Sociological rules of Christmas gift giving

Sociologists will an analyze anything people do, no matter how taken-for-granted the activity. ( I suppose that’s why I like it so much–always trying to look at things a new way). For the season, here is an except about from the famous “Middletown” study. Theodore Caplow, and a team of researchers, studied people in Muncie, Indiana (1979) about their gift giving, and they came up with nine unwritten rules for gift giving.

1) The Tree Rule. Married couples with children of any age should put up Christmas trees in their home. Unmarried persons with no living children should not put up Christmas trees. Unmarried parents (widowed, divorced or adoptive) may put up trees but are not required to do so.

2) The Wrapping Rule. Christmas gifts must be wrapped before they are presented.

3) The Decoration Rule. Any room where Christmas gifts are distributed should be decorated by affixing Christmas emblems to the walls, the ceiling, or the furniture.

4) The Gathering Rule. Christmas gifts should be distributed at [Read more...]

Christianity and Islam throughout the World (map)

Here’s one of my favorite maps.  It shows the percentage of Christianity and Islam in each country throughout the world.  Looking at it all surprises me just wide the reach is of these two religions that trace their roots back to the same person, i.e., Abraham.

 

Study: Atheists distrusted as much as rapists. QRS #2

Here’s a provocative study, conducted by psychologists, that concludes that Americans distrust atheists as much (and actually more) than they do rapists.

I include it in my “questionable religious statistic” category because, well, it’s a real stinker.

It doesn’t work at many levels, including committing a base-rate fallacy.

If your car gets dinged by somebody, it’s much more likely to be by a Christian than an atheist, because there are a lot more Christians in the country than atheists (about 2/3rds of Americans are Christians, about 4% atheists). This is true even if Christians are much less likely to ding your car (which I don’t know to be the case).  But, if it’s between atheists and rapists, we can expect it to be an atheist, again, there are more of them. Several million atheists, but far fewer rapists (thankfully).

It’s a little embarrassing for us in the social sciences that this study got published.

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“A new study finds that atheists are among society’s most distrusted group, comparable even to rapists in certain circumstances.

Psychologists at the University of British Columbia and the University of Oregon say that [Read more...]

Religiosity worldwide (map)

People often talk about how religious a country the United States is, and compared to many European countries this is the case.  The map below, based on Gallup data collected from 2006-2008, however, shows that there’s considerable variation in religiosity worldwide.  There are interesting patterns by wealth, type of religion, and continent.

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