Atheism is on the rise. Polls show that belief in the man upstairs (or whatever floor the deity lives on) is on the decline, with the number of these non-God-fearing folk having grown to more than half a billion worldwide. While this seems to be becoming more of a norm in places like Scandinavia, where religious belief has reached an all-time low, if you happen to be an atheist in America we have some potentially bad news for you: There's a damn good chance that people don't like you. Including other atheists.
"Ugh. This asshole again."
In general, polls have shown that fewer than half of Americans would even remotely consider voting for an atheist presidential candidate. Oh, and no one wants his son or daughter marrying one of them heathens, either. Researchers led by Will Gervais at the University of British Columbia wondered why, and what they found was that it all came down to the simple fact that people don't trust atheists.
The researchers started out by presenting test subjects with perhaps the most reprehensible type of human being known to exist -- one who would smash into a parked car and then haul ass without leaving a note. Participants were asked to choose the likelihood that said parked car scraper was "a Christian, a Muslim, a rapist, or an atheist," and even though one of those things is clearly not like the others, atheists came in just about even with rapists on the "Yep, Probably a Gigantic Asshole" scale.
"This could only be the work of a godless sexual deviant! ... or someone texting."
Further studies showed that participants would be unwilling to hire an atheist for a job requiring a strong degree of trust, and that they lock their doors at night for the specific purpose of preventing atheists from entering and eating their babies while they sleep.
"Oh come on; that was ONE TIME."
Now, you'd assume that this is because the subjects are religious themselves and are simply discriminating against those who believe differently than they do. But that's where things really get interesting, because it turns out that even people who identified themselves as non-believers were more likely to trust believers. That's right -- even other atheists had bought into the idea that religious people are more ethical, even though they presumably don't think of themselves as less ethical due to their non-belief.
Once again, humans show a remarkable capability to believe crude stereotypes about their own group. We're telling you, the human mind is a miracle, don't underestimate its mysteries.
Chances are your mom spent a significant portion of your childhood instilling in you the immense importance of a good smile. School picture day? Smile! You just opened your Christmas present from Grandma and it was socks? Smile! At the ER with bone fragments jutting out of your calf and your kneecap dangling free? Smile! You never know when your future spouse might be watching!
"Now was that so hard?"
Well the next time mom calls while you're just trying to watch Game of Thrones, jeez, be sure to thank her for making the world hate you. Because despite everything she told you about a smiling face's ability to endear you to potential love interests, studies performed by researchers at the University of British Columbia actually found the opposite to be true -- at least for guys. The researchers found that when presented with pictures of the same man in a variety of poses -- happy, proud, ashamed, and neutral -- female participants consistently rated the happy man as the least attractive. So what did they find most attractive? Men who took on "swaggering or brooding poses."
Just try not to overshoot it on the brood.
But as we said before, this applies only to men. On the other side of the gender aisle, it turns out that mom was in fact doing you ladies a favor, because the same study found that the results were the precise opposite for women: Men consistently rated the happy women highest and the proud ones lowest. So, apparently, men prefer their women to look happy, while women prefer their men to look like assholes.
Well, you've got the asshole look down, but that's not exactly what we meant.
It all goes back to the same Western gender norms as the hair-parting thing -- on an unconscious level, we tend to judge smiling as a "more feminine and less dominant" behavior than, say, horking up a loogie while scratching one's balls, and this long-reinforced prejudice has an almost reflexive effect on the first impressions that others make on us.
It's no more logical or fair than the rest of the list, but hey -- don't shoot the messenger.
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Related Reading: Here's some bad news- your close up profile picture is making people hate you. On the opposite side of things you have stupid shit people act proud of. Like hating popular movies and books. Oh, and while we're puncturing your faith in man, get this: looking at alcohol makes you racist.