Statistics can be tricky
2 hours ago
1. Earning a bachelor’s degree exerts an independent, statistically significant influence on a person’s views on five of the thirty-nine survey propositions, most involving a narrow range of polarizing social and cultural issues. If two people otherwise share the same background characteristics, as well as equal civic knowledge, the one who graduates from college will be more likely than the one who does not to:
Similarly, a college graduate will be less likely than a non-college graduate to:
- Favor same same-sex marriage; and
- Favor abortion on demand.
- Believe anyone can succeed in America with hard work and perseverance;
- Favor teacher-led prayer in public schools; and
- Believe the Bible is the Word of God.
2. Gaining civic knowledge influences a person’s views on four times as many propositions as college—twenty in all—that range across all of the six major survey themes. Civic knowledge also appears to produce a more independent frame of mind. For example, if two people otherwise share the same basic characteristics, the one who scores higher on the civic literacy exam will be more likely to agree that a person’s evaluation of a nation improves with his or her understanding of it; but also less likely to agree that legislators should subsidize a college in proportion to its students learning about America. Similarly, having more civic knowledge makes one more likely to agree that prosperity depends on entrepreneurs and free markets; but also less likely to agree that the free market brings about full employment.
3. Gaining civic knowledge—as opposed to merely graduating from college—increases a person’s belief in American ideals and free institutions. If two people otherwise share the same basic characteristics, the one with greater civic knowledge will be more likely to support:
- America’s ideals: He or she will be less likely to agree that America corrupts otherwise good people.
- America’s Founding documents: He or she will be less likely to agree that the Founding documents are obsolete.
- American free enterprise: He or she will be more likely to agree that prosperity depends on entrepreneurs and free markets, and less likely to agree that global capitalism produces few winners and many losers.
- The Ten Commandments: He or she will be less likely to agree that the Ten Commandments are irrelevant today.
All hail Steve Jobs! We must thank the Insane Clown Posse for spawning this new generation of theologians. You can read the rest of this truly dizzying intellectual riposte on behalf of theists at the Grauniad - er, I mean Guardian:
I interviewed the comedian Miranda Hart recently. She told me she believes in God but was nervous of being quoted on it.
"It's scary to say you're pro-God," she said. "Those clever atheists are terrifying."
"Oh, nonsense," I said. "Let them tell you it's stupid to believe in something you can't explain. Then ask them how an iPad works."