Thursday, December 11, 2008

Partisanship and Prayer

This graph has caused some interesting speculation, or lack thereof, around the intertubes in the last couple of days (via Secular Right). On Andrew Sullivan's blog, Patrick Appel isn't quite sure what conclusions to draw, but, in a later update post, he notes that his most common response to the graph is:
The more willing you are to "believe" in anything, the more likely you are to "believe" in something else.
Over at Street Prophets, pastordan is completely unsatisfied with this understanding and posits his own explanations:

Whatever the case, and whatever else you want to say about the subject, two things are definitely true:

  1. Using frequency of prayer as anything more than one data point in assessing religious practice is completely boneheaded; and

  1. This is absolutely wrong:

    There is also the problem of the very first lesson every statician is taught - correlation is not causation. Nor are they necessarily related just because there is a high correlation. Hey, I’d guess that the number of people who voted who also have teeth is pretty high. Are we to assume that the ability to eat is predictive of the act of voting? Only if we are incredibly stupid.

    Au contraire, mon frere. People who can't eat typically have more important things to worry about than voting. For instance, staying alive. Q.E.D.

So, what does this graph mean to you? Care to take a stab at it?

1 comment:

Max said...

I'm not sure it says much of anything. If you look at the graphs, each category pretty much matches its opposite, i.e. Strong Democrat has almost the same makeup as Strong Republican, etc. I think the split between those categories, if anything, shows the difference in party ID between white members of the religious right and members African American churches--nothing earth-shattering at all.

And I also agree that prayer is not necessarily a good metric to use in this case.