Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chris Mooney vs Atheists: Part XXXIV

 
Chris Mooney is at it again. His latest posting sounds ominous: Are Top Scientists Really So Atheistic? Look at the Data.
Elaine Howard Ecklund is a sociologist at Rice University; we cited her work on the topic of science and religion in Unscientific America. Now, she is out with a book that is going to seriously undercut some widespread assumptions out there concerning the science religion relationship.
Unfortunately, Chris doesn't present any data because he's not a scientist. Data really isn't his thing.

I don't have a copy of the book so I can't check it myself. Fortunately, Razib Khan, one of Chris Mooney's fellow bloggers on the Discover website, was able to find some of the data [Scientists as “spiritual atheists”].

Let's be clear about one thing. This is not a poll of scientists. It's a poll of American scientists. The title of Ecklund's book, Science vs Religion: What Scientists Really Think, is somewhat misleading.1 Here's two charts from the book.



Hmmm ... none of my assumptions have been undercut. How about yours?

I guess what Chris Mooney means is that some of his assumptions will have to be re-evaluated. It's about time.


1. Unless you're an American. Then you probably believe that all scientists live in the USA.

17 comments :

  1. Mooney: "Now, she is out with a book that is going to seriously undercut some widespread assumptions out there concerning the science religion relationship."

    Mooney endorses the provocative conclusions from the book jacket of a book he has yet to read. This is pure propaganda.
    propaganda"

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  2. Before even reading the rest of the post: What the !#@% is an "elite" scientist!?

    Reading the rest of the post didn't help. Any hints? ^_^

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  3. Actually I would expect that American scientists would show up as more 'atheist' than the general population compared with European or Australian scientists, simply because in Europe and Australia, the general population is more 'atheist'

    Amusingly, the arguement could be made that American scientists are far more 'atheist' (compared with the general population) that are European or Australian scientists.

    Somehow I don't think Mooney had this in mind . . .

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  4. Later in the book, that '16% Jewish' turns into more atheists-- 75% of those who call themselves of the 'Jewish religion' consider themselves atheists.

    heh.

    Amazon 'search inside this book'. I also read part of it this way. Very 'meh'.

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  5. What do they consider a "higher power?" Aliens? Because if that's the case, then yes, I do believe in a higher power.

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  6. Psi: I believe Elite means they come from one of the top research universities/centers.

    There's an opinion piece in the recent New Scientist by the same author summarizing these points. Its a weak read there, definitely makes me not interested in reading the book. Arguments about how many scientists were raised in religious households in the US (which contains mostly religious households....so Duh)

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  7. Chris Mooney has never quite grasped the idea that there is more to the world than what happens in the US.

    He seems to be some kind of American Exceptionalist.

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  8. @Matthew: Americans have never quite grasped the idea that there is more to the world than what happens in the US. Heh, heh! [Ducks]

    Anyhoo ... I never cease to be amazed at the strength of the "no doubt" public viewpoint. Only 37% harbour any doubts at all? A bloke made of nothing did it all for kicks? Well, if you say so ...

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  9. Neil Tyson, whom Prof. Moran seems to have mixed feelings about, stated in his presentation at a 2006 conference, Beyond
    Belief, a portion of which was posted here some time ago, that only 14% of the members of the US National Academy of Science professed to believe in the existence of god. Despite the testimony of the late Richard Feynman, the membership of National Academy is considered the cream of American science.

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  10. If you polled a scientist of Indian and Hindu origin (the species exists, I assure you) they'd probably answer yes to every question on the list. I can see Venky Ramakrishnan answer yes to the 1st two questions. C.V.Raman would probably have answered No to th efirst question and yes to some of the others.
    MooneyBaum (hat tip to ERV) is working with an idea of "God" that makes no sense beyond the Chrislamic one.

    Truti

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  11. Whenever you mention Chris Mooney by name, I think you should include an asterisk informing readers that he receives money from the Templeton Foundation, an organization dedicated to establishing that science and religion are compatible.

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  12. Right, ERV. What we can see just from the two charts Dr. Moran posted is that many scientists calling themselves "mainline Protestants" (does that mean from the Philly suburbs?), and a whole bunch of those who call themselves Jewish, don't believe in god(s).

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  13. From Ecklund's book, page 201: "Full disclosure: Much of the research on which this book is based was funded by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation."

    Since Mooney also has received Templeton money, and quite recently, shouldn't he report this as a possible conflict of interest? (I mean, if he has any interest in operating ethically, of course.)

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  14. "Since Mooney also has received Templeton money, and quite recently, shouldn't he report this as a possible conflict of interest? (I mean, if he has any interest in operating ethically, of course.)"

    Of course he should, but he won't.

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  15. So 53 percent of scientists don't belong to a religion, but yet 64 percent of of scientists don't believe in God. At a minimum there are 9% of the scientists belong to a religion that they no longer believe in. What would have been more telling is how import religion was to these scientists, in their lives and well as their research. I would except the numbers of scientist who state that religion is important or very important to their research would plummet.

    Noah and the dinosaurs

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