You probably heard about a survey showing Atheists and Agnostics (hint agnostics: the answer is “no.”) as a growing group of Americans, behind naught but the mighty Catholics and Baptists in terms of popularity.
When the Catholics have a guy who cannot be wrong in charge, to be in the same league is impressive. MOST impressive.
The methodology is important to note: it was performed by randomly dialing telephone numbers. This is a total selection against those who do not have a phone, but the cross-section of the population that does have telephones is considered to be fairly representative, but then again – the Amish will never get in.
The survey avoids self-selection but does require self-reporting. Self reporting is notoriously unreliable. People tend towards the fallacy of special pleading when it comes to themselves.
However, the study does not goad the respondants with a pre-selected list of religions. They are expected to self-identify with a group they already know.
And many of them do not identify with religious groups. The “none” category is large – larger than Methodists, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Presbetyern, Church of Christ, Seventh Day Adventists, Buddhists and Muslims.