Why Do Pastors Use Bad Statistics?

Bob Smietana points out something we’ve all known for a long time: When pastors tell you a statistic from the pulpit, you better do some fact-checking of your own.

Like these numbers Pastor Mark Driscoll pulled out of nowhere (or, quite possibly, plagiarized from some other liar):

What percentage of Americans could be classified as evangelical Christian? The answer is around 8%. There are more left handed people, more Texans, and more pet cats than evangelicals in America.


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Creationist ‘Mathematician’ Says There Was Only a 1/479,000,000 Chance Moses Got Genesis Right, so It Must be True!

If there’s one thing “smart” Christian apologists should have figured out by now, it’s that they shouldn’t mess with math. Whenever they claim to have irrefutable proof of God’s existence, not only are they wrong, their math is so faulty that it brings all of their other credentials under scrutiny.

Margaret Hunter, a self-described mathematician, has no problem perpetuating that trend. She says the Bible’s account of Creation is so definitive that there’s “Less Than 1 Chance in 479 Million [that] Moses Made Up The Creation Account.” (And Christian sites are happy to spread the news.)

Those odds are pretty damn improbable. I’m pretty sure you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning… as you accept your multi-million dollar check for winning the lottery… and being left-handed. Or something like that.

So let’s see this incredible proof!

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Simon Singh’s New Book: The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets

Simon Singh is the author of the *incredible* books Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe and Fermat’s Enigma. His remarkable talent is taking complicated math and science topics and making them accessible to everybody.

His latest work combines two worlds that have a much closer relationship than you ever knew: It’s called The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets:

In the excerpt below, republished with permission from Dr. Singh, we learn how a nugget of dialogue from the show can open the door to a greater understanding of infinity:

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This is Why I Don’t Believe Anyone Who Says ‘I’m Not a Math Person’

An article at The Atlantic by Miles Kimball and Noah Smith argues against the notion that some people are just not “math people” and I couldn’t agree more:

… we believe that the idea of “math people” is the most self-destructive idea in America today. The truth is, you probably are a math person, and by thinking otherwise, you are possibly hamstringing your own career. Worse, you may be helping to perpetuate a pernicious myth that is harming underprivileged children — the myth of inborn genetic math ability.

So why do we focus on math? For one thing, math skills are increasingly important for getting good jobs these days — so believing you can’t learn math is especially self-destructive. But we also believe that math is the area where America’s “fallacy of inborn ability” is the most entrenched. Math is the great mental bogeyman of an unconfident America. If we can convince you that anyone can learn math, it should be a short step to convincing you that you can learn just about anything, if you work hard enough.

This is precisely what I’ve noticed in nearly a decade of teaching math at the high-school level: The students who say they’re “bad at math” tend to do just fine when they’re given good instruction and practice properly. The students who don’t do well are usually the ones who aren’t trying very hard in the first place.

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Over the Past Decade, There Has Been a Sharp Decline in Money Spent on Building Churches

We know the economy’s in bad shape. We know the recession hurt a lot of industries. But even I was shocked to see just how much of a drop there has been over the past decade when it comes to religious construction (i.e. building churches).

The latest report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis website puts the finishing touches on this incredible chart:

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