The 30,000 (or 33,000) Christian denominations often comes up in conversation with atheists as it did in the thread for “God or Godless and a Tippling Philosopher (Part 2)” when John Grove wrote:
“The fact that Christendom is divided into some 33,000+ denominations and debate every doctrine and fundamental of the faith merely shows me that there is no “consensus” on pretty much anything.”
Physicsandwhiskey offered a fine reply:
“Ah, yes. The “33,000 denominations” argument. Because that’s quite original.
“This argument is a mismash of several different cognitive and statistical fallacies….mostly sampling bias. Just because one can dig up tens of thousands of subgroups doesn’t mean all these subgroups are equally populated. In a normal distribution of subgroups, you’ll have large subgroups and small subgroups; if there are 32,995 “denominations” each with only 50-100 members and 5 “denominations” each with over a million members, then suddenly “33,000 denominations” becomes a lot less impressive.
“Besides, human subgroups nest fractally.
“The issue is not how many subgroups you can find, but whether there is a per capita majority (or even plurality) consensus on the proposition you’re facing.”