Underreported Atheists

The authors of the study, published earlier this year, adopted a novel way to measure atheist identity. Instead of asking about belief in God directly, they provided a list of seemingly innocuous statements and then asked: “How many of these statements are true of you?” Respondents in a control group were given a list of nine statements, such as “I own a dog” and “I am a vegetarian.” The test group received all the same statements plus one that read, “I do not believe in God.” The totals from the test group were then compared to those from the control group, allowing researchers to estimate the number of people who identify as atheists without requiring any of the respondents to directly state that they don’t believe in God.1 The study concludes that roughly one-quarter (26 percent) of Americans likely do not believe in God.2


The stigma attached to the atheist label may prevent Americans from claiming it or sharing their beliefs with others. In certain parts of the country, pressure to conform to prevailing religious practices and beliefs is strong. A reporter with The Telegraph writing from rural Virginia, for example, found that for many atheists, being closeted makes a lot of sense. “The stakes are high,” said a Virginia Tech graduate who was raised Christian but is now an atheist. “Do I want to be supported by my friends and family, or am I going to risk being kicked out of clubs and organizations? It’s tempting just to avoid the whole issue.”


Folksonomies: atheism identity reporting

/religion and spirituality/atheism and agnosticism (0.256686)
/religion and spirituality/christianity (0.200845)
/food and drink/food/grains and pasta (0.169270)

seemingly innocuous statements (0.970957 (neutral:0.000000)), control group (0.815588 (neutral:0.000000)), test group (0.813447 (neutral:0.000000)), Virginia Tech graduate (0.813032 (neutral:0.000000)), atheist identity (0.693369 (positive:0.355594)), roughly one-quarter (0.650929 (neutral:0.000000)), novel way (0.627976 (positive:0.355594)), atheist label (0.626143 (negative:-0.628109)), God.1 The study (0.564480 (neutral:0.000000)), certain parts (0.563900 (neutral:0.000000)), Telegraph writing (0.562093 (neutral:0.000000)), religious practices (0.560893 (neutral:0.000000)), atheists (0.540798 (negative:-0.458574)), rural Virginia (0.538402 (neutral:0.000000)), respondents (0.422825 (neutral:0.000000)), Americans (0.363290 (negative:-0.628109)), beliefs (0.337615 (negative:-0.628109)), list (0.331728 (neutral:0.000000)), stigma (0.292194 (negative:-0.628109)), totals (0.289025 (neutral:0.000000)), percent (0.283979 (neutral:0.000000)), authors (0.279136 (negative:-0.575012)), stakes (0.277609 (positive:0.486292)), belief (0.274438 (neutral:0.000000)), dog (0.272357 (neutral:0.000000)), vegetarian. (0.272161 (neutral:0.000000)), researchers (0.271042 (neutral:0.000000)), number (0.270930 (neutral:0.000000)), people (0.270874 (neutral:0.000000)), reporter (0.269298 (neutral:0.000000))

Virginia Tech:Organization (0.854091 (neutral:0.000000)), Virginia:StateOrCounty (0.804433 (neutral:0.000000)), reporter:JobTitle (0.764433 (neutral:0.000000)), one-quarter:Quantity (0.764433 (neutral:0.000000)), 26 percent:Quantity (0.764433 (neutral:0.000000))

God (0.912666): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Religion (0.912649): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
2009 singles (0.888357): dbpedia
Atheism (0.735961): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Faith (0.692610): dbpedia | freebase
Existence of God (0.690947): dbpedia | freebase | yago
2004 singles (0.678803): dbpedia
Conceptions of God (0.671039): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Sentence (0.668764): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Richard Dawkins (0.665697): website | dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago | musicBrainz
Belief (0.658995): dbpedia | freebase

 Way More Americans May Be Atheists Than We Thought
Electronic/World Wide Web>Internet Article:  Cox, Daniel (MAY 18, 2017), Way More Americans May Be Atheists Than We Thought, Retrieved on 2017-06-20
  • Source Material [fivethirtyeight.com]
  • Folksonomies: atheism identity surveying