Randy Roberts Potts, grandson of Oral Roberts, a letter to his gay Uncle Ronnie, who killed himself in June of 1982.
No. Neither makes the mistake of relying on a shorter Pew Forum quiz to arrive at the wrong answer.
Yet both use headlines which mislead readers toward believing that by comparing their scores on the full, 32-question quiz to the aggregate scores for atheists and agnostics who were surveyed, they can determine whether they’re smarter than an atheist.
Not going to happen. No opportunity to disaggregate the Pew data to find you an atheist with whom to compare yourself is offered.
Nor is the full survey an intelligence test.
The measurement tool reveals and was designed to reveal social trends.
The data can be useful to those who analyze and apply it. As opposed to the recreation of applying the measurement tool to yourself.
From the Executive Summary of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey
Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.
On average, Americans correctly answer 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions on the survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Atheists and agnostics average 20.9 correct answers. Jews and Mormons do about as well, averaging 20.5 and 20.3 correct answers, respectively. Protestants as a whole average 16 correct answers; Catholics as a whole, 14.7. Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons perform better than other groups on the survey even after controlling for differing levels of education.
Atheist PZ Myers did a restrained victory dance.
Get Religion suggests that as a nation we do in fact need to be better informed about religion. Lest Americans continue to excel at believing without knowing.
Matthew C. Nisbet, associate professor in the School of Communication at American University, argued that the survey’s outcome was to be expected, scientifically. He sees it all “in the context of research I have conducted with my colleague Dietram Scheufele on like those shaping political knowledge more generally.”
(1) Each of the highest scoring groups is a very small minority in a U.S. culture [that is] dominated by other belief traditions. Under these conditions of minority status, there is much higher motivation for members of these groups to seek out, acquire, and retain knowledge about their own beliefs, the beliefs of others, and the legal protections afforded religion.
(2) This motivation to acquire and retain knowledge is amplified when these minority individuals also anticipate engaging in conversations or arguments with others–where as a small minority–they often have to defend their own beliefs.
In other words, contrary to some of the claims made today, it’s not that atheists are smarter or superior to other groups, but instead, the social climate in the United States encourages and motivates atheists to acquire higher levels of religious knowledge.
While members of more dominant groups feel secure in their relatively uninformed lassitude.