Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sex ratios of atheists, agnostics, and believers

Reading one of John Derbyshire's posts spotlighting the pathetic spectacle of some shrew bemoaning the lack of female representation among those in the "secularist movement" at Secular Right got me wondering about the gender breakdown by supernatural belief. Personal experience strongly suggests that most atheists are men, but to what degree does their dominance extend?

The following graphs show the sex distributions among whites surveyed since the turn of the century by (a)theistic outlook:





Putting aside all the other reasons that men tend be disproportionately overrepresented in the top spots of movements, organizations, fields of study, etc they belong to, it's still hardly surprising that the shrew detects a dearth of women leading the secularist charge into the public square. Atheists comprise less than 3% of the contemporary white adult population, and, by a 3-to-1 margin, they're overwhelmingly men. Agnostics comprise 5.6% of the white adult population, uncertain believers 33.9%, and firm believers 57.7%.

Parenthetically, while a solid majority--65.6%--of white women express certainty in God's existence, white men who feel the same way are, at 48.3%, actually in the minority among their own sex.

GSS variables used: YEAR(2000-2010), SEX, RACECEN1(1), GOD(1)(2)(3-5)(6)

19 comments:

Jon Claerbout said...

There is more to the universe than what we know. There might be more to the universe than what we can know, but whatever it is, it's not going to resemble what they call God. Is there a name for people like me?

Anonymous said...

I think submission comes more naturally to females. Also they are less tempted by unchained epistemology and abstraction. These are pro religious tendencies.

This is on of the reasons feminism is so damning (it kills naturally religious impulses in women).

Of course there are also secular reasons in the current church for this trend.

Anonymous said...

@Jon Claerbout

You are an agnostic, since you don't completely disbelieve in a higher being from insufficient evidence.

@Anon

It's not that women are submitting, but merely conforming to sociocultural traditions.

Most women "feel" that the Catholic church is anti-abortion thus a conservative institution, hence against her feminist values.

@Audacious

Perhaps men are over represented in agnosticism and atheism because they are more likely to be scientists and STEM academics?

I had phase in my youth that maybe Darwin and Richard Dawkins were right, so I became an atheist. Eventually I read more about theology and history, to become agnostic and finally reverted to being Christian after realizing my naive and ignorant outlook.

IHTG said...

God is the ultimate alpha.

Anonymous said...

Jon Claerbout- Broken down what you said was-"There is more to the universe than what we know. There might be more to the universe than what we can know,"
-what we know of the universe < what is out there-

"but whatever it is, it's not going to resemble what they call God."

-but what is out there is going to agree more with me than those bozos-


Wowing us with your hamster there, genius?

Aeoli Pera said...

Can these male-female correlation ratios alone account for the correlation between IQ and godlessness?

Aeoli Pera said...

Perhaps men are over represented in agnosticism and atheism because they are more likely to be scientists and STEM academics?

Possibly. Vox Day has a theory (getting some mainstream scientific traction) that atheism is overwhelmingly a manifestation of Asperger's disease.

Essentially, AQ, IQ, STEM, and atheism form a trait cluster that shows up in roughly the same rates per males and females.

(Disclaimer: I know they don't always show up together because I'm a Christian male STEM major with high AQ and IQ.)

Audacious Epigone said...

Perhaps men are over represented in agnosticism and atheism because they are more likely to be scientists and STEM academics?

Yeah, that's plausible given their numbers. I'll see if the GSS allows us to drill down that far.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps men are over represented in agnosticism and atheism because they are more likely to be scientists and STEM academics?


There's an unjustified assumption built into that hypothesis.

Anonymous said...

"There's an unjustified assumption built into that hypothesis."

Okay, what is it?

Anonymous said...

"There's an unjustified assumption built into that hypothesis."

What an imbecilic comment, if there was a "justified" hypothesis, wouldn't that negate the purpose of it in itself? Since one would already have the sufficient data and knowledge to conclude that its justified?

Hypothesis in an educated guess. Of course there's an assumption being made. The whole point of an experiment is to justify or unjustified it.

JayMan said...

@Jon Clarebout:

"Is there a name for people like me?"

Rationalists? See here and here. And while you're at it, see here (my blog).

JayMan said...

Autism man, autism. Over and beyond the fact that there are more high IQ males than high IQ females, autism spectrum traits, which lead to a heavier preference for analytical and rational thinking are more common in males.

Being coldly rational is more of a male thing...

Anonymous said...

Okay, what is it?

The direction in which the arrow of causality points.

The percentage of men who are "scientists and STEM academics" is too tiny to lead to the results shown.

Anonymous said...

"There's an unjustified assumption built into that hypothesis."

What an imbecilic comment, if there was a "justified" hypothesis, wouldn't that negate the purpose of it in itself


Talk about your imbecilic comments. But that's the result of failing Reading Comprehension 101. Or perhaps Logic Comprehension 101. Since I obviously need to spell it out, please be aware that "a justified assumption built into a hypothesis" is not the same thing as "a justified hypothesis".

Anne said...

I'd be curious to see the same study in the Muslim world. Many strong believers are sci-tech. The Muslim Brotherhood had been nick-named The Society of Engineers. I admit to being baffled since this is definitely not my experience in the West.

Aeoli Pera said...

Anne has an excellent point, and I second her request.

Conjecture 1: Muslim Brotherhood members pursue technical skills because they need them for modern warfare, as opposed to military men in the West who rely on contractors.

Conjecture 2: Muslim Brotherhood members are able to pursue technical skills because their lives are already exciting, as opposed to western men who are chronically understimulated.

Audacious Epigone said...

That's a fascinating question, but it's beyond any data base I'm well versed in. It's right up Pew's alley, incidetnally.

Secular Traditionalist said...

The atheist movement has been spurred by the large group of young men online who are culture-less and rootless and very angry.

Most women take a more practical approach, which is somewhere between being a believer and an agnostic, sort of like hoping for a result without staking our lives on it.

One reason that we seem to "waffle" is that we respect religion, and think it's important for our families, but believe in a firm basis in secular logic for our behavior.

If God is great and just, nothing He does will be illogical. That is the essence of secular traditionalist thinking. We aren't against God, and we like the idea, but we aren't going to cast aside reason and leap (that wouldn't be prudent).