Must Be the Shoes.

I started working out again the other day, which includes among other things a series of push ups, chin ups, and some time on the elliptical machine.  After completing this little regimen, I realize only now that an unanticipated side effect is enough weakness in my forearms to make typing – or at least typing accurately – a monumental chore.  I type badly enough and I don’t need the help.


I got the following web site from two different people this morning about an atheist shoe company(!) in Berlin, who decided to perform a little experiment when sending shipments to the United States.  The page explaining the project is one giant picture, so I’ll transcribe the text here since it’s concise enough:

SO … we launched an experiment …

We sent 178 packages to 89 people, in 49 US states.  Each person was sent 2 packages; one sealed with ATHEIST branded packing tape, the other with neutral [blank] tape. 

They all left Berlin on November 1st 2012, and, in theory, the branded and unbranded packages should have traveled at exactly the same speed.

ATHEIST branded packages took on average THREE days longer to reach their destinations. 

NINE ATHEIST branded packages went missing, and just ONE non-branded.

ATHEIST branded packages were TEN TIMES more likely to disappear.

In Michigan, the ATHEIST branded package arrive THIRTY SEVEN days later.

They also ran a set of control tests by sending packages throughout Europe, and didn’t run into the same problem … so they’re convinced that the issue is with the USPS in some capacity.  They also noted that the customers who received their branded packages at a later date weren’t surprised at the delay and the likely cause behind it.  As a result, they’re no longer using the tape.

In the comments section, you’ll notice the standard spectrum of remarks from “STFU STUPID ATHEISTS” to “OMG I can’t believe people would be so cruel!”  Personally, I am convinced that there’s something going on within the USPS that is causing the delay.  They ran an analysis on their findings and actually saw a statistically significant difference in the outcomes of both populations.

In my opinion, this means we have a good hypothesis supported by some persuasive data … now to run a more robust test.  I don’t doubt for a moment that it is possible that the presence of an ATHEIST label on these packages may have been the root cause of their delay in delivery or, alternatively, their disappearance.  However, there could be some other causes.  Maybe the presence of tape with any writing would have caused the same delay within the system?  Maybe anything with religious connotation?

To that end, I suggest the following:

  • First of all, a larger population:  200 packages per group.
  • One control group with clear packing tape or some equivalent with no writing.
  • Four additional groups with the following branding:
    • GO FOR IT (or some other neutral wording)

Of course, given the size of the company, such a large volume of shipments might simply be impractical.  Still, if it were done with sufficient variation in labeling, it would answer the question of whether the content or the presence of the wording on the tape was the root cause.  Based on what’s been observed to date (and our unhealthy obsession with religion in this country) it looks likely that it is, but it would be nice to get a little more substantiation.

I suggest looking at their website.  This text is from “We don’t believe in God”, which I’m sure will sound familiar:

We enjoy happy, full lives without god(s) and we don’t often think about religion. But, when we do, we find it a bit weird and depressing; like a silly game of make-believe that’s gone too far, threatening the things we hold most dear, like independence, reason and love.

The number of atheists is rapidly growing, yet we’re often passive or isolated, facing ‘god’ with just an apathetic shrug, whilst religion is organised, in your face… with symbols, rituals, community… all of which give it more power to make more of a mess.

And boy howdy, do they deliver.  Best part is, they get mad when we call them out on it.  It’s okay, though … I still don’t see any lions.

This entry was posted in Atheism and Personal Life, Freedom from Religion, Religion and Public Life, Society Marches On and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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