Atheist Alliance International Struggle With Stats

I recently posted a criticism of a meme claiming an atheist majority existed in Iceland. I obviously wasn’t the only sceptically minded person to notice this and people have been finding out for themselves that there is in fact no atheist majority in Iceland. At least not one that has been captured by any surveys. Now you’d think that when presenting this to pages where this meme has been posted, admins would readily admit the claim is false and change their opinion in a accordance with the data. But in fact that hasn’t been the case for the Atheist Alliance International, who wrote a couple of versions of the following response to their questioning fans.


Now if you can get yourself a copy of the 2010 Eurobarometer Poll and go to page 381, you’ll see this.


You can see where the Atheist Alliance International found the 31 per cent of people who believe in God. But where did they come up with the figure of 67 per cent of people in Iceland being atheist and agnostic? If we go to page 383 we find that contrary to their claim of 67 percent of people being agnostic or atheist, when asked directly, only 10 per cent state they are atheist and a further 17 percent as agnostic. I think what’s happened is they’ve struggled with statistics in a way that would make Dave Silverman proud. Dave recently made the wishful claim that America is basically 30 per cent atheist.

So here’s how they struggled with the statistics. First they ignored responses to a direct question about identifying as atheist and agnostic as found on page 383.

Then they added the 49 percent of respondents with the 18 per cent of respondents on page 381, to get 67 per cent of respondents being atheist and agnostic. So no atheist majority, rather a supposed majority made up of agnostics and atheists. But there are serious problems with this approach, namely what constitutes an agnostic. Let’s look closer at the 67 per cent from answers on page 381.

The statements used here are the issue. When asked to respond to the statement – “You believe there is some sort of life force or spirit“, 49 per cent of people responded in the affirmative. Now does that make them agnostic? I doubt it, as agnosticism is usually a position in which a person does not have a strong belief either way about the existence of gods. It certainly is not usually expressed as believing in a spirit or life force. In fact, if you could show me where that’s ever been integral to what it means to be agnostic, I’d be surprised.

Now the 18 per cent who responded in the affirmative to the the following statement “You don’t believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force”, would certainly be good candidates for atheists. However, why we should favour these responses over the ones given to a direct question about identifying as an atheist, is unclear

But just for arguments sake let’s assume that the responses on page 381 are the best indicator of someone being an atheist. The Atheist Alliance International still hasn’t addressed how Iceland can have an atheist majority with figures like this. No one, with even a basic understanding of statistics, thinks that 18 per cent is a majority.

Now here’s what really baffles me. What is so hard about admitting you posted a meme without doing your homework? For people who are open to learning, this sort of mistake happens and if you own up to it, no big deal. But when you try to justify an incorrect claim with dodgy statistics, you simply look dishonest and foolish. Don’t be like the Atheist Alliance International and learn to admit your wrong. No amount of wishful thinking can change the data.

Posted on November 8, 2015, in Antitheist, Memes and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Atheist prove by their own antics and arguments that they have no interested in science, facts, or truth telling.

    Atheism is in fact, one of many propaganda outlets for the leftist-fascism that is sweeping the globe.


  2. therighttogiveadamn

    Tbh I actually spent 5 minutes trying to convince my religion class that atheists don’t worship demons and Satan. I still don’t think they’re convinced.


  3. How about this… 31% of the population believes there is a god The rest don’t. Plus toss in there is a vastly larger Atheist / Agnostic population in Iceland than the US. Those at least are fairly self evident based on the data.


    • You could but it wouldn’t be self evident. You’d have to ignore the other question within that set of questions where you got your 31% from, where 49% believe in some sort of sprit or life force, which doesn’t tell us whether they are atheist. So when we look for a direct question on atheism we find that there simply wasn’t enough people responding as atheist to justify the claim. You can’t say well its self evident that there’s an atheist majority and then have to make up your own interpretation of stats to get there.


  4. I actually have to disagree with you here. This is not an issue of statistics, but rather of used definition. Atheism, strictly speaking, is the abscence of the believe in a deity. So the atheist and agnostics category should encompasse anyone who does not answer the question” do you believe there is a god” in the affirmative.
    In the U.S. Atheists are almost always simultaneously sceptics who relie on a naturalistiv worldview. This is not the case in europe. I know a lot of people personally who don’t believe in any kind of sentient god, yet are very spiritualistic and into new age things.
    I believe that ” “You don’t believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force”,” is to wide a question to determin wether someone is an atheist. The believe in life-forces and spirits (or ghosts or leprechauns for that matter) has no bearing whatsoever on the question of atheism.
    Lastly, since you know so much of statistic, the gap between ” do not believe in any kind of god, spirit or life force” and ” identifies as atheist” is a rather obvious social desireability bias. If you don’t believe in any kind of god, spirit, or life force, you are, by very definition, an atheist. The fact that the lable “atheist” is still coloured rather negativly because it brings to mind cliches of people who categorically reject any form of spiritualism or transcendence has no bearing on that.


  1. Pingback: Atheist Alliance International Struggle With Stats | Nina's Soap Bubble Box

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