2011 March 21 Monday
Secular Right 2 Million Strong

Inspired by a New York Times article about Razib Khan and the blog Secular Right Audacious Epigone used GSS (General Social Survey) data to calculate that conservative atheists and conservative agnostics together make up only 0.67% of the American population. Wow, I've always felt like a statistical outlier. But 0.67%?

I wondered what percentage of people in the US could be categorized as such. Turning to the GSS, I found the percentage of respondents who indicated they were either "conservative" or "extremely conservative" and who said in response to the question on belief in God that they either "do not believe in God" (functionally atheist) or that they "don't know whether there is a God and [they] don't believe there is any way to find out" (functionally agnostic). For contemporary relevance, only data from 2000 onward were considered.

The constituency constitutes a whopping 0.67%, or 1 in 150 people, or two million people in a country of 310 million.

I'd love to see a bigger data set that breaks the numbers out by IQ. My expectation is that at higher IQ levels the secular right, while still a minority, might even hit 10% of the smart population.

If you are a secular rightist you can just forget about getting the majority of the population to adopt your views. Expect to go thru life at best trying to influence the views of larger groups who have different moral compasses and assumptions.

Update: The mysterious "hbd chick" (with an even stronger aversion to capital letters than Razib) finds 2.1% of those with perfect 10 GSS wordsum scores are solidly conservative and agnostic or atheist.

of those who scored a perfect 10 on the wordsum test, something like 25% 2.1% of those were either “conservative” or “extremely conservative” and were either atheists or agnostics.

So once IVF with pre-implantation genetic selection of embryos for intelligence becomes cheap and easy the resulting rise in IQs will select for some pretty rational and skeptical conservatives. But a meaningful lift of adult IQs from IVF combined with genetic testing is still a few decades in the future.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2011 March 21 11:25 PM  Religion Secular Ideologies

WJ said at March 22, 2011 4:05 AM:

The secular right was the subject of an exchange, sometimes heated, at NRO's The Corner a few years ago. The debate included Heather Mac Donald and John Derbyshire (both secular rightists) and several others. One argument put forth by one of the participants was that the real difference between the secular left and right vis-a-vis religion was that while secular rightists aren't religious, they generally still have respect for religion and its impact on behavior.

The Left today only respects religion to the extent that it embraces "social justice" as its primary calling. For the Right, religion serves a purpose to the extent that it encourages personal good behavior (its traditional purpose) and communal attitudes that supplant the need for government welfare.

Depending on the day, I am anywhere between theist and agnostic. But to call oneself an "agnostic" or "atheist" today is to venture onto territory overpopulated long ago by the radical, insane Left. It is often as much a political statement as a religious one because the truth, if my own experience is any indication, is that there are far, far more than 2 million conservatives who doubt the existence of, or who don't believe in, God. We simply don't care to be lumped in with the insane Leftists who share our doubts.

Pascvaks said at March 22, 2011 10:56 AM:

Ditto! to WJ

I would add that you're not going to stand in the middle of Central Park and set yourself on fire to please anyone or make an issue out of anything you know you're not going to win most of the marbles at. It just isn't smart.

hbd chick said at March 22, 2011 12:24 PM:

@parapundit - "I'd love to see a bigger data set that breaks the numbers out by IQ."

ask and ye shall receive. (~_^)

secular right smarties

hbd chick said at March 22, 2011 12:25 PM:

link: http://hbdchick.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/secular-right-smarties/

Check it Out said at March 22, 2011 3:50 PM:

I think you missed the Atheist-Believer.

That's the one who believes God exists, but doesn't want to have anything to do with Him -or Her-

But that one I think should be called Antitheist-Believer. Does that make sense? What do you think?

To believe in a god and dislike him -or her- so much as to totally reject him -or her?

Stephen said at March 22, 2011 7:17 PM:

I'm not sure how you can be a conservative and believe in magic. Seems to me that believing in magic requires a radical view.

gcochran said at March 22, 2011 7:56 PM:

I'm sure that the secular right looks even more formidable when you consider their birth rate.

bjk said at March 23, 2011 7:22 AM:

Hmmmm, supporting eugenic breeding doesn't sound very "conservative" to me. Lee Kuan Yeuw maybe, Edmund Burke not really.

hbd chick said at March 23, 2011 3:20 PM:

sorry. got my maths wrong. really wrong! (yes, i am an idiot). the figure is more like 2.1%! (*sigh*)


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