Oh, they didn’t…


CNN has followed up on their documentary about atheists with a set of interviews. The money quote:

The biggest misconception about atheism is that atheists are a just a bunch of angry white men who want to destroy religion and who don’t have high opinions of most religious people. A relative handful of atheists fit that description, and they make a lot of noise, but that’s not representative of atheists.

Who did they interview, you may ask?

Must you ask?

Four white men, of course.

Please, atheists, try to be a little more media savvy.


  1. vaiyt says

    They’re not angry white men, they’re reasonable, happy and well-adjusted white men.

  2. Michael Kimmitt says

    Do they mean “atheists” or “the leadership of the formal atheist movement”?

    Because if it’s the latter, it’s totally angry white dudes circle-jerking. There isn’t even the slightest doubt on that score.

  3. says

    The only time Chicken Noodle News (or any of the rightwing media) interviews black people is on “black issues”, the only time they interview women is on “women’s issues”, gay people on LGBTQ issues (and then almost only white gay men), etc.

    It doesn’t surprise they display the same “white male only” preference for interviewees on atheism.

  4. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    I didn’t understand the part “Why are there so many names for atheists? Is it all the same thing?”

    What names, what are they talking about? Are they confusing secularists and humanists and atheists .. .and I still wouldn’t call that “so many names”. The answers weren’t enlightening either.

  5. consciousness razor says

    Please, atheists, try to be a little more media savvy.

    Obviously, as left0ver1under already suggested, CNN is also partly responsible for choosing to represent us that way. This is how they attempt journalism. Now, if there are atheists in CNN who were involved in making the story, you could certainly make a strong argument about their lack of media savvy, as surprising as that may or may not be for people in the media.

    But I doubt you’re talking about them, and I’m sure that’s not the issue with DeWitt, Silverman and Epstein. (No idea about the fourth pseudonymous person.) They wanted attention, and they got it. Mission accomplished. Of course, I’m sure many other people think their perspective ought to be heard as well or maybe even that it’s a much better one, but it’s not their fault that CNN is a lot of bullshit.

    A couple more strange tidbits:

    -A slide-show of 31 pictures of famous atheists, all white and mostly actors
    -A seven-part “quiz” entitled “What kind of atheist would you be?”

    The questions/answers were pretty stupid, but it called me an anti-theist for what that’s worth. However, strictly speaking, I suppose I would be another kind of atheist than I am, if I were some (other) kind of atheist, or if I were not an atheist and pondering what that would be like. But I’m probably not supposed to parse it that way. Indeed, I’m probably not the intended reader of any of this crap.

  6. says

    Of course, the correct way to deal with the perception that atheism is dominated by white men is to angrily denounce any attempts to include women and people of colour as mission creep, reverse racism, and misandry, and to deride anyone who complains as rage bloggers, gender feminists, the politically correct thought police, and social justice warriors.

  7. leerudolph says

    I didn’t understand the part “Why are there so many names for atheists?

    Why, just here on this page I see “PZ Myers”, “vaiyt”, “NateHevens”, “Michael Kimmit”,”left0ver1under”, “Beatrice”, “consciousness razor”, and “hyperdeath”, and that’s without too much scrolling! There are lots and lots of names for atheists. Maybe some day there will be several billion.

  8. david says

    “Why are there so many names for atheists?”

    Why are there so many names for Christians? Catholics, Methodists, Episcopalians, …

    Here’s the funny thing about different names of Christian sects: almost each separate name is associated with a separate war, or episode of slaughter. Some names are associated with multiple wars. On the other hand, I don’t recall any violence when the atheists split off from the agnostics.

  9. says

    david @9:

    On the other hand, I don’t recall any violence when the atheists split off from the agnostics.

    And for both humor and pedantry’s sake, I ask, ‘what split?’ I’m an atheist because I’m an agnostic. No scientifically verifiable knowledge about gods means I have no basis for believing in them.

  10. twas brillig (stevem) says

    It doesn’t surprise they display the same “white male only” preference for interviewees on atheism.

    I gotta agree with all your points, most sincerely. I just also think that, in this case only, the “white male only”, might actually work as a strategy to get the point across. Cuz who gots to hear this noise about atheism being a valid philosophy, that does far more good than religiosity? Yes, “white male privileged scums”, they will only listen to other white males, so to get them to listen, you gotta have white males talking at them. I know that is “playing THEIR game”, but if CNN had a more diverse cast talking about atheism, most of their audience will just dismiss it and change change channels, hearing none of it. I know this is not a consistent strategy, women to discuss women issue, poc’s to discuss race issues, etc, etc. but in this case, while accidental, night just get the point across more effectively than being truly representative of the diversity of atheists in general.

  11. Saad says

    I wish the media would help the ex-Muslim atheists get some visibility too. There are plenty of us in America (and definitely growing, especially in colleges and universities) and some are even openly atheist (quite rare among Muslim communities). If it’s difficult to find one that wants their name/face publicized, then maybe just do some coverage on a group like EXMNA and what they do or interview one without revealing their face. There are ex-Muslim activists out there that would really appreciate national coverage like that.

  12. qwe1 says

    For crissake why doesn’t someone point out that if 80% of Scandinavians/ 50% of Australians etc etc – and EVEN 20 something% of Americans describe themselves as atheist, then surely something is seriously wrong with the math (as regards the white/male stereotype).

    Wow – all those extra god fearin’ women I just didn’t know about.

  13. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    Oh look, another day that ends in a y in which white atheist men are given to be not only the face of atheism but also the voice and soul. These white men, when will the world stop oppressing and misrepresenting them. Still, it’s funny that some women and people of color and even ex-muslims (ex muslim women of course doesn’t exist) claim that they are not seen or heard. I don’t know why they’d get that idea, or why it would bother anyone if there’s some truth to it. My sides, they are aching from laughing. Oh how I laff.

    Everyone knows that feminism and anti-racism (not to mention trans* activism) has nothing to do with unbelief, and as this clearly shows, that’s as it should be. There are no problems to see here. Oh look, a religious person said something. Let’s rather focus on that.

  14. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    Now I laff even more. Sez Dave Silverman, who wants to cozy up to the conservatives and libertarians and by that very fact is willing to throw women and minorities under the bus for the Greater Good of the Movement Tee Em:

    Prong 1 is outreach. Atheists of color, women, and other atheist minorities need to know they are wanted, and that’s why we specifically target these audiences with articles, promote and sponsor events like the 2013 Blackout Rally, and feature diversity prominently in our on our billboards and speaker rosters at our conventions.

    Prong 2 is promotion of women and minorities as leaders. They are not, and should not be, satisfied with just being wanted, they need to be leaders. To that end, I strive to place minorities on stage and in leadership positions when I can, and vocally encourage other leaders to do the same.

    Finally, as a straight cis white man, I need to understand and accept that there are needs and desires that are specific to minority subgroups that I simply cannot address as an outsider. Therefore, Prong 3 is the promotion of other atheist organizations that address these unique concerns. This is why I am a strong supporter of Black Nonbelievers and Hispanic American Freethinkers, both of which were sponsored by American Atheists at the first Reason Rally. These and other such groups exist because the need exists, and the need exists because American Atheists simply does not have the ability to satisfy some of the unique needs of specific minorities.

    But hey, if you don’t think women shouldn’t have access to abortions, that’s fine and okay, just as long as you call yourself Atheist and not “hide behind the lable” of being Humanist.