Make Fort Wayne look like a much more rational place

Fort Wayne, Indiana wants to know about your religion, and they have chosen the highly scientific method of … an internet poll. And you know what those are worth!

Question: Do you identify with some form of the Christian religion?

Yes, and my faith is important to me. 62%
No. I’m religious but in a personal way. 10%
No. I’m of another faith. 1%
No. I’m an atheist or agnostic. 27%

Well, they asked. Let ’em know what the answer is.


  1. Waydude says

    Ah, internet polling, why can’t i quit you!

    Seriously, is there a worse way to actually accrue information about any particular subject? Possibly those people in the mall with the clipboards. It’s so funny when you see them and they see you, and then you start to play the game of avoiding them while they are wandering towards you…

  2. sasqwatch says

    Hilarious… atheist/agnostic now up to 50%.

    I left a message that I was brought up Catholic, but couldn’t ignore my brain long enough to stay that way.

  3. says

    You know, internet polls are of some value, mainly in finding out how the more activist portion of one’s readership might be.

    Otoh, most people don’t actually understand what these polls indicate. So what the newspaper wants to find out (what the noisy part of its readership thinks) ends up being taken as a survey of what people at large think.

    Hence the value in crashing polls, even though I don’t especially like doing it.

    Glen D

  4. Emmet, OM says

    I’m a HUGE hit at parties.

    You’ve got one of those tee-shirts with <body> on the front and </body> on the back, don’t you?

  5. daveau says

    Vote splitting once again; 1 category for Yes, 3 categories for No.

    “Other faith” is still at 1%. I wonder who that guy is? (Wouldn’t expect to find many “other faiths” in Indiana.)

  6. says

    You’ve got one of those tee-shirts with <body> on the front and </body> on the back, don’t you?

    No, I know just enough to get by and just little enough to royally screw up a webpage if I’m left alone with it for too long.

  7. Emmet, OM says

    I’m a HUGE hit at parties.

    Well yeah, because of the bacon!

    Not because of the sausage?

  8. Porco Dio says

    i crash polls, religiously…

    can somebody make me a t-shirt of that pls?
    can mail to:

    Geyssendorfferweg 47
    3088GJ Rotterdam
    The Netherlands

  9. LightningRose says

    Poll crashing tip:

    To prevent the poll website manager from learning the URL of the referring website, copy the link to the clipboard and then paste it into your browser address field.

    To copy the link to the clipboard:

    Right click on the link and,

    In MS IE select “Copy Shortcut”

    In Firefox select “Copy Link Location”

  10. Desert Son says

    What, no TimeCube option? Maybe that’s subsumed by the “Other” category . . . .

    Voted. Atheism somewhere in the 80s (which would also be a great compilation album title, says me).

    It’s interesting: we know that internet polls are ridiculous, but I wonder if, on their end they know that? Do internet poll originators really say, “Wow, sure are a lot of atheists out there,” or is it just about generating site traffic and subsequent ad revenue?

    No kings,


  11. TimG says

    Crashing polls is fun, but the initial 27% atheist/agnostic is both heartening and surprising.

  12. David Wiener says

    I see from previous posts that 24% sucks. Looks like the other side mobilized their minions. Pound for pound I’m sure we’re outnumbered, but perhaps not brain cell to brain cell.

  13. TO'B says

    I think it was in the nineties when I just hit the site.

    This isn’t particularly religion related, but all should check out the mental flatline of stupidity behind whomever wrote this poll on Lou Dobbs’ site. It’s so badly written, I’m not even sure which way to vote to crash it… it’s on the new DHS right-wing hate report, btw.

  14. LightningRose says

    Someone else is counter crashing – atheist/agnostic is down to 49% and Xian is up to 39%.

    To vote again, clear and disable cookies.

    Dang, in two minutes we’re back to winning 63% to 27%.

  15. seokso says

    I call BS. There’s something hinky going on here with the poll results.

    I voted, and the results were Christian 54%/Atheist31%. Then, looking at the comments I saw people posting about the godless heathen quotient being much higher than that. I voted again using a different browser and pasting the link to hide the referral site about thirty seconds after the first. That time the poll said Christian 34%/Atheist56%.

  16. LightningRose says

    By disabling their cookies in Firefox, I’m now able to vote repeatably. I think I’ve managed to bring it back to 74/19 in our favor.

    I need a life. :)

  17. seokso says

    The swings back and forth are just too wild and quick. This isn’t someone counter-crashing. Something else is going on here. 31% – 56% – 80% in the span of two minutes.

  18. Desert Son says

    Someone else is counter crashing – atheist/agnostic is down to 49% and Xian is up to 39%.

    To vote again, clear and disable cookies.

    Dang, in two minutes we’re back to winning 63% to 27%.

    This is funny. Pure speculation on my part, but I’m guessing somewhere out there are a group of earnest true believers trying to “rescue” the poll results in the name of their one true supernatural being, whereas the atheist commentators at Pharyngula drifted over as an exercise in demonstrating how ridiculous internet polls are (granted, it is a chance to voice an atheist presence, but not in a meaningful metric).

    One group is responding to the poll out of belief. Another group is responding to the poll out of the knowledge that responding to the poll demonstrates that internet polls can be rendered useless, and that internet polls are not measures of actual demographics.

    All the while, Fort Wayne site hits keeps climbing, and they’re probably praying . . . for poll responders to click the ad links.

    lol, this is what I get for posting/musing about a poll right after statistics class!

    No kings,


  19. Emmet, OM says

    hhhmmm are we getting beaten back?

    In a manner of speaking. The other way of looking at it is that the creotards have embraced our philosophy about online polls (“online polls are stupid and invalid”), and are assisting us in making the poll look ridiculous.

    Either way, we didn’t start it :o)

  20. LightningRose says

    Dahan @#34 and Rev BDC @#35,

    I think the total vote count is so low that even a few votes either way is making huge changes in the percentages.

    Right now 86/10 in our favor.

  21. seokso says

    Actually, I think it’s more interesting to watch how quickly the comments section here is filling up. There were a dozen when I surfed on over and that was only a couple minutes ago.

  22. Dahan says


    You may be correct. After seeing the huge swing, I made an assumption. Even though this is totally meaningless, it’ll be interesting to watch non-the-less.

  23. says

    I think the total vote count is so low that even a few votes either way is making huge changes in the percentages.

    Right now 86/10 in our favor.

    Typical pharyngulization seems to be couple thousand of votes or more, so depending on how typical this crashing (or how far into it) is that’s a lot to overcome with simple swings of a few votes. Though more than likely you are correct as this hasn’t been up too long.

  24. Alex says

    My goodness! This “Fort Wayne” place sounds like heaven on earth! (The heaven where you get to eat chocolate all day, every day and not gain weight, not the floaty-angel-worshipping-the-narcissistic-madman-all-day heaven) Since Internet polls are always right, I can safely conclude that ninety percent of the people living there are free of religion.

  25. nick nick bobick says

    Omigosh! 10:12 am PDT and it is 90% Atheist.

    Doh! Do ya think they’ll know they’ve been pharyngulated?

  26. ThirtyFiveUp says

    Waydude #4

    Are you still here?

    My son and his similarly nerdy friend would dress in dark pants and dress shirts with clipboards aloft. At the local community college they would pretend to be surveying students, especially the females.

    They would start off with innocuous questions about food and transportation preferences. But, lo, they would soon be able to get answers to questions about sexual history, etc, by maintaining completely neutral voice and demeanor.

    Oh, those bad boys.

  27. Don says

    90%. I can’t find how to read the comments, they must have sensed PZ’s fine Italian hand.

  28. John M says

    I see no sign of any wild vote swings when logging in from Europe. It’s currently 92% and has been rising the last hour. Shouldn’t we consider switching to the pastafarian option – #3 – to make it look as if the xtians are actually in third place?

  29. Menyambal says

    I hope somebody takes the numbers seriously, and thinks Fort Wayne is the home of the heathen. They might, since there are a bunch of people around here that think boring little Joplin, Missouri, has homosexuals for almost half its residents.

  30. debg says

    93%! I love these polls, PZ. However petty it might be, it gives me a tiny little thrill to know that not only are we exacerbating the christian voters out there, but we’re also letting any fence-sitters know that we are here!

  31. Mountaineer says

    Even given that internet polls aren’t worth the electrons their made of, the paper left off the choice

    “Yes, but my faith isn’t particularly important to me.”

    I know lots of church members who aren’t particularly “faithful”.

  32. GILGAMESH says

    I agree with John M. #55 – occasionally toss a vote to “other”. Wouldn’t that give the xtians pause to see high numbers in both “atheist” and “other”.

    Even better “other” is an unknown I can see Fort Waynites losing sleep worrying; “Are they Raelians, Muslims,…oh my God, don’t let them be Scientologists.”

  33. Prudence says

    Why do I get such satisfaction from crashing those polls? It was up to 94% when I voted!

  34. Primewonk says

    I was interested too about how to read the comments. on the News-Sentinel home page there is a link to “Last poll results”.

    When you click on that link you get this page – and after I saw it the first time, I even went and registered for the site thinking that had something to do with it – it didn’t.


    Question: Do you identify with some form of the Christian religion?

    Yes. votes: 0 0%


    And that’s it. Weird.

  35. Shaggy Maniac says

    Fort Wayne could use help in the realm of rationality. It is home to a particularly whack-job misogynist seminary of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Yes, I know there are several redundancies in that last sentence.

  36. vinraith says

    27% is actually pretty encouraging for that area. In some ways it might have been nice to see what level that figure would rise or set to on its own.

  37. Primewonk says

    Smidgy @69 – I went and registered for the site and logged in under both IE and Firefox. Same results.

  38. Silva says

    Huh. The poll results I saw were as follows:

    Yes, and my faith is important to me. 2%
    No. I’m religious but in a personal way. 2%
    No. I’m of another faith. 4%
    No. I’m an atheist or agnostic. 91%

    Very interesting.

  39. Primewonk says

    marcus @ 74 – “I think we killed it. Somebody poke at it see if it moves.”

    Oh yeah, it’s always funny to poke at it with a stick to see if it’s really dead or not. Until, that it is, it rears it’s ugly head. And in the blink of an eye shoots upward thrusting it’s daggerous fangs deep into your naughty bits. Spasm after spasm of venom drains from it’s teeth causing almost instant necrosis of the parts you hold most dear.

    Sorry marcus, you feel free to poke it all you want. I’ll stand over here behind you and to the right covering my loins with the stray garbage can lid I picked up.

  40. says

    Yeah, like they say…it’s all fun and games until you lose some naughty bits…and then it fucking hilarious!

  41. Primewonk says

    “Yeah, like they say…it’s all fun and games until you lose some naughty bits…and then it fucking hilarious!”

    Or as we used to say (growing up in Iowa), “she’s so ugly, I wouldn’t fuck her with your dick.”

  42. says

    Yep, counter-crash is obviously underway.

    I know nobody care (nor should they) but this little nihilist only votes once – no matter what – and, only then, as he thinks he chooses.

  43. says

    It’s surprising how many nonreligious folks there are in Fort Wayne. FreeThought Fort Wayne is trying to do its part to raise awareness and change public attitudes about nonbelievers here in the City of Churches.

  44. says

    As a Fort Wayner, (thanks for your sympathies) I think this is particularly funny. It is unfortunate though, that now I can’t get an idea of what the breakdown of atheists/agnostics is in this city. Oh well, I guess if they are doing an internet poll, they should expect something like this. (-:

  45. Primewonk says

    Andy @82 –

    We’re sorry Mr. Welfle. We was really just having fun and got carried away. But I really don’t think you should expect valid results even if PZ hadn’t forced, er told us, about the poll.

  46. catbasket says

    Please show your love of the FSM and vote multiple times for “another faith” ;)

  47. LightningRose says

    Andy @#82,

    If the webmistress is smart, she logged all the IP addresses along with the votes, and could use that info to weed out the non-locals.

  48. danno1943 says

    The only time I was ever in Ft. Wayne was last year. I drove up to see and here Robert Price discuss how his intense study of the bible led him directly to atheism. Therefore, I already associate Ft. Wayne with rationality. With all of us “contributing” to their poll, the city will seem like a new center of enlightenment!

  49. says

    Wow, way to crash a poll. As of 5 p.m. PDT:

    Yes, and my faith is important to me. 1%
    No. I’m religious but in a personal way. 2%
    No. I’m of another faith. 11%
    No. I’m an atheist or agnostic. 86%

    And another one bites the dust.

  50. urdsama says

    If the poll was some way to show how godly the place was…


    Okay, I doubt it was, but sometimes I wonder why these polls are put up at all on the internet.

  51. says

    LightningRose @86,

    True that. I didn’t really expect the polls to be accurate, anyway.

    Danno1943 @87,

    We were glad to have you there! That was part of the FreeThought Fort Wayne group lecture series. (Click my name for a link to the FFW site)

  52. Olorin says

    Ah, Fort Wayne, my home town. The buckle of the Bible Belt. Where the “In God We Trust” license plates outnumber the normal plates.

    I’m headed there tomorrow, and will greet the folks at the News Sentinel for you.

  53. John Morales says

    Andy @92, it’s the most good-natured response I’ve ever seen to a Pharyngulization.


    From time to time, we feel the need to point out that the weekly poll we run on the editorial page is meant for entertainment only. It is not designed as a “scientific” poll, and we’ve never claimed it is. This is one of those times.
    We can usually count on a couple of hundred votes for the poll, although we’ve passed the thousand mark a few times. We did a poll a few years ago about whether our newspaper should publish the county gun-carry-permit database online. Word was passed around on gun-enthusiast Web sites, and we got a few thousand votes.
    For this week’s poll, we’re above 6,000 already, so something must be going on out there. […] It might be fun to see how Fort Wayne stacks up against the national trend. Alas, we’re not likely to discover that. The latest results show that more than 5,800 have chosen the “No. I’m an atheist or agnostic” option, which would make Fort Wayne a community of 94 percent unbelievers.
    I seriously doubt if 5,800 individual unbelievers took the poll. It’s supposed to allow only one vote from each computer, but anyone who knows about disabling cookies can get around that little limitation.
    Of course, the other explanation would be that the Fort Wayne community is 94 percent atheist or agnostic. You know how those Lutherans like to fool around.
    Anyway, if you’d like to go join the fun, the poll will be open until early Monday morning.


  54. Eileen says


    Hahaha, you’re so right – this *is* a raid. The guild is Pharyngula and this was our daily.

    A World of Warcraft reference, for those of you who have a life.

  55. «bønez_brigade» says


    Current percentages:
    Do you identify with some form of the Christian religion?
    Xian – 1%
    Religiot 1 – 2%
    Religiot 2 – 10%
    Atheist/Agnostic – 86%

  56. Charlie Foxtrot says

    I reckon next time we find a poll like this we should try to keep the other non-xtian option up as well.

    A result like Xtian: 1%, wishy-washy: 2%, other faith: 48%, athiest: 49% could make a few heads pop in an interesting way. Back it up with lots of comments about Odin, Thor and Loki.
    Just a suggestion…

  57. Primewonk says

    “MRev. Kenneth White, Jnr. Says:
    April 15th, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Leo they have been twitting it like mad…. thanks to your post I finally voted on the thing and here is my response to the poll”

    PW – I would like it noted for the record that all though I am a geek of the highest order, I have never “twittered”, not shall I “twitter”.

    Be warned, if you leave yourself open on an internet poll concerning science or the equality of rights to all citizens, we will be there. It is not our fault if you personally choose to be ignorant. We will be there. It is not our fault if you choose be circumvent fact in the name of faith. We will be there.

  58. ElitistB says

    You think they’d stop doing internet polls like this, simply because of how often it seems that PZM crashes them.

  59. says

    Isn’t it pissing anyone else off that “atheist” and “agnostic” have been lumped together into one category?

    It basically means these people aren’t interested in actual faith or philosophical beliefs at all; only in what deity people associate themselves with. No definable single deity = all the same, for them.

    Well, I for one am not a fence sitter! *grump*

  60. Mike in Ontario, NY says

    Absolutely OT, but had to share:
    Truth, in matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived. -Oscar Wilde

  61. saradasensei says

    @ 68: I grew up in the Missouri Synod church (by grew up, I mean I went to a K-8 Lutheran school, but my family never went to church). I’m ashamed to say that it hadn’t crossed my mind to read up on this particular splinter of xian since I left the church, but your comment about them reminded me of a lot of reasons I left the church as soon as I graduated at 12. Thanks :)
    Also, poor Fort Wayne had no idea what it was getting itself into with this poll. HA!

  62. Gallstones says

    Looks like we are the only ones voting folks.
    Results as of 2010 MDT

    Yes, and my faith is important to me. 2%
    No. I’m religious but in a personal way. 2%
    No. I’m of another faith. 9%
    No. I’m an atheist or agnostic. 88%

    Did anybody else submit a comment?

  63. littlejohn says

    The News Sentinel had a column on the editorial page today (the 18th) basically blaming Freethought Fort Wayne, our local freethinkers group, for multiple voting. Those guys (the N-S) are complete tools. The column stresses how wrong the results are and how religious we ‘mericans are.

  64. «bønez_brigade» says

    Here’s the aforementioned column from News Sentinel

    Of note:

    The question in this week’s editorial poll has generated the biggest response in history, according to editorial page editor Leo Morris.

    The latest results show 88 percent answering No.4 [No. I’m an atheist or agnostic.].

    Our poll voting process is designed to allow only one vote per computer, but serious computer geeks know how to disable cookies to get around that restriction.

    It takes serious computer geeks to disable cookies? Methinks their editor needs to take a computer literacy class.

  65. Blue Fielder says

    Fort Wayne? Rational? Don’t make me laugh. I’m about the only sane person in this entire damn city. The editorial pages are swamped, day in and day out, with the kind of crap that makes me wish my hair were longer so I could tear it out in frustration. I live in about the only neighborhood in this city where one could find a decent number of Obama signs during the election – and someone stole my neighbor’s sign anyway (he later put up a hand-made sign saying “you might’ve stolen my sign, but I’m still voting Obama”).

    Hell, there was a douchebag rally here yesterday, and Alan “we gotta stop TEH BAMATERRIST ‘cuz he whooped my ass in the Senate race in ’04” Keyes was their keynote speaker. I was tempted to show up with the police in tow to arrest him for threatening the President, but I also figured the police around here would just encourage his crazy ass.

  66. 'Tis Himself says

    but serious computer geeks know how to disable cookies

    I have made the big time. The editor of the Fort Wayne newspaper thinks I’m a “serious computer geek.” I’ll sleep happy tonight knowing that there’s someone more ignorant about computer geekishness than me.