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Australians ‘hugely over-estimate’ the number of atheists in our country

NEWS | John Sandeman

Thursday 3 December 2015

There are a lot less atheists in our country than what people think – or to put it another way, we are more religious than what most Australians think we are.

“Australians ‘hugely over-estimate’ the proportion of atheists, agnostics and those who do not affiliate themselves with any religion,” according to Fairfax. Their polling affiliate, Ipsos found, “The average guess is 45 per cent. The actual figure is 24 per cent.”

An exaggerated view of the number of atheists in a country is common. Ipsos’ worldwide ‘Perils of Perception’ survey found, “Asian countries such as China, Japan and South Korea are fairly accurate about the (relatively high) proportions of non-religious people in their country, but most other countries hugely overestimate the proportion that are non-religious: the average guess across the countries is 37% when the actual average proportion is 18%. This is particularly noticeable in India (average guess 33%, when the true figure is under 1%), in many Latin American countries such as Mexico, Brazil and Peru (who overestimate by 30, 27 and 25 points respectively), and countries as diverse as Russia (over-estimation of 29 points), Norway, Ireland and Serbia (all out by 28 points).”

Empty seats

Empty seats Image by B Roosen Flickr, Creative Commons license

Wealth concentration is over-estimated, problems with obesity under-estimated, and the number of immigrants is over-estimated in most countries around the world.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on Australia’s misperceptions and you can read more here. For the full Ispso world summary, click here. 


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