you rule out a candidate for President of the United States if they were an atheist?”, 55% of GSN watchers (and 51% of overall Americans) voted No, and 8% (and 10%) voted Not Sure. Do these polls actually reflect the mindset of people? Are these random enough to represent a statistical sample? Is the sample size large enough or distributed enough to give a true estimate? Will we see any effect of it in 2008?

    Who knows. 39% of Americans (including 37% of GSN watchers) would not vote an Atheist to Presidency. So much for the separation of church and state. A tad depressing IMO…

  24. #24 woozy
    September 3, 2007

    the numbers include atheists and agnostics at 18%, with another 6% preferring not to say. It would be more accurate to say that about one in four Americans is a freethinker of some sort…

    Well, assuming all atheists and agnostics and “mind your own business” are freethinkers… But would it really be fair to say believers are never freethinkers?

    If we claim “mind your own business” to “our” side, I wonder if we can claim some form of “religious atheist”. New-agers, unitarians, those who “believe” in a personal diety, diests (are there any still?), etc. PZ and Dawkins may yet convince me of the errors of my atheist-apologetic stance, but I think it’s *really* important to show (and I sincerely believe this is true) that a vast number of believers have a very rational and abstract belief and thus have a *lot* more in common with “our” side than with the fundamentalist literalist physical intervention *anti*-natural and anti-scientific believing wackos who, despite their claims that America is a christian country are a slim minority.

  25. #25 John Pieret
    September 3, 2007

    What’s new are the tactics, not the atheism. This is the same old atheism as Ingersoll’s — the ideas aren’t new. The objection is to the implication that there’s something abruptly different to what they’re saying.

    So did the neoimpressionists stop painting? Or did they just change technique? Did the New Left stop being liberals? The neo/new terminology implies some sort of change while retaining clear continuity with the old group. I think your own description of the change warrants a neo/new modifier unless it is actually being used to mean a discontinuity with previous atheism, per se. Do you have any citation to a usage of “New Atheist” to mean a new message rather than a new attitude/tactic?

  26. #26 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    September 3, 2007

    Honestly, I don’t know what to make of any specific poll. Preferably you would have a consistent and representable set of questions to monitor trends. What we could do now is some metastatistical analysis, which is fraught with difficulties.

    But yes, the framers position doesn’t look good.

    this “New” nonsense is inaccurate

    OTOH, New Atheism looks active so it nicely frames…, oh.

    Well, what about “Active Auld Atheism” or A3 then?

  27. #27 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    September 3, 2007

    Honestly, I don’t know what to make of any specific poll. Preferably you would have a consistent and representable set of questions to monitor trends. What we could do now is some metastatistical analysis, which is fraught with difficulties.

    But yes, the framers position doesn’t look good.

    this “New” nonsense is inaccurate

    OTOH, New Atheism looks active so it nicely frames…, oh.

    Well, what about “Active Auld Atheism” or A3 then?

  28. #28 Murkanen
    September 3, 2007

    John, you are comparing apples to oranges. New ideas and changes to an ideology do deserve the “new” title, yes. However, there have always been outspoken atheists (Mencken comes to mind) and the atheism of today is very much the atheism of yesteryear. The only difference between now and then is that the outspoken atheists can get a lot more air time than they could before thanks to the internet.

  29. #29 John Pieret
    September 3, 2007

    Torbjörn:

    … the framers position doesn’t look good.

    As I understand it, the “framers” are interested in science education rather than godlessness. Let’s see if the numbers concerning acceptance of evolution and other sciences moves any before declaring the framers wrong. After all, this change could easily be all or mostly all from people who have already accepted science.

    … what about “Active Auld Atheism”

    Agitating Ancient Atheists? Um, no … I guess not.

  30. #30 dorris
    September 3, 2007

    For the sake of peace in my conservative, religious extended family, I don’t go around yelling “I’m an atheist” at every opportunity, nor do I taunt their beliefs with rolling eyes, sighs of disgust, or snarky comments whenever the conversation gets around to “God’s work in our lives” or some such. I do, however, try to inject some reason and logic into the discussion. Unfortunately, I’ve found that no matter how tactful I am, things inevitably get acrimonious. I think it’s because they are so threatened by the thought of all the time, money and effort they may have wasted on a fairy tale that they can’t allow even the faintest glimmer of reality to light up their narrow little minds. And they’re scared. They’re scared shitless of death, of being worm-food. There’s got to be something more, and they’re willing to walk blindly off a cliff (or kill brown people or burn books or whatever) in the name of their god, in the hope that they’ll go to heaven and get to see Uncle Joe and Gramma Jane again. It’s pretty hard to overcome these basic emotions, fear, hatred, and humiliation, with logic and reason.

    I hope this poll is close to the truth. It says something about people when they are willing to give up on fairy tales and embrace this one life. I think that facing your fears and living this life to the fullest is far more noble than hiding and cowering and killing in fear of some god, on the off-chance that after you die, you might get a brownie point or two.

  31. #31 John Pieret
    September 3, 2007

    … the atheism of today is very much the atheism of yesteryear. The only difference between now and then is that the outspoken atheists can get a lot more air time than they could before thanks to the internet.

    It was all bound to happen once the internet was invented by Al Gore? Well, okay … if you don’t want to credit Dawkins/Harris/Hitchens and their books at all …

  32. #32 Moses
    September 3, 2007

    Trying to make them join a group is like that old saw about herding cats. You can’t do it.

    Posted by: Keanus | September 3, 2007 4:57 PM

    Excuse me… http://www.ifilm.com/video/2666557

  33. #33 David Marjanovi?
    September 3, 2007

    (and maybe in some Christian circles?),

    No atheists raise their children to consider themselves Christian. I suppose the difference is that Christian is not an ethnicity.

    Concerning the holidays, though, millions celebrate kurisumasu, the Japanese festival of love and rampant consumerism. =8-)

  34. #34 David Marjanovi?
    September 3, 2007

    (and maybe in some Christian circles?),

    No atheists raise their children to consider themselves Christian. I suppose the difference is that Christian is not an ethnicity.

    Concerning the holidays, though, millions celebrate kurisumasu, the Japanese festival of love and rampant consumerism. =8-)

  35. #35 CRM-114
    September 3, 2007

    About those numbers — people lie.

    Their cars cannot lie.

    If you live in a high density area, on Sunday morning check your neighborhood for how many parking spaces are vacated before noon. My bet is a very small number — while 3/4 of the people claim to be churchgoers.

    If you’re in the burbs, do a car count at 6 in the morning on Sunday and another at 11. I bet most cars won’t have moved.

  36. #36 Louise Van Court
    September 3, 2007

    I am commenting on PZ’s comment #22 that the new atheist’s have basically the same ideas as atheists such as Ingersoll, although the tactics being employed now are new. Was that Robert G. Ingersoll who you were referring to? The article that popped up about him on the American Atheists site by Madalyn Murray O’Hair was not especially favorable. Is this someone you admire and would have atheists today emulate?

    “Atheists are made of more honest stuff. We see Ingersoll for what he was and accept him as that. He was far from being a saint. Except for the issue of abolition, into which he was indoctrinated by both of his parents, he was on the “wrong” side of every human issue. Most frequently his changes of mind, and of heart, came from the influence of those he loved. His turn from religion, for example, should be more honestly be seen as the result of his marriage to a woman who had abandoned it and who taught him that he should abandon any pretense of religion also.

    He was a ruthless attorney for the railroads at the height of their rule of the land. In this function he had to influence legislation, fight against the claims of the farmers, of widows and children in order to brutally consolidate the power of his clients. The railroad empires of post-civil war were notorious for their rapacious land deals. And, Robert Ingersoll climbed over the best of them all to get to the top. He opposed Abraham Lincoln until after the country was at war; he defended the most corrupt politicians of the nation; he wheeled and dealed in maneuvers that would make Barry Goldwater look like a goodie-two-shoes; he clamored for a high protective tariff and gold-backed money; he opposed suffrage for Black males and even proposed that they be sent away to a separate state or country set up for them. Today he would probably be a Reaganite.”

    I personally don’t care as much about what people say as about what people do whether they are believers or nonbelievers.

  37. #37 John Morales
    September 3, 2007

    Louise, PZ was obviously referring not to the person, but to the person’s arguments.

    Are you saying these arguments were wrong because of who he was?

  38. #38 John Morales
    September 3, 2007

    Um, ideas, not arguments. (I just re-read PZ’s comment).

  39. #39 Keanus
    September 3, 2007

    I’m no authority on Ingersoll, but the Council for Secular Humanism describes Ingersoll thusly:
    “… Ingersoll was the friend of Presidents, literary giants like Mark Twain, captains of industry like Andrew Carnegie, and leading figures in the arts. He was also beloved of reformers like Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Other Americans considered themselves his enemies. He bitterly opposed the Religious Right of his day. He was an early popularizer of Charles Darwin and a tireless advocate of science and reason. More, he argued for the rights of women and African-Americans.”

    That hardly sounds like a 19th Century Reaganite. I think Madalyn Murray O’Hair may have thought Ingersoll had stolen some of her thunder.

  40. #40 PZ Myers
    September 3, 2007

    Yeah, if someone wants a bad example of an atheist to clout us with, O’Hair is a better choice than Ingersoll.

    But it really doesn’t matter. There are no atheist saints. They’re all human, and of course you can pick out flaws, sometimes very serious flaws, in each individual.

  41. #41 dustbubble
    September 3, 2007

    lucy a #3. Blimey, pet. I didn’t know it was such an isssue over there. Tell you what, soon as you can, get yself over to anywhere in northern europe, enroll in college, get a job slinging beer to the halfwit locals, whatever. Within 6 months you’ll be pining for the retardo fundamentalist fjords of Nujoizy. Because over here you’ll just be….normal.

    Happy. But normal.

    Nobody gives that sh8 a second thought. We mean it, maaan. Doesn’t exist. You WHAT?! A Magic Man done it? Get the f….

    If you’re not too sure, well France is awfully nice, and you can always go and sit in a cathedral or something till the urge passes.
    Really. Nobody believes in any of it. Not even the Italians. Or the Greeks. Or the Turks.
    It’s just youse Septics, and about 52% of the Iranians.
    And some beardy guys in caves up the Khyber.

    Sorry if this is coming off a bit manic and Dawkinsy, but…

    d.

  42. #42 John Morales
    September 3, 2007

    His ideas.

  43. #43 Murkanen
    September 3, 2007

    “It was all bound to happen once the internet was invented by Al Gore?”

    1. You’re doing worse than taking a quote out of context, you are paraphrasing a quote that was taken out of context.

    2. I never brought Al Gore into this for a very good reason, he has dick-all to do with the topic.

    “Well, okay … if you don’t want to credit Dawkins/Harris/Hitchens and their books at all …”

    I had a fairly large rebuttal typed out but decided that it wasn’t worth posting when I realized you completely ignored what I wrote. This is the second time you have done this in response to a single sentence so I’m not sure if it’s because you honestly don’t understand what I wrote, or if you are just being deliberately obtuse.

  44. #44 miko
    September 3, 2007

    “New Atheists” drives me nuts. The arguments for atheism and critiques have not essentially changed in 400 years. The difference between now and, say, 17th century English atheists, is that we are much, much more polite and less insulting toward religious beliefs.

  45. #45 Charles Bailey
    September 3, 2007

    On Sunday, I was on the last ever Heaven and Earth show on the BBC which, for nine years has been a gentle dale in the noisy world of modern television – pleasurable, tranquil, receptive, candid and at times profoundly revealing of the place of religion in today’s world.

    Not a programme for the rowdy and brash God bashers, obviously, in particular Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, who really are perilously close to losing their flawlessly rational heads as they fulminate like demented fire-and-brimstone preachers. Such men know it all, they don’t listen, and presume to judge people they won’t ever understand.

    Radio 4’s John Humphrys has taken on the fanatic atheists in a new book about faith and the human urge to believe. Some aspects of our nature are not susceptible to scientific enquiry, cannot be dissected, categorised and validated in terms that would satisfy the “rational” disbelievers, whose intellect is colossal but imagination puny.

    There are no experiments and tests to explain love, empathy, longing, the agony and ecstasy of the heart, the wild and wonderful creativity of the brain, that thing that happens to you when a full moon appears above the sea and is reflected in it. Sorry, but knowing the science of why the moon shines is irrelevant to the experience. Faith is the light of the moon above and that light in the sea, reality and spirituality, both making you tremblingly conscious of forces vast and beyond words. Impertinent scientists cannot know what they speak of.

    I agree with Dawkins, the quieter A C Grayling, and with humanists that religion can and does disable human aspiration and will; it can and does lead worshippers of various go s to a violent hatred of “outsiders”; it can and does debase women; it can and does create a religious autocracy; it can and does encourage appalling behaviour.

    Since 9/11 Islam, Judaism and Christianity have become dangerously politicised. Too many people today have developed an intensified religious identity. I also believe strongly that public spaces and institutions should be wholly secular. An established church, state-funded faith schools and increasing encroachment of religion into politics are bad for us all. Sixty years ago, the inspirational leaders of liberated India established a secular constitution without which the country would have been ripped apart by its many competing, received religions. The gods had to keep to their place in free India, but they remain vital to individuals and communities.

    Having faith makes me humble and self-questioning, unlike the unbelievers who know they are always right. As Humphrys writes: “I have fallen into the habit of asking almost everyone I meet if they believe in God. And here is an interesting thing: it was only the atheists who seemed absolutely certain.”

    To these zealots, believers are mostly naive or stupid. We are also inflammable, easily led, malevolent, sadomasochistic and a threat to the future of the planet. In his book The God Delusion, Dawkins proclaims that faith instruction to the young is worse than paedophile abuse. John Cornwell, the Cambridge ethicist who has just penned an elegant riposte to the Dawkins’ rant, points out that this was the imagery used by Nazis too, for whom their country was a healthy body invaded by multiplying, Jewish bacilli.

    The hysterical imagery is objectionable. But much worse is the dishonesty. Militant atheists have never accepted that evil comes out of their camp as well as ours, and good does too. Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and Mao were driven to genocide not by religion but cold, cruel power. None of these men feared God.

    The churches kept alive resistance to dictatorships in South American republics at the worst of times; Apartheid used Christianity to justify racism, but formidable opposition came from within the church; Gandhi and Martin Luther King found strength to fight for what was right through God; faith gives Muslims hope in many of the most hopeless of states, and for millions across the globe it may be the only defence against the spread of gross and dehumanising materialism. Of the most awesome creations made my man, most were inspired by God – the pyramids, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, the temples of India, St Paul’s Cathedral and the works of Michelangelo.

    Fundamentalist atheists want to replace old religions with their own. To them all previous prophets were false. Their fervour makes them as blind and uncompromising as those following the religions they detest. Science gave them no immunity – they too are infected by the virus of faith. Only, they would say, theirs is the only true path, and all other roads lead to damnation. Of course.
    -Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

  46. #46 Hey Skipper
    September 4, 2007

    Onymous is on to something.

    Harris and Hitchens (having not read Dawkins’ latest, I can’t say for sure) do not make any atheist claims, but, rather are anti-theists.

    There is a vast difference, and one that both highlights a rare deficiency in English — the lack of a properly descriptive word — as well as discriminating their arguments from traditional atheist arguments.

    Anti-theism has nothing to say about the existence or characteristics of a supreme being, other than to emphasize that no other human institution can claim to know what G-d is, or thinks, or desires.

    IOW, G-d != religion; the force of their arguments is to demolish religious certainty, not to take any specific position whatsoever on G-d.

    If polls were to ask something along the lines of “Do you believe that your religion correctly represents G-d, and others do not?” I’ll bet the number of negatives would be much higher than 25%.

    There is no need to abolish religion, only religious certainty.

  47. #47 Anton Mates
    September 4, 2007

    My word; that was a painfully silly collection of anti-atheist cliches. Pity–I’d heard of Yasmin Alibhai-Brown before. Is she worth reading on other subjects?

  48. #48 Skeptic8
    September 4, 2007

    Cousin Daisy (#7) you have “my” Jewish family too! But we’re not supposed to let it out! Our relatives have become Scottish Rite Masons and even knelt, sat and stood in the Episcopal church, in response to the pogrom de jour. Rabbi Wise cut the cultural chains that bind us to medieval Europe and American Jews are accorded the path of freedom that our cousins could only imagine. We have the gift of our Spanish cousin B. Spinosa to Dave Hume to Tom Jefferson to cherish and defend. I attend a Havurah at the local Unitarian Universalist Congregation. That is a matter of personal Community and common values with a realisation that we must defend in order to enjoy. We haven’t had a Priesthood since 70CE and it is something of a mixed blessing! We have to stand on our own courage and USAmerica makes it possible.

  49. #49 MartinC
    September 4, 2007

    Charles Bailey, that article by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is so full of Fiskable points its difficult to know where to start.
    “Fundamentalist atheists?”
    “Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and Mao were in “their”(Dawkins and Hitchens’) camp”
    “Having faith makes me humble and self-questioning, unlike the unbelievers who know they are always right.”
    “Dawkins rant”
    Theres too many more to go on. Its pretty much standard fare argument from religious ‘moderates’ and shows the paucity of their reasoning skills. No attempt is made to confront the actual arguments of Dawkins etc, simply ad hominem comparison to Nazis and fatuous claims that we will never understand the personal experience of nature.
    Its a typical British ‘Arts versus Science’ argument. There is a huge divide between these two disciplines due to the nature of British higher education where there is very little chance of a person who studies literature or history at University having studied anything of a scientific nature after the age of about 14. This provokes a fierce defensive attitude where they posit that there is no great truth to be gained from science, only from the humanities, hence the intense hatred for Dawkins whose success has exposed their hollowness of the argument.

  50. #50 Anton Mates
    September 4, 2007

    But I see that John Cornwell really did make the analogy which Yasmin described. Apparently Dawkins’ likening a particular idea or worldview to a disease is equivalent to the Nazis’ likening a particular group of people to one.

    I’ll do Cornwell the kindness of assuming he’s just trying to score rhetorical points there; if he actually believed what he wrote, I’d want to keep small children and animals away from him.

  51. #51 Rick T
    September 4, 2007

    First of all Charles, I think you are being a bit dramatic and a little unreasonable. I would rather live in an age of enlightenment than the dark ages which was very religious.

    “Having faith makes me humble and self-questioning, unlike the unbelievers who know they are always right.”

    It’s only the unbelievers? What, the religious are like mother Teresa, full of doubt? Come on. Most unbelievers probably don’t care. They are just living their lives.

    “There are no experiments and tests to explain love, empathy, longing, the agony and ecstasy of the heart, the wild and wonderful creativity of the brain, that thing that happens to you when a full moon appears above the sea and is reflected in it.”

    Very poetic but there have been tests for altruism and empathy. I would say I appreciate the universe more now than when I was a believer. Ever read Sam Harris? He talks about transcendent experiences and PZ can wax elegant about wonders of life.

    “Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and Mao were driven to genocide not by religion but cold, cruel power.”

    We know Hitler professed to being a Christian. The rest of the men you quote had ideologies that were definitely not based on science or reason. Does it make you feel better that you can make a list of a few bad men who did not believe in God and committed atrocities but 90 percent (a number pulled from my arse) of the maniacal leaders of the world ruled, conquered, raped and pillaged with the blessing of their god?

    “…for millions across the globe it may be the only defence against the spread of gross and dehumanising materialism.”

    We are human no matter what you believe. I live in an amazing material world and my brain is also material. Living and appreciating my life in this world does not dehumanize me. Being amazed at the universe does not feel “gross” to me. We are a part of life not separate from it. Enjoy it. Love and feel and experience it. Don’t diminish it as just an inconvenience on the way to an afterlife. That nonsense threatens us all the way King George (Bush) does with his apocalyptic view of the world which he seems intent on destroying.

    You may feel humbled by your believe as I am humbled when I look into the stars and realize that I am life reflecting on being alive and a part of everything. I fail to see much humility in your brethren though. I wish they could entertain the idea that they may be wrong. I think that would help our world immensely.

  52. #52 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    September 4, 2007

    John Pieret

    As I understand it, the “framers” are interested in science education rather than godlessness.

    True, but they propose that A3 tactics are alienating in general. That is now a problematic claim.

    Agitating Ancient Atheists?

    Right, Ancient Ancestry Atheism, and you got it.

    So, um, framers… could be Frakking Futile Framing? I can see the movie: Media Star Trek, The Mooney Generation: First Courtiers, where we meet the Nis-borg collective: “Reframing is futile”.

  53. #53 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    September 4, 2007

    John Pieret

    As I understand it, the “framers” are interested in science education rather than godlessness.

    True, but they propose that A3 tactics are alienating in general. That is now a problematic claim.

    Agitating Ancient Atheists?

    Right, Ancient Ancestry Atheism, and you got it.

    So, um, framers… could be Frakking Futile Framing? I can see the movie: Media Star Trek, The Mooney Generation: First Courtiers, where we meet the Nis-borg collective: “Reframing is futile”.

  54. #54 John Pieret
    September 4, 2007

    Murkanen:

    I’m not sure if it’s because you honestly don’t understand what I wrote, or if you are just being deliberately obtuse.

    Gee, I would’ve thought the reference to Al Gore inventing the internet might have tipped you off to the fact that I was being humorous. Can we start a fund to buy you a sense of humor … or, given all the angst over being called a “New Atheist,” a sense of proportion?

    But if you want me to address your original comment:

    New ideas and changes to an ideology do deserve the “new” title, yes.

    So, what? … you’re now the arbiter of English usage who rules by dictat? Demonstrate that the usage of new/neo in English is limited to substantial changes in ideas/ideology as you claim. I’ve already given a couple of examples of where the usage was applied where there were no such substantial changes.

    However, there have always been outspoken atheists (Mencken comes to mind) and the atheism of today is very much the atheism of yesteryear. The only difference between now and then is that the outspoken atheists can get a lot more air time than they could before thanks to the internet.

    The internet is, what?, a decade and a half old? Why would this effect happen only now? Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens have just published books within the last two years that have garnered a great deal of attention in the regular media, largely, according to the media itself, due to the difference in “tone” these books had. PZ says that there has been a “change in tactics” and has regularly exhorted atheists to have a new aggressive attitude, contrary to the “old” attitude the “framers” want everyone to stick to.

    But if you want to say that atheists have always and uniformly been aggressive and you’re just being noticed now for the first time, be my guest. But why would you be surprised when everyone else, noticing you for the first time, thinks you’re something new?

    miko:

    The difference between now and, say, 17th century English atheists, is that we are much, much more polite and less insulting toward religious beliefs.

    Ah, so you are the new polite atheists?

    Torbjörn:

    True, but they propose that A3 tactics are alienating in general. That is now a problematic claim.

    Not necessarily. As has been noted, this may just be people relabeling themselves to reflect what they already believed, while the aggressive rhetoric still alienates the majority. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for atheists — think of parallels to the civil rights movement (though you may need to come up with a Martin Luther King figure somehow). Even if atheists can shed the disapproval/distrust of the majority, that does not automatically mean science education will flourish, so the framers may still have legitimate concerns.

  55. #55 Peter Ashby
    September 4, 2007

    Yasmin Alibhai-Brown:
    “There are no experiments and tests to explain love, empathy, longing, the agony and ecstasy of the heart, the wild and wonderful creativity of the brain, that thing that happens to you when a full moon appears above the sea and is reflected in it. Sorry, but knowing the science of why the moon shines is irrelevant to the experience. ”

    This is simply the old last refuge of the dualist argument that science cannot explain the ‘subjective’, whatever that might be, take aim at it and it morphs and slides away from you.

    Yasmin can be good when she is on race and how to be an intelligent, liberal, independent moslem woman but she is just like the usual arts graduate suspect on things like this, displaying her manifest ignorance and willful misunderstandings for all to see. This is the sort of thing that drives Dawkins up the wall. I saw them on a tv panel together once and RD wiped the floor with her.

  56. #56 speedwell
    September 4, 2007

    If we’re the “New Atheists,” then modern Christians should be referred to as the “New Christians.” Certainly what passes for Christianity nowadays is not what they would have approved of a hundred years ago.

  57. #57 xebecs
    September 4, 2007

    PZ, do you think it would be reasonable to describe an American-born convert to Buddhism or Hinduism or another such religion a freethinker? I mean someone who did not have that religion in their family or ethnic tradition.

  58. #58 PZ Myers
    September 4, 2007

    No — freethought means you have an absence of dogma, not that you’ve changed your dogma.

    Buddhism is an odd case, though. Some forms of Buddhism are so free-wheeling that they might as well dump the label.

  59. #59 Murkanen
    September 4, 2007

    “Demonstrate that the usage of new/neo in English is limited to substantial changes in ideas/ideology as you claim.”

    I never used the descriptor “substantial” in the sentence you quoted, nor did I use anything that could be misconstrued to mean substantial.

    “The internet is, what?, a decade and a half old?”

    It’s about that old, yes. I’m curious why you feel its age is relevant to its usefulness as a communication tool for atheists, agnostics, and similar folks.

    “Why would this effect happen only now?”

    You are making the assumption that this effect is only a recent development within the last 2-3 years. The numbers have steadily been growing, albeit slowly, over a number of years and it’s only recently been getting any worthwhile attention from the main news networks because the numbers have grown to an unprecedented level within the US.

    “Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens have just published books within the last two years that have garnered a great deal of attention in the regular media, largely, according to the media itself, due to the difference in “tone” these books had.”

    And yet there are quotes from Thomas Jefferson, Paine, Franklin going on and on about how religion is a sore upon the world, not to mention Mencken’s own words on the subject (and O’Hair, and Ingersoll). The tone hasn’t changed one iota, they’re just paying attention more now than they did before. A similar example of the news paying attention to things they would have ignored in the past, once again thanks to the internet, a random political spoof (I love Obama, etc) wouldn’t have made national news where as last week or the week before it was mentioned on several networks.

    “PZ says that there has been a “change in tactics” and has regularly exhorted atheists to have a new aggressive attitude, contrary to the “old” attitude the “framers” want everyone to stick to.”

    The attitudes aren’t new, just the amount of exposure they are getting is new (relatively speaking). It used to be done via books once every few years (Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins), on a program that’s shown off and on (Carl Sagan, Joesph Campbell), or a random court case (O’Hair, pledge of allegiance guy). Now the exposure can be hourly, if not more so, because of blogs, Youtube, website communities, Slashdot, Fark, Digg, and similar things.

    “But if you want to say that atheists have always and uniformly been aggressive and you’re just being noticed now for the first time, be my guest.”

    That’d be as ridiculous for me to say as to claim that all Christians are young earth creationists (which, surprise surprise, is why I never said it). The attitudes among atheists runs the full gambit between “meh” to “Nuke them from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.” It always has and, most likely, always will.

    “But why would you be surprised when everyone else, noticing you for the first time, thinks you’re something new?”

    I’m not surprised that people think it’s something new. People put blinders on when they notice things they aren’t comfortable with and refuse to take them off until the blinders won’t ‘protect’ them from it anymore, which is precisely what happened with the growing exposure (and acceptance) of atheism. People put the blinders on and now that they’ve taken them off they are shocked, shocked I tell you, to find that the numbers “jumped” from nearly nothing (when the blinders were put on) to more than 1/10th the population (when they were removed).

  60. #60 Lucy
    September 4, 2007

    dustbubble #39

    But if it hadn’t been manic and Dawkinsy, I wouldn’t have just accidentally snorted soda through my nose and spent the last five minutes cleaning it off my keyboard…….

    Don’t worry, my pity parties don’t last forever….how could they, as long as the Belligerent Babbling Blasphemers are around?

  61. #61 Dustin
    September 4, 2007

    Ahem. Really? What to make of this observation, then?

    “So effectively have [conservative Christians] framed the issues that, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2006 report on religion and public life, fully 69 percent of Americans believe that liberals have ‘gone too far in trying to keep religion out of schools and government.'”

    I’d like you to meet my friend, The Universe of Discourse. UofD, notthedroids, notthedroids, UofD. See, we’re talking about “new atheism” here, not efforts on the part of the UCLA to stop people from giving communion over the intercom system, or the panty twisting that the youth pastors and their flocks like to engage in when they find out that they can’t actually put the 10 Commandments in the front office. Trying to turn an argument over tactics in spreading godlessness into an argument over upholding Jefferson’s attempts at stopping the church and the state from becoming the same institution amounts to taping a bunch of red herrings to a goalpost with wheels and pushing it down a long steep hill.

  62. #62 John Pieret
    September 4, 2007

    I never used the descriptor “substantial” in the sentence you quoted, nor did I use anything that could be misconstrued to mean substantial.

    When all else fails, quibble. So, demonstrate that the usage of neo/new is limited only to cases where there are changes in ideas/ideology.

    The numbers have steadily been growing, albeit slowly, over a number of years and it’s only recently been getting any worthwhile attention from the main news networks because the numbers have grown to an unprecedented level within the US.

    Ah, good. Can you point me to those “numbers,” I’d like to see them … particularly the ones showing steady growth in the U.S.

  63. #63 Murkanen
    September 4, 2007

    “When all else fails, quibble.”

    You honestly think it’s quibbling to say “You’re arguing against something I never said”? That’s… rather bizarre of you.

    “So, demonstrate that the usage of neo/new is limited only to cases where there are changes in ideas/ideology.”

    That’s sorta the whole point of labeling something as being a neo, or new, version of the original namesake. If it hasn’t changed from the original ideology, idea, belief or what not then it isn’t new and doesn’t need to be called such to differentiate it from the original*.

    *: If I recall correctly, it’s also used to differentiate periods of time where an old idea or style (be it in writing or art) falls out of favour/goes away for a number of years and then makes a resurgence at a later point. Even taking that into account, however, the use of the phrase “new atheist” still wouldn’t be justified.

    That said, isn’t the onus on you to provide counterexamples of things being called “neo” or “new” that don’t have any changes to the original ideology/idea/whatever?

    “Ah, good. Can you point me to those “numbers,” I’d like to see them … particularly the ones showing steady growth in the U.S.”

    I’ll get the specific polling information from the Psychology of Religion professor on Thursday and post it here (or I can post it to your blog if you’d prefer). I can understand the want for proof (to quote Twain “There’s lies, damn lies, and statistics”), but it isn’t really illogical to note the growth has been gradual when compared to the idea that atheists/agnostics stayed at a flat 6% of the population until 2005/2006 and then miraculously tripled that number (if not more) in a span of two years because they heard about Dawkins’ book on the Colbert Report/Good Morning America/[insert program of your choice here].

  64. #64 John Pieret
    September 5, 2007

    That’s sorta the whole point of labeling something as being a neo, or new, version of the original namesake. If it hasn’t changed from the original ideology, idea, belief or what not then it isn’t new and doesn’t need to be called such to differentiate it from the original*.

    Whoa! … “or what not”? You appeared to have been limiting it before to ideas or ideology. I’m saying that the “whatnot” can include such things as tactics, technique and other non-substantial factors that still justify the neo/new usage (which is, after all, defined by usage). You’ll have to define that “whatnot” now.

    And don’t think that I accept that there has been no change in tactics by the advocates of atheism because of the scant examples you gave (a number of whom weren’t even atheists), it’s just that it’s a chump game to get bogged down in arguing details about who did this, and how and what it means. If you want to believe there has been no recent change at all, I’m content to let your fellow atheists evaluate your contention.

    … but it isn’t really illogical to note the growth has been gradual when compared to the idea that atheists/agnostics stayed at a flat 6% of the population until 2005/2006 and then miraculously tripled that number (if not more) in a span of two years because they heard about Dawkins’ book on the Colbert Report/Good Morning America/[insert program of your choice here].

    Huh? A sudden jump in poll numbers can just be assumed to reflect gradual change? I have my own ideas about what the numbers mean but I’d like to see you defend that idea.

    Anyway, I would like to see the numbers and post them where most convenient to you. I think I can remember to check back … as long as we’re only talking 24 hours …

  65. #65 Murkanen
    September 5, 2007

    “(a number of whom weren’t even atheists)”

    Which ones weren’t atheists? If you meant the Jefferson/Franklin/Paine* trio then I wasn’t using them as examples of atheists, but of the negative attitudes towards religion in general going back 200+ years. I apologize if what I wrote read as if I believed they were atheists, I should have been more clear.

    *: If I recall correctly Paine was an atheist, but have nothing more than memory to go on so I may very well be wrong.

    “If you want to believe there has been no recent change at all, I’m content to let your fellow atheists evaluate your contention.”

    I said that atheists hadn’t changed. Their attitudes towards the religious (the full range of attitudes from placaters to “god-haters”) and the belief of atheism has been effectively static. I did specifically mention that the amount of exposure that atheism and atheists are able to get has increased drastically in comparison to times before due, in large part, to the internet. This, I believe, is a fair statement.

    “Huh? A sudden jump in poll numbers can just be assumed to reflect gradual change? I have my own ideas about what the numbers mean but I’d like to see you defend that idea.”

    I didn’t say that, at least not intentionally. It was supposed to have been read in context with the comment about people putting on blinders to avoid something they view as a problem, only to be surprised that said something has grown huge. To the person with the blinders* it would look almost instantaneous, however, to the people who watched it grow would take note of the slow rate of change. Again apologies if I wasn’t clearer.

    *: This can be a literal attempt to ignore the issue, or due to not really paying attention to it, either due to apathy or another reason, until you are alerted to its growth in scope. An example of what I mean would be the old adage about the frog in a pot of water. Turn the water’s temperature up gradually enough and the frog won’t notice it’s being boiled alive until something makes it aware of such.

    “Anyway, I would like to see the numbers and post them where most convenient to you. I think I can remember to check back … as long as we’re only talking 24 hours …”

    I don’t meet with the professor until tomorrow so it’ll be close to 3 or 4pm EST before I can get the numbers to you. If I can’t get them then I will contact you and let you know (as well as apologize for making an assertion I couldn’t back up).

  66. #66 pedant
    September 6, 2007

    “The internet is, what?, a decade and a half old?”

    The Internet in its current incarnation is roughly 25 years old: TCP/IP was described first in ’81 and DNS in ’82, though predecessor systems of similar purpose had been around since at least ’70. The good old World Wide Web (which is probably what you were calling “the internet” in this context) was developed about 10 years later, in ’92. The WWW is a protocol that runs over the Internet (a proper noun, by the way).

    That’s your history lesson for today. And don’t call the web the Internet. And get off my lawn.

  67. #67 John Pieret
    September 6, 2007

    If I recall correctly Paine was an atheist …

    According to Harvey Kaye’s Thomas Paine and the Promise of America, he was a Deist, while Jefferson and Franklin were probably somewhere between generic theists and Deists.

    And don’t get too exercised by this. I’m only half serious. I just find it amusing that so many atheists are torn between saying the phenomenon is new (PZ’s latest about the “opposition is growing bolder”) while still denying there is anything new about the movement.

    But I am still interested in the numbers when you have a chance.

    pedant:

    You left out the ARPAnet and usenet but thanks for the good ol’ talk.origins ethos of just about anything being grist for correcting others!

  68. #68 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    September 7, 2007

    John Pieret:

    As has been noted, this may just be people relabeling themselves

    And this affects my claim how? If there is no observable effect, alienation is a problematic claim.

  69. #69 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    September 7, 2007

    John Pieret:

    As has been noted, this may just be people relabeling themselves

    And this affects my claim how? If there is no observable effect, alienation is a problematic claim.

  70. #70 John Pieret
    September 7, 2007

    As has been noted, this may just be people relabeling themselves

    And this affects my claim how? If there is no observable effect, alienation is a problematic claim.

    I didn’t go to the poll itself. Did it attempt to measure the attitude of the 75% of non-“freethinkers”? The recent atheist campaign, to the extent it is identified with science, could be alienating people who were not originally particularly ill-disposed to science education by making them think science is an attack on their faith. That wouldn’t have a necessary observable effect on the overall numbers of theists to non-theists.

  71. #71 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    September 7, 2007

    John Pieret:

    Obviously we now go around in a circle.

    I demand evidence for alienation and notes that data is consistent with a strong positive effect.

    You argue that there can be negative effects but have no data. We could look into this claim when you have data, but as for now I have lost interest in this discussion.

  72. #72 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    September 7, 2007

    John Pieret:

    Obviously we now go around in a circle.

    I demand evidence for alienation and notes that data is consistent with a strong positive effect.

    You argue that there can be negative effects but have no data. We could look into this claim when you have data, but as for now I have lost interest in this discussion.

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.