Why are so many dopers skeptics, atheists or agnostics???

Most Americans are believers and have a good deal of faith. But the postings on straightdope are loader with responses from skeptics, atheists and agnostics.

Is there any reason for this in the founding of straightdope, or is this just an agglomeration of like-minded people.

Or am I incorrect in my conclusion about the make-up of Straightdopers.

Speaking only for myself, the Straight Dope encourages research, analysis, and making a smart-ass quip now and then. Although one could argue that some religions are tolerant of the first two, I can’t think of one that embraces all three.

Besides, I’m Canadian. What most Americans believe is not relevant to my interest in the Dope.

I think most dopers tend to be skeptics, and occasionally atheism or agnosticism follows. There happen to be plenty of both theist and non-theist dopers, but I think non-skeptical dopers would be a distinct minority.

The reason is simple:

Skeptical thinking is a very important quality. If we took everything at face value, we’d all be buying “Magical healing crystals” and the like. This is what sets us apart from non-Dopers.

I’m not an atheist per se, because I believe in a Higher Power or whatever. I do have faith, but I don’t know where that faith lies. I do, however, believe that I’ve been “helped” or “guided” many times in my life in ways that I can’t explain. I don’t believe in coincidence; rather, I believe in fate. Therefore, fate, for me, is a sign of a Higher Power guiding me to where I should go, be it bad or good.

In terms of organized religion, I would have to say I’m agnostic, but nonetheless, I respect all religions. The reason for this is that anyone I know, and care about, who is devout in their religion, is entitled to my acceptance. I’ve been to Catholic weddings and funerals (I never take host, though) and most recently, a Jewish funeral, where I respectfully wore a yamulka. I had no problem with that.

I may not agree with teachings of a given religion (check this thread) but I’m really too tired to rock the boat.

I’m going to a lesbian Jewish wedding in July. Let’s see how that turns out… :wink:

  • s.e.

Those who subscribe to the goal of stamping out ignorance (including their own) are bound to be educated, critical thinking folk who tend to subscribe to the scientific method of attempting to disprove the hypothesis and, failing to disprove it, come to the conclusion, not that it is true, but that it has as yet failed to be not true.


I’ve often thought it’s rather sad that so many religious folk view skepticism as something antithetical to faith.

In any case, skepticism is absolutely key to any approach to fighting ignorance–the purported purpose of the Dope. So there’s social pressure selecting for it here–though it’s most definitely not one-sided.

A skeptical attitude will lead people to a worldview of agnosticism and/or atheism fairly often because of the (not universal, but all-too-often) insane tendency of religion to drum the narrative that it’s antithetical to faith into people’s brains.

I’m agnostic because it’s not important for me to be elsewise. Any faith that I hold to get me through long dark nights is in myself and impermanence.

Any underlying ultimate truth to life already knows me whether or not I know it.

Any capacity for transcendance or enlightenment comes from within, rather than from some external source as far as I can tell.

I just don’t see the need to arrive at a conclusion regarding a deity.

I’m a sceptic*.

I like some evidence before I think something exists.
I don’t believe in Pyramid schemes, lotteries offering good odds, Nigerian bankers making me a millionaire, or that creationism is a science.

There is no evidence for any God, so why would I believe in one?

(I realise that many people have had a personal experience of God. Alas I haven’t. I mean physical evidence).

*(and British too)

I think i would agree with everyone’s answer. But personally, i’ve had my share of god and church already. All of that stuff just seems so fake and controlled and wrong. From my veiw, organized religion only hurts people.


From CUNY:

Here is a much longer breakdown that lists agnostics as being 0.7% of the U.S. population, and atheists as 0.3% (the data is older).

Most everything else I found ultimately refers back to the ARIS.

Hey look, a skeptic! :slight_smile:

This doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t religious. I think most dopers reflect the religious leanings of the US and the world, it just doesn’t show.

I would say nearly everyone here in the SDMD is a sceptic, if your definition of scepticism is intelligence and common sense. I think Agnosticism and Atheism appear to stand out here because religious people aren’t used to it in the everyday world. I’m religious, but I’m not a blind follower.

Or Agnostics and Atheists stand out here because they see themselves as open minded, intelligent, and sceptical, thus doper material.

Because we think.

Simple. If you want to post something on the straight dope, you have to be thinking about all of these things. And in the end, after you’ve really thought about it, you’ll see that the only response is to be skeptical.

Because we like knowing stuff. And we like being around other people who know stuff and who like learning new stuff.

We read a lot. We think a lot. We actively seek new knowledge. None of this gels with the kind of people who take things at face value.

When told an extraordinary tale, some people will say “No way! That couldn’t happen”. Some people will say “Wooh, cool!”. Your average Doper will say “Got a cite? Got proof? How did that work? Anyone else there to verify? Did you check it out to make sure it was for real? Has anyone else ever heard of this? etc”. Mr Cazzle always laughs at me when he hears a sarcastic “Yeah right” eminating from my computer corner - “You’re such a skeptic!” - but I imagine that “Yeah right” is the Unofficial Straight Dope anthem. If my computer is ever voice activated, you can be sure that “Yeah right” will be set to immediately load the Straight Dope homepage.

Ditto to cazzle. But as I mentioned on another thread, it depends on when & what thread I look at. Sometimes it seems many people are not atheists, etc.

Perhaps you have that impression because whenever someone expresses an opinion that favors faith, they get challenged immediately by a bunch of skeptics? I’ve seen that many times here, but I suppose that’s to be expected on a board that prides itself on rationality, analysis, etc. It gets a little intimidating, I would imagine, to have one’s belief questioned to the degree and detail that it can be around here, and a little lonely being one of the few who believe. I, myself, keep out of discussions of religion for many reasons, this not the least of them. (I was taught it was not wise to discuss politics or religion unless you were looking for a fight.)