Wednesday, December 9, 2015

There Is Literally Nothing To The "Nones" But The Self Interest Of Those Who Invented And Use It

One point which was asserted in opposing one of my recent posts claimed that there was sociological fact that would refute what I'd said.  Since the person who made that pat claim produced no "sociological fact" it was an empty claim.   In atheist polemic, such vague citations of non-cited "science", counts as a debating point instead of an empty assertion.

The fans of such alleged scientific fact are rather credulous.  They never seem to wonder what the durability of such "fact" is, especially such of it which is the product of surveys.   I strongly suspect that a long term study of such "fact" would show that it is a transparent fiction, lasting only so long as the assumptions it is based in aren't questioned or analyzed for logical coherence, the sample selection is exempted from rules that are needed to come up with a representative sample and a number of other things that prevent their results from being reliable.

I have been having one of the perennial arguments over claims made about that artificial and ideological sociological invention, the "nones".   For anyone who hasn't read previous posts on that topic, the often discussed group allegedly representing those who have given up on God, was the invention of Barry Kosmin a founder of The Institute for the Study of Secularism.  He didn't like what his surveys showed, that in the United States, by a wide margin, religious affiliation was the norm, being unaffiliated or not identified with a religious group was not the norm.  He admitted in an interview that that was his motive in inventing a group so he wouldn't have to categorize them as what they were, "unaffiliated".

“Nonreligious” was a possibility. So was “non-faith” and “non-affiliated.”

But Kosmin rejected all of these. The “non” part bothered him. “Non-affiliated” would be like calling people “non-white,” he said. “We didn’t want to suggest that ‘affiliated’ was the norm, and every one else was an ‘other.’”

“Nomenclature,” he added, ” is quite important in these things.”

So Kosmin began calling this group the “nones,” a shortened version for “none of the above” — which is what people often said when asked to name their religion. He never thought the term would stick.

“It began as a joke,” he said, “but now, like many of these things, it has taken on its own life.”

Indeed. Today, “nones” are everywhere. Both in a literal sense and a literary one.

Since he said, "Nomenclature is quite important in these things," it is necessary to ask what was important in this for him.   That can be seen from the fact that Barry Kosmin is actively involved in anti-religious, pro-atheist promotions through his group Center for Inquiry.  He is on the board of Center for Inquiry and on its speakers board.  He is listed by them as

Dr. Kosmin is happy to speak to community and student groups about any of the areas mentioned below. His talks also include:

The Rise of the None Population
Secularism in a Global Context

So he has a clear motive other than as a purely scientific description of what his data actually say.  I don't know what fees Kosmin might charge for such speeches but that would be useful to know.   I would imagine, as the inventor of the "nones" he might be considered the foremost expert on that widely touted and promoted entity.

That his invention, "nones" is unlike the other groups in surveys which include it in their analysis can be seen from the fact that "nones" can be atheists, agnostics, people who are indifferent to the question of the existence of any god, people who don't identify with any particular denomination at the time of the survey but who believe in God (which would, I suppose, be the option I'd have to choose) or any number of other vague or specific beliefs.

There is also another big difference, as constituted in every survey I recall looking at, people were assigned to the group "nones" by the researchers, not themselves.  People counted as members of specific denominations or general traditions in the surveys put themselves there.  If I answered some of those surveys I've seen I would be put, against my will, into a category I don't think exists or is legitimate.   I flatly reject any assignment of my non-affiliation to the bogus category.

The group "nones" is a phony, clearly ideological invention which has created the illusion that religion, especially Christianity, is dying in the United States and elsewhere.   Which is clearly good news for Barry Kosmin and his ideological side of things.  I would say it is as clearly a red flag of warning that the entire enterprise of sociological surveying is an open invitation for the invention of such bogus entities created for the baldest of ideological purposes and sold to a willing press corps through which it is foisted on an unsuspecting public.   The whole enterprise is sold on the guarantee that what is called science carries a guarantee of reliability which the process of its creation, in this and many other cases, doesn't warrant.

Ironically, the sale of the "nones" reveals that sociological science and the behavioral sciences in general practice one of the vices traditional religion has so often fallen prey to, the temptation to peddle bogus lines on the basis of an assumption of reliability.  In the case of "religion" on one hand and such "science" on the other, both are sold on a habit of believing that the hierarchy of those invariably tell the truth and that they are kept in line by their peers.   When that isn't done in religion, you get frauds who  violate everything they are supposed to stand for, the same happens when scientific review fails or, in the cases of the social sciences, it is involved in the same fraud.

That the "nones" isn't a real group was revealed by one of the foremost promoters of the fraud, the Pew Research Center several years ago.  In a paper called Entering and Leaving The Ranks of the Unaffiliated, they revealed.

Paradoxically, the unaffiliated have gained the most members in the process of religious change despite having one of the lowest retention rates of all religious groups. Indeed, most people who were raised unaffiliated now belong to a religious group. Nearly four-in-ten of those raised unaffiliated have become Protestant (including 22% who now belong to evangelical denominations), 6% have become Catholic and 9% are now associated with other faiths. Overall, 4% of the total U.S. adult population now belongs to a religious group after having been raised unaffiliated.

Having such an investment in the category, "nones"  their reports on its increase having gotten them in the news and before the public, gaining standing and status for the Pew label, certainly the goal of any such a group. they won't admit that one of the reasons for that is because it's so much easier to pass into a group involuntarily by assignment and to leave such a non-existent group, likely unaware you were ever considered a member of it.

The issue of the rise of the "nones" as an intellectual entity is an excellent window into what is wrong with sociology and its typically bogus, self serving methods.  If I had unlimimted time I would go over the history of sociological claims and commonly held ideas to check them for durability.   I would guess that they are about as ephemeral as "scientific fact" as much of the stuff in psychology which rises, gains currency, becomes a dominant ideology and then falls through its own accumulated self-permissions to cut corners (some of them enormously large corners) in scientific methodology, logical rigor and even the absolute basis on which any scientific reliability really and ultimately rests, the moral position that you should tell the truth and not lie.

1 comment:

  1. I like to boil it down to the statistics I often cite: in the '20's, about 40% of the American population self-identified as belonging to, or being associated with, a religious institution or religion, generally. By the end of the century that number was up to about 80% of the population.

    Now it's "down" to about 75%. When it gets back below 40%, we can talk about the rising "nones" all we want. Until then, get some perspective. What tires me is all these people who think they are so smart, and that the world was invented 10 minutes before they were born.