Author Topic: Survey on Coming Out As An Atheist  (Read 1722 times)

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Offline Hermes

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Survey on Coming Out As An Atheist
« on: September 23, 2008, 10:06:29 PM »
Got 20 minutes?  Want to help an atheist professor learn more about other atheists?

Take this survey;

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=FngPf17nsv1PWLSsOzS_2ffw_3d_3d

Source: http://lifewithoutfaith.com/index.php?/archives/84-Sociological-Study-on-Coming-Out-and-Being-Atheist.html

Professor: Dr. Tom Arcaro from Elon University

Quote
    Why am I doing this research? As a tenured full professor I have no pressing need to add to my curriculum vita. My motivation for this research is to reach out to other atheists and provide them with an additional sounding board for their experiences. I want to describe the population of self-proclaimed atheists and ferret out some of the correlations between their gender, age, and other demographic variables with their responses to the array of questions that are posed in the survey. After the data is collected, I will openly share to summarized results both in the popular press (and, of course, appropriate web sites) and in sociological journals. I pledge to do my best to describe, analyze, summarize and present the data carefully and, importantly, to absolutely maintain the confidentiality of each participant.

    Ultimately I hope that this survey and the publication of the results will, in some a small way, encourage more of us to more openly be who we are, atheists.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2008, 03:52:00 PM by Hermes »
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

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Offline bahramthered

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Re: Survey on Coming Out As An Atheist
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2008, 09:20:51 AM »
Entertaining for a minute or two.

Offline Davedave

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Re: Survey on Coming Out As An Atheist
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2008, 12:11:35 PM »
I filled it out, but didn't like the word "discomfort" that was used repeatedly.  I think it is the wrong word to describe how I feel when I find myself involved in a group prayer before a meal or when an allusion to God is made in a speech.  I'm not feeling discomfort.  I feel upset.  I'm perfectly comfortable with it, but it makes me unhappy.  What I mean is that I have been at a dinner where everyone prayed before the meal.  Was I feeling discomfort?  No.  I was fine with openly not participating and fine with people being put off by my non-participation.  No problem.  But it does upset me.  I don't know if I'm being clear in trying to make this distinction.

Offline Goodkat

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Re: Survey on Coming Out As An Atheist
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2008, 01:31:41 PM »
I filled it out, but didn't like the word "discomfort" that was used repeatedly.  I think it is the wrong word to describe how I feel when I find myself involved in a group prayer before a meal or when an allusion to God is made in a speech.  I'm not feeling discomfort.  I feel upset.  I'm perfectly comfortable with it, but it makes me unhappy.  What I mean is that I have been at a dinner where everyone prayed before the meal.  Was I feeling discomfort?  No.  I was fine with openly not participating and fine with people being put off by my non-participation.  No problem.  But it does upset me.  I don't know if I'm being clear in trying to make this distinction.
You are saddened by people damaging beliefs. I know how you feel.

Offline Davedave

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Re: Survey on Coming Out As An Atheist
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2008, 01:36:51 PM »
Perhaps an analogy.  Let's say I hear a noise in my house in the middle of the night.  It's a burglar.  Let's say that I see a gun in his belt, so I put two bullets through his head and he falls down dead.  I could be perfectly comfortable with the decision I made, yet not happy about the overall situation or the result.  I just think that discomfort is not the right word to describe that feeling.

Offline ;)

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Re: Survey on Coming Out As An Atheist
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2008, 02:02:10 PM »
I done it, although i think the answers could have been abit more varied.
Multiple-choice things are never good ::)
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Offline Hermes

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Re: Survey on Coming Out As An Atheist
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2008, 02:49:32 PM »
Yep.  Not a big fan of some of the available answers to some questions.  Typed in "agnostic atheist", for example.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Davedave

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Re: Survey on Coming Out As An Atheist
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2008, 03:27:19 PM »
I tried to go back to the webpage to see if they had a contact or feedback link, and the thing is automatically shutting down the browser window.  I've never seen that before.

Offline Hermes

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Re: Survey on Coming Out As An Atheist
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2008, 03:50:10 PM »
It's by IP to prevent people from taking the survey multiple times.

Here's the original link with some details (should have included it in the OP);

http://lifewithoutfaith.com/index.php?/archives/84-Sociological-Study-on-Coming-Out-and-Being-Atheist.html
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Hermes

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Re: Survey on Coming Out As An Atheist
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2008, 03:55:48 PM »
Extra details...

Source: http://lifewithoutfaith.com/index.php?/archives/84-Sociological-Study-on-Coming-Out-and-Being-Atheist.html

Professor: Dr. Tom Arcaro from Elon University

http://facstaff.elon.edu/arcaro

The text below was copied from lifewithoutfaith.com but does not include links to other resources.  To see those extra links, go to the original article.  Links corrected.



Quote
Sociological Study on "Coming Out" and Being Atheist
http://lifewithoutfaith.com/index.php?/archives/84-Sociological-Study-on-Coming-Out-and-Being-Atheist.html

Monday, September 22. 2008

I am continually preaching about "coming out" of the religious closet. So I am excited to bring to your attention an important sociological study that I helped develop. It is a descriptive and exploratory survey on "coming out" and living as an atheist. I hope you will take time to participate and help spread the word by forwarding the survey to your friends and family members who are atheist. If you have a website, please post a link to it.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=FngPf17nsv1PWLSsOzS_2ffw_3d_3d

Several months ago, I began assisting Dr. Tom Arcaro from Elon University in designing this survey. Once the data has been analyzed we will seek to publish it not only in a trade journal, but in a magazine the general public would read. It is our goal to use the information gathered to encourage others to come out of the religious closet and to destigmatize atheism.

Brother Richard

Below Dr. Arcaro explains the purpose of this study:

In the academic world, sabbaticals come around only once in seven years and each faculty person knows to invest that precious time away from the classroom effectively. In my case, when the time came to write my sabbatical proposal I had recently finished reading all of the books from the “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse”, namely Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett. I have been reading Dennett and Dawkins for years as I followed closely their work in evolutionary psychology (I have written several essays that touch on this topic; go to http://facstaff.elon.edu/arcaro), and when Dawkin’s The God Delusion came out I devoured it quickly, finding myself in agreement with much of what he said.

The semester after I read Dawkin's book, I had an Intro to Sociology student who needed a research project, and she and I surveyed over 100 undergraduates using Dawkin’s scale of belief (he introduces in the first chapter). Those data indicated what I already knew from living in North Carolina for the last 23 years: I was living in the Bible Belt. That short experience with researching people’s religious beliefs whet my appetite for more in depth data, and I began some preliminary reading of what other sociologists had written about being an atheist, particularly in the so-called Bible Belt where I lived. I found some reasonably interesting work, but none that sated my interest in the social consequences of coming out public as an atheist.

As a bit more background, I have been working for a number of years on the issue of HIV and AIDS and have studied in some detail the problem of the social stigma attached to being HIV+. A good friend of mine, Anita Isaacs from Oshakati, Namibia, became HIV+ in the late 90’s and then came out public in November of 2002. This brave act changed her life and has defined her ever since. In no way do I want to say that being HIV+ is the same as being an atheist, but what I do argue is that the phenomena of stigmatization, described so well by the sociologist Irving Goffman in his classic book Stigma, is the same in both cases: both are devalued social statuses.

Immediately after the topic of my sabbatical research was published on our university web site I began getting calls and emails from colleagues who supported my work and wished me well. Many of them shared their own stories of being in the closet about their atheism and, in fact, the survey that I am asking you to take was written with the critical feedback of many colleagues both on campus and elsewhere. Two colleagues who also happen to be lesbians talked to me about the differences and similarities of dealing with the social responses to their sexuality and their atheism.

Why am I doing this research? As a tenured full professor I have no pressing need to add to my curriculum vita. My motivation for this research is to reach out to other atheists and provide them with an additional sounding board for their experiences. I want to describe the population of self-proclaimed atheists and ferret out some of the correlations between their gender, age, and other demographic variables with their responses to the array of questions that are posed in the survey. After the data is collected, I will openly share the summarized results both in the popular press (and, of course, appropriate web sites) and in sociological journals. I pledge to do my best to describe, analyze, summarize and present the data carefully and, importantly, to absolutely maintain the confidentiality of each participant.

Ultimately I hope that this survey and the publication of the results will, in some small way, encourage more of us to more openly be who we are, atheists.

Finally, I want to publicly thank “Brother Richard” for working closely with me on the final versions of the survey and, more importantly, for all of his patience as we developed this project over the last five months. That he shares my vision and is willing to use his resources to maximize the exposure of this survey is a great gift to me and to the atheist community.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2008, 03:58:51 PM by Hermes »
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Survey on Coming Out As An Atheist
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2008, 07:44:09 PM »
Interesting emotional reactions on answering some of the questions.  I don't think I'd explicitly recognized anything I missed about being in the closet re: atheism.  Clearly though, the one and only thing I miss is having a meaningful relationship with my father.
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