Sunday, July 13, 2014

It says little and means even less

Huffington Post and a variety of other aggregators routinely run pieces on the latest polls and surveys. There isn't anything wrong with doing so so long as you provide some context and even a few caveats. Unfortunately, nuance is not to be expected from such venues as HuffPo. "Majority Of Americans Believe Religion Can Answer Most Of Today's Problems: Poll" is a case in point. Antonia Blumberg never really probes the results in any significant way.

The results themselves are not surprising at all. The average American still identifies as religious so why wouldn't they respond positively about religion being able to cope with problems. There is never any attempt to parse what the respondents believe religion entails or how it might solve problems. Polls of this nature are interesting but in terms of practical use they tend to be too vague and amorphous. In regard to social research "religion" is as tricky as the term "God" since there are so many different views and interpretations that may come into play.

Basically, as a self-contained piece Blumberg's post is crap. It only has any meaning when you take the results referenced in comparison to other polls, surveys, and studies that have been conducted over decades. Pretending that one poll is profound is just silly.

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