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Strange Notions is the #4 Ranked Atheist Blog on the Internet!

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I was alerted this morning that Strange Notions was just listed among the "Top 30 Atheist Blogs And Websites Every Atheist Must Follow."

I was intrigued, partly because this isn't really an "atheist blog"—it's always been a discussion forum for atheists and Catholics—and partly because I follow many atheist blogs that seem to get wayyyyy more traffic and traction than we do.

However, when I clicked over I was stunned to find Strange Notions not just on the list, but chosen as the #4 ranked atheist blog on the entire Internet! Amazing!

I couldn't be more delighted, especially seeing the company we're in. The only three sites above us are The Friendly Atheist, Reddit-Atheism, and the Atheist Revolution blog, all very well-known in the online atheist space.

Here was the ranking criteria the site used:

The Best Atheist blogs from thousands of top Atheist blogs in our index using search and social metrics. Data will be refreshed once a week.
 
These blogs are ranked based on following criteria
 

  • Google reputation and Google search ranking
  • Influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites
  • Quality and consistency of posts.
  • Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review

This ranking is a testament to all the great contributors we have here, and not just those who write the articles. I want to especially thank our regular commenters, who have provided so many rich thoughts and insights over the years, including:

  • Doug Shaver
  • David Nickol
  • Luke Breuer
  • Steven Dillon
  • Brian Green Adams
  • Paul Brandon Rimmer
  • Michael Murray
  • Peter
  • Ye Olde Statistician

You guys are wonderful and the site wouldn't be what it is without your input.

This is also probably a good time to apologize for the slow-down in original content lately. Posting has been sparse over the past few months. However, going forward, my goal is to get at least 1-2 articles per week on the site, and thankfully I have a long queue of pieces from our contributors waiting in my Draft box.

So stay tuned! Lots of great stuff is coming at Strange Notions. And again, THANK YOU for making this the best online hub for serious Catholic/atheist discussion.

Brandon Vogt

Written by

Brandon Vogt is a bestselling author, blogger, and speaker. He's also the founder of StrangeNotions.com. Brandon has been featured by several media outlets including NPR, CBS, FoxNews, SiriusXM, and EWTN. He converted to Catholicism in 2008, and since then has released several books, including The Church and New Media (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011), Saints and Social Justice (Our Sunday Visitor, 2014), and RETURN (Numinous Books, 2015). He works as the Content Director for Bishop Robert Barron's Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. Brandon lives with his wife, Kathleen, and their five children in Central Florida. Follow him at BrandonVogt.com or connect through Twitter at @BrandonVogt.

Note: Our goal is to cultivate serious and respectful dialogue. While it's OK to disagree—even encouraged!—any snarky, offensive, or off-topic comments will be deleted. Before commenting please read the Commenting Rules and Tips. If you're having trouble commenting, read the Commenting Instructions.

  • Doug Shaver

    It would never occur to me to include this site on any list of atheist blogs, good or bad, that I was compiling. You do deserve some recognition, though, for the good work you do. If it took some idiosyncratic redefining of "atheist blog," so be it.

    Oh, and thank you for the kind word.

  • Rob Abney

    Congratulations Brandon! Strange Notions is a thought-provoking site. I'm glad to hear that there is more content in the pipeline.
    Its interesting that only a minority of the "regular" commenters are professed Catholics, maybe that's why it can be considered an atheist blog!

    • tallorder

      I think that says more about his "Catholicism" than anything.

      • Jim (hillclimber)

        Does your use of innuendo to impugn another's faith say something about your own "Catholicism"? If you have objections to the way Catholicism is presented here, would you ever consider using argumentation instead of innuendo?

        • Ignatius Reilly

          He is sporting a Belloc photo.

          • Craig Roberts

            Recognize Belloc? You won a point!

  • Thanks for the site and your work Brandon.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    Congrats! It is a great site and I do think its one that atheists should visit.

    It is a strange list though... along with actual atheist sites, it also has:
    Randal Rauser - A Christian apologist
    Atheists are Idiots - Title should give you an idea of its content
    Atheism Analyzed - A former Atheist
    Atheistwatch - which "keep[s] tabs on [atheism's] propaganda and tactics"

    But congrats!

  • Craig Roberts

    Let's do a little informal survey. Who thinks that this site promotes atheism by presenting arguments that fail to convince people that God exists? Who thinks this site manages to convert anybody to Christianity? Who thinks this site does a great job of confirming all of the preconceived notions and prejudices of Christians as well as atheists?

    Provoke thought? Congratulations!
    Promote dialogue? Sure!
    Convince? Meh.
    Convert?...er...not so much.

    Apologists should appeal to the open-minded. Those that have already invested their identity in one side of the debate are a waste of time. All they learn to do by debating is to dig in their heels and refute everything...Christian or atheist.

    • Doug Shaver

      Who thinks that this site promotes atheism by presenting arguments that fail to convince people that God exists?

      It's a common fallacy to think that a faulty argument for X constitutes an argument against X.

      • Craig Roberts

        People are convinced by fallacies, bad logic, and outright falsehoods all the time. It's the atheists main thesis as to how so many people can be so wrong about God in the first place.

        • Doug Shaver

          People are convinced by fallacies, bad logic, and outright falsehoods all the time.

          Yes, we're all susceptible to such errors. It's part of our human nature, because natural selection wired our brains to work that way,

          It's the atheists main thesis as to how so many people can be so wrong about God in the first place.

          It isn't my main thesis. Those atheists for whom it is, need to explain how they acquired their immunity to fallacies, bad logic, and falsehoods -- after demonstrating, of course, that they have such immunity.

          • Rob Abney

            Yes, we're all susceptible to such errors. It's part of our human nature, because natural selection wired our brains to work that way

            Can you explain more about this assertion Doug? What was the purpose behind natural selection wiring our brains to work this way?

          • Doug Shaver

            What was the purpose behind natural selection wiring our brains to work this way?

            To oversimplify: The purpose was to enable us to act decisively while dealing, as we almost always are, with incomplete information.

            In our ancestral environments, people who never did anything until they had all the relevant facts would have tended to die very young. Even in the modern world, they wouldn’t function very well.

            However, decisions based on incomplete data have a high risk of being bad decisions unless careful attention is given to the relevant mathematics of probabilities. That kind of computation, though, requires massive processing power in any but the simplest situations. What natural selection had to do was endow us with some heuristics that gave us answers that were, if not quite right, close enough to right to keep us alive more often than not.

            From the perspective of evolution, the purpose of our brains is just to keep us alive and facilitate our reproduction, not to find any truths. Some apologists have used this as an argument against naturalistic evolution, but the argument assumes there is no correlation between survival and believing truths. Our lives very often do depend on distinguishing truth from falsehood. But not always. For any incomplete set of data, there can be only one true explanation but always countless false explanations, and some of those false answers, if we act on them, might keep us alive just as well as the true answer. Natural selection will favor brains that produce false-but-useful answers as much as it favors those that produce true answers, especially when brains that produce true answers have to work harder and longer to produce them. It’s all about economy of computational effort.

          • Rob Abney

            That's interesting Doug, but to me it seems like a "purpose" requires that something is planned with a goal or an expected outcome. It seems like you are describing the after-the-facts results. Are you using a different definition for "purpose"? Or are you saying that natural selection had an expected outcome?

          • Doug Shaver

            Are you using a different definition for "purpose"?

            I was defining it metaphorically, and probably shouldn't have. The word I really wanted was "function." In strictly proper usage, "purpose" means "intended function." I don't believe nature is capable of intention.

    • Rob Abney

      Here is a good list of atheists who had their "heels dug in" prior to converting, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_converts_to_Christianity_from_nontheism

      • Doug Shaver

        Here is a good list of atheists who had their "heels dug in" prior to converting,

        I don't see much evidence for that characterization. It says they were all unbelievers, but in most cases nothing about their attitude.

        • Rob Abney

          No, I was using the previous commenter's assumption that most people in such a debate have their "heels dug in". I'm fairly confident though that the list includes many that fit that description, versus someone who just hadn't thought about the subject very much.

      • Craig Roberts

        I'll bet they didn't enjoy the benefit of having a forum like "Strange Notions" to hone their debating skills and solidify their biases. Perhaps if they had they would not have converted.

  • Sample1

    this isn't really an "atheist blog"—it's always been a discussion forum for atheists and Catholics—and partly because I follow many atheist blogs that seem to get wayyyyy more traffic and traction than we do. -Brandon Vogt

    And the truth shall set you free! I concur with your instincts and first-hand knowledge of your own creation. Like a quiz, don't change your first answer Brandon.

    Mike

  • Michael Murray

    Strange that there are more atheists banned from the site than participating in it

    Banned:

    Andre B, Andrew G, Argon, Articulett, Ben Posin, BenS, Danny Getchell, Darren, Epeeist, felixcox, Geena Safire, GodHatesYou, Gwen, Ignorant Amos, Jonathan West, josh, MichaelNewsham, Mike A, Noah Luck, M. Solange O'Brien, Papalinton, Paul Boillot, picklefactory, Pofarmer, Ray Vorkin, Renard Wolfe, Rob Tisinai, Stjepan Marusic, Susan, Zen Druid

    Participating:

    Doug, Ignatius, myself, Sample1, maybe a few more ?

    • Alexandra

      Strange that there are more atheists banned from the site than participating in it

      Nope. That is not true.

      ...I thought it was nice that Brandon acknowledged you. Thank you for your contributions here.

      • Michael Murray

        Maybe I miscounted. Have you got a list of more than 30 atheists currently participating in this site ?

        • Alexandra

          Yep. Definitely over 30. Most within the past 4 months, some that I've talked to. And did not include those that are one comment only.

          "Currently" participating?
          That I don't know. You'd have to first define the parameters - like timescale and do you limit the banned count to the same timeframe? Etc.
          Once a post is made, it's "past tense", so to speak- so how can one measure if someone will continue posting? Sure, there are the regulars. But many are occasional posters. I mean, even you went away for awhile...
          Plus this is a count that is probably too variable to render it meaningful. Do you count during holiday/vacation time? During a popular post? during numerous successive postings? etc.

          • Michael Murray

            To be cautious I think maybe 25 got banned at once and I added a few others on later. So definitely those 25 would be active at the same time. There are also more who left for other reasons, some in protest at the banning, but weren't actually banned.

          • Alexandra

            How many of your 25 have you verified/confirmed have actually been banned?
            (I mean, IIRC, didn't you used to list Sample1 as banned even though he's not?)

          • Michael Murray

            I think I have pretty much confirmed all of the people on that list at one time of another. Of course Disqus has no message system so I can't message individual people. I posted it quite a number on times on EN and updated it each time someone corrected their or someone else's status. Then I just added to it each time someone turned up at EN having been banned from SN. I'm happy to receive further corrections and or additions if you or anyone else reading this has them.

          • Alexandra

            I have evidence that strongly suggests that 1 of your 25 currently on your list was not banned, but walked away in protest.

            Of your 25, how many are you 100% certain were banned?
            I'm looking for a number.

          • Michael Murray

            There are 30 on that list. As far as I know they are all banned. My reference to the 25 was just how many got banned at the time of the particular purge in January 2014. That was a guess that I had added some 5 since then making the current 30.

            But I'm not 100% certain of anything. So tell me the name and I can remove it. That would be useful.

          • Alexandra

            How many do you think got banned vs. you know got banned? Or are you saying you verified all 30?

          • Michael Murray

            It went roughly like this to the best of my memory. Note I have been hanging around SN on and off since the beginning so I no doubt have some dates confused. If Disqus had a decent search engine I could check things.

            Things started going really sour for atheists with the banning of Eepeist in August 2013. But there had been some bannings before that.

            http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/an-experiment-in-strange-notions.html?q=strange+notions

            Lots of people got banned in one group in January 2014. I made a list (possibly in August 2014 if the creation date on my file makes sense or maybe older than that) based on who was on EN who said they had been banned. I added some more I thought had been banned and passed it around EN. A number of people pointed out that they or someone else on the list hadn't been banned but had just stopped posting. I removed such people. Then there was a steady trickle of bannings in the years through 2014, 2015, 2016 and when they turned up at EN announcing their banning I added them to the list. When someone replied to an old post of someone on SN who I knew had been banned I would point them to EN explaining what had happened and often include the list.

            The list aims to be a list of people who have been banned and as far as possible without being given the administrative passwords for Strange Notions :-) I have checked it. Would I be surprised if only 28 of the list turned out to be banned ? No. If only 25 of them turned out to be banned ? Yes. If less then 20 turned out to be banned. Yes I would be really surprised and wondering how I had got it so wrong. I would suspect Opus Dei hackers had got into my computer.

            I'm happy to make changes if you want to tell me the name of the person who you think wasn't banned but other than that I think I am done with this topic.

          • Alexandra

            Opus Dei hackers. :) That's pretty funny.

            Thanks for the conversations. May you and your family have peace and joy this holiday season.

          • Michael Murray

            And yours !

            EDIT: Sorry that was meant to be "and you and yours !"

      • Michael Murray

        I thought it was nice that Brandon acknowledged you.

        Indeed it was. But surely he wouldn't therefore want me to stop doing what I do. Which is regularly to post the banned list.

        • Alexandra

          Sure. I trust you'll use your best judgement when representing yourself here. I hope and expect your motives (and everyone else's here) are good and kind.

          I would say, other than privacy concerns for the people involved, which I do think should be a consideration; and, if you're not breaking the site's guidelines (like going off topic? or promoting other sites?) - list away!
          Although, I personally think names should not be used. It's indiscreet, and might cause someone undue embarrassment. Why not provide a count instead?

          Maybe you should also list what they say that gets them banned as a warning/example to others; but, I don't know how you get that past the moderators! There have been some doozies!

          • Michael Murray

            Although, I personally think names should not be used. It's indiscreet, and might cause someone undue embarrassment.

            I checked most of these names with the individuals involved as it wasn't clear immediately after the Great Purge if people had been banned or just left in protest. So I assume they would have complained if they didn't want their name on the list.

            Why not provide a count instead?

            Because Brandon disagreed that so many had been banned so I assembled the list.

    • Sample1

      +30

      Mike

    • Craig Roberts

      Hah! This is one of the few Christian websites I have NOT been banned from. Guess I get along better with atheists than Catholics.

    • It depends how you define "participation", Michael. The site attracts around 75,000 unique visitors per month, even during slow periods. I would think that numbers includes several thousand atheist readers.

      Did we ban a handful of strident, vocal atheists that were (repeatedly) unable or unwilling to meet our relatively low standards of charity? Yes. But I'm still convinced it was the right decision. The discussion has been remarkably more positive and fruitful since those people left. (And the few times I've dipped into their spinoff site have only confirmed it was the right move--the vitriol and snark continues to stream.)

      • Sample1

        Strident and vocal sometimes, but for the record that doesn't mean incorrect or lacking possession of excellent counter-apologetics.

        Also, there is the bit about the lying or rather why many of us strongly suspect you are a willful liar about that incident.

        Of course the history of the Great Purge can be found at Outshine The Sun for those readers and lurkers here who are interested.

        Mike
        Edit done.

      • ClayJames

        Wait, Strangenotions has an upside down?

      • Did we ban a handful of strident, vocal atheists that were (repeatedly) unable or unwilling to meet our relatively low standards of charity? Yes. But I'm still convinced it was the right decision.

        From my experience on Outshine the Sun, I would agree. But perhaps there is an opportunity to grant clemency? You could start with those who less egregiously offended. Oh, and when I investigated the bans, I was unable to find a good number of pre-ban warnings; perhaps being more clear about them would help curb the kind of behavior you do not want on SN. You might maintain a moderation thread (OSTS does this: The Moderation Actions Thread) to track warnings and bans, so that moderation is carried on out in the open. While some people will be unwilling or unable to behave appropriately, I think others will be better able to meet your standards if they can see examples of what is unacceptable.

        I ask this because I would appreciate more rigor from atheists, and despite whatever behavior came along with it, several of those currently banned were clearly able to bring that rigor. Two who definitely come to mind are epeeist and Andrew G.. Keep in mind that you can demand different behavioral standards on EN than are required on OSTS. (Occasionally I myself had fun being snarky on Cross Examined, although on average that impeded rigorous discussion so I stopped.)

        P.S. Thanks for the mention in the OP, Brandon.

  • It really is a good website Brandon. Congratulations on the nod, and many blessings and prayers as you continue with the creation and selection of new material.

  • Rudy R

    So what's next, The Secular Outpost making the Top 30 Theist Blogs?

    • To be fair, the rankings were intended to list the "Top 30 Atheist Blogs And Websites Every Atheist Must Follow."

      I supposed you could make a case that every theist should follow The Secular Outpost, though I probably wouldn't agree.

      • Doug Shaver

        I supposed you could make a case that every theist should follow The Secular Outpost, though I probably wouldn't agree.

        To a theist who seemed sincerely interested in learning one of the dominant secular worldviews, I would make the case that they should check it out. As for following it . . . about the only time I go there is when I've done a Google search for something and it shows up in the results.

        The Secular Outpost is a spinoff from the Secular Web at infidels.org, which has a discussion forum in which I used to be a regular participant. I left several years ago after it evolved into a platform for naked unthinking Christian-bashing leavened with conspiracy theories about Christian origins.

        The Secular Web still maintains a library of articles that I would encourage every theist to browse through if they are unfamiliar with naturalist thinking.

  • I hear that this blog has a poor reputation among atheists. Seems they're not welcome here. You might want to work on that, since you're the #4 atheist blog.

    • Rob Abney

      It would be interesting to see which direction the rating would go if the reputation among atheists improved!

    • Oh stop being coy, Bob. You seem plenty welcome here, and last time I checked, you're an atheist. So the only accurate statement is that certain atheists are not welcome here. Which ones? Well, those I know of are concentrated on a site which complained about being banned without [sometimes: sufficient] warning for acting no worse, behavior-wise, than the group with the ban hammer. A site which went on to ban me without sufficient warning for acting no worse, behavior-wise, than the group with the ban hammer. These are people who were quite happy to stand by when one regular repeatedly, mercilessly, and falsely accused me of making a rape joke. These are people who were quite happy to stand by when a not-as-regular falsely compared me to a child rapist. (There was a little non-moderator pushback on each of these, but pitifully little. Why? Probably because I was unwanted, and thus behavior unacceptable toward the regulars was acceptable toward me.)

      But despite the wrong done to me, I requested clemency for some regulars (best to start with a few), and just now requested increased excellence and rigor in SN articles, including in the form of now-banned EN folks writing excellent articles (which they claim to be able to do). If SN is not interested in increased excellence and rigor, I am prepared to cease commenting here and as @bvogt1:disqus has claimed:

      BV: This ranking is a testament to all the great contributors we have here, and not just those who write the articles. I want to especially thank our regular commenters, who have provided so many rich thoughts and insights over the years, including:

      [...]
      ◦ Luke Breuer
      [...]

      You guys are wonderful and the site wouldn't be what it is without your input.

      But perhaps I was mistakenly included in that list and my absence will hardly be noticed.

      • the only accurate statement is that certain atheists are not welcome here.

        Yep.

        A site which went on to ban me without sufficient warning for acting no worse, behavior-wise, than the group with the ban hammer. These are people who were quite happy to stand by when one regular repeatedly, mercilessly, and falsely accused me of making a rape joke. These are people who were quite happy to stand by when a not-as-regular falsely compared me to a child rapist. (There was a little non-moderator pushback on each of these, but pitifully little. Why? Probably because I was unwanted, and thus behavior unacceptable toward the regulars was acceptable toward me.)

        Are you referring to my blog? It’s largely unmoderated. The upside is little banning. The downside is that it’s a hardball, self-mediated conversation.

        But despite the wrong done to me, I requested clemency for some regulars (best to start with a few), and just now requested increased excellence and rigor in SN articles, including in the form of now-banned EN folks writing excellent articles (which they claim to be able to do).

        Good for you for encouraging contrary opinions at Strange Notions.

        • Are you referring to my blog?

          Nope, I was referring to EN/OSTS.