Pharyngula

I hate to break the news to him, but he’s just so Johnny Snow. I’ve grated against ol’ Wayne a few times before to mock his awful polls, and now I think he has finally snapped, babbling out incoherent mush about how atheists are just like believers, only worse…and he really doesn’t like me. I don’t think. Hard to tell with mixed messages like this one.

Just as James Dobson and other evangelists cultivate audiences in order to spread their beliefs, so do atheist evangelizers. The bigs are Britons Christopher Hitchens, who is battling cancer, and Richard Dawkins, who turns 70 in March. Myers, who grabbed attention by vandalizing sacred religious property, is a young and energetic American evangelist on track to become the James Dobson of atheism.

Excellent whiplash there — my eyebrows were pressing up against my hairline with that “young and energetic” remark, but then I had to do a major eyeroll at the comparison to Dobson. He’s giving my face quite a workout.

Anyway, yeah, he’s got another terrible little online poll, and it’s already going the wrong way for him. I think he’s got a reputation as the noisy little freak of Colorado Springs, so people all over already gawk at his train-wreck editorials. Here is this week’s, which really out to be answered with data, not opinion polling:

Per capita, do athiests provide as much charity as members of traditional religions?

Yes, atheists are at least as charitable as members of traditional religions
68%
No, atheists are less charitable than members of traditional religions
16%
I don’t know
5%
I don’t care
10%

According to the statistics, religious people do donate more time and money to charity, but it’s also complicated: atheists aren’t organized and even when they are, typically aren’t associating as community service organizations. It’s like asking who gives more, TV repairmen or members of Habitat for Humanity? It’s biasing the sample of TV repairmen (or atheists) by selecting from a more diverse pool, while Habitat for Humanity (or many religions) are preselected to contain more volunteers. Then of course there’s also the confusion of needing only one godless Bill Gates to skew the data.

I like to skew it another way, and say that giving for religious purposes shouldn’t really count, any more than flushing money down a toilet should count as charitable outreach. Instead, let’s only consider productive charities, like hospitals.