Pages

Saturday, June 30, 2007

17 Million humanists in Britain, 36% of the population - Analysis of MORI poll


Source: BHA


The Mori poll suggests Dorset Humanists should target these people to become members:-

  • younger and middle-aged people (aged 15-54)
  • those in social classes ABC1
  • those with children in their household
  • those working full- or part-time
  • those who read ‘broadsheets’
  • those with qualifications of GCSE equivalent and above


Those who choose only Humanist statements – ‘humanists’ by this survey’s definition - are more prevalent among:

- younger and middle-aged people (aged 15-54) (41%) compared to those aged 55 and over (26%)

- those in social classes ABC1 (43%) compared to those in C2DE (28%)

- those with children in their household (43%) compared to those without (33%)

- those that live in the South (41%) compared to those that live in the Midlands (30%), with those in the North in between (37%)

- those working full- or part-time (42%) compared to those not working (29%)

- those who read ‘broadsheets’ (51%) compared to those that read tabloids (33%)

- those with qualifications of GCSE equivalent and above (42%) compared to those with no formal qualifications (20%).



Analysis of Ipsos MORI polls (released 24/11/06) on the level of humanist convictions amongst the British public and on how many of the British public believe religious groups and leaders are paid too much attention by Government .

Full analysis of the responses is available here (pdf)

Click here for commentary on the polls from BHA staff and Vice Presidents.



The questions and answers in the poll were as follows:

Respondents were asked: ‘If you had to choose just one of the statements which one best matches your view?’ (The * indicates the humanist option in each case: respondents were not shown the *)

Scientific and other evidence provides the best way to understand the universe.* (62%)
Religious beliefs are needed for a complete understanding of the universe. (22%)
Neither of these (10%)
Don’t know (6%)

Human nature by itself gives us an understanding of what is right and wrong* (62%)
People need religious teachings in order to understand what is right and wrong (27%)
Neither of these (7%)
Don’t know (4%)

What is right and wrong depends on the effects on people and the consequences for society and the world* (65%)
What is right and wrong is basically just a matter of personal preference (15%)

What is right and wrong is unchanging and should never be challenged (13%)
None of these (2%)
Don’t know (5%)

Respondents were asked: ‘People often comment on the level of attention the Government pays to certain groups in society. Which, if any, of the following groups of people do you think the Government pays too much attention to?’ and presented with a list of seven possibilities from which they could select up to three responses. Responses were:

%

Leaders of other countries 44

Religious groups and leaders 42

Newspaper headlines 35

Big Business 34

The Royal Family 20

Trade Unions 17

Ordinary people 3

None of these 9

Respondents were asked: ‘If you had to choose just one of the statements which one best matches your view?’

This life is the only life we have and death is the end of our personal existence (41%)
When we die we go on and still exist in another way (45%)
Neither of these (5%)
Don’t know (8%)

TECHNICAL NOTE ON DATA COLLECTION

Ipsos MORI interviewed a nationally-representative sample of 975 respondents aged 15+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted face-to-face, in respondents’ homes, between 26 and 30 October 2006. 175 sampling points were covered. Results are weighted to the national GB 15+ population profile.


5 comments:

  1. Dan via Chris Street3 July 2007 at 08:58

    from the BHA forum:

    Re: Re: Re: 17 Million Humanists Posted: 30/11/2006 08:36:56 GMT
    Dan Bye

    This survey is a very interesting one, and shows that there is much less support for the government’s approach to religion than opinion formers lead us to believe.

    But what it definitely doesn’t do is show that there are 17 million humanists in Britain. There are people who share some humanist values, but since the sample were not asked about belief in God, only about an afterlife, it is illegitimate to claim them as humanists, who are nontheistic (either atheist or agnostic).

    Indeed support for humanism falls to, if I remember correctly, 19 per cent, when the afterlife question is asked.

    I have in front of me a copy of Humanist News, no 79, from June-July 1996. The headline on the front page reads "10% of UK adults are humanists!"

    This was another BHA commissioned MORI poll, and is I think more realistic. The point was made back then that although 30 odd percent of the population didn’t consider themselves religious, that didn’t mean they could be automatically counted as humanist.

    So although the survey is useful and interesting in parts, I think the "17 million" figure is just silly.

    Dan

    ReplyDelete
  2. Margaret Nelson via Chris Street3 July 2007 at 09:00

    via BHA forum
    Other evidence... Posted: 30/11/2006 17:08:26 GMT
    Margaret Nelson
    On reflection, I’m inclined to agree with Dan that "17 million Humanists" is an exaggerated claim, especially when you take the afterlife question into consideration.

    However, it’s a useful publicity tool.

    So far, the increasing number of people without any religious beliefs isn’t reflected in the number of Humanist ceremonies. Considering that they’re mainly funerals so mostly for older people who, according to the survey, are less likely to have rejected religion, it’ll be a few years yet before the demand for religious and/or pick ’n mix ceremonies decreases - if it does.

    The survey said:
    Those who choose only Humanist statements – ‘humanists’ by this survey’s definition - are more prevalent among: younger and middle-aged people (aged 15-54) (41%) compared to those aged 55 and over (26%)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sue Lord via Chris Street3 July 2007 at 09:02

    via BHA forum:

    Re: Other evidence... Posted: 30/11/2006 19:40:31 GMT
    Sue Lord
    I agree that the survey is a useful conversation piece, and at least it is something - but imo not much more than that. It confirms what most people already know - that most people are not religious - and are quite content to get along without joining them or us. Them because they don’t believe, and us because they do not see the purpose.

    In a survey I did way back in the early ’70’s

    I guess all we can be sure of is that about 17 million people in the UK are agnostic humanitarians, but anyone who feels sufficiently angry about the effects of religion to do anything about it is not going to be satisfied for long with our organisations.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jemma Hooper via Chris Street3 July 2007 at 09:03

    via BHA forum

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Other evidence... Posted: 08/12/2006 17:20:33 GMT
    Jemma Hooper
    Some members have argued for a pure humanism and that there are very few who achieve this.

    This survery demonstrates that we are a sizeable presence (2 out of every 5 adults) which can only help our cause.

    Yes, some people who express humanist values and live in a humanist manner have a vestigal longing for an afterlife. Hope springs eternal! :) What matters is what they think and do in their day to day lives.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dan via Chris Street3 July 2007 at 09:04

    via BHA forum

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Other evidence... Posted: 18/12/2006 11:32:03 GMT
    Dan Bye

    "What matters is..."

    Well, I don’t know about that. It depends what question you’re asking. Sometimes that might indeed be all that matters, but in other circumstances it might not be what matters most.

    I don’t feel that these 17 million humanists-who-might- believe-in-God count as part of the "we" that I have in mind, any more than I would count atheists who cling to strictly Christian ethics.

    It’s not about "purism", so much as being clear what secular humanism actually is.

    I’m getting a bit worried about the BHA’s approach here. We have the high profile references to "cultural Christians" and now we have the claiming of 17 million people as humanists, even though most of them believe in God.

    It might increase the BHA’s membership, but it also might lead the BHA away from the things I think the BHA should be doing and the constituency I think it should be representing.

    Why exactly weren’t the sample asked about ’God’?

    Dan

    ReplyDelete