It's made the rounds here and there to bolster the argument that science and studying science doesn't make one an atheist. Usually, this comes up in the discussion of Creationism and Evolution.
What I found most striking, however, was the large correlation with studying the humanities and social sciences and the drop-off in religiosity for people in those fields.
My initial stab at explaining this is to posit that science is about facts while the humanities are about ideas. And nothing is quite as disturbing to one's own preconceived notions as encountering other people's well-argued, preconceived notions.
While scientific discoveries can lead to people re-evaluating their religious beliefs, it is usually not at the hands of scientists that we falter and rethink our assumptions, but at the hands of people who try to integrate those scientific discoveries into far-reaching ideas.
Those people tend to be writers, philosophers, social scientists....in other words, people who dabble in the humanities.
Most students arriving as freshman have only been exposed to a basic sweep of ideas and a general overview of literature and philosophy. Plunging deeper into that pool will naturally expose students to ideas they have never considered or arguments that are more powerful than what they have gotten at home.
On the negative side, it only takes one or two confident, authoritative professors to completely undermine a student's wavering faith....and humanities professors are more prone to see it as their duty to strip away and challenge their students' ideas.
Science professors are more concerned with teaching their students the facts and theories of their particular fields. While a science professor might spout off his or her theist/atheist philosophy in the midst of a class, it isn't the main subject, or even relevant to a student's understanding of how DNA works.
A humanities professor, on the other hand, has a much more powerful position because they work in the trade of explaining concepts and ideology through Literature, or Philosophy, or History, or Language, etc. Completing a humanities course and getting a good grade will inevitably involve regurgitating an interpretation of a particular text or idea that meets with the professor's approval.
Anyone who has ever had a terrible humanities professor, or perhaps better put, a biased humanities professor, can testify to how frustrating it can be.
I recall one Dr. Stanley who gave me my first ever D on a World Lit. test because he didn't like my answers. I was mortified and a little outraged because I felt that the answers he marked wrong, weren't wrong. I was shocked until I heard that almost everyone else had failed the test. I had to take him again the next year for European Lit. The first test gave me a C+. Once again everyone else did worse than me....and these were small classes filled with bright students, many of them smarter than me. However, we had run up against a professor who was certain of his interpretation and wasn't open to anyone else's. We survived the only way we could....by giving him what he wanted, even if we didn't believe it ourselves.
Dr. Stanley wasn't very charismatic, so he didn't win any converts to his ideas, but it isn't hard to see how if he had been more charismatic he might have been able to convince everyone to take a particular view of the subject matter, especially if it had been about something more substantial than literature.
BTW....this isn't an indictment of all Humanities profs.
So...no hate mail...OK!? ;-)