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Richard Dawkins - The Census Research Explained - Comments

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 1 by Premiseless

So only 5.4% of the population refer to actual Christian religion to inform their decision making!

Tokenism?

How authentic is this to law being based upon such a minority relevance?

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 10:10:45 UTC | #919940

sunbeamforjeebus's Avatar Comment 2 by sunbeamforjeebus

I gather that angling is the most popular pastime in this country with some 5 million not necessarily practicing proponents.That is more than the 5.4 percent of those mentioned above,perhaps fishing tackle shops should be the new churches and 26 owners of such shops should have grace and favour seats in the lords?

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 10:30:58 UTC | #919944

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 3 by Premiseless

I must say, some of my interest lies in how populations might best be surveyed to reflect their 'bondage' to belief as opposed to healthy learned freedoms - to choose and feel liberated within a society that values such arrangements.

However trying to think of good questions reminds me how excellent a job some of this polls questions were. It's not easy to speculate about too wide an array of issues and anticipate statistically significant responses.

Here is my 2penneth for now:

Have you ever felt your religion significantly disagrees with who you are, what you like to think and feel ?(Freedom to be yourself question).

Do you let religion have authority over your thoughts? If yes, would you say it is more your choice or fear or both? (subversion of ones own emotions and thoughts due reason or fear of punishment).

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 10:42:54 UTC | #919946

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 4 by Vorlund

As an ex-educator I know how frustrating it is to have to repeatedly explain quite simple concepts in order to be understood. There are a number of people (we can reasonably guess who and have seen examples) who will only see what they want to see but I wonder whether people actually understand the issue and how important it is and don't care or whether they just don't understand it at all.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 10:44:26 UTC | #919948

Mr Blue Sky's Avatar Comment 5 by Mr Blue Sky

Why would our opponents let a simple thing like evidence get in the way of superstitious belief. A good poll, great results but may be sidelined by the target population it is intended to highlight.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 10:45:53 UTC | #919949

MrAngryWeasel's Avatar Comment 6 by MrAngryWeasel

The two statements

"18% of adult UK citizens say they have Christian convictions."

And

"There are more people who have never sent an email in the UK then there are believing Christians."

are much more powerful and hard hitting then

"One third of that 54%"

Yet this is the first time I've seen it phrased that way. Was this a deliberate strategy not to play the numbers to emphasise the message?

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 10:52:40 UTC | #919953

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 7 by Mark Jones

Very good. Although I dare say some will still call Richard's hair angry, and his collar disgruntled.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 11:08:29 UTC | #919957

Jarl Carlander's Avatar Comment 8 by Jarl Carlander

I realize how hard it is to do what Richard and Andrew do. Trying to argue in public when you're constantly interrupted by the pious must be hard.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 11:09:23 UTC | #919958

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 9 by Richard Dawkins

Comment 1 by Premiseless :

So only 5.4% of the population refer to actual Christian religion to inform their decision making!

Strictly, you shouldn't do that multiplication sum ("10% of 54% equals 5.4%"). For all we know, some people who didn't tick the Christian box (and are therefore outside the 54%) nevertheless refer to the bible when making moral decisions. Admittedly unlikely, but still.

Richard

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 11:11:19 UTC | #919959

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 10 by Premiseless

Comment 9 by Richard Dawkins :

Comment 1 by Premiseless :

So only 5.4% of the population refer to actual Christian religion to inform their decision making!

Strictly, you shouldn't do that multiplication sum ("10% of 54% equals 5.4%"). For all we know, some people who didn't tick the Christian box (and are therefore outside the 54%) nevertheless refer to the bible when making moral decisions. Admittedly unlikely, but still.

Richard

Ah my bad. It would be good to know for sure from the surveys, which figures could be quoted as a proportion of the whole - in case it gave extra reduction effect. They annoyed me by trying to suggest how surprised they were to see how great their %ages - as if it was double what it was! The old cod trick!

I was thinking of an indulgent question also along the lines of:

Here is a list of tenets of the various faiths: Cherries, cherries , cherries. Do you think Britain should defend such rulings as part of law?

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 11:22:26 UTC | #919962

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 11 by AtheistEgbert

Giles Fraser has had time to calm down and think about it, and now calls himself a 'convinced' secularist or secular priest:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/audio/2012/feb/20/giles-fraser-thinking-aloud-podcast-secularism?

Fraser doesn't understand that in terms of politics, he has everything in common with new atheists.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 11:36:07 UTC | #919963

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 12 by Paula Kirby

Premiseless: It would be good to know for sure from the surveys, which figures could be quoted as a proportion of the whole - in case it gave extra reduction effect.

The only figure from our survey which can be used to draw a conclusion about the population as a whole is the one about the overall proportion who ticked the Christian box in the census.

After that, ALL the questions were directed EXCLUSIVELY to those who had ticked the Christian box. We may not legitimately extrapolate to the rest of the population because we didn't ask the rest of the population.

In some cases you might want to say something along the lines of 'It seems likely that ...', or 'It seems reasonable to assume ...', but it would be quite wrong to suggest that this survey SHOWS those things. Surveys cannot show anything about sections of the population who were not surveyed!

And please be cautious about taking any kind of leap from the data. I can't remember now who it was (Michael Nazir-Ali, perhaps), but one of the religious commentators recently took our statement that 49% of Christians did NOT believe Jesus was the Son of God and then claimed that it meant that 51% did. That's the classic kind of misinformation that results from being casual with the data. In reality (and from memory), only 44% did believe Jesus was the Son of God. The rest were 'Don't knows' and 'Prefer not to says'. That's very different.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 11:44:30 UTC | #919965

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 13 by Premiseless

Comment 12 by Paula Kirby :

Premiseless: It would be good to know for sure from the surveys, which figures could be quoted as a proportion of the whole - in case it gave extra reduction effect. The only figure from our survey which can be used to draw a conclusion about the population as a whole is the one about the overall proportion who ticked the Christian box in the census.

After that, ALL the questions were directed EXCLUSIVELY to those who had ticked the Christian box. We may not legitimately extrapolate to the rest of the population because we didn't ask the rest of the population.

In some cases you might want to say something along the lines of 'It seems likely that ...', or 'It seems reasonable to assume ...', but it would be quite wrong to suggest that this survey SHOWS those things. Surveys cannot show anything about sections of the population who were not surveyed!

And please be cautious about taking any kind of leap from the data. I can't remember now who it was (Michael Nazir-Ali, perhaps), but one of the religious commentators recently took our statement that 49% of Christians did NOT believe Jesus was the Son of God and then claimed that it meant that 51% did. That's the classic kind of misinformation that results from being casual with the data. In reality (and from memory), only 44% did believe Jesus was the Son of God. The rest were 'Don't knows' and 'Prefer not to says'. That's very different.

Apologies! It's my fault for not reading the whole thing and spotting that glaring point! Yes it would be just like a theist to say in spite of 46% saying they did not believe it, they were the ones who use it in their daily lives!

I'm too aware of how small scale bias can effect large populations if extrapolated into millions - so I won't make the mistake of assuming this to be the on the ground situation. It could be far more in our favour.

I recall a similar, smaller survey, carried out some time ago claiming a virgin gave birth in a horse box and look where that led?

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 12:12:41 UTC | #919971

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 14 by Jos Gibbons

In any case, 10 and 54 have error bars on them; for example, 9.5 % of 53.5 % is 5.0825 % and 10.5 % of 54.5 % is 5.7225 %, so 5.1 - 5.7 % would be a fairer claim even if Professor Dawkins's point above isn't factored in.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 12:12:43 UTC | #919972

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 15 by Vorlund

Comment 11 by AtheistEgbert :

Giles Fraser has had time to calm down and think about it, and now calls himself a 'convinced' secularist or secular priest:

Fraser doesn't understand that in terms of politics, he has everything in common with new atheists.

Looks like a good feat of riding two horses at once in different directions

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 12:16:46 UTC | #919975

Grundibular's Avatar Comment 16 by Grundibular

Prof. Dawkins - would you consider a repeat of this poll, with obvious modifications, for Muslims? It would be an interesting comparison.

In any case, congratulations to you and everyone who worked on it - great piece of work!

(sorry for the duplicate post from the Will Hutton thread)

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 12:17:59 UTC | #919976

ColdThinker's Avatar Comment 17 by ColdThinker

It may be very hard to get the poll understood. Many of the conclusions demand too much logic and math, even if it is simple arithmetics.

Not working in the field of science, an early career choice which I somewhat regret, I keep meeting people who are excellent at their particular job, but unbelievably lousy at elementary math and simple logic. If asked what is one third of one half, they will be baffled. It would be way too much to ask them to grasp what 10% of 54% of the adult population means.

This has been evidenced last week by all these bishops, politicians and journalists, who just don’t get it. They may not even understand the numeric data, let alone the simple point ”the alleged support for Christian values as a guideline for public policies is grossly exaggerated”. Instead, what they seem to take away is ”it is anyone’s personal freedom to call oneself a Christian”. Of course, some might full well understand the data and yet twist it on purpose.

It might be useful to choose a few figures and keep hammering them in. The 5% (drawing their morality from the Bible) and 18% (having any Christian convictions) might get understood. But as we can’t be sure about the convictions of the non-census-Christians, this might be problematic.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 12:18:28 UTC | #919977

Grundibular's Avatar Comment 18 by Grundibular

@Richard, Paula and co - will there be some detailed follow up correlating questions along the lines of "X% of those answered Foo to question Bar also answered Bing to question Bong" ?

I spotted a bit of a running theme of a "hardcore" 15%, or so, who appeared to hold the most fervent belief and maybe also most extreme/exclusionary/privilege-seeking views, but can't know whether they were the same people.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 12:23:31 UTC | #919979

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 19 by Peter Grant

http://youtube.com/watch?v=3z8P9vufl_E Richard Dawkins - The Census Research Explained http://richarddawkins.net/articles/644942

Nicely done!

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 12:27:16 UTC | #919983

Grundibular's Avatar Comment 20 by Grundibular

Oh and more thing (I really should have gotten this all in one post!):

I got the slight impression as I read through the questions that there may have been a small "reminder" effect going on. By that I mean, the fraction of answers affirming of faith seemed to increase slightly as the questions progressed. Is it possible that the first questions perhaps caught respondents "off guard" and perhaps also served as a memory stir? I'm an amateur, so perhaps that's been controlled for (?)

It does conjure the bizarre image of a person essentially saying "Oh yeah! I am a Christian! I forgot for a minute there. Do carry on..."

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 12:31:17 UTC | #919985

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 21 by QuestioningKat

Interesting. If you've ever been in a debate (or read an internet debate) there usually comes a time when the Christian claims that the people used as an example by the atheist "are not true Christians." My guess is that they really do not care that the high statistics are a correct reflection of "true Christians", as long as it favors their views.

By the way, as a US citizen, I only recall being asked very basic information, age, number of people in household... Unless there was a second survey, I was never asked religion.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 12:45:54 UTC | #919988

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 22 by Premiseless

Comment 17 by ColdThinker :

It may be very hard to get the poll understood. Many of the conclusions demand too much logic and math, even if it is simple arithmetics.

This might be a great cue for some apps?

There are some excellent pieces of d/base:s/sheet software which can be used to isolate data such as:

Display comparison of males/females who both believe in hell and superstition. (Even primary software for 7yr olds can perform this task)

If there were a standard format - block graphs and lists of proposed 'data sorts' could be in a menu.

i.e. download POLL Dawkins to App MORI

select question from list (long list of questions relevant to available sorted data)

In fact I always found it great fun to play with data and see what combinations threw up interesting trends. The program has to be a cool colour one for general use and kid-factor access. Tomorrows atheists?

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 12:53:28 UTC | #919990

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 23 by AtheistEgbert

The point of the poll (lost on most) is not what it means to be Christian, but that there is a disconnect between Christian privilege and lobbying as represented in state or public institutions in Britain, and the wide spectrum of beliefs or values held by Christians. It will take time for this point to start getting across.

It is terrible undemocratic logic to think that because a majority identify as something, it therefore has a right to impose its identity on everyone else. The entire point about a liberal democratic and secular society is that everyone is free to define their own identity so long as it does not infringe on the freedom of others.

People fundamentally don't understand the concept of equality and therefore secularism, it goes against their intuitive understanding of the world. This is why inequalities persist in society and the state.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 12:54:07 UTC | #919991

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 24 by Premiseless

Comment 23 by AtheistEgbert :

People fundamentally don't understand the concept of equality and therefore secularism, it goes against their intuitive understanding of the world. This is why inequalities persist in society and the state.

Power has a knack of deciding what rises to the surface.

Portillo recently was on Neils couch about the elections in Spain being from a group of candidates that were always part of an elite group. In advance, he said how he had voted for the winner, such was the 'in the know' of the higher ups. It is quite astounding really. He hesitantly allied this system to a totalitarian one, in which a group replaces the individual, purely for the imagined democracy this disseminates into the public sphere.

One wonders sometimes about whether this is ever, not the case worldwide?

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 13:03:38 UTC | #919993

Quetzalcoatlus's Avatar Comment 25 by Quetzalcoatlus

Comment 9 by Richard Dawkins :

Comment 1 by Premiseless :

So only 5.4% of the population refer to actual Christian religion to inform their decision making!

Strictly, you shouldn't do that multiplication sum ("10% of 54% equals 5.4%"). For all we know, some people who didn't tick the Christian box (and are therefore outside the 54%) nevertheless refer to the bible when making moral decisions. Admittedly unlikely, but still.

Richard

I would suppose that a fair percentage of Jews refer to the bible when making moral decisions....

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 13:40:19 UTC | #919999

Galactor's Avatar Comment 26 by Galactor

Comment 21 by QuestioningKat :

Interesting. If you've ever been in a debate (or read an internet debate) there usually comes a time when the Christian claims that the people used as an example by the atheist "are not true Christians." My guess is that they really do not care that the high statistics are a correct reflection of "true Christians", as long as it favors their views.

As I have said elsewhere, Christians will be falling over backwards to ensure that anyone who has a christian name is counted as a christian.

Or anyone who had christian forefathers that had slaves - in those days, christians were bound to have slaves weren't they?

Soon, the name Mohammed, after enough time as a popular name in a christian country like Britain, will truly be a christian name.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 13:42:12 UTC | #920000

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 27 by aquilacane

Comment 2 by sunbeamforjeebus

I gather that angling is the most popular pastime in this country with some 5 million not necessarily practicing proponents.That is more than the 5.4 percent of those mentioned above,perhaps fishing tackle shops should be the new churches and 26 owners of such shops should have grace and favour seats in the lords?

Trust me, you don't want to worship angling. Here in Canada, we've built cathedrals to hockey. Hockey has crude, drooling followers who demand all air time on tv, radio and all other forms of media in this country. Despite there being more soccer players than hockey, they still run the show. They are far worse than any christian. Politicians can't open their mouths without speaking of the hockey, advertising is full of the hockey. All here hail and praise the hockey. Why? I don't know, these tough guys were padding... padding! When will Rugby have it's day?

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 13:51:40 UTC | #920002

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 28 by drumdaddy

This is good news. A smaller-than-thought percentage of English citizens are delusional.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 14:10:32 UTC | #920010

GPWC's Avatar Comment 29 by GPWC

18% of adult UK Christians say they have Christian convictions and 20% of UK adults have never sent an email.

Might they also be the same people ...

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 15:04:11 UTC | #920020

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 30 by Vorlund

Comment 23 by AtheistEgbert :

The point of the poll (lost on most) is not what it means to be Christian, but that there is a disconnect between Christian privilege and lobbying as represented in state or public institutions in Britain, and the wide spectrum of beliefs or values held by Christians. It will take time for this point to start getting across.

Succinctly and accurately put, I suspect though that the disingenuous likes of Odone, Moreton and the entire legions of religious apologists are really aware of this and they are trying desperately to obfuscate the truth of the poll by saying that there is a broad spectrum of xtianity that only individuals are able to elect themsleves into. By this they can appear to swell their ranks even with the weak tea and jam sponge appreciation brigade.

They know they are on the back foot, churches closing, congregations dwindling, science and secular morality taking over. They are playing to the establishment with their lies, the Cof E and the queen need each other if one goes the days of the other are numbered. It is in their interests to lie.

Our politicians need to learn that it is not in their interests to listen. Now we know so many supposed xtians also don't want church inteference in the way the country is run, it is time politicians were made to swallow the truth or join the dole queue.

If religion is so important in running the country political candidates should be made to declare their delusions up front so that we don't vote for them.

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 15:24:12 UTC | #920026