LETTER: When students turn to Jesus

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The Independent Online
From Dr Richard Dawkins

Sir: Let's charitably assume that your education correspondent, Fran Abrams, was joking when she called it "wholesome" if Oxford and Cambridge students are turning to religion ("Oxbridge's hard-working students turn to ecstasy", 11 December). But she really ought to know better than to draw this conclusion from the evidence provided. Of course the Bible would be likely to secure the largest single vote for favourite book. What other single book could possibly have done so?

This does not mean that a majority of students read the Bible (a majority might prefer comics, but if their loyalties are divided among Dandy, Beano and 20 others, you'd get exactly the result reported). Nor do the figures quoted support the suggested trend towards religiosity - although this would not be too surprising, if the alleged doubling in the number trying Ecstasy since the tragic death of a young woman from the stuff were a reliable indicator of the necessary stupidity. But this, too, may be unduly pessimistic. Percentages are notoriously pernicious if quoted without the absolute numbers.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Dawkins


11 December