Monday, November 8, 2010

Read It ~ Share It

Do you ever wonder why different sources quote different statistics? Are you frustrated to hear that Christianity is in decline? I challenge you to read Bradley Wright's book called Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites ...and Other Lies You've Been Told.

Wright gives us a behind the scenes look at how survey questions are worded and how the phraseology affects results. Charts and graphs accompany many of his studies to show how we interpret data, sometimes in flawed ways.

For example, a group of people were asked to classify themselves using different religious labels. Instead of using the word Christian, they used the word evangelical. The results showed huge negative feelings toward evangelicals. Why? Because many people thought the word referred to television evangelists. The response to the question merely reflected person's feeling about television evangelists, NOT Christianity as a whole.

Hundreds of examples and explanations are reviewed in this book. Oddly, I was encouraged bythe misrepresentation of faith in our media. Maybe things aren't as bad as they seem. Could church attendance percentages be inaccurate? What about the number of people who convert from mainline Christianity to Mormonism? Maybe everything we've been told is only a foggy outline of the truth.

Next time you are watching your favorite news channel, steaming cup of java in your hand, step back from those opinion polls and ask yourself how the results may have been skewed.
Read It ~ Share It

1 comment:

Erica said...

I'm going to grad school for Psychology and one of the things we're told early on is that any stat you see on the news, in the paper... pretty much any media outlet, is crap. They're taking valid data from good studies and taking bits and pieces out of context so that it supports the opinion they're promoting.(Although there are a few crackpots out there with kooky data ready to go)

For example, the divorce stat everyone spouts off (50% of marriages end in divorce) is actually mathematically impossible to determine. That stat is taken completely out of context, the real estimates are very complex and overall suggest a much lower percentage (as little as 25-30%).

So, unfortunately, the only way to get accurate data on the topic we're interested in is to read through the medical, psychological, and sociological journals ourselves. And they're quite a dull read. Ugh.