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Is the US postal service anti-atheist?

Reader Susanne sent along an interesting link to a story about a niche German shoe company with a global clientele that found that their packages to the US were far more likely to be delayed or even lost.

atheist_shoesThe company suspected that source of the problem may be a marketing maneuver in which they had created tape with their company’s name printed prominently on it to seal the boxes. So what’s the problem with that? The company’s name is ‘Atheist’.

They did an experiment to see if that might be the problem and found some supportive evidence but the experiment was not as well–designed as it might have been, which is understandable given that this is a shoe company, not a research organization.

But it would be interesting to have a proper controlled study done to get to the foot (ha!) of this problem to see if the sole (ha!) reason for this phenomenon is that postal service employees are opposed to providing support (ha!) to atheists.

Ok, no more bad puns for today. I have seriously overrun my quota.

Comments

  1. Alverant says

    In a few months (after the furvor over this has died down in the public eye), someone SHOULD do a confirmation experiment. I’m not sure how well it would work given how it might raise suspicion when postal workers spot two identical packages going to the same address.

  2. Scr... Archivist says

    Some of the comments on the website suggested the tape may have been a problem merely because of words. It might have confused the electronic sorting system.

    A better-controlled test might include boxes without tape, boxes with tape that says “Atheist”, and boxes with tape that says something else, such as “Shoes” or “Black Spot” or “America!” or something. Maybe use different wrapping paper instead of tape. Etcetera.

    And you’re such a sneaker with those puns, professor.

  3. says

    They did an experiment to see if that might be the problem and found some supportive evidence but the experiment was not as well–designed as it might have been, which is understandable given that this is a shoe company, not a research organization.

    A proper-designed experiment would be expensive (large N, costs for technology (GPS-tracking) etc) so all they wanted to know in the first place was if there was some real support for their gut-feeling and the data in their inventory-DB, so they did this small-scale experiment and reaped a statistically significant result that can be taken as the reason to do a much larger scaled experiment and that is what they plan to do—and to publish “in a peer reviewed journal” whatever that might mean.
    So lets wait and see. But it is a very small company.

  4. baal says

    I suspect it’s not the USPS as a whole but rather petty hyper-xtian individuals and otherwise agree about study design.

  5. dickspringer says

    My guess is that if there were intentional delays Baal’s explanation is correct. I worked for 17 years as a part-time rural letter in Maine. I ma an atheist. A Jewish fellow worker and I brought a religious discrimination case against our union, The National Rural Letter Carriers Association. The union, whose leadership; was dominated by rural southerners, ran a column in the union publication called “Directions from God’s guidebook.” It was a hard sell of Christian fundamentalism. When it said that for the Jews to be the Lord’s people the Jews had to accept Christ as their savior my co-worker initiated a discrimination case against the union. We got the backing of the State of Maine Human Rights Commission, whose lawyer initiated the suit for us. The case was obviously national, but the Bush EEOC refused to back us (typically). After four years of back and forth the union caved and we won. Within the union we had the support of all the delegates from Maine, and, I believe, all from New England and many from other northern states. When I spoke at a union convention, I was hooted at by the Texas delegates and some others.

    Now “Directions fro God’s Guidebook” is long gone.

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