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Old 26th February 2012, 10:24 PM   #1
nvidiot
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Silverman: 2x the atheists vs Jews, Muslims and Hindus combined. Politifact: False...

An interesting Politifact piece here, thought it rather appropriate for the forum to discuss.

http://www.politifact.com/rhode-isla...verman-says-t/

Quote:
Our ruling

Atheist David Silverman claimed that "There are more atheists in the country right now than Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists combined and doubled."

He wants to include not only people who define themselves as atheists, but others, such as agnostics, who have serious doubts about the existence of God.

But just as atheists don't want someone else's religious beliefs and practices foisted upon them, we believe that those who doubt the existence of a supreme power shouldn’t be lumped into the "atheist" category.

If Silverman had claimed that the number of Americans who don't believe in God is larger than the number of Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists in the U.S., he’d be on more solid ground.

But he didn’t. Instead, he said you could double the number of people in those religions and atheists would still outnumber them. The only way to achieve that number is to include people who may not desire -- or deserve -- to be in that category, so we rate his statement False.
Seems to me the common misunderstanding of "atheist" varieties, with Politifact regarding only "strong" atheists to be worthy of the title. I'll be interested to hear what the JREF members think of this ruling.
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Old 26th February 2012, 10:31 PM   #2
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Well you just read WHY they said it was false, and I agree with them. They weighed it as false because there's no context to give his statement validity. Now, they couldn't give it a pants on fire rating either, because there's no evidence to give THAT validity.

When Silverman used the numbers for agnostics as well as "secular unaffiliated" do not support him in the number of atheists, even if they are atheists. Part of being counted as an atheist probably will require some declaration, otherwise all newborn babies are part of the "atheist" number.
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Old 26th February 2012, 11:55 PM   #3
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Athiesm is not opposite to agnosticism.

Sure, he's using the term atheism that most atheists would probably describe it as, and politifact are using the term as most dictionarys would describe it.

I don't know if I entirely disagree with their assesment as "false", but I think there's a continual and consistent misapplication of the term athiest and agnostic in popular culture that confuses people, atheists included.

Silverman isn't exactly my favourite "atheist celebrity" for lack of a better term.
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Old 26th February 2012, 11:59 PM   #4
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Who are these people and why should I care what they say?
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Old 27th February 2012, 12:37 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
Who are these people and why should I care what they say?
They (Politifact) are an organization of fact checkers affiliated with the Tampa Bay Tribune who are generally recognized as reliable and unbiased; they have a website where you can go to see how they rated various public statements.

You should care because their website is a good place to start when you hear something said by a politician and wonder if that person is lying to your face, telling the absolute truth, or somewhere in between. It's a time saver, the way Snopes.com is a time saver when deciding if that chain letter you got about the missing orphan is worth forwarding to your entire contacts list. (hint; it rarely is)

In this case, I don't agree with their assessment, but I think the way they made it is valid. As was said above, the definition of athiest they are using is what we would call strong athiesm. If the definition they use is more along the line of 'god either doesn't exist, is unlikely to exist, can not be determined to exist or not, or is irrelevant if they do exist', which is much broader than strong athiesm, then the statement they rated is much more likely to be true, since it includes a lot more folks who don't believe.
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Last edited by Andrew Wiggin; 27th February 2012 at 12:41 AM. Reason: answering the 'why should I care?' question
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Old 27th February 2012, 12:50 AM   #6
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Well they're also using survey results and as we can see, Silverman takes the meaning of some results (such as agnosticism, secular unaffiliated) as atheism to add to the "declared atheist" numbers, and then there are just people who are unaware of atheism and just don't believe in God, but have no idea of the political field atheism is in.

I think Silverman knows this, but he's playing politics with the numbers, even if he's right he's not going going to get a high five from everyone in those polls for representing them.
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Old 27th February 2012, 02:03 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Andrew Wiggin View Post
They (Politifact) are an organization of fact checkers ...
OK, I thought they were something like that.

Now who is this Silverman bloke? Is he related to Sarah Silverman?
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Old 27th February 2012, 02:45 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
OK, I thought they were something like that.

Now who is this Silverman bloke? Is he related to Sarah Silverman?
Have you considered the many educational opportunities that "clicking on links and reading things" might afford you?

From the first paragraph of that story: "David Silverman, president of American Atheists..."
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Old 27th February 2012, 03:20 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Andrew Wiggin View Post
They (Politifact) are an organization of fact checkers affiliated with the Tampa Bay Tribune who are generally recognized as reliable and unbiased;...
That gets a rating of "mostly false".
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Old 27th February 2012, 03:41 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Lamuella View Post
Have you considered the many educational opportunities that "clicking on links and reading things" might afford you?

From the first paragraph of that story: "David Silverman, president of American Atheists..."
I rarely click links. I have very slow internet connection generally and it always takes ages to see these things.

So he is the President of American Atheists.

I guess there will always be people who like joining clubs like that, but I'm not one of them.

Why is there an Atheists club? Who joins these things, and who votes for the Pres.?

I'm still not sure why I should value his opinion more than, say, the President of a Fishing Club...
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Old 27th February 2012, 03:49 AM   #11
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Valuing his opinion isn't necessary.

I'm more concerned about the public face of atheism being affected more than anything else.
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Old 27th February 2012, 03:50 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
I rarely click links. I have very slow internet connection generally and it always takes ages to see these things.

So he is the President of American Atheists.

I guess there will always be people who like joining clubs like that, but I'm not one of them.

Why is there an Atheists club? Who joins these things, and who votes for the Pres.?

I'm still not sure why I should value his opinion more than, say, the President of a Fishing Club...
I agree.
Why would people bother seeking out others with common interests? What's the point of this type of interaction? It's almost as if they enjoy the opportunity to converse and debating ideas. Nothing good can come of such open "Forum" interactions.

The nerve of some people.
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Old 27th February 2012, 03:56 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
I rarely click links. I have very slow internet connection generally and it always takes ages to see these things.

So he is the President of American Atheists.

I guess there will always be people who like joining clubs like that, but I'm not one of them.

Why is there an Atheists club? Who joins these things, and who votes for the Pres.?

I'm still not sure why I should value his opinion more than, say, the President of a Fishing Club...
You seem to be putting a lot of effort into not caring what he has said or what fullfact said about it. You could probably live a much easier life by just not reading the thread at all.
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Old 27th February 2012, 04:06 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Lamuella View Post
You seem to be putting a lot of effort into not caring what he has said or what fullfact said about it. You could probably live a much easier life by just not reading the thread at all.
It's no effort. Things are slow right now.

I have nothing against people sharing opinions with like-minded people, I do it all the time. I just never saw the need to join a club for that.

Maybe it's because I don't live in the USA and Atheists are pretty common here. Church goers are considered a bit weird around here, and an Atheist club just looks a bit too much like an Atheist church to me.
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Old 27th February 2012, 04:24 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
Maybe it's because I don't live in the USA ...
Ya think? You probably don't have a bunch of loons trying to impose their Christianity on you either. Sometimes, a large group of like-minded people have more effect than a lone individual in battling such lunacy.

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Old 27th February 2012, 04:55 AM   #16
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I wouldn't consider atheism to be a "common interest". Is there a club for people who don't particularly care for bell peppers?

Originally Posted by Lowpro View Post
Well they're also using survey results and as we can see, Silverman takes the meaning of some results (such as agnosticism, secular unaffiliated) as atheism to add to the "declared atheist" numbers, and then there are just people who are unaware of atheism and just don't believe in God, but have no idea of the political field atheism is in.

I think Silverman knows this, but he's playing politics with the numbers, even if he's right he's not going going to get a high five from everyone in those polls for representing them.
...atheism is the absence of belief in gods. It is not an explicit belief that there are no gods. Of course babies are atheist. Why should anyone have to declare things they don't believe in?

Agnosticism regards knowledge, not belief.
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Old 27th February 2012, 08:23 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Stomatopoda View Post
I wouldn't consider atheism to be a "common interest". Is there a club for people who don't particularly care for bell peppers?

Maybe there would be, if there was a large group of influential people who claimed bell peppers were a divine gift, and refusing to eat them a stain on one's character.
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Old 27th February 2012, 09:30 AM   #18
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I prefer to go with the low estimates on atheists: the ones who declare themselves to be atheists. I don't like inflating that number because it means calling people who would not call themselves atheists, atheists. I don't agree with labelling other people against their wills, even if many of them would logically fit the the definition of agnostic atheist. I'm sure many of them would fit the definition of agnostic theist, too; and the poll doesn't let us sort them out. Maybe a more nuanced poll that had options for agnostic theist and agnostic atheist, with a definition included, would give us a more accurate estimate of atheist numbers.
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Old 27th February 2012, 01:49 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Stomatopoda View Post
I wouldn't consider atheism to be a "common interest". Is there a club for people who don't particularly care for bell peppers?



...atheism is the absence of belief in gods. It is not an explicit belief that there are no gods. Of course babies are atheist. Why should anyone have to declare things they don't believe in?

Agnosticism regards knowledge, not belief.
The arena that Silverman is playing with is the political arena though, where fact all of a sudden becomes a strange blur sometimes. I'm not saying he's wrong, I'm saying it's hard to validate his statements is all. That's why Politifact said False. I think he IS correct, but these pew polls don't automatically declare the secular unafilliated/agnostics as declared atheists for Silverman to throw into his own numbers.
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Old 27th February 2012, 04:15 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Lowpro View Post
The arena that Silverman is playing with is the political arena though, where fact all of a sudden becomes a strange blur sometimes. I'm not saying he's wrong, I'm saying it's hard to validate his statements is all. That's why Politifact said False. I think he IS correct, but these pew polls don't automatically declare the secular unafilliated/agnostics as declared atheists for Silverman to throw into his own numbers.
I think what I have a problem with is the fact that people like Silverman have to come up with controversal statements to get attention. No one would be reporting anything about him if he just said bland nothings. He has to generate conflict to justify his position.

If a TV Network or a Newspaper want to do an article on Atheism and Dawkins isn't available, they look up American Atheists and get a statement from this Silverman bloke. Then they quote him as if he speaks for Atheists everywhere.

It must be a little bit like how liberal Catholics feel when Bill Donohue gets quoted as represtenting the Catholic veiw on things.

Just a pet peeve of mine. I'll get over it.
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Old 27th February 2012, 06:08 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
I think what I have a problem with is the fact that people like Silverman have to come up with controversal statements to get attention. No one would be reporting anything about him if he just said bland nothings. He has to generate conflict to justify his position.

If a TV Network or a Newspaper want to do an article on Atheism and Dawkins isn't available, they look up American Atheists and get a statement from this Silverman bloke. Then they quote him as if he speaks for Atheists everywhere.

It must be a little bit like how liberal Catholics feel when Bill Donohue gets quoted as represtenting the Catholic veiw on things.

Just a pet peeve of mine. I'll get over it.

I feel the same way about Siverman. It seems to me he is more like a person trying to build up his membership.
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Old 27th February 2012, 06:17 PM   #22
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I actually got to hear him speak at Skepticon 4.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiPR74AiGdU



At about 7:30 into the video, he displayed a venn diagram to show how he thinks Skeptics and Atheists are practically overlapping groups. Now, of course, I like most of you, have met only a few Skeptics who had god beliefs. There definitely are some, but clearly not many.

But I could go on and on about all the Atheists I have met who definitely are not Skeptics...

I so wanted to go up afterwards and ask him about Bill Maher.
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Old 27th February 2012, 06:34 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Gregoire View Post
I so wanted to go up afterwards and ask him about Bill Maher.
Sometimes, I suspect Bill Maher is the world's first Deep Cover Conservative. A counterpart to Ann Coulter, if you will.
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Old 27th February 2012, 06:58 PM   #24
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Checking out the 2008 statistical abstract from the US Census Bureau, only 0.7% of the adult population answered 'atheist' when asked to self identify their religion. Far, far more fit into the combination of atheist and other 'No Religion' categories though (agnostic, humanist, general response of "No religion", etc.), as many as self reported as 'Baptist.' Catholic and Baptist were the only christian groups that were larger than the No Religion group, in fact, with Baptists edging No Religion-ers by only 2 million people.
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Old 28th February 2012, 10:09 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by SezMe View Post
That gets a rating of "mostly false".
The nice thing about 'generally recognized' is that one opinion or anecdote to the contrary doesn't overturn. You have a citation to show that they're wrong more than they're right, or do you just have some pet opinions they think are false?
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Old 28th February 2012, 10:48 PM   #26
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Whoa, hang on AW. You made the claim of "generally recognized" so it's your burden of providing evidence, not mine to reject the claim. Also, my post said nothing about their ratio of wrong:right. So you're 0 for 2 so far.
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Old 1st March 2012, 08:09 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by jasonpatterson View Post
Checking out the 2008 statistical abstract from the US Census Bureau, only 0.7% of the adult population answered 'atheist' when asked to self identify their religion. Far, far more fit into the combination of atheist and other 'No Religion' categories though (agnostic, humanist, general response of "No religion", etc.), as many as self reported as 'Baptist.' Catholic and Baptist were the only christian groups that were larger than the No Religion group, in fact, with Baptists edging No Religion-ers by only 2 million people.
If I got that call, I would be ready to answer 'agnostic atheist humanist Unitarian Universalist'. But only because I want atheists to be counted. Properly speaking, I could not answer the question 'What is your religion, if any?' with 'atheist' because it's not a religion. If I weren't a UU, I'd have to say 'none', and get counted with the nones instead of the atheists.

If the question to determine how many atheists are in America was 'Do you believe God or any gods actually exist?', and anyone who answered 'no' was counted as an atheist; I think it would turn up considerably more than .7% atheists.
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Old 3rd March 2012, 09:51 AM   #28
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Wait. Hold on just one second.

The god botherers love to claim that atheism is just as much a belief as theism, right?

So if atheists organised themselves into a group of some sort, couldn't we all get tax exemptions all over the place?

Think outside the box, people.
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Old 3rd March 2012, 01:32 PM   #29
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It's normal, inside the box thinking. Humanist/freethought/atheist/etc groups simply get a 501(c)(3) designation and all their donations are tax deductible. I would guess nearly all formalized groups have already done this.
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Old 3rd March 2012, 07:08 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by SezMe View Post
It's normal, inside the box thinking. Humanist/freethought/atheist/etc groups simply get a 501(c)(3) designation and all their donations are tax deductible. I would guess nearly all formalized groups have already done this.
I would have thought the smilie was a giveaway. Apparently not.

ETA: 95% of the world population is not american, and neither knows nor cares what a 501(c)(3) designation is. I thought this insular amero-centrism was a trait of the gullible bleever types. I freely concede I was wrong.
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Old 3rd March 2012, 09:40 PM   #31
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Jesus, abaddon, who stepped on your pecker today?
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Old 4th March 2012, 04:27 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by SezMe View Post
Jesus, abaddon, who stepped on your pecker today?
I got up too early, always makes me grumpy.
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Who is General Failure? And why is he reading my hard drive?
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Old 4th March 2012, 03:06 PM   #33
SezMe
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Me, too.
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