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Richard Cypher
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Admitting a mistake and referencing some statements

30 June 2014, 10:02

In my latest article dealing with the religiosity stats of the general and scientific populations of the United States of America I was shown to have made a mistake.

Atheos Fititis levelled a valid accusation at me when he showed me that I made a mistake regarding membership of the AAAS being solely restricted to scientists. That was indeed correct. I looked at and made an, in hindsight, incorrect assumption that Professional Membership of the AAAS implied practising scientist and Student Membership implied science student. I should have looked deeper, but ran face first into my own confirmation bias. Seems none of us are immune to that. For that I apologise.

Does it cast a shadow over the exact percentages I quoted that related to that study? Yes it does.

Does it invalidate my conclusion regarding the relevance of NAS figures to the general scientific population? No. Even the authors of the NAS study indicated that they only surveyed the so-called “greater” scientists.

Does it invalidate my findings regarding actual practising scientists? No. A 1987 study on less prominent scientists by the same authors of the NAS survey, show a higher level of religiosity (40%) as compared to NAS members. I haven’t seen the study, but I trust Derek Meyer quoted it accurately on March 4, 2013 at 11:48 in While the exact numbers might be in dispute, the general trend of decreasing religiosity with increasing levels of scientific education and scientific eminence, is still valid. This is something that I doubt very many people will argue with anyway.

I have to go back to the drawing board with the last survey and try and get one that correctly surveyed working class scientists, preferably newer than 1987. Once again, apologies for not doing proper homework.

Clarification of some stats

I was also challenged on the validity of the bullet list of typical statistical quotes that one often sees on News24 and told to reference some atheist that threw those exact statistics around. Despite doing it in response in the commenting section, I feel I need to clarify it here, which is slightly more open. There were five bullets listed, each communicating a statistic. For the sake of brevity, I will not paste the quote itself, but I will clearly reference where the quote can be found. If any of the readers do not trust the accuracy of my claims, they are welcome to check whether these quotes are in fact listed where indicated. At the time of writing, they still were. It will mean some effort from the reader of course.

The first bullet “93% of scientists don't delude themselves into believing in the god delusion” is courtesy of Bruning in a comment on May 23, 2013 at 21:56 in

The second bullet “Agnostics and atheists comprise 17% of the American population” is courtesy of Bruning in a comment on February 28, 2013 at 14:33 in

The third bullet “85% of Americans are religious” is courtesy of Bruning in a comment on November 7, 2013 at 11:10 in

The fourth bullet “0.12% atheists in US jails” is courtesy of MemeMan in a comment on May 6, 2014 at 16:19 in

The fifth bullet “20% atheists in the US” is courtesy of MemeMan in a comment on May 6, 2014 at 16:19 in

Unless Bruning and MemeMan were recently disavowed by the atheist community or distanced themselves from their atheism, this should suffice as evidence that these were actual figures quoted in comments by actual News24 users. Both of them also happen to be atheist. For fairly obvious reasons, Christians do not readily quote these stats.

A further part of the challenge/accusation related to a comment I made where I mentioned that I doubted if another user had a pain with the NAS survey, since I have seen it quoted freely by atheists without any opposition from fellow atheists. I was even accused of lying about that.

Always lying, in fact. About everything. 10 points for identifying the accuser without looking. ;-)

Once again Bruning in absentia comes to the rescue in a comment on November 7, 2013 at 11:10 in This I will paste verbatim:

“Only 7% of the American Academy of Sciences are religibores. So your "repudiation" is statistical nonsense. They are too insignificant to count.

But the stats Of course beg another question:

Why do 93% of eminent scientists out of a population of which over 85% consist of religibores like yourself reject your delusions?”

Apart from the NAS survey, I do not know of any other survey that also yielded a 93% non-religious and 7% religious result. Last time I checked, Bruning was every bit the atheist. Therefore we have an atheist quoting the NAS survey. It is a bit difficult to show no opposition, with the whole double negative issue and all that.

One swallow however, does not a summer make, so let’s ram that point home. Atheitis quoted the same said survey in a comment on May 27, 2014 at 11:43 in

His verbatim comment (my emphasis in bold, which hopefully shows):


There are so few Christian scientists that they are hardly worth bothering about.

A 2008 survey of Royal Society fellows "found that only 3.3 per cent believed in God" compared to 68.5 per cent of the UK public. A poll in the previous decade of the American National Academy of Sciences showed that only 7 percent of its members believed in God.

3% in the UK (and falling) and 7% in the US is hardly worth bothering with.”

This is Atheitis very clearly referencing the NAS survey. Since he is still active on the forum, I will leave it to Atheitis to disavow his atheism, or to claim that I misquoted him.

The next three I will merely reference for the sake of brevity. Feel free to confirm the indicated quotes if it sounds unbelievable.

In a similar fashion we also have Derek Meyer referencing it on March 4, 2013 at 11:48 in

In a similar fashion we also have GB Garrat referencing it on April 22, 2013 at 16:05 in

In a similar fashion we also have MemeMan referencing it on May 6, 2014 at 16:19 in

So, unambiguous evidence of 5 different atheists all quoting the NAS survey without any opposition from their fellow atheists. What makes the accusation even more bizarre is the fact that the accuser took part in both these comments. The quote by Atheitis was directly after one of his quotes. There is no way that he could have missed these.

Come to think of it, the accusation in and of itself is very odd. I really can’t recall ever seeing anyone other than an atheist quoting or referencing that study. Why would a Christian even want to quote it? Either way, the accusation is hit for a double-step six over the bowler’s head into the stands.

I admit I was taken aback at the venom from the atheist side in response to the article. Taken aback, because the response to my first article in the series dealing with similar stats in England and Wales, was met with fairly benign, mature and generally supportive response, even though I essentially presented the exact same message as in this last article. Taken aback even more, because I always thought venom and vitriol of this nature only emanates from religious fundamentalists and not from so-called rational people. Seems in the end, we are all human. Not much difference between us.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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