I am starting a series on bogus atheist social science. I find a whole passel of atheists, some academics, some not, trying to do their own studies, all of which suck. Their aim is to show that religion is bad for society. This is a fools errand as a ton of good data shows otherwise. But here is one example. I think you really have almost no chance of doing good social science if you can't read a statistical table.
Boyd, not so swift
One attempt at this bogus atheist social sciences is a site by Boyd Swift. Swift, thought he would be a wrote the bureaus of prisons for stats, but unfortunately he doesn't know how to read a table.
His table demonstrates different percentages of religous faths among in mates. I will not reproduce the whole table, but Christians show up as:
So based upon this statistic Boyd makes his conclusion. Now what is interesting is the sats at the bottom that are not on the table:
Total Known Responses 74731 100.001% (rounding to 3 digits does this)
Unknown/No Answer 18381
Total Convicted 93112 80.259% (74731) prisoners' religion is known.
Held in Custody 3856 (not surveyed due to temporary custody)
---------------------------- Total In Prisons 96968
What is this information actually telling us? In the table he lists "athiests" along with all the others. Its' a tiny number. But then below there's a number of those:
"Unknown, no answer."
the letter he quotef from sent to him by the Bereau of prisons says:
The Federal Bureau of Prisons does have statistics on religious affiliations of inmates. The following are total number of inmates per religion category:
Obviously, this the percentage of inmates who put "atheist" in the blank asking them for their religious affiliation. this is not a record of all inmates who don't believe in God, but of those who were either smart asses and put "atheist" to the religion question as a sarcastic joke, or who are ideological enough to think of atheism as their actual religion!
you have this larger number listed below which is not even part of the table, because the table only measures those who listed atheism as their religion. The larger number is for "unknown or no answer. what is that number?
Unknown/No Answer 18381
---------------------------- Total Convicted 93112
So in other words, the actual number of atheists is about a quarter as high as the Christians. It's not this tiny 0.something percent, it's actually pretty high.
atheists have reading comprehension problems, I've noticed this for a long time! I'm always finding that atheists misread evdience. This guy cant' read a table! He either purposely distorted it or was just too stupid interpret statistics intelligently.
Atheists (at least people who no religious affliation) make up almost 20% of the whole.
That's in addition to those who check other affiliation. not all of that 93,112 are Christians, only 75% or so.
About 20% of all inmates could be atheists, but that's of the whole not counted in the 75% of those who checked affiliation. So they have to be added to Moslims, and other faiths as well.
Of course no attempt is made to measure depth of belief among those inmates who say they are Christians. No attempt is made to say weather or not these are strong believers or just people who say "I don't know what I believe, but my parents were Presbyterian, so I guess I am too."
The atheist assumption is that religion is a like a disease and if you catch it does back things to you, so they don't see any need to think deeply about what people actually believe, or even to example any kind variables that might complicate the issues.
Swift, in breaking down Christian stats says:
Now, let's just deal with the nasty Christian types, no?
"Judeo-Christian Total 62594 83.761% (of the 74731 total responses) Total Known Responses 74731
Not unexpected as a result. Note that atheists, being a moderate proportion of the USA population (about 8-16%) are disproportionately less in the prison populations (0.21%)."
Of course he's forgotten that he's not dealing with the whole population and has to as the 24% not Christian religious people to the 20% of the whole who didn't answer. that's gonna through off his circulations by a factor of several
Here is the analysis of Chris Price, a friend of mine and member of the CADRE apologetics group:
CADRE Comments, Oct 16,2007
First, I note that when atheists are trying to emphasize their numbers, they include agnostics and nonbelievers and skeptics among their ranks. But when they want to deemphasize their involvement in negative social characteristics, they take a more limited approach to the data. This study only mentions atheists, not unbelievers, irreligious, unbelievers, skeptics, etc. So, you may think there are more “atheists” in the United States than the data supports. Most stats at Adherents.com, for example, puts the number of “atheists” at less than 1%.
Second, atheists tend to be more privileged than the rest of the population, especially the prison population. They are predominatly white, more educated, and middle class. These are typically the result of birth, which is not something for which their atheism can claim credit.
Third, the study tells us nothing about the timing or strength of religious identification. There is a strong motive to “clean up your act” in prison, complete with visits by prison chaplains and evangelists working to reform the inmates. Add to this the fact that religious conversion may be a good way to signal to others—such as the warden or parole board—that the inmate has reformed, there are ample reasons to find increased religious identification among inmates.
Fourth, your review of the data is oversimplistic. For example, you ignore the fact that Protestants make up a much smaller percentage of the prison population (35%) than they do the population at large (53%). Mormons make up about 2% of the population, but are a negligible portion of the prison population. Now, this may also be linked to other issues such as income, race, or education levels.
...Actually, if you compare church attendance (and thus exposure to the preaching of Christian values) you get plenty of improved morality. This article by a self-styled "secular liberal" who is also an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia admits that "surveys have long shown that religious believers in the United States are happier, healthier, longer-lived, and more generous to charity and to each other than are secular people."*
The article Price sites is The Third Edge
JONATHAN HAIDT: who is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, where he does research on morality and emotion and how they vary across cultures. He is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom.
Prices comments are "priceless," but its worse than he thought. He assumes the atheist is fudging by just not including unbelievers and those who have no opinon as atheist, as they usually do. I think it's that this guy didn't understand what the stat tables were telling him in the firrst place. I've seen other atheists make this very same mistake. There was, about eight years ago, someone who tried the same trick on Secular Web with British prison stats.
there's plenty of it:
*  Sixth through twelfth graders who attend religious services once a month or more are half as likely to engage in at-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, sexual excess, truancy, vandalism, drunk driving and other trouble with police. Search Institute, "The Faith Factor," Source, Vol. 3, Feb. 1992, p.1.
Church attendance is a primary factor in preventing substance abuse and repairing damage caused by substance abuse.* Edward M. Adalf and Reginald G. Smart:* "Drug Use and Religious Affiliation, Feelings and Behavior." * British Journal of Addiction, Vol. 80, 1985, pp.163-171.* Jerald G. Bachman, Lloyd D. Johnson, and Patrick M. O'Malley:* "Explaining* the Recent Decline in Cocaine Use Among Young Adults:* Further Evidence That Perceived Risks and Disapproval Lead to Reduced Drug Use."* Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 31,* 1990, pp. 173-184.* Deborah Hasin, Jean Endicott, * and Collins Lewis:* "Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Patients With Affective Syndromes."* Comprehensive Psychiatry, Vol. 26, 1985, pp. 283-295. * The findings of this NIMH-supported study were repilcated in the Bachmen et. al. study above.
*  Church attendance lessens the probabilities of homicide and incarceration. Nadia M. Parson and James K. Mikawa: "Incarceration of African-American Men Raised in Black Christian Churches." The Journal of Psychology, Vol. 125, 1990, pp.163-173.
*The presence of active churches, synagogues, or mosques reduces violent crime in neighborhoods. John J. Dilulio, Jr., "Building Spiritual Capital: How Religious Congregations Cut Crime and Enhance Community Well-Being," RIAL Update, Spring 1996.
* Church involvement is the single most important factor in enabling inner-city black males to escape the destructive cycle of the ghetto. Richard B. Freeman and Harry J. Holzer, eds., The Black Youth Employment Crisis, University of Chicago Press, 1986, p.354.