On Statistics, Offensively

The Harvard Business Review emails me a daily stat every day. Why? I don’t know, maybe it’s the direct correlation between my assumed importance and the amount of email clogging my inbox every day. Or perhaps it’s the thought that one day, this stat will somehow come into play in the final round of bar trivia.

I can see it now – it’s the final question, we’re down by 15, ready to throw in the towel and bet zero to finish third, or worse. Everyone turns and looks at me, and I raise my chin in a combination jaunty-defiant smirk and then I lift the pencil (I hate pencils so much – they’re never sharp. They’re dull and sad and horrible) and scribble the answer. Then we will win, beating the second place team by a narrow 5. There will be cheers, and yelling, and confetti….

Since this is reality and that’s not likely to happen, ever, I stick to reading my daily stat, because I’m weak. I’m the worst at unsubscribing from things. I hover over the “unsubscribe” button and then I think, “Wait! What if at some point something contained in this or future emails is useful?” and then I don’t. And then I complain because my email inboxes are littered with junk.

But today’s stat made me laugh out loud in the grocery store.

Anti-Atheist Bias Is Based on Distrust of Nonbelievers

In a series of psychological experiments conducted in Vancouver, Canada, participants revealed that they considered atheists to be less trustworthy than a number of groups often considered to be outliers, including Muslims, gay men, and feminists, and only as trustworthy as rapists, according to a team led by Will M. Gervais of the University of British Columbia. The lack of trust in atheists may reflect people’s assumption that individuals tend to behave more ethically if they believe they are being monitored by a higher power, the researchers suggest.

My first thought was “What’s wrong with feminists?!” and then I forwarded the message to Maddie. My eloquent message? “Lol feminists.” Her response? “Haha, never trust a feminist. Or a rapist.”

I identify as agnostic, so I’m not nearly as terrible as the godless atheists, and thanks to Catholic schools, I definitely have some behaviors (like making the sign of the cross every time I see a fire truck or ambulance) that I can’t shake. I totally get the overarching idea that people who aren’t governed by their God are more likely to behave badly, but isn’t that basically saying that you believe that humans, when left to their own devices, are horrible people? Did Original Sin teach us nothing about blind trust? (Well, maybe the men didn’t learn much, but women have certainly been paying for it forever.) I personally don’t see myself as being an untrustworthy person, and that’s without a defined spiritual being keeping me on the straight and narrow with the threat of eternal damnation and the hellfires hanging over my head.

But regardless of the religion-induced distrust of the mysterious “other”, I’m seriously irked that feminists are outliers. What? Have we still not come to terms with the fact that each and every human being (biological sex markers be damned!) is an important part of our global community, so much so that we distrust people who believe in that kind of equality? I may not have the physical strength of ten God-fearing men, but I have characteristics and qualities that make me equally valuable and worthy of respect. Does that make me untrustworthy? Or just scary because I’m less obedient and therefore “unknown”?

Whatever, I guess the moral of today’s stat is never trust a feminist. Or a rapist. Or maybe, don’t trust someone who thinks that feminists are only slightly more trustworthy than rapists.


3 thoughts on “On Statistics, Offensively

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