Conservapedia talk:Are atheists productive

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Statements like this require data. It would be a very interesting study, and not that hard to do, for a real researcher. As it stands, there is no data to support the assertion, although it may be right.KarlJ 23:41, 25 February 2008 (EST)

I welcome more research. The Google search is a start, and speaks for itself.--Aschlafly 23:42, 25 February 2008 (EST)--Aschlafly 23:42, 25 February 2008 (EST)
Seeing as the phrase "second generation atheist" (in quotation marks) only yields 849 Google hits to begin with (a pretty meager number), I wonder if this isn't slightly begging the question. Aboganza 23:45, 25 February 2008 (EST)
Well, my personal anecdote is about as valid as andy's google search. Me and my sisters are all second generation atheists, and we are all successful professionals with great families.KarlJ 23:47, 25 February 2008 (EST)
I'll save Aschlafly the trip - see item 5 in Liberal logic Aboganza 23:52, 25 February 2008 (EST)
You beat me to it by a matter of seconds! Also, KarlJ, your grammar is atrocious, rendering your claim somewhat dubious.--Aschlafly 23:53, 25 February 2008 (EST)
Good point, sir. I will attempt to improve both my language and grammar. I will achieve heights of eloquence never before reached by man!!KarlJ 23:55, 25 February 2008 (EST)
And you still need to tell me how a search string that generates such a tiny number of hits can't be seen as a case of number 32 in Liberal style . Aboganza 23:57, 25 February 2008 (EST)
The tiny number of hits for the term reinforces the point rather than detracts from it.--Aschlafly 00:06, 26 February 2008 (EST)
Your point being, presumably, that because it is a term nobody uses it must mean that so-called second generation atheists are not doing notable things in the world. Genius. --GDewey 00:11, 26 February 2008 (EST)
No, you're clueless. The term is used, as in "second generation Christian." But when the set of accomplished subjects is virtually the null set, as in second generation atheists, very little shows up.--Aschlafly 00:12, 26 February 2008 (EST)
I told you he was smarter than you, Dewey. You shoulda believed me.KarlJ 00:13, 26 February 2008 (EST)
Well. I get 862 hits for "second generation atheist" and 2090 for "second generation christian". Looks like neither group are making much of an impression. --GDewey 00:16, 26 February 2008 (EST)
Actually, according to Conservapedia atheists make up only 4% of the US population. Christians are at (I believe) about 80%. That puts the second generation atheists well ahead of the second generation Christians on a Google hit per capita basis, doesn't it? --GDewey 00:32, 26 February 2008 (EST)

The only fair way to compare "second generation atheists" with "second generation Christians" is on a per-capita basis. The number of Google hits might reflect the relative numbers of the two groups, but says nothing about the relative per-capita productiveness of the two groups. As such, although it wouldn't surprise me to find the claims in the article to be true, as it stands the article is without any substantiation. I expect people making claims to me to be able to back them up, and in return I would not use an argument, such as this one, that I could not back up.

GDewey, your comparison is flawed if you are comparing American figures with world-wide Google hits.

Furthermore, a proper study could (in theory) be done, and the results might be quite interesting, but a proper study would need to have clear criteria. As the article stands, there is no clear definition of "productive" and "accomplishments".

Philip J. Rayment 03:30, 26 February 2008 (EST)

Actually Philip, it is misleading to say that Google returns a worldwide result. It returns an English speaking worldwide result which, I would have thought, is likely to be dominated by the US (and will include basically Christian countries anyway). --GDewey 16:23, 26 February 2008 (EST)
Incorrect? No. Misleading? Yes, perhaps you are correct there. But I would question how dominant the U.S. would be in the results. It would certainly be a large part of the results, and might even be more than half the results, but I doubt that it would be enough to overwhelm the rest so that the "world-wide" figure is pretty much the same as the American figure. There are more English speakers outside America than there are in America, although admittedly a lot of them would be in India and China, the latter, and likely the former, would not have a large presence on the English part of the Internet. But as for "Christian" countries, if you are talking historically Christian, you'd be right (ignoring India and China), but if you are talking about the percentage of the population that is sufficiently "Christian" to regularly go to church being similar to America, then you would be quite wrong. Philip J. Rayment 21:21, 26 February 2008 (EST)
My dear boy! Don't you know data is no substitute for faith? I mean, just look at the minister's son article. No attempt to examine or explain the supposed phenomenon, no definition of "success", no hard data, a quote that seems to suggest that the sons of dentists seem to outperform the sons of ministers in terms of success, and frequent appeal to hallowed antiquity where the clergy was a method whereby commoners could launder their caste origins and become essentially petty nobility whose offspring could indeed engage in scientific or philosophical enquiry while the serf had no such liberty. How indeed are we to know someone is a second generation atheist? It matters not. All that matters is that we have faith that atheists are intellectually inferior to the theist. --CabbageCrate 06:08, 26 February 2008 (EST)
Yet the minister's son article does have some substantiation, even if it's not a proper study. And the quote does indicate that sons of dentists outperform the sons of Presbyterian ministers, not ministers generally, and isn't the Presbyterian church in America pretty liberal? Your dismissal of the examples seems to be more misinformation than fact. Philip J. Rayment 06:56, 26 February 2008 (EST)

Applying the same logic: A second-generation wingnut is one descended and raised in a wingnut environment by parents who are both wingnuts. It is difficult, if not impossible, to find accomplishments by second generation wingnuts ... As of Feb. 26, 2008, Google retrieves no sites referring to second generation wingnuts. In contrast, liberal Australians have been strikingly productive. Humblpi 06:14, 26 February 2008 (EST)

"Your search - "second generation theist" - did not match any documents."--KimSell 06:22, 26 February 2008 (EST)

You didn't apply the "same logic," because those terms are not used. The term second generation atheist obviously is used, but the problem is that so few productive examples exist. A formal study of that group might yield some tragic discoveries about depression, anxiety, loneliness, drug abuse and other unfortunately afflictions. Any suggestions on how to proceed with such a study?--Aschlafly 08:45, 26 February 2008 (EST)
Might, yes. But since you havent done a study, we simply dont know. But hey, who needs studies, when you can can use Googlefu!--KimSell 11:18, 26 February 2008 (EST)
Well, for a start, don't base the research on a google search for one little-used phrase that you have dreamt up! Seriously, though, it is an interesting question - but I think defining the samples on which to base the research would be fraught with all sorts of biases. How do you in fact track down second-generation atheists, and a control group of atheists brought up by religious parents (I assume that would be the control group), without falling foul of biases inherent in the way people describe themselves, and in how others describe them? Offhand, I don't know - but I rather doubt that a few google-searches will come up with anything meaningful. Going away to think about it ... And in the meantime I would seriously question the value of an article like this, based purely on self-defined terms and speculation - unless of course the intent is to make Conservapedia a laughing stock by means of self-parody. Humblpi 08:56, 26 February 2008 (EST)
Folks, please pursue deliberate ignorance somewhere else. A study would increase our knowledge, and I'm considering doing that. But no one has to pretend to be totally ignorant in the absence of a study.--Aschlafly 12:02, 26 February 2008 (EST)
I hope that remark was not addressed to me. Where is the deliberate ignorance? I am trying to engage with your suggestion, and thinking about whether it is actually possible to carry out meaningful research on your hypothesis, and how one might gather useful data. But I do think that the article in its present state is pretty pointless. Humblpi 12:14, 26 February 2008 (EST)

Googling "second generation atheist" gets over 900 hits. Not that it matters because it is google. Really before seeing this page I honestly never have seen the term before. I wonder what exactly is the point of this article? It seems to just be a definition for a rarely used term that anyone with basic English skills would be able to infer. It then makes an unbacked claim based off of "data" made by google in order to insult a broad group of people. I think the whole thing should justed be trashed. --Rainedaye 19:20, 28 February 2008 (EST)

Put it in quotes, "second generation atheist": only 73 google hits.--Aschlafly 19:22, 28 February 2008 (EST)
I expect that he did put it in quotes. I get 899 hits for "second generation atheist" (in quotes), but only get 98 hits for the plural "second generation atheists", the term that you have in the article. Without quotes, 'second generation atheist' gets 128,000 hits. Philip J. Rayment 20:13, 28 February 2008 (EST)

Mr.Schlafly, I'd like to assess the mathematical accuracy of your thesis. Of the following list of reasons for a low Google search 'hit' number, which do you accept could be possible causes? Please consider that any given term may be subject to these effects - you might even imagine an imaginary search phrase - "banana hammock bicycle", or something, as the actual term we're considering is irrelevant to analysing this data

  1. The searched-for phenomenon genuinely has a lower occurrence in the World (this is your thesis);
  2. The term is not widely known;
  3. The term is not spelled in precisely the same manner;
  4. The term is one of many terms used to describe the same phenomenon, and thus the result is a subset within the set of all data;
  5. The term is simply not a relevant way to search for a topic;
  6. The term simply happens to not be used on the internet, though it may be used in conversation;
  7. The term is only used in languages other than the search language

I'd love to see which items in the list above you think could cause a low result? OldMan 20:02, 28 February 2008 (EST)

Oh, one other thing - I'd point out that the article's 'proof' contrasts a numerical result "Google retrieves only 18 results", with a non-numerical result "have been strikingly productive". The former is a number, the latter is an unreferenced comment. That's not a very convincing argument - it's like saying "Huckabee has an amazing 247 pledged delegates, but McCain is doing quite well". OldMan 20:15, 28 February 2008 (EST)

"The Minister's Son"

I wonder if you thought to exclude all the Google hits that were referring to the Prime "Minister's son" the Finance "Minister's son," and other similar "ministers" when you calculated how much "better" "Minister's sons" (Never mind their daughters, I guess...) were doing then "second-generation atheists." Aboganza 08:57, 26 February 2008 (EST)

Google Searches are not a way to quantify data

second generation mushroom=126,000 hits
second generation marshmallow =22,400 hits

Does this tell you anything? No. It is utterly, utterly meaningless, like the 'data' presented as 'relevant' in the article. Misterlinx 12:28, 26 February 2008 (EST)

It tells me that second generation mushrooms are far far more productive that second generation Christians. --GDewey 16:03, 26 February 2008 (EST)
Searching for the phrases will tell you more than searching for any occurrence of those words. The Google hits I got on those two as phrases were four and zero respectively. Philip J. Rayment 21:23, 26 February 2008 (EST)

I agree completely Philip - searching for phrases is more important. However, the numbers are still irrelevant. Drawing conclusions based on a search for "second generation atheist" as a comparative exercise assumes:

  1. Others have referred to the exact phrase in an online article
  2. No-one refers to the same phenomenon in another way, e.g "second-generation atheist", "children of atheist parent", "children of atheistic parents", "offspring of atheists", etc
  3. the item you wish to compare to - children of Christians - are also consistently referred to.
  4. that such references are even on the internet to begin with

No serious research would ever include Google 'hits' as anything other than anecdotal. It's simply not quantifiable. Misterlinx 21:33, 26 February 2008 (EST)

I disagree just a little. Google searches can be useful as a rough guide, or a starting point, if you are careful to take into account the sorts of issues that you've listed above. Philip J. Rayment 21:47, 26 February 2008 (EST)

Oh come now, Mr.Rayment. Googling the phrase "first born son" yields 282,200 hits. Googling "first born daughter" yields 37,600 hits. Do you seriously believe this tells you that seven and a half times more often, the first born child is male rather than female?

I repeat, Google hits are utterly meaningless in this context. Misterlinx 22:24, 26 February 2008 (EST)

I guess that it depends on what you mean by "this context". I did say that they can be useful, not that they are always useful, so a single example (or even multiple examples) does not disprove that. Philip J. Rayment 04:39, 27 February 2008 (EST)
Google hits are useful to quantify Google hits (and similar), there isn't much more than that. Nyflah 11:13, 27 February 2008 (EST)
I've already said that Google hits don't support they way that they are used in this article. Why is there such a determination to make out that they are utterly useless in any situation? Philip J. Rayment 21:07, 27 February 2008 (EST)

A research proposal

Hypothesis: "second-generation atheists" are less productive than atheists raised in religious environments.
Experimental group: atheists raised by atheist parents.
Control group: atheists raised by religious parents (it must be atheists raised by religious parents, and must not include theists raised by religious parents, which would introduce a confounding bias).
Outcome measure: various possibilities. Publications in scholarly journals (maybe citation score from the ISI databases)? Board membership of leading corporations? Political office?
Study design: it has to be a retrospective study, unless we are prepared to wait for people currently being raised by the two types of parents to reach adulthood. Maybe a case-control study, with "achievers" as cases and "non-achievers" as controls (maybe take graduates from university X in year Y, and classify them on the basis of what they have achieved since, then go and investigate their backgrounds?). Or a simple cross-sectional study of atheist achievers, setting out to investigate their backgrounds, and measuring the ratio of second-generation to first-generation atheists.

But then, regardless of the details of the study design, we hit a problem. How do we define atheist and religious? Do we base it only on what people say about themselves publicly, which would presumably bias the sample towards those with strong views of whatever sort? Do we make a judgment on each person in the sample? Do we rely on what others say about them? How do we deal with those (and it may be the overwhelming majority) whose religious stance we don't know? Do we have to interview them all? And if it's difficult to establish someone's religious stance with any certainty, it is going to be even harder to find out anything meaningful about the upbringing or the parents. Further thought required ... Humblpi 16:09, 26 February 2008 (EST)

Also, let's not forget that this needs to include all religions - sons of Imam's, sons of Saddhus (if there are any), sons of Rabbis. It's a tricky study to coordinate, thats for sure. Misterlinx 16:38, 26 February 2008 (EST)

I'm fine with including all religions. However, the control does not have to be atheistic children of atheists. Other control groups are possible, or perhaps simply use the general population (of comparable privilege) as a rough control.--Aschlafly 17:08, 26 February 2008 (EST)
He suggested the control group as atheist children of theists, not of atheists. Atheist children of theists are the appropriate control if you are comparing second-generation atheists with first-generation atheists. But it would also be interesting to compare both groups to first-generation Christians and second-generation Christians.
And although you could add as separate groups other religions, lumping all theistic religions into one group vs. atheists is making a huge, and invalid, assumption about how similar various theistic religions are. So after atheists, the first group you would compare against would be Christians, and preferably Christians from a reformed background.
All proper studies have to grapple with problems of definitions, avoiding hidden biases, etc., and the same applies here, but I don't see any exceptionally difficult problems with a study like this. Religion, at least, is already determined by many other studies. It can be done. Achievement would not be a particular problem, although one thing to be wary of is to avoid a reliance on academic achievement, as people who have achieved academically have, for the most part, gone through a system (i.e. university and the like) that is predominantly atheistic, and which would therefore cause a bias in the results.
But such a study is the sort of thing that you get a grant of tens of thousands of dollars for, and takes many months of work. I very much doubt that it would be within the capabilities of anyone here.
Philip J. Rayment 21:39, 26 February 2008 (EST)
Trouble is, without a properly conducted study (either done by someone here or already done and tracked down), the article remains a blog-like opinion piece with no basis in demonstrable fact. Maybe it should be moved to the "essay" space. Humblpi 06:44, 27 February 2008 (EST)
The article is useless without defining what "productive" means. Are you referring to how many books and articles they write, or what? --Ed Poor Talk 07:40, 30 April 2008 (EDT)

I found a debate

This artical claims that second generation atheists were raised in religious enviornments. I found a debate similar to that. Click here to participate. --Rocky

My Edits

Ok, I changed two things.

First, I updated the figure on the number of Google hits for "second generation atheist" based on the figures I received (and for which I can provide a screenshot). There's unanimous agreement that the term receives significantly more than 70 hits.

Secondly, I removed the study for three main reasons:

  1. The article is on second generation atheists, and the study was not about them. It belongs on the Missionary's Children or like page.
  2. The article did not compare Christians and atheists as was implied in previous edits (stating that second generation atheists were unsuccessful and then stating that the children of missionaries did better). In fact it didn't take faith into account at all, merely occupation.
  3. The article states that it took twice as many Presbyterian Ministers as dentists to produce a child on the Who's Who list, this indicates that it does not support the view that Christians have performed better than atheists, merely that some have. StatsMsn 07:42, 30 April 2008 (EDT)

Moved from entry

However, just because one is atheist doesn't mean that one won't be productive. Citing 'Who's Who' (without references) to judge the merits of one's accomplishments can be considered childish and similar to a school-age popularity contest. An article written by a biased Christian website is not proof to the claim that atheists are less productive or influential than Christians. Thus, it is important to remember that this page is purely speculation, and provides no proof that either 'side' is more popular or productive than the other.

This has to be the silliest debate topic I've seen, are you serious? How about Richard Dawkins, to name just one of the top of my head. Or how about we start comparing the number of US citizens that actually do something with their lives to the number that are Christian, would that be legitimate? --Reidbear 18:41, 14 May 2008 (EDT)