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threat or loss”  manifest themselves in conservatives, who “are more uncooperative, hostile, troublesome, and socially withdrawn,” as well as less conscientious, less agreeable, and more “manipulative.”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  Liberals were found to be “more uncooperative, hostile, troublesome, and socially withdrawn,” as well as less conscientious, less agreeable, and more “manipulative.”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…]

Only 1.7% are gay, but 8% have had gay sex

A new study has found that the number of Americans who are exclusively homosexual is 1.7% of men and .9% of women, a number that has been stable over the years.  But the number of Americans who report having sex with someone of their own gender has doubled over the last two decades, to 8.2% for men and 8.7% for women.

The main issue today may not be homosexuality but bisexuality.  Furthermore, it would seem that this is experimentation due to the new social acceptability of gay behavior.  And that, whatever is the case about gay identity, many people can, in fact, choose whether or not to experiment with homosexual sex.  As for bisexuals, they can be encouraged to marry a member of the opposite sex, being faithful to that spouse despite temptations from whatever gender, like everyone else is expected to.

After the jump, read a story about this study, which gives details about how this varies generationally, with women compared to men, how church attendance makes a difference, and how sexuality is “fluid” (despite what we were told when gay marriage was an open issue). [Read more…]

Correlation is not causation in study of ELCA racial diversity

More evidence that scientists–especially social scientists–need to study philosophy, particularly the complicated question of what constitutes causality:  A study of ELCA congregations has found that the more racially diverse  a congregation is, the more it has declined in attendance.  The implication being that white people leave when minority races show up.  This effect is especially evident, the study says, in older congregations.

But there are lots of reasons that ELCA congregations have been declining in membership!  The study says nothing about the theological shift leftward that has caused so many members to leave.  Or, even more to the point, neighborhood demographics.  “Older congregations” originally started in big cities are nearly always in decline as assimilated immigrants and young families move to the suburbs.  These congregations do pick up some racially diverse members from the neighborhood, but since African-Americans don’t have a tradition of becoming ELCA Lutherans (though they could well be Missouri Synod Lutherans, which has a long tradition of black membership), there will be a net loss.  But to interpret this as racism is grossly inaccurate.  To use statistical terms, correlation is not causation. [Read more…]

Looking for a new moral code

Barna has released a fascinating study on Americans’ moral beliefs. Eighty percent are worried about the nation’s moral condition, and yet there is little consensus about what morality is and how we can know the difference between right and wrong.

A majority believe that this knowledge is a matter of personal experience.  Three-quarters of Millennials believe “Whatever is right for your life or works best for you is the only truth you can know.” (I don’t understand how you can get from experience or “what works” to moral truth, given the difference between what “is” and what “ought to be.”  And how do you know “whatever is right for your life”?  Isn’t that the question we are trying to figure out?)  [Read more…]