Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Saturday, October 02, 2010

How Much Do Irreligious People Know about Religion?

I'm sure most of my fellow reactionaries have heard about a Pew poll that showed atheists and agnostics did better on a test of religious knowledge than religious people.

I noticed there were two groups of irreligious people in the survey “Atheist/agnostic” (who did well) and “Nothing in particular” (who did badly). My initial reaction was to suspect the difference is that atheists will argue in favor of unbelief, whereas nothingists don't bother. On the other hand, the people passing around the “Open letter to Dr. Laura” a few years ago (which sounded amazingly like Christine O'Donnell talking about evolution) were arguing in favor of unbelief but were rejecting a middle-school understanding of religion. The distinction between “Atheist/agnostic” and “Nothing in particular” appears to be important, but I'm not sure of what it is. (The distinction has gotten into Jewish folklore.)

This does explain why some people are invincibly convinced that they know far more about religion than the actual religious people, even if they have a middle-school understanding.

Is counter-signaling involved?

It's possible the apparent low quality of argumentation among atheists might be counter-signaling. It's also possible that someone who isn't signaling at all might be mistaken for someone who's counter-signaling.

Along similar lines, Matt Simpson at Less Wrong claimed to be counter-counter-counter-counter-counter-counter-signaling. I suppose someone who is above all the levels of n-counter-signaling would be ω-counter-signaling … and someone who is better than that is ω+1-counter-signaling …

Of course, the theological opinions of someone able to ω1CK-counter-signal (ω1CK is the ordinal greater than which no ordinal can be conceived) should be taken very seriously because He really is God …


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