Atheist-branded packages (markets in everything)

by on March 27, 2013 at 3:14 pm in Religion | Permalink

Here is a web site that sells them, from Berlin I might add.  As Mark Thorson summarizes it:

Packages took an average of 3 more days to arrive and were 10 times more likely to disappear when wrapped with atheist-branded tape vs. plain packaging.

I do not know what kind of double check these numbers have been subject to, or not.

Vishal March 27, 2013 at 3:20 pm

I suspect that Betteridge’s law applied to their headline (“USPS discrimination against atheism?”). The law states that any headline that ends with a question mark can be answered by “no”.

Vishal March 27, 2013 at 3:22 pm

* applies

Here’s the Wikipedia link for Betteridge’s law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge%27s_law_of_headlines

Careless March 27, 2013 at 3:37 pm

“Why are the French drinking less wine? ” “no “

Vishal March 27, 2013 at 3:51 pm

The implicit assumption is that the law applies to headlines that are answerable with either a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Al March 28, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Is Betteridge’s law a reasonable approximation?

Rahul March 28, 2013 at 12:28 am

“I suspect that Betteridge’s law applied to their headline?”

No!

CD March 27, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Their experimental design seems respectable. Is there anyone culturally familiar with the US who finds this result surprising?

Andrew' March 27, 2013 at 3:32 pm

That God works at the post office?

ad*m March 27, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Selection bias. They need to replicate their study with Germany/Northwest Europe destinations by marking tape with “Mohammed was a pedophile” instead of “Atheist” on the packages vs unmarked packages.

prasad March 27, 2013 at 7:09 pm

I’m trying without success to understand a mindset that thinks “Mohammed was a pedophile” is a religious analog for “Atheist” much less similarly neutral facially. Aren’t “Muslim” or “Christian” etc the obvious analogs here?

KPres March 27, 2013 at 5:40 pm

I don’t think the type of people the post office employs are representative of the US.

BC March 29, 2013 at 10:35 am

“Interestingly, this seems to be a national problem — traditionally less religious and more liberal states also saw high levels of delay and disappearance.” Thus, contradicting their hypothesis that the delays were caused by anti-atheist bias.

Nathan Goldblum March 30, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Michael Stack March 27, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Regarding the packages that disappeared, is that because somebody was offended? Or did folks find a “novelty package” they thought they’d like to keep for themselves?

gwern March 27, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Just keeping a package wouldn’t explain the 3-day delay, and looking at the thumbnail sketch of the plain vs atheist package, it doesn’t look like much of a souvenir. (One would also wonder why the difference between countries; surely “ATHEIST” markings on a package are as much of a novelty to a German or a ‘Europe’ postalworker as an American.)

KPres March 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm

For that matter, how do we know it wasn’t athiests working for the post office who took the packages because they LIKED it? Odd that these objective empiricists would assume a grievance exists without evidence, given that only religious people believe things exist without evidence.

mobile March 27, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Or that, as one commenter on the site put it, that this wasn’t an act of God?

Josh Hanson March 27, 2013 at 3:58 pm

I would assume that you’d find similar results with “Christian” tape, “Libertarian” tape, etc. Packages without labels are treated equally, but when a package handler can easily identify what kind of person is receiving, the opportunity for bias increases.

Dave Smith March 27, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Bingo. You win the comment thread, Josh.

Tyle March 27, 2013 at 4:04 pm

I think you’re on shaky ground to *assume* this – atheists are (plausibly) rather more stigmatized in the US than the other groups you name – but I agree that e.g. “Christian” marked packages would be a more relevant control than unmarked packages.

KPres March 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm

“Athiest” is a militant term, like Zionist or Jihadist. I bet if they’d have used “non-religious” or “non-believer”, they wouldn’t have seen a trend.

Steve J March 27, 2013 at 7:42 pm

I am intrigued by this idea of a “militant” Atheist. What is the ammunition in this war? Logic?

KPres March 27, 2013 at 10:45 pm
James March 28, 2013 at 4:44 am

If atheist is already a militant term, why is “militant atheist” also a term? By your (KPres) logic that would be like saying “red color”.

Jesus March 28, 2013 at 7:03 am

PIN number.

Jim D March 28, 2013 at 11:00 am

There may be militant atheists, but that phrase is not synonymous with the lone “atheist”. What term would you use for someone who believes in no religion?

Rich Berger March 27, 2013 at 4:27 pm

God has a strange sense of humor.

Thor March 27, 2013 at 7:04 pm

You said it. Look at his Creation.

Ingenieur March 27, 2013 at 5:40 pm

The next time I’m sending untracked $200 shoes in the mail I’ll remember not to cover the box in tape that says “This package contains $200 shoes.”

Thor March 27, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Unless you add in big letters: Size 49 Kickboxing shoes.

Jacob AG March 28, 2013 at 12:15 am

If you look at the bottom of the infographic, you’ll see the fine print next to the asterisks gets into the statistical tests they did. Everything looks very significant.

…but if they were *real* atheists they’d released their raw data.

Vernunft March 28, 2013 at 1:09 am

The control group was nothing, not some other annoying tape?

Wow, a philosophy major just destroyed their research methods. And yours. How does that make you feel?

Andrew' March 28, 2013 at 9:08 am

What are you, a psychology minor?

DW March 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm

“annoying tape” as in this? http://www.amazon.com/STA-Fragile-Tape-2-mil/dp/B007RY83RE
or is the word atheist particularly annoying to you for some reason?

jonathan March 28, 2013 at 12:28 am

I am curious if they did a comparison with other couriers. What are the results when they go with Fedex or UPS? What are the gradients of facial bias at other couriers? This is a good experiment with one, but I am curious if one can specifically identify the problem (bias) to be with one particular courier (USPS), versus others. Enquiring minds want to know….

X March 28, 2013 at 10:51 pm

And what about fecal bias?

8 March 28, 2013 at 1:58 am

Science says: don’t use atheist tape!

8 March 28, 2013 at 1:59 am

This “experiment” reminds me of the fact that many atheists suffer from social autism, or are high on the Asperger’s scale.

DW March 28, 2013 at 2:08 pm

this “fact” reminds me of bullshit!

derek March 28, 2013 at 7:42 am

What would be in a package labelled ‘Atheist’? Is there some special food designation like Kosher or Halal? What purchases would differentiate an atheist from everyone else? Curious people wonder, those working in the Post Office look to see.

Andrew' March 28, 2013 at 8:56 am

What’s in the box!?!

maguro March 28, 2013 at 10:09 am

What’s in the package? A big nothing.

DW March 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Atheist is the branding on their line of shoes. It’s advertising.

DW March 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Like how Amazon boxes say Amazon on them. They’re not from the rainforest.

JWatts March 28, 2013 at 10:33 am

They compared a package with writing on it vs a package without writing. The most common writing on tape for package delivery is ‘Fragile’. It’s quite possible during the sorting operation the packages were automatically queued up as ‘Fragile’ or set aside for human inspection.Try running the same test with another low value word with the same size and font on the tape as a control group.

Also, all they say is the products all left Berlin on the same day. What day did they arrive in the US? Without verifying they arrived in the US on the same day, it’s not clear where the hold up is.

nd March 28, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Believe it or not

Marty Murphy March 30, 2013 at 7:35 pm

There used to be a popular clothing line in France called ‘Jesus Jeans.’ When they came to the United States, they had the good sense to change their brand name to ‘Guess.’

The French are just smarter than the Germans when it comes to marketing.

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