Why the LA Times poll differs from the others

Most polls show Donald Trump losing big time, especially in the crucial battleground states.  But the L.A. Times poll shows Trump ahead of Clinton by two points, a fact heralded by the Trump campaign.  So why are that poll’s results so different?

Most polls ask people who they are going to vote for.  The L.A. Times poll, designed by USC social scientists, is not so straightforward.  It asks a pre-selected group, used for other research purposes, to rate on a scale from 0-100 their chances of voting for a particular candidate.  Then the results are weighted for demographics, which is usual, but then also weighted for how the respondents voted in the 2012 election.

The Times admits that the result is that Republicans are probably over-represented.  I would add that the 0-100 scale isn’t going to tell us much if respondents are ambivalent about both candidates.  But I think this is also an example of social scientists overthinking their task and trying to come up with a methodology that is so sophisticated that it is unlikely to work.  But maybe it will.  We’ll know in November. [Read more…]

Morality as politics

The Pew Research Center has conducted a study finding that 64% of church goers heard political issues being preached from the pulpit.  Those “political issues” included abortion, homosexuality, religious liberty, the environment, and economic inequality.

Now those are mostly moral–not political–issues.  Churches have always taught about sexual morality and respect for human life.  They have also addressed issues of social morality.  That is not being political.  The Pew study found that only 14% heard political candidates being promoted or criticized.

What’s interesting here is that the researchers consider moral beliefs to be nothing more than political positions.  To be sure, government dictates about morality gives them a political dimension they normally would not have.  This is especially true when the government requirements run counter to the church’s traditional moral teachings.  Of course the church must push back against that.

But the problem isn’t churches meddling into politics.  It is the government meddling into morality.

[Read more…]

Young men living the dream

Research shows that young men 18-30 are more likely to be living with their parents than with a woman.  And that the large number of the unemployed in this demographic are not only living with their parents but spending virtually all of the time they would normally be working playing video games.

But here is the kicker:  They LIKE living this way.  It isn’t that poor economic prospects are causing them to retreat into a depressing isolation.  They consider this a good life.  Expending their sexual impulses in internet pornography, rather than marriage or dating that could lead to marriage, and channeling all of their aggression into first person shooters, instead of the military or ambition or earning a living or protecting a family, this generation is happy, content, and living the dream.

So says Samuel D. James, drawing on the research of Erik Hurst and the insights of Russell Moore, excerpted and linked after the jump.

[Read more…]

Data on conservatives being psychotic actually referred to liberals!

Remember the study, still cited by liberals, that found that a correlation between “psychoticism” and conservative political beliefs?  It said qualities such as “dogmatism,” “intolerance of ambiguity,” the “fear of threat or loss”  manifest themselves in conservatives, who “are more uncooperative, hostile, troublesome, and socially withdrawn,” as well as less conscientious, less agreeable, and more “manipulative.” Conversely, liberals have low scores on “psychoticism,” making them “altruistic, well socialized, empathic, and conventional.”

Well, in what has been called “one of the most humiliating academic mistakes ever,” the journal that printed the study has posted “the mother of all corrections.”  It turns out, the researchers exactly reversed the results!

Psychoticism actually correlates not with conservatism but with liberalism!  The study found that liberals have the traits of “dogmatism,” “intolerance of ambiguity,” and the “fear of threat and loss.”  Liberals were found to be “more uncooperative, hostile, troublesome, and socially withdrawn,” as well as less conscientious, less agreeable, and more “manipulative.”  Conservatives are the ones who are “altruistic, well socialized, empathic, and conventional”! [Read more…]

New study of Americans’ moral beliefs

Gallup has released a new study of Americans’ moral beliefs, and it’s full of surprises and good-news/bad-news.  Acceptance of abortion (43%) , same sex relations (60%), stem-cell research on human embryos (60%), and physician assisted suicide (53%) is actually down from last year.  Though a majority still narrowly support suicide by doctor, only 18% consider suicide in general to be a moral option.  While 67% believe that sex between unmarried men and women is moral, only 37% think it’s OK for teenagers to have sex, and only 10% believe marital affairs are acceptable.  And only 34% believe in the morality of pornography.

After the jump, a discussion on how stable Americans’ moral attitudes have been, despite the public policy changes. [Read more…]

Millennials and vocation

Barna has done a study of the millennial generation’s attitude towards work.  Most do not see their careers as central to their identities (unlike Baby Boomers).  Rather, their jobs are there to fund their personal interests.  And yet, Millennial Christians are more likely than Baby Boomers to see their work in terms of “calling” (a.k.a. “vocation”).

The study discloses many fascinating paradoxes.  The purpose of vocation–namely, loving and serving one’s neighbor (not oneself)–seems to be somewhat missing.  As is the sense that vocation exists in the here and now, that whoever your neighbors are now defines your vocation.  “Calling” is something they hope for in the future.  Millennials do have a strong emphasis on wanting marriage and family, which is also a vocation, in addition to just work.  But still, I give them credit. [Read more…]


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