Poll: Atheists Trusted As Much As . . . Rapists

We have been watching the national and international campaign by leaders against atheists, who appear to be fair game for hateful, ill-informed rhetoric. Even Newt Gingrich (who has been criticized for violating two oaths to God in having affairs while married) has campaigned on the need for any candidate to be faithful. Recent polls show these statements are playing to the majority bias against non-believers. Now, researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of Oregon have released the results of a study that shows that religious people would just as soon trust a rapist as they would an atheist or non-believer.

An article published in the current online issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology contains various studies. One study involved a more liberal pool of University of British Columbia students involved a hypothetical of someone leaving false insurance information on cars. “People were far more likely to say he was either an atheist or a rapist and not part of a religious group.” The author noted “[w]ith rapists, they’re distrusted because they rape people. Atheists are viewed as sort of a moral wild card.”

Here is the abstract:

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2011 Dec;101(6):1189-206. Epub 2011 Nov 7.
Do you believe in atheists? Distrust is central to anti-atheist prejudice.
Gervais WM, Shariff AF, Norenzayan A.
Source
Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia.
Abstract
Recent polls indicate that atheists are among the least liked people in areas with religious majorities (i.e., in most of the world). The sociofunctional approach to prejudice, combined with a cultural evolutionary theory of religion’s effects on cooperation, suggest that anti-atheist prejudice is particularly motivated by distrust. Consistent with this theoretical framework, a broad sample of American adults revealed that distrust characterized anti-atheist prejudice but not anti-gay prejudice (Study 1). In subsequent studies, distrust of atheists generalized even to participants from more liberal, secular populations. A description of a criminally untrustworthy individual was seen as comparably representative of atheists and rapists but not representative of Christians, Muslims, Jewish people, feminists, or homosexuals (Studies 2-4). In addition, results were consistent with the hypothesis that the relationship between belief in God and atheist distrust was fully mediated by the belief that people behave better if they feel that God is watching them (Study 4). In implicit measures, participants strongly associated atheists with distrust, and belief in God was more strongly associated with implicit distrust of atheists than with implicit dislike of atheists (Study 5). Finally, atheists were systematically socially excluded only in high-trust domains; belief in God, but not authoritarianism, predicted this discriminatory decision-making against atheists in high trust domains (Study 6). These 6 studies are the first to systematically explore the social psychological underpinnings of anti-atheist prejudice, and converge to indicate the centrality of distrust in this phenomenon. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2011 APA, all rights reserved).

Source: Blaze as first seen on Reddit

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52 thoughts on “Poll: Atheists Trusted As Much As . . . Rapists

  1. Wow! Really trust?! Let’s not 4get RELIGION fanatics were responsbile for 9/11, witch-hunting, ethnic cleansing, pedophila, the delay of medical breakthroughs, women right’s violation…..I’ll stop now cause I’m now ranting, More BLESSED are the hands, than the lips that pray.

  2. The opposite of faith is not doubt — without doubt, wherefore faith? The opposite is certitude. Fundamentalist, claiming to be the most faithful of the faithful, have no faith — only their certitude.

    A man without doubt is no man — one either acts on his doubt or contrary to his doubt. But to have no doubt? It’s inhuman. I don’t trust Zombies.

    ___________________________________________________________

    Your whole post is quite brilliant, Oro.

  3. Most people do not trust Atheists because of their belief system. For example, they are dishonest when it comes to them not admitting that their position is a faith based one, they have no moral authority and consider evil a human construct. For a person to claim to be an “atheist” they would have to be all knowing, thus they set themselves up as god..which is delusional. Another reason for the distrust is that ATHIESTS refusal on their part to admit that an atheistic position is anti scientific, i.e. you cannot have everything come from nothing..a basic scientific principle. Not to mention the anti religious bigotry that comes from Richard Dawkins, and the marching orders to “ridicule and show contempt” concerning religious people. So why would Anyone trust someone like that!? A rapist is a bully and some one who just takes to feed their own selfish desires…and that is the perception of an atheist.

  4. Rick:

    Well Rick I agree with one of your foolish misconceptions in your comment but perhaps not in the way you’d imagine. “For a person to claim to be an “atheist” they would have to be all knowing, thus they set themselves up as god..which is delusional.” I suppose that rule applies to all people claiming to be all knowing about anything. Most fundamentalist Christians I know claim to know everything about their religion and everyone else’s, too. That’s why they like theirs so much. That would then be “setting themselves up as a god which is delusional.” Now, If they don’t know everything about their religion as compared to all the rest, why are they always lecturing others about how wonderful their religion is? Since they don’t know, maybe it’s not so wonderful, and sincerely claiming it is wonderful would make them, well, delusional. Along with being delusional, if they are trying to convince others of things they aren’t certain of themselves that would make them arrogant. Now if they aren’t sincere then trying to convince someone of something you don’t believe yourself makes you disingenuous. So I thank you for pointing out — and proving — that fundamentalist Christians are either delusional false gods on the one hand, or delusional, arrogant, and/or disingenuous, on the other.

    Bravo.

  5. First of all, I do not find it surprising that people trust rapists. More than half the time, people trusts rapists MORE than they trust the VICTIMS of the rapists who are claiming that they have been raped. If one is to presume that the victims of the rapists are not themselves ALSO rapists, this would easily put rapists into the category of trusted people. So maybe another group of genuinely UNtrusted people should be used in the study if we want to get valid results.

    And now over to this “whether atheists can be trusted” question, quote:

    “ATHIESTS refus[e]… to admit that an atheistic position is anti scientific, i.e. you cannot have everything come from nothing..a basic scientific principle. Not to mention the anti religious bigotry that comes from Richard Dawkins, and the marching orders to “ridicule and show contempt” concerning religious people. So why would Anyone trust someone like that!? A rapist is a bully and some one who just takes to feed their own selfish desires…and that is the perception of an atheist.”

    OK, there are some basic problems with this line of reasoning.

    1. Atheism, like Theism, is about belief, NOT about proof. Nobody who holds the belief that there is a god that is actually a trinity of three godlike entities (a father, a son, and a holy ghost) should be required to PROVE that theory to believe it, and the belief in that theory is not an independent measure of the person’s credibility or trustworthiness.

    2. “You cannot have everything come from nothing” is not actually a basic scientific principle. I don’t actually know what it IS but it is not a basic scientific principle. Obviously, within the scientific knowledge that we already have, using the scientific method that we have been using, and with the data we are able to collect, we can say that “you cannot have a human person come from no biological parents” and we can say that “you cannot have a living animal spring from inanimate matter” and so forth, but beyond that, we just don’t have tools or data to get to “You cannot have everything come from nothing” and to my knowledge, this has not been written down as any sort of basic scientific principle, at any time in history.

    3. As to “marching orders to ‘ridicule and show contempt’ concerning religious people,” if there are such marching orders (I haven’t looked into this at all and it’s a safe bet to say that I never will), they have no effect whatsoever on whether or not atheists are to be trusted. If, for instance, an American President were to give so-called “marching orders” for Americans to believe that a certain non-American government were amassing weapons of mass destruction, necessitating immediate self-defensive armed conflict, that would not, to me, automatically bring down the credibility of the average American.

    But anyway —

    Believing that a something called god came from a nothing without name, and that the something called god then did and does everything else there is to do (and more, ad infinitum) is fine; some of the people who do it are quite credible and others are not, and that always remains to be seen, and is measured by assessing their conduct, including but not limited to speech.

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