Hey, now, don’t challenge me in a poll

It’s like taunting the bull while standing in the middle of his field. It’s just not smart. Anyway, there’s another of these online polls ranking atheists, and Hemant Mehta has come out on Twitter threatening to destroy me in the voting. You know I can’t stand for that. Go vote!

Who is the Most Vocal Atheist of the Year?

Richard Dawkins
49 (25%)

PZ Myers
52 (26%)

Christopher Hitchens
33 (17%)

Bill Maher
21 (10%)

Dan Dennett
4 (2%)

Sam Harris
4 (2%)

Victor Stenger
3 (1%)

Michael Shermer
6 (3%)

Dan Barker
10 (5%)

Hemant Mehta
90 (46%)


  1. Newfie says

    He challenged you? The poll wrecker in chief? Silly kid.
    Oh, and you can vote for more than one, so I threw in for Victor Stenger as well, because I’ve never heard of him.

  2. sandiseattle says

    I’m kinna wondering what they mean by “vocal”. If they mean who talked the most trash, PZ is certainly the winner. Dawkins seems to have developed a repetoire he repeats over and over, just manages to do it a lot.

  3. Sastra says

    Heh — I’ve just realized, I’ve actually spoken to every one of the people on the list in person, and heard their responses. So they’re all vocal, from my perspective. Who the most? Not sure. Gabbed with several. Least with Maher, Harris, and Stenger, though.

    But I’m in the middle of reading Vic Stenger’s book, The New Atheism. It helps to have a new book, if you’re going to be considered vocal in the larger sense, of being widely known.

    Keep hard at work, PZ. Scribble, scribble, scribble…

  4. Janet Holmes says

    It’s been thoroughly pharyngulated, PZ is at 63% now, with Dawkins at 19% the nearest rival.

  5. Peter G. says

    Hmm. Is there a poll bending anonymous? So many begin thinking they can take it or leave it alone but before you know their eyes are glazed and their mouse is a shadow of its’ former self.

  6. tsig0 says

    You don’t tug on Superman’s cape
    You don’t spit in the wind
    You don’t pull the mask off the old lone ranger
    And you don’t mess around with PZ

  7. mark.ormandy says

    The friendly atheist blog is amongst the most boring blogs on the Web, I hope he gets last place.

  8. aratina cage says

    Dawkins really should give you a run for the money on this one. He’s been all over the place this year being vocal. Results so far:

    Richard Dawkins

    164 (19%)

    PZ Myers

    601 (69%)

    Christopher Hitchens

    104 (12%)

    Bill Maher

    34 (3%)

    Dan Dennett

    10 (1%)

    Sam Harris

    12 (1%)

    Victor Stenger

    11 (1%)

    Michael Shermer

    12 (1%)

    Dan Barker

    16 (1%)

    Hemant Mehta

    145 (16%)

  9. Paul Burnett says

    Who the hell is Hemant Mehta? I’ve never even heard of him. He must not be very vocal…so I voted for PZ.

  10. Thom says

    Sorry, P.Z. but Dawkins had a book out this year. On a completely different topic, how’s that book you’re writing coming along? btw, first post anywhere as an atheist! Hello, everyone!

  11. David B says

    Well, I voted for Hitch, because he goes round debating anyone and everyone almost on a daily basis, as well as being in the brilliant debate on Catholicism where Hitch and Fry took on a couple of losers and destroyed them on the goodness or otherwise of the Catholic Church.

    Most of the rest of you are sycophantic PZ groupies.

    Hitch is the obvious choice.


  12. cafeeine says

    To play devil’s advocate, PZ is definitely vocal on his blog, but not very visible outside of it. If by vocal we mean getting your voice heard by many people, talking in your own personal echo chamber isn’t that effective, and to that effect guys like Bill Maher are more vocal by their choice of media alone.

    That said, in keeping with the spirit of online polls, I voted for PZ anyway.

  13. kiyaroru says

    Janine #5

    Atheist Idol!
    Atheist Idol!

    They could debate! and dance and sing and debate!

    I bet Fox would run it.


  14. Sastra says

    Maybe “vocal atheist” is a euphemism for “militant atheist,” which is a slur for “outspoken atheist,” which is another way of saying “vocal atheist.”

    In other words, who’s being damn uppity?

  15. Kimberly Hosey (AZ Writer) says

    Thom (#18) Hello, from an infrequent commenter who also made her public godless debut here!

    I’d say rocking the poll is in line with being vocal anyway, so it’s all good. But the percentages added up to 124% when I checked. Huh?

  16. Mr T says

    Who is Hemant Mehta?

    You need to rearrange the letters …

    ha me home isn’t wheat

    who is the math name

    the math who is mean

    his math who he meant

    his whom meat than me

    tithe wash home amen

  17. llewelly says

    Funny. Hemant Mehta’s name contains the letters sufficient to form the word ‘math’ twice. And he’s a math teacher.

  18. Mr T says

    That should’ve been: “is math who he meant”.

    This one is almost coherent:

    this man who eat’h me

  19. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    When did Bill Maher become an atheist? Last I heard, he was vehemently denying being one.

    Of course I don’t stay au courant with Maher’s tendencies. All I really know is he’s a wackaloon who claims that vaccinations’ main purposes are to enrich big pharma and increase your chances of developing Alzheimer’s.

  20. Peter G. says

    I assume most vocal atheist means the one who sings the best. Since I haven’t heard any of these birds sing I will venture no opinion. Something tells I should be grateful for my ignorance in this matter.

  21. teachingsapiens.wordpress.com says

    I’ve met Hemant, and hes a nice enough guy, has a small following, but I don’t see him as being that vocal.

    Bill Maher doesn’t belong on the list for having said repeatedly that he is not an atheist.

    Robert B

  22. Realist says

    You have to actually read the question:

    “Who has been the most vocal atheist OF THE YEAR?” (ie. 2009). Dawkins is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but he’s gone back to actual science now with his latest book on the evidence for evolution. If it was “Who has been the most vocal overall” I’d absolutely vote Dawkins. PZ has clearly been more vocal in 2009 though.

  23. aratina cage says

    It could be that the poll creator did not mean to allow multiple voting, so when you vote for more than one person, it increments the total votes by one while increasing the individual votes by one, too, resulting in a miscount of 199 votes so far for the total. The percentages actually are (rounded and in order of poll):
    Votes, %
    45, 2%
    1867, 71%
    261, 10%
    59, 2%
    30, 1%
    37, 1%
    24, 1%
    28, 1%
    26, 1%
    250, 10%
    Total 2627 (but the total stated on the pool is 2428)

  24. John Morales says


    “Who has been the most vocal atheist OF THE YEAR?”

    No, no — you emphasised the wrong word!

    Peter G. got it right.

    “Who has been the most vocal atheist of the year?”

    Written perorations don’t count. ;)

  25. Levi in NY says

    My vote too. Though I had to include Richard Dawkins, just because I really like that chap.

    (Did I say that right? “Chap”?)

  26. https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlwzXKlEOQCnhL4fKXlHWrRrOKqIylCRJw says

    Well, of course PZ gets my vote! I don’t know anyone else more deserving than him.

  27. mtgap.wordpress.com says

    It seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy that you are winning a poll about being vocal by telling a bunch of people to vote for you — which is very vocal in and of itself.

  28. Onotheo says

    I’m sorry but I’m voting for Hemant Mehta. He may not be the most vocal but I like him better ;)

  29. Rorschach says

    Most vocal atheist would have to be Hitchens, if vocal means “being perceived and acknowledged with a particular message by the largest audience” IMO.

    Maher gets the prize for “most undeserved laureate of an atheist award”.

    And maybe Dawkins should get an award for most famous atheist in the public eye ever, or something.My former dad i/l asked me over xmas dinner out of left field if I knew who Ted Haggard was, he had seen him talk to RD in “Root of all evil”, must have been on TV recently over here.

  30. efrique says

    Actually, I’d vote for Hemant on a lot of criteria, but probably not “most vocal”.

    Why the heck are there no women on this list?

    I can think of several vocal atheist women who have as much of a claim to be in the list as at least half of the men listed.

    Are atheist women invisible?

  31. Sigmund says

    “Why the heck are there no women on this list?”
    I vote for Ophelia Benson!
    I do agree that the list is ridiculous.
    Some of them aren’t even atheists!
    (Bill Maher, Michael Shermer)

  32. Rorschach says

    Why the heck are there no women on this list?

    Not this again. Ask the friggin blog owner, it’s not a global conspiracy !

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali was meant to be on the “4 horsemen” and all that…..

  33. cearbhaill says

    I’m a music teacher. I gotta hear you sing something. Preferably not a christmas carol, and definitely not a hymn.

  34. Jadehawk, OM says

    Not this again. Ask the friggin blog owner, it’s not a global conspiracy !

    aside from the fact that pointing it out to the blog owner would be useful, please do try to remember that the whole point of that gi-fucking-normous “white male privilege” thread was to point it out when women and minorities are being overlooked. So don’t whine when it actually happens, it makes you sound like a faitheist whining because the New Atheists are being all “militant” and “strident”

  35. ScienceRob says

    As far as the women issue is concerned, I don’t personally discount them, but in all seriousness I haven’t heard of any debate or book written by a non-theist woman in the past year or so. I might be mistaken but for me thats what counts as far as being vocal so…

  36. blf says

    Annual Report on Teh Global Conspriacy to Ignore Athesits, 2009
    Commissionaire for Keeping Wimmin in Their Place

    Dear Friends,

    Attached is this year’s report on the campaign. In summary:

    Overall it’s been another successful year for Teh Right of Men. Top achievement of the year was getting silly gels whipped for wearing trousers. Revenue from Sex Slaves is up, albeit there was a minor setback when a small and trivial difficultly with a 9yo was leaked to the press. In neither case could the bleatings of Teh Gayz Liberal Nazi Aethist Commie Treehugging Evilionistism prevent justice, mercy, and his holly law from being applied.

    We’ve had considerable success in fermenting open revolt in the Teh Gayz Liberal Nazi Aethist Commie Treehugging Evilionistism over how to best ignore the few wimmin in their sad and decreasing numbers. This time next year, I hope to report the total demise of Teh Gayz Liberal Nazi Aethist Commie Treehugging Evilionistism, or at least it’s splitting into three tiny camps: Those who know wimmin’s brains overheat when they ain’t making babies in the kitchen, those who know wimmin have no role in the increasingly-hopeless debate against the onrushing tidal wave of his holly word, and those who have already excommunicated all the wimmin.

    Sincerely yours in his holly names, etc., etc.

  37. cuco3 says

    Well, I’m going to vote for Hemant Mehta. If we can produce a Christmas miracle I think it might give PZ a dose of the humility that Christians seem to think is so important. :-)

  38. aratina cage says

    Poll Update (using individual vote counts):

    Atheist- Votes- Percentage

    Richard Dawkins- 895- 14.8%
    PZ Myers- 3705- 61.1%
    Christopher Hitchens- 521- 8.6%
    Bill Maher- 102- 1.7%
    Dan Dennett- 59- 1.0%
    Sam Harris- 73- 1.2%
    Victor Stenger- 48- 0.8%
    Michael Shermer- 56- 0.9%
    Dan Barker- 50- 0.8%
    Hemant Mehta- 550- 9.1%

    Total- 6059- 100.0%

  39. cnocspeireag says

    Excellent poll result.

    Off topic, I know, but why does Science Blogs take advertising from an astrologer?

  40. Nerd of Redhead, OM says

    Off topic, I know, but why does Science Blogs take advertising from an astrologer?

    The advertising service for SciBlogs sends some strange ads. Who ever pays them for a demographic. We’ve had creationist and bible ads too.

  41. blf says

    [W]hy does Science Blogs take advertising from an astrologer?

    They probably don’t directly. I presume it’s supplied by whatever service(s?) they get the ads from. As I recall, The SciBorg switched services earlier this year, and suddenly started getting loads of inappropriate ads—the one I remember as causing quite a flap was for Russian slavegirlswives—but the goofier ads seem to have damped down now. I assume The SciBorg talked to the ad provider(s?) or tuned their selection criteria or something like that. Some goofy ones still slip through; for instance, yesterday(?) there was one for, if I recall correctly, Korean slavegirlswives.

    There’s also some localization. For instance, I keep getting ads in French (I’m in France).

    And I won’t be too surprised if the filter/service/whatever thought astrology was a science or would be interesting to those interested in science.

  42. Carlie says

    I find it interesting that so many people here don’t know of Hemant, and so many people there don’t know who PZ is. I would have thought there was more overlap in the two readerships. I guess the internet is a pretty big place.

  43. Jadehawk, OM says

    There’s also some localization. For instance, I keep getting ads in French (I’m in France).

    for some reason since coming to Germany I’ve been getting ads for Filipino dating sites. wtf?

  44. Invigilator says

    I voted for PZ before I realized he had already crushed the competition, and now I feel like one of the “sycophantic PZ groupies.”

    No more! Now I am going to vote for God and His idiot acolytes in all those stupid polls, just to undermine PZ’s overwhelming dominance of the intertubes.

  45. Yubal says

    I voted for Dawkins. But it does not help. The PZ flood is too high.

    What would Noah have done ??

  46. blf says

    for some reason since coming to Germany I’ve been getting ads for Filipino dating sites. wtf?

    ‘cuz everywhere that isn’t the USA is the same, a nasty foreign land where they’s too stoopid to speaks properly amerkian…